Krystah Pacheco won the Associated Students at the University of New Mexico presidential election and Mikenzie Chessman won vice presidential election, both held from March 8 to 9 for the 2023-24 school year term. Pacheco and Chessman ran together and were both number two on their respective ballots: Pacheco won the presidency by 296 votes and Chessman won the vice presidency by 281.
Pacheco spoke about what she thinks helped them reach students during the election.
“I think going to student organization meetings and not just presenting what our campaign was, but really opening it up for feedback,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco and Chessman plan to introduce a new position within ASUNM: director of student organization relations. The idea came from a conversation they said they had with an organization’s president who expressed frustration on not knowing how to lead their organization.
“We were really letting it resonate with us and trying to figure out what we could do in our positions to fix that. And the best idea that we came up with was creating a peer position so that (a student) wouldn't be having to go and talk to an adult advisor (because) that sometimes can be scary,” Chessman said.
They plan for the director of student organization relations to be a position that works directly with student organizations and helps to connect organizations more closely with ASUNM. Along with this position, Pacheco and Chessman hope to implement two more: a director of environmental affairs, to emphasize sustainability around campus, and a director of student wellness, which will focus on supporting students while they are in school.
“A lot of times in ASUNM, we put a lot of focus on financial aid up in Santa Fe, or we do a lot of focus on the opportunity scholarship (and the) lottery scholarship,” Pacheco said. “And it's great because it brings students to campus, but we really need to focus on that student support while they're here, while they're enrolled.”
In order to get these positions instated, Pacheco and Chessman will have to draft the legislation and then do outreach to ASUNM members and students to get input. After, it will be sent to the ASUNM rules committee and finally to the full senate to be approved.
“Our vision is to get the bare bones of those positions into the law books so we’re able to hire them and really work over the summer to kind of bring them into what we want them to be,” Chessman said.
In addition to adding new positions, they also plan to address student safety concerns by taking inspiration from a program they saw when visiting New Mexico State University, which would provide an alternative to the UNM Police Department’s escort service.
“They had a student-led escort service — it's called Pete's Pickup. And so what it does is it gives students rides around campus to their cars or to their dorms late at night … And we realize that right now, UNM has an escort program for the UNM Police Department, but it's heavily underutilized, just because the perception of riding in the back of a cop car late at night isn't the most inviting to students,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco and Chessman will be transitioning into office in May. Until then they will go through training for their respective positions and work on the legalization they hope to pass during their time leading ASUNM.
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Elizabeth Secor is the multimedia editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @esecor2003