Daily Lobo 5/17/2021

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New Student Orientation 2021 | Volume 125 | O rientation Issue

UNM’s proposed COVID-19 vaccine policy draws support, objections and legal questions By Liam DeBonis @LiamDebonis

The University of New Mexico revealed a draft proposal on May 3 that would require COVID-19 vaccinations for most students, staff and faculty in order to attend the University in person for the coming fall semester, drawing both praise and scrutiny from UNM community members. The short proposal has not received a final ruling from the University administration. Instead, UNM’s “Bring Back the Pack” website has installed a feedback button alongside the link to the proposal, encouraging those who read it to provide their thoughts. This proposition is not the first of its kind; according to CNBC, over 30 colleges and universities throughout the nation have already committed to similar proposals to require vaccinations for their students and faculty. “This is the best way to ensure the safety of people who are immunodeficient at UNM,” Emerald Goranson, a senior at UNM, wrote to the Lobo. “Throughout grade school vaccines are also required to attend school unless you’re medically or religiously exempt. We should not be surprised

Nicholas Romero/ Daily Lobo / @nicromerophoto

A vaccine clinic lead works on getting COVID-19 vaccines ready at the mass-vaccination site at The Pit.

that this is a step the University is willing to take and it is a public health centered decision.” But others at the University worry about what the mandate would require of those who request exemptions from the vaccine mandate under religious or disability-related concerns. “From what I understand of the proposal, if I were to submit the religious exemption paperwork, every

time I set foot on campus I would be forcibly quarantined and forcibly tested,” Ph.D. student Aleja Allen wrote to the Lobo. Indeed, the “Bring Back the Pack” website mentions in the frequency asked questions (FAQs) section that “additional safety measures, such as quarantine upon initial arrival to campus and surveillance testing, may be deemed necessary” by health authorities, and says that those who are

exempted would be “informed of any additional requirements” should the mandate go into effect. What steps will actually be taken or what those safety measures may look like remain to be seen, and the University is considering the feedback generated from the input of students, staff and faculty in regard to how they would implement such measures, according to Cinnamon Blair, UNM’s chief marketing and

communication director. “Right now we’re looking to get that information in the feedback, but no decisions have been made, and that’s why the FAQs were put out there so people could start thinking about the things that could be discussed,” Blair said. Blair said the accommodations would either go through the Office of Compliance, Ethics & Equal Opportunity (CEEO) or the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC), depending on what the accommodation is. CEEO, formerly known as the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) before its combination with the Compliance Office, was not involved in the creation of the proposed policy, according to Interim Director of Equal Opportunity Heather Jaramillo. Still, accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as religious accommodations are “evaluated on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to the specific situation of the person requesting the accommodation and the department that is implementing the accommodation,” Jaramillo said in an email to the Lobo. “Our role in all accommodations is to ensure that a person has

see Vaccine Policy page 2

Academic Communities Program helps transition first-year students to college By Megan Gleason @fabflutist2716 The Academic Communities Program is a first-year-exclusive experience for students at the University of New Mexico. This program allows students to take special courses that will not only count toward their degree progress, but also provide a community space to explore how college works best for them. There are five sections to the Academic Communities Program: first-year learning communities (FLC), transition communities, big questions, deep dive and academic foundations. Each area provides a different type of experience for firstyear students, and a quiz can be taken to see which academic community best fits you. Robert DelCampo, the dean of University College that oversees the program, said the term “first-year” is usually interpreted broadly because exceptions can be made, such as with transfer students. In addition, the upcoming semester will look different for the program because sophomores will be allowed to enroll in select courses. “They didn’t really have a fair

chance at having a first-year experience or being in classrooms with similar (peers),” Kiana Alvarez, a professional support intern, said. “So in a sense, the sophomores of last year kind of are like freshmen; they’re new Lobos to the school and we’re hoping that together with the freshmen of this cohort, they’ll be able to transition into the University kind of in the same way.” Cash Clifton, the academic foundations coordinator, teaches a transition course for student athletes and acknowledged that the dynamic of the classes will change not only with the addition of sophomores, but also from the stress that the COVID-19 pandemic has added on students. “Ultimately I try to take the perspective of being an active listener because I think the students individually are the experts in terms of what challenges they’re facing,” Clifton said. Clifton plans to address in his courses what challenges the pandemic has created for students, and what the best steps for moving forward are. “I think the pandemic has been very draining on people’s mental health,” Clifton said. “I think it’s impacted everybody in terms of energy

