A Slow Progress Forward

Unm’s New President Must Face Past And Future

August March
4 min read
Garnett S. Stokes
Welcome, Madame President! (Zach Baker via The Maneater)
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Last week—after some resistance from the faculty, believe it or not—the state’s flagship university chose its 22nd president from a lofty contingent of contenders. The board of regents at the University of New Mexico chose Garnett S. Stokes, late of the University of Missouri, to lead the lobos in 2018 and beyond. Stokes will be the first female president for our beloved—and bedeviled—“Harvard on the Rio Grande.”

It is common knowledge—or rather the editors at
Weekly Alibi hope it’s common knowledge; that’s a clear indicator that someone besides the night shift operator in the circulation department is reading this paper’s venerable news section—that Weekly Alibi has been openly and mostly implacably critical of the school in the years leading up to Stokes’ appointment.

That’s because literally and figuratively, we’re all Lobos. Many an
Alibi staffer came outta that particular font of academia, more than a few of that group had an opportunity to work on The Daily Lobo. Most importantly, what happens at UNM is important to all Burqueños.

The institution should represent all that our city strives to be, it should not only be a reflection of the larger Albuquerque community, but also an arbiter of culture. UNM should be a positive role model, economically, intellectually and ethically too.

All too often though—and especially in the past two decades—the actions of individuals with deep professional and academic ties to the university as well as certain unsound fiscal and growth policies have darkened the school’s mission and its reputation among citizens.

Getting UNM back on track will be much like getting this town to travel down a productive path. Such a process will require a sustained, progressive vision initiated by the new president herself and it must address the two issues outlined below.

A Mission of Misogyny?

In December 2014,
the US Department of justice initiated a lengthy investigation of sexual assault policies and procedures at UNM. Though the DOJ did not present significant details, it acknowledged that the investigation came after community complaints about assault and harrassment.

In October 2017,
the university announced it had made improvements and progress in addressing these complex issues.

Unfortunately, on-campus assault, harassment and unwelcome sexual behavior, especially among males and directed toward females at UNM, continues to be problematic, painting the school in a negative light and distracting from its educational mission.

The list is tediously long, yet it makes a frightening read:
a former UNM president who ran a sex-for-feria website from his campus office, a department noted for ostracizing a female grad student for her associations with supposedly subversive subculture, an anthropolgy professor out of control and a celebrated soloist who had an affair with the woman in charge of fundraising for his academic operation and allegedly some grad students under his tutelage as well.

This week,
the columist at the local daily reported on yet another alleged example of abuse and entitlement in Loboland. Cynthia Herald claims she was raped by a male resident in the anesthesiology program in 2009. She further asserts that the institution failed to provide her with support and protection, eventually dropping Herald from a course of study that ended in graduation and a career for her tormenter. If what Ms. Herald told Joline Krueger rings true in the courtroom—or even despite its rebuttal—it’s hoped that UNM’s new president uses her bully pulpit to fomidably denouce the institutional culture that continues to allow such egregious behavior.

Athletics Accountability

Recent developments involving UNM’s athletic department—in particular audits and investigations by the state auditor’s and attorney general’s office—that began with questions about
junkets to Scotland and free rides for certain suite users at the Pit must be adequately addressed.

the retirement of UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs in June was a good place to start a housecleaning mission, more work is needed. As it stands, Krebs’ actions point to the continuance of a culture of entitlement and manipulation that routinely flouts ethical accountability by those in positions of power. There is also the matter of the department’s $1.3 million budget deficit. Taken together with a losing football program, it is time to consider the real scope and purpose of Lobo athletic endeavors.
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