Moving forward in New Mexico

Michael's picture

The announcement of the appointment of a new Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of New Mexico is very welcome. Now it will be up to members of the English Department to rally round her and rebuild the program after so much public scrutiny over the last year.

We trust that good will and a recognition of the importance of placing the program, teaching and the students first will prevail over past differences . The University is to be commended for appointing a facilitator to try to bring the factions within the Department together and to overcome personal differences.  Strong leadership from within the Department and the College of Arts and Sciences will be needed to support her in this role.

While we are aware that some members of the Department remain deeply unhappy about the outcome of a process that was the subject of a complaint by them against a colleague, retribution is rarely, if ever, a solution to interpersonal differences. Universities are a unique environment in which a great deal of tolerance is required to support the considerable freedom of expression of ideas that are nurtured there. Some of those involved continue to write about the issues, which is clearly their right, but we would encourage all of those involved to concentrate on exploring the issues constructively to provide a framework for dealing with similar situations in the future.

The debates have raised important questions in relation to freedom of expression, faculty's right to a private life, faculty-student relationships, conflict in the workplace, the stigmatisation of sex work, the understanding of BDSM, and women's right to sexual expression, identity and autonomy. We trust that these discussions will continue to better explore these issues.