We are writing with extreme concern about President Bob Frank’s plans to induct a new Student Cabinet.
We support increased student participation in important decision-making. In fact, this issue has been at the forefront of our demands to make the administration accountable to student concerns.
So, while our caution against the Student Cabinet may seem counterintuitive, there are several reasons for why we remain wary of this new move by the administration.
1) We find the timing very suspect. We can’t help but notice that the new student cabinet has been announced at a time when several students have come together to protest the blatant ways in which Frank has treated student concerns, including his undemocratic decision to remove athletics and university libraries from the purview of the IRB.
In fact, OurUNM emerged from the frustration that students have been experiencing due to the lack of transparency and accountability from the administration. Because of this we are concerned that the cabinet does nothing other than divert student energies.
2) What is the new student cabinet supposed to accomplish when we have student governments in place that are tasked with conveying student responses on important issues to the administration?
Please note that the president’s explanation that the “Student Cabinet is in no way intended to interfere with the operation and structure of our Student Governments, and will not replace the current formal representation from our elected student leaders” fails to make clear its relationship to existing student bodies.
We would rather the administration make moves to give ASUNM and GPSA more power instead of just spreading the little power that they have between more student councils.
3) More importantly, we understand the crisis to be one of accountability rather than that of communication. We feel that communication has never been a problem. In fact, Frank and his administration received a clear message from both GPSA and ASUNM to not alter the role of the SFRB before the next academic year, to which he consented.
However, his actions prove otherwise. So, we feel that what is urgently needed is holding the administration accountable to student concerns rather than creating additional, bureaucratic channels that supposedly represent student opinion.
At least when it comes to funding athletics, the student opinion has been consistently loud and clear. Frank has shown us that he is not interested in what the students want or think, so we wonder what he is trying to accomplish with this additional student body.
We are really interested in working with all stakeholders of the University to make UNM a better place.
However, we are also determined to not participate in academic-speak of diversity and inclusion, which really does nothing more than make symbolic gestures to these issues while furthering the neoliberalization of the University.
If Frank is really serious about including student voices, we ask that he start by reversing his decision to place Athletics and University Libraries outside of the purview of SFRB.