The New Mexico State Legislature is currently the only U.S. state legislature to not pay its representatives. It has one of the shortest session lengths and smallest staffs. To modernize the Legislature could mean increasing all of the above, according to a Bureau of Business and Economic Research study. Last fall, Rose Elizabeth Rohrer, a researcher with BBER at UNM, interviewed 24 of the 112 state representatives and received surveys from 44.4% of the staff to hear their thoughts on the status of the Legislature. Of the responses, many said they would benefit from at least one half-time, individually assigned staffer, and at most two full-time staffers. 82.9% said they should be paid, and that the current per diem and travel compensation does not cover the costs of the job. 80.7% said that there was not enough time in the session to dedicate the amount of time to legislation that it deserves.
The National Organization for Victim Assistance is preparing to launch the Youth Advocacy Corps pilot program in partnership with five colleges, including the University of New Mexico. The Youth Advocacy Corps program intends to aid marginalized youth in victim advocacy by providing student fellows with training, mentorship and a paid field placement in a local victim service organization, according to NOVA. On Monday, April 24, the University hosted a town hall where the program was introduced and panelists shared their experiences as sexual violence survivors. Abrianna Morales, a panelist and UNM student, is a NOVA youth program manager and looks forward to the impact the upcoming program will have on campus.
On Sunday, April 16, the University of New Mexico library buildings on central campus were evacuated as a result of an anonymous threat which turned out to be a hoax, according to a statement shared on behalf of the University Libraries. A Lobo Alert informed students of police activity at Zimmerman, Centennial, Parish Libraries and George Pearl Hall at 4:34 p.m. A second alert was sent at 5:00 p.m. stating that police had cleared the area. Police notified the on-site staff at Zimmerman immediately, according to the statement. It was the only library that was open during this time, and it was closed for the remainder of the day after the evacuation.
The University of New Mexico’s Residence Life and Student Housing full-year contract rates are going up for the 2023-24 school year by $150 for traditional rooms and on-campus apartments, $80 and $120 for doubles and singles in suites, respectively, and $190 for apartments at Lobo Rainforest. This follows significant increases in rates over the past four years with total increases of $560 and $1,510 for doubles and singles in traditional rooms, respectively, $660 and $1,610 for doubles and singles in suites, and $1,460 for on-campus apartments, and $1,750 for Lobo Rainforest since fall 2019.
In celebration of Earth Day, the University of New Mexico held its 13th annual Sustainability Expo on Thursday, April 20. The event occurred outside the Student Union Building on Cornell Mall, where various UNM student and city organizations presented their sustainable projects, proposals and products. The Sustainability Expo had about 70 booths, both from the University and around the city. They showcased sustainability initiatives that could apply both off and on campus, according to Jessica Rowland, a lecturer in the UNM Sustainability Studies program and organizer of the Expo.
Albuquerque Public Schools has added 10 extra days to the academic school year. The APS Board of Education voted 5-1 in favor of the addition at their meeting on Wednesday, April 5. Before the vote, a calendar committee comprised of district, school and union staff as well as surveyed staff and parents in the community. The majority of the responses in both cases were in favor of an extended learning calendar when 29 schools extended the 2022-23 academic year, according to the APS website. The change will apply to elementary and middle schools in the district, according to the APS website.
The University of New Mexico is no longer requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for its students and employees effective March 13, according to an email that the Office of the President’s communications team sent out last month. The announcement follows evaluation of public health guidance and a COVID-19 vaccination information session and Q&A, which was streamed via Zoom in February. The requirements are to be maintained for UNM Health and Health Sciences programs and clinical areas. “As our understanding of the virus and the ways in which we manage it evolve, we are continuing to adhere to the science-based decision-making process we have followed from the very beginning of the pandemic,” UNM President Garnett Stokes wrote in the statement.
The UNM Board of Regents unanimously rejected a recommendation to increase tuition by 3% for the 2023-24 year. On Monday, April 10, the Board was presented with three fiscal recommendations drafted by UNM’s Budget and Leadership team. Ultimately, they approved recommendation 3, the only option which did not include a raise in tuition, with the only major, student-wide change being increases in student fees, which the other options also included. Regents’ chair Kim Sanchez Rael said that this push came from a desire to keep the University’s tuition affordable.
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.
The University of New Mexico’s Board of Regents voted to increase the mandatory student activity fee by 3%. The fee for undergraduates taking 15 credit hours will increase by $23.88 and $21.52 for graduate students taking 12 credit hours. The Student Fee Review Board is a group of undergraduate and graduate representatives that allocate the mandatory activity fee that all students pay toward various organizations and resource centers on campus, according to their website.
