#OurUNM holds symbolic Die-In to give students a voice

OurUNM Die In Group 5

The #OurUNM Student movement held a symbolic Die-In in front of Zimmerman Library on Wednesday, May 7th. The event was designed to allow students to express how the system has failed them. Students outlined each others silhouette with chalk and then placed a message inside to represent their symbolic death. The Die-In last for almost 2 hours and hundreds of students either witnessed or participated in it.

The messages covered a wide variety of concerns and many of the onlookers were inspired to ask questions. They did not know that so many systematic problems existed. No matter how many people actually chalked, the reality is that the event sparked conversations that may have never been brought up to some students.

OurUNM Die In IgnoredOurUNM Die In law student ratio

Some of the messages directly addressed racial inequality and bias on campus. One student wrote that they are the only black student in their class and they feel like they are ignored. It is difficult for a young person to have nobody else in a class that looks like them. Another student pointed out that there are only 4 African-American students in the UNM School of Law (out of 330). It makes me wonder how we can have a fair system of justice if the only law school in the entire state of New Mexico only has 4 African-American students.

OurUNM Die In HomelessOurUNM Die In FoodOurUNM Die In housing

One student pointed out that he was homeless while another was concerned the they did not have enough money to buy food. Last year there were over 400 homeless students at CNM and many more at UNM. These students do not have a permanent place to live while they attempt to better their lives. That is unacceptable. To make matters worse, full time students are not eligible for many public benefits. Students cannot get SNAP (food stamps) or commodities.

OurUNM Die in Police Brutality

Students discussed mounting debt and sky high tuition rates. Others were worried about the Bridge and Lottery Scholarship, poor academic advising due to a 800:1 student to advisor ratio, and police brutality. The list goes on and on. It is clear that the system is broken. Students do not know who to turn to for help. They are hungry for change and will force the system to react.

UNM GPA Calculation Steals Lottery Scholarship From Transfer Students

Transfer

The University of New Mexico’s transfer policy unfairly computes student GPA’s and denies deserving transfer students the Lottery Scholarship. Although UNM’s policy for transfer GPA’s is in compliance with federal regulations, it is unfair and damaging to some of the most needy students.

The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship requires that students maintain an overall 2.5 GPA to qualify for the upcoming semesters. UNM calculates a traditional students GPA by dividing the students quality points by credit hours earned at UNM. A transfer student’s GPA is calculated in the same manner, but it only includes classes attempted at UNM. All of the classes completed at other institutions and accepted by UNM are counted towards total credit hours for graduation, but they are not used in the GPA calculation.

That may not seem like a big deal, but it was for one student that we know. There are many more like her, but this is her story. She is a first generation Mexican-American whose family is very low-income. She grew up and graduated from a town that has a 50% drop-out rate. She was in the top 10% of her class, but did not do very well on the ACT. She applied to UNM, but the University said that her ACT score was low and that she was not accepted. Crushed, she applied to CNM and began school in the Fall after graduation.

She worked hard and completed the 24 credit hours at CNM that UNM requires for transfer. She had a 3.2 GPA at CNM. She applied to UNM and was accepted. She started this Fall and took 15 credit hours. Unfortunately she finished the semester with a 2.48 GPA at UNM. It is her first full semester at UNM, but the University considers her a sophomore. Despite her status, UNM only counted the 15 hours that she took at UNM and disqualified her from the Lottery Scholarship. She went to the Financial Aid office and they told her that her only alternative is to take out student loans.

Most transfer students come from low-income situations and tend to be first generation college students. Starting at UNM can be challenging the first semester. UNM should take a student’s individual circumstances into account when determining eligibility. They should count the students transfer credits in the GPA calculation for the Lottery Scholarship. They could calculate the students University GPA separately. This new calculation system would allow transfer students a little leeway when getting adjusted to the pace at UNM. It is a simple fix. These students obviously want to get an education or they would not have taken the path that they did. They should not be treated the same as first semester freshman students.

Sometimes we need to address the unfairness of bureaucratic systems. The Lottery Scholarship is designed to help students who need it the most. Yet those same students are the ones who are hurt the most by the system. Transfer students need to be treated the same as other students who have the same amount of academic credit. It is understandable that classes completed at other institutions should not be included in UNM’s overall GPA, but it seems only fair that they should be counted in a GPA for Lottery Scholarship GPA.