More than 200 individuals protested the potential “roll back” of abortion rights on Saturday in Las Cruces. The U.S. Supreme Court’s draft decision, leaked in early May, on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization indicated the court will likely overturn the 1973 decision that expanded reproductive rights in the U.S. nearly 50 years ago. Within 24 hours about 100 people gathered outside of the Las Cruces City Hall to protest. The protest this past weekend brought out more people. Thousands protested in cities all across the U.S., including Albuquerque.
Amid honking horns at the corner of Main Street and Picacho Street, protesters held signs.
Responding to the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft document that, once leaked in early May, revealed the court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, a new student group at New Mexico State University is taking shape. The U.S. Supreme Court heard Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization last December. The state of Mississippi passed a 15-week gestational ban in 2018 and has asked the high court to consider overturning Roe v. Wade in its decision. The draft decision, leaked to Politico and released in early May, has led to protests and Democrats in the U.S. Senate making a second attempt this year to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law. Dan Vargo, a graduate student at NMSU, initiated a call to fellow graduate students shortly after Politico released the court’s draft document.
Amber Wallin has replaced James Jimenez as Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children, a nonprofit children’s advocacy and research organization. NMVC announced the change this week. Jimenez retired at the first of the year but will continue to serve as executive director for New Mexico Pediatric Society, a role he acquired when the two organizations formed an alliance in 2017. He will also direct the NMVC Action Fund. Wallin, who began working for NMVC on tax policy issues about ten years ago, said that she intends to continue the work that is the core mission of the organization – advocating for policy that creates opportunities for children and families.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Administrators at New Mexico State University know they’re headed into a fall semester this week facing a spike in COVID-19 cases, but they still hope to make campus life as normal as possible. NMSU Vice Chancellor and Chief COVID-19 Officer Ruth Johnston said they’ve tightened protocols, meaning students and system employees at all five campuses will need to provide proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test on a weekly basis, beginning September 30. “And the reason for that was not because we wanted to delay things or make our community less safe,” said Johnston. “In fact, we wanted to give people the opportunity to be able to get the vaccine if they hadn’t already.” The University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College have both issued similar policies, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New Mexico is one of 18 states suing the Trump administration over the new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement rule that targets international students. The lawsuit calls the new regulation an “insuperable burden” on American colleges and universities as they now have to certify every international student’s respective class schedule to demonstrate that the students are not taking all of their course work online, by August 4. ICE issued the new regulation last week, which some affected New Mexico institutions of higher learning called “vague.” New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology has 134 international students. The University of New Mexico has 1,100 and New Mexico State University has about a 1,000. The regulation states that students on nonimmigrant F-1 or M-1 visas cannot legally remain in the country if all of their course work is online.
New U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regulations on international students is creating uncertainty on New Mexico university campuses. ICE issued a news release Monday that restricts students who are on F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant visas. Students on F-1 visas pursue academic coursework while students on M-1 visas take vocational training. ICE’s new regulation prohibits students on F-1 and M-1 visas from remaining in the U.S. legally if they take online course work only. During the start of the pandemic, when many colleges, including New Mexico State University, shifted to online only classes, ICE made an exception for international students because it was the middle of the semester, said Seth Miner, director of admissions, orientation and international student and scholar services for NMSU.
Proposed cuts to higher education spending in New Mexico could jeopardize some research funding for state universities and lead to a hiring freeze at Santa Fe Community College, advocates say. Universities and colleges in New Mexico are denouncing proposed cuts to higher education spending as lawmakers trim budgets across state government to fill a $2.4 billion budget hole wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic and a devastated oil and gas market. A draft House bill seeking to blend recommendations from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and an influential budget committee would slash roughly 6 percent from research and public service projects at universities and 4 percent for broader university and public college funding from the state. That would represent the steepest reductions for any state-funded department or agency eyeing potential cuts as lawmakers address the budget shortfall. The Legislature is still debating the proposed cuts.
A racist tag left on a woman’s wall in Las Cruces led to a neighbor’s response. The tagging, a backward swastika and a crossed-out Star of David, were spray painted on a wall that separates Wanda Saip Ray’s backyard from the railroad tracks on the western edge of Las Cruces. Saip Ray said she wasn’t aware of the graffiti because she hadn’t been on the other side of the wall in a while. But while taking a walk with her husband last Wednesday, Las Cruces resident Megan McQueen saw the two tags. She wanted to do something but still practice social distancing.
New Mexico State University will move to online courses starting March 31, the day after the university’s extended spring break. NMSU President John Floros, Provost Carol Parker, Chancellor Dan Arvizu and other university officials held a meeting Wednesday afternoon to announce the decision and the next steps for the university’s community. The meeting allowed up to 1,000 people to call in or watch over web platforms. The campus remains open and about 1,000 students are still living at NMSU and eating in the student cafeterias, Floros said. Floros said the dining hall has been deep cleaned, the university eliminated the open salad bar and cafeteria workers are serving food behind glass. But, he said, as COVID-19 response continues to evolve in relation to the spread of the coronavirus, the dining hall may change to offering to-go meals only.
Note: This is a breaking story and may be updated with new information. Universities, including the two largest in the state, announced they will extend their spring breaks to help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, a type of coronavirus, that has become a global pandemic. University of New Mexico President Garnett S. Stokes announced in a video that the university’s regularly scheduled spring break would extend through Sunday, April 5. Spring break was initially planned to begin March 15 and end on March 22. It will still begin on March 15.