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UNM President Garnett Stokes looks over Johnson Field in preparation for the first ever Hunger Games at UNM.

Stokes awards ‘Hunger Games’ title, living wage to victor


University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes presented the first annual Hunger Games award to Cat Nuncmuert, a graduate student from the English department, on Sunday, April 2 on the third-floor balcony of Scholes Hall.

“On behalf of the Board of Regents, we are pleased to officially name English graduate student Cat Nuncmuert as the winner of the first annual UNM Hunger Games. Cat has demonstrated what being a Lobo is truly about with her perseverance, service and astute thinking,” Stokes said.

The Games, administered by Provost James Holloway, took place over nearly two weeks, beginning on Tuesday, March 11 and lasting until March 23. Selected via lottery, two students from each of the seven different graduate schools participated in the event.

The games commenced and ended at UNM’s Johnson Field, where a cornucopia full of weapons and supplies sat in the center of the space. The games ended when Quinn Dordenmorger, a doctoral student in exercise science, gave an incorrect answer to a riddle to unlock a weapon at the cornucopia, which exploded in her face, according to the play-by-play over radio broadcast.

Most of the event took place across the main and North campuses, monitored and broadcast live using new and existing surveillance infrastructure, Stokes said.

“We kept an eye on every corner of our campus, with around 1,400 cameras monitoring our students at all times. In addition, we were proud to partner with APD to provide extensive 24/7 drone coverage of the event,” Stokes said.

During the games, undergraduate students crowdfunded donations to purchase care packages for tributes. In total, more than $24,000 in Lobo swag and food from the Student Union Building Mercado were donated to the tributes, according to a press release from the President’s office.

For her victory, Nuncmuert will be given a teaching release for one course for the upcoming academic year. In addition, the English graduate program will be adequately funded for one year, finally providing a living wage for the 57 remaining graduate workers in that program, Holloway said.

“With this course release, I only have to teach one class a semester next year. That’s really going to let me focus on my own research so I can try to finish this program in five years. And having a living wage means that I won’t have to decide between buying food or putting gas in my car,” Nuncmuert said.

The reason that only seven different graduate programs participated was because the school of engineering opted out due to lack of “sane” and “playable” tributes, Holloway said.

“Listen, it is a great honor to be selected. It provides otherwise impossible opportunities. And those students from the school of engineering and the 13 tributes that did not make it will reduce the surplus population and the strain on our system,” Holloway said.

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In her closing remarks, Stokes invited students, faculty, staff and community members to a victory parade along Redondo Drive next Tuesday to kick off Nuncmuert’s tour through each of UNM’s academic departments.

UNM will increase student fees to a minimum of $500 starting fall  2023 to finance the 2024 Hunger Games, according to a press release from the Office of the President.

Gabriel Garcia is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @GLGWrites

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