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.