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Students speak against trend of limiting access

It doesn’t take much to connect the dots that something is brewing across the state, and unfortunately it’s not a pot of piñon coffee.

At this moment there are student and community mobilizations that are gathering strength across our state’s colleges and universities and much of it has to do with administrative decisions that end up penalizing the very students who bring in the bulk of the funding to keep the institutions running.

How many of you knew that there was a sizable student protest at the University of New Mexico on Thursday that ended with an administration office filled to the brim with students peacefully delivering a written set of concerns to the president, provost, and Board of Regents?

The demands of the students coming from various levels are fair and justified and connect back to three main things: transparency, accountability and inclusion.

Many of the students who marched across campus did not find out until later that their event would be viewed with kinder eyes and as justified thanks to the piece of information published in the Daily Lobo. The article stated that the UNM president has backtracked on an agreement he made with members of the Student Fee Review Board and has now taken away any student input on two important and costly items on their yearly agenda – the Athletics Department (more than $4 million up for grabs) and University Libraries (close to $800,000). But apparently students having an input on how their own student fees will be spent doesn’t make much sense to administration.

Head north to Northern New Mexico College and you will find a group of students and community speaking up against the imminent closure of 11 programs deemed “cost ineffective” by their administration.

Head south to New Mexico State University and you will find yet another group of students and community advocating against the proposed changes to admission requirements by their administration.

Close down programs and increase requirements and you will end up with a wider opportunity gap, or wait, is that the intention?

To people on the outside, these organizing efforts may seem unwarranted and unruly but if you stop to analyze what is behind much of this unrest, many would realize that there does seem to be a concerted effort to restrict educational access to our students and communities across the state.

Changes to traditionally accessible needs-based scholarships; increases in admission requirements; closing of programs; and the historic underfunding of ethnic centers.

Connect the dots and most rational thinkers will find that the majority of these statewide administrative decisions and policy changes seem to be in sync with one another and end with the same overall detrimental effect – a widening of the lack of access and lack of opportunity to achieve higher education for many New Mexican students.

If students are regarded as not only customers but partners at our institutions then why the constant closed-door decisions that result in direct negative impacts to students’ well-being, access, and success?

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