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The Setonian

Albuquerque looks to Santa Fe to help set up rules to purchase and redevelop Walmart property

  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.

GALLERY: State of the University Speech

Stokes highlights University achievements in broad strokes during State of the University Address

  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. 


Aerial gunning of feral cattle is met with backlash

  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.

GALLERY: New technology at UNM north campus

New technology at the Health Sciences Library hopes to innovate students' education

  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.


ASUNM wary of Opportunity Scholarship loan bill

  Free tuition at the University of New Mexico might need extra support during the state legislative session  in Santa Fe to remain as is, according to Associated Students at UNM President Ian May. The Opportunity Scholarship — which currently covers tuition for many UNM students — would become a forgivable loan if Bill 481 becomes state law. May said not to panic since the bill is highly unlikely to pass, but also invited the ASUNM senators to voice opposition to the bill during the ASUNM full senate meeting this past Wednesday, Feb. 22.

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Joint motion dismisses permit for asphalt plant due to health concerns

  Earlier this month on Feb. 8, the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board approved a joint motion that dismissed a hearing for an air quality permit to build an asphalt plant in the Mountain View community in the South Valley of Albuquerque. The Environmental Law Center joined community organizers in the legal fight to get the asphalt site out of the community in 2018 when the Environmental Health Department issued a permit to New Mexico Terminal Services to create the plant, according to staff attorneys Maslyn Locke and Eric Jantz.

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New UNM course seeks to expand research among Black communities

  Celine Ayala, a doctoral student from the University of New Mexico, has created the new program “Black Research 101” for any UNM students who are interested in research with Black communities. The program is set to be launched in the 2023 fall semester. Black Research 101 is a cohort-based program where students will learn to create a research proposal that is specific to the study of Black diasporic communities. They will learn about different perspectives such as Black feminist thought and Afro-pessimism, according to the UNM Newsroom.

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Division for Equity and Inclusion prepares to release campus climate survey

  Beginning March 1 and ending on April 23, the Division for Equity and Inclusion at the University of New Mexico will release a student climate survey for students across UNM’s main campus, the School of Law and branch campuses, according to the DEI website.  The goal of the research is to conduct climate surveys that represent the full diversity of the UNM community, according to Assata Zerai, principal investigator and vice president for the DEI. Campus climate is generally defined as “current attitudes, behaviors and standard of faculty, staff, administrators and students concerning the level of respect for individual needs, abilities and potential,” according to professor Susan Rankin from Pennsylvania State University.

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UNM considers COVID-19 vaccine mandate lift

  On Feb. 6, the University of New Mexico’s Office of the President's communications team shared that the UNM administration is debating lifting the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students, staff and faculty via email. The debate on whether or not to lift the vaccination mandate was brought to light based on recommendations from the University’s Health Protocols Committee and a discussion with the administration. “While we know that COVID-19 is not over and that we must remain vigilant in protecting ourselves against the virus, it is transitioning into a more manageable endemic phase in our state and across the country,” UNM President Garnett S. Stokes wrote in the email.


UNM celebrates Black History Month

  Feb. 1 marked the start of Black History Month, a time to reflect, honor and appreciate the history of Black people in the United States as to further incorporate these discussions into the broader mainstream discussion outside of the month of February, according to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The University of New Mexico has a calendar full of events hosted by various departments to allow students to celebrate and enjoy the month.

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African-American Day at Legislature celebrates and furthers progress in New Mexico

  On Friday, Feb. 10, hundreds gathered at the state Capitol in Santa Fe to advocate for legislation that supports the Black community in the state. This was a part of African-American Day, a biannual celebration to recognize achievements in the African American community and educate on legislation which impacts them. This year’s African-American Day celebration was primarily focused on highlighting and educating on legislation surrounding African American issues. Specific legislation advocated for at the Capitol included a bill sponsored by Rep. Pameyla Herndon, the Bennie Hargrove Bill, which passed in the House on Thursday, Feb. 9. The bill would make it illegal to store a firearm so that it is not out of reach of children, according to the Albuquerque Journal.


Congressional Black Caucus meets with Biden to push for police accountability

  This story was originally published by Source New Mexico The Congressional Black Caucus met with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris Thursday evening to urge the administration to use its executive power for law enforcement reform, following criminal charges for police officers in the killing of a Black man in Memphis, Tennessee.  “My hope is this dark memory spurs some action that we’ve all been fighting for,” Biden said. Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was beaten by five Memphis police officers during a traffic stop on Jan. 7 and died three days later. The five police officers have been fired and indicted in connection with his death.

