The Academic Senate presented the results of their Town Hall Survey to a room full of faculty, staff and students with representatives of the administration noticeably absent April 17.
A total of 173 faculty and staff participated in the survey to measure the climate of the campus in the lead up to the town hall.
“The rationale for the town hall is to facilitate the discussion of ideas and have effective communication with various campus constituencies, including the Board of Trustees,” said town hall committee chair Melissa Michelson.
Overall, respondents provided a bleak picture of the campus climate:
- 79% of respondents believed that the administration is not operating with transparency
- 72% of respondents disagreed that established policies and procedures were being followed at PCC.
- 64% of respondents believed collegial consultation is happening poorly or very poorly at PCC.
Jane Hallinger, visual arts instructor, who went through a similar situation in the 1980s with what she described as a “very draconian” board, was surprised by the survey results.
“I never in the history of PCC have seen three no confidence votes, nor do I remember seeing a survey this caustic…,” she said.
Faculty Association staff member Victor Interiano said that the trustees’ absence at the Town Hall was very sad.
“I find it disconcerting that this is a town hall and that not a single member of the administration could have been part of the panel given there are students here with educational concerns they could have directly answered,” he said. “It speaks volumes as to the state of affairs at this college.”
The Board sent a letter to Michelson in October 2013 stating that they would be unable to attend the Academic Senate town halls because they violate the Brown Act. On February 28, 2014, Board of Trustees President Anthony Fellow reiterated that position.
“The Board of Trustees must conduct all regular scheduled business meetings and study sessions according to the Brown Act,” he said. “The Brown Act does not permit the Board of Trustees or the Academic Senate to hold unagendized or impromptu public meetings.”
The lack of collegial consultation at PCC was the first topic discussed during the town hall.
Academic Senate President Eduardo Cairo discussed the alleged violations of Title V over the last two years and how changes were made by the administration without mutual agreement. He said that the changes to block scheduling, class sizes, and the cancelling of winter session should not have happened.
Academic Senate Vice President Kris Pilon said it appeared that some policies were not being followed because people did not know what the policies were and offered a solution.
“At the beginning of every school year, have representatives of the administration meet with representatives of the faculty and go over all the policies…affected by shared governance and sign a contract saying that we understand these policies and we agree to abide by them,” she said.
The second discussion involved transparency.
Cairo discussed how the Academic Senate was able to force the CAPM meetings to change from closed-door to open-door meetings under the Brown Act.
“If we remain diligent and constant in our moral values and our ethics, we can change things for the better,” he said.
The final topic on policies quickly focused on hiring policies.
Yolanda McKay, sculpture instructor, said the hiring of part-time faculty to replace full-time retiring faculty has increased.
Hallinger asked why these positions aren’t being filled with full-time staff.
“There is supposed to be a one-year limit where you can have a part timer in the position and then you are supposed to fill it,” she said.
Alexis Moore, a visual arts and media studies instructor representing adjunct faculty, noted the growing importance of adjunct faculty at PCC as well as their limits.
“There are over 900 adjuncts teaching classes at PCC,” she said. “That’s over 40% of classes at PCC.” “While full-time faculty are paid to provide 5.5 office hours per week, adjuncts only receive 22.5 minutes per week.”
The lack of student assistance outside of class was highlighted when Counselor James Aragon stated that there are 20 full-time counselors for 25,000 students.
Students praised the town hall meeting. Joseph Dominguez, social and behavioral sciences, said that the town hall let him know that there is some kind of organization on campus that cares.
“I really appreciate how the panel was willing to answer the questions that (the audience) had,” said Michelle Tang, accounting.
Despite the compliments, complaints and suggested solutions offered during the town hall, Michelson summed up the one problem with it.
“(Attendance) was a nice mix of staff, faculty and students. The only bit that was missing was the board. We can talk to each other all we want, it’s just talking to the hand it seems,” she said.
The Academic Senate presented its evaluation of President Rocha at the Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday. Next fall, the college’s campus-wide climate survey that concluded Friday will be presented to various campus groups.