The Board of Trustees repealed two highly criticized board policies on Tuesday in a 5-1 vote, with Trustee Victoria Gallardo dissenting and Trustee President Martha Croninger absent.
The two nullified policies, BP 3150 “Optimal College Size and Efficiency” and BP 1300 “Local Service Area Emphasis,” have been highly contested by many faculty since they were first passed by the board during their Oct. 12 meeting. Students have also felt strongly enough towards the policies to organize a rally for Wednesday, Oct. 25, to demonstrate their opposition to the policies. The rally, however, has been canceled.
In response to concerns from faculty, staff, students and administrators, Superintendent-President Beebe suspended both policies during the week after the Oct. 12 meeting. The move effectively froze their implementation until the college could discuss the policies further, but still kept the policies on the books for later implementation.
However, following a call between Trustee Jonathan Abboud and Beebe Oct. 23, which discussed the disruption the board policies have caused the college, Abboud decided to call a special meeting of the board.
The only action item on the agenda was a single recommendation from Beebe— the immediate repeal of the two board policies.
“A problem arises when a board policy promotes the classification of the student body in favor of one group or another. To single out any one group over the rest flies in the face of our statements to serve all students,” Beebe said, addressing the “Local Emphasis” policy. “I know this was not the intention of Board Policy 1300, but some have construed it to be that way. . . and perception is reality in some cases.”
During the meeting, three people spoke during the period for public comment. Two of them —
Priscilla Butler, academic senate president, and Paul Jarrell, vice president of educational services — gave their input on why the board policies needed to be repealed.
Butler said that BP 1200 “Mission” and BP 5052 “Open Enrollment” already address issues of student access and success, making the “Local Emphasis” policy unnecessary. Furthermore, in meetings she has attended to discuss the “Local Emphasis” policy, she heard people describe the policy as “discriminatory” and “xenophobic.”
“The appearance of isolationism, localism and preference of some students over others has struck at the hearts of the faculty and staff who serve all of our students,” said Butler.
Monty Mason, a retired resident of Santa Barbara who taught at the college for about 10 years, made the suggestion that the “Optimal Size” policy need not be repealed if the language regarding that optimal size was changed.
“Do not mandate [the policy]. . . use permissive language: recommend that these be considered ‘best practices’ by the administration of the college,” said Mason. “You lose nothing. . . and you will take away the perception that you are jamming things down the college’s throat.”
After the comments by the public, each board member and the student trustee made a brief statement regarding their position on whether the board should appeal the policies.
Trustees Peter Haslund, Marty Blum, and Marianne Kugler expressed their support in repealing the policies,
“If I make a mistake, I correct it, and move on,” said Haslund, quoting former U.S. President Harry Truman. “I think we did act precipitously. . . [though] the policies were not enacted with malevolence, but as possible solutions to a very real problem.”
Kugler voiced that any numbers used in future board policies should be goals, giving more flexibility to the college but still providing the college with firm guidelines to aim for.
Trustees Veronica Gallardo and Craig Neilson had a number of reservations toward supporting the policies’ repeals, however.
“I cannot withhold something from the community when I have the ability to act here, now,” said Gallardo. “It does not make sense to repeal, and then have nothing. Bring something, and then we’ll repeal the policies.”
Nielsen said he was disappointed that the board didn’t hear objections to the content of the policies until recently, as the content has been discussed since February. Furthermore, he said that the board did not err in their responsibility to give due consideration to the concerns they have heard.
With the repeal of the policies, Beebe will to coordinate the college to find enrollment management and efficiency policies that the college can agree to for addressing the budget deficit. He stressed to the board, though, that the college has been working on these issues diligently already, and will continue to do so from here on out.