Caring for each other and nurturing our democracy

Caring for each other: Our skies have been hazy for a while now, a constant reminder of the intense challenges so many of our fellow Americans are facing. As I follow the news, I hear of fires in the West, hurricanes in the Southeast, floods in the Midwest, and COVID-19, unemployment and social unrest throughout the country. Firefighters, rescue teams, first responders, and medical personnel are on the frontlines, facing dangers and taking risks of unimaginable magnitude. Against the background of a pandemic, people are fleeing their homes and abandoning their businesses hoping for protective shelters, but facing an uncertain future. These disasters might be hundreds of miles away, but we know that some in our community have ties to these areas through friends and family. Please be understanding with our students, faculty and staff who are affected by these unprecedented events.

Nurturing our democracy: Yesterday, Sept. 17, was Constitution Day, celebrating the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Just like people, families and friends, governments too need careful nurturing to grow, mature and succeed. This year, we have two opportunities to care for our government through this decade’s Census and our upcoming election.

The Census influences many aspects of life in New Mexico. In addition to determining our congressional representation, it also affects federal aid for things like school lunches, highway planning and disaster relief. Regardless of where you live, even if you are living in the U.S. only temporarily, you count in the Census and can complete it online. If you are from New Mexico, we especially need your help to improve our low response rate. Don’t wait on this one: Counting for the Census will end Sept. 30 and will not open again until 2030.

Voting is a privilege and a responsibility in democratic societies, but it is not enjoyed by people everywhere. Here are ways to prepare for the Nov. 3 elections.

  • Register to vote: New Mexico residents can register to vote online until Oct. 6 and in-person at county clerk offices by Oct. 31. Residents of other states can also look online for voter information.
  • Do your research: Learn who will be on the ballot in your voting precinct and learn about the candidates and issues from a reliable news source, not from social media. This year we will also have the opportunity to vote on a General Obligation (GO) Bond that will benefit NMSU.
  • Request a mail-in ballot: New Mexico-registered voters can request a mail-in ballot; deadlines for requests and ballot returns are on each site, but request a ballot soon if you plan to vote by mail to ensure it is received in time to be tallied.
  • Or vote in-person (Doña Ana County): Early voting begins Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the County Clerk’s Office and Corbett Center Student Union on campus, starting Saturday, Oct. 17. All polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 3.

Closer to home: Our Aggie community has really pulled together. Viral transmission on all NMSU campuses has been very low, and the few cases we’ve had since classes began have been traced primarily to off-campus contacts with people who had COVID-19, like family and friends. So please be careful: Stay safe when you are on- and off-campus. If we stay vigilant – if we wear masks, maintain distance and keep washing our hands – we can finish the semester safely and successfully.

Classes after Thanksgiving: Tell us what you think. Because of the increased risk of COVID-19 associated with family gatherings, we are surveying the community regarding whether classes should be online only after the Thanksgiving break. Yesterday, we launched a survey that will be open until noon Tuesday, Sept. 22. Please tell us what you think.

And finally, next week’s town hall webinar will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22. It will begin with general questions before moving to NMSU’s work on COVID-19 testing, tracing and screening. Submit questions for the panelists here in advance and watch on Zoom or Panopto.

Your comments are always welcome at

Be Bold, Be Kind, Be Safe.

Go Aggies!

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