Social issues
UNM hosts a series of events designed to address social issues.

As students at The University of New Mexico return to campus for the spring semester, they will have ample opportunity to engage in discussions about a myriad of social issues.

Top of the list: their right to speak or act on freedom of speech and expression.

Some events are organized rallies by student groups; some are brewing protests to polarizing events or speakers; some are informal gatherings or planned platforms to talk about the definitions and/or limitations of individual rights, academic freedom and civility.

In his first President’s Weekly Perspective message to campus as Acting President Chaouki Abdallah emphasized the unique position and critical role that public universities should play in fostering a challenging, yet hospitable, intellectual climate for all viewpoints to be part of a public discussion.

UNM’s policies encourage the exchange of diverse viewpoints, emphasizing that freedom of expression is central to the University’s mission.

 “At times, the conversation and decisions will become difficult and will test our civility and our core beliefs, but at no time should we relinquish the role of UNM as a playground for ideas and a center for the freedom of speech and thought,” Abdallah said.

With protests planned on campus coinciding with the inauguration of incoming President Donald Trump, UNM is hosting an Honoring Culture: Advancing Social Justice event, aimed at encouraging students to positively address social issues.

“The goal is to provide a platform to openly discuss race, gender, class, and other social issues in a progressive, inclusive way,” said Rosa Isela Cervantes, director, El Centro de la Raza, which is organizing the event. “We are hoping that the event helps students know that we are listening to their voices and we care.”

The following week, several events are planned to help students and others on campus understand the policies and procedures that govern events, protests and discussions on campus. The Dean of Students Office will host “Student Free Speech: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities.”

One panel will include speakers who are specialists on the First Amendment, free speech law and open government principles. Another will discuss how to reserve space, what policies govern student organized events and how the student code of conduct applies.

“UNM has a very diverse population,” said Nasha Torrez, dean of students. “That diversity includes different points-of-view and the need to learn how to have constructive dialogue on issues. You don’t have to agree with your fellow Lobos, but we do have to learn how to listen and how to be heard. We grow as a community when you can have these conversations.”

Several other happenings this month will address unity through diversity, race and pedagogy, civil rights, free speech and using faith to confront hate.

Campus leaders are hoping the varied events will help the campus community to develop civil and thoughtful responses to controversial topics and speakers, such as Milo Yiannopolis, who visits UNM toward the end of the month.

“Moments of controversy are opportunities for our community members to vigorously express differing opinions and beliefs. However, UNM does not condone hate speech,” said UNM Acting Provost Craig White. “We urge all to treat one another with mutual respect. The University is committed to the safety of students, faculty, staff and guests in supporting peaceful speech activities on our campus.”

“As we embrace diversity and inclusion, we have to remember that diversity entails dealing with difference, including difference of opinion,” said Josephine de Leon, vice president for equity and inclusion.  “In addition, inclusion is a bumpy-two-way street that requires us to allow others to be heard as we would like to be heard.”

January kicks off the semester with a full slate of campus climate topics but many other events are planned as classes continue this spring.

See the complete list below.

UNM Campus Climate Events
(as of Jan. 19, 2017)

As a new semester begins amidst a changing political climate, The University of New Mexico is committed to highlighting and sponsoring a number of events to address campus climate and social justice.  Numerous faculty and staff have shared their commitment and desire to assist in ensuring that our students feel safe, supported and respected on this campus. 

The following events have been planned to address the campus climate on campus and create awareness about matters that impact our students, faculty and staff. For updated information, visit Equity and Inclusion.

Jan. 20, 10 a.m. - Panel, Honoring Culture and Advancing Social Justice, (will include reading of a proclamation & Opening Prayer, Panels, Timelines, Standing Rock Presentation, Poetry etc.) Sponsored by El Centro de la Raza, Office of Student Affairs and Division for Equity and Inclusion, UNM SUB Atrium

Jan. 20 - Student Walk-out for Unity, meet in front of UNM Bookstore and Popejoy Hall.

Jan. 21 - Community Engagement Center Symposium, “Unity Through Diversity”, Sponsored by students to honor Martin Luther King Jr. which has been put together by students to honor MLK Jr. on Jan. 21 with the theme, "Unity Through Diversity."

Jan. 25, 3 to 4 p.m. - "Student Free Speech: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities." Featuring First Amendment attorney specialists: Eliza Bechtold, from the ACLU; Martin Esquivel who specializes in free speech and media law, and Greg Williams; Debbie Morris, UNM Director of Student Activities discussing Student Responsibilities (reserving space for a free speech event and pertinent UNM policies). 

