Do college students who want to discuss Bigfoot research need a safe space on campus to do it? That may be the case at the University of New Mexico where a controversy is raging over a $7,000-plus bill allegedly paid for with taxpayer-funded university checks for a two-day, on-campus Bigfoot conference. No, this wasn’t exposed by a Wikileaks email leak but its consequences may be just as serious.
The University of New Mexico’s Gallup campus is located in a rugged area known as the “Heart of Indian Country” because it’s on a Navajo reservation. That puts it in the center of a juxtaposition of Native American history, European-American history (it’s on Route 66) and fake American history (it has provided the backdrop for many Hollywood westerns). Add to that a new moniker as a center of Bigfoot history.
Dr. Christopher Dyer is the Executive Director at UNM Gallup by day and a Bigfoot expert by night. On February 11, 2016, he hosted a Sasquatch conference featuring Dr. Jeff Meldrum, author of Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science, and Rob Kryder, a Bigfoot tracker. Local media described the conference as “well-attended” and noted that it overflowed the original conference room, forcing attendees to move to the campus auditorium where many had to stand anyway. Dr. Dyer was pleased.
It was the largest and most well-attended event in the history of this campus.
After the conference closed on the second day, Dr. Dyer and a small group of people – not students or faculty – went on a Bigfoot expedition in the nearby desert. They didn’t find anything but KROE News 13 did – bills for the expedition and honorariums and expenses for the speakers paid for with university funds. Being a public university, that means taxpayer funds and that’s where the search for controversy was successful.
Dr. Dyer didn’t help his cause when he described the expedition.
I’d have to say it was pretty much a blown waste of money because we did not find evidence because of the snow. It was just impossible to get around out there. So in that case, yeah would we spend money on that again? Absolutely not.
His defense of the expenses for the rest of the conference was also disappointing.
People use monies from the taxpayers to do research. For Bigfoot or whatever.
Taxpayer-funded research for “Bigfoot or whatever” in this case totaled $7,458. As anyone who has ever run up a huge college tuition debt for themselves or their children knows, universities waste a lot of money that would be better spent on making college more affordable. Dr. Dyer’s well-attended conference could have served a useful and controversy-free purpose had it paid for itself and had he not been so cavalier in his responses to questions about the funding.
Instead, Dyer has earned the wrath of taxpayers and the university president, who says there will be no more conferences of this type on campus, and of other instructors like Dave Thomas.
When you’re expending the resources of taxpaying citizens on what is completely pseudo-science, that’s a betrayal of the public trust. That’s a betrayal of the mission of the university.
Except for the pseudoscience part, Bigfoot would probably agree.