The student government senate election will persist in the face of the pandemic. 

Although the election will be held in an online-only medium, that did not stop 30 candidates from attempting to occupy one of the 11 seats available. Undergraduates can cast their votes from Monday, April 20 at 9 a.m. through Wednesday, April 22 at 5 p.m. via their my.unm.edu portal.

With the coronavirus shuddering the lives of many Lobos, some current senators previously aired concern about how this election's participation will be impacted. This time last semester, 10 of the 15 total candidates were elected by just 6% of all undergraduates. 



Regardless of the turnout, the 11 elected Associated Students of the University of New Mexico (ASUNM) senators will have a direct impact on the experiences of the student population. From deciding whether or not to put a fee raise on the ballot to choose which organizations get what funding, important decisions are made nearly every Wednesday night of the semester by these 20 elected representatives. 

ASUNM’s governance mirrors that of our federal government. Each of the 11 senators will be assigned to one of three committees — Steering & Rules, Outreach & Appointments and Finance — by the vice president to sit on for the duration of the semester. 

The Steering & Rules committee scans the grammar and semantics of all legislation and spearheads changes to ASUNM’s Law Book and Constitution. Outreach & Appointments, as the name would suggest, develops ways to outreach to the student populace, evaluates presidential appointments and makes recommendations to the entire senate. Finance tackles the nitty-gritty of budget requests and appropriations. 

Once committees host their independent meetings to fulfill their respective duties, the full senate assembles the following week to discuss and act upon their senatorial business. 

Aside from their committee assignments, senators must hold office hours, oversee their delegated student organizations and are sometimes appointed to separate boards and committees, such as the Student Fee Review Board (SFRB). 

The SFRB — which three of the 30 candidates have sat on (Emma Hotz, Joshua Romanowski and Jacob Silva) —  review and recommend how student fees are distributed and whether they should be raised, then present their recommendations to UNM’s president and the Budget Leadership Team (BLT). 

No matter who is elected, all 10 will serve for two consecutive semesters beginning fall 2020, with the 11th electee serving a half term. Seats will be assigned based on the proportion of votes received, according to Elections Commission Executive Director Todd Moe. 

Candidates, In Order of Ballot Number

Four separate candidate forums were held via Zoom April 13 by the Elections Commission, wherein candidates briefly introduced themselves and answered a minimum of two randomly selected questions. 

Although some candidates are running as slates — candidates who share platforms and campaign collectively — students must vote for their choice of candidates individually. 

The most common goals espoused in the forums centered around increased outreach, accessibility, transparency and representation. While specific initiatives for the manifestation of these visions varied, the majority of candidates agreed that more effort should be poured into improving these areas. 

Questions of class representation as it relates to diversity, mostly raised by Noah Dowling-Lujan, reinvigorated contentious debate surrounding the prominence of Greek Life within ASUNM — and whether or not that holds relevance — which continued on Twitter the days following the forum. 

The idea of developing an Asian and Pacific Islander Resource Center also took the forefront for a handful of candidates, such as Raina Harper and Helen Zhao. This push, in large part, has been brought about by current Senators Emma Hotz and Jacob Oliguar.

Otherwise, calls for increased funding for student organizations dominated the conversation for many individual candidates and slates alike. Over the course of the academic year, student organizations have faced funding cuts due to ASUNM’s precarious financial position

Noah Dowling-Lujan, #1

Dowling-Lujan is running on a platform of diverting funds from ASUNM’s branches to ensure more funds go to student organizations and on increased non-Greek representation. Dowling-Lujan said he is against further fee raises unless the above policy is satiated and said he wants to eliminate the $15 Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) copay, among other initiatives. 

Dowling-Lujan is a sophomore majoring in political science and philosophy. He has not served as a senator and is not on a slate. 

Lucas Gutierrez, #2

Gutierrez is running on a platform alongside his UNITED UNM slate of campus unity through initiatives like travelling office hours, increased pride by working to expand old events and create new ones and cultivating a more positive culture.

Gutierrez is a freshman majoring in biology. Gutierrez has been involved with ASUNM Student Special Events and is part of the UNITED UNM slate (#2, #4, #11, #15, #17).

Daniella Rodriguez, #3

Rodriguez is running on a platform of representation through providing more resources, outreach to all student organizations and ASUNM transparency with her slate, Our UNM. Rodriguez said she wants to represent the students that are often overlooked, like non-traditional students. 

Rodriguez is a freshman biology major. She has not served as a senator and is a part of the Our UNM slate (#3, #8, #27). 

Joshua Romanowski, #4

Romanowski is running on a platform alongside his UNITED UNM slate of campus unity through initiatives like travelling office hours, increased pride by working to expand old events and create new ones and cultivating a more positive culture. He emphasized interest in ASUNM’s budget and pointed to his work on SFRB and as a junior analyst as experience with financials. 