Inside this Lobo PERLS: ‘NSO … To-Go!’ community bond (pg. 3)





level. I just think it’s going to impact society for a long time.” Alvarez said all of the communities, with the exception of the big questions courses, have small class sizes of about 25 students. This, she said, allows more interaction between peers as well as professors, and provides hands-on learning opportunities. Big questions courses are larger in size because it is the one section open to anyone. Underclassmen are paired with more experienced students as they study under a main professor that specializes in a specific topic area, along with visiting professors or professionals from other disciplines. DelCampo and Alvarez agreed that the FLCs are the most popular section overall. In this area, classes from different subjects are paired together so the students can draw from both academic disciplines. For example, DelCampo said yoga and calculus is a popular pairing that helps students learn both math and mindfulness techniques. “What students learn in one course, they apply in the other,” the FLC webpage says. Deep dives is the most recent addition to the Academic Communities Program and will be piloted for the first time in the fall semester. This

course is focused on research, and Alvarez said this is relevant to UNM since it ranks as an R1 University, which means that the University has very high research activity. “We’re just hoping that it’s kind of like an informal introduction to the field of research and more specifically research at UNM because, since we are an R1 university, it’s really important to get undergraduates in the conversation as well,” Alvarez said. Transition communities are available for students to explore

more about how to succeed in college overall, from university skills to degree plans. “We think those are going to be really awesome courses especially for students who may be nervous about returning to the University in a face-to-face setting just because we imagine that nerves are going to be kind of high after being quarantined for so long,” Alvarez said. Finally, academic foundations are


Program page 2

Liam DeBonis / Daily Lobo / @LiamDebonis

The Academic Communities Program provides an exclusive curriculum experience for first-year students.

TREVINO: OPINION: Top five places to study on campus (pg. 4)


GUTIERREZ: Canvas selected to replace Blackboard as next learning management system for UNM (pg. 5) PUKITE: Isotopes reopen games to the public (pg. 7)


Vaccine Policy

from page

equitable access to continue their professional or academic work, to craft an accommodation that is reasonable under the law and to ensure that the accommodation does not place an undue hardship or burden on the operations of the University,” Jaramillo said. Allen, as well as others on social media, raised concerns about the fact that all coronavirus vaccines are currently available under an emergency use authorization, which “allow(s) the use of unapproved medical products, or unapproved uses of approved medical products in an emergency,” according to the FDA. However, UNM’s proposal clarifies that it would delay the enforcement of a vaccine requirement until the FDA approves at least one of the vaccines for regular use. Although some nations, including some Canadian provinces, are paus-


from page



1 ing AstraZenica’s vaccine following instances of rare blood clots, similar to the blood clots reported in some recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the three vaccines approved for emergency use by the FDA — namely, vaccines made by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna — have passed rigorous safety and efficacy tests and independent reviews. The approved vaccines are widely regarded as safe and effective by the CDC, FDA and public health experts, and continue to be monitored for adverse effects. Some UNM students, including Allen, have also raised legal questions about privacy and bodily autonomy. But according to Jennifer Piatt, a senior attorney at the Network for Public Health Law’s western region office, the precedent for those cases revolves more around the “fundamental right” to privacy addressed

in cases such as Cruzan v. District, which established a patient’s right to refuse medical treatment, and Griswold v. Connecticut, which overturned a ban on the use of contraceptives by married couples — precedent that does not necessarily apply to vaccine mandates. “In those cases, those are fundamental freedoms that are at stake, like the right to privacy or the right to bodily autonomy regarding medical decision-making,” Piatt said. “But when you’re talking about university vaccine mandates, the right at issue is not whether I am compelled to get a vaccine … you’re talking about a situation where students are facing a choice. It might be a difficult choice, but it’s a choice; to get vaccinated or (not) come to campus.” Mandates are “much more constitutionally supportable” as opposed to forced or “compulsory” vaccinations,

Piatt said, because they allow potential recipients of the vaccine a choice to opt-out — even if that choice may be a complicated one, such as weighing vaccination against a job or a post-secondary education. Other Supreme Court cases, according to Piatt, also provide precedent for a state’s implementation of vaccine mandates, such as Jacobson v. Massachusetts, and for exclusion of those unvaccinated from schools, such as Zucht v. King. The proposal comes in tandem with a new initiative, dubbed “The Pack is Back,” to implement the planned return to in-person operations for the upcoming fall semester. The initiative has already repealed travel restrictions and will end the University’s hiring suspension starting July 1. July will also bring about the staff discussion of when to return to on-site work.

