On Saturday, Oct. 2, New Mexico affiliates of the Women's March organization held a rally and march for reproductive justice in Tiguex Park. This was part of a wave of marches hosted by the Women's March across the nation to protest the restrictive abortion bill that went into effect in Texas in August. The Women’s March has been hosting marches every January since Trump’s inauguration. However, this year's march was held several months early because of recent legislation in Texas concerning Senate Bill 8, which places a ban on abortions after six weeks and allows citizens to sue those who have an illegal abortion and those affiliated with the abortion.
On Monday, the New Mexico Black Voters Collaborative hosted a forum in a non-debate setting for the current Albuquerque mayoral candidates where they shared their stances on current issues facing the city. Three of the four candidates running for the position were present, including current Mayor Tim Keller (D), Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III (D) and conservative talk show host Eddy Aragon (R). Write-in candidate Patrick Ben Sais (R) was not present at the event. A major point of discussion for the night was policing; candidates were asked about their stances on the Black Lives Matter movement, improvements they would make to the Albuquerque Police Department and what they saw as the source of the city’s “challenges to safety.”
The Refugee and Immigrant Well-being Project (RIWP) at the University of New Mexico is a nine-month program that pairs undergraduate students with immigrant and refugee families that typically starts in August at the beginning of the fall semester. However, due to the current need of so many incoming families to New Mexico, the project will accept another cohort of students in January at the start of the spring semester as well, which will go into the summer semester. “We work with refugees and immigrants and we bring them together with UNM students to learn from each other — because there’s a lot that they can really learn from each other — and also work together to mobilize resources to help newcomers meet their goals,” Jessica Goodkind, founder of RIWP, said.
As part of the nationwide movement to cancel rent and stop evictions, local protestors camped overnight outside of the Bernalillo Metropolitan Court from Friday, Sept. 24 to Saturday, Sept. 25 as part of the national days of protest by Cancel the Rents. The campout comes in reaction to the recent decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the national eviction moratorium that was enacted during the coronavirus pandemic. At the campout, organized in large part by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, around 20 activists were set up with tents, food and signs for the protest.
In celebration of National Public Lands Day (NPLD) and to promote conservation efforts, the National Park Service is forgoing entry fees to sites across the country on Saturday, Sept. 25. For New Mexicans, this means you can take the day to visit any number of the highly-regarded public institutions in the state without cost, including Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, the beloved White Sands National Park and many others, according to the park service. Beyond New Mexico, there are more than 400 parks total in the park service's catalog, all of which are “fee-free” this Saturday.
The University of New Mexico’s Student Activities Center and their Student Government Accounting Office have made the decision to suspend in-person operations until Sunday, Sept. 26; similarly, UNM’s Greek life has placed a restriction on in-person activities until Friday, Sept. 24. These decisions came after confirmed COVID-19 cases within SAC, the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico and Greek life. Though these organizations have struggled to pinpoint a source for the recent cases, the two confirmed positive cases in ASUNM are believed to have resulted from students who tested positive then failed to follow up with Student Health and Counseling, according to ASUNM President Greg Romero.
On Monday, the Albuquerque City Council passed a pilot zero-fare bus program that will remove fares on all city buses for every passenger for the duration of a calendar year starting on January 1, 2022. To address concerns brought up in the three previous deferrals of the program, the Metro Security Division within the Department of Municipal Development gave a presentation regarding the program’s safety. They said there would be additional security measures implemented, including funding to add 10 more security officers to the transit department.
Environmental advocates in New Mexico are gearing up for the next legislative session in January, where they will aim to pass the Green Amendment for the second time in the New Mexico Senate. The amendment would establish a constitutional right to clean air and water, as well as preservation of the land for the state. The amendment as presented in the previous session said it would aim to protect “environmental rights, including the right to a clean and healthy environment and the right to the preservation of the environment, and directs the state to protect environmental resources for the benefit of all the people.” The idea for this amendment was first proposed by Maya K. Van Rossum.
The University of New Mexico was ranked in the top 100 public universities for the second consecutive year in a 2022 best colleges rankings report by U.S. News and World Report. This accomplishment, ranking 99 out of 100 schools, comes after a series of critical transitions for the University over the past few years, including the installment of President Garnett Stokes in 2018 as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Parents and students still look at and consider college rankings,” Vice President of Enrollment Management Dan García said. “A student who may not have considered UNM is going to see us listed (in the top 100 public universities) and dig in further, and that’s important.”
In light of the recent abortion ban in Texas, abortion providers in New Mexico have seen an influx of patients as many individuals travel across state lines to receive safe healthcare. The ban in Texas prohibits all abortions six weeks after the individual’s last menstrual cycle, which is before many people even know they are pregnant at all. The law also allows anyone in the state to enforce it; individuals can sue anyone aiding in the abortion process for up to $10,000. Eve Espey, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynocolgy at the University of New Mexico, spoke to the Daily Lobo about what the neighboring state’s ban means for abortion providers in New Mexico.
