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Courtesy photo provided by Makayla Otero.

ASUNM Presidential elections: Makayla Otero

Makayla Otero (ballot #5) is a junior at the University of New Mexico pursuing a dual degree in political science and psychology. She has also served as President of the Pre-Law Society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Otero said she was first inspired to run for the Associated Students at the University of New Mexico Presidential election her freshman year when she was first involved in ASUNM. Otero first served as an Associate Justice before taking on the Chief Justice role this school year.

Otero’s judicial background has taught her how to understand the ASUNM law book and constitution, as well as putting aside personal feelings in order to focus on the facts, she wrote.

“We have a job to represent the students with personal feelings aside, and my administration will focus on that,” she wrote.

Otero is proud of the work ASUNM has accomplished during her time, and wants to expand ASUNM’s community outreach, including holding more forums to give students a chance to speak directly with ASUNM leaders. She seeks to increase ASUNM’s engagement with student organizations, as well as sports and Greek life, she said.

“We currently have some amazing leaders in office who have taken the time to get to know people, and I want to continue that legacy,” Otero said.

If elected, Otero’s work as President would be geared toward three goals: community, accessibility and safety, she said.

Community has been an important part of her experience at UNM, Otero said. After consulting with UNM students, she wants to improve the environment on campus so that students who feel isolated can feel included.

“I believe UNM has so much life, so much going on, and we come from different backgrounds of life and have many differences. But the one thing we all have in common is that we’re Lobos, and we should be there to support one another, love one another and just have fun together,” Otero said.

She will have an open-door policy as President so any student can visit with her and advocate for areas they would like to see changes in, she said. “I want to support student organizations and help them learn how to utilize ASUNM as many do not know about the process to get support from ASUNM,” Otero wrote.

Otero also wants to address accessibility issues on campus to help students with disabilities feel more included and respected, she said. 

In the state legislature, along with advocating for student scholarships, Otero plans to advocate for capital outlay to increase accessibility in campus bathrooms and classrooms. She also wants to work toward adding braille around UNM, she wrote.

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Safety has been one of the biggest parts of Makayla’s campaign, she said.

“The number one concern I have been hearing from students is about safety. We spend so much time on campus, and we should be able to feel safe,” Otero said.

She plans to advocate for legislative funding to add more security cameras and better lighting on campus.

She also wants to put more focus on Lobo Lift, a student escort program that has yet to come to fruition, giving students the option to call a golf cart for safe travel on UNM’s campus. In 2023, ASUNM received $100,000 from the state legislature to fund the program, according to UNM Newsroom.

“There are a lot of ways we can improve safety. It’ll take time, but we need to start somewhere and those are a couple great places to start,” she wrote.

In deciding on who to include in her Executive Cabinet, Otero plans on hiring students with good work ethics who aren’t afraid to ask or answer questions, work well with others and have a drive to help their peers, she said.

“In ASUNM, you need to be able to ask questions and work with people in the office … I don’t want someone to answer questions with what they think I want to hear. I want to get to know you,” she wrote.

ASUNM’s elections begin Wednesday, March 20 at 9 a.m. and closes on Thursday, March 21 at 5 p.m., according to the ASUNM Elections Commission. Polling locations have yet to be announced.

Maria Fernandez is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at

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