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Council members debate campus mandates in latest CPC meeting


Tensions were high as debates ensued over upcoming changes being made to the City Colleges’ COVID-19 mitigation plan at the Oct. 18 College Planning Council meeting. 

The CPC serves as an advisory group corresponding to the interim superintendent-president on issues concerning economics, policies, and plans. 

Since the beginning of this school year, Interim Superintendent-President Kindred Murillo and members of CPC have been collaborating to make changes to our current Covid-19 mitigation plan. These changes don’t come easy to agree on and the complicated processes can cause conflict during meetings. 

Currently, City College requires a vaccine or approved exemption in order to attend in-person classes and masks are only required when we are in medium and high tiers. After gaining input from CPC members and gathering data from surveys sent to faculty, staff, admin, and students, Murillo presented a COVID-19 mitigation draft resolution at this week’s meeting. 

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Members of CPC mostly agreed on the removal of the vaccine mandate but masking was a much more difficult issue to navigate. 

Murillo mentioned that these policies were discussed at the last meeting. Three people were in agreement with the present-day tier system, four people voted to require masks in all tiers, and one person supported the complete removal of a mask requirement.  

Murillo made her position clear in the issue by saying that she doesn’t believe in controlling the autonomy of students.

“I agree with the issue of support, but I don’t think I agree with the issue of require,” she said. 

Changes to our present-day COVID-19 mitigation plan presented by Murillo included removing the vaccine mandate entirely and continuing our policy of not requiring masks when we are in the low tier. Murillo explained that she felt this plan accurately reflected the input she received from CPC members, yet others loudly disagreed. 

“I thought there was a clear majority to try and support the people that need this (masks) and we didn’t know exactly how we’d do it but we’d have time before spring to figure it out,” Past President of the Academic Senate Kimberly Monda said. 

According to Monda, it was agreed that professors should have the ability to require masks in their respective workspaces. 

Other members supported this position and shared that they too felt as though this draft resolution did not reflect the overall consensus of the council. 

“I completely agree with Kim and I really disagree with your characterization of the last meeting. This was a unified voice of CPC saying we need masking in some form, specifically supporting faculty in requiring masks in their workspaces. The fact that it’s not in this updated resolution is an extreme disappointment and honestly makes me question the whole point of the college planning council,” said Jamie Campbell, representative of the faculty association. 

While many council members agreed that the draft didn’t fully encompass what was said to be agreed upon last meeting, others were happy with the changes and were in compliance with Murillo’s stance on masking. 

Various members expressed that their main concern with a mask mandate is how City College would punish students refusing to wear a mask and how students unable to wear a mask due to medical reasons would be accommodated. 

Vice President of School of Extended Learning, Carola Smith questioned why City College would require masks when other colleges don’t. 

“How can we justify a mask mandate if UCSB and other institutions aren’t required to wear them? At a certain point it becomes an infringement on people’s freedom. We have to consider both sides,” Smith said. 

Other members presented ideas that would work for both sides of the debate. Emelie Beckman, Associate Students Government representative, suggested the use of ‘markers’ that could be placed in front of workspaces to indicate whether or not a mask is required within that area. 

“We need to start trying to think of solutions that respect people who can’t wear masks and also people who prefer masking,” said Tricia Mautone, representative of the academic senate. 

No decisions were made at this meeting and the CPC will continue to discuss the new plan at their next meeting taking place on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

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