Is the University of New Mexico Racist?


In a state dominated by people of Mexican and Spanish decent, it is hard to believe that the major university in the state is controlled by Caucasians. I know that this allegation may sound crazy, but it is true and there are enormous consequences that affect people of color.

Is it absurd that 6 out of the 7 Board of Regents members are white? The only person of color on the Board is a Republican from Ohio who served one term in the New Mexico State Congress and threatens to run again. That means that the University of New Mexico is controlled by a group of individuals who know absolutely nothing about being minorities in New Mexico. There are no Asian-American’s, Mexican-American’s, or Native-American’s on the Board. How can the university seriously claim to take equity and diversity seriously?

Another shocking fact is that at least 9 of the 13 Faculty Senate Undergraduate Committee members are white. The Committee does not have a single African-American representative. Why should we care? We should care because this Committee determines which curriculum is included in the catalog for the upcoming semester. They dictate what students can learn during the year. It is scary to think that they have so little diversity on the Senate.

Almost every single person in control of the UNM is white.The President of UNM is white. The Board of Regents Academic/Students Affairs & Research Committee is composed of 3 Caucasians and 1 person of color. The Academic Council Chairperson, Admissions & Registration Chairperson, Budget Chairperson, Curricula Chairperson, Governmental Chairperson, and Honorary Degree Chairperson are all white. I think you get the point. In fact, at least 22 of 27 Faculty Senate Committee Chairpersons are Caucasian. At least 51 of all 71 Faculty Senate members are white. Until recently, there were almost no women of color on the Faculty Senate. The current Senate has less than 5 women of color members.

Is it surprising that the university changed the Lottery scholarship? After looking at the make-up of the university leadership, are you shocked to hear that they want to raise the GPA requirements for the Bridge scholarship? The lack of diverse perspectives amongst the decision makers leads them to initiate policies that hurt minorities. Is it any wonder that cultural studies are marginalized at the university?They do not understand the lives of minorities who are first generation college students. They are ignorant of the community issues that plague low-income regions. They cannot possibly know how important it is to attend classes that look at the world from a perspective that a minority is familiar with.

Racism and insensitivity have had a home on campus over the last few years. Derogatory racial slurs have been spray painted on dorm room doors. An Albuquerque Black minister group filed a lawsuit accusing UNM of “systematic” racism in 2011. There were hateful anti-abortion posters plastered all over campus that targeted Native-American’s. The UNM Football team was accused of racism early in 2013. The UNM College Republican’s presented a documentary that endorsed hate towards undocumented immigrants. The university denies cultural studies any control over their departments although most major universities in the U.S. recognize the importance of these studies and grants them control.

Although some of these incidents may have been out of UNM’s control, the fact is that the university sets the tone of accepting racism. They may have a Department of Equity and Inclusion, but that seems to be for show when you truly look at the system. I have heard that UNM does not require any diversity training beyond what the state mandates. Doesn’t that reek of insensitivity? There appears to be a need for some sort of program beyond the bare minimum.

You may call me crazy for questioning whether or not UNM is racist. I have my opinion and you can have yours, but the facts do not lie. It is clear that UNM is dominated by Caucasians, a vivid history of racism on campus and people of color do not have much of a voice in the major decisions.


  1. The race of these leaders should not have any bearing on their qualifications. People can form different perspectives from different life experiences besides race. It is ridiculous to mandate that a professor of Chicano studies be a Chicano or that a LBGT professor be transgender and gay. Do these leaders have the required leadership credentials? That should be the only thing that matters.

    • When basing hiring only on credentials you push minorities to the margins of society. There are tons of individuals qualified to teach a subject.
      This article is about decision makers in the administration. New Mexico is almost 60% Mexican American, yet they make up a small portion of leadership. I find it hard to believe they do not have the credentials to be leaders. It is systematic racism.

      • The author wasn’t talking about teachers though. The author was talking about leadership positions, Deaprtment Heads, Chairpersons, etc. Those positions should require credentials and leadership skills.

      • I agree with your comment about leadership skills and credentials. As I stated in my response, the article was about the administration. I am saying that it seems odd that over 80% of the administration is white while they only make up roughly 40% of the population…something is wrong. There many minorities that are qualified but overlooked due to their race. There are many types of leadership skills and credentials. Whose standard decides which type is required? My guess is the ones in power get to decide what is “required” and “desired”? The student population of UNM is primarily of Mexican decent, yet they see very little representation in the administration. How does this harm the psyche of the kids? Does it make them believe that they are not worthy of being in charge? Does it make them angry that “white” America constantly tells them what is right and wrong? Does the power structure create a selffulfilling prophecy? How do minorities get the leadership skills that you speak of if they are never qualified to get a job where they can get these skills? I see it first hand every day. Many of the minorities here feel like the system is designed to keep them down.

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