We need more than a new president at NMSU
January 19, 2013
As the semester starts, hospital there is little reason to be optimistic at NMSU. Last year’s spectacle surrounding the effective dismissal of the President and the following administrative crisis, now accentuated by the outsourcing of the presidential selection process, only reinforce our lack of confidence in the Board of Regents’ ability to address the immense problems here: we need greater changes than administrative tinkering. Amid the spectacle, fundamental issues that should be debated – the regional role of the university, whether education should adapt to pressing social needs or the demands of business, etc. – are entirely evaded. Instead, there is an implicit consensus among the Board (and what else can we expect from a group of bankers and CEOs?) for increased privatization and a more ‘business-oriented’ campus.
The cheapening and commodification of our education is palpable – the sweetheart deals with Barnes & Nobles or Sodexos, the explosion of new corporate interests on campus, the transfer of funds from academics to athletics, the exorbitant construction spending, the prevalence of high-paid administrators – all amid tuition hikes and cuts to academics. Now the regents have wasted $90,000 to put decisions in the hands of an elitist and corporate-backed (Sodexo unsurprisingly among its sponsors) ‘governance’ association. What can we expect from such a search committee? Instead of someone who actually is familiar with NMSU and the region, we’ll get someone who appeases the established elite; instead of someone with a transformative vision, we’ll get someone who continues the negative trends we’ve witnessed…
In the long run, we need more than just a new President – perhaps we could start by replacing the Board. We envision a massive transformation of university governance: movement toward transparency; greater internal democracy and decision-making power to students, teachers and the community; revamped funding laws to get money to where it’s really needed; and a new focus on critical thinking, educational quality and the good of the community instead of image and moneyed interests. These are the issues to which attention should turn in Las Cruces and in Santa Fe.
Denali Wilson, Alan Dicker, and Nitish Narula
–The students of Aggie Solidarity, New Mexico State University