Posteado por: tucidides | 5 mayo 2010

Trustees still refuse to negotiate

May 4, 2010

After what seemed a promising start for negotiations between University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras campus students and the institution’s Board of Trustees on Monday afternoon, talks faced their first hurdle when president José R. De La Torre admitted to the students “the Board is not an open forum.”
For Students Negotiating Committee (SNC) member Arturo Ríos Escribano what happened Monday night was not a negotiation but a dialogue.
“We are happy to say this dialogue took place, but this is not a negotiation,” said Ríos Escribano.
“We even asked the president if the Board of Trustees president could attend our next meeting — possibly tomorrow [today] — but he answered that the Board had not been created to negotiate; it was created to perform administrative duties,” said the student leader as he left the De La Torre’s office.
UPR’s Board of Trustees was supposed to meet for the first time Monday night with the SNC, thanks to the mediation of the Puerto Rico Civil Rights Commission, whose members had met individually first with the students and later with the Trustees, to agree on a mechanism that could facilitate talks between the two sides.
“Since the situation at the Río Piedras campus had turned very difficult, the Commission decided to intercede . . . and we decided that the best we could do was to propose a mechanism that could facilitate the talks between the parties involved in this controversy,” said CRC President José I. Irizarry.
“We have started a process that is still going on. This morning we met with some people from the Board of Trustees, and as a result, from the students’ proposals we presented to them, [the board] elaborated their position on the subject and we have brought it to the students and their legal counsel this afternoon,” Irizarry added.
While the CRC president expressed optimism about the talks, as students have in turn expressed their own enthusiasm over the negotiations, he reiterated the process still has “a long way to go.”
But the Board of Trustees doesn’t seem to be willing to take up the task and sent De La Torre instead to meet with the students.
Ríos Escribano anticipated the students will present a counterproposal to De La Torre today centered mainly on Certification 98 and the 2010 summer session.
Certification 98, signed by the board, issued a moratorium on new tuition waivers.
“We understand that if we can have a peaceful dialogue we can solve our differences,” Ríos Escribano added.
Regarding the possibility of ending the strike, Ríos Escribano said that would depend on the administration’s willingness to negotiate and reach an agreement.
SNC member Giovanni Roberto characterized Monday night’s meeting as different from the other previous meetings with the UPR president due to the fact that for the first time “they came with a proposal.”
Regarding the presence of of the Riot Police around the UPR’s perimeter, Roberto asserted that as negotiations progress, the end of the university siege draws nearer.
“So far the only thing we have achieved is a little break in the [university] administration’s wall, legitimizing the Negotiating Committee and promoting some kind of meeting to start negotiations that could lead to the normalization of campus activities,” SNC member René Vargas said.
“If they [the Trustees] want us to go and negotiate with the president, then they have to send us a letter signed by them authorizing him to negotiate, authorizing him to repeal Certification 98, and authorizing him to evaluate the alternatives to the budget cutbacks,” said Vargas earlier
Monday.

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