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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 board confers electric bikes, bluff safety and Title VII violations


The Board of Trustees reconvened on Oct. 5 to discuss Isla Vista Bluff safety, the potential introduction of e-bikes on City College campus, and included comments from Trustee Veronica Gallardo about a Title VII investigation that took place in the spring 2023 semester. 

Grace Wilson, a City College student, rose to the podium during the board’s public comment. 

Wilson asserted that she spoke on behalf of the community of students concerned about their safety surrounding the bluffs on Isla Vista. The City College student created a petition to prompt immediate action to increase the safety of the cliffs after the death of her friend Benny Schurmer.  As of early October, the petition reached nearly 11,000 signatures, less than a month after the death of Schurmer, who’s passing prompted a community wide wake-up call to keep the Isla Vista community safer. 

“As students, most of us have no money and power,” Wilson said. “But we have a voice, and I will use my voice to represent my fellow students.”

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Wilson requested the board to approve “Resolution No. 7 In Support of Isla Vista Bluff Safety,” ending with eight “yes” votes towards the document.

This resolution provides increased aid for community security and resources, and endorsed the eight point plan put forth by County Supervisor Laura Capps for the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. The eight point plan included the facilitation of fencing, lighting, warning signs, bathrooms, education, horticulture, memorial, and enforcement to increase the safety of the Isla Vista community. 

“You do have power, and you just used it.”  Trustee Anna Evertt said to the student. “So continue to do so and inform all of your other classmates. Your voice is your power.”

Following the public comment, the board approved the first phase of the Santa Barbara bike sharing program within City College campus

Santa Barbara BCycle is an electric bike share program with a station near La Cumbre Plaza to Coast Village Road in Montecito, allowing residents and tourists another mode of green transportation. The NPD Group shared that “e-bikes revenue grew 47 percent in the 12 months ending October 2021, compared to the same period in 2020.” 

City College is not unfamiliar with e-bike users on campus, but the board discussed whether the campus can properly facilitate this trend. Trustee Gallardo came forward about her thoughts on increasing e-bike usage on campus. 

“For me this is a big concern to put e-bikes on campus with that type of rate and speed to be coming off onto Cliff Drive, when we know the high risk [of the entrance],” Gallardo said.

Brian Fahnestock, the assistant superintendent-vice president of business services, rose to the podium to address some comments and concerns from the board. 

“It would be great to not have people drive here.” Fahnestock said, emphasizing that he rides his e-bike to school. 

City College will host 20 docking stations and 10 bikes to come to the main campus, costing $30,000. Upon learning this information, the board’s hesitation rose. 

“We are buying into a system with 200 bikes out there,” Fahnestock said, and further explained that this project will hopefully decrease the amount of cars occupying parking on campus. “It would be great to not have people drive here. That’s the whole impetus of this is to have people get here some other way than driving or taking the bus.”

Wrapping up the meeting, the board reported on the outcome of a potential Title VII violation investigation asserted by Trustee Gallardo during a closed session while discussing the extended search for City College’s new superintendent-president last spring semester. The outcome of this investigation determined no Title VII violation or discrimination had occurred.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commision, “Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.”

Trustee Jonathan Abboud explains that the board can not further explain the topics discussed in the closed session during the open session.

“I don’t want to discuss it, but I do want to comment that we have had a lot of these reports and we’ve read a lot of outcomes. If this board is proud to say there is no Title VII violation, why not just tell the public what you did,” Gallardo said, which prompted Abboud to speak upon the matter. Gallardo prompted the board president to listen to her comment, insisting that Abboud did not need to react as outwardly. 

“The reason this is so important is because I know that the [human resources] department has a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Gallardo said. “No Santa Barbara City College employee should ever have to go get their own attorney and never be denied the right to an investigation.” 

The board plans to meet again on Thursday, Nov. 9.

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