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Open Letter to MSCHE

Open Letter to MSCHE

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Published by: cpowers23 on Sep 17, 2010
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02/05/2011

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U
NIVERSITY OF
P
UERTO
R
ICO
 M
AYAGÜEZ
C
AMPUS
 
September 14
th
, 2010
Open Letter to the UPRM Community and the MSCHE
On the occasion of the September, 2010 visit of the Middle States Commission on HigherEducation (MSCHE) to the campuses of the University of Puerto (UPR) we, professors of theMayagüez campus, publish the following open letter concerned with the issue of governance,identified by the MSCHE as one of the reasons for the recent probation status of 10 campuses of the UPR system, including the Mayagüez campus.The management of the crisis in the UPR during the student strike of April-June 2010 revealed tous clearly that the problem of governance resides fully in the University
’s
central administrationand the Board of Trustees, which have demonstrated an unwillingness to include the universitycommunity in all crucial decision-making processes. On the contrary, the current President andthe Board of Trustees have aggressively excluded the input of professors, staff unions andstudents, have bypassed the established mechanisms for inclusion of the will of the universitycommunity (such as the
 Junta Universitaria
) and have facilitated the openly politicalintervention of the political party in power in University affairs. Perhaps the crassest recentexamples of these interventions were two laws passed by the legislature of Puerto Rico in theimmediate aftermath of the UPR student strike. One of these measures unjustifiably raised themembership in the Board of Trustees from 13 to 17, allowing the Governor to appoint, withintwenty-four hours, four party loyalists to the Board. The second law imposed the so-called
“electronic secret ballot”
on many decision-making bodies in the University, such as studentassemblies, thus precluding opportunities for open, democratic and participatory debates.These facts are so blatantly evident that we regard
the suggestion of an “Open University
,
which the administration has included in the Monitoring Report(s), as a smokescreen designed tohide the real closure of dialogue, the exclusion of the voices of the various University sectors, thecontinued centralization and hierarchization of decision-making power, and the continued (party-aligned)
“politicization” of University policy.
 
This “Open University” could never materialize in
a context of unrelenting bad faith and deliberate calumny towards the students, faculty, staff andparents who are committed to accessible and quality public education in our university system.The administration must be truly open to alternatives to the planned $800 yearly fee for studentsand be willing to enter in negotiations with all university sectors. In the case of professors theadministration must recognize that we are represented not only by the Academic Senates of eachcampus but also by faculty associations and other systemic groups such as the
claustrosistémico
,
” which me
t in Cayey on May 21, 2010. In the case of students in the Mayagüezcampus, the administration must recognize that they are represented not solely by the executiveof the
Consejo General de Estudiantes
(Student Council), which in our campus failed in itsresponsibility to represent the will of the student body during the student strike, but also by
Colegiales en Acción
, the group that upheld the four strike votes favored by the UPRM students
 
last semester. In the case of staff, the administration must recognize that they are represented bythe various unions.It is our sense that the failure of the University administration to enter in true and
open
dialoguewith the sectors of the University will inevitably lead to another conflict and possibly, anotherstudent strike, if alternatives to the imposition of the onerous $800 annual special student fee arenot debated, negotiated and finalized before January 2011. Many alternatives have already beencirculated amongst the University community: they should be openly debated and considered ingood faith at all levels. We exhort MSCHE to demand of the University administration a trulytransparent, open, democratic, participatory process of decision-
making about the University’s
current budget and its effects on the student body, professors and staff in order to avoid anotherstrike and another season of conflict between the University community and its administration.We furthermore
denounce
the recent letters of possible sanctions received in the last 10 days by7 students involved in the student strike in Mayagüez. We regard a policy of sanctions as unjust,unnecessary, counter-productive and at variance with the spirit of good faith and the policy of non-confrontation that is needed to navigate the crisis in the University constructively and avoidfurther conflicts. Sanctioning students who partook in the strike in order to carry out the strikevotes democratically cast by their peers is teaching them, the university community and ourcountry at large, a perverse lesson on democratic and participatory governance.Sincerely,Christopher Powers, Ph.D., Department of HumanitiesJocelyn A. Géliga Vargas, Ph.D., Department of EnglishHector Huyke, Ph.D., Department of HumanitiesJosé Antonio López, Ph.D., Department of HumanitiesCarlos Pabón, Ph.D., Department of PhysicsLissette Rolón Collazo, Ph.D., Department of HumanitiesAnayra Santory, Ph.D., Department of HumanitiesEdwin Irizarry Mora, Ph.D., Department of EconomicsRima Brusi, Ph.D., Department of Social SciencesMilagritos González, Ph.D., Department of Social SciencesDuane Kolterman, Ph.D., Department of BiologyCecilio Ortiz García, Ph.D., Department of Social SciencesRaúl Macchiavelli, Ph.D., Department of Crops and Agroenvironmental SciencesAlfredo Morales, Ph.D., Department of Hispanic StudiesNestor Rodríguez, Ph.D., Department Electric and Computer EngineeringHilton Alers Valentín, Ph.D., Department of Hispanic StudiesSonia Bartolomei Suárez, Ph.D., Department of Industrial EngineeringJacqueline Girón Alvarado, Ph.D., Department of Hispanic StudiesMary Sefranek, Ed.D., Department of EnglishAixa Rodríguez, Ph.D., Department of EnglishFrances Santiago, Ph.D., Department of HumanitiesJorge Schmidt Nieto, Ph.D., Department of Social SciencesMaribel Acosta Lugo, Ph.D., Department of Hispanic Studies

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