Faculty discussion board remains shut down

Hadley+Hall+at+NMSU+houses+Chancellor+Arvizu%27s+office.+

Jason McNabb

Hadley Hall at NMSU houses Chancellor Arvizu’s office.

New Mexico State University Chancellor Dan Arvizu suspended Faculty Talk on Feb. 5, sparking discussions on why it shut down, when or how will it come back and civility among faculty members.

NMSU Faculty Senate member David Clements explained how service steered away from its primary purposes.

“It’s supposed to be used for discussion on furthering the educational mission of the university, but it’s not used that way. Instead, it’s used by a handful of faculty members that have politicized it to the point where you see name-calling, bullying and political advocacy,” Clements said.

About 3000 people are subscribed to the Faculty Talk list membership, according to the service’s List Administrator Jon Holtzman.

Arvizu sent out an email on Feb. 5, explaining his decision.

“New Mexico State University has received numerous complaints reporting abuse of the Faculty-Talk listserve. As a result, this service will be suspended until a thorough review can be completed. This review will include participation from Faculty Senate leadership,” Arvizu said.

NMSU Faculty Senate Chair Julia Parra delivered a statement on Feb. 5 discussing the matter.

“We have been informed of the suspension of the Faculty Talk discussion list… Faculty Senate is committed to having a professional forum for communication and, in the spirit of shared governance, looks forward to working with administration and faculty to review faculty communication,” Parra said.

NMSU Faculty Senate member Jamie Bronstein claimed the Senate, in its entirety, had no role in shutting down Faculty Talk.

“That was entirely the decision of the chancellor without any consultation with the faculty,” Bronstein said.

Bronstein stated the reason for the Faculty Talk shutdown was due to threats of lawsuits. She argued about statements made by Arvizu, claiming the listserve lacked any set guidelines.

“Arvizu in his message said abuse of Faculty Talk had taken place but I’m unable to find where any rules with regard to faculty talk had ever been written or published,” Bronstein said.

Bronstein said there needs to be some sort of discussion service as an outlet for communication. She said she understands how it can be a detriment for faculty to not have that outlet as well.

“We definitely need a way to communicate. Otherwise, morale at this institution, which is already in negative numbers, is never going to be resolved… Some faculty, myself included, have been here a long time, and we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have a way to communicate,” Bronstein said.

Bronstein suggested alternative ways educators can better communicate with better outlets, mentioning examples like Reddit in order to better handle a large number of faculty members subscribed.

“Some kind of message board that doesn’t get distributed to everybody’s email but rather people can go take a look and participate in threads that they think are relevant to them,” Bronstein said.

Clements stated that if a variation of Faculty Talk returns, he would oppose any form that adds limitations to ‘legal’ free speech.

“We need to talk about things that are difficult so I’m not saying let’s not have it or let’s regulate people’s speech. We have mechanisms in the law that protect people in the event that they are defamed or in the event that they use that tool to incite violence or hatred against someone else,” Clements said.

No dates have been confirmed about the service’s return from suspension.

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