Trustees squabble over anti-racism resolution in stalemate


Jun Starkey, News Editor

Emotions erupted at the Board of Trustees meeting Thursday when the anti-racism resolution drafted by board members turned into a heated debate.

Trustee Jonathan Abboud aired his frustrations after Trustees Veronica Gallardo, Craig Neilsen and Marsha Croninger explained why they couldn’t support the anti-racism resolution he and Kate Parker created.

“If someone wants to know what racism looks like in politics and in elected officials, you can look to my side,” Abboud said.

In a outside interview with The Channels, Abboud confirmed he was referring to Croninger, Gallardo and Nielsen in his statement, but that he doesn’t believe they are prejudiced against people of color.

“I don’t think they are racist in the sense that they hate a certain group of people,” Abboud said. “But what’s systemic racism is that you allow the status quo to be upheld.”

Croninger brought her own version of the resolution to give out to board members and members of the public, which Abboud vehemently disagreed with.

“And Marsha, in terms of process, bringing a sheet of paper to a board meeting is not the right process,” he said to Croninger.

He said instead of having the resolution critiqued, the other members instead challenged the existence of racism and said it “invoked a process that doesn’t exist.”

The decision to or not to implement this resolution with the new Interim Superintendent-President Helen Benjamin was originally set for the April 11 meeting, but some board members thought this was an insufficient amount of time for Benjamin to get up-to-speed on these issues.

“My priority is to support [Benjamin] and to protect her time,” Gallardo said. She also said that she thought it would be more respectful to not ask Benjamin to make a decision on an issue that she is not well-versed in.

Parker and President Robert Miller both told Gallardo that Benjamin has said the issue of racism on campus is a priority for her.

Gallardo said she did not support the resolution due to its wording and added that individual members of the board cannot give direct orders to the superintendent, only the entire board has that power.

Superintendent-President Anthony Beebe added that he didn’t believe City College is a racist institution.

“That’s different than saying there’s racism that exists in the institution,” he said.

Croninger said she is “deeply uncomfortable with the resolution as written.”

“We are listing whereases for which there is literally no evidence,” she said, referring to the many qualifying statements on the resolution that claim there is racism on campus.

Croninger said there are “consequences to declaring something as a fact” and that the board has not followed the process in creating the resolution.

Nielsen also took issue with the wording of the resolution.

“The wording that is used [in the resolution] and these matters that have been brought to us over the past few months,” Nielsen said. “It bothers me that none of those issues are truly substantiated.”

Student Trustee Kenny Igbechi said that regardless of if there are facts to support that there is racism on campus, the board should still take preventative measures to “stop bigotry and racism on campus.”

“Whether in the past or in the near future, we shouldn’t allow racist comments on our campus,” Igbechi said.

The board agreed to bring all this information to Benjamin for further discussion at the April 11 meeting.