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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The senate discusses changes regarding Academic Freedom


The members of the Academic Senate gathered for a meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 30 where they brought discussions of Academic Freedom to the table.

Before the overarching conversation of the evening began, Academic Senate President Melanie Eckford-Prossor voiced that the new presidential search is now underway as City College begins looking for the successor that will follow Interim Superintendent-President, Kindred Murillo. City College hired a team who has been heading the search for the past couple of months. The process began in October when the Board of Trustees started collecting comments from members of the college about desired attributes for the new president. This is also when the board approved the official job description and for the next month, created and worked with a screening committee to prepare for the upcoming hiring process. On Nov. 4, the superintendent/president application opened for the public. The position will close for applicants on Jan. 20 at midnight and the candidate reviews begin thereafter. 

The senate spent the majority of the scheduled meeting talking about the renewals, revisions, and additions that they would like to make to the California code regarding Academic Freedom. The simple dictionary definition of Academic Freedom is the “freedom to teach or learn without interference,” as stated on the City College website. Academic Freedom gives instructors and administrators the freedom to choose course material and protects rights within the context of teaching. However, this is a layered issue that affects many levels of the education system. The senate used the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) paper to outline their discussion.

“ASCCC involves everyone at every level of an academic institution,” Eckford-Prossor said. “It goes into curriculum, it goes into evaluations, it goes into contracts, grading policies and security.”

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One of the key agreements for protecting academic freedom is the importance of individual rights being defined, defended, and adjudicated according to a presentation reviewed by the Senate.

“I am deeply concerned that we now have 38 states that want to outlaw any discussion of race and non-binary gender,” senate member Tara Carter said. “I would like to take some serious action in protecting the integrity and the rights of our faculty to teach our curriculum the way it is meant to be done.”

Carter is also the chair of the Curriculum Advisory Committee (CAC) at City College which leads the development and advisory of the college curriculum. The CAC is preparing to launch a new tab on the website labeled “Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity and Accessibility” which will provide faculty and staff with access to linked resources, a variety of educational courses, and professional development opportunities. 

In preparation for their last meeting of the semester, the academic senate plans to create a plan for their goals involving Academic Freedom. Members such as Chris Johnson and Kathy O’Connor emphasized the importance of involving a review committee for the discussion that includes the faculty association and the senate administration.

“To help resolve or mediate these issues and to help prevent them,” O’Connor said.

In their next and final meeting, the senate will discuss their ideals and revisions of Academic Freedom in more detail.

The next meeting will be held on Dec. 14 before the semester comes to a close.

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