During last week’s Associated Students of UNM Senate meeting, the UNM’s Women’s Rugby team was granted an appropriation of $17,347 for travel and uniforms, while ASUNM Student Special Events received $16,583 for the upcoming Fiestas event.
The appropriation originally requested by the Women’s Rugby team was $29,534, which would pay for travel, professional services and new uniforms to replace the 5-year-old ones currently being used.
SSE requested $20,000 for the Fiestas — one of the biggest events the group hosts on an annual basis — on the grounds that the money with help with booking a reputable musician for the event.
After the Finance Committee worked through the expenses, it was recommended both organizations receive cuts from their recommended budget for almost equal the amount with Women’s Rugby receiving $16,524 and SSE $16,583 from ASUNM via appropriations.
“It’s not going to kill (SSE) if we do not give them the full amount requested. Let’s just look at Women’s Rugby; if they lose funding they are kicked out of their division, they can’t go to their games, they lose their team. So, Fiestas is something that can be worked with,” Finance Committee Chair Hannah Williams said.
In addition to Williams’ comment, Sen. Tomy Douangkeo said giving SSE the full requested amount would make ASUNM look as if the governing entity only supports its affiliated organizations.
“$16,000 is a lot of money, more than we give any other organization. What about all of the other appropriations?” Douangkeo said. “I don’t think it’s fair.”
The appropriation passed with the same amount recommended by the Finance Committee at $16,583.
Finance Committee Vice Chair Michael Landgraf said the cut for the Women’s Rugby team would allow funding to three trips, including the team’s national competition in Palo Alto, California. They would not, however, include the expenses to pay for new uniforms.
The entire team attended the Senate meeting, and their captain made a case to be granted appropriation during the public comment section of the meeting.
Sen. Theo Pirone-Aufrichtig asked Rivera what state the team’s current uniforms were in. After Rivera said the uniforms are “full of blood,” it was motioned to add $813 to the initial recommended amount so that, along with a sponsor for the team, they would be able to cover the full amount for new uniforms.
However, the motion was meet with some opposition among the senators who said the team did not include a justifiable amount of students for the team to receive the money. Some argued that the team should be declared an official sports team for UNM, meaning they would be funded by the Athletics Department.
“They haven’t even tried to be become an athletic team for three years. We need to light a fire under them, as well as UNM, and say if this is truly a program valuable to the University then the University needs to recognize it so it can receive funding like all of the other competing schools,” Landgraf said. “They come to us time and time again with these huge numbers the students don’t support.”
Both Sen. Elena Garcia and Pirone-Aufrichtig said it is up to ASUNM to help support Women’s Rugby becoming an official UNM sport through the Athletics Department.
Pirone-Aufrichtig offered a personal promise to help the team with this process, and agreed that the appropriation is a large amount of money to give to a small organization.
”Just because they haven't come back to try and get into the athletics program doesn’t mean that they don’t want to be in the Athletics Department or that they are not trying to,” Sen. Noah Brooks said.
The motion was passed to add the money for new uniforms for the team, and the appropriation as a whole was passed with a 19-0-1 vote.
Denicia Aragon is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @deniciaaragon98.