The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico Senate voted to remove a requirement to advertise in the New Mexico Daily Lobo. The bill removed ASUNM from a self-imposed obligation to advertise elections, scholarships and workshops in UNM’s independent, student-run newspaper.
Much of the 30-minute conversation centered around how ads placed in the Daily Lobo were affecting voter turnout. Over the last two ASUNM Senate elections, the Daily Lobo has consistently reported historically low rates of voter turnout. Both Senate elections saw a turnout of 6 percent of the undergraduate student body.
The bill was sponsored by Vice President-elect Madelyn Lucas, who said that the purpose of the bill was to give agency directors more flexibility in how and where they advertise. Lucas also suggested that advertising online could take the place of advertising in the Daily Lobo.
A survey conducted by the Student Activities Center during the 2019 presidential election found that 143 voters said they had heard about the election through the Daily Lobo. 141 had been informed from Facebook. The survey did not ask if any of the 1,294 voters received information from other social media outlets — something that came up during the debate.
Lucas and several other senators pointed out that the bill did not prevent ASUNM from advertising in the Daily Lobo.
Sen. Selina Montoya opposed the bill from the start. She said that since the Daily Lobo was not included in the conversation, she was deterred from supporting the bill. She also pointed out that 143 voters can make or break an election. The most recent election for ASUNM president was decided by just over a hundred votes. Montoya is ASUNM’s voting representative to the Student Publication Board which governs the Daily Lobo, Best Student Essays and Conceptions Southwest.
The bill follows a 2018 bill that removed a similar obligation between the executive of ASUNM and the Daily Lobo.
Several senators who voted for the end of the obligation said that ASUNM should still advertise in the Daily Lobo.
Justin Garcia is a staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers student government. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Just516garc.