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Northern New Mexico College

Letters to the Editor


August 23, 2017, 12:00 am

Editor’s Note: In recent weeks, our “7 Days” satire column referenced events in Española. We now realize that what we wrote carried a deep context of racism and classism. We’re sorry for our lack of consideration.

SFR is committed to producing important journalism, including our longstanding tradition of amplifying marginalized voices and speaking truth to power.

Send your suggestions for coverage to You can also call and leave a voicemail or reach editor and publisher Julie Ann Grimm at 988-7530.

As we continue to reflect, here are the reflections of others:

7 Days, July 26:

Unprecedented Success

I would like to write some of the accomplishments that we have in the Rio Grande Valley in light of the recent unpleasant posts you made about NNMC and Española.

I represent Northern New Mexico College (NNMC). Despite criticism, Northern has continued to evolve, from a secondary boarding school to a vocational training school to New Mexico’s first community college to a baccalaureate degree granting institution. We provide undergraduate research opportunities to students. Few studies have examined the student’s perception of “science identity” in research and learning through analysis of students’ research activity. Your unfortunate “jokes” are precisely what we are trying to “not joke” around.

Our work on how the “student’s perception” can change in the way they see themselves if provided with research experiences, scientific seminars and a suite of mentoring tools have become a national model for rural biomedical/science education. For example, 17 NNMC biology, chemistry and environmental science students secured summer research experiences across the country. This is unprecedented for us.

Ulises Ricoy Dean of Arts and Sciences, NNMC

Better to be an Ally

I am sure you have received email regarding the “joke” about NNMC’s out-of-state tuition and having to live in Española.

I too love jokes, and understand, as Paulo Freire wrote, how humor can create community and templates for addressing macro issues. But, the Española joke is old and tired. I have personally witnessed decades-long abandonment of Northern New Mexico by mainstream New Mexico urban communities. Much of the larger state utilizes debasing humor as a way to somehow rationalize indifference.

This indifference is stunningly ironic as the region simultaneously commodifies Northern New Mexico’s enormous resources of water, gas and tourism. Santa Fe, in particular, is very adept at selling Rio Arriba via a romanticized partial rendering as “Northern New Mexico.” Rio Arriba’s resources are being displaced beyond itself to benefit the overall state and national public. Yet, Santa Fe continues to demoralize the North: a caricature for a beneficiary to mock.

I hope SFR takes a look at the tremendous work that NNMC is doing to engage Northern New Mexico that not only benefits the north but the entire state. It would be incredibly important for NNMC to have a critical ally like SFR in the region.

Paula Castillo

Trying to Improve

I moved to Española to attend NNMC in 2011 and I graduated from there in 2014. I moved there because at the time, they had a holistic healing bachelor of science and it was precisely the degree I wanted. ... I got into my graduate degree program of my choice and I am now thriving in that program in Seattle. NNMC set me up for success to reach my academic and professional goals.

NNMC offered me an intimate, close community of peers and professors. Everyone knew my name. We looked out for each other. And coming from a big city, I was highly impressed by the tenacity and perseverance of the young people in that community. …

The majority of the kids going to NNMC have seen drug addiction, racism, poverty and countless other adversities. ... I am proud to have graduated with fellow students that have more grit and have been through more hard times then the average student. And I find it absolutely disgraceful that you would allow something to be published that insults that very thing. Shame on you for speaking ill of an institution that is trying to improve Española and improve the lives of young people. The people that go there should hold their heads up high with pride, knowing that they have faced much worse than your petty bullying.

Lauren Gresham-Watters
Seattle, Washington

No Safe Space for Ideas

Why is everyone so quick to take away the freedom of speech of others though bullying? Do we only have the First Amendment to say safe things? In some academic circles we are starting to hear speech equated with violence. As if having your feelings hurt is the same as being physically attacked. If we do not have the right to offend then we do not have the right to speak truth when it is offensive. I would rather be mocked mercilessly than censor someone.

Are we to turn into Europe where if you say or tweet the wrong thing, you can end up in jail? All you guys did was tell a joke, that was it. It is the job of artists and journalists to be subversive. We used to celebrate that. There is no safe space for ideas. All ideas, all symbols, all beliefs are up for grabs. People need to decide, do they want to be offended or live under blasphemy laws? What happened to the South Park generation?

Jared Rodriguez


I write this letter in solidarity with Española and the surrounding communities to the north of Santa Fe. I live in our wonderful City Different. However, I am blessed to work in Española and look forward to the breathtaking commute every day.

I was sharply taken aback by the text in the most recent publications under the “7 Days” column in the Santa Fe Reporter. First, the anonymous voice behind such comments is a microagression: Without direct responsibility there is no accountability.

Second, while the newspaper claims the comments are simply “jokes,” I find this a significant oversight. On another recent publication, Aug. 2, one of the “7 Days” reads: “Health Care Reform Dies Again: God bless those GOP mavericks.” This reads as powerful commentary about the politics and values of the Santa Fe Reporter. Intentionally choosing to comment on something serious signifies that the column is not merely “irreverent.”

