Does my opinion or vote even count?
This letter is in response to your article, “El Centro Leader Faces Contention,” in the Daily Lobo’s Jan. 13 issue. Being an active participant at the candidate forums, it is important that misconceptions be put to rest. The contention referred to in this article actually has little to do with El Centro or its new director. In reality, students have become accustomed to this same old bait and switch.
The UNM Administration solicits the help of students, making it appear that we have a say, or a voice, in who is hired for key student advocate positions. Idealistic or naive students, those who are taught theories of democracy at UNM, believe them to be true, and take the administrative bait.
Sure, we will attend the open forums to voice our needs and wants. Sure, we will fill out evaluation forms on candidates, trust you to be objective and believe you will choose the candidate we endorse. In comes the switch where we discover that students have little or no say in the selection of these individuals. I ask you, should a student-centered director position be determined by any other than the students?
We all know what comes next. We are told that proper policies and procedures were followed and that human resources could not find cause for complaint. However, at a university that prides itself on cutting-edge research and empirical evidence, I implore the administrators of Student Affairs to show us the numbers.
If you are confident in the validity of your hiring processes, do publish the results of these student evaluations, which have seemingly guided your decisions. Tell us what percentage of your hiring decision was based on our evaluations, the committee’s feedback and your own. Or is this a secret formula that only administrators are made privy to?
Convince us that your hiring choices are true representation of our voices and back this up with authentic data and transparency.
While I do not know the individuals who wrote that brave letter regarding the faulty El Centro hiring process, I echo their concerns regarding the protocol that was followed. I attended over half of the student and community forums for the El Centro director search and quickly noticed what most would regard as glaring irregularities.
Evaluation forms were strewn across tables, so students could complete either one or 50 evaluations supporting or negating a candidate. Students could drop off their evaluations at Student Affairs or give them to key individuals for safekeeping.
The first day I was at a forum, I decided to hand my evaluation to one individual but became suspicious when my form was stuffed into their large bag haphazardly, along with their personal affects. Of course, this is only one example of infractions that likely occurred throughout this process.
Students, if you want your opinion to count, you need to fight for democracy the old-fashioned way — through student-led activism and action.
Sarah L. Santillanes, Ph.D.
SAGE Adjunct Faculty, Central New Mexico Community College