At the Albuquerque city council meeting on Sept. 8, councilors voted to defer two key issues that would have individually eliminated local bus fares and placed traffic cameras to fine speeders in the city. The deferral of the zero bus fares amendment is the second time this specific action has been deferred; the first deferment happened on Aug. 2. The amendment would be a year-long pilot program that the city has already budgeted for and funded, allowing everyone who wishes to ride a city bus to do so free for a year. The deferral came after lots of debate in the meeting over the safety of the program and anti-homeless rhetoric.
Freshman ReElle Snyder came across an injured turtle at the Duck Pond at the University of New Mexico on Aug. 27 who had a mangled hind leg that was actively bleeding. This wound, which was caused by an animal bite, eventually led to his death, and sparked questions about how the wildlife on campus is being taken care of. When Snyder found the turtle during a class scavenger hunt, the red-eared slider affectionately named ‘Ed’ continued suffering while she struggled to quickly find someone on campus who could provide care. Two hours after calling Bernalillo County Animal Services, an animal control officer arrived and carried Ed away in his makeshift home, a cardboard box.
The United Graduate Workers of the University of New Mexico held “Rally for Recognition” on Sept. 3 to call on the University to begin bargaining with them for their union rights. The event, which started near the Student Union Building, culminated in a march to UNM President Garnett Stokes’ house on campus to deliver a petition demanding that the University begin bargaining with the Union. The petition, which had approximately 2,000 signatures, was presented to office staff instead of Stokes, whom staff said was at a meeting and unavailable.
As increased greenhouse gases force warming and greater atmospheric retention of water in arid New Mexico, severe droughts follow. Farmers along the Rio Grande have felt the implications of less water and largely criticize regional laws and decisions that regulate state water usage for limiting access to irrigation. The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District board, which manages the water through dams, voted on Aug. 20 to curtail irrigation along the Rio Grande on Oct. 1. This was enacted even though the law honors Native American pueblo water rights and protects them from the shut-off, according to John Fleck, professor and director of the UNM Water Resources Program.
Bargaining for fair work conditions is ongoing between the Committee of Interns and Residents and the University of New Mexico. This union, representing all intern and resident physicians who work for UNM, is entering its third month of contract negotiations with the University. CIR is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union and has had a collective bargaining agreement with the University since 2007. These contract negotiations take place every three years to determine agreements on working conditions, including stipulations on salaries, benefits, supplies and more. The current agreement, which began on August 1, 2019, will expire on Aug. 31 this year.
The University of New Mexico’s Board of Regents recently approved the New Mexico Mutual Champions Training Center, a $4.3 million project for student-athletes, on Aug. 19. This extensive training center will be exclusively for student-athlete use, replacing the tent that teams currently train in that stands as a Title IX deficiency. The construction of this center is important in fulfilling a Title IX requirement that the University currently fails to meet, which is that more women than men are training in the 7,200-net-square-foot outdoor tent rather than in climate-controlled indoor facilities, according to UNM athletics director Eddie Nuñez.
On Jan. 31, Joleen Nez, a Native American woman who was cited for the petty misdemeanor of public littering in 2020, was pronounced dead due to the toxic effects of methamphetamine according to an autopsy report filed by the Office of the Medical Investigator. As reported in the Daily Lobo in February, Nez was cited in April of last year after she kicked over a cup and bowl at the intersection of Texas Street and Zuni Road and refused to pick up and throw away the cup — although she did throw away the bowl — according to the criminal complaint completed by Officer Preston Panana. Body camera footage shows an officer giving Nez the citation at the intersection after a verbal altercation with another individual that four officers witnessed.
The University of New Mexico’s Board of Regents had an exceptionally long list of action items and passed nearly everything in a virutal meeting that lasted over three hours on Aug. 19. The only item that didn’t pass was the sale of the Student Family Housing property to the Central New Mexico Community College.
After the fight to unionize has been ongoing for over a year, the United Graduate Workers of the University of New Mexico received a win as graduate students were labeled as public and regular employees by New Mexico’s Public Employee Labor Relation Board (PELRB) on Aug. 17. This label, as specified by the Public Employee Bargaining Act (PEBA), gives the graduate workers the right to form a union. The board will meet again in the future to define what the workers’ bargaining units will be.
On Sunday, students at the University of New Mexico will have the opportunity to get used to campus life again at the University’s Welcome Back Events. Before school starts on Monday, students can partake in Discover UNM, First-Year Family Day (exclusive to first-year students), Class Crawl and Movie on the Field. The Discover UNM event will kick off the day from 1-3 p.m., in which various departments and organizations will be located in the Student Union Building ballroom to talk about opportunities and resources on campus. “One of the greatest benefits to being a Lobo is the access to resources and organizations that support their intellectual, social and personal interests and well-being,” University secretary Nancy Middlebrook wrote to the Daily Lobo.