Eastern New Mexico University students have a message for lawmakers: Don’t mess with the Lottery Scholarship.
If lawmakers will hear that message still remains to be seen.
According to the university’s student government office, more than 500 ENMU students on Tuesday signed a petition in the Campus Union Building that says they don’t support changes to the highly popular scholarship. Students’ opportunity to sign the petition will continue throughout the week on campus.
Gov. Bill Richardson has proposed that some funds from the lottery go toward need-based financial aid for students. Other ideas pitched include letting students take advantage of the scholarship even if they don’t attend college for 18 months after graduating from high school.
Changes to the scholarship have been met with criticism from university officials and students.
ENMU President Steve Gamble seemed impressed that 500 students signed the petition.
“If they had 500 students sign it that kind of tells you how students are feeling about it,” he said. “I put a lot of stock into that they had 500 signatures.”
Changes to the scholarship will be discussed today by a house committee in Santa Fe. Gamble is expected to attend the meeting.
ENMU senior Anessa Scott signed the petition on Tuesday. Even though she didn’t receive the scholarship she said she sees how it’s benefited others.
“The scholarship is a great opportunity for kids in New Mexico,” she said. “For people who aren’t thinking about going to college, this scholarship makes them want to go and further their education.”
Scott, who is majoring in history and post secondary education, said she thought the scholarship program was a good way of keeping students in the land of enchantment.
“A lot of my friends are on the scholarship,” she said. “If they didn’t have the scholarship they would have a lot of money coming out of their pockets.”
ENMU Student Body President Bob Cornelius wrote in an e-mail addressed to ENMU students, obtained by Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico, that he has fought hard during the last few months to see that the scholarship program doesn’t change.
“We need to keep the Lottery Success Scholarship as a merit-based scholarship as to allow all New Mexico students the chance at a higher education,” the letter states.
Gamble, who has spoken to several university presidents about changes to the scholarship, said officials are opposed to changes
“The ones that I have talked to like the scholarship the way that it is,” he said. “I’m sure they will be willing to listen to arguments, but it will take a lot to convince them.”
Sexual discrimination bill
The highly controversial and anticipated ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation is headed to the House today for consideration.
One local lawmaker said she will not support the measure, but thought it would probably pass.
“We have a bunch of liberals in there and it passed last time, so I assume it will pass this time,” Rep. Earlene Roberts, R-Lovington, said. “But if people get on the phone and talk to us it might not pass.”
Last year, lawmakers approved a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation as part of the state’s Human Rights Act.
However, the governor signed the wrong bill and as a result companies with fewer than 15 employees didn’t have to follow any of the state’s Human Rights Act.
Lawmakers intended for the under-15 exemption to apply only to the sexual orientation provisions they added to the legislation.
Roberts said everyone would be impacted if the bill passes. It will be voted on this morning.
The bill has garnered resistance from more than just Religious groups. Last year the Roosevelt County Commission adopted a resolution against the bill, and Commissioner Gene Creighton expressed deep concern over the bill’s contents.
Creighton said in June the bill allows for cross dressers to teach in public and private schools, which can be confusing to students.
“The bill tells me that we can have a cross dresser in our schools and we cannot discriminate against them. I will vote no,” Roberts said.
Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis, who voted against the measure last year, is expected to again vote no.
The Elida School District is hoping to get $100,000 for an activity bus and $20,000 for “education technology.”
Eastern New Mexico University wants $145,000 to establish an education center at its Hobbs campus that would offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and a master’s degree in business administration.
Public School Insurance Authority Act: A law that provides comprehensive core insurance programs for all eligible public and post-secondary schools, school board members and school employees, as well as their eligible dependents.
• 100th Bill Party, Sweeney Convention Center
• 7: 30 a.m.: Museum of New Mexico Foundation Breakfast, La Fonda Hotel.
• 7:30 a.m.: Coalition for Living Independently in the Community Legislative Breakfast, Hotel Santa Fe.
• 9 a.m.-4 p.m.: Coalition for Living Independently in the Community, Freedom Day at the Legislature.
• 11 a.m.: Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon, Inn at Loretto (Tesuque Room)
• 6-8 p.m.: Indian Affairs Department and Commission on Indian Affairs American Indian Day Legislative Reception, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.
• New Mexico Library Association Library Appreciation Day, State Capitol.
• Association of Developmental Disabilities Community Providers Day at the Legislature, State Capitol.
For more information on legislative issues go online to www.state.nm.us
David Arkin covers the Legislature for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. He is a former Freedom reporter and editor. He can be reached at Davidarkin111@yahoo.com.