NMSU Faculty Senate to consider reestablishing “Faculty Talk”


Jason McNabb

The Research and Creative Activities Committee approached Faculty Senate on Sept. 24

The Research and Creative Activities Committee formally proposed the reestablishment of Faculty Talk at a Faculty Senate meeting on Sept. 24. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the platform, Faculty Talk is an open-forum network in which the faculty of New Mexico State University are able to share information with all other faculty members within the forum. 

According to Dr. Erik Lehnhoff, associate professor of weed ecology, and one of the sponsors of the Faculty Talk proposition, “It is commonly used to advertise upcoming lectures, seminars, performing arts events, etc., as well as more mundane things such as housing for lease for faculty on sabbatical or housing wanted for visiting professors,” Lehnhoff said.  

“Faculty Talk is the only way for faculty to reach the entire faculty body with a single posting,” he added. 

The platform also helps faculty engage in dialogue over more weighty issues within NMSU. 

“Faculty Talk is also used for faculty to openly discuss more important issues germane to NMSU’s mission, including budget and other planning decisions made by the NMSU’s upper Administration.” 

Disagreement within the forum resulted in conflict among some members of the faculty. The conflict escalated to aggression and bickering within the platform, and on Feb. 5, 2021, Faculty Talk was suspended by Chancellor Dan E. Arvizu until further notice. 

Former Round Up Editor-in-Chief Alanna Herrera published an editorial on Feb. 5 calling out the misuse of the platform. 

“I am all for the diversity of opinions and I think it is important to have discourse with those we work with. However, NMSU faculty, particularly those who participate in faculty-talk, need to be better, to do better,” Herrera said. 

Now, due to a majority Faculty Senate vote in Spring of 2021, the process to bring the platform back has begun. This time, measures will be taken to minimize the chances of disagreement getting out of hand, such as a new Terms of Use policy.  

The structure will also change from email listserv to a tool similar to social media in which users can subscribe and unsubscribe to certain topics or hashtags. 

In the end, it is truly up to the participants of Faculty Talk to ensure the platform is a safe place to share opinions.  

“Any platform that invites broad participation will (and should) invite diverse perspectives, which can highlight disagreements and heighten divisions,” Dr. Kellie Sharp-Hoskins, the other sponsor of the Faculty Talk proposition, said. “A platform itself–or any processes attendant to that platform–won’t be able to “solve” issues of disagreement and difference or mandate thoughtful, respectful communication.” 

“But,” Sharp-Hoskins added, “a new platform may give subscribers more options for how they participate (by following interest-based hashtags, or using filters, for example), which could alleviate the pressure of every post needing to matter in the same way.” 

The proposition is currently being reviewed and amended by the Faculty Senate University Planning Committee and will be voted on by the Faculty Senate in December. If the proposal passes, it will be up to NMSU administration to reinstate the platform. 

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