Is Southwestern College's Board Going to Take Free Speech Seriously?
December 8, 2009
by Adam Kissel
Last week, Peter reported here (reprinted in The Huffington Post) on the latest developments at California's Southwestern College (SWC), which applied its unconstitutional speech code and even the California Penal Code to ban four (later three) professors from campus after they and many students left the school's "free speech patio" in order to make their voices heard elsewhere on campus. Among other developments worth knowing about, Peter noted, is an effort to recall five members of SWC's Board of Governors:
As yet another Sun article relates, even the Board of Governors may not be immune from the fallout: a community group has initiated a campaign to recall five of the board members. Not among the targeted, notably, is Nick Aguilar, who was present at the November 13 rally sporting a T-shirt reading "Support students, get suspended."
Over the weekend, the blog Save Our Southwestern College reported that at least one more Board member is starting to get concerned. According to the blog, SWC faculty members received an e-mail on December 3 inviting them to "a forum for faculty ... to share your thoughts and concerns" hosted by Board Member Terri Valladolid. According to the invitation, "All faculty members are welcome to attend and participate in dialogues on issues important to Southwestern College." Reportedly, a similar invitation to a different forum with Valladolid was issued to SWC staff.
Apparently, the other Board members found out about the forums afterward from SWC President Raj Chopra:
Superintendent/President Raj K. Chopra notified the other board members of the forums, and then board member Nick Aguilar sent the following email in response [later on December 3]:
Dear SWC Governing Board Colleagues,
While Trustee Valladolid's outreach efforts are commendable, the appropriate forum for discussions of the SWC Governing Board Free Speech Policy is at a regular or special meeting of the Governing Board. With all due respect to Trustee Valladolid, the SWC Free Speech Policy is a matter totally within the purview and responsibility of the entire Governing Board, these forums are not an appropriate or acceptable substitute for the failure or refusal of the SWC Superintendent and SWC Governing Board President Roesch to respond to the request I submitted to both of them several weeks ago to place the SWC Free Speech Policy on the agenda of the November 2009 Governing Board meeting. In fact, this message will serve to notify both Superintendent Chopra and Board President Roesch of my standing request for the inclusion of the an item on the December 9, 2009 Board agenda for the Board to direct the immediate review and update of the SWC Free Speech Policy. Best regards to all. Nick Aguilar [Emphasis added.]
Why it is too much to ask to have free speech on the college's agenda?