Students, Faculty Demand Action

Board of Trustees meeting flooded with comments asking for equity and action against racism

MEChA+de+Mt.+SAC+member+Pedro+Mariano+Gonzalez+speaks+at+Mt.+SAC+on+October+14%2C+2019.+Photo+credit%3A+Abraham+Navarro%2FSAC.Media.

MEChA de Mt. SAC member Pedro Mariano Gonzalez speaks at Mt. SAC on October 14, 2019. Photo credit: Abraham Navarro/SAC.Media.

The Mt. SAC Board of Trustees met at its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday on YouTube and were bombarded with public comments about the issue of systemic racism at Mt. SAC.

Students brought up the college’s lack of classes on ethnic and gender studies and the lack of diversity in faculty hiring. Several students also addressed the lack of dedicated space for the Latinx community. It was noted by a student that Mt. SAC has a predominantly Latinx population on campus. They currently have one office for a faculty member called “El Centro” located in the BRIDGE Center.

Eva Rios-Alvarado made a public comment saying that, “Mt. SAC needs to abolish racist communities.” Members from Mt. SAC’s Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan, MEChA, commented that the college refuses to acknowledge institutional racism, and that campus police should not be armed.

The board has proposed to change the college’s mission and vision statements so they would include words such as “integrity,” “equity and diversity” and “social justice.”

Paola Benitez, an English major who is transferring to UCLA in the fall, brought up the need for sexual assault training with Project Sister.

Faculty members raised concerns during public comment about the recent ICE ruling that could deport international students who are not taking in-person classes due to their colleges moving completely online during the pandemic. Ellen Caldwell and Dr. Mary McGuire, professors of art history, said that ICE is a threat to the community, and that Mt. SAC as an institution needs to support its students. “We must choose between risking their lives and protecting them from deportation,” McGuire said.Spanish professor Francesca Rinaldi said, “We as a community must support our international students.”

Associated Students incoming president Hugo Fulcheri addressed the board and said that he was excited to serve the students during the most difficult year, with Mt. SAC students facing a pandemic and a social justice movement. He also said that Associated Students will support the college’s international students. Joan Sholars, president of the Faculty Association addressed the board on how faculty is facing unprecedented challenges having to do with their classes, office hours, life and how their work is never done. Sholars also mentioned the additional effort needed to be taken on by Mt. SAC to support international students and said, “These are Mt. SAC students and need to be supported as such. ”

Sholars said that the college has to stop talking about problems and at least start with one thing the college can do now.

“We have to root out systemic institutional racism and root out the antiquated systems,” she said.

Audrey Yamagata-Noji, Vice President of Student Services, and Jenny Phu, Assistant Director of Financial Aid, gave a detailed report about financial aid and mentioned that FAFSA dates have been extended. She also brought up that the money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, was distributed in the amount of about $8.7 million to Mt. SAC students.

President William Scroggins announced that a volleyball court filled with sand is to be built, making Mt. SAC the first community college campus in Southern California to have a beach-like volleyball court. It will be located south of the college’s soccer fields.

The Board of Trustees will meet again for their next regularly scheduled meeting on August 12 at 6:30 p.m.