UNM President: Respect (Un)Occupy Albuquerque's Rights to Free Speech and Assembly
  • Petitioned President David J. Schmidly

This petition was delivered to:

University of New Mexico
President David J. Schmidly

UNM President: Respect (Un)Occupy Albuquerque's Rights to Free Speech and Assembly

    1. Elaine Romero
    2. Petition by

      Elaine Romero

      Albuquerque, NM

November 2011


After more than 2,000 people signed Elaine Romero's petition, University of New Mexico President David Schmidly has opened up a dialogue with (Un)Occupy Albuquerque and affirmed his support for free speech.

When occupiers were removed from Yale Park on campus, President Schmidly initially refused to allow supporters to reconvene on campus. With pressure from the petition and a hunger strike conducted by local supporter Sebastian Pais, President Schmidly granted (Un)Occupy Albuquerque a temporary permit to assemble in on campus. While he initially refused to meet with representatives of (Un)Occupy Albuquerque, on November 2nd, President Schmidly began to establish a dialogue with Sebastian and other supporters of the movement and affirmed his support for free speech and assembly.

Supporters of (Un)Occupy Albuquerque are now working with the President to ensure that this verbal support is translated into an ongoing commitment to providing a space for free assembly on campus. For more updates and to stay connected with (Un)Occupy Albuquerque, please visit www.unoccupyabq.org.

(Un)Occupy Albuquerque has joined the Occupy Wall Street movement around the world in gathering at a park on the campus of the University of New Mexico. A previous petition hosted on Change.org helped to open dialogue between participants in the movement and the President of UNM, David Schmidly. 

(Un)Occupy Albuquerque collaborated in good faith with UNM by respecting the land and permit procedures, as well as contributing to the academic environment through hosting teach-ins and educational events about the issues raised by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The original agreement was renewed once on October 1st, but it was not renewed as the next expiration date approached. As the agreement expired in October, President Schmidly refused to dialogue with the movement and instead decided to remove participants from Yale Park. Occupiers were arrested and one participant, Sebastian Pais, initiated a hunger strike to increase the pressure on President Schmidly to re-open a dialogue with the participants and negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement for a space for (Un)Occupy Albuquerque. 

A week into Sebastian's hunger strike, and as he was joined by another supporter, Kristen Gandy, the University decided to allow a temporary permit for (Un)Occupy Albuquerque to gather on campus within certain time limits. Additionally, UNM Provost Chaouki Abdallah visited the General Assembly on November 1st to dialogue with the movement. However, with the temporary permit set to expire on Sunday, November 6th and with President Schmidly continuing to refuse to open an ongoing dialogue with the General Assembly, there is a possibility that the recent progress could be lost if a more long-term solution is not reached.

As Sebastian Pais said, “I came to the United States from Argentina in 2003. My country survived half a century of dictators. During those many years, freedom of speech and assembly were severely curtailed. I expect the US to be a nation that respects and honors this top priority for democracy.”

Please join us in asking President Schmidly to do the right thing and negotiate a fair agreement with (Un)Occupy Albuquerque for a space for their activities.


For more information and to get involved in (Un)Occupy Albuquerque, please visit: www.unoccupyabq.org.


Recent signatures


    1. Letter from UNM President David Schmidly

      Elaine Romero
      Petition Organizer

      [ALL_UNIVE​RSITY-L] President Schmidly's Monday Morning Message
      Office of the PresidentMonday Morning Message – November 7, 2011
      Good morning. (Un)Occupy Albuquerque Update
      Monday Morning Message – November 7, 2011

      Good morning.

      (Un)Occupy Albuquerque Update
      Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet with several members of (Un)Occupy Albuquerque protest movement to exchange ideas and address concerns that have arisen over the past month. I feel that the meeting was positive, and as a result have written an open letter to the UNM community that provides an overview of our conversation as well as my thoughts on the matter. I invite you all to read the letter at http://www.unm.edu/president/documents/2011/presidents-letter-unoccupy-abq.pdf.

      (Additional updates not included here)

      Have a good week.

      David J. Schmidly

    2. President Schmidly Meets with (Un)Occupy Albuquerque

      Timothy Newman
      Petition Organizer

      UNM President Schmidly met with representatives of (Un)Occupy Albuquerque, including former hunger striker Sebastian Pais, on November 2nd and affirmed his support for freedom of speech.

