The University of New Mexico is often the site for controversial issues that are part of the city, state or national scene. Once again, UNM is at the center of a broader controversy brewing in the city of Albuquerque in advance of an election on Tuesday, Nov. 19 on the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance,” an initiative that would prevent women in the city from getting an abortion after five months of pregnancy, except for cases when the woman’s life is in danger.

UNM was also a site for the Occupy Wall Street movement, Palestinian and Israeli protests, and has been ground zero for civil rights marches and anti-war protests.

Political Science Professor Peter Kierst said, “Freedom of speech is a constitutional right granted to people in the United States. Universities have long been places where issues are debated and discussed.”

UNM President Robert G. Frank addressed the campus community today through his “Weekly Perspective.” He notes that a university campus is the ideal place for complex issues be discussed and debated. He wrote, “The ways in which we express ourselves are just as important the positions we defend.”

He notes that civility is “a basic personal responsibility.” Frank wrote, “It is saying that I am willing to hear what you want to say, I am willing to listen, I understand you need to say it and I will allow you to do so. Civility is what allows speech to be heard. The values that hold us together as a university – including civility, diversity, and respect in our engagement with one another – are the foundation of the living and learning environment the campus offers our students, faculty, staff, and the communities we serve.”

To that end, the University of New Mexico remains a place for public discourse. It is a place where students and the community can learn to form their own opinion about the issues of the day and express them in an appropriate manner.

Several organizations are working together to provide transportation to the polls on Tuesday. Those who wish to take advantage of it can catch a shuttle from the Redondo Dr. bus stop north of the UNM Bookstore, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.