UNM faculty and staff will soon have a fossil-fuel-free retirement plan option. “For me and many others, having the option not to invest in fossil fuels is of utmost importance when considering not only my future but my students’, my children’s and the planet’s as a whole,” said Tema Milstein, professor of communications and journalism.
Haimanot Bihonegne is up for a challenge. As a mother of two from Ethiopia, she has worked hard to balance school, her job at Lowe’s and parenting. “It is challenging, but it’s very good for my kids,” she said. “When I read, they read. When I do my homework, they do their homework. It’s really good (but) it’s hard.” With work on the weekends, and classes and family time on the weekdays, Bihonegne’s schedule is a careful balancing act, she said. When she started school, she wasn’t sure how she would do it, but believes that if you start something, you have to finish it. “It was a long way to go, but I’m here now,” she said.
As early as Thursday, UNM researchers will take a mobile laboratory to the Blue Gap-Tachee Chapter of the Navajo Nation to study uranium mine dust and its health effects on the local residents. After a four-hour drive, researchers will work for three months at Blue Gap-Tachee in a three-room semi-trailer equipped with a particle concentrator that serves as a mobile lab. UNM is collaborating with Michigan State University, who provided the lab, and the Southwest Research and Information Center on the project. Lead project researcher Matthew Campen said research is already being done at UNM about mine waste-related health concerns around topics like seepage into groundwater. However, little work has been done on the effects of inhaling dust from the mine.
In 2013, 24.2 percent of UNM students reported using marijuana once or more in the past 30 days. That number rose to 33.6 percent in spring of 2016, according to the annual COSAP student lifestyle survey. John Steiner, program manager at UNM’s Campus Office of Substance Abuse Prevention, and UNMPD Police Chief Kevin McCabe said marijuana use on campus is a growing issue, given the trends in neighboring states and around the country. “A lot, we think, might have to do with the fact of the availability in Colorado, but nothing that we feel is out of control or, you know, epidemic,” McCabe said. “I guess our instances of marijuana use would probably be consistent with the national trends for colleges and universities.”
The New Mexico Public Interest Research Group recently released a report exploring consumer complaints on medical debt, concluding that debt collectors have work to do when it comes to accuracy and illegitimately affecting credit scores. The ninth in a series of reports that reviews complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that nearly two-thirds of complaints about medical debt collection asserted that the debt was never owed, was unverified, or was already paid or discharged. The report was released in an effort to demonstrate the importance of the CFPB and raise awareness about the government agency’s work, as well as encourage policymakers to eliminate aggressive debt collection practices, according to Andrew Balis, NMpirg’s campaign organizer.
Last week the Daily Lobo caught up with the recently-elected ASUNM president and vice president-elect, Noah Brooks and Sally Midani, to discuss the future and what they plan to do in their respective roles. DL: Why did each of you decide you wanted to be leaders in ASUNM? Sally Midani: I just really wanted to make my family proud, and I think being able to represent a minority in student government was something that was really a huge pushing point for me. I’m excited because it’s actually motivated some Arab American students to run for senate. Noah Brooks: I’m really passionate about the student body and making sure that the administration is also passionate about the student body, because the student body is the most important body on our campus.
The Pushkin State Language Institute signed an agreement with UNM’s Russian program on Tuesday, making UNM the second U.S. school to partner with the Institute. The 50-year-old Institute is based in Moscow and focuses on teaching Russian as a foreign language. Russian program director Tanya Ivanova-Sullivan said it first contacted UNM in September about creating an agreement, which is not a typical exchange program, but instead an academic exchange of educational materials and experience. As part of the agreement, two professors visiting UNM from Pushkin taught an hour-long lecture in Russian on Wednesday and the school donated children’s textbooks to UNM, Ivanova-Sullivan said. UNM’s Russian program works with a local Russian school that teaches children Russian, especially heritage learners.
A UNM mentorship program for Black student athletes is being revamped for the fall semester. ZEAL, which stands for Zest for Excellence in Athletics and Learning, is a mentorship program based in African American Student Services. ZEAL pairs student athletes with mentors from the community and teaches skills like interviewing for jobs, communicating with professors and time management. Although it started in 2007, ZEAL began to dwindle in the last several years, according to Devon Williams, the program’s lead coordinator.
College athletes from different sports teamed up Monday at the second Symposium on College Athletics to discuss ideas of equity and fairness both on and off the field. The symposium was sponsored by the Lobo Scholars Program, which brings together the Honors College and athletics department to support students and student athletes. It featured 15 presentations on topics ranging from the challenges created by club sport structure to the societal pros and cons of football. Ryan Swanson, a UNM professor and one of the Lobo Scholars Program directors, said that this year’s symposium was shorter than last year’s because presentations were limited to only seven minutes — but he still thought the event began good conversations.