Resolution 8S sought to ease admission and accessibility to UNM and its resources for the undocumented student population who do not have social security numbers.
However, confusion and debate over the structure and preparation for the resolution ultimately led to a general uneasiness about passing it. Sen. Kyle Stepp said the Senate passing the resolution without doing its due diligence is the wrong thing to do.
“There’s a lot of things that have not been answered that can affect this resolution,” Stepp said.
Contention over the resolution was mainly among senators who were looking at the big picture driving the resolution — supporting undocumented students — and those who believed it would do more harm than good in its current state.
The confusion primarily stemmed from lack of information by the Student Enrollment Department that was vital to the action the resolution strives to accomplish. Stepp brought that issue up to the Senate.
“Have any senators actually tried just going and asking if it can be removed?” he asked his fellow senators.
When no one answered, the discussion turned primarily to the lack of preparation on the part of the individual senators, as well as what exactly the resolution was trying to do.
Several senators, including Sen. Udell Calzadillas-Chavez, who sponsored the legislation, looked at its broader perspective, which was allowing access to UNM for those who may not already have it.
“I think the issue here is making a statement so that undocumented students feel comfortable,” he said. “It would take away that shadow of fear that transfer students and first-time applicants would have in applying to UNM.”
However, several senators, including Sen. Ashley Hawney, said they did not feel comfortable voting on the resolution because it is essentially contradictory.
“It is an option [on a paper application],” she said. “Just stating that we want [providing a social security number] to be optional … it already is.”
According to the Office of Admissions, online applications — the primary method for prospective students to apply — require a social security number. Paper applications do not.
Sen. Nadia Cabrera made the point that each senator should have done their homework beforehand to be able to make as informed a decision as possible. But she did agree with Calzadillas-Chavez that the resolution is making a statement about UNM’s accessibility.
“If anything, this resolution is increasing awareness to students from all around the country that we are here, you can apply here and we’re working to make it even more accessible to you,” she said.
The discussion even provided changes of stance on the issue. Sen. Caleb Heinz said that while he was previously in support of the resolution, he became “uneasy” about the issue after hearing what his fellow senators had to say.
“It seems like there is a system and it’s pretty solid,” Heinz said. “I think it should be changed to asking for immigration status instead, and only that — but then that’s a whole different kind of resolution with a different purpose.”
Stepp made a motion to table the resolution, meaning it will be held off for voting until the next senate meeting, by which time more information can be gathered about the application process. Hawney agreed with the move.
“If the senators in this room, even just one or two, have confusion on this, what is it going to do to the students?” she said.
However, ASUNM Vice President Jenna Hagengruber pointed out that, should the resolution be passed at the next Senate meeting in two weeks, it would be in place for less than a month.
It took multiple votes to call the resolution into question, meaning the Senate was ready to vote on the resolutions as it stood. The resolution was finally voted on after about an hour of animated discussion.
After four of the 19 senators present voted in favor, Sen. Travis Gonzalez said that most of the discussion on the failed resolution was directionless, calling it a waste of time.
“The reason I voted no is that by the end of the discussion, no one knew what was going on, no one knew what we were trying to do here,” he said. “The real message of this resolution was lost in the complications.”
Sen. Jorge Guerrero, who authored and introduced the legislation, said there were points brought up by the Senate that he did not previously think about. He plans on inquiring about them and making the necessary changes.
“Then, hopefully, (we can implement) them into the resolution and finally reintroduce it in committee and full Senate,” he said.
David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.