The University of New Mexico Global Education Office has said the travel advisories issued against the United States by Uruguay and Venezuela have not impacted the number of students wanting to attend UNM in the fall semester or the number of students wishing to study abroad.
Earlier this month, the two countries issued warnings against traveling to the United States because of safety concerns.
These travel advisories were issued after two mass shootings over a weekend collectively killed 32 people in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
“Traveling abroad is challenging,” said Nicole Tami, executive director of Global Education Initiatives at UNM GEO. “Each country and individual locale has its own inherent challenges and dangers that must be maneuvered. Even the safest destinations are not without risk.”
Uruguay specifically cited Albuquerque as a city to avoid — along with Detroit and Baltimore — since it was listed as one of the 20 most dangerous cities in the world according to CEOworld Magazine 2019 Index. Albuquerque ranked 18 on the list of most dangerous cities out of the 334 cities analyzed for the index.
They listed Caracas, Venezuela as the most dangerous city in the world.
“Regardless of where students are from, the perceptions of Albuquerque as an unsafe place is generated by (both) real and fictitious sources,” Tami said. “Cultural phenomenons like ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Better Call Saul’ have certainly influenced the world’s perception of Albuquerque, in both favorable and detrimental ways — particularly when it comes to perceptions about drugs and crime.”
She said GEO works to show international students the myths versus the realities of living in Albuquerque.
“These travel advisories against the U.S. do create an opportunity to have a discussion on the world’s perspective of the United States,” Tami said. “(They) are a reminder that the opinion of the U.S. can vary by country and changes depending on who is in power.”
UNM does not currently have any exchange partnerships with Uruguay or Venezuela. However, Tami said they did have 14 Venezuelan students in fall 2018 and have hosted scholars from Uruguay in the past.
Safety at UNM
Student, faculty and staff safety has been a hot topic going into to the 2019- 2020 school year. President Garnett Stokes addressed this issue at a recent town hall. The issue was also addressed in the most recent Board of Regents meeting.
Stokes said the UNM Police Department plans to increase their force by six new officers and is working to organize a new campus safety task force.
The University also recently commissioned a 45-page report that explored the possibility of putting a fence around campus to help with campus safety.
“That study is invaluable to us, but at this point, this is among the many things I would expect the campus security task force to look at,” Stokes said in response to a question on the fence during her recent town hall “We’ll see where it goes.”
Gun violence is also a point of concern for some Lobos following the recent shooting in El Paso on August 3 that targeted Latino people. According to the Spring 2019 UNM Official Enrollment Report, nearly 48 percent of undergraduates at the University are listed as Hispanic.
Uruguay and Venezuela cited hate crimes and violence as reasons their citizens should avoid travel to the U.S with Venezuela mentioning the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio as reason to exercise caution when traveling according to CNN.
During the town hall meeting, Stokes said that she would meet with the new vice president of Diversity and Inclusion, Assata Zerai as well as other campus leaders to discuss initiatives to support UNM’s minority communities.