The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico Senate met Wednesday night to vote on balance forward requests, a condolence for Senator John McCain, and receive an update about the Johnson Center renovation and the UNM Police Department’s media presence.
President Becka Myers requested that $37,788 of almost $50,000 in unspent money from last year’s budget be sent to cover costs of ASUNM’s eight student service agencies not previously covered in their budgets.
This is the first time the balance forward requests have gone through the Finance Committee, said Madelyn Lucas, the Finance Committee chair.
The balance forward request was unanimously approved. The remaining money will rollover into this year’s budget to be appropriated to student organizations. Senator Jorge Rios gave criticism for senators “not doing their homework” regarding discussion around the budget forward request.
World Affairs Delegation, a model United Nation student organization, was appropriated $4,136 — much of the appropriation was slated to cover rental costs. WAD requested $200 for “food and refreshments” and $60 to cover a subscription to Foreign Policy Magazine, both of which were not granted.
Men’s Rugby, a club sport, received an appropriation of $6,678, Exercise Science Club received $1,130 and UNM Tennis Club received $2,555.
A condolence to the deceased Senator John McCain was proposed and rejected with a 7-11 vote. The discussion was centered around the diversity of condolences and the thoughts expressed by the ASUNM Joint Council.
As the roll-call vote bounced around the room, multiple senators, including President Pro Tempore Satchel Ben, hesitated for several seconds before voting. Ben eventually voted against the condolence.
“I was indecisive to start,” Ben said, adding that comments from Senator Mohammad Assed and the joint council persuaded him to change his mind. “I still had a very hard time with it.”
Assed voted for the condolence in the Steering and Rules Committee last Wednesday, with the intention to vote against it in full senate. He said he wanted to ensure the condolence, and that ASUNM joint council’s position was discussed during a full senate meeting.
Assed said he believes the joint council is more representative of the student body than the senate.
The recently appointed representative of the joint council said that the council wanted the full senate to discuss the condolence further. She said “a condolence is written out for a white man, but not for others.”
The ASUNM Joint Council is a body made up of student representatives from groups like the Veterans Resource Center, Women’s Resource Center, and Residence Life and Student Housing. The council meets twice a month to “offer opinions and feedback on major University initiatives, ASUNM Senate resolutions/bills, and serve as an advisory board for the undergraduate student government,” according to their website.
Senator Selina Montoya, who put forth the bill, said she “went in thinking there were no problems with it.” She added, “I don’t think I fully realized the way it would be perceived.”
Director of Recreational Services Jim Todd gave Senators an update on the renovation and construction project of Johnson Center. He said that the project is set to finish around December 2019. It’s estimated to cost $35 million, all of which is generated by student fees, according to Todd.
Todd said he wanted to give students who were enrolled during the construction, from 2016 to 2020, a “Rec Card,” allowing former students to use the renovated center. This means students who could not utilize the new center during their time at the University because of construction will have the chance to enjoy the gym for up to four years after graduation. Todd said he is working with UNM IT to figure out a mechanism to do that.
UNMPD officer Patricia Young gave senators an update about how UNMPD is using social media.
“We don’t have that many police and we are extremely busy,” Young said, adding that their social media outreach can help cover the gaps in law enforcement at UNM. Young is also the sexual assault investigator on campus.
Justin Garcia is a freelance news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers ASUNM. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @just516garc.