The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico’s senate sent a message to the University community on Wednesday that Black lives matter.
“There isn’t any middle ground in determining whether or not Black people deserve to exist in this country,” ASUNM Senator Suha Musa said.
After hours of deliberating the implications of ASUNM taking an official position on the abolition of the police system, Resolution #1F passed during Wednesday night’s special ASUNM session, with 13 senators voting in favor, 3 against and 4 absent.
The ten-page resolution announced, among other things, ASUNM’s official endorsement of the dissipation of police unions, the defunding of police and a demand for a substantial address of police brutality and issues in the Black community from UNM’s administration.
Senators Musa, Emma Hotz, Raina Harper, Ryan Regalado and Jacob Silva authored the resolution. Although it ultimately passed with a majority, not all senators agreed with the way the bill was written behind the scenes.
Senator Ricardo Hill, vice president of Brothers Leading and Cultivating Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K.), said that although he appreciated senators stating their opinion on the matter, he was unsure about the longevity of their commitment to supporting Black students on campus.
“A lot of people are in support of the cause and want to help, but will this carry over? I don’t see a lot of senators in the Fro, doing their due diligence on campus. This is the first time this has come up,” Hill said during opening comment. “It is a bad look that when people contact me they think that senators only come around when they look for votes.”
Senator Miles Harris, a peer mentor at African American Student Services and B.L.A.C.K. treasurer, also voiced discontent with the way authors went about the resolution.
“I feel like this resolution is a back hand slap in the face. We should have been on this,” Harris said. “You talk a lot about surface level, but I don’t see that translating to actual work.”
Harris went on to question what tangible action would be taken by the senate body beyond the resolution.
“This doesn’t rub me the right way, some parts of this resolution,” Harris said. “What are you going to do when the hashtag ends? I feel like this resolution needs a lot of work, and I hope to see some action when we get back to campus.”
Hill was absent from the final vote, and Harris voted in favor.
The rest of the evening’s deliberation centered primarily around the language of police abolition.
Proposed amendments included changing “defund police” to “reform police,” omitting “dissipate police unions” and removing lines 127-129 altogether, though ultimately only nominal changes in grammar and formatting were passed while the content of the resolution remained unaltered.
During the deliberation, multiple senators expressed displeasure with the presence of State Police snipers on UNM’s campus on May 31 and a subsequent UNM Police Department statement which “inadequately addressed student safety” while “discrediting and not supporting students at the protest and Black students during this time.”
Additionally, the resolution singled out President Garnett Stokes’ general response to recent controversy, stating that “UNM leadership has responded slowly to national events, without substantially addressing police brutality as well as the conversation about police force on UNM’s campus.”
“If you’re not trying to actually make things happen, then what’s the point? I mean, it’s all a show,” Regalado said, comparing the strength of the ASUNM resolution with the UNM administration’s response. “I feel like the University’s statements have been really soft and haven’t really called for much action to change. They just condemn racism — well, I hope you’ve been condemning racism this whole time, you know?”
After the meeting officially adjourned, Resolution #1F co-authors Harper, Hotz, Musa and Regalado openly supported and encouraged UNM’s administration to sever its longstanding ties with the Albuquerque Police Department.
“If a university with 50,000 students can do it in just days after a horrendous incident happened in their city, there’s no reason UNM shouldn’t follow suit, especially with a police department as notoriously problematic as APD,” Musa said.
“There needs to be ties broken between APD and the University,” Hotz said.
Despite declining to directly urge the UNM administration to cut its APD ties, Jacob Silva, the resolution’s fifth co-author, said that he thinks “that’s something that can be done … I think it’s important that we do that.”
Silva added that many UNMPD officers are retired from APD, which he believes is “a problem” due to APD’s checkered past.
At the time of publication, the resolution stands as a senate resolution and is pending a sign-off from ASUNM President Mia Amin and Vice President Ana Milan in order to become a joint resolution, though Milan said that she “probably would have abstained” in order to “do more research on (her) own” when asked where her vote would have landed.
Joe Rull is the data editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @rulljoe