For UNM student Rosa Villagrana, the vaccine mandate is a catalyst for returning to normal college life. Villagrana said she supports the vaccine mandate as a way to return to in-person learning and added that the experience of online classes was more difficult for her compared to in-person lectures. Yet for Allen, who had been planning to come to campus in person for the fall semester prior to the proposed mandate and who said she was unafraid of the coronavirus, the vaccine mandate is a step too far. “This is going to hurt UNM,” Allen said. “I will withdraw if this goes forward.” Allen said UNM needs to “give us the right to make our own choices.”

“It’s all about giving people a really cool experience in their first year, what we call these ‘high-impact practices,’ because we know that if students participate in these, they’re going to stick around; they’re going to be interested,” DelCampo said. Online opportunities for select courses will remain available beyond the pandemic so that students who have a difficult time physically making it to campus at a specific time

can still participate in the program, DelCampo said. The program also offers special training to all participating faculty so they can brainstorm activities or strategies to best support students, according to Alvarez. “Depending on where a student is coming from, they might come in the door really prepared for college (or) they might come in the door not prepared for college at

all,” Clifton said. “And so the idea here is to, I think, give everyone the opportunity to start out on even footing … I really think we should take a student-centered approach as a university and that means meeting students where they’re at.” Clifton said students are often able to “verbalize” what they stand for by the end of these courses. “My favorite part is seeing students find their voice to believe in

themselves. We see students come into these programs so often who just don’t have a lot of confidence … So my favorite thing is seeing students kind of blossom,” Clifton said.

Liam DeBonis is the copy chief at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at copychief@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @LiamDebonis


classes that “support your mastery of the quantitative and critical thinking skills necessary for success in UNM classes,” according to its webpage. These classes are distinguishable by “FYEX,” or First Year Experience, in the course catalog. Data shows that students that participate in the Academic Communities Program are more likely to come back for their sophomore year, according to DelCampo.


Know your status. Be #LoboProud

Megan Gleason is the Editor-inChief of the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at editorinchief@dailylobo. com or on Twitter @fabflutist2716

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‘NSO … To-Go!’ 2021 aims to promote student community bond

ake ad A graphic advertising New Student Orientation (NSO) going online for the second year in a row. Photo courtesy of NSO.

By Zoe Perls @zoeperls Incoming students at the University of New Mexico are being welcomed virtually with an online New Student Orientation (NSO) experience for 2021 called “NSO … To-Go!” This mandatory two-day summer program is meant to prepare new freshmen for college life, and sessions for first-year students will be held from June 1 to Aug. 18. This year’s NSO will include self-paced modules about UNM, personalized degree information and UNM’s sexual misconduct training.

Zoom presentations about being a new student, paying for college and more will be included. There will also be a virtual Ethnic and Resource Center open house, as well as a discovery fair to showcase what available resources UNM holds. Students will attend Zoom meetings with their NSO orientation leader, NSO groups and their advisors. NSO groups are separated by major; if there are not enough students in attendance within one major, then it is divided by college. NSO is constantly adapting to COVID-19 regulations by taking advantage of online modules, Zoom presentations and various visits from different departments and student organizations, accord-

ing to director Jose Villar. NSO was also able to implement feedback from student surveys, verbal feedback from NSO orientation leaders and staff observations to implement live virtual event technology, as well as additional Zoom checkins with NSO leaders. “The wheel has not stopped turning,” Villar said. This year, Villar said the team was focused on increasing “student-tostudent” and “student-to-organization” interaction. One example of how this is being done is the discovery fair, which will simulate an on-campus experience. Students will be able to virtually visit over 60 online booths and meet other students in real-time. Villar said this is

Courtesy Photo

still in beta testing. “We are hopeful that this experience is going to allow students to interact with departments and interact with student organizations, which (the students) were not able to do last year,” Villar said. UNM student Brianna Allen participated in “NSO … To Go!” in 2020 and said it left her out of touch with the UNM community and bored with the program. “I was excited to do NSO in person and spend the night on campus — doing it online wasn’t very exciting,” Allen said. “It didn’t make me excited to start my new year.” However, Allen did see the ben-

efits from doing it from the comfort of her own home. In general, Allen said more peer interaction would have made the experience more memorable overall, which is one of the factors Villar said they are trying to improve at NSO this year. Villar said he believes many students did have a positive experience of NSO in 2020, and that engagement at NSO is a shared responsibility between organizers of NSO and students. Zoe Perls is a freelance reporter at the University of New Mexico. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @zoeperls

