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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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Paid family, medical leave task force memorials pass Senate and House committees

  Legislators celebrated tremendous victories after both Senate Memorial 1 and House Memorial 3 passed in the memorials’ respective committees, which makes New Mexico one step closer to the potential creation of a paid family and medical leave task force. These memorials, which will now move forward in the legislative process, are an effort to support families in the state and help deal with the worker shortage crisis. If one of the memorials passes to become law, $160,000 would fund a diverse task force that would introduce a paid family and medical leave bill in next year’s legislature.

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Vigil, rally held to commemorate community member killed by APD

  On Saturday, Feb. 5, a rally and vigil brought together the family of Valente Acosta-Bustillos as well as community members to commemorate his legacy. A descanso — cross — was placed in front of his house where he was fatally shot by Albuquerque Police Department officer Edgar Sandoval in March 2020. This event allowed for not only a time and place to grieve but also highlighted ongoing issues of police brutality. The gathering was organized by the family of Acosta-Bustillos and community activists involved with the Albuquerque branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. It served as both a time for family members to talk about their memories of him and as a call for the arrest and charging of officers Sandoval and Joseph Bush.


Community member dispels stigmas about unhoused individuals

  From being formerly unhoused himself, David McKibben has seen the worst of what Albuquerque has to offer and wants to take an active position in changing the inhumane treatment of the unhoused community. With his own plans for making the city better, he encourages others to dispel the negative and untruthful stigmas around unhoused communities. McKibben came to Albuquerque in 2012 hoping to find a job within the first two weeks of being here, but fell down into a slump when that didn’t happen. In addition to that, his former drug use further intensified his situation, something many other unhoused community members struggle with as well.

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Minimum wage increase lightens financial burdens on college students

  Since New Mexico increased its minimum wage from $10.50 to $11.50 with the start of the new year, many college students have felt some weight lift off of their shoulders as they attempt to navigate the financial woes of being a college student in 2022. For Tallulah Begaye, an intercultural communications major at the University of New Mexico, the dollar increase could create positive changes in her daily life. “I’m very dependent on my check. My parents and I have a deal: my tribe’s scholarship pays for a half, my parents pay for a fourth and I pay for a fourth (of my tuition). Then I also pay for my food and anything that I want that’s not for school,” Begaye said.

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Death of UNM Director of Bands Eric Rombach-Kendall leaves profound impact, legacy

  The University of New Mexico suffered a great loss with the death of professor and Director of Bands Eric Rombach-Kendall on Monday, Jan. 24. Survived by his wife Julie and children Michael and Rebecca, Rombach-Kendall is remembered not only for his musical genius but also for his heartfelt impact on the lives of those around him. Rombach-Kendall served as director of bands at UNM for nearly 30 years since 1993. Previously, he was a conductor at Boston University and Carleton College, and he taught in the Washington State public school system for six years. Rombach-Kendall was recognized nationally when he served as the president of the College Band Directors National Association from 2011 to 2013.

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Grad union rallies for negotiations with congresswoman's support

  In a union fight that’s been ongoing for over a year, the United Graduate Workers of the University of New Mexico urged the University to start negotiations with them at the rally they held on campus Wednesday, Jan. 26. Calling on UNM to improve pay, working conditions and more, the grad union notably had the support of Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury at the rally, though she wasn’t able to physically attend. The rally came after the Union received official certification, consisting of a finalized signed card count and ruling from the Public Employee Labor Relations Board chair Mark Meyers, on Jan. 4, 2022, according to a press release, after over a year of fighting with UNM administration over graduate workers’ right to unionize.

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UNM requires 3-ply medical-grade masks indoors

  The University of New Mexico is requiring a three-ply or better medical-grade mask when indoors, effective Jan. 17. This decision, which updated the previous mask policy that allowed cloth masks, was made in response to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases and the increased infectiousness of the omicron variant. According to UNM spokesperson Cinnamon Blair, Student Affairs will be distributing proper masks across campus for students struggling to source proper masks or otherwise do not currently have appropriate masks. Masks will be distributed in high-traffic classroom buildings on campus, as well as in the Student Union Building and Johnson Gym.


Locals tentatively support ABQ Community Safety department

  The new Albuquerque Community Safety Department began responding to emergency calls last September and acts as a non-law enforcement dispatch team that handles issues within the community, like mental health crises, that the police may not be trained to handle. After just over four months of operation, multiple community members are tentatively hopeful that this department will bring solutions to the city. Since ACS was created, the department has responded to over 1,500 calls, including 911 calls that get redirected to them and the 311 hotline that connects to them directly. “(There) is a huge need for us … (with) the amount of calls that go through that are not appropriate for police. 


UNM LEAF meets with attorney general's office on divestment complaint

  Investigation on the legality of the University of New Mexico Foundation’s indirect investment in fossil fuel companies is ongoing, and the UNM Leaders for Environmental Action and Foresight aren’t giving up. After an initial intake meeting with the office of the attorney general on Dec. 17, 2021, where they reviewed the legal arguments and historical background of their complaint filed last October, the office is still in the process of reviewing all the information. UNMF, which funds scholarships and campus initiatives at the University, has an estimated $32.5 million of its Consolidated Investment Fund, the investment pool for endowment assets of the University and UNMF, indirectly invested into fossil fuel stock, according to Gabe Gomez, managing director of UNMF marketing and communication. 

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UNM COVID-19 booster requirement deadline nears

  Eligible University of New Mexico students, staff and faculty must receive and upload documentation of having received a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot by Jan. 17, the day before the spring 2022 semester is set to start in person. Individuals are currently considered eligible by the University if they have received either the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine on or before June 15, 2021 or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on or before Oct. 15, 2021 because of time requirements between vaccination doses. Those vaccinated after these dates have up to four weeks to upload proof following the Jan. 17 deadline.

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SAC, ASUNM kickstart spring semester with student events

  With the spring semester beginning Jan. 18, the University of New Mexico’s Student Activities Center and Associated Students of the University of New Mexico have organized several events in the first two weeks to get students back into the groove after break. SAC has organized two Welcome Back Days, scheduled for Jan. 19 and 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Student Union Building atrium. There, various departments and organizations around campus will be able to table and showcase their organizations, and prospective students can find groups that fit their interests. The first Welcome Back Day will be focused on showcasing different departments at the University as well as Greek organizations, and the following week will highlight student organizations.

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First time in 2 years guests allowed at UNM commencements

  For the first time in two years, guests will be allowed at the University of New Mexico commencement ceremonies at The Pit on Dec. 16 and 17. Masks and vaccinations will be required for a majority of attendees. Graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 are invited to celebrate after past commencements during the COVID-19 pandemic were either virtual or without guests due to the nature of the pandemic. At the upcoming ceremonies, anyone over 12 years old must provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours, and anyone over 2 years old must wear a mask.

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Benefits to joining a union after graduation

  As many students at the University of New Mexico graduate and enter their respective career fields, the option to unionize will be a question that confronts many of them. Research has shown that workers that are part of a union have better working conditions overall. In the United States, 1 in 9 workers are in a union, according to the Economic Policy Institute. This, therefore, allows their collective voices to speak up for fair working conditions, according to the Institute’s research. Additional research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that strong unions lessen the wage gap from the highest earner to the lowest earner, and union workers tend to earn 13.2% more than non-union workers.


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