In recent years, a diverse group of UNM students have campaigned to become ASUNM president, a title that brings with it a responsibility of representing the University’s 20,000 plus undergraduate students.
Those candidates have prioritized and ran on platforms encompassing a myriad of issues: student safety, accessibility of resources, relieving financial burdens, improving campus facilities.
However, in the time that the members of the Daily Lobo Editorial Board have been reporting on ASUNM and campus issues, there has been one overarching area of concern echoed by nearly every single ASUNM presidential candidate, as well as most of the dozens of students running for ASUNM Senate in recent semesters: connecting ASUNM to a student body that — as the rhetoric commonly goes from those involved in the governing entity — doesn’t even know that ASUNM exists, let alone the resources it offers.
There are numbers to back up this belief. Only twice since the spring elections of 2009 has voter turnout topped 2,000 – or 10 percent – of undergraduate students. It is not unusual for the public galleries of ASUNM Senate meetings to be a sea of empty seats. To a frustrating degree, too many students on campus are hesitant to reach out to their student leaders, whether out of naiveté or a lack of confidence that their representatives will adequately assist them.
One candidate has already proven that he is driven to close that gap between ASUNM and its student constituents, a candidate that the Daily Lobo Editorial Board is confident can get students to be involved, and not apathetic.
Gabe Gallegos, a UNM junior double-majoring in political science and strategic communications, served on the ASUNM Senate for two semesters. Instead of running for re-election, he took on the role of Director of Communications. In that position, he has used every resource at ASUNM’s disposal to put the governing entity and its leaders up front and center, whether it be on social media, in the community beyond campus or elsewhere.
Gallegos has said that he wants to expand ASUNM’s role by creating partnerships with the community that impact students. He has already shown an ability to do so, through spearheading Two Sides To Every Story, a campaign in collaboration with the Heading Home Project that sheds light on the issue of student homelessness.
Gallegos has also proven to be proactive when it comes to student government transparency, oftentimes providing the Daily Lobo with statements from ASUNM President Kyle Biederwolf on important issues before reporters reach out to ASUNM. When the Lobo requested large numbers of financial documents for a story somewhat critical of ASUNM, he helped deliver everything we asked for in a timely manner. If ASUNM wants to be more relevant, it must be willing to be open about anything and everything, and the Daily Lobo Editorial Board is confident that Gallegos believes that as well.
Gallegos is the candidate that best embodies his platform, one built on the ideal of supporting every Lobo, and can be counted on to personify that value as the leader of ASUNM, having already interacted with state and national leaders through various opportunities in the capitals of New Mexico and the U.S.
Long-lasting, effective and impactful change for UNM can only happen through a combined effort of students, their leaders and administrators. Gallegos represents the greatest opportunity for ASUNM to move out of the shadows and into everyday discourse among the student body, which is why the Daily Lobo endorses him for ASUNM president.
This editorial was written by members of the Daily Lobo Editorial Board, and represents the views of the newspaper. The board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.