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ASUNM balks at ‘of’ during senate meeting

  The Associated Students at the University of New Mexico passed a bill to make more room to fund student organizations special requests during the full senate meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 8. Bill 4S gives ASUNM more flexibility to allocate money toward appropriations — one-time funding requests — and fall budgets of student orgs. Beginning this past fall, each undergraduate now pays an increased student fee of $35 per semester. Student publications receive 8.5% of the collected amount, while the remainder pays for everything ASUNM does.

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Santa Fe County Commission unanimously supports local choice energy

  On Tuesday, Jan. 31, Santa Fe county called for New Mexico state legislators and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to pass the Local Choice Energy Act, officially known as Senate Bill 165. A resolution in support of the legislation, sponsored by Santa Fe County Commission Chair Anna Hansen and Commissioner Camilla Bustamante, passed unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting. The act would allow municipalities, counties and tribes to generate or purchase electricity and provide it to those in their respective service area while still utilizing the transmission service from independent providers. The act seeks to introduce choice into a market that is almost entirely dominated by investor-owned utilities, according to Alysha Shaw, campaign director for Public Power New Mexico.

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New Mexico Education Department seeks to extend K-12 school year

  During the New Mexico 56th legislative session, the New Mexico Public Education Department introduced Bill 130 to the Legislative Education Committee which would add an extended school program called the K-12 Plus Program. Bill 194, which further explains the finance of the program, was also introduced to the Legislative Finance Committee. The K-12 Plus Program would provide additional program units for public schools that would increase the number of instructional days beyond 180 days for a five-day school week and more than 155 days for a four-day school week, according to the bill. This means grades K-6 would have 990 instructional hours and grades 7-12 a total of 1,080 instructional hours per school year.

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UNM Basic Needs Project grows into statewide study

 In 2020, the University of New Mexico Basic Needs Project released a study that revealed that over a third of UNM students were food insecure, and nearly two-fifths were housing insecure. This year, led by principal investigator Sarita Cargas, the team will begin a year-long study that researches these insecurities at a statewide level. The statewide survey, which went live on Feb. 1, will run until March 15. The research teams hope to get a minimum response of 10% of each institution’s population including students, faculty and staff, according to Frederick.


GPSA to introduce amendments to Graduate Scholarship Act during legislative session

 On Monday, Jan. 30. the Graduate and Professional Student Association of the University of New Mexico will present the “Amending the Graduate Scholarship Act” bill during the New Mexico 56th legislative session to the Senate Education Committee. With this bill, GPSA hopes that they can provide a scholarship that could cover up to 100% of tuition fees for all graduate students throughout the state, with priority given to New Mexico residents, according to Isaiah Torres, the GPSA political director and Shaikh Ahmad, the GPSA president.

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City opens warming center due to freezing temperatures

 Due to harsh cold weather, the city of Albuquerque opened a warming center in Mesa Verde Community Center on Monday, Jan. 23. The hours of the center ran from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Katie Simons, the public affairs specialist for the Department of Family and Community Services, wrote to the Daily Lobo about the danger low temperatures can bring. “The city of Albuquerque activates daytime warming centers when the temperature is below freezing and there is high wind and/or moisture — conditions when life and limb are most at risk for people living on the street,” Simons wrote.


ASUNM approves over $30,000 for student organizations

  The Associated Students at the University of New Mexico distributed $31,545 among eight student organizations during a full senate meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 25. The senators also voted to allow themselves more flexibility on when to meet with their sponsored student organizations. All eight appropriations and the lone bill on the agenda passed unanimously, with one senator abstaining. ASUNM President Ian May told the Daily Lobo he intends to sign off on everything. Once per semester, student orgs can submit an appropriation – a request for travel funds and money for other one-time expenses, according to the ASUNM website.

Elena Gallegos, the open space area in Albuquerque, debate issues over potential creation of an education center.

Community opposes potential structure at Elena Gallegos Open Space

 The 640-acre Elena Gallegos Open Space, located in the foothills of the Sandia mountains, is currently the subject of concern among community members of the legality and consequences of a potential project from the Albuquerque parks and recreation department to create an education center in the space, according to Save the Elena Gallegos co-founders Viki Teahan and Katrina Sanchez. The potential educational center would be no larger than 5,000 square feet, according to Dave Simon, the director of the Albuquerque parks and recreation department. Since the 1960s, advocates have fought for protection of the park from development when the Albuquerque City Council began a tax to purchase the space in 1969, according to The Paper.

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