Letters to the Editor of the Eagle

Heroes of Conscience

To the Eagle,

August 18, 1997

As I followed the developments at Mendocino College over the past months, I wasn't all that suprised. At that the issues ever got beyond a few certain walls, yes, thanks Eagle, but not at the issues themselves. I'd seen such before in everything from county government to the grocery store.

That being the case, I had followed ensuing developments with interest and concern but nothing really got my blood rushing. But then I read a copy of the May 1997 Eagle.

The main thing that leapt out at me was a statement made by Trustee Diane Pauli, "everybody on this campus has a job to do..." The kids need to pay attention in the classroom".

Excuse me? As Editor Legrand pointed out, these controversies effect students, or one would hope they would, therefore effecting their ability to study.

The student interest in such is not only a response to being hampered in their learning but is an intrinsic part of it.

In addition, students cannot and should not be expected to learn and thrive if they are unable to respect the administration presented with the duty to steer the college in the right direction.

Trustee Pauli, whose opinion I'm sure is held by many in the administration, not only doesn't respect the students as students, she doesn't respect them as citizens and as people. In making such a statement Pauli, and those like her deserve no respect and, in my opinion, are not fit to fulfill the positions they hold.

In embracing such a policy on education these individuals are encouraging students to blindly plow ahead in the classroom without questioning or looking around and saying "Hey, wait a minute, I think..." In doing so they are creating, or at least attempting to, a generation of uninspired rank and file automatons just like themselves.

Fortunately, some of us escaped previous automation factories, which is why the Eagle is being attacked. This is nothing new of course. Schools have been after student papers and such since time immemorial. The free speech movement like my mother was involved in at UCSC, UCLA, and SJS in the 70's were just the first time there was a real uprising. And I thought such uprisings were a thing of the past. But I guess not.

The way things are going at MCC, it is looking as if an uprising will be the only thing that will truly save it. What that might consist of I don't know. But hopefully enough citizens and students have been stirred so that the changes that are needed will in some way be executed.

Whether I will be a part of that is up in the air right now. As a high school senior graduating this fall after 12 years of home based independent study, it is a rough transition to go to a classroom. Having everything else that is happening at MCC to think about as well, will cause me to at least slow down my plans. Or I may give it everything and become a student who works hard to effect change.

In any event, I thank all those who have been, and are, actively involved in this ongoing process, in particular Susan Bell. It was Susan Bell who really blew the whistle on this whole ordeal and is now faced with losing her job. To quote The Humanist, March/April 1997, page 24, "Whistleblowers become heroes of conscience because they believe in the most basic moral precept: honesty. They should be hailed as major heroes of a democracy."

So to Susan Bell, the Eagle, the CCMC and everyone involved, I thank you and I respect you. It is you who are the true heroes of this democracy, this college, this country and this world. I hope to one day join you at Mendocino College and to learn and work with you in a pleasant and nurturing environment.

Warmest Regards,

Will W. Martin

Ed. note: Thanks for taking the time to write us ,Will. And give our thanks to your mother for raising such a responsive, responsible young man. Mendo could benefit from students like you - hope to see you on campus. M.L.

Trustee's Responsibilities

To: Eagle

Attached is the letter I read as a public statement at the May 7, 1997 Mendocino College Board of Trustees meeting. I would very much appreciate if the Eagle would publish this letter.


May 7, 1997

To: Mendocino College Board of Trustees:

During recent board meetings the Concerned Citizens for Mendocino College (CCMC) has reminded the board that its primary allegiance is to the external community. As a member of the advisory panel I listened to my former co-member on the panel quote some of the board's duties from the 1997 Trustees Manual, published by the Community Colleges League of California, which he reminded us is the board's bible. After hearing my co-member say several times that this document provides for some marvelous reading, I decided to read it myself.

I discovered the 1997 Trustees Manual does state the board of trustees are the "guardians" and "stewards" of the public interest. On page 2-11, I found the following statement, "A board's primary allegiance should be to the external community."

However, page 2-11 continues to say, "boards act as both bridges and buffers between the college and the community." It defines these two roles as,

"The 'bridge' role is fulfilled, in part, by creating and maintaining linkages with different communities, in a district. The connections made and information gained through them enable board members to better represent the external communities as they make board decisions. The 'buffer' role involves resisting inappropriate intrusion into the internal affairs of the institution by outside groups and agencies or individuals. .Colleges should not simply be arms of government or external interest groups, as institutions, they must reflect, balance and anticipate diverse social needs."

In reading these sections of the 1997 Trustees Manual, it is clear to me the board's responsibility to the external community includes a recognition that there is no single external community. The external community is an aggregate of many diverse communities. It is the board's duty to acknowledge and consider the concerns raised by any of the communities it serves. However, it is important for the board to recognize that each community is only one of many communities served by the college, and that each community will make its presence known only when issues arise that are of direct interest to that community.

It is also clear to me it is the board's responsibility to keep outside groups from intruding into the internal affairs of the college. As the board has so correctly pointed out in open session, shared governance, and not the board of trustees, is the appropriate arena to hear many of the concerns raised by the CCMC. In my opinion, the CCMC has attempted to circumvent the internal processes of the college and undermine the administration by inappropriately bringing issues directly to the board of trustees.

In closing, I would like to offer my support to allow the board of trustees to freely carry out all of its responsibilities to the many communities it serves.


Lucia Giovannetti
Ed note: Lucia is both a member of the classified staff working in Computer Services and a part-time instructor of computer Science at the college

President should resign!

Dear Editor,

I have asked for the resignation of the President, Vice-president and the full Board of Trustees of Mendocino College, based on the misuse of public funds with reference to EOPS funds that are provided by the state government to this college.

Money that is earmarked to be used to serve and assist low income students to attend this college has been channeled to serve this college in other areas. This action is not what those funds were intended to be used for under the government's guidelines. No one is above the law, especially those who are familiar with the proper procedures that the state government demands.

What has been very distubing to me, as well as others, is the unknown number of students that have been denied the opportunity to enter this college because of the Administration's devious financial move to use the federal money as they thought best. They conned the Board of Trustees to approval their decision.

No one, no one, is above the law. The president and others feel they are, and the law has been clearly broken no matter how you try and sugar-coat it. The law has been clearly broken.

I am seeking all of those in this law-abiding community who could have attended this college, and those parents who have sons and daughters who attend this college, to attend all of the coming Board of Trustees meetings and voice their objections to the president's actions and the Board's shameful approval.

This college is suppose to serve the community and that's what it's going to do. Right now the truth is being mugged, and so many of us abused, that when the truth was told, the College broke the web site link to the newspaper (Eagle).

To those of you who are attending this college, be thankful you got in, and think about the fact that you could be one of those that didn't make it- not due to lack of your abilities but due to misuse of public funds.

Truly a fellow student,

Scott B. Smith, Jr.

Ed. Note:
The Board of Trustees meets the first Wednesday of each month in the Board Room (room 1060) in the Administration building on the Ukiah campus.

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