Finally, regardless of the intention of the comment, the impact was hurtful. Individuals and organizations in positions of influence can no longer use the excuse of ignorance or misconstrued intentions. Española and Santa Fe are both aiming grow and yet dealing with the aftereffects of colonialism. Let’s work together.

Gwendolyn Perea Warniment
K-12 Program Director, LANL Foundation

Focus on Power

I’ve been a longtime fan of the Reporter, but I am disappointed with your decision to continue to ... [make] Española jokes and your halfhearted apology in response to criticism of that decision.

I understand your perspective that this is part of a longstanding “rivalry” between Santa Fe and Española, but I think you and your writing staff are failing to see the subtext of these jokes. When a white writer in a wealthy community publishes a “jab” at a majority Hispanic, low-income community that doesn’t have an equivalent mouthpiece with which to respond, it’s not much of a rivalry.

Please focus on people and groups with power­—not the disenfranchised—if you want your humor to have a positive impact on the world.

James Sanchez

Misplaced Supremacy

The City Different likes to poke at Española. The recent jokes in the Santa Fe Reporter are hardly “news.” Just like anywhere else in America, framing the brown neighbors as problematic, crime-ridden, drug-addled and lacking pride is alive and well in this most different of cities. I guess when your intention to be liberally minded and above the common folks is so deeply core to your civic identity, you can be callous and cavalier with your racism. … I am a newcomer to New Mexico and to Rio Arriba. But I recognize racism when I see it in myself and others. I had a lot of the same judgements and preconceptions of Española back in 2007. But having lived and worked here, building relationships and participating with this amazing community, I have learned just how wrong I was.

This community certainly has struggles and challenges to face, as do we all. And this community is facing them. But to demean an entire valley full of people, with a history of resistance to wave after wave of colonialism; a valley rich in tradition, family values,

civic responsibility and neighborly love; to demean such a place with cheap one-line jokes whose only purpose seems to be to elevate Santa Fe at the expense of Española, is to show a depth of ignorance worthy to be called The City Same-Old-Story. …

You are far from different, and have proven that judgmental racial stereotyping is not simply a sickness of right-wing politics, but indeed, embedded in the collective psyche of liberals as well. All you readers who laughed at the cheap shots; stop and think for a moment. What do you really know of this beautiful Rio Arriba valley? I guess driving through town and seeing all the fast food restaurants on your way to Taos to buy more art makes you an expert on an entire community. Wake up and smell your white supremacy.

Scott Adams

Enthusiast, Aug. 16: “Happier Campers”

Get Hip, New Mexico

Our intention for creating a free resource for exploring public campgrounds is for the community to help each other figure out the best place to camp, so your feedback here is really helpful. We’ve updated Aspen Basin your recommendations. Thank you! ...

Regarding the biking at Panchuela Campground, that’s tricky, since mountain biking and road biking should really be differently categorized. ... We’d ... never want to unintentionally encourage a prohibited activity. One of our big company values is to “To Leave it Better,” and this certainly includes all trails!

As we start to expand in New Mexico, we’ll be doing more community outreach and our hope is that, much like in other parts of the country, the community will start adding more photos and reviews and make Hipcamp better. ...

If anyone in New Mexico has suggestions for how we improve, please let us know at—and you can always directly add to Hipcamp too, with photos and reviews.

Alyssa Ravasio
Founder and CEO, Hipcamp

Cover, July 9: “A Moral Choice”

Moral Anesthesia

In a recent article by Joey Peters, [Dr. Curtis] Boyd “goes to work every day clad in his gray surgical gown.” ... Boyd fits squarely into the modern moral nooks and crannies of today’s “50 shades of gray,” a politically correct and legally acceptable world of hyper-tolerance. And unfortunately, we as a society find ourselves in Boyd’s and his supporters’ political and moral anesthesia.

The story of abortion in New Mexico and how it has become a political live wire is much deeper than Boyd’s individual perspective as an abortionist. Boyd’s craft and its political and legal support beams, footings and stem walls find their basis, ironically, in the Bible a text much older than a Supreme Court decision. ...

Those like Boyd, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and even certain nominally Catholic legislators claim to be rooted in Judeo Christian beliefs. They must ask themselves whether or not a “choice” to end the “life” of an unborn child is contrary to the Decalogue. How do Dr. Boyd and his religious supporters reconcile this disparity? Peters reveals that Dr. Boyd concedes “life” begins at conception. So if abortion kills life, how do Dr. Boyd and his nominal supporters reconcile this with the Mosaic Law? The truth is: They don’t.

Deacon Thomas P Baca

SFR will correct factual errors online and in print. Please let us know if we make a mistake, or 988-7530.

Mail letters to PO Box 2306, Santa Fe, NM 87504, deliver to 132 E Marcy St., or email them to Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.


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