ASUNM and GPSA hope to surpass their accomplishments from last semester by increasing student engagement, introducing new legislation and advocating to the State Legislature on UNM Day.
GPSA President Glenda Lewis and ASUNM President Kyle Biederwolf, along with the Governmental Affairs team, will be in Santa Fe on Jan. 30 for UNM Day to speak to legislators about the importance of saving the Lottery Scholarship and other initiatives important to UNM.
“The Lottery Scholarship is in danger of losing many portions of its funding, and lawmakers will need to act this session in order to keep New Mexico higher education accessible for all students,” Biederwolf said.
Lewis said they are “definitely” in preparations for UNM Day, and hope to see a successful outcome from this year’s event.
Lewis said she wants to “start the spring semester with a bang.” One of her goals is to increase student engagement and find how to better serve the students.
“This Friday, Jan. 20, is the first annual GPSA research showcase. This is an opportunity for graduate and professionals who have received UNM funding to present their research and projects,” Lewis said.
She is traveling to Santa Fe this week to discuss the capital outlay projects set to soon begin. These projects are funded by the state to improve facilities around campus such as Johnson Gym and the Physics Astronomy and Interdisciplinary Sciences building.
“Keeping our infrastructure and facilities up to par is important to our graduate and professional students who have come to UNM to further their knowledge,” she said.
This is just one student outreach event in a schedule of many planned for the semester.
Lewis said she is looking forward to Black History Month as the first Black GPSA President, and is excited to showcase the contributions that Black students and faculty have contributed to UNM.
A team of students will be taken to Santa Fe to speak with lawmakers about the importance of the Lottery Scholarship and student success at UNM, Governmental Affairs Executive Director Nathan Cowan said.
Students will be provided free lunch and a trip to Santa Fe, when they agree to become a team advocate.
A mandatory training session will be held for students to become an advocate. The next training session is on Jan. 25 at 12 p.m. in Acoma A&B on the third floor of the SUB.
The Biederwolf administration plans to attempt to legitimize the Joint Council as a permanent body of ASUNM, he said. They are introducing new legislation this semester in order for the Joint Council to continue serving the undergraduate student body “for years to come.”
“Last semester, we heavily focused on reforming and legitimizing the ASUNM Joint Council, an advisory council to ASUNM comprised of students that represent all the colleges, resource centers and other constituencies on campus,” he said. “Time and time again their advice has been heard in our ASUNM Senate, and the Board of Regents.”
Representatives from Engineering, the Accessibility Resource Center, Honors College and many other departments make up the Joint Council.
They have discussed recent changes at the University like capital outlay projects for Smith Plaza and Johnson center, as well as voicing concerns for the freshmen live-on requirement and the UNM Seal.
Biederwolf said he looks forward to his administration exiting the semester with big accomplishments under their belt.
ASUNM spoke out against the freshmen live-on requirement to the Board of Regents in fall 2016. Although ASUNM did not stop the resolution, they may have delayed it, and the requirement will be put in effect for fall 2018.
“Our agency directors also had a successful semester, hosting dozens of events and initiatives to better the campus and enrich the lives of all of our students,” Biederwolf said.
They attribute their successes to the Cherry Reel Film Festival, which saw a record number of submissions, he said.
Biederwolf also touted Silent Lights as a major success, as Student Special Events and Lobo Spirit were able to partner with University Communication and Marketing to organize the event. An estimated 2,000 students attended UNM’s first silent disco, with ASUNM receiving praise and positive feedback from students.
Biederwolf said he is also looking forward to working with the new University president and student regent.
“We hope the new UNM President will be able to bring a fresh perspective to the many challenges that are confronting the University and the state,” he said. “We hope the new president will be able to partner with the community and other stakeholders to find solutions for those challenges.”
Nikole McKibben is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @nmckibben92.