Council continues debate around equity committee, transparency

Council continues debate around equity committee, transparency

Serena Guentz, Features Editor

Tensions ran high at the College Planning Council Tuesday when a faculty member read a letter in support of Melissa Menendez’s recent resignation from the Strategic Enrollment Management Committee, signed by 53 staff and faculty members.

Menendez, an English professor, recently resigned from the Strategic Enrollment Management Committee because she “felt [her] integrity and dignity were being compromised,” according to a letter she read during public comment in a recent Academic Senate meeting.

During the public comment of Tuesday’s College Planning Council meeting, Psychology Professor Stan Bursten read the letter standing in solidarity with Menendez’s decision.

“We support her decision because what she describes at these committee meetings cannot be considered shared governance,” the letter read. “We strongly believe that ALL voices need to have equal weight at the table.”

The council also discussed approving the Student Equity Committee charge during its meeting. 

After Director of Institutional Assessment, Research and Planning Z Reisz presented the Student Equity Committee charge, multiple councilmembers expressed concern that the liaison from the Student Equity and Achievement Committee would be a voting member when normally liaisons don’t vote.

Some councilmembers were also concerned that there are problems with the decision making process of the Student Equity Committee.

“There is no process established and there’s one individual who is making a lot of decisions in [the Student Equity and Achievement Committee] and that happens to be an administrator,” said Academic Senate Representative Ruth Morales. “I’m not comfortable with moving this forward until there is a process established… We need to be a little more transparent.”

The committee is co-chaired by Dean of Student Affairs Arturo Rodriguez and Instructor Laurie Vasquez.

Morales also suggested that the liaison from the Student Equity and Achievement Committee be elected by that committee rather than appointed by an administrator.

Academic Senate President Patricia Stark later acknowledged the letter read during public comment when questioning the model of having three student representatives, three staff representatives, three faculty representatives and three manager representatives on the Student Equity Committee.

“I hear that this structure which plays out in different committees has been a problem and then I hear it depends on who you put on this committee,” said Stark. “Which is why I am very, very aggressive about outreach and putting people on the committee.”

After about 35 minutes of discussion on the topic, the council unanimously voted to approve the Student Equity Committee charge with the exception that the Student Equity and Achievement Committee liaison be a non-voting member who is elected by that committee.

“It’s been a good discussion,” Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami said. “To me, you create committees to solve problems so you don’t want committees to become problems.”

The College Planning Council will reconvene at its next meeting on Feb. 18.