Authoritarian disqualifications against the UNAM

The most recent, non-critical attack by the chief executive against UNAM adds to the ominous signs that have been accumulating through the statements and actions of the current government against independent thought. No university is perfect and, without a doubt, UNAM can improve even if it is considered among the best in Latin America. However, to disqualify it as “neoliberal” and away from the “people” is a nonsense that responds to an authoritarian vision, fearful of university autonomy, and not to a concern to guarantee a quality public education for present and future generations.

UNAM has been a fundamental means of social mobility, it has favored the coexistence of people of different social classes in its classrooms and has fostered critical thinking. If its diversity is compared with that of other public universities, few or none can match it. In terms of research, none have such diverse fields of study or such a variety of high-level specialists. Of course, being the largest and with the longest trajectory gives it this quality but this is also due to the breadth of views of its members and authorities, their (re) knowledge of the needs of the country and the society that finances it, he values ​​it and demands it.

Diversity and plurality in a climate of openness to dialogue and informed debate, respecting conflicting views, are essential in a university. The possibility of encountering intellectual positions different from one’s own, of reflecting on coincidences and differences, based on rigorous scientific evidence and arguments, favors critical thinking, essential for intellectual, personal and professional development.

In today’s world, where precariousness and recurring economic, political and social crises have undermined the expectations of accessing a stable or satisfactory job, it is logical and necessary to question the role of the university, its ability to adapt to social transformations and new challenges.

People with different ideologies coexist at UNAM. In the legal field, for example, it integrates researchers attached to a patriarchal legal vision and researchers and teachers committed to the gender perspective, human rights, the expansion of the concept of justice for all. Despite the limited resources that limit the renewal of its academic staff and the full development of its potential, the University has promoted innovation and interdiscipline in the sciences and humanities. This is demonstrated by the creation of the Complexity Sciences Center, the Bioethics University Program or the bodies and academics dedicated to gender or feminist studies, among others.

It can certainly be better. The seizures of faculties by groups of young women fed up with harassment and violence in Ciudad Universitaria or protests in other campuses sought to draw attention to gender discrimination, long minimized or tolerated by different authorities. The young women have also demanded changes in the study plans to include the perspective of gender and human rights, without which it is impossible to understand the present or the past, nor, even less, to do justice, reduce inequalities and promote a more conscious and conscientious citizenship. critical to the future. UNAM took too long to respond to these demands. You now need to consolidate these and other changes, without simulation. This can be an example of constructive change from the inside, derived from a critical stance, translated into action, argumentation and proposal, listened to, and dialogued.

Authoritarian governments often silence critical media and universities intervene to impose a single vision, their own, which they consider appropriate “for the good of the country” or of the “people”, in whose spokesmen or “protectors” they stand. They fear precisely the voices that contradict or question bombastic speeches and black-and-white worldviews.

Lucia Melgar

Cultural critic


She is a professor of literature and gender and cultural criticism. Doctor in Latin American literature from the University of Chicago (1996), with a master’s degree in history from the same University (1988) and a bachelor’s degree in social sciences (ITAM, 1986).

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