College Verbally Commits To Safety First For Counseling

With a dedicated effort six faculty members got the college president to commit to immediately trying to return their hybrid model 



President William Scroggins engages in a dialogue with Vice President of Administrative Services Morris Rodrigue regarding campus safety protocols at the Mt. SAC Board of Trustees meeting on Aug. 12.

After heavy criticism of the campus’ general plan for returning to campus, six faculty members who specialize in counseling brought forth a specific concern to the board. In a side letter agreement penned for faculty, counselors were left out and found themselves required to show up to their offices to perform their job duties, two weeks before classes were to start.

In the midst of a surging delta variant, counseling faculty were “blindsided” and “stressed” by an agreement that prioritized the needs of instructional faculty. This hurt was translated into a passionate plea to the college that the administration should reverse course back to what had originally been planned.

Two speakers mentioned their families and their own health risks and a third spoke of the impact on students. The department chair spoke on the demoralizing nature of this change and how they hoped it would get better, while the final two speakers galvanized the moment.

Eddie Lee, who worked on the return to campus plan, was animated and passionate. He provided numerous emphasizing gestures as he outlined how dire the situation is and how important it is for the college to take this as an opportunity to show how much they care about their staff, students, and community.

“This is LIFE AND DEATH,” Lee said, voice rising, as his mask dropped during his speech. “Life and death. And two weeks is given to us to make these decisions. We are in the middle of a pandemic. We are, as well as all other faculty members on campus, concerned for our health, the health of our families – the health of our community.”

On the other end, Patricia Maestro took a different approach. She called out the president of the college, the vice president of student services and the vice president of instruction for their words, inaction, and silence respectively.

“This past monday – Dr. Scroggins – I’m speaking to you now. You said that we are not faculty in that side letter,” Maestro said. “That really hit me hard, because what does that say? How do I represent this college when you won’t see me as a first class citizen like the rest of the faculty here.”

She then spoke of how the college doesn’t love or represent them with this change and concluded her remarks asking Scroggins to speak on the subject and questioning why he hadn’t before.

Uncharacteristically, the board responded to public comment with a verbal commitment.

After Board President Jay Chen approved Scroggins’ point of personal privilege, the president outlined firmly that he will do right by the counselors and will “immediately” work to get a new agreement.

“Those of you who spoke about the counseling hybrid schedule, you’ve been powerful and convincing. I want to apologize for not being able to hear your message strongly, recently,” Scroggins told the chambers. “I pledge to, immediately as possible, work with the Faculty Association, and Emily Woolery, to write a clear and unambiguous side letter that establishes a hybrid schedule for counseling faculty and library faculty.”

This was met with a loud and long applause from faculty members. Three others that requested to speak completely changed their comments. Academic Senate President Chisa Uyeki acknowledged the welcome change and asked for further accomodations for librarians who will interface with the public. 

Sara Mestas told the board as her name was called that her issue was resolved.

Silver Calzada, yielded his time to applaud Scroggins and commend him for the acknowledgement and commitment.

“I want to commend you, Bill, what you did was very courageous, right now. You showed true leadership when you did that. I’ve been across five presidents, that’s never happened. Thank you so much for listening,” Calzada said. ” That became very evident. You just restored our integrity because of your integrity. I just want to end, I won’t need three minutes. I just want to give you a round of applause.”

This story will be updated to reflect whether or not action was taken after the board meeting when that information becomes known.