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New Student Orientation 2021

Opinion Editor / opinion@dailylobo.com

Top five places to study on campus By Emma Trevino @itsemmatr College life is a big adjustment, and although you might be tempted to hole up in your dorm room, the resources on campus for studying are extensive to say the least. If you live on the University of New Mexico’s main campus, check out these top five spots so you can study comfortably. 5. Dane Smith Hall Dane Smith Hall is a three-story multipurpose building just a minute’s walk Zimmerman Library or the Duck Pond. You’ll probably have at least one course in Dane Smith during your first year, as it accommodates several core classes required by UNM. While the second and third levels are mainly classrooms, the first floor is home to a large area of various chairs and tables, perfect for quick group meetings before class or a last-minute cram session before an exam. Not only is there ample seating, but you can head to the in-house cafe for a drink, snack or lunch if you’re short on time. I found that the cafe was an invaluable resource if I needed an easy pick-me-up before or after class. You can also head outside of Dane Smith’s first floor to find covered seating. This area is

great if you want to spend some time outside but aren’t too keen on the intense New Mexico sun. 4. The Collaborative Teaching and Learning Building (CTLB) You won’t necessarily have a class in the CTLB this semester, but you’re sure to walk by it every day if you live in the dorms. Near Hokona Hall, students can run in for a bite to eat at the Einstein Bros. Bagels on the CTLB’s first floor (which is my favorite part of the building). If you need to do some studying, there are tables in Einstein's area as well as around other parts of the building. The main perk of the CTLB is definitely the array of foodstuffs available from Einstein’s. If you ever want an easy, accessible break from La Posada dining hall, give the CTLB a try for a bagel and coffee (and, of course, studying!). 3. The Duck Pond While certainly not the most traditional study space, the grassy, hilly area around the Duck Pond is an amazing place to study, catch up with friends and enjoy the random, sometimes frenzied sounds of ducks and water splashing. The Duck Pond offers a more scenic background, so a break from reading and rereading that essay can be as simple as a glance up from the computer. I’ve found that getting out of my room and doing my coursework by the Duck Pond helps clear my head and


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Zimmerman Library’s West Wing allows students to study in peace among rows of tables and charging outlets.

refresh my state of mind so ultimately, I can focus better. There’s really no way to miss the Duck Pond — it’s right next to Dane Smith and Zimmerman Library. When you have some time after class, take a minute to explore the expansive area and scope out your perfect study spot. 2. The Fine Arts and Design Library This beautiful building is directly across from the UNM Bookstore, so you’ll likely see the massive staircase before the semester even begins. Up the elevator and into the Fine Arts and Design Library on the fourth floor there sits a huge study space, complete with long tables, reservable private rooms and a sweeping collection of arts-related materials. Even if you aren’t a part of the fine arts community here on campus, this library is home to one of the best views. Two of the four walls are entirely windows and if you’re lucky enough to snag a window seat, the natural light is a life-changer. A short walk across the street and you’ll end up at Frontier or Saggio’s — both are great options when in dire need of fuel. I wish I had discovered this space sooner because I no doubt would have utilized it regularly as a first-year student. 1. Zimmerman Library The holy grail of studying, Zimmerman Library is perfectly sandwiched between the Student Union Build-


ing and the path that most of UNM’s dorm buildings are built on. The Starbucks on the ground level is a major hit with students, whether you stay to study or not. During the first part of my freshman year, I made the mistake of not exploring this amazing library and sticking to the learning commons of the ground floor. This area is great for group projects or solo studying, and comes equipped with standing desks and printing stations too. However, the best part of the ground level of Zimmerman is by far the West Wing. Looking for a studying atmosphere that echoes “Harry Potter?” The West Wing is the place for you. Rows of tables supplied with easyaccess outlets and USB plugs makes for a functional area where you can live out your dark academia dreams. The volume difference between the Learning Commons and the West Wing alone is motivation for you to check it out if you’re in desperate need of some truly quiet studying. My favorite (and my most frequented) part of Zimmerman is the basement. Another generally quiet space, the basement offers tables, private rooms and comfy chairs with built-in desks. An established routine I had before the pandemic was grabbing some coffee from Starbucks on the main floor before heading down to the basement during midterms and finals. The energy of the basement is calm and productive, and I’ve spent many nights cranking out

I’ve found each space listed to be uniquely qualified to get me in the right headspace to crank out a big paper or pull an all-nighter studying for finals. Don’t stress in the same place you sleep — take a look at these places before classes start and find out which one’s your favorite. Emma Trevino is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture@dailylobo. com or on Twitter @itsemmatr

