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Former DACC nursing students demand change in administration

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: Jan 14 2014 09:06:41 PM CST
LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

After the departure of the New Mexico State University president and provost, many in the Las Cruces community are hoping to see the same done within the Doña Ana Community College.

DACC faculty, former students and members of the community are still angry about the nursing program's loss of accreditation four months ago.

Nursing students were given the opportunity to transfer into NMSU's nursing program and many received full scholarships. Many of the more than 100 students made the transfer.

Several of those students told ABC-7 they want someone to be held accountable.

A task force created by NMSU officials is wrapping up a report on the program and what led up to the loss.

Students and faculty hope it will answer questions that have gone unanswered for a long time.

"Why did they get rid of NMSU president and provost and not the community college president because she's the one who created the mess?" said DACC adjunct professor Earl Nissen.

NMSU officials said the task force report should be completed within the next few weeks.

Some students said they expected those results back in November; now they're hoping for change at the next Board of Regents meeting on Dec. 14.

Students said while they've been given an amazing opportunity by NMSU, they're still looking for closure.

Former DACC nursing student Brittany Barham wrote a passionate letter to NMSU interim president Dr. Manuel Pacheco.

In it, she wrote, "One of the biggest issues we face as we try to move on is the fact that the people responsible, the ones who failed us, have not been held accountable for their actions.  We feel robbed, and our perpetrators are not only still at large, they’re still in the positions they abused."

DACC officials have maintained the position that they were transparent and open with students about the entire process leading up to the loss of accreditation in August.

In her letter, Barham goes on to say she was the president of the Student Nursing Association at DACC, and she worked closely with DACC nursing program director Tracy Lopez.

"We, the students, were blindsided by the issue of DACC’s accreditation failure.  In April when the issue started to surface I asked questions and was assured that nothing was wrong.  Dr. Huerta and Tracy Lopez lied about the severity of the issue and the impact it would have on my career," Barham wrote.

Nissen said he and many others are specifically hoping DACC President Margie Huerta will be fired.

"I would hope for a change in administration. After watching and looking over this whole thing for nine years and all these other issues other than the nursing, we have to look at it and say, 'Is it time to change administration?' Because of the policies and the practices that have gone on, yes, most people are hoping for a change in administration," he told ABC-7.

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