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Student Forum Answers Questions, Raises Need for Student Involvement

The Fidel Ballroom was packed with students, faculty, and administration, all ready to discuss issues of importance to our great institution. Admittedly, the free food probably helped. However, the dedication of those involved was shown by how many stayed to the very end, long after the pizza had gotten cold.


The event began with statements from our newly elected student government officials. President elect Michelle Sherman, who is currently head of the Student Activities Board (SAB), expressed her dedication to representing the student body with clarity and boldness. She reminded students to “be proud we are surrounded by some of the most talented people in the world” and to get to know each other “so that no one feels alone.” She also called on students to spread the word about Tech’s excellence to increase enrollment. Vice President elect Dallin Sobers, currently a senator and head of the student club committee, introduced himself and illustrated how he fights for what he believes in. He asked students how he can help them achieve their own dreams.


After that, the floor was opened for questions. A plethora of issues arose concerning all corners of campus and aspects of student life. Here are a few of the highlights. A full recording of the event is available upon request from act@nmt.edu, and contact information for individuals referenced may be found on the NMT Directory (nmt.edu/directory).


Student Resources


Mental health continues to be a huge issue facing the Tech community. Angela Gautier, Director of Counseling and Disability Services, stressed that it is everyone’s duty to look out for each other. If a situation arises, a Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) is in place to respond, and may be notified via an anonymous online form on their website (nmt.edu/bit). Campo should still be called in an emergency. Also, a campus-wide mental health awareness day is being scheduled for September 6th.


Students who find themselves in need of non-emergency excused absences can contact Melissa Jaramillo-Fleming or Peter Phaiah, who are VP and Assistant VP of Student and University Relations respectively.


Student clubs wanting the most up-to-date information about their club budgets should ask Budget and Analysis, as the SGA receives a report from them just once a month.


Those interested in co-ops, internships for class credit, should contact Director of Student Affairs Michael Voegerl.


Policy


Tuition for next year will be increased about 6% due to state budget cuts.


There has been a push at the state level to decrease undergraduate degrees to 120 credit hours. Some Tech departments are working towards this, while others, particularly engineering, explain that it is not feasible if a high quality education is to be maintained.


Enrollment has been decreasing across the state and nation. In response, Tech is continuing to advertise in New Mexico, other states, and other countries such as Mexico, China, and Vietnam. Minority conferences are also being targeted. Our research excellence is being promoted, especially online to graduate students. However, departments still need to improve their websites so that those looking for advisors can see the most up-to-date information about professors and their research.


Last year’s graduation rate was 50%, up from 35% the previous year. This has been attributed to requiring 15 credits to keep the Lottery Scholarship. Tech is also developing a more data-driven approach to help increase retention and persistence rates.


On-campus minimum wage will be incrementally increased to $12/hour over the next few years. The goal is to keep this from causing a decrease in the number of students who can be hired.


One goal of President Wells’s 2027 Strategic Plan is to make Tech a more “sticky campus” so that students stay here on weekends. Steps towards this include a new recreation center and giving a tour of town to freshmen. Details may be found online at nmt.edu/leadership/strategicplan.


4S survey results were made into action plans for each department, but no significant improvements have yet been announced.


Accessibility of campus for individuals with disabilities is still a concern that needs to be addressed. Students  are encouraged to make suggestions, which can be sent to Yvonne Manzano, Director of Facilities Management.


Campus Improvements


Brown Hall is on track for renovation, during which time administration will be moved into West Hall. The move is planned to take place over the course of the 2021 calendar year. Jones Hall also needs improvement. It was assessed in spring 2017, but so far bids have been at too high a cost to be covered by the state funds allocated. Whether it will be renovated or entirely replaced is still unclear.


An energy audit of campus was recently finished. It identified ways to make Tech more energy efficient, including upgrading controls for climate and lighting in buildings and installing solar panels. These changes are scheduled to be implemented before the end of the calendar year. Phase 2, a larger solar array, is also being planned.


WiFi improvements in the dorms will be implemented this summer. Current concerns may be raised with Joe Franklin, Director of Information Services. Another option is to call Campo (non-emergency: 575-835-5434) and they can contact an on-call ITC person.


The online calendar is in the process of being improved. Benson Hendrix and Dave Lepre in the Communication and Marketing department are open to suggestions.


--Evelyn Byrd


The Bladesmithing Club

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