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ere we go again In charge of UTEP students, Dr. Gary Brooks. El Paso It’s as familiar as the words of an old song. A Texas university, good ol’ Frank Erwin, puppet administrators, student unrest, cops on campus, mini-riots, minority students getting tooled around and anyone who stands up to fight the System \(that is, the UT System time the fun is out in far west Texas on the 10,500-student campus of UT at El Paso. For many years UTEP was left to develop in pleasant obscurity and was becoming rather a good school. While the regents ignored it, it went from being little more than a community college to something approaching a real university. During the past few years, UTEP has been noted largely for its terrific track teams produced by coach Wayne Vandenburg, who was also fired a little more than a month ago, but that’s another story. In 1958 Dr. Joseph Smiley became president of the school. Smiley is described as a smooth article, British in style and quite debonair. At that time Thornton Hardy, of reactionary repute, sat on the Board of Regents: Hardy decided to groom Smiley as a replacement for then Chancellor Harry Ransom during one of the interminable UT Austin power struggles. So in 1960, Smiley went to UT Austin as president, but left soon after to become president of the University of Colorado, where he fell afoul of Joe Coors, Colorado’s Erwin. In academic circles, the Coors-Smiley confrontation is regarded as one of the bloodiest battles the Groves have seen in recent years. But that’s another story. Meantime, the regents replaced Smiley at UTEP with Dr. Joseph Ray. Ray came in with a reputation as a massive nebbish but, say the locals, he turned out to be a sort of Harry Truman liberal, a solid little guy who made all the right basic decisions to help the school. But Ray did not cultivate friends in the Legislature or in other elevated circles. He was vulnerable. And Judson Williams, then mayor of El Paso, coveted Ray’s job. Williams had friends like, for example, Frank Erwin. In February, 1968, Ray “retired” to join the graduate faculty at UTEP and Dr. Milton Leech was appointed acting president. A student-faculty committee deliberated for several months before recommending five qualified, non-local men for the position. Erwin promptly appointed a new committee featuring several of Williams’ supporters. But student and faculty protests grew over the impending Williams appointment. A student poll showed 93 percent opposed to Williams, more than 1,000 anti-Williams petitions were signed and Williams’ embarrassing lack of credentials \(one degree, no publications issue. Williams didn’t get the job. Instead, the System brought Smiley back from Colorado. According to UTEP professors who like Smiley, the man’s spirit had been broken. “He’s got a good record,” said one professor, “but he’s been frustrated at every turn, The president here hasn’t got much power anyway and since he’s a lame duck he has even less control. It’s really been on-the-job retirement for him. From Erwin to Coors to Erwin. Poor guy.” Smiley announced on Nov. 1 that he was resigning effective as soon as someone could be found to replace him. His second term in the presidency did not bring happy days again. N THE FIRST place, there was a long-festering chicano question. Chicanos at UTEP constitute about 40 percent of the student body. A minute minority of them belong to MEChA \(Movimiento according to the MEChA’s president David Campos, there are about 50 very active MEChA members and another 3,000 chicano students at UTEP indirectly involved. MEChA is an umbrella organization of student groups concerned with academic and service programs for chicanos. But the group has managed to acquire a reputation in startling contrast to its stated purpose and activities. Some administrators at UTEP are under the impression that it’s an organization of Brown Berets or the student arm of La Raza Unida or, at the very least, a collection of garden-variety student radicals. Campos himself is an unlikely substitute for Mario Savio. He is a slender, hesitant young man, very soft-spoken, a graduate student in philosophy. Nor do the rest of MEChA’s officers, past and present, sound anything like SDSer’s. Nevertheless, the MEChA office in the student union is covered with signs warning members not to discuss important plans over the telephone and, according to Chancellor Mickey LeMaistre, George Carlson, the top cop in the UT system, has informed him that “plans have been made to attempt to force an over-reaction or provoke a serious incident on the UTEP campus in order to polarize different groups on the campus behind a common cause against the present administration.” January 19, 1973 3