This spring, the ABQ BioPark Zoo asked the community to donate any old cell phones and electronics to help save chimps and other wildlife, according to the city of Albuquerque website. The ABQ BioPark will send outdated and old technology to be recycled through ECO-CELL, a company that focuses on recycling electronics. This is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ initiative “Gorillas on the Line,” according to Patrick Horley, ABQ BioPark aquarist.
Krystah Pacheco won the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico president-elect and Mikenzie Chessman won vice president-elect during elections held from March 8 to 9 for the 2023-24 school year president and vice president term. Pacheco and Chessman ran together and were both number two on their respective ballots: Pacheco won the presidency by 296 votes and Chessman won the vice presidency by 281. Pacheco touched on what she thinks helped them reach students during the election. “I think going to student organization meetings and not just presenting what our campaign was, but really opening it up for feedback,” Pacheco said.
Legislation that blocks the proposed construction of a storage facility for the nation’s nuclear waste in Southeast New Mexico passed into law Friday, March 17 at the New Mexico State Legislature. The bill, formally known as Senate Bill 53, was passed 35-28 and was signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham the same day. The company Holtec International had planned to construct and operate the site that would have housed nuclear waste from commercial power plants around the United States, transported by railway into New Mexico. The bill states that no disposal facilities can be created without the state’s consent and creates a radioactive waste consultation task force to negotiate on behalf of the state on such issues with the federal goverment.
Weems Gallery & Framing, a local art gallery, has partnered up with the Albuquerque Domestic Violence Resource Center to host a private fundraiser and raise funds to increase resources at the center. The event will take place in April, according to a press release. In the United States, almost 20 people are physically abused by their intimate partner every minute. In New Mexico, “37.6% of New Mexican women and 33.3% of New Mexican men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes,” according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
From March 9 to 11, the University of New Mexico hosted a three-day conference where a diverse group of people enjoyed performances, art and panels created by around 70 scholars and artists at the Latinx Visions Conference. The primary focus of the conference was to highlight speculative works of art in all forms, according to Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez, event coordinator from the UNM Department of Spanish and Portuguese. The Latinx Visions Conference was free for the public to join the all-day panels, art displays and performances. The conference gathered people from the public, professors and students from around the globe.
Protesters’ viewpoints clashed at the corner of San Mateo and Gibson Boulevards on Saturday, March 18 during an anti-war rally that called for an immediate end to the Russian invasion in Ukraine. The event was attended by over 100 people, many of whom opposed the rally’s message. This was not surprising to Jeanne Pahls, co-founder of Stop the War Machine and one of the rally’s organizers, said. “I was anticipating it. I’m not surprised to see that some people are here to say the opposite of what we’re saying,” Pahls said. “This is the U.S. People have different opinions. People have a right to stand up for what they believe in.”
This story was originally published by Source New Mexico City officials in Albuquerque want to purchase the Walmart property set to close on March 10 near San Mateo and Central. It’s unclear how much it will cost for the city to acquire the property, which is still owned by Walmart. The company has yet to offer to sell it, according to City Councilor Pat Davis, who said he is working with Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller’s office to design plans to purchase the property. Davis said that the city could reallocate money to fund a purchase, but it is seeking other funding opportunities through the state legislature as well.
This past Wednesday, March 1, University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes delivered the State of the University address during her sixth year in office. The speech highlighted achievements by the University over the past year, and its plans for future projects and goals. However, it failed to touch on several other events from the past year. Stokes talked about safety at the University and spoke about projects the University has worked on, including Wayfinder — a website to navigate support options after being harmed or harassed — keycard access to buildings, along with requesting money for more keycard readers and lights. However, she failed to mention the shootout that took place on campus in November 2022 that led to the death of a New Mexico State University student.
The National Forest Service began an aerial gunning operation in the Gila National Forest to kill the population of feral cattle in the area which descend from cattle that were abandoned on a grazing allotment within the Wilderness area in 1976. The operation, which started on Thursday, Feb. 23, comes in response to the damaging effects the cattle have on the habitat and water quality of the Park, though the operation has been met with contention due to claims of animal cruelty. This project is part of ongoing efforts since the ‘90s — both lethal and nonlethal — to remove the feral cattle population from the land. The first aerial gunning on the population was done in February 2022 in which 65 cattle were removed, according to Maribeth Pecotte, public affairs officer for the Gila National Forest.
The Health and Sciences Library and Informatics Center at the University of New Mexico introduced an anatomy virtual dissection table, a 3D printer and three VR headsets into their program for student and faculty use, according to the HSLIC staff. The anatomy virtual dissection table, the only natural and thoroughly segmented 3D human anatomy system, was added in October 2022. It is the latest model (Table 9) by the company Anatomage, according to the Anatomage website.