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Immunocompromised community and advocates speak out against end of UNM mask mandate

  Since University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes announced the March 19 expiration of UNM’s indoor mask mandate at a majority of campuses and locations, members of the UNM community who are or who advocate for those who are immunocompromised are raising concerns that their safety was not taken into consideration in the decision-making process. Soph Colson, a UNM student on medical leave and a member of Crip Lib, a disability advocacy group on campus, said she feels dropping the mask mandate is dangerous to disabled students. 


May, Pacheco take narrow win for ASUNM president, vice president

The unofficial results for this year’s close two-way race for the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico president and vice president were released on Wednesday, March 2 with students Ian May and Krystah Pacheco coming out on top as the next ASUNM president and vice president, respectively. Changes to the ASUNM Constitution were also included in the vote and easily passed. These results will remain unofficial until fully ratified by the Election Committee. Only 817 votes were cast in total, a minuscule percentage of the over 15,000 undergraduate students that were eligible to vote in the online elections held from March 7-9. This is similar to the 874 voters last year, just 5.2% of the then 16,662 eligible undergraduates. 

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Rally for women’s rights held on UNM campus

The Party for Socialism and Liberation, along with Students for Socialism, Answer Coalition, and the People’s Housing Project, held a rally to support women's rights issues on Tuesday, March 8 in front of the University of New Mexico bookstore. The rally coincided with this year’s International Women’s Day. The primary focus of the rally was abortion rights. One of the event’s organizers, Margaux Lopez, a member of the party for Socialism and Liberation, shed light on the effect of abortion bans on the transgender and nonbinary community and the difficulties that members in these communities face in relation to reproductive health services.

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Daily Lobo participates in student newsroom fundraising competition

The University of New Mexico’s student-run newsroom, the Daily Lobo, is competing in College Media Madness, a fundraising competition among student newsrooms across the nation, for the second year in a row. Donations can be made to the Jim Fisher Fund, which will go directly to the Daily Lobo, here from the start of the competition on Sunday, March 13 until the competition ends on April 6. The College Media Madness fundraiser was created by the University of Syracuse’s independent newspaper, the Daily Orange. The fundraiser raised over $96,000 last year from over 1,000 individual donations, and the Daily Lobo raised just under $1,500.  

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UNM indoor mask mandate to end next week

The University of New Mexico will forgo its indoor mask mandate starting Saturday, March 19. UNM President Garnett Stokes announced this intent on Tuesday, March 8, which will apply to all branches except Gallup as well as at locations with health-related services and on public transportation. This decision removes masking regulations at branches in counties deemed as low-risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — which include all but the Gallup location — and within most school facilities. The north campus and Rio Rancho campus Health Sciences Center academic and research facilities will keep the mask mandate.


UNM professors answer questions about Russia-Ukraine conflict

UNM professors gathered at Clark Hall via Zoom and in person on Thursday, March 3 to host a teach-in to discuss the ongoing war in Ukraine. The professors offered their perspectives as experts in their respective historical, political and linguistic fields and   spoke on the issue through a question and answer panel. The current conflict began on Feb. 24 when Russia began a military invasion in Ukraine. Ukrainian forces have continued to fight back against the ongoing Russian invasion. The format of the panel was structured with a moderator who asked specific questions for the panelists, ranging from explaining the conflict and why it is unfolding to more of the historical and cultural context of the situation. 

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New Mexico community members protest against NM nuclear waste plant development

  Many New Mexicans remain wary of nuclear contamination at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and on March 1, concerned citizens gathered outside the Statehouse to protest the Department of Energy’s announcement of their goal to send 30 large nuclear waste shipments to WIPP throughout 2022. Cynthia Weehler, co-chair of Santa Fe-based activist group 285 All and leader of the March 1 petition rally through the Nuclear Waste Partnership, continues to advocate for the greater New Mexican public by opposing the Department of Energy and WIPP in their plans for quiet expansion. “The federal government is expanding WIPP but doing it very quietly. 


UNM playwriting class holds silent gathering for Ukraine

  On March 2, a week after Russia invaded Ukraine, University of New Mexico visiting playwright professor Erik Ehn and his students organized a silent witness for peace at the University of New Mexico Duck Pond. “Whether people can stay for five minutes or for the full hour, I hope that it's something that just inspires people to assess themselves and be mindful of the people around them and to carry that with them outside of the hour and to check in with each other and to send peace always,” student Monét Taylor said.  While the silent witness did not have a large turnout, it was a somber moment of time and silence for those in Ukraine. 

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SRC construction causes unexpected disturbances for residents

  Construction on the Student Residence Center stairwells has caused complaints from residents on the lack of advanced notice of the project and early morning noise pollution. The first stairwell repairs began on buildings D, F and G Dec. 20, 2021 and are scheduled to finish by May, according to project superintendent Manuel Jimenez of ESA Construction, the general contractor hired by UNM. The Board of Regents approved the three-phase repair project on Aug. 19, 2021 after an inspection found the stairwells to be “very deteriorated and in need of immediate attention for repair and replacement,” according to the Board’s meeting minutes from that day.


ASUNM key advocate for legislative funding for UNM scholarships, infrastructure

  In the New Mexico legislative session that concluded mid-February, multiple bills were passed aimed at helping higher education students in the state, specifically for the University of New Mexico. Individuals advocated for funding for the lottery scholarship, the opportunity scholarship and infrastructure improvements at UNM. The bills are currently awaiting signatures from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to officially become law. These initiatives were advocated for in large part by representatives from the Associated Students of UNM, specifically the Governmental Affairs department, who spent time during the legislative session in Santa Fe lobbying for funding.