Dean of Students Nasha Torrez will be available to answer questions related to when free speech or expression may result in a student code of conduct violation and what the process is.  Sponsored by Office of Dean of Students. SUB Atrium. Workshop Series on Immigration (held throughout spring semester)

Jan. 25, 12-1:30 p.m. - Conversations on Race and Pedagogy: Interdisciplinary Approaches, 230 TECH BLDG. UNM Main Campus Institute for the Study of Race and Social Justice ( We will be developing a collective syllabi that includes insights from a cross section of discipline on issues related to race and pedagogy. Email suggested readings from your discipline to Dr. Nancy López,

Jan. 26 - Dialogue:  Faith and Philosophical Tradition to Confront Hate.  Panelists include Rabbi Evelyn Bas of B’nai Israel Congregation, Faisal Nabulsi of the Islamic Center of NM. Pastor David Eifert from The Believers’ Center (progressive evangelical Christian): and his blog at - Archbishop Wester or Vicar John Daniel; Rich Wood, Sociology, will moderate Jan. 27 - Civil Rights Presentation, Sponsored by El Centro de la Raza, Office of Student Affairs, and Division for Equity and Inclusion

Feb. 1, 12 – 1:30 p.m. - Webinar:  Undocumented Students: The New Administration and What It Means for this Special Population, CTLB 110, RSVP to; Sponsored by Division for Equity and Inclusion.

Feb. 6 - Dr. Jennifer Freyd, professor of Psychology, University of Oregon, SUB Acoma A&B, 10-10:45 a.m.

Session I: OEO, Compliance, and Policy - 11-11:45 a.m.

Session II: Student Affairs and Advocacy Centers - 1-2:30 p.m.

Session III: Faculty and Students, 3-4:30 p.m. - keynote lecture by Dr. Freyd: “Addressing Campus Sexual Violence” Organized by Faculty SAFE UNM and the Feminist Research Institute.

Feb. 11 – 25 - Conflict De-Escalation Series - Workshops will be held on Saturdays (Sponsored by Office of Community Engaged Learning & Research and other sponsors including DEI)

Workshop 1:  This session will focus on having a public conversation around what is happening on the UNM campus, how people feel about the events that are occurring and helping people who are fearful, angry, or frustrated and want to help other understand those feelings and where they stem from.

Workshop 2:  This session would focus on the topic of non-violent techniques for de-escalation and how to employ these techniques whether you are the victim, the aggressor or the bystander.

Workshop 3:  This session will focus on accountability as individuals, members of a larger community, leaders, etc.  What are we doing and how do we follow through on creating and upholding the environment of a safe and respectful campus.

Feb. 15, 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. - Teaching and Social Justice Conference, Sponsored by Center for Teaching and Learning. UNM SUB

Feb. 23, 12 p.m. - 1104 Mesa Vista Hall (History Common Room):  “Whose Histories?  The Southwest from Different Perspectives.  Panelists:  Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder; Donald Fixico, Distinguished Professor of History, Arizona State University and author of Indian Resilience and Rebuilding; Paul Hutton, Distinguished Professor of History, UNM and author of Apache Wars, and Jennifer Denetdale, Associate Professor of American Studies and author of Reclaiming Dine History.  Moderated by Virginia Scharff, Associate Provost and Distinguished Professor of History

Feb. 23, 5:30 p.m. - “Empire for Liberty:  The Civil War as Indian War,” Ari Kelman, Chancellor’s Leadership Professor, University of California Davis, presents the 2017 C. Ruth and Calvin P. Horn Lecture, SUB Lobo A&B.

March 1 & 2 - Daisy Hernandez, Author of “A Cup of Water Under My Bed”, Lobo Reading Experience Book, will be on campus to talk about topics of immigration, LGBT, the Latino/a experience, financial literacy, etc.

April 13, 5:30 p.m. - Andrew Hartman, Professor of History, Illinois State University (and UNM alumnus):  “The War for the Soul of America:  A History of the Culture Wars." Location TBA, sponsored by Departments of History and American Studies.

April 14-15 -  Symposium on Asylum, Sponsored by LAII, Liz Hutchinson

April 20 - Dr. Ange Marie Hancock, RWJF Lecture Series, Intersectionality, RWJF Speakers Series, for more info:

Details and additional information will be updated as it becomes available. For updated information, visit Equity and Inclusion.

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