After over an hour of public comment chastising President Mark Rocha and his administration at Wednesday night’s Board of Trustees meeting, Rocha delivered a lengthy defense of his administration. The only problem was hardly anyone was there to hear it.
Officials of the Associated Students, the Faculty Association, an ad-hoc faculty committee and the Calendar Committee, and various members of the community spoke out during public comment, directing attacks at Rocha and the Board about the consequences of the cancellation of the winter intersession, among other issues.
Rocha’s impassioned response was delivered to fewer than 30 people, since most of the over 200 people in attendance left following the end of public comment.
“Most of the people I had hoped to have talked to have left… I listened respectfully to all of the comments,” Rocha said. “You can imagine what it feels like to be a part of it.”
In his response, Rocha also likened sitting through the public comment to being a defendant on trial. “You’re sitting there wondering in the jury box ‘I don’t even know why we are having a trial, we should just send the guy right straight to jail,’” he said.
“Then the defense gets up and says this is the same evidence, same stuff and sitting in the jury box and saying, ‘They must have the wrong guy,’” he continued.
“If you can admit tonight the possibility that human beings have seen things through different points of view, let that be the beginning and the continuation of a conversation that will move us forward.”
Associated Students President Simon Fraser said during public comments that the student perspective should have been more carefully considered.
“I want to be clear that these are not merely students. These are 26,000 people with needs, lives and plans … These are people paying attention to local politics,” he said.
“The problems we are now facing with transfer students … could have been avoided.”
Other AS board members also spoke during public comment to formally present the AS vote of no confidence and censure resolutions. The resolutions, copies of which were passed out to all attendees, explicitly call for the Board to “remove Dr. Mark Rocha as the Superintendent/President, regardless of the contract situation.”
Rocha defended his tenure at PCC by addressing the problems he inherited as well as the progress he and his administration made.
“When I took over, I was the fourth superintendent in four years, I’m not responsible for what happened in that time,” Rocha said. “If in the wisdom of the board, you want to have a fifth superintendent, all of those problems will still be there.”
Eduardo Cairo, a history instructor, earlier had questioned the Board’s overwhelming support for the president in a Board statement issued to the Courier after the AS vote of no confidence.
“I was dumbfounded by the evaluation itself. I don’t see how the Board and [Rocha] are able to come to this understanding,” Cairo said. “It is as if you and I and the Board operate on two different worlds in regard to this campus.”
Rocha understood there were different perspectives on campus issues.
“We said, ‘Look, there is a reason for differing points of view,’” said Rocha. “There was quite a bit of stuff [said] here. I will continue to do [my job] until the Board asks me not to.”