The Student Union Building announced Wednesday it would be closed to all but non-essential staff until further notice.
In an email sent to student organization leaders and members, the Student Activities Center stated that access to student organizations' office spaces and the Lobo Lair Computer Pod would be restricted as well beginning at 5 p.m. on March 18.
The closure comes alongside dozens of other University initiatives to mitigate the effects of the current health crisis, including the partial closures of Zimmerman Library and Johnson Gym and restricted operations of La Posada Dining Hall and the Student Resident Center Market, among others.
Students have also been directed to vacate on-campus housing and prepare for classes and on-campus services to shift to an online format.
These sweeping changes are being put in effect in response to the expanding nature of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico. As of March 20, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham's office reported 43 positive cases in the state, 23 of which are in Bernalillo County.
Despite increasingly diminished activity at UNM, President Garnett Stokes said in an email sent to all students and faculty that the University itself is not closing and will continue to invest in the best interests of its community.
SUB Director Cheryl Wallace told the Daily Lobo she was informed Wednesday of the closure. She remains uncertain of a reopening date.
"This situation is constantly evolving and changing. When we receive information that it is safe to reopen, we will be ready to come back to campus for students," she said.
In the meantime, Wallace said services beyond those conducted by maintenance and operational staff will be accomplished remotely.
"We will work with departments housed in our facility to make sure students' needs are met," Wallace said.
The closure has raised questions about student-sponsored events that would have been located in the SUB in the coming months. Additionally, students have voiced concerns surrounding the closure's impact on current employment.
"The programs we would have done this semester will be done in the fall," Wallace stated in response to these apprehensions. "Student employees still have jobs and are being paid. We will re-evaluate staffing levels once we reopen."
Wallace said that in changing its operations to a restricted access format, the SUB is following the directives of University leadership and will continue to do so during the remainder of the health crisis.
"We support the mission and goals of the University and want to ensure we are doing our part to keep faculty, staff, students and community members safe," she said.
Beatrice Nisoli is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BeatriceNisoli