Romanowski is a senior economics major. Romanowski was previously in Emerging Lobo Leaders (ELL) and is part of the UNITED UNM slate (#2, #4, #11, #15, #17). 

Deon Watson, #5

Watson is running on a platform of multiculturalism, equality and inclusivity. Watson said his experience being an ambassador for the Martin Luther King Jr. state commission has contributed to his team and community involvement skills. Watson said if elected, he believes it’s important for senators to push each other on legislation. 

Watson is a sophomore international business and economics major. He has not served as an ASUNM senator and is not on a slate. 

Nicholas Livingstone, #6

Livingstone is running on a platform of pushing for a safe and inclusive campus, developing a stronger connection between ASUNM and the student body and ensuring that finances are allocated with the student body in mind. 

Livingstone is a senior computer science major. Livingstone has not served as an ASUNM senator and is on a slate with Nathaniel Perry (#9). 

Alina Le, #7

Le is running on a platform of inclusivity through initiatives like an Asian American Resource Center, more outreach to the student body and increased student engagement in voting and other measures with her Together As UNM slate. 

Le is a freshman majoring in East Asian Studies. She has previously been involved with ASUNM Community Experience and is on the Together As UNM slate (#7, #16, #24). 

BrookeLynne Southern, #8

Southern is running on a platform of representation through providing more resources, outreach to all student organizations and ASUNM transparency with her slate, Our UNM. Southern said she has strong leadership skills that she will use to ensure all people are represented while still working as a team player. 

Southern is a freshman political science and American studies major at UNM. Southern has not served as an ASUNM senator and is part of the Our UNM slate (#3, #8, #27). 

Nathaniel Perry, #9

Perry is running on a platform of revamped connections between student clubs and ASUNM, streamlining ASUNM’s processes leading to more accessibility and improving resource center relationships, among other ideas. 

Perry is a junior majoring in business administration. He has not served as an ASUNM senator and is on a slate with Nicholas Livingstone (#6).  

Ismael Hernandez, #10

Hernandez is running on a platform of giving voice to those who do not feel represented and a commitment to helping the student body within ASUNM. Hernandez said he plans to work with resource centers if elected because they need a better way of disseminating important information so that it is accessible to all. 

Hernandez is a sophomore business major. He has not served as an ASUNM senator and is not on a slate. 

Joshua LaFayette, #11

LaFayette is running on a platform alongside his UNITED UNM slate of campus unity through initiatives like travelling office hours, increased pride by working to expand old events and create new ones and cultivating a more positive culture. LaFayette said he’s running for senate because ASUNM needs senators who will not settle for budget slashes to organizations, such as Agora crisis center. 

LaFayette is a freshman majoring in political science. LaFayette was a part of ELL and is on the UNITED UNM slate (#2, #4, #11, #15, #17).

Trenton Del Ferraro, #12

Del Ferraro is running on a platform of transparency through initiatives like using the student listserv more, community involvement and increased marketing with the Activate UNM slate. 

Del Ferraro is a junior majoring in business. He has not served as an ASUNM senator and is a part of the Activate UNM slate (#12, #18, #25, #29, #30). 

Sarah McLean, #13

McLean is running on a platform of advocacy for communities like the LGBTQ+ population, increased Lobo pride and improved campus engagement with the UNM PROUD slate. McLean said she believes it’s important to reach out to students directly, rather than waiting for them to come to her. 

McLean is a junior majoring in anthropology. She has not served as an ASUNM senator and is a part of the UNM PROUD slate (#13, #29, #22). 

Emma Hotz, #14

Hotz is running on a platform of minimal student fee increases, administrative accountability as it relates to safety, ASUNM event accessibility, inner-ASUNM mentorship, increased ASUNM transparency, creation of ASUNM emergency scholarships and advocacy for an Asian American and Pacific Islander Resource Center. 

Hotz is a sophomore political science major and is no stranger to ASUNM. She is the current president pro tempore, has previously ran for ASUNM vice president and has been Steering & Rules chair, among other positions. She is not on a slate. 

Jacob Griego, #15

Griego is running on a platform alongside his UNITED UNM slate of campus unity through initiatives like travelling office hours, increased pride by working to expand old events and create new ones and cultivating a more positive culture. Griego said as a triple-minority student and non-Greek, he aims to make UNM a safe space for everyone. 

Griego is a business major. He was previously in ELL and is on the UNITED UNM slate (#2, #4, #11, #15, #17). 

Sahana Ummadi, #16

Ummadi is running on a platform of inclusivity through initiatives like an Asian American Resource Center, more outreach to the student body and increased student engagement in voting and other measures alongside her Together As UNM slate. 

