Campus recap: Senate amends harassment policies, trustees confer on presidential candidates

An overview of Mt. SAC’s governing bodies’ meetings this week


Art history professor Sandra Esslinger speaks in front of the Board of Trustees on March 28. Screengrab via Mt. SAC/YouTube.

During its biweekly meeting on March 30, the Academic Senate Executive Board approved amendments to administrative procedures and board policies concerning harassment and sexual misconduct. Meanwhile, the board of trustees held several special meetings to discuss the appointment of a candidate for the position of president/CEO but did not come to an official decision.

The revisions to the procedures and policies, AP 3430 and AP/BP 3540, respectively, have been brought to the board several times over the last few years but never moved past being discussion items. Although the executive board has approved the revisions, they must now pass the general Academic Senate next week.

The amendments to AP 3430 redact definitions of sexual harassment and outdated figures regarding employee training. The changes to AP 3540, if approved, would no longer require campus officials to provide individuals alleging harassment or misconduct a complaint form, instead requiring the complainant to request one.

The procedure would also be revised to require an investigation in all cases where a complaint is filed. Currently, the procedure asserts that complainants may seek an informal resolution if deemed “appropriate” by involved campus officials, which would nullify the need for investigation.

If approved next week, witnesses or complainants will no longer receive amnesty for drug or alcohol violations that occurred during the incident. Currently, the procedure provides immunity in circumstances where the violations did not involve danger to health or academic dishonesty.

BP 3540 previously stipulated that certain school employees were responsible for addressing, reporting and dealing with incidents of harassment and sexual misconduct. The revision expands responsibility to all Mt. SAC employees.

The amendments passed unanimously.

On March 20, the board of trustees held a special meeting to conduct interviews for five finalist candidates for the position of president/CEO of the school. The interviews were held during a closed session of the meeting, leaving few details for the public.

Following this, the board held more special meetings on March 28, and March 31, to further discuss the appointment in closed sessions. During the March 28 meeting, several faculty members made public comments to endorse Dr. Martha Garcia.

“So has [Garcia] been lobbying you or have you communicated with her?” trustee Laura Santos asked professor of art history Sandra Esslinger, after the latter endorsed the candidate. Esslinger denied having contact with Garcia.

“I support Dr. Garcia because she looks exactly like our students,” said professor of English Maya Alvarez-Gavan. “She understands the struggles that our students faced because she has faced them and continues to face them.”

The remaining two speakers, professor of biology Loni Nguyen and professor of sociology Mica Stewart, both endorsed Garcia with similar rationale. Nguyen, who said she was also speaking on behalf of Faculty Association President Emily Woolery, emphasized that her and Woolery’s endorsements were not official stances of the Faculty Association.

The board has yet to decide on the appointment but a decision is expected to be announced later this month.