Dear Mr. Editor,
A fellow Aggie here.
I hope this letter brings accountability and practical change.
I write this letter to inform you of the inequities I have experienced while attending New Mexico State University and to inform you of the evasive behavior from top-level administrators and their discrimination towards me/others. I found myself being treated unfairly and unkindly when I chose to advocate for myself. I have first-hand experience of knowing in-depth of how the university was/is capable of assisting myself and other fellow vulnerable marginalized members of my community.
These are the instances of what I describe as discrimination and are as follows:
Roughly 6 months prior to graduating from a high school (a few years ago) within a seriously socio-economically disadvantaged area in the country, I met with an Admissions recruiter for New Mexico State University and provided them with legal documentation that proved my at-risk/homeless socio-economic status.
Prior to graduating from high school, I was unable to register for Orientation because I couldn’t afford the cost of ~$160 Freshmen Orientation that takes place in the summer before freshmen year and I went in person and the coordinator at the time allowed me to attend and register for classes. Then I faced another challenge, almost not attending NMSU because I couldn’t afford the $250 housing deposit/fee, I called housing and informed them of the situation and they said “ask your family and friends for the money,” this caused me to feel alone and sad because they invalidated my disadvantages and privileged me in a way that felt harmful to my identity and left me feeling like I wasn’t being heard nor understood. I contacted NMSU Social Services and they told me that they would cover my Housing application fee with a grant they had available, then two days after this was told to me, the director of the program said they were unable to pay for the deposit. On the last day of being able to complete the housing application, a separate (non-NMSU affiliated) non-profit organization graciously paid for the deposit. Had they not paid that fee, this letter wouldn’t even exist.
When the Housing deposit was finally paid, NMSU Housing placed me in upper-class housing (as overflow) because of the late submission for the Housing application. They ran out of space in freshmen dormitories. I found myself living amongst about 120+ students, whom a majority of were socio-economically displaced and were people of color that had paid the Housing fee within the last week of the application period and therefore placed in overflow.
NMSU then forced me to buy a freshmen meal plan and said that this was because I didn’t have a kitchen in freshmen dormitories. Yet, I did have a kitchen (in my upperclassmen housing unit).
I never met my RA once. I ran into a situation that led into a report being filed against some roommates due to some unsafe experiences some friends had with them. Neither NMSU nor Housing followed up once.
Disgraced Former ousted-President John Floros, Interim Director of Housing Ophelia Watkins-Quinones, Several key members from the Provost office, Auxiliary Services, Social Services, Financial Aid and other executive officials from ASNMSU were actively aware of my situation (because of direct virtual and in-person communications with them) and they did nothing to intervene or set precedents to help create more equitable opportunities for students from underprivileged areas.
I left NMSU during the second semester of my freshmen year because of the rough transition I experienced during the fall semester and the disproportionate inequalities I faced. Prior to leaving I met with a secretary of a high profile NMSU financial assistant working in Hadley Hall in order to opt-out of the meal plan and the secretary said: “Well, you’re not homeless anymore, because you live in a dorm.” This was clear discrimination, but current laws allow discrimination against an individual based off of socio-economic status and offers no protection.
Years passed from that point, and I eventually returned to NMSU to notice that there has been 0% effort from NMSU Housing in combating homelessness or preventing students from disadvantaged places to have fair equitable opportunities. There are zero programs that NMSU has privately funded (other than TRIO, which is a mandated U.S. D.O.E. entity and is geared towards supporting students in other ways) within their university to help gap these inequities for these vulnerable Aggies.
When I finally returned to school, I applied to NMSU Housing in the summer of 2021 and that same organization all those years earlier paid the $250 fee and was placed in housing for the summer for one month during the 2020-2021 academic school year. I was then told I had to submit another housing application for the then-upcoming 2021-2022 school year, and was told I needed to pay another $250 deposit/fee to continue to live on-campus. Even though I had paid $250 merely three weeks before I had to submit another $250 to not face homelessness once again. I had to submit new applications and fees in order to continue to live in the dorms. These unsafe precedents play into working against stability and growth of homeless/at-risk student.
IF there are organizations that are on-campus (none that I am aware of since I have attended this school) supporting these vulnerable students/population these forms of support must be better communicated because at-risk students often times aren’t in a mental capacity to be able to handle these external factors. (I mean this genuinely)
I strike down NMSU’s approach and behavior to these situations and ask that they implement a transparent system, approach, and/or program to fill in these inequities for: At-Risk/Homeless/Foster/Adoptees.
I strike down NMSU Housing behavior and procedures.
More importantly, I challenge every department listed in this letter to address these concerns directly and openly with the student body in an open forum. I challenge you! BE BOLD. Shape Our Future.
I have confidence that NMSU has a student-body that cares about this situation. I hope this letter brings awareness to these issues and therefore insights practical meaningful change by calling our administration to action and ask they hold all these individuals accountable for the actions they knowingly committed.
I urge NMSU, Chancellor Arvizu and The Board of Regents to launch an investigation into these matters and to mandate more precedents to be implemented ASAP for these marginalized Aggies.
I urge NMSU to better their diversity and equity programs outreach. I have had great experience with Chicano Programs and hope to see other programs follow their initiatives and involvement.
I have faith that Ms. Scholz, inaugural Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is preparing to combat these needs, but to fully implement NMSU LEADS 2025, we need various departments, entities and officials to admit their faults and move forward with action, do this for all current and future Aggies!
Thank you Mr. Editor,
A fellow Aggie.
Aggies, BE BOLD. Shape the Future. Help call for change!