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Students lobby at the legislature on UNM day

Students from the University of New Mexico gathered outside of the RoundHouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Mia Casas
Students from the University of New Mexico gathered outside of the RoundHouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Students from the University of New Mexico gathered at the Roundhouse on Monday to meet with lawmakers. On the agenda: Better lighting on Cornell Mall, sleep pods for students and design work for an outdoor amphitheater.

They were there as part of UNM Day, a longstanding tradition to advocate for projects and get young people engaged in the political process.

Sophomore Gabbie Gonzáles is a political science major. She said it is important to get involved in the state legislature because it exists for people of all ages.

“And therefore we need to be directly involved in the creation of it. I believe that young people are not only the future of American politics, but the present,” said Gonzáles.

The annual event is organized by Associated Students at the University of New Mexico (ASUNM). This year, ASUNM is seeking capital outlay funds for three projects:

  • Better lighting in Cornell Mall, ($750,000). This would include string lights across the mall to create a safer space for student evening activities.
  • Plans for an outdoor amphitheater ($300,000). ASUNM is asking for only the planning of this amphitheater in their request.

ASUNM is also supporting two pieces of legislation this session:

  • Senate Bill 55: The Anti-Hazing Act. This bill defines hazing and would make the act a misdemeanor offense.
  • Senate Bill 41: Mental Health Initiatives. This bill would appropriate funds to post-secondary institutions in order to supply social worker supervisors and other mental health systems. 

Students made their rounds with lawmakers, giving them the elevator pitch on their priorities.

“Anything you do to address behavioral health and mental health, you have my support,” Rep. Anthony Allison (D-Fruitland) told Director of Governmental Affairs for ASUNM Alex Adams.

Adams said during the day they caught about one out of every five representatives that they tried. When the representative wasn’t there, the groups checked back in the afternoon.

“Overwhelmingly, everyone has been really lovely and willing to hear us, it's just a matter of catching them,” said Gonzáles when asked about the response their groups had gotten.

Adams said lobbying hopefully helps make lawmakers aware of what students need.

“It really is important that if we want something done on campus or we see certain legislation that we think will greatly impact the students, that we go up and advocate for it,” he said.

This year’s legislative session focuses on the state budget and lawmakers are working with record revenues. The session ends on Feb. 15.

Mia Casas is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in Journalism and Theatre at the University of New Mexico. She comes to KUNM through an internship with the New Mexico Local News Fund and is staying on as a student reporter as of fall 2023.
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