Good afternoon, Lobos -

The UNM administration has met with student leaders who are part of the UNM Divestment Coalition, which has actively advocated and made a formal proposal for an Israel-Gaza ceasefire, disclosure of UNM investment portfolios, and divestment from any investments that are tied to Israel.

I would like to take this opportunity to update everyone that we are committed to continued dialogue and transparency with our entire community and are exploring public disclosure of information concerning UNM investment portfolios. I will also address the related encampment that has been occupying space for the past few weeks at our Duck Pond.

The University of New Mexico is made up of diverse voices and perspectives that span political, ideological, religious, and experiential continuums – and our leadership team has met with and heard from many of these individuals and groups over the past few months. UNM welcomes and encourages all members of the Lobo community to express their views and respond to societal challenges in ways that are respectful, comply with university policies, and apply the principles of critical thought. Our primary mission as an institution of higher education is to cultivate an environment where diverse perspectives are respected and where we can thoughtfully explore complex issues, guided by our core values of respect, curiosity, and inclusivity.

Call for Ceasefire in Gaza

On the matter of an institutional statement calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, we offer the following approach to such requests, as articulated in the 2024 State of The University address. While the university may face pressures to take dichotomous positions or issue statements on various matters, it is crucial to remember that a public university should not serve as a political tool to express institutional opinions on intricate social and geopolitical matters.

According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), there has been a rise in armed conflicts worldwide; in 2023, 168 countries experienced armed conflicts. In the face of such distressing global challenges, we can all agree that violence and resulting human suffering are antithetical to our values and mission. Furthermore, universities and critical thought flourish in times of peace. Universities serve as vital platforms for constructive dialogue, critical thinking, and the cultivation of leaders equipped to navigate and address these multifaceted issues. We stand for peace in this and all global conflicts and cherish foremost our role as a place where the future can be envisioned and understood.

Call to Disclose and Call to Divest

We appreciate the appropriate ways in which students and community members have engaged and lifted their voices on these matters via email, letters, and public comment during in-person meetings. UNM is committed to public disclosure of the results of its research into its investment portfolio by August 2024, which was identified as a target date by student advocates.

Campus Safety Concerns and Violations of UNM Policy at the Duck Pond

To date, we have been tolerant of several significant policy violations at the UNM Duck Pond. While we recognize and respect the right to protest and the expression of diverse viewpoints, the encampment at the Duck Pond has posed several critical concerns, including:

1. Restricting access to this public space for others who wish to use it.

2. Disrupting and harassing UNM employees who are committed to maintaining our campus.

3. Creating safety concerns through the erection of unsafe structures (e.g., wires, posts, and pallets), engaging in illegal activities (e.g., indecent exposure, harassment, and battery) reports of theft (multiple reports via UNM EthicsPoint, reports to UNMPD, Instagram Posts), public urination and defecation, and use of drugs and alcohol.

4. Associated campus vandalism, including spray-painted graffiti.

5. Increasing violations of UNM policies:

     a. Regents Policy 2.1: Free Expression and Advocacy
     b. Regents Policy 2.6: Drug Free Environment
     c. Regents Policy 2.8: Visitors to the University
     d. Regents Policy 4.2: Student Code of Conduct
     e. Regents Policy 7.9: Property Management
     f. UAP Policy 2140: Use and Possession of Alcohol on University Property
     g. UAP Policy 2220: Freedom of Expression and Dissent
     h. UAP Policy 2240: Respectful Campus
     i. UAP Policy 2270: Camping
     j. UNM Pathfinder: Student Code of Conduct
     k. UNM Pathfinder: Visitor Code of Conduct

Duck Pond Protest Site

To continue a path forward in a respectful and productive way, we are requesting that the encampment at the Duck Pond be voluntarily dismantled by 5 p.m. today. Over the past weeks, we have not cited anyone at the Duck Pond for ongoing violations of University policies. Despite this leniency, the number and severity of the violations have continued to increase. Those who do not voluntarily comply will be subject to institutional enforcement of UNM policies and local, state, and federal law. Realizing that members of our unhoused community have been occupying the encampment, we are providing resources from Albuquerque Community Safety (ACS).

Given these issues, and because the encampment violates UNM policies, we ask those camped at the Duck Pond to vacate expeditiously, and no later than 5 p.m. today.

We encourage those involved to continue their advocacy in ways that comply with university policies including UAP 2220 and 2270. Note that organized protests should be scheduled through the appropriate university processes to ensure proper use of shared spaces. Please review the information on UNM’s Free Speech webpage.

We also invite open discussions through formal channels. Please feel free to reach out via email to schedule a meeting with university leaders. It is important to note that university leadership engages through direct communication and not through social media platforms.

Our goal is to ensure that UNM remains a safe, open environment where the free exchange of ideas is upheld within the framework of our policies, notably enforcing reasonable time, place and manner restrictions as allowed by US law and court rulings. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

The individuals involved are on notice that the University is prepared to take further action in the event of continued violations of our time, place, and manner policies governing protests, threats to public safety, disruption of operations or academic activities, violation of policies, and destruction of property.

Garnett S. Stokes
UNM President