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Small businesses respond to mask mandate lift

  Although Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham lifted New Mexico’s indoor mask mandate in mid-February, small businesses have been deciding for themselves whether or not they really want to stop wearing masks. Matt Alexander, the owner of Picture Perfect Photo Lab, said he allowed his employees to vote on whether or not they wanted to continue requiring masks in store. “The employees aren't comfortable yet not wearing masks,” Alexander said. “We're asking the public to wear a mask when they come in, and we still have signs up asking to wear masks.”  Like Picture Perfect, Evolution Body Piercing has decided to continue wearing masks inside their business as employees don’t feel safe without them yet.

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Stokes’ State of University address covers COVID-19, new projects

  On Thursday, Feb. 24, University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes delivered her annual State of the University address. Like last year, the COVID-19 pandemic was at the forefront of topics covered within the address. “Over the last two years, we've found many new ways of doing things in the interest of keeping our community safe — different ways of communicating, learning, collaborating and even different ways of celebrating,” Stokes said.  Despite the ongoing pandemic, she said the University has made strides to return to a somewhat normal college experience, citing both the recent in-person fall commencement ceremony and having students be able to come back fully to campus. 


Heinrich discusses UNM professors’ methane emission sensors on campus

  Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., visited the University of New Mexico on Thursday, Feb. 24 to discuss two UNM professors’ research on sensors designed to detect methane leaks along natural gas pipelines. Research associate professor Lok-kon Tsui and distinguished professor Fernando Garzon are leading the research, which was awarded $1.5 million from the Department of Energy, according to the UNM Newsroom. The meeting largely consisted of Tsui, Garzon and Kamil Agi, a representative of SensorComm Technologies, UNM’s partner in developing the sensor technology, explaining how the sensors detect methane emissions along pipelines.   “Over the course of the past two years, we’ve made a number of improvements to the design of our sensor.  


President addresses Russian attacks on Ukraine

  On Thursday, Feb. 24, President Joe Biden spoke at a press conference regarding the Russian attacks on Ukraine. In his speech, he condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for the attacks, announced a major sanction package against Russia and said although U.S. troops will not go into Ukraine to fight, he is committed to defending nearby NATO allies. “Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Biden said. His remarks come after Russia’s missile attacks on many Ukrainian cities on Feb. 24 Eastern European Time. 

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UNM programs support first-gen students

  With nearly half of all students enrolled at the University of New Mexico being first-generation college students, the University has a variety of support systems to guide these students toward success. First-gen student Danilo Franco, a junior majoring in computer engineering, accredited some of his success at UNM to the support he’s received from the University’s resources. “My freshman year I had way too many hurdles to get over, and the concern was how I would fill in the gap between what I was able to pay and what I got through scholarships,” Franco said. “I definitely utilize the resources on campus often.”  UNM’s College Enrichment Program provides resources specific to first-generation students through guidance from four advisors. 

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NM senator calls for release of Air Force chimps

  Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., is fighting for animal rights with his co-sponsorship of the Chimp Sanctuary Act, a bill that would prohibit Air Force bases in the United States from housing chimpanzees that are no longer needed for government research. The bill was introduced on Feb. 9 by primary sponsors John Kennedy, R-La., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and co-sponsors Heinrich and Bill Cassidy, R-La. The bill would restrict the housing of chimpanzees at any Air Force base in the United States, including the 34 chimpanzees currently housed at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico, according to a Feb. 9 press release from Animal Protection New Mexico, a nonprofit organization devoted to preventing animal cruelty, abuse and neglect.


African American Student Services hosts final 2022 Black History Month events

  The University of New Mexico’s African American Student Services center has been hosting events throughout Black History Month and is wrapping up this week with “Our Black is Beautiful” on Thursday, Feb. 24 and “Black Grad Mixer” on Friday, Feb. 25. “Our Black is Beautiful” will be a discussion held at AASS led by UNM associate professor of law Sonia Gipson Rankin. She said the event will largely focus on the term “ubuntu,” which has African linguistic roots based on the premise that “I am because we are” and the connection “from person to person.”


Governor lifts state's indoor mask mandate

  Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the statewide indoor mask mandate would be lifted on Thursday, Feb. 17, effective immediately. During the press briefing at the New Mexico state Capitol where it was announced, Lujan Grisham explained that this decision was due to a projection of lower hospitalization rates despite continued high case counts. There has already been a 37% decrease in hospitalizations, which has freed up hospital resources, according to a Feb. 17 press release from the office of the Governor.

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UNM to begin grad union contract negotiations after PELRB petition approval

  Contract negotiations between the United Graduate Workers of the University of New Mexico and the University are in sight as the two jointly filed a petition, which specifies bargaining unit modifications, with the New Mexico Public Employee Labor Relations Board on Monday, Feb. 14. The petition, which clarifies that only graduate students with assistantships are in the bargaining unit, is likely to be approved, after which contract negotiations will begin immediately. If PELRB accepts the petition, UNM will drop their appeal dating back to November on the board’s decision that gave grad workers the right to unionize, according to UNM spokesperson Cinnamon Blair. 


Fetishization’s negative effects on women of color

  Dating can have different obstacles for everyone but the concern that a romantic partner is only interested in you as an exotic object of sexual desire is particularly prominent for women of color.  Fetishization is the treatment of a person as an object, and factors of ethnicity, race, skin color, culture, language and facial features are targeted. Pornhub released their most popular searches in the United States in December 2021, and “Asian,” “Latina” and “Black” were among the top categories.  “I know I’m about to get sexualized from me speaking Spanish and Spanglish,” said Ashley Varela, a political science and international studies major at the University of New Mexico. 

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