    3. Reached 2,000 signatures
    4. UNM Provost Chaouki T. Abdallah Attends General Assembly

      Elaine Romero
      Petition Organizer

      Sebastian Pais and Kristen Gandy announced last night the end of the hunger strike that began last Tuesday when UNM President Schmidly refused to reconsider the eviction of (un)Occupy Albuquerque encampment from Yale Park. Though Schmidly did not attend Tuesday nights (un)Occupy Albuquerque general assembly, UNM Provost Chaouki T. Abdallah was on hand to field activists questions and listen to the statement read by Sebastian, reached through consensus at Monday nights General Assembly. Read the full statement at: http://www.unoccupyabq.org/2011/10/30/sebastian-hunger-strike/.

      The permit granted on Monday is a temporary permit due to expire Sunday night. We continue to be concerned and ask for your continued support.

      Daily (un)Occupy Albuquerque General Assembly meetings are held Monday through Friday 6:00 PM and Sunday at 12:30 PM, at Yale Park, University of New Mexico. Saturdays are Action Days, visit our website for specific details.


    5. Reached 1,500 signatures
    6. (Un)Occupy Albuquerque

      Elaine Romero
      Petition Organizer

      We thank EVERY person who has signed this petition. Kristen Gandy has joined Sebastian Pais in his hunger strike. They are being nourished through the outpouring of support. We are inspired by each comment on this petition. We are inspired by the support of change.org. We are hopeful that change is near and this hunger strike will end soon!

      We are committed to OCCUPY SOLIDARITY!

    7. Reached 750 signatures
    8. A news interview with Sebastian

      Elaine Romero
      Petition Organizer

      Sebastian Pais is under medical monitoring and has assembled a support team. Your signatures and comments give him strength and hope! The link below is an interview broadcast last night on an Albuquerque news station.

      You can also call UNM President David Schmidly at (505)277-2626 or visit him at UNM, Scholes Hall, Suite 144.

      PLEASE continue to share this petition!

    9. Reached 500 signatures
    10. DAY 5 of Hunger Strike

      Elaine Romero
      Petition Organizer

      Yale Park, UNM is currently closed to EVERYONE, even media is no longer allowed to stop in the park! The right to assemble and freedom of speech has been removed from this location. Join the Funeral Procession Protest for our Civil Rights: (Un)Occupy Albuquerque TODAY from 11:00 AM. Beginning at the Yale Park sidewalk and going to Albuquerque Civic Plaza! More information is in the link below.

    11. Reached 250 signatures
    12. Your actions make a difference!

      Timothy Newman
      Petition Organizer

      The last petition on Change.org in support of (Un)Occupy Albuquerque helped lead to an agreement that provided the participants with a space on campus. Now we need you to step up again to support the movement. Spread the word about this petition!

    13. Reached 50 signatures


    Reasons for signing

      • almost 3 years ago

      Pues la juventud debe ser oída, no reprimida y obligada a tomar medidas que ponen en grave riesgo su vida.

    • Arlee Green LAS CRUCES, NM
      • almost 3 years ago

      This isn't about blowing off steam. The issues being protested are ones that profoundly affect the nation and having a continuing impact.. Therefore, an effective protest must also be continuous.

      As a fellow New Mexican, I am ashamed that you, as the leader of an educational institution, have chosen to stifle this grassroots effort to heighten democracy in our state. UNM should be strongly supporting this effort.

      I sincerely hope that your actions are not being guided by alumni who may be the focus of the protests. Curtailing free speech and freedom of assembly are not actions the university should engaging in.

    • jacob weil EL PRADO, NM
      • almost 3 years ago

      As a UNM alumni I find the university's actions reprehensible. If one can't expect freedom of speech to be allowed at a public tax payer funded university where is it supposed to take place? Don't count on any donations as long as you stand in the way of the 1st amendment.

    • Samuel Lathem LAS CRUCES, NM
      • almost 3 years ago

      It is unconstitutional to NOT allow peaceful protests against this democratic form of government. Let us turn the Fascists politicians and their soldiers out of OFFICE and their positions. send the President back to a remedial course in American Civics ?!

    • annie degen SAN CRISTOBAL, NM
      • almost 3 years ago

      because civil liberties and freedom of speech are the most important things we have.

      don't take them away





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