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Civil rights group seeks probe of Hispanic hiring at UNM

June 10, 2019
FILE - In this March 28, 2012, file photo, then-LULAC New Mexico state director Ralph Arellanes speaks at a rally in Albuquerque, N.M., calling for a federal probe of the Albuquerque Police Department following a number of officer-involved shootings. Arellanes, now the executive director of New Mexico LULAC, helped usher in a resolution on Saturday, June 8, 2019, calling on state and federal authorities to investigate the hiring practices at the University of New Mexico. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)
FILE - In this March 28, 2012, file photo, then-LULAC New Mexico state director Ralph Arellanes speaks at a rally in Albuquerque, N.M., calling for a federal probe of the Albuquerque Police Department following a number of officer-involved shootings. Arellanes, now the executive director of New Mexico LULAC, helped usher in a resolution on Saturday, June 8, 2019, calling on state and federal authorities to investigate the hiring practices at the University of New Mexico. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico chapter of the oldest Hispanic civil rights group in the U.S. is calling on state and federal authorities to investigate hiring practices at the University of New Mexico.

At its statewide convention in Albuquerque on Saturday, the New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens endorsed a resolution calling on the state attorney general, state auditor and U.S. Justice Department to look into how the university is hiring administrators. Advocates said those hiring practices discriminated against Hispanics, especially those from New Mexico

Executive Director Ralph Arellanes said university President Garnett Stokes did not follow through on promises to include Latinos on search committees for key positions.

“LULAC and many Hispano organizations across New Mexico are outraged by the continued abuse of power, discrimination, mistreatment and disenfranchisement,” Arellanes said. “This has been a longstanding problem with the University of New Mexico in the past and it has only grown and expanded under the leadership of (Stokes).”

University spokeswoman Cinnamon Blair said the school was aware of the resolution.

“While there are a number of issues cited that will need closer examination prior to providing a full response, it is important to note that The University of New Mexico adheres to state and federal laws, as well as University policies, applicable to its hiring practices, including all recent executive searches,” Blair’s statement said.

The anger over the school’s hiring practices come day after the university announced it had hired Assata Zerai, the associate provost for faculty excellence at the University of Illinois, as its new vice president for equity and inclusion. Zerai is African American.

Arellanes and other activists were pushing for the promotion of Lawrence Roybal, a Hispanic man who had been the interim vice president of equity and inclusion since July 2017.

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