Good afternoon fellow Lobos –

We are communicating with you regarding an incident at our Student Union Building (SUB) that began yesterday evening. What began as protest ended in criminal acts.

A group of persons marched across campus in protest, but then entered the UNM SUB and declared their intent to occupy the building until their demands were met. They remained unlawfully in the building past closing time and proceeded to vandalize the building, damaging furniture, walls, and doors, writing graffiti with markers, paint, and chalk, on the walls, on banisters, in bathrooms, and more. Beyond this property damage in the SUB, graffiti was spray-painted across campus. Students who were trying to study in the SUB were verbally harassed.

UNM has long served as a place where free speech and the right to engage in peaceful protest have been permitted and protected – but only up to the point where such protest substantially disrupts university operations or crosses the line to criminal acts. We are obliged to ensure that our campus is safe and open to all.

The takeover of the UNM Student Union Building is not acceptable. The vandalism of the building, a precious gathering place on our campus, is not acceptable. Barricading its doors and blocking its stairs are not acceptable. Intimidating students who are simply trying to study and learn, is not acceptable.

Those who occupied the building were not peacefully protesting, they were engaged in criminal activity by entering, remaining in, and damaging the SUB after its closing hours. 

Those who were in the building past its operating hours were told to vacate the SUB and given time to do so. They were told that failure to comply could result in arrest. Those who did not comply were arrested. Sixteen arrests were made, five of whom were students; we understand that the other 11 were not affiliated with UNM.

There is no desire on the University’s part to engage in confrontation, and we had previously allowed protest at our Duck Pond, but disallowed camping in accordance with long standing policy. However, the continued damage being done to the SUB, as shown on the occupiers’ social media, and their continued threat to deny this important facility to the rest of campus unless their demands were met, compelled this carefully considered, difficult choice. 

We ask that people respect each other’s diverse viewpoints as well as university policies and state laws so that we can all feel safe and welcome here. We will communicate further with campus concerning these events and our path forward.

- UNM Leadership