In the interest of public accessibility, UNM’s Board of Regents and its subcommittees should live stream and archive all of their meetings.
This is not a new idea, or even a radical one.
Other universities provide online live streaming to offer greater inclusion to students and community members who are unable to sit in the meeting room. North Dakota University, University of Missouri, University of Virginia, Penn State University, University of Texas, University of California and State University of New York are just a handful of the colleges offering transparency to their communities.
UNM should follow suit.
New Mexico has some of the best open government laws in the country. Meetings that qualify as public under the state’s Sunshine Laws must follow strict guidelines to ensure community accessibility; documents considered public under the same laws have tight deadlines for being released when requested by an individual.
While there are no laws on the books dictating public meetings must be streamed online, it seems like good practice and good public service. The New Mexico Legislature live streams its hearings and procedures. The City of Albuquerque has a 24/7 live stream channel called GovTV dedicated to meetings, including city council, press conferences, public services and events, as do the cities of Las Cruces (CLC-TV) and Rio Rancho. The City of Santa Fe offers webcasts and videos on demand on its website.
Even the UNM Athletic Department posts videos from its pregame and postgame press conferences to its website.
If other academic and government institutions offer such access, why not stream the meetings of UNM’s governing bodies? The University could even include coverage for ASUNM, GPSA meetings or other events held across campus.
These accessibility measures are taken by state and local government because they understand that people who want to be involved in the decision-making process may be unable to attend because of work obligations, home responsibilities or transportation difficulties. Students have these same obstacles in their lives, along with specialty circumstances like classes and homework. Faculty members often deal with a similar problem in their schedules, and many parents who pay for their children’s tuition do not live in the Albuquerque Metro area and cannot attend the meetings.
If it’s a matter of equipment, that issue shouldn’t be too difficult to resolve. PBS affiliate KNME, which is housed on campus, has a live switcher, and the Communications and Journalism Department is in the process of buying one. Cameras, tripods, microphones and laptops are also available on campus to be used in this effort.
What it comes down to, is that students and the general public should be aware and involved in what happens at UNM on as many ways as possible. If there’s a way for the University to promote that engagement, they should. A sizable amount of taxpayer dollars go to UNM and the public needs to be informed on how that money is distributed within the University system.
Live streaming and archiving governmental procedures is now an important cog in the ability to grant access to the public. UNM needs to get on board.