#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


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.

SFCC Illegally Denies GED Recipients the Lottery Scholarship

Sometimes individuals decide that they want to have a better life. That is why they decide to take their GED. They may have had circumstances which made graduating high school impossible, but that doesn’t mean that they are failures. Many New Mexico residents have completed their GED’s in the last few month’s in an attempt to start college. They realize that the economy is tough and a college degree can open doors of opportunity that are currently closed to them. Unfortunately, Santa Fe Community College unlawfully denies them the New Mexico Legislative Lottery Scholarship that they are entitled to. SFCC stomps on their dreams before they get a chance to start.

Last week, one such recipient received her official scores. She broke down crying tears of joy. She had dropped out of high school almost 10 years ago to help take care of her younger sisters and assist her parents with the bills. She is now a mother of 2 children who works at Wal-Mart for slightly above minimum wage. She is a first generation Mexican-American who wants to fulfill hers parents dreams and provide an example for her children to follow. She is planning on attending Santa Fe Community College, but SFCC seems to not want her there.

This student is a very low income individual and cannot afford to attend SFCC without the Lottery Scholarship. She was under the impression that GED recipients who enroll in College the first semester after GED completion are eligible for the Lottery Scholarship. She is correct in that assumption. The New Mexico Legislature authorizes GED recipients to receive the Lottery Scholarship under those circumstances. It does not matter how many years an individual is out of school, they are entitled to the Lottery Scholarship.

SFCC does not see it that way and told her so. They said that she only gets the Lottery Scholarship if she attended college the first semester after high school graduation. SFCC told her that she was misinformed and out of luck. She was devastated and felt like her dream was over.

The Daily Loco calls upon Senator Linda Lopez and other Legislators to address this issue immediately. The next semester of College is fast approaching and these GED recipients may skip college due to bad advice. They need help now. Show us that you are all politicians for the people. The Lottery Scholarship may be in danger of going broke, but that is not their fault. It is your fault. As the Daily Loco has stated before, there is plenty of money available for the Lottery Scholarship. We, as New Mexican’s, just need to get our priorities straight. Let’s give a voice to the voiceless.

Please voice your concerns to Senator Linda Lopez: @lopez4gov

Senator Howie Morales: @morales4nm

Undocumented Students benefit New Mexico and need a pathway to citizenship

Julio Salgado

New Mexico has the highest rate of children living in poverty in the nation, the highest rate of food insecurity for children, and has been deemed the worst state to raise a child. These statistics are based upon documented children whom the government can track. Unfortunately, there are many undocumented children in this state who are not counted in the analysis. These undocumented children attend New Mexico schools and graduate from accredited state high schools.

The state of New Mexico allows these undocumented children to attend state funded universities and colleges. The children are also allowed to use a state funded scholarship known as the Lottery Scholarship as long as they meet certain qualifications. This unique relationship is in danger of falling apart if the state funded Legislative Lottery Scholarship Fund ceases to provide enough money to pay tuition. Undocumented children are not allowed to apply for federal aid and rely on the Lottery scholarship to get a higher education.

In reality, the Legislative Lottery Scholarship Fund is doomed and these children need another alternative. The answer to the problem is to include a path to citizenship for children in the new Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill. If these children can become U.S. citizens, they will be eligible for federal financial aid.

According to a Pew Hispanic Center Report, in 2010 there was an estimated 85,000 undocumented immigrants living in the state of New Mexico.(Pew Research Center) That means that there are roughly 20,000 undocumented children living in New Mexico. Fiscal Impact Report for 2005 New Mexico Senate Bill 582 estimates that 10% of the Hispanic children graduating from New Mexico high schools are undocumented. (Fiscal Impact Report, SB 582)The Report estimated that there were 812 undocumented high school graduates in the state of New Mexico during the 2003-2004 school years. The Report states that only 69% of New Mexico high school graduates attend universities, therefore 560 undocumented graduates would attend a university.(Fiscal Impact Report, SB 582)

It is estimated that New Mexico spends $717 million annually on undocumented immigrants. Every taxpayer pays an average of $1000 annually to cover the expenditure.(Federation for American Immigration Reform )The study breaks down the amounts to:

K-12 for children of undocumented immigrants……………………………..$438 million

English as a Second Language………………………………………………… $54 million

Unreimbursed health care/ social assistance programs………………………..$108 million

Justice/ Law Enforcement costs………………………………………………. $ 76 million

Public Services…………………………………………………………………$ 42 million

By allowing the high school graduates to attend a university and become U.S. citizens, the state will increase tax revenue and decrease the annual burden on individual tax payers. If only 40% of these students graduate every year, there will be 200 new taxpayers added to the economy each year and 200 less undocumented immigrants for the taxpayers to cover. The cumulative result of allowing these individuals to be productive members of New Mexico should be the motivating factor for passage of a path to citizenship.

In May 2013, the Immigration Policy center published a report in which they stated:

“ Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $25.1 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $7.6 billion and employed more than 60,000 people at last count. At a time when the economy is still recovering, New Mexico can ill-afford to alienate such a critical component of its labor force, tax base, and business community.”

(Immigration Policy Center, NEW AMERICANS IN NEW MEXICO)

The same study pointed out some startling economic facts:

–          Unauthorized immigrants in New Mexico paid $101.5 million in state and local taxes in 2010, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy,which includes:

• $8.7 million in state income taxes.

• $8.7 million in property taxes.

• $84.2 million in sales taxes.

–          Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 5.6% of the state’s workforce (or 50,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.23

–          If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from New Mexico, the state would lose $1.8 billion in economic activity, $809.1 million in gross state product, and approximately 12,239 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

(Immigration Policy Center, NEW AMERICANS IN NEW MEXICO)

With that type of economic strength, the businesses and government of New Mexico must listen to the demands of the people. Many of the individuals who make up this statistic either know or are related to an undocumented child. These children live in their communities and go to school with their children. By supporting Comprehensive Immigration Reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for children who attend college, business’s can show their commitment to the community.