The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Guest Column: Building community and healing the campus climate

The Channels Opinion Pages | GUEST COLUMN
Hong Lieu, Webmaster. Image Courtesy of SBCC.
Hong Lieu, Webmaster. Image Courtesy of SBCC.
Ruie Garnica, Purchasing and Warehouse Manager
Ruie Garnica, Purchasing and Warehouse Manager. Image courtesy of Garnica.
Raeanne Napoleon. Assistant Professor, Academic Senate President. Image Courtesy of SBCC.
Raeanne Napoleon. Assistant Professor, Academic Senate President. Image Courtesy of SBCC.





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We three are the co-chairs of the Campus Climate Advisory Council—a monthly town hall created for the community to speak openly about issues at City College—and trying to boil down the current “campus climate” into one column is an impossible task. 

As such, we can only speak to our own experiences and represent ourselves. We cannot speak for any of the groups we represent—whether that be our races, genders, professional groups, or any other label that can be applied. However, we do hope there is some commonality in our experience that will resonate with others in the campus community.

From the start, the three of us have shared that none of us feel like we know what we’re doing. We’re learning as we go. In some ways, this has proven advantageous. 

It allows us to enter each meeting with humility and interact with everyone on an equal plane.

We’re not experts and we do not have answers. We each have different experiences, in life and on campus. Most importantly, we want to be part of supporting others.   

Our last town hall occurred days after remarks made by Vice President of School Extended Learning Joyce Coleman in an Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee meeting.

By the end of that Town Hall, we felt a real sense of community, solidarity, and kinship in the (virtual) room. We were so grateful to everyone there that shared their honesty and vulnerability—it was one of the most authentic examples of community-building City College has seen in a while.

We felt the potential to be part of a truly transformative moment if we can build on the trust established in that meeting.

Sometimes, all it takes is knowing folks have each other’s backs, and we felt that by the time the meeting had concluded.

We hope to build on that solidarity, but there isn’t a measurable outcome for any of this work. We hope that this lack of expectations may also prove beneficial one day.

Even though we made some real progress at that meeting, and we hope to keep chipping away, there still is a long way to go.

First and foremost, there is still a general lack of trust on campus, along with a fear of retaliation when speaking on these issues.

This fear of retaliation prevents people from telling their truth and being heard. From this lack of trust comes a fear of conflict and a lack of accountability. It seems to be this continuous “chicken and egg” problem—a lack of trust, which leads to suspicion that erodes open and honest conversations, which then creates a lack of accountability.

Confidence in this process is the backbone of a healthy organization, and we don’t have that confidence right now.

Additionally, folks feel isolated within their areas of the college. They are hesitant to reach out beyond their areas due to this lack of trust.

Regardless of these problems, the three of us are hopeful. We hope our efforts play a part in true healing for many in the campus community. And we hope we are working towards a positive campus climate.


The Channels welcomes guest columns for consideration from members of the campus community. Please contact [email protected].

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