EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article indicated an overlap between students involved with ASUNM and the World Affairs Delegation. The article has been updated to include that the four students involved with both organizations abstained from the appropriation vote for WAD.
The Associated Students at the University of New Mexico granted over $16,000 to three student organizations during their full senate meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 14. The ASUNM senate sent three appropriations in total to the president’s desk while acknowledging that their budget for this semester is dwindling.
“Our appropriation budget that we’re currently sitting at is roughly about $65,000 for the remainder of the semester,” Sofie Carillo, senator and finance committee chair, said. “I know for next week’s cycle we already have five appropriations submitted and one of them is up to $15,000 requested.”
Apart from their submitted budget requests, UNM student organizations may file a special request, known as an appropriation, to pay for “travel and unforeseen expenses such as conferences and events, and for one-time capital outlays such as computers,” according to the ASUNM website. The appropriation goes to the finance committee, which makes recommendations, then the full senate and finally the ASUNM president.
About $55,000 of the remaining appropriation budget comes from ASUNM reserves, according to Rafael Romero-Salas, senate president pro tempore.
“The budget process pulls from the same reserves that the appropriations do,” Romero-Salas said. “Meaning that the reserve funding would be gone for both appropriations and the fall budget process if we continue to fund at extraordinary amounts.”
ASUNM learned recently that they will not have access to the funds collected from the increased student fee until next semester, according to Carillo.
The senators approved a $9,165 appropriation for the World Affairs Delegation, unanimously striking a $1,764 line item in the process. WAD had originally asked for $14,942, with the finance committee shaving that to $10,938 before the full senate meeting.
The stricken $1,764 would have gone toward airfare for a spring conference in Paris, France. Carillo noted at the start of the debate that WAD has over $10,000 that it had raised itself and that the delegation will have the chance to resubmit the request in the spring when ASUNM will have more funds available.
Senators Carly Reynoso and Jesus Sanchez floated the idea of further cuts, but ultimately no more were proposed.
With 18 senators in attendance, the appropriation passed with seven in favor, four against and seven abstaining. The final vote highlighted the overlap between WAD and ASUNM, including ASUNM President Ian May; all four senators involved with both WAD and ASUNM abstained from the vote.
“You should abstain from a vote if it’s something that is a conflict of interest or something that could easily be viewed as a conflict of interest,” Jackson Zinsmeyer, ASUNM attorney general, said. “It does suck to not be able to vote on something you’re really passionate about, but issues are issues and we have to be able to be equitable and fair.”
The senators unanimously approved a $7,025 appropriation for UNM Esports to pay for event entrance fees, audiovisual equipment for livestreaming, controllers and a sound mixer. The Esports team had originally requested $10,343, but the finance committee recommended $7,025 to the full senate instead.
The senators also unanimously approved a $503 appropriation for the Radical Feminist Literary Society to purchase books.
President May signed all three appropriations, according to ASUNM director of communications Daniela Millan.
In the previous full senate meeting, ASUNM granted $5,096 to the UNM hockey team. The next ASUNM full senate meeting will be on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
Gabriel Saiz is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @gsaiz83.