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PCC Board President Responds to Student’s Complaints

Published on Saturday, March 10, 2012 | 11:40 am
 

Geoffrey Baum, President, Pasadena City College Board of Trustees, emailed the following response to a letter by PCC student Andrew Bott which was published yesterday in Pasadena Now.  Please see: “PCC Board of Trustees Obviously Doesn’t Hear Students’ Voices.”

 

Dear Andrew:

Thank you for coming Wednesday night, staying to witness to the entire board meeting and expressing your opinions as we considered the policy recommendations about how to address the budget crisis.

Thanks also for sharing the link to the video coverage of the Board meeting. The Board of Trustees has worked hard to make sure the proceedings and discussions are open, transparent, inclusive and collegial.

As you heard, the overriding budget priorities adopted by The Board of Trustees are:

1. Minimize the impact of state budget cuts on student access to classes

2. Minimize the impact of the state budget cuts on PCC employees

You can find the document online and distributed with the board packet: http://www.pasadena.edu/MeetDocs/board_15463_C.pdf

We also took time to explain the more than $10 million in cuts that have already hit PCC and absorbed before any class sections were canceled. Also, unlike other school and college districts, not a single member of the PCC faculty or staff has been laid off or furloughed during this budget crisis (now in its fourth year). Nor has there been a reduction in benefits to PCC employees, who receive a fully funded pension and free medical, dental and vision benefits for themselves and their dependent family members.

The District has taken extraordinary measures to protect PCC students as well as faculty and staff during this budget crisis.

Unfortunately, there will be even more severe reductions in funding next year. PCC will no longer be able to completely shield the impact of these cuts on students, faculty and staff.

The Board has instructed the administration to meet these challenges and minimize the impacts while ensuring the financial stability of the District.

Finally, the Board is committed to ensuring freedom of expression, even if it means we must endure attacks, insults and misinformation during our meetings. This is one of the most precious aspects of our democratic process. In my professional life, I have worked to protect and honor journalists who spoke truth to power, exposed institutional corruption and risked their own lives in order to keep the public informed. It is an overarching principle I have maintained in my personal, professional and political life.

There is no desire or attempt to restrict freedom of expression at PCC. However, the board is also responsible to protect the safety of students, faculty and staff. The board directed the district to take reasonable measures to maintain a safe campus environment in compliance with our policy, which states:

It is the policy of the Pasadena Area Community College District that Pasadena City College seeks to maintain a safe, orderly, and constructive campus environment in which there is freedom to learn and respect for the dignity of all members of the College community. Students are expected to be responsible, honest, and non-violent in exercising their rights to free inquiry and free speech.

One just has to watch the news to know that campuses are no longer safe havens from gun violence. Also school board meetings have been the scene for shootings and other physical attacks. If you need me to send you links to some examples, just let me know.

The Pasadena Police Department presented credible information about new threats to the physical safety of students, faculty, staff and members of the public at PCC. In response, the Board directed that there will be no restriction on public comment and expression, but we need to take some measures maintain a safe and orderly environment to conduct the business of the district.

I look forward to seeing you at future board meetings and hearing your thoughts as the District deals with the many difficult decisions that need to be made in the coming months.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey Baum
President, Pasadena City College Board of Trustees
Member, California Community Colleges Board of Governors

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