By Tony Parra
Eastern New Mexico University students are on a crusade to convince legislators to spend $130,000 on a pair of projects at the school.
Part of the lobbying effort is being done through ENMU students, who are in Santa Fe lobbying for two separate bills requesting money from capital outlay. They are lobbying for $65,000 to renovate an anthropology facility next to Greyhound Arena, and $65,000 for equipment for the theater building.
Rae Gross is chair of the school’s student lobbying committee. She said the committee is composed of five members — herself, Student Body President Brett Trembly, Nathaniel Bryant, Lisa Hunter and Ricardo Monreal.
Gross said she and Bryant made a trip to Santa Fe on Sunday and met with senators and representatives on Monday. Gross said they spent Monday morning trying to find legislators to sponsor the bills. Gross said Sen. Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) is sponsoring bills on the senate side, while Rep. Keith Gardner (R-Roswell) is sponsoring them on the house side.
Trembly said another trip will be made to Santa Fe in a couple of weeks to lobby for the funding. Gross said the intent is to try to get local representatives to fund projects in increments, such as $10,000 and $20,000.
“The legislators are curious as to how we are spending the money,” Gross said. “They were very happy to see how involved we are. They’re very busy with committees and I’m glad they made time for us.”
Gross said the anthropology facility is in bad shape and unable to meet Environment Protection Authority guidelines. Gross said there is a need for new insulation, fire-proof doors, acid-free paper and fire-proof cabinets.
Gross said the theater department needs new lighting equipment. She said the light fixtures are good, but they need to be updated.
“The theater program is a big part of the university,” Trembly said. “It’s one of the best theater programs in the state. Updating the department can also be used as a recruitment tool.”
Trembly said he also understands how busy legislators are and it’s a career he would be interested in going into after he graduates in May. Trembly said he is applying at law schools and would some day like to serve in a public office.
ENMU President Steven Gamble is also doing lobbying in Santa Fe, but for different projects: $500,000 for a fire sprinkler system for Bernalillo and Lincoln Halls, $500,000 for instructional communications equipment for the new broadcast center and more than $500,000 for athletic facilities for men’s and women’s soccer, softball and baseball teams.
Gamble said that during the legislative session, he is usually at Santa Fe for three weekdays lobbying and in Portales the other two.
“We talked about it before they (students) went up there,” Gamble said. “Legislators are happy to see students representing their school.”
Gross said the committee members spent the spring semester trying to select two projects from department officials’ requests. She said other requests were for a defibrillator from the health services department, uniforms for the cross country teams, and office equipment for various other departments.
Gross said ENMU pays for fuel and lodging costs, but that being a committee member or a lobbyist is not a paid position.