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Appointments, budgets, legislation (oh my!)

ASUNM Senate meets Sept. 13

The Associated Students at the University of New Mexico began their meeting with under 20 senators. At the first recess, five newcomers were put under oath and voting representatives by the time the session came back together.

All five new senators were first appointed by ASUNM Vice President Mickenzie Chessman and approved unanimously by the Senate after being asked two to four questions each. 

The new Senators are Mutazz Jaber, Alexa Lucero, Luke Torres, Kiera Rosenfeld and Anthony Tomaziefski. The questions ranged from ‘What perspectives will you bring to the Senate?’ to ‘What are you most excited for this fall semester?’ They will all be up for election this fall if the Senators choose to run again.

With more voting members, the Senate then began to elect the vice president pro tempore. In a series of two votes of the four nominated candidates, the final two candidates were Gabriel Gurule, Vice Chair of Steering and Rules, and Miriam Barba, Senator on the Outreach and Events Committee.

Gurule was elected in a private vote. Much of the deliberation before the event triumphed his status as the most tenured senator and being the runner-up from last year. Barba was supported because of her background as a Chicana Studies student and the perspectives she brings to the table.

Several appropriations were unanimously passed by the Senate, mostly to clubs that were organizing out-of-state or country trips. All on the agenda received funding.

New standing rules allow for the finance committee to fund registration/conference fees at 75% of their asking price.

“We have a lot more money now than we used to. The Finance Committee has been a little bit tighter in the past. We had to budget for discretionary credits. It's been really straightforward. I want to emphasize that there's more room for discussion in Finance Committee Calls with certain people in the Senate,” Ria Shultz said - ASUNM Finance Chair. 

The Senate also approved FY24 Balance Forwards – money that was not used last year to roll over to this year. this included $1,500 to the Elections Commission for "Food/Snacks to Incentivize Voting.” ASUNM has no law on incentivizing voting, aside from stating, “All students may vote at their own discretion.”

Following appropriations, all six bills presented were passed by the Senate unanimously. Bill 4 creates polling booths for the next ASUNM elections on Nov. 8 - 9 with in-person voting from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Instead of the “polling information centers” available last year that only provided information. Students will now be able to cast their votes at the polling stations.

Bill 6 set up regulations around how the potential funds will be appropriated from a proposed ASUNM Quasi Endowment Fund that would be funded via the UNM Foundation. All potenial requests to use the money the fund accumulates through interest must go through the ASUNM Finance Committee and Senate for approval.

“Endowment bills must include a detailed proposal and justification for the funding,” Bill 6 reads.

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A maximum of two requests a year can only be submitted by the ASUNM President, Vice President or by vote of two-thirds of the Senate. If they wish to pull from the original money put in the fund to build interest, it would have to be approved by the Board of Regents, President Kyrstah Porcheco said.

“There's also a clause in this piece of legislation that (states) we're not to touch this endowment until 2035 to allow interest to accrue over time. This piece of legislation is placing an extra layer of regulation on the endowment,” Porcheco said.

During the president's address, Porcheco went over the upcoming capital outlay project and asked for Senate output – where ASUNM will decide on a project to put state funding from this year's legislative session towards. Ideas from Isabel Castaneda, the  Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, put forward in the general report, included lighting and new pavement in parking lots as well as additional accessibility measures.

“Accessibility was talked about to add to a lot of the buildings, (such as) adding more ramps and rails. One of the things that was really interesting and great to hear was the idea of adding textured paths and rails to the buildings for blind students as we don't really have a lot of those things,” Castaneda said. 

A prior project included the creation of the Lobo Lift – a shuttle service for students to use on campus. Porcheco said they are in the process of organizing a test run of the program with Student Resident Life and Housing before a full-scale program is available.

The full Senate meets again on Friday, Sept. 29. Full Senate meetings are open to public comment.

Maddie Pukite is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at on Twitter @maddogpukite

Maddie Pukite

Maddie Pukite is the 2023-2024 editor of the Daily Lobo. 

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