Out of 28 speakers at meeting, one conveys support of chancellor.
By Katherine Garcia
Two hundred students, faculty and staff, many carrying signs with messages such as “Cut Bruce Loose,” attended the citizens-to-be-heard portion of the regular board meeting Tuesday in Killen Center.
Twenty-seven speakers criticized Chancellor Bruce Leslie; one spoke in his favor.
Members of the Student Leadership Coalition, an unofficial group from Palo Alto College, invited students to attend the meeting.
Simon Sanchez, computer science sophomore at Palo Alto, said, “We are seeking the removal of Dr. Leslie because of his reluctance to work with the colleges, the faculty and the students, and feel that his actions have been detrimental to the success of students at the Alamo Colleges.”
He said freshman students were notified of the removal of majors from degrees only after the fall semester began, and the change was not discussed with students or faculty.
By law, the eight trustees at the meeting could not respond other than to enforce the 3- or 5-minute time limits. The ninth trustee, District 4 trustee Albert Herrera, submitted his resignation March 15.
Melissa Esparza, PAC kinesiology sophomore, said student success is achieved through assisting students in identifying and reaching their goals. A student is supposed to attend a safe and warm environment, she said. “With the recent major change and the lack of communication to the students attending the institution, the trust is gone.”
She also said the 50-50 full- to part-time faculty ratio the chancellor pushed at each college is not helpful.
Esparza said students need faculty who are available and not afraid of losing their jobs.
She criticized the lack of a college nurse at Palo Alto.
“The district needs to focus on programs that would better the students and the community,” she said, suggesting a women’s empowerment center.
PAC psychology sophomore Laura Quiroz said she recently filed a Title 9 complaint against her boyfriend, who also attends the college. Title 9 prevents students from discrimination, including relationship violence.
She said she has received text messages, emails and other social media contacts from him and still sees him on campus which has made going to college difficult for her. She said she considered dropping out three months shy of getting a degree.
She said although he faces criminal charges for an alleged assault, Alamo Colleges is allowing him to attend classes. She said this is disrespectful to victims of domestic violence.
“From my point of view, it seems as if they (administrators) are rewarding and praising his unlawful behavior,” she said, adding the chancellor should step down if he thinks this is acceptable behavior.
PAC music Professor Juan Tejeda said, “The major problem I see is that while we at Alamo Colleges tout ‘students first,’ the students are the last to be asked what they want and what they need from their colleges for their education and their academic success.”
Amy Kastely, law professor at St. Mary’s University, said the district must make the community college experience as good as it can be. “We need to recruit excellent faculty and to give them the resources that they need to teach,” she said. “The bloating of the administration budget of the ACC is, in my view, unsupportable, particularly when the community colleges I know do not have the basic resources that they need to provide a quality education.”
Mike Settles, history professor at this college, spoke on behalf of the Faculty Legal Association. “The students are paying more, they’re getting less, nobody listens to them and they’re angry,” he said. Complaints rose the first two years of Leslie’s tenure as chancellor, but then went down because faculty realized they — like the students — wouldn’t be listened to.
While most spoke against Leslie’s performance, Klaus Weiswurm, CEO of Instruments Technology Machinery and member of UTSA’s College of Engineering advisory council, said he has hired former students from this college. “The students that come out of SAC — out of the math area — are prepared, so obviously, somebody is doing their job right.”
A spectator shouted “the faculty,” but Weiswurm said faculty are “guided by administration.”
Karen Elliot, Student District Council chair and president of this college’s Student Government Association, said, “We want students to be involved from the beginning and work to improve the process so that we can fix and resolve things before it comes to a protest.”
After the meeting, Leslie said the Super Senate prefers the majors decision be made at the college-level because colleges award degrees.
Leslie said he preferred the solutions be offered at a district level.