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Two University of New Mexico police cars parked outside of the Student Union Building.

ASUNM senate calls for increased funding to UNMPD

Senate approves changes to hiring process, elects new president pro-tempore

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article reported that two students died in a shooting that took place on UNM campus on Nov. 19. The article has since been updated to show only one student died and the other was left injured.

The Associated Students at the University of New Mexico voted to approve a resolution calling for an increase in funding for the UNM Police Department during their last full senate meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 30. The approval comes in the wake of a deadly shooting that took place on UNM campus resulting in the death of one UNM student and another NMSU student being injured.

A resolution is a piece of legislation whose purpose is to reflect the opinion of the ASUNM senate. ASUNM President Ian May, who plans to sign the resolution, said in an interview with the Daily Lobo that while a resolution doesn’t “tangibly” do anything, this resolution specifically demonstrates a large amount of thought and hard work on behalf of the senate toward finding an answer to the question of safety.

“I think a huge benefit of putting a lot of effort and research into a resolution … is being able to actually have some weight to (it) ... And then taking that out of ASUNM and into administration to actually hopefully affect some real change,” May said.

The meeting took place inside the Student Union Building at the same time as Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk spoke inside the SUB as well, which was met with a crowd of protesters. Three were detained with some suffering injuries from the State Police in riot gear.

The senate also elected senator Mickenzie Chessman, who had been serving as chair of the steering and rules committee, to be the next president pro-tempore, taking the place of Rafael Romero-Salas.

Chessman authored the resolution and spoke to the Daily Lobo about the work that went into creating it.

“(The resolution) was born from students reaching out to us and to administration to express their concern about safety on campus … So then from that, I reached out to UNMPD and to Dr. Eric Scott, the (vice president) for student affairs, as well as the executive vice president for finance and administration … Teresa (Costantinidis). And (I) met with them to discuss what's being done presently to improve campus safety and then what we can do as students to continue advocating for that,” Chessman said.

Both May and Chessman did acknowledge possible reservations about a resolution that would call for the increased funding of a police department.

The deparment has in recent years had officers who have publicly shared racist videos and had private information leaked. May and Chessman say the larger goal of the resolution is to advocate for student safety in general, in the many forms that might take.

“The number one thing is just forcing our support and our concern for safety on campus. So, the goal of the resolution is to, with that support, also show administration and to state level legislatures that this is a number one priority for students at UNM … The goal of this resolution is not necessarily to just be pro-UNMPD or pro-police in general, it's more to just act as a stepping stone to improve campus safety overall,” Chessman said.

A study performed by the American Civil Liberties Union found that students with disabilities and students of color were arrested at a higher rate in public schools with law enforcement presence compared to non-disabled and white students, respectively.

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“Students with disabilities were arrested at a rate of 29 per 10,000 students, nearly three times higher than their non-disabled peers. Black students had an arrest rate of 28 per 10,000, which was three times that of white students. Native American and Pacific Island/Native Hawaiian students both had arrest rates of 22 per 10,000, more than twice the arrest rate of white students. Nationally, Latinx students were arrested at a rate 1.3 times that of white students (11 per 10,000 compared to 9 per 10,000),” the study reads.

The resolution was passed on a 19-0 vote with one abstain.

During the meeting, the senate also passed bills 13F-17F which all related to the hiring process. Bills 14 and 16F strike out the old hiring language from the executive and legislative code, respectively, with 13 and 17F providing additional syntactical and definitional clarification.

Each of the bills needed to be passed in order for the changes to actually take effect; the senators opted for a block vote, approving all five bills 17-0 with two abstains.

The senate also passed 13 appropriations in a 17-0 block vote for a variety of different student organizations including the Black Student Union and the UNM Table Tennis Club.

The ASUNM senate will have their next meeting in the spring semester.

John Scott is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at editorinchief@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @JohnSnott

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