After debates and confusion, it has been decided that the Academic Senate and shared governance leaders will participate in training sessions to clarify which bodies are subject to the California Brown Act. Although this is a step in the right direction, it also exposes how little administration and shared governance bodies understand the Brown Act.
The training sessions, held by lawyer Todd Goluba this month, will clear up which PCC governing bodies need to be regulated by the Brown Act. However, this issue should have been resolved when it became apparent that not all shared governance leaders fully understood the Brown Act.
The topic came to a head when, last month, a heated dispute occurred after senate member Sarah Barker said she was not allowed to defend a decision she had made about a Lancer Radio program during a senate meeting.
The Academic Senate’s function is to make recommendations on academic and professional matters. Although this means that they are advisory, it is also given that they are the voice of the faculty at PCC and should thus conduct themselves in a manner befitting someone who has been entrusted to do what’s best for the campus as a whole while also make sure that students have all the tools they need for success.
This means looking over grading policies, making sure that degree requirements are up to standards, and other matters that affect student life at PCC. This, however, cannot be achieved if governance bodies cannot even agree on whether or not they are subject to the Brown Act.
Bickering causes nothing but frustration and only adds to the confusion. It leads to problems that could have otherwise been avoided, such as the lawsuit filed last year by Californians Aware, and diverts attention and energy away from other important topics.
The training sessions will be a test to see if shared governance leaders can cooperate and effectively communicate with one another so that everyone comes away with a better understanding of the Brown Act.
It is also a challenge for shared governance to be more open about their meetings. This means publically posting meeting dates, agendas and minutes—something that many senate committees have been accused of not adhering to.
Whether this causes more conflict among members or resolves issues, this is a chance for all shared governance bodies to learn from past mistakes so that they can better serve the school and students in the future.
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