Volume 125 Orientation Issue Editor-in-Chief Megan Gleason

Culture Editor Emma Trevino

News Editor Gabriel Biadora

We’re only human. If you see something wrong in print, email editorinchief@dailylobo.com to let us know. Use the subject line “Correction:” so we know it’s important. If it’s a grammar problem we’ll fix it ASAP in the online version. If it’s a content problem, the editorial board will determine if a correction, a clarification (printed on page 4) or full retraction is necessary.

papers undisturbed in the quiet comfort of the basement. The basement also houses a wide-ranging catalogue of materials, from dissertations to old video tapes. If I ever need a break, I’ll take ten minutes to roam the aisles of books and other documents; occasionally I’ll discover something truly obscure. A treasure hunt is a great way to reinvigorate yourself if you’re ever feeling burnt out. Still, don’t forget the second and third floors! There you have access to even more tables and chairs to work at. Most of the actual books are kept on these levels, so head on up if you’re looking for a new novel to sink your teeth into. The third floor is also home to the Center for Academic Program Support (CAPS,) where you can get free tutoring and help with assignments. Zimmerman is a favorite student hangout and, with seemingly endless corridors to explore, you’re bound to find a space for you.

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The New Mexico Daily Lobo is an independent student newspaper published on Monday and Thursday except school holidays during the fall and spring semesters and weekly during the summer session. Subscription rate is $75 per academic year. E-mail accounting@dailylobo.com for more information on subscriptions. The New Mexico Daily Lobo is published by the Board of UNM Student Publications. The editorial opinions expressed in the New Mexico Daily Lobo are those of the respective writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the students, faculty, staff and regents of the University of New Mexico. Inquiries concerning editorial content should be made to the editor-in-chief. All content appearing in the New Mexico Daily Lobo and the Web site dailylobo.com may not be reproduced without the consent of the editor-in-chief. A single copy of the New Mexico Daily Lobo is free from newsstands. Unauthorized removal of multiple copies is considered theft and may be prosecuted. Letter submission policy: The opinions expressed are those of the authors alone. Letters and guest columns must be concisely written, signed by the author and include address and telephone. No names will be withheld.




Canvas selected to replace Blackboard as next learning management system for UNM By Gino Gutierrez @GGutierrez48 Canvas was selected as the future learning management software (LMS) for the University of New Mexico, according to an email sent by Campus Communications on April 22. A pilot program for Canvas will roll out in the upcoming semester, and the full transition will happen in the summer of 2022.

The decision to move to a new LMS was brought about due to the limitations encountered on Blackboard Learn amid the transition to online learning, according to the email. UNM will be joining six other New Mexico-based colleges that use Canvas. “It was painful to have (Blackboard) be another barrier for people to have to jump over in order to engage with their courses,” Pamela Cheek, associate provost

Courtesy Photo

The logo for Canvas, UNM’s future learning management system. Photo courtesy of Instructure.


for student success, said. Over 500 evaluators, made up of students, faculty and staff, signed up to review Blackboard, Brightspace and Canvas to find a potential new LMS, according to a report published by UNM on the LMS selection process (available for review from members of the UNM community). “We really value what our students, our staff and our faculty tell us about their experience. These tools are for the UNM community, right?” Cheek said. “They are for Lobos and we needed to hear from Lobos about what they thought was going to be best for them.” After running each program through its paces, which included demos, orientations, sandboxes and other forums of testing, Canvas emerged as the most consistently top-rated LMS, based particularly on its ease of use. Some of the common complaints about Canvas included potential missing features to help with easy operation or unexpected programming. The report disclosed that the LMS reevaluation process began in fall 2018, after the Provost Taskforce on Redesigning the University established a set of recommendations to improve UNM. A request to replace Blackboard was made in February 2020. The move to Canvas will bring UNM up to the “industry standard”

as Canvas is a “cloud-based solution,” Cheek said. A cloud-based solution is an on-demand service that allows UNM to access computer networks, storage, applications and resources accessed via the internet and the vendor’s shared computing infrastructure. “We began the whole process of looking at different vendors with the knowledge that we needed to move to a comprehensive cloud-based solution,” Cheek said. Blake Moesley, a third year student at New Mexico State University that uses Canvas regularly, said the program offers her an easy and simple way to connect with her fellow students and professors. “It’s easy to navigate, communicate and view assignments (that are due),” Moesley said. “The layout of Canvas is extremely organized and allows me to see my grades, assignments and study material easily.” As far as the instructor side is concerned, Roger Mellen, professor emeritus at NMSU, said Canvas was easy to navigate but still has a learning curve. “I have used at least three LMS systems, and they are all similar, with some strengths and weaknesses,” Mellen said. “Like all these systems, it does take time to learn, especially for instructors; students find it generally easier.” The move from Blackboard to

