Protesters gathered outside of the University of New Mexico Bookstore on Sunday, July 10 in response to the killing of Brett Rosenau, a 15-year-old who died in a house fire during an Albuquerque Police Department and APD SWAT standoff. The cause of death was smoke inhalation, with APD Chief Harold Media acknowledging possible fault for the fire, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Friday, June 24 saw an unprecedented shift in the political landscape of the United States with the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. The decision overruled both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, revoking the constitutional right to an abortion and opening the door for states and lawmakers to ban the procedure. The constitutional protection of an abortion was argued under the Fifth and 14th amendments in what is called the due process clause which states that, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” under the 14th amendment.
Multiple conservation groups have filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, citing concerns for the Mexican gray wolves. The groups, which include WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Wildlands Network, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and the Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project, claim the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to create an adequate rule that provides enough protections for the endangered species.
On June 11 and 19, shootings occurred at 11:15 p.m. and 12:15 a.m., respectively, on the premises of Lobo Village, a University of New Mexico student housing apartment complex located on South Campus. The shootings and response have brought up safety concerns among residents. No one was injured during either shooting, although there was property damage reported.
The redistricting committee met for the final time on the evening of Wednesday, June 29, voting to send all eight proposed maps to the Albuquerque City Council for consideration. The committee also sent a ranked vote of the eight maps to the council, with concept map A having the most support. The maps and rankings will not be heard by the full City Council until their first meeting in September. Councilors do not have a deadline on a decision, and could still alternatively create their own map, according to Petra Morris, associate director of planning and policy development.
The United Graduate Workers of the University of New Mexico met with the University's bargaining team on June 23 through 25 to further discuss the Union’s contract. Pushback from the University continued with further debate over a nondiscrimination clause, employee contracts and disciplinary discharge. “(A nondiscrimination clause) is codifying certain protections that, as we can see with Roe v. Wade being struck down and all these other Supreme Court (cases), (are not) guaranteed rights … We know that despite UNM’s claims, federal and state laws can’t take the place of (a) solid nondiscrimination clause in the contract,” Union member Joe Ukockis said.
Nuclear energy research is set to explode at the University of New Mexico as several nuclear engineering professors’ projects were awarded grant money as a part of the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program. Directly awarded to UNM was an estimated $625,000 over five years to fund nuclear engineering professor Minghui Chen for his research proposal, “Advanced Reactors Integral and Separate Effects Tests,” where he will perform safety tests to validate the usage of two different types of reactors. Chen hopes the research will support “the expanded use of clean nuclear energy worldwide,” and aims to emphasize training for underrepresented minorities.
On Saturday, June 25, Albuquerque residents gathered at the newly refurbished Rail Yards to listen to the annual remarks on the state of the city by Mayor Tim Keller. His remarks focused on the city’s recent efforts toward combating crime, homelessness and climate change in response to the last few years of national and local instability. In response to an increase in criminal incidents over the COVID-19 pandemic, Keller’s administration has increased funding to the Albuquerque Police Department this year by $50 million. This money is to be used for new technology such as automated speed cameras, gunshot detection technology and digital crime enforcement, according to Deputy Chief of Police Cecily Parker.
Hundreds of community members gathered to express their outrage on the evening of Friday, June 24 over the Supreme Court ruling to reverse Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, overturning the constitutional right to abortion and making it possible for states to ban abortions outright. The march was organized by numerous grassroots groups including New Mexico Women's March, Planned Parenthood, the New Mexico Black Central Organizing Committee, Indigenous Women Rising and the New Mexico Stronger Together Coalition.
On Monday, June 20, the University of New Mexico administration announced that three-ply surgical masks or better are now recommended, but not required, indoors for all students, faculty and staff at the Albuquerque, Gallup and Valencia campuses, effective June 21. This new recommendation comes in response to the three respective counties the campuses are located in reaching “high COVID-19 community levels” as categorized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This recommendation applies to all indoor events at the University unless otherwise indicated, including the ongoing New Student Orientation sessions throughout the summer, according to UNM spokesperson Cinnamon Blair.
On the evening of Wednesday, June 22, the Albuquerque City Council met with city officials from the Department of Family and Community Services to discuss the ongoing crisis of the high number of unhoused people in the city, mainly focusing on an ordinance to define the rules and regulations around creating city-sanctioned encampments. The safe outdoor space ordinance, which previously passed through the council, will allow city-run camps for unhoused individuals to live in with public facilities for them to use. These spaces will be permitted in Albuquerque come Aug. 1. However, the ordinance discussed at the meeting on Wednesday that would define the implementation of these spaces and other rules or regulations failed in council.
