The Associated Students of The University of New Mexico (ASUNM) has partnered with student governments from two nearby universities in an effort to raise money for people seeking asylum on the southern border near El Paso.
The Rivals for Relief initiative, sponsored by ASUNM, the Associated Students of New Mexico State University (ASNMSU) and University of Texas El Paso Student Government Association (UTEP SGA), aims to raise $30,000 for the purpose of assisting migrants and refugees by Feb. 17.
The three student organizations will collect donations through a portal supported by the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico. After money is collected, the student government organizations will issue grants to nonprofits assisting migrants and people seeking asylum in the U.S.
“Students are some of the most caring people. I think we care a lot about things and it can sometimes be hard to make that impact,” Ian May, ASUNM President, said. “Having students come together for something like this will show how much we care and will hopefully provide an outlet for that empathy.”
On Dec. 17, 2022, Oscar Leeser, Mayor of El Paso, declared a state of emergency in response to an influx of migrants in need of resources and assistance.
“As New Mexicans and El Pasoans, we have a unique relationship with our southern border where our cultures are inherently intertwined…The rise of newcomers has resulted in an unprecedented depletion of many essential resources in El Paso that are critical to supporting the basic needs of these displaced peoples as they begin the next stage of their journeys,” Gabriela Munoz, UTEP SGA President, said in a video released by the organizations about the collaboration.
May emphasized that despite UNM’s distance from the border, these issues resonate deeply in the community-at-large.
“This matters a lot to the students here and to the Albuquerque community,” May said. “For us to participate in this signals that, as a student government and even as a university, we are here to support those of our students and community members that feel a tie to this situation.”
The partnership between the three schools is emblematic of work that’s been happening behind-the-scenes for months. ASUNM has worked throughout the academic year to establish stronger relationships with student government organizations at nearby universities. Representatives from the organization visited NMSU earlier in the year to discuss statewide collaborations.
Garrett Moseley, ASNMSU President, reached out to May and Munoz about hosting a joint fundraiser for support of migrants earlier this year and both student body presidents were immediately on board, May said.
“While this situation is complex and layered, we feel we cannot sit back and watch as a humanitarian crisis unfolds in our own backyard. We are not here to take a political stance, but we do feel the need to use our platforms to amplify other voices and help improve the material conditions for as many individuals as possible,” Moseley said in a video.
Those interested in donating to the Rivals for Relief fund can do so on the CFSNM website until Feb. 17.