The University of New Mexico has been canceling events frequently due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Some of these events include the cancelation of all Popejoy events until May 1, the cancelation of Fiestas, Farmworkers Awareness Week and the closure of the UNM Art Museum during spring break.
UNM Housing recommended students stay off-campus during the extended break if possible. However, some resources will stay open on campus for the students that cannot leave, like Zimmerman library and meal plan options, both with limited hours.
Kathy Kunkel, the New Mexico health secretary, issued an order on March 12 temporarily prohibiting large gatherings. The University followed suit by canceling all large gatherings on campus.
“With all the news coverage and everything, people are genuinely concerned. If not for their own safety, then for their grandparents or younger siblings,” student Diego Salcido Morales said, organizer of Farmworkers Awareness Week.
With a lot of confusion in the air right now, various departments are still unsure of what will happen with classes over spring break. Updates on March 13 from Provost James Holloway confirmed that classes may start online beginning March 23 and students should stay in touch with their professors. Once in-person classes start again, classes could stay online, revert to a hybrid teaching style or simply go back to normal.
The New Mexico governor said large gatherings over 100 persons should be avoided. The University has canceled all large gatherings until April 30.
“We’re still in a little bit of a limbo between those two proclamations,” Terry Davis, m arketing manager of Popejoy, said.
At the moment, Popejoy has stopped selling tickets for any shows that were planned to happen from now until April 30. Davis said refunds are being issued appropriately for those who ask.
Fine arts companies all around the nation are also struggling with putting on touring shows.
“The tours in the country were still trying to perform as if nothing was going on. By 5 o’clock yesterday, their world changed,” Davis said. “Those kinds of changes happened almost overnight — not even overnight; over noon.”
Popejoy holds a Force Majeure clause with their partners, which is a clause that allows certain obligations to be broken, including financial dues, in the case of uncontrollable circumstances.
“This probably qualifies as an act of God. Both parties get away from the contract,” Davis sa “That changes the financial picture for shows in terms of expenses.”
President Garnett Stokes plans to limit the number of physical employees on campus starting March 17, bringing up a question of work for all staff at the University, according to a Campus Communication released on March 13.
Arif Khan, Director of UNM Art Museum has allowed some full-time staff to work from home due to family concerns and will let students work over break if allowed.
The reopening for the art museum is tentatively planned for March 23 but may change due to the extended spring break.
“We’re a public gathering space, not just for UNM but for Albuquerque,” Khan said. “Unless we feel comfortable providing a safe environment… it’s very up in the air right now.”
The biggest challenge for the art museum will be rescheduling planned events, which will impact many other departments as well.
Khan said a large factor in rescheduling events at the museum are the guests that travel to get to UNM, and their comfort and safety level.
“We want to ensure the safety of those that are coming as well as not contributing to the spread of the coronavirus,” Khan said.
Morales said he is not sure if many campus events could be rescheduled due to the long break.
“I don’t know if the three-week break for students is going to be just that, or if we’ll go online,” Morales said.
There has been speculation around campus about how the University is handling the virus.
“It’s not an easy time right now — things change rapidly,” Khan said. “With things changing so fast for a very large institution — as UNM is — they’ve been doing as well as they can.”
With changes hour by hour, and as institutions scramble to organize their communities, panic amid UNM is growing at a considerable rate.
“Back in 1966 when the hall opened, and before it was even named for the president at the time — Tom Popejoy, he said that this hall would serve as a handshake with the community. Here, quite literally, handshakes can be deadly,” Davis said.
Megan Gleason is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @fabflutist2716