Ummadi is a senior majoring in health, medicine and human values. Ummadi has not served as an ASUNM senator and is on the Together As UNM slate (#7, #16, #24). 

Claire Karo, #17

Karo is running on a platform alongside his UNITED UNM slate of campus unity through initiatives like travelling office hours, increased pride by working to expand old events and create new ones and cultivating a more positive culture. 

Karo is a junior psychology major. She has not served as a senator and is a part of the UNITED UNM slate (#2, #4, #11, #15, #17). 

Evan O’Connell, #18

O’Connell is running on a platform of transparency through initiatives like using the student listserv more, community involvement and increased marketing with the Activate UNM slate. 

O’Connell is a sophomore majoring in sociology. O’Connell has not served as a senator and is part of the Activate UNM slate (#12, #18, #25, #29, #30). 

Jack Ambarian, #19

Ambarian is running on a platform of advocacy for communities like the LGBTQ+ population, increased Lobo pride and improved campus engagement with the UNM PROUD slate.

Ambarian is a junior political science major. He has not served as a senator and is on the UNM PROUD slate (#13, #29, #22). 

Jacob Silva, #20

Silva is running on a platform of increased scholarship opportunities, accountability for members of ASUNM and keeping tuition and fee rates low. 

Silva is a junior population health major and has an extensive history with ASUNM. Silva is currently the ASUNM chief of staff, ran for ASUNM president this spring and has served as a senator, among other positions. He is not on a slate. 

Raina Harper, #21

Harper is running on a platform of increased ASUNM accessibility and transparency through initiatives like more advertisements and scholarships, increased student engagement and support for student organizations financially and institutionally. Harper also said she wants to provide greater representation for students in the arts and wants more funding to go towards resource centers. 

Harper is a sophomore film production major. She has not served as a senator and is not on a slate. 

Alexa Venditti, #22

Venditti is running on a platform of advocacy for communities like the LGBTQ+ population, increased Lobo pride and improved campus engagement with the UNM PROUD slate.

Venditti is a junior majoring in psychology. Venditti has not served as a senator and is with the UNM PROUD slate (#13, #29, #22). 

Romie Sandoval, #23

Sandoval is running on a platform of student success, safety and servitude. Sandoval said he has background experience in political campaign work and plans to bring his passion for public service into ASUNM. 

Sandoval is a junior majoring in political science. He has not served as a senator and is not on a slate. 

Helen Zhao, #24

Zhao is running on a platform of inclusivity through initiatives like an Asian American Resource Center, more outreach to the student body and increased student engagement in voting and other measures alongside her Together As UNM slate. 

Zhao is a senior majoring in health, medicine and human values. Zhao has not served as an ASUNM senator and is on the Together As UNM slate (#7, #16, #24). 

Sarah Ann Polsin, #25

Polsin is running on a platform of transparency through initiatives like using the student listserv more, community involvement and increased marketing with the Activate UNM slate. 

Polsin is a junior political science major. She is a current senate aide and is on the Activate UNM slate (#12, #18, #25, #29, #30). 

Briana Flores, #26

Flores is running on a platform of inclusivity, opportunity and transparency. Flores said ASUNM has been working towards these goals and said she plans to continue doing so if re-elected.

Flores is a sophomore business major. She is a current Finance senator and is not on a slate. 

Erika MacSaveny, #27

MacSaveny is running on a platform of representation through providing more resources, outreach to all student organizations and ASUNM transparency alongside her slate, Our UNM. MacSaveny said although she’s not the most powerful voice in the room, she is willing to work with everyone to make sure important legislation is passed. 

MacSaveny is a sophomore majoring in political science. MacSaveny is a current Outreach & Appointments senator and is part of the Our UNM slate (#3, #8, #27). 

Valerie Mejia, #28

Mejia is running on a platform of student well-being, inclusivity and resource accessibility. 

Mejia is a sophomore majoring in biology. Mejia has not served as a senator and is not on a slate. 

Austin Dusenbery, #29

Dusenbery is running on a platform of transparency through initiatives like using the student listserv more, community involvement and increased marketing with the Activate UNM slate.

Dusenbery is majoring in business management. He has not served as a senator and is on the Activate UNM slate (#12, #18, #25, #29, #30). 

Emilio Najera, #30

Najera is running on a platform of transparency through initiatives like using the student listserv more, community involvement and increased marketing with the Activate UNM slate. Najera said UNM is inclusive and has a strong community that he plans to uplift as a senator. 

Najera is a junior majoring in business. Najera has not served as a senator and is part of the Activate UNM slate (#12, #18, #25, #29, #30). 

Alyssa Martinez is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @amart4447.