Six medical cannabis patients and Ultra Health Dispensaries have filed a class-action lawsuit against health insurance providers in the state of New Mexico. The lawsuit would require health insurance companies to cover the entire cost of medical cannabis due to its use to treat trauma spectrum disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder. “Legislation was passed which very specifically says that any insurer who offers behavioral health care coverage in New Mexico shall offer it with no copay, co-insurance deductible, i.e. no co-share,” Ultra Health CEO Duke Rodriguez said.
Through the school’s Student Health and Counseling service, the University of New Mexico is one of only 46 universities across the nation that offers gender-affirming vocal therapy, according to Speech Pathology Master’s Programs. The program follows the World Professional Association for Transgender Health standards of care to provide primarily voice feminization therapy to transfemininine women, as estrogen, unlike testosterone, cannot alter physical vocal composition; only vocal training or a glottoplasty can.
The unofficial results of the 2022 New Mexico primary elections were released after the election on Tuesday, June 7. Mark Ronchetti won the Rebublican primary and will face off against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who won the democratic primary unopposed. Just over 25% of registered voters cast their ballots in this year’s primaries. Nick Allen, an out-of-state New Student Orientation leader for the University of New Mexico, was pleased to witness the primaries and is happy with the unofficial results, despite the low voter turnout.
On Saturday, June 11, hundreds of people gathered along Central Avenue in Albuquerque to celebrate Pride Month with the annual parade and festival. Featuring more than 70 floats and countless artworks, the event promoted unity through acceptance, respect and hope. Friends, volunteers, rainbow-decorated police officers and political figures joined in on the largest event of this year’s New Mexico Pride festivities to celebrate the broader LGBTQ+ community and the work it took to get here.
The evening of Wednesday, June 8 saw Albuquerque’s redistricting committee meet for their penultimate meeting, continuing the redistricting process for the city. Members voted in favor of 2 new maps for consideration, one of which being an updated version of citizen map 3, along with what voting method they will use on maps at the next meeting. The “fairness for our future” map, which was adopted as citizen map 5, was presented by Keith Sánchez, a teacher and Ph.D. candidate in UNM’s Chicana and Chicano studies program. The map aims to support the west side of the city by adding 2 additional representatives and includes 4 Hispanic-majority districts.
New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, alongside faithbased groups and the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, will be hosting the first annual Guns to Gardens National Buyback Day, on Saturday, June 11 at La Mesa Presbyterian Church. Gun owners turning over guns will recieve gift cards to places like Target, Walmart and Amazon and all guns will be dismantled and turned into gardening tools, according to a press release from NMPGV.
On May 19, the United States Forest Service issued a Stage 3 forest closure for the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands, in effect until July 18 or until rescinded. The closure comes in response to the high fire danger in the forest and grasslands in a continued effort to combat and prevent wildfires across the state. “The primary reason for the Stage 3 forest closure is to protect human life, property and natural resources. Fire danger remains extreme with record conditions,” Cibola National Forest public affairs officer Patricia Johnson said.
Researchers from the Medical Cannabis Research Fund at the University of New Mexico recently published a new study titled “Cannabis consumption and prosociality.” The study found that undergraduates at UNM who had levels of THC in their system, when compared to nonusers, showed more empathy, pro-social behaviors and moral decision making. The data shows the statistical magnitude in the differences between the two mean values of the results of the two respective groups.THC users all scored higher than nonusers in measures of prosocial relations, empathy, a moral foundation of harmlessness and a moral foundation of fairness; THC users did score lower in measures of in-group loyalty, though.
As incoming graduate workers find their way onto campus this coming fall, they will have the opportunity to join the recently recognized graduate workers union. Returning graduate workers will continue to fight for fair wages and better working conditions in bargaining sessions scheduled throughout the summer. The United Graduate Workers of the University of New Mexico had their first contract negotiation sessions with the University’s bargaining committee from Wednesday, May 4 through Friday, May 6, reaching a heavy point of contention on the third day. The University pushed back on articles surrounding anti-discrimination and contracts, something the Union went on to speak about during the public comment at the Board of Regents meeting on Tuesday, May 10.