UNIVERSITY OF PUERTO RICO MAYAGÜEZ CAMPUS September 14th, 2010

Open Letter to the UPRM Community and the MSCHE
On the occasion of the September, 2010 visit of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) to the campuses of the University of Puerto (UPR) we, professors of the Mayagüez 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 to us clearly that the problem of governance resides fully in the University’s central administration and the Board of Trustees, which have demonstrated an unwillingness to include the university community in all crucial decision-making processes. On the contrary, the current President and the Board of Trustees have aggressively excluded the input of professors, staff unions and students, have bypassed the established mechanisms for inclusion of the will of the university community (such as the Junta Universitaria) and have facilitated the openly political intervention of the political party in power in University affairs. Perhaps the crassest recent examples of these interventions were two laws passed by the legislature of Puerto Rico in the immediate aftermath of the UPR student strike. One of these measures unjustifiably raised the membership in the Board of Trustees from 13 to 17, allowing the Governor to appoint, within twenty-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 student assemblies, 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 to hide the real closure of dialogue, the exclusion of the voices of the various University sectors, the continued centralization and hierarchization of decision-making power, and the continued (partyaligned) “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 and parents 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 students and be willing to enter in negotiations with all university sectors. In the case of professors the administration must recognize that we are represented not only by the Academic Senates of each campus but also by faculty associations and other systemic groups such as the “claustro sistémico,” which met in Cayey on May 21, 2010. In the case of students in the Mayagüez campus, the administration must recognize that they are represented not solely by the executive of the Consejo General de Estudiantes (Student Council), which in our campus failed in its responsibility 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 by the various unions. It is our sense that the failure of the University administration to enter in true and open dialogue with the sectors of the University will inevitably lead to another conflict and possibly, another student strike, if alternatives to the imposition of the onerous $800 annual special student fee are not debated, negotiated and finalized before January 2011. Many alternatives have already been circulated amongst the University community: they should be openly debated and considered in good faith at all levels. We exhort MSCHE to demand of the University administration a truly transparent, 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 another strike 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 by 7 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 avoid further conflicts. Sanctioning students who partook in the strike in order to carry out the strike votes democratically cast by their peers is teaching them, the university community and our country at large, a perverse lesson on democratic and participatory governance. Sincerely, Christopher Powers, Ph.D., Department of Humanities Jocelyn A. Géliga Vargas, Ph.D., Department of English Hector Huyke, Ph.D., Department of Humanities José Antonio López, Ph.D., Department of Humanities Carlos Pabón, Ph.D., Department of Physics Lissette Rolón Collazo, Ph.D., Department of Humanities Anayra Santory, Ph.D., Department of Humanities Edwin Irizarry Mora, Ph.D., Department of Economics Rima Brusi, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Milagritos González, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Duane Kolterman, Ph.D., Department of Biology Cecilio Ortiz García, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Raúl Macchiavelli, Ph.D., Department of Crops and Agroenvironmental Sciences Alfredo Morales, Ph.D., Department of Hispanic Studies Nestor Rodríguez, Ph.D., Department Electric and Computer Engineering Hilton Alers Valentín, Ph.D., Department of Hispanic Studies Sonia Bartolomei Suárez, Ph.D., Department of Industrial Engineering Jacqueline Girón Alvarado, Ph.D., Department of Hispanic Studies Mary Sefranek, Ed.D., Department of English Aixa Rodríguez, Ph.D., Department of English Frances Santiago, Ph.D., Department of Humanities Jorge Schmidt Nieto, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Maribel Acosta Lugo, Ph.D., Department of Hispanic Studies

Mario Nuñez, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Ana Nieves Rosa, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Bernadette Delgado Acosta, Ph.D. Department of Social Sciences Ana M. Kothe, Ph.D., Department of Humanities Stephane Pillet, Ph.D. Department of Humanities Guillermo Serrano, Ph.D., Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Marla Pérez, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Raymond Knight, M.A., Department of English Carlos Fajardo, MFA, Department of Humanities Camille Cruz Montes, Ph.D., Department of Hispanic Studies Leilani García Turull, Ph.D., Department of Hispanic Studies Gerson Beauchamp, Ph.D., Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Luis Avilés, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Joseph E. Agüero, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Walter Díaz, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences José Anazagasty, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Judy Casey, Ed.D., Department of English Carlos Hernández Hernández, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Eric Phoebus, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences José Felipe González Pabón, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Luis A. Rivera, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry Carlos Velázquez Figueroa, Ph.D., Department of Chemical Engineering Manuel Toledo Quiñones, Ph.D., Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Nelson Cardona Martínez, Ph.D., Department of Chemical Engineering Gladys Omayra Ducodray, Ph.D., Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Iris Toro Manzano, M.A., Department of English Lucas N. Avilés Rodríguez, M.S., Department of Crops and Agroenvironmental Sciences Luis E. Nieves Rosa, Ph.D., Department of Social Sciences Lydia Margarita González Quevedo, Ph.D., Department of Humanities Aníbal Ramírez Pérez, M.A., Department of Social Sciences Elsa Arroyo, Ph.D., Department of Hispanic Studies Roberta Orlandini, Ph.D., Department of Humanities Lizzette González-Gill, Ph.D., Department of Crops and Agroenvironmental Sciences

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