By: William VanOrder
This week’s edition of TRU Legal’s Inside the Chambers highlights the recent September, 8th meeting of ASNMSU’s Senate.
The Round Up sat down with Vice President of the Associated Students of New Mexico State University Kevin Prieto. As Vice President, Prieto is responsible for overseeing the Senate meetings and ensuring that everything runs as it should. He also acts as the primary liaison between the ASNMSU Senate and Executive branches.
What would you say your main responsibilities are as the Vice President of ASNMSU?
Besides the typical requirements of the Vice Presidential position, I take it upon myself to try and ensure that each and every person holding a seat in senate recognizes the opportunity they’ve been given, and does their job with passion. Apart from that, I also am responsible for overseeing the committees that the senators are tasked to hold.
What would you say is the most important bill going through senate right now, and how could it potentially affect students?
I believe that would have to be sub-bill 24: Requesting ASNMSU Senate appropriate reimbursements of 45% from 40% for student organizations. Several years back, senate used to be able to reimburse students up to 49% of their costs for trips that met specific criteria if that organization had met prior requirements. It has since been dropped to 40%, and this particular sub-bill was trying to find a middle ground.
What is the current state of sub-bill 24? Is it tabled, or has it already been voted on?
Unfortunately, it has already been voted on and it didn’t pass. Senate was looking at a lot of factors when they made that decision, and we fully believe that it was in the students’ and University’s best interests to keep funding at 40%. This helps to guarantee that more organizations can receive partial funding in the future.
What was the driving factor behind voting against a sub-bill that could help the students in such a direct manner?
In an ideal world, we could fully reimburse every organizations’ expenditures for trips and conferences, but unfortunately New Mexico State University is not in a place to be spending frivolously. Across the entire state, student enrollment is down significantly over the past four years, and we have not been left undamaged by that. Because of lower attendance and a lack of increased tuition to cover that gap, everyone on campus is left with difficult financial decisions to make. We look at information similar to what the Faculty and Staff have presented to them when they make their budgeting decisions
You mentioned that you believe the outcome was a good one, could you elaborate on that?
Sure! The fact that Senate brought this sub-bill into discussion was because we have seen an improvement in our numbers since last year. I fully believe that in future years we will be revisiting the topic of increased organizational funding, but the senators (and myself) believe that it would be irresponsible to make a spending decision off of one year of positivity after so many consecutive years of decline. While we try our best to serve the current students of NMSU as best we can, it is also our responsibility to ensure that future senators and students alike are given similar, if not better opportunities than the ones we have today. For those reasons, we decided to protect future funds in case the recent improvement in admissions does not remain constant over the coming semesters.
How would a student go about receiving this funding?
We have done our best to make it as easy as ever to get involved with your representatives and start the process of reimbursement. I could give you all of the details, but this is a great opportunity for me to brag about our student government website: asnmsu.nmsu.edu. There is a drop-down tab labeled “government”. From there you can either go to the “Senate” menu to find out who your representatives are, or you can click on the “Get Reimbursed!” to learn about the process and requirements to be considered by senate for reimbursement.
Are there any other ways that a student could be more involved?
You must’ve seen the “Get Involved” tab! There are a ton of ways students can get involved. We are currently accepting applications for a number of positions. These include from our Student Regent position, a chair on our Student Fee Review Board as a student at-large, and even several senate positions for the following semester. All of the pertinent information for each application can be found on the website either under our “Get Involved” and “Elections” tabs. We encourage anybody who is interested in student government to apply for a position, because the best way to learn is by jumping onboard!
Any other information you would like to relay to the student body?
Hold your elected representatives accountable, and take advantage of the positions they hold. Senate exists to supplement the collegiate experience, for both the senators and constituents alike; when you think your organization deserves reimbursement, then the worst thing you can do is nothing. Contacting your senator will always be worth it, because otherwise you might be leaving money on the table for your group! If you have further questions about how senate works, what might qualify for reimbursement, or want to begin your path to being involved in this organization, contact your senators! They will be more than happy to help get you on the path to that reimbursement, and will walk you through the entire process if need be. The more involved the student body is, the better off everyone will be!
What is the importance of student involvement in making everyone better off like you mentioned?
If students don’t take advantage of the services we provide as a student government, whether through senate, exec or otherwise, then we have not done our job. A small, small portion of a student’s tuition is what is known as the student fee, which helps pay for these services. What we are trying to do is to make sure that every student who is paying those fees is getting a fair return on them through the services we provide. Specifically related to our organizations, we want to help our campus achieve great things and be nationally recognized when possible, and for money to get in the way of that is not a good thing. That is why we strive to keep an open dialogue with students, so they can know exactly how we can help them achieve their goals. Because when a club travels out to some competition or conference and receives recognition, we just benefitted from helping them get there. And that sense of mutualism is where everyone ends up in a better place than they were before.
Some of the more specific information related to the applications that Vice President Prieto was unable to recall on the spot included several due dates. Students interested in the Student Regent position have until Oct. 14 to turn their applications in, and must meet a number of varying criteria. These include a two-year commitment, and doing so while remaining at least part-time at NMSU. Those interested in the at-large position for the Student Fee Review Board have only until Sep. 31 to apply. Any applications for future senators need to be turned in to the ASNMSU office by 5 pm on Sep 19.