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An "Associated Students at the University of New Mexico" sign is located in the ASUNM office at UNM Student Union Building.

ASUNM senate creates new checks on executive branch

Senate passes $1 million budget

 

The president of the Associated Students at the University of New Mexico will no longer  be able to fire employees nor withhold their stipends after the passage of two bills during the full senate meeting on Wednesday, April 12.

Bill 14S creates a three-strike system before an employee can be fired, also requiring the ASUNM president to send out written notices for each infraction. Previously, the president could fire employees at will and with no written record of the firing.

“There’s nothing stopping a president from just, if they can construe anything to mean a failure of duty or responsibility, from just removing someone from that position with no oversight, or accountability, or paper trail,” Kevin Peacock, senator and author of both bills, said.

The president employs numerous people who are paid with stipends.

Bill 14S isn’t reactive, according to Peacock.

“As far as I know this has never happened,” Peacock said. “This is not fixing a problem that has actually occurred. It’s just some preventative maintenance within the lawbook.”

Bills 13S entirely removes the ability of the ASUNM president or the chief of staff to withhold stipends of their employees.

In other business, the senate distributed $1,005,277 among 69 student organizations and ASUNM organizations to spend during the next two semesters.

The massive budget, passed at the March 8 full senate meeting, is the first to be funded by the increased $35 ASUNM fee paid by each undergraduate. The fee is set to increase by $5 every three years until reaching $50.

That money allowed the senate to only cut budgets on the basis of compliance with standing rules and avoid comparing the needs of different organizations, according to Silas Wyatt, senator and chair of the finance committee.

“There were no cuts made for the purpose of budget cuts, which is pretty historic,” Wyatt said.

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ASUNM Student Special Events received $255,001 — the most of any ASUNM or student organization.

All other ASUNM organizations received five-figure sums, except the Student Court, which received $7,638.

Most student organizations received three or four-figure sums. Agora Crisis Center, UNM Ice Hockey and the Asian American Student Association received $53,973, $31,356 and $12,141, respectively.

“I think it’s reasonable to expect that our budget should increase for the next couple years at least, until enrollment drops,” Wyatt said.

In terms of appropriations, money for one-time expenses of student organizations, the senate still had a little over $100,000 to distribute at the start of Wednesday’s meeting, according to Wyatt.

“We’re dying to give away this money,” Wyatt said. “It’s for students. It’s been set aside for them and we would love to get it in their hands by the end of the semester.”

The deadline for student organizations to request an appropriation is 5 p.m. this Friday, April 14, according to Wyatt.

The full senate meets for the last time this semester on Wednesday, Apr. 19. Full senate meetings are open to public comment.

Gabriel Saiz is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com

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