NMSU faculty members have vocalized their concerns over staff and student safety on campus after an unidentified person interrupted a class in Domenici Hall last month.
On Sept. 16, 2021, Professor Jamie Bronstein’s history class was interrupted when a man stood up and demanded to speak to the class. While it remains unclear what the man wanted from the class or Professor Bronstien, Bronstein and others suspect he was a follower of controversial NMSU business professor and political activist, David Clements. Clements was relieved of his teaching duties in August 2021 for alleged employee misconduct.
Publisher’s Note: Kokopelli student editor Nicole Liverett reached out to David Clements twice for comment during the week preceding the publication of this story. Liverett emailed Clements on Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 4:35 p.m. and again on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, at 4:03 p.m. Ms. Liverett did not receive a reply from Mr. Clements, however, until Monday morning, Oct. 4, 2021, at 8:59 a.m., a full 119 minutes after this article was published.
Professor Bronstein told the classroom intruder she felt it was “out of order” for someone not affiliated with the university to address the class, and after a brief exchange the man reportedly exited the room.
One student from the class indicated the incident was unsettling. “It was weird. It was random. I seriously thought something bad was going to happen,” the student said. This same student, who asked not to be identified, also expressed concern over the safety of students on campus, since the man was not a known student of NMSU.
Another student who was present when the encounter occurred said, “[The intruder] walked in, got all of our attention, and it seemed very urgent that he needed to talk to us about something.” This student, who also asked not to be identified, expressed that while NMSU is an open campus, the encounter was “strange.”
Two days before the Domenici Hall incident, Clements posted Bronstein’s photo and email address on his Telegram social media channel along with the note, “[Bronstein] is desperate for pen pals.” Clements also accused Bronstein of being a “communist,” among other things, and asked his 134K subscribers for “help to carry the load.” Bronstein subsequently received upwards of 300 emails, some of which were threatening in nature. Bronstein mentioned in an interview with Kokopelli that students have also been harassed by Clements and his followers.
Additionally, Bronstein has said that Clements’ characterizations of her are false, and indicated she did not want to give the unidentified man an opportunity to spread misinformation. “I didn’t want the classroom intruder to have the floor. I thought that this is the last thing I need is to have someone coming in and making insane allegations about a professor,” Bronstein said.
According to a report filed with the NMSU Police Department on the same day the incident occurred, the intruder admitted he was not affiliated with NMSU, although his identity and reasons for visiting Bronstein’s classroom are unknown. The man is described in the report as a white male in his 20s or 30s wearing a blue shirt and khaki pants or shorts.
As of Oct. 4, 2021, no charges have been filed against the mystery man; however, according to Interim Deputy Chief Justin Dunivan of the NMSU police department, the threatening emails sent to Bronstein have been investigated. “We worked, in this case, with our partners — our regional partners — to make sure that we are protecting everyone.”
Dunivan encouraged students to report anything suspicious they see around campus. “If you see something, say something,” Dunivan said. He also recommended that students call 911 if they ever feel unsafe.
Bronstein expressed her concern over student and faculty safety. “I think the university maybe needs to strengthen its policies around harassment and especially make it clear that if students have problems with a faculty member, they have somewhere to go because I think that’s not clear,” Bronstein said.
Following the Sept. 16 incident, some faculty members have raised concerns over the safety of everyone on campus, and have expressed disappointment in the school’s administration over a perceived lack of transparency regarding campus safety issues. More specifically, some faculty members have been critical of President Floros for not notifying students of the Sept. 16 incident. Floros sent an email to faculty and staff in which he referenced a “classroom disruption,” but students were not formally apprised of the incident.
Since then, the NMSU Faculty Senate has released a resolution of no-confidence in the president and provost. Bronstein is one of the resolution’s sponsors.
In this document, the Faculty Senate calls for the removal of President John Floros and Provost Carol Parker. Kokopelli reached out to both President Floros and Provost Parker for comment, but did not hear back from either office.
The new resolution cites “safety and security concerns” on Page 17 as one of the reasons for the no-confidence vote. The document states: “Under these hostile work conditions, which contravene NMSU’s own prohibitions of bullying, hazing, and hostile misconduct, we find it nearly impossible to fulfill NMSU’s mission of fostering learning, inquiry, diversity and inclusion, social mobility, and service to the broader community.”
The resolution also cites a recent Las Cruces Sun-News article that specifically mentions Clements’ Telegram posts about Bronstein and the subsequent threatening emails she received.
Kokopelli reached out to David Clements via email for comment, but he did not respond.