ASUNM constitutional amendment gains momentum

An Associated Students of UNM constitutional amendment was passed by the Board of Regents Academic Student Affairs and Research Committee on Thursday that, pending full Board of Regents approval, will change the way spring elections are conducted.

The proposed amendment would set the vice president and presidential election three weeks prior to the senatorial election.

“There has been a lot of criticism that in the spring election the vice president and president take away from the senatorial election and that the candidates team up to get elected, rather than running on their own merits,” said current ASUNM President Kyle Biederwolf.

Biederwolf said it’s ASUNM’s hope that, if implemented, the new system will drive voter turnout and even the playing field, as slates — or groups of candidates that team up to campaign together — won’t feature a vice presidential or presidential candidate.

The last two ASUNM elections have only seen about 1,600 voters, while the total amount of undergraduates on campus is closer to 20,000. It has been incredibly hard getting people out to vote consistently, he said.

“Let’s give this a chance, try something new and see if it works,” Biederwolf said.

Research from the University of Iowa in 2005 shows that other student government elections have benefited from a similar change, said Sen. Noah Brooks, one of the original legislation’s authors.

“The voting track record is less than 10 percent of the population, and my instinct is to say it can’t hurt to pass the amendment,” Regent Bradley Hosmer said.

Controversial writer to visit campus

A student group on campus has invited Milo Yiannopoulos — a polarizing editor for Breitbart — to speak at UNM in January, and university administrators are in the process of providing alternative venues for students to express their own views about the visit.

Virginia Scharff, associate provost for faculty development, said that the speech by Yiannopoulos will probably elicit a response on campus.

“He has said some extremely provocative things and we will meet speech with more speech,” Scharff said.

UNM’s student governing entities are working to create a variety of programs that will highlight STEM disciplines, faith leaders and experts in civil rights and civil liberties, she said. Nothing is scheduled yet but there will be multiple events to provide students a place to voice their opinions.

When Yiannopoulos goes on speaking tours, he typically gives a talk and makes time for a Q&A session, adding that there have been efforts — sometimes successful ones — to prevent to him from speaking on campuses, Scharff said.

The University is trying to keep that from happening and wants to respect differing opinions on campus, officials said.

A workshop on how to deescalate tense conversations will be provided a week before the event, slated for Jan. 27.

Nikole McKibben is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @nmckibben92.