Can’t we all just get along

I am the rightful leader!
Illustration by Maria Salvador, Oct. 8, 2013

Over the last month two qualified woman, Vice President of Academic Policy Kathy Oborn and Vice President of Curriculum Margarita Pillado, placed senators and students in an awkward positions as they each claimed to be the rightful Academic Senate president.

While students crashed classes and continued to deal with unfinished construction and no cafeteria, the senate fought over who got to lead meetings.

The agenda for Sept. 9 included 24 other items that were not addressed.

Instead, the senate took 20 minutes to adopt an agenda, and over two hours debating bylaws and what constituted as official and unofficial, only to postpone any final decision for another meeting.

The Academic Senate is the official voice of the faculty in academic and professional items of campus-wide concern according to the President’s First Monday Report released on Jan. 7, 2013.

This all started in mid-August with the sudden resignation of newly-elected Academic Senate President John Zayac.

What followed were countless emails exchanged by different members of the Academic Senate Executive Board that soon became a “he said, she said” regarding who would replace Zayac.

All of this was done behind closed doors, but it was soon brought to light when the Academic Senate met for their first official meeting.

It was then that it became even more evident that a successor would not be named without shouting matches.

Outside sources such as representatives of the District Academic Senate and a parliamentarian from Los Angeles Valley College were brought in to draw lines in the sand and became referees for what should have been a simple conversation among the Executive Board.

Director of Cooperative Education Ronald Smetzer, who said that he previously served as secretary of the Academic Senate and vice president for the District Academic Senate, describes the events that took place in August as “shameful.”

“There’s a total lack of understanding of the Robert’s Rules of Order and the [Academic Senate] constitution. There’s a lot of learning that needs to take place with this body,” Smetzer said during a September meeting. “I know how the parliamentary process is supposed to work and this isn’t it.”

When the smoke cleared Kathy Oborn was named the new Academic Senate President, but the possibility of an election in the spring of 2014 has the potential for another round of name calling.

The Senate must now come together – if not for their own good, at least for those that they represent – leaving aside the immaturity displayed by some of its members.