Four candidates, two positions, one election.
Beginning March 9, undergraduate students can cast their votes for either of the two students vying to be student government president and vice president. The election ends March 11 at 5 p.m.
Jacob Silva and Emma Hotz — #1 on the ballot for president and vice president, respectively — and Mia Amin and Ana Milan — #2 on the ballot — are running to assume the highest roles in the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico body.
The ASUNM president acts as the undergraduate’s representative to the University’s governors. The vice president manages the processes of internal lawmaking and oversees the senate, which affects all student organizations and a number of student hosted campus events.
Amin, an international student, majors in business and acts as the director of the Center for Financial Capability (CFC) and the LoboTHON finance director.
Silva is a population health major, the Student Union Building (SUB) board president, a member of the Student Fee Review Board (SFRB) and a member of the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega (ATO), like his would-be ASUNM presidential predecessor Adam Biederwolf, if elected.
Their vice-presidential picks, Milan and Hotz, also have lengthy accolades.
Hotz is a political science major, the ASUNM president pro tempore, Kappa Kappa Gamma (KKG) sorority secretary and the LoboTHON communications chair.
Milan is an economics and statistics double major, a finance senator, a resident advisor, an international student and a member of the multicultural sorority Kappa Delta Chi (KDC).
Aside from their shared ambitions to become leaders of the student government, their initiatives and approaches to the roles differentiate the dual slates. The slates — a way to organize candidates that run on the same platforms under a banner title — are I AM UNM with Amin and Milan, and UNM Vision 2020 with Silva and Hotz.
Silva and Hotz are running on a platform to increase inclusivity and college affordability.
The biggest initiative the slate would push for in terms of inclusivity is creating a paid ASUNM position they call the ASUNM director of diversity for equity and inclusion. This position would work directly with Assata Zerai, UNM’s vice president for equity and inclusion, the resource centers, student organizations and departments to bridge the diverse student body and ASUNM.
The appointee would host trainings, pass along ASUNM events and scholarship information and relay updates from centers to ASUNM leadership, according to Silva and Hotz.
Silva said he hopes this position will stay for administrations long after theirs if they are elected.
“I think the first semester I would like it to be a $500 stipend because I really want to put a lot of emphasis on this position,” Silva said.
The position’s pay would likely come from ASUNM’s internal budget.
The pair also said they would enforce a language shift in the governmental body, such as using pronouns. Hotz said if Silva were president, he would make sure all ASUNM events — such as Fiestas and Red Rally — were ADA accessible through agency coordination.
As for college affordability, they said because of their own and other students’ dependence on the lottery scholarship, they would fight for increased higher education funding at the Roundhouse next January. Silva said they’d push for the implementation of an ASUNM emergency scholarship, similar to El Centro de la Raza, which Amin and Milan also expressed interest in.
Silva and Hotz pointed to their involvement with SFRB and how it gave them a binary perspective on student fees.
“We understand the views of the students not wanting our fees being raised more, but we also understand the administrative side of why student fees need to be raised,” Silva said. “If we have to raise student fees, we want to raise it at the most minimal level, if not that, not at all.”
SFRB is the student committee that determines how student fees are allocated to resource centers and other organizations on campus yearly. It consists entirely of students, mostly from student government.
Amin and Milan’s slate name — I AM UNM — is an acronym for their platform of increased Inclusivity, Accountability and a Mentality shift within ASUNM.
The duo said they mainly aim to achieve their goals by in-person outreach to all populations on campus and increased internal ASUNM communication. They detailed initiatives like the creation of a presidential advisory board for fair hiring practices within the agencies, increased student forums and a revamp of ASUNM monthly emails, for starters.
Amin and Milan said they are no strangers to pushing for paradigm shifts. They said they would use their positions to advocate for all students on campus rather than just a select few.
Milan, formerly a member of the IncludeUNM senatorial slate that swept the fall 2019 elections, pointed to her record of change as a source of trust for their intentions.
“When you see ASUNM before my slate for senate ran, you did not see that diversity at all in ASUNM,” Milan said.
Mia said their slate intends to change the institutional culture of ASUNM.
“I think when you come from the same background and people with the same backgrounds lead this organization, I think you get stuck in a cycle of promoting the same things, representing the same things, same ideas,” Amin said. “Well, the campus needs more inclusivity, the campus wants to see more representation, the campus wants to see more change even.”
Milan and Amin said they wouldn’t falter from addressing the current funding distribution within ASUNM and would seek to make it more equal.
“I’m not afraid to have that conversation about yes, agencies are the things they advertise at New Student Orientation, those are like the pride and joy of ASUNM, like Fiestas and Red Rally,” Amin said. “But I truly believe that if the same 2,000 students are going to these same events, then how can we justify 16,000 student’s fees going to fund these 2,000 peoples’ experience at UNM.”
In 2019, ASUNM assigned $513,618 — 81% of its 2020 budget — to fund events like Fiestas and Red Rally, among other internal projects. Some of that money is dispersed back to student organizations throughout the year as appropriations.
The rest — $120,788 or 19% — went to student organizations' budgets.
Silva said although ASUNM has received criticism for its financial practices, ASUNM’s funding is mostly equal to organizations in total. He said he would consider a 50/50 financial split, however.
“We want to make sure everyone is being funded equitable, and so I think that’s why we have standing rules in place,” Silva said. “In my opinion, it balances out at the end of the fiscal year because of appropriations (for student orgs) ASUNM agencies don’t request appropriations because they have budgets.”
Alyssa Martinez is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @amart4447