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Opinion: PCC Board of Trustees Obviously Doesn’t Hear Students’ Voices

Published on Friday, March 9, 2012 | 8:24 am
 

I am writing in response to the Pasadena City College Board of Trustees meeting on March 7th. (http://www.pasadena.edu/board/granicus.cfm)

First, I wanted to say that I am disappointed that the Board seemed to hear my (I spoke before item i), and other students and teachers words about the importance of classes and student access and the mistakes the Board has been making, and yet the next few conversations and items on the agenda were about further slashing enrollment (by Berlinda Brown), cutting winter session, and cutting class hours to a “carnegie hour” schedule (by the whole board).

The Board obviously did not hear the student voices yet — how much pressure do we need to apply before you start to take action, instead of just listening?

Right now there is an ocean between your words and actions.

I want to follow up on the mention of a Time, Place, and Manner future agenda item. While it may be true that the board felt “threatened” by protests, that does not give them the right to limit our freedom of speech. Our nations founders declared their independence to break free from the tyranny of a nation that denied them civil liberties– what makes you think that we are willing to give up those rights today?

Having police search our backpacks at the door of the Board meeting on March 7th (illegal search and seizure), cutting the video feed of the last board meeting when students protested (infringing on freedom of speech), and continuing to prioritize buildings and big salaries while asking students to move to a trimester system with shorter classes will be met with stronger action by the students, and legal action if necessary.

There is NO place for a Time Place and Manner rule on this campus, or any other campus.

Last week I was handing out flyers on the school budget cuts when five PCC cadets came up to me and said I “need a permit” to hand them out.

Does this kind of intimidation belong on any campus? How would you feel if five police officers surrounded you, insisting “stop handing out flyers without a permit”?

I called the PCC police the next day and asked them under which school rule they had the right to stop me from handing them out. After a half hour on the phone, and three hours waiting for a call, there was no answer. I filed a complaint with the PCC police, and received a call the next day from an officer who apologized for the cadets, admitted there was currently no “Time, Place, and Manner” rule, and the cadets had been retrained.

And now, days later, Mr. Martin is injecting a Time Place and Manner agenda item. It is sad that when we need our freedom of speech the most, people like Mr. Martin, with agreement from President Rocha, try to take it away.

I have contacted the American Civil Liberties Union. They have the resources to challenge these continued infringements on student rights. From the students perspective, the Board and PCC administration are ramping up infringements, rather than dial them down. Instead of learning from the mistakes of the last few weeks you are choosing to repeat them, and accelerate them. If a “Time Place and Manner” item is passed, or if the Board continues to use police presence for illegal search and seizure, if the Board or campus administrators continue to lock students out of meetings I promise you that the students will fight it using every resource, share it with every newspaper, spread it across the internet for all to see, and share these infringements far and wide and and vote you out of office.

I promise you that you will see new faces around you if you continue to harass and ignore the student voices. We will vote you out and we will not stand for these actions anymore.

We are tired of empty words. It is time that you open yourselves to student voices. I move that you remove “Time Place and Manner” from any agenda and never bring it up again. Do you think the students do not know that this has been tried before, every few years? Just because this is a 2 year school does not mean students have a 2 year memory.

Right now you have a choice to make. You can continue to think that you are doing a great job, continue on your current path and see board members around you voted away. Or you can immediately halt the infringements on student’s constitutional rights, admit that things need to be done differently to prioritize classes, and let your actions reflect that.

I know that the Board of comprised of good people. But sometimes good people make the wrong choices. Please act responsibly and start making the right ones.

Andrew Kane Bott
Pasadena City College student

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