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Faculty Draft A Letter Calling For UNM To Protect Students

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Marisa Demarco / KUNM
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Rafael Martinez, instructor in Chicano and Chicana Studies

After the election, the University of New Mexico’s president issued a message acknowledging that students are feeling unsafe and urging people to respect each other. But hundreds of faculty members, students and even administrators are saying that’s not enough. 

So far, there are pages and pages of signatures attached to a letter to President Bob Frank calling for the university to protect students. Rafael Martinez is an instructor in Chicano and Chicana Studies, and teaches a class on immigration and assimilation. He co-authored the letter, which hasn’t been submitted yet. "We need to know exactly what steps is the university willing to take to be able to secure—actually physically secure—students in case of a hate crime," he said. "What services do we have offered to the students?"

The letter leans on UNM to ask U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement not to conduct sweeps on campus. Martinez said the university should also be prepared to intervene in cases where students are being deported. "What prompted me in helping draft this letter was to be able to take action, and tomorrow I could tell students, 'Well this is one example of how we’re making sure that we provide a safe space.' "

Signees are asking about the concrete ways UNM will provide safety to students, faculty or staff who face the possibility of shifting law around their immigration status. 

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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