PCC has one of the best collegiate reputations in the state including state of the art facilities, great teachers and a challenging curriculum. But none of this means anything if its students don’t feel they can trust their administration.
An administration, which appears to be lacking in transparency and trustworthiness is disheartening to the student body and disillusioning to those wanting to have faith that their school has their best interest at heart.
Back in February, the football team showed up to the Board of Trustees meeting to protest the replacement of their head football coach, Thom Kaumeyer. While President Vurdien said that his replacement was a contractual issue, several players still felt that the rules had not been clearly stated and that they’d been given conflicting information about whether their coach would return the following season.
A football team who is now on it’s third coach in three years, will be starting another season with apprehension, confusion and sadness for the loss of a coach that they’d grown to like and respect.
At the end of February, the Courier also reported on the decision of the College Council to no longer follow the Brown Act. Vurdien stated that it would make things easier and more flexible because they could add items to the agenda. However, there is still some conflict on whether or not the council could legally do this.
According to the Brown Act, entities governed by the act include “commissions, committees, boards, or other subsidiary bodies of a local agency, whether permanent or temporary, decision-making or advisory, created by resolution or some other formal action of a legislative body.”
Despite this, the administration along with PCC’s legal counsel, Gail Cooper, insist that the College Counsel can exempt the Brown Act.
From a student perspective, it’s hard to fully trust their words when just last year, and in other instances, PCC was in violation of the Brown Act when they failed to discuss the retirement package of former PCC president Mark Rocha. The lawyer for the BOT stated that the board did not violate the Brown Act, but a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled otherwise.
Most recently, this month the BOT drew the ire of the Veterans Club when they scrapped plans for a VA clinic that was two years in the making, causing the club members to walk out of the meeting in protest. Veterans Club president Edwin Lopez said that they were upset with the lack of transparency because they’d received no updates and were repeatedly told that the administration was working on it.
The clubs opinion was that with all of the people involved in making the clinic a reality, and being given permission to fund-raise just two months ago in which the club raised $400K, that the administration should have known much earlier that a clinic would not have been possible and relayed this information in a much more timely fashion.
The Courier staff itself has had complaints regarding transparency. Many times, when requesting interviews with administration officials for campus news stories, we’ve been deflected to PCC’s Public Relations Director Alex Boekelheide.
While the Courier understands that Mr. Boekelheide’s job is to represent and speak for the school, the administration must understand that students want to hear from them directly as well. It’s the antithesis of transparency, and journalism itself, to expect the Courier to only report PR-crafted responses to the student body.
When PCC was put on probation, the school made a genuine effort to repair the relationships between the administration and the faculty. The downside to this was that the students and their voices ended up being left out of the conversation.
The administration must take steps to make sure that its students are communicated to clearly and effectively. It must do better at handling issues and communications in a timely manner going forward. Most importantly the administration must not make decisions that allows it to remove levels of accountability that students have come to expect and rely on.
As long as PCC makes its decisions based on what’s best for its student body and not itself, the trust in our school and the system will continue to grow and foster a more positive school environment.