'In the face of interference, intelligence and reason': José Narro Robles

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José Narro Robles, rector of the UNAM between 2007 and 2015, is convinced that the attempts to interfere in the highest house of studies “are not fantasies, illusions or bad ideas,” but facts.

Due to a typing mistake, they forgot the fraction corresponding to university autonomy in the initiative that was presented in December 2018, it is not imagination. There were attempts to change, without consultation, the organic laws of universities and at least in one of them they succeeded: that of Sonora. There were two attempts in the Chamber of Deputies to change the Organic Law of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, without any consultation with the community and with initiatives from the ruling party.

So, sorry. We must take care that these things do not happen; Mexico's public universities and public, and also private, higher education institutions have done a great job for this country. They have trained human resources of the highest level, Mexico has improved in part because of that, we must take great care of that. What I am simply referring to are facts, they are there and that is why we have many concerns; I hope the temptations are over now,” he said when asked by Excelsior about whether there are attempts to interfere in the UNAM.

For Narro Robles, autonomy is defended by speaking and pointing out without fear, “with the truth and with the word, with intelligence and with reason.”

At the age of 59, he assumed the Rectorship of the University, but his presence began in the rectorate of Guillermo Soberón Acevedo, during which, as a professor at the Faculty of Medicine, he polished his ability to communicate with various sectors of the community.

It was this talent as a political operator that led him to be the protagonist of the outcome of the student conflicts of 1986 and 1999-2000, from his position as secretary general of the UNAM.

There is no 100% figure, the task of a rector is to lead a large community, of almost 450 thousand active people plus hundreds of thousands, probably millions of graduates or family members of graduates. That is one of the most satisfying tasks, the one that arouses fantastic pride, it is a great distinction, it is an enormous responsibility.

The tasks of the University, of course, are first of all academic. So, of course you need an academic!, but someone who understands what is happening in the world and in the country, politically, socially, economically. Someone who calls, who is beyond creeds, religions, even these militancy to everything that is given in football. We are so big that we accept that there are others who are not pumas, even Americanists, from Chivas, from Cruz Azul. What has to be sought, as in the country, is the unity of the community,” he responds when asked what type of rector is required in these times.

It must be understood that university wealth lies in plurality, in differences like those we have in the country; that we do not want a Mexico divided in two, or a community divided into as many members as the community has, because we are all different. We need unity and understand that the processes that the University has, one: they are university-based; two: they are democratic and three: they have served this great institution,” he highlighted.

In the eight years that he directed the University, Narro, who has also served as general secretary of the IMSS and federal Secretary of Health, managed to consolidate the stability that was achieved after the longest strike at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, which ended with the entry of the Federal Preventive Police into the university facilities, in February 2000.

The attempted mobilizations that even led to the seizure of the Rector's Office and some campuses during his rectorship were resolved without becoming a major conflict.

I consider that what has been done, many of the things that have been done, has been poorly valued, because where were the university students? Well, doing their homework, Mr. President, fulfilling their responsibility: teaching, doing research on the topics nationals, publishing their results, criticizing the actions, many of them, or strengthening some others. Because this country does not belong to one person or one sector: it belongs to everyone and because many of its usual problems hurt us; Poverty is not recent, I wish it were. Poverty has been present, the Spanish did not bring it in the Conquest, it is not a legacy of the Colony; Poverty, inequality, differences existed in pre-Hispanic peoples, in our native peoples.

We have to understand that part of the university's richness is that plurality, those differences. Boys and girls that we have in university initiation of 10, 11, 12 years old. Adults, older adults; There are few things as fantastic for me as giving a lady, an 85-year-old grandmother, her degree from FES Acatlán as a Law graduate. She did it to show her grandchildren that education is the way, that they had to improve themselves, that they had to surpass her; What a fantastic example.

UNAM is from A to Z, from acting to zootechnics, I said it a lot and I maintain it, from the A of Aguascalientes to the Z of Zacatecas. UNAM is from Mexico, for Mexico, and has fulfilled its task, its functions. That we have different visions is worth it, that no one has the complete truth, no one does, neither in the University nor in the government; neither the President, nor the most modest of university academic workers. So, what we have to do is help, serve, contribute, not divide, fracture and polarize,” he said to respond if he considers that UNAM's contributions to the country have been ignored.

The former rector has no doubt that the Governing Board has been a great university invention.

I am convinced that the designation that has given me so much honor, that the Governing Board made in my person, like the one they made in the person of Juan Ramón de la Fuente or Enrique Graue, is not because we are doctors. It is by having a profile that corresponds to a moment, by having conditions that enable the development of the University. Yes, it's true three doctors in a row; Yes, it is true 24 years of medical rectors; Yes, it is true that everything we have been through in the 21st century has been led by a profession. But I insist: there has been development, growth, there has been mostly peace, university progress, there have been complicated, difficult moments; De la Fuente lived them, Narro lived them and Graue has lived them.

The task is for the University to function, for each and every one of the 365 days of the four years for which the rector is appointed or appointed, this institution functions. If the University is closed, if it is divided, if it does not have the resources, if the University does not have the environment, if there is no collaboration and participation of its community, that does not work and one may have the greatest idea and there may be designated to whoever has the academic credentials, the pretensions. I am referring to the greatest ones that hang on the cap, but if the University does not work, then we are in a bad way,” he concluded.

With information from Leticia Robles de la Rosa

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