Canvas comes as welcome news to some students, as the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to online learning forced students to adapt to an LMS. Blackboard-specific issues were encountered by students at UNM such as Angelina Chavez, who said there were many unused functions and Kyle Sliva-Miller, who said he saw no improvement on the LMS. Computer science professor Patrick Bridges tweeted that Blackboard was “miserable” from the instructor perspective. Cheek is hopeful that students and faculty will gain more out of the experience with Canvas, and that this transition will help more of the UNM community reach their potential. “This LMS, we hope, is going to remove some barriers and make it that much easier for everybody who is trying to complete their college degree to succeed,” Cheek said. “It’s about reducing barriers; it’s about making it possible for students to get through their course work, enjoy their course work and make them feel like they have true access.” Students can follow the timeline of the migration to Canvas’ on UNM’s “Canvas Implementation” webpage. Gino Gutierrez is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @GGutierrez48






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Isotopes reopen games to the public By Madeline Pukite @madelinepukite

Isotopes Park, just a short drive from the University of New Mexico, has been opening its doors to more and more visitors as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gradually lifts COVID-19 restrictions. Just across the street from University Stadium and The Pit, this minor league team is playing in front of crowds again. The Isotopes returned for their home opener on May 8, over 200 days since they were last able to play at Isotopes Park due to the coronavirus pandemic. The current season, which is set to run through the end of September, is operating at 75% capacity with the ability to host up to 9,000 fans. This number is up from what was originally anticipated — a max capacity of 3,175 people — because, the night before the home

opener, the governor changed the color-coded COVID-19 restriction for Bernalillo county from the medium-risk green level to the low-risk turquoise level. Kevin Collins, the public relations director for the team, said this was an exciting surprise amid all of the work that had been put into getting the stadium ready for fans. “We had over 7,000 people here on opening night, and just a week before we thought our capacity was going to be somewhere around 3,000, so it's more than double,” Collins said. “Which from a business standpoint is fantastic, but also from a personal, mental standpoint it was really nice to see that many people in the ballpark.” UNM student Charley Bickel, who works for UNM athletics, sees sports as a great way to get the community back together. “I’ve seen firsthand the unifying effect that sports can have

on a community and I think as a city and a state, that sense of connection is something we’ve been missing during the pandemic,” Bickel said. “I know there’s concerns about spreading COVID but I think hosting events outdoors like baseball games are a great way for people to enjoy sports while also staying COVID-safe.” However, the staff is prepared to alter regulations at any moment if the governor changes the state’s COVID-19 safety procedures. “I would anticipate that there's going to be continual changes,” said John Traub, the general manager for the team. “I would say that the process is fluid and we just have to stay alert to everything.” Collins said precautions include month-to-month ticket sales, as opposed to purchasing tickets for any point in the season ahead of time which fans could previously do. Tickets are sold in ‘seating pods,’ meaning individuals attending a game together can

purchase up to six tickets in a pod. Masks and social distancing are still being enforced if attendees are not fully vaccinated While seating may look different, Collins said fans can still expect all of the normal festivities that are sought after at a ballgame. “You're still going to have hot dogs and cold beers and souvenirs and the mascot, all that stuff,” Collins said. “But maybe now instead of putting your arm around a mascot, you'd have to take a slightly socially distant picture.” Collins said June will be “jampacked” with special events at the ballpark, including a pride night, a hispanic heritage night and giveaways. UNM student Kaeli Blas sees the return of baseball to Albuquerque as the beginning of a return to normalcy. “I think it’s a wonderful thing for them to be returning. It’s almost as if we are getting back in

the ‘swing’ of things, if you will,” Blas said. “Hopefully this brings some sense of normalcy to those playing and in the stands. I hope everyone stays safe and takes precautions if needed.” Traub said the baseball season is an important milestone for the Albuquerque community coming out of the pandemic and that, despite the revenue losses due to the limited capacity, it is as important as ever. “The attendance numbers, the revenue numbers — the metrics that we use to judge our success from a business standpoint — will pale in comparison to the importance that the season provides to the community,” Traub said. Madeline Pukite is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @madelinepukite

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