#OurUNM and the New Student Movement

OurUNM unity

To paraphrase a famous quote, the wind of change is blowing through New Mexico. Whether they (those in power) like it or not, this growth of community consciousness is a political fact. The gentle breeze of unrest has rapidly increased into a typhoon of outrage and disgust. Citizens across New Mexico are organizing to fight political corruption, police brutality, inequality, and injustice. In the same regard, students at the University of New Mexico are organizing to demand accountability, transparency, equity, and inclusion.

A student and community group called #OurUNM has emerged as the voice of the students and has forced the administration to listen. #OurUNM gathered in front of the UNM Bookstore on Wednesday, April 23rd and conducted a rally in which over 100 students attended. The group had multiple speakers address the crowd concerning multiple university related issues. After an hour of rallying, the group decided to respectfully march through campus, the Student Union Building, and to UNM President Frank’s office.

Contrary to some reports,the march was peaceful and respectful the entire time. The marchers maintained a quiet tone while marching through the SUB and made very little noise in the President’s office. Once they packed into the office, they hand delivered a list of demands for equity, accountability, transparency, and inclusion to the President’s Chief of Staff.

OurUNM Packs Office

On Friday, April 25th, #OurUNM students attended a Student Fee forum conducted by the UNM Student Body President and the Graduate and Professional Student Association President. The forum focused on President Frank’s broken promise to give students a voice in how student fees are allocated. President Frank removed all student input from the student fee allocation to athletics ($4 million) and libraries ($780,000). The only voice that remains for the students will be in the remaining student fee allocation that must be split amongst every other organization in the university.

OurUNM MannyOurUNM Chris

Multiple media outlets attended the forum and interviewed students from #OurUNM. Apparently, the media attention caused a panic in the administration which forced President Frank to release a statement that afternoon:

Dear students –

Student engagement in shared governance is critical to the success of any university, especially to a public research university such as UNM. During this spring semester, in particular, I have heard from a number of formal and informal student organizations, as well as individual students, that we need to find additional ways to ensure that all voices can be heard in order to maintain an accountable, inclusive and transparent community.

I believe in continuous improvement. We can always do better and commit ourselves to finding solutions rather than providing excuses. In order to hear more student voices, the Provost and I propose the creation of a student cabinet as an additional way to engage with students. This cabinet would facilitate communication with a broader cross-section of our students, both undergraduate and graduate. It would act as a forum for discussion on campus issues important to students, such as academic affairs, student affairs,  financial and other critical issues, with the goal of bettering our institution.

 The Student Cabinet is in no way intended to interfere with the operation and structure of our Student Governments, and will not replace the current formal representation from our elected student leaders.  However, it will allow for an additional sounding board for students and the administration to communicate on all aspects of the student experience.

 Over the next week, we will be announcing the process for nominations and applications for the Student Cabinet. I am looking forward to improving the level of student engagement and would like to thank our students for their passion and involvement in our university.

Go Lobos!

 Robert G. Frank,

President

On top of his condescending email to the students, President Frank went on to conduct more damage control in the media. He minimized and belittled the student Movement on KOAT News. He stated that the Movement only consisted of 2 small official student groups and a few students who are part of an unofficial student group. In his mind, “It is only about 1000 students being vocal, while the other 31,000 [students] are going to class.” President Frank went on to “clarify” that the students are just “confused and misinformed”. He took the opportunity to tout his “brilliant” idea of a new “Student Cabinet” with which he will meet 2 times a semester to get student input.

He was also kind enough to do an interview on KRQE News in which he said that there are “more important stakeholders” than the students. Once again, he took the opportunity to pat himself on the back and announce his “Student Cabinet” idea. According to KRQE ,President Frank said “even though he won’t be going through the Student Fee Review Board for athletic and library fees,” he’s “put together a new student cabinet.” Therefore, “I’m going to get more input from more students so, I think the concern that they’re not going to get input is wrong. I’m going to get more input from more students about this.” http://krqe.com/2014/04/25/unm-president-cuts-student-input-for-some-fees/

Amazingly, KOB News focused on the student perspective, but President Frank provided a statement to them in which he once again mentions his wonderful idea of a “Student Cabinet”. http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S3413316.shtml?cat=500#.U1vNLl5X9g0

It is clear that President Frank thinks very little of student input, student Movements, and believes that he can make it all just go away with a “Student Cabinet”. The idea is ridiculous and to make matters worse, students were not consulted at all. How can a “Student Cabinet” exist if students did not create it? How can students expect to be heard if they were not involved in any aspect of this idea?

Obviously, President Frank sent the message out after the forum to have evidence and talking points when he addressed the media. He wants the public to believe that he has been thinking about the situation for a long time and has developed a well thought out solution. It is pure propaganda and proof that he will never care about the students as much as the “other stakeholders”.

Students and community members will come together and show President Frank and the media that this Movement is not just a few confused students being vocal. They will reject his “Student Cabinet” idea and demand that he sit down at the table for negotiations with them. THE STUDENTS AND THE COMMUNITY WILL NOT BE SILENCED AND WILL CONTROL HOW THIS PROCESS MOVES FORWARD.

The winds of change are at typhoon strength and must continue to blow. #OurUNM is not going to roll over and play dead just because of a ridiculous proposal by President Frank. Take back our university and demand real change. Join the Movement and find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ourunm

Also, please read this positive article about Student Movements across New Mexico: http://www.abqjournal.com/389924

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