Letter to the Editor: UNAM is not a conspiracy

I am writing to correct several factual errors in Professor Acuña’s account in the May 7, 2014 Daily Sundial article about CSUN’s relationship with Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

Chicana/o Studies was consulted on multiple occasions during the development of CSUN’s new Center on Mexico and Latin America. It is inaccurate to say otherwise. The department also declined co-directorship of the center and participation in the advisory group. Professor Acuña implies that Chicana/o Studies should have veto power over any activities related to Mexico and Latin America at CSUN. There is no precedence for giving departments such authority over university-wide agreements. CSUN has many relationships with Mexican and other overseas institutions, which create positive opportunities for faculty and students.

Professor Acuña claims that the agreement with UNAM is about privatization because of decreased state funding. This is beyond the scope or authority of the agreement – the charter has nothing in it about charging CSUN and CSUN students for products or services.

There is nothing hidden in the “fine print” of the agreement that threatens the future or funding of Chicana/o Studies. In fact, the photo that accompanied Professor Acuña’s opinion piece was from the first event sponsored by the new center, which was hugely successful, and it showcased two panelists discussing writer Octavio Paz. The purpose of such academic events is to engage in enlightened discussion and reasoned dialogue.

There has been extensive communication with Professor Acuña about this issue. We simply disagree with his contention that the UNAM partnership is a conspiracy to undermine Chicana/o Studies. Nothing could be further from the truth. CSUN is proud of this partnership and the benefits it brings to students and the university community.

The facts are clear and I invite anyone to visit http://www.csun.edu/social-behavioral-sciences/center-mexico-and-latin-american-studies-faq to learn more about this great partnership between two world-class institutions.

Harry Hellenbrand
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
California State University, Northridge