Editorial: Curriculum decision at Fullerton College exposed all that can go wrong in academia

The Faculty Senate’s decision to approve new associate degree requirements was not the main issue with their last meeting.
Editorial: Curriculum decision at Fullerton College exposed all that can go wrong in academia

Sitting in a room with highly educated people that usually pour so much passion into their students, the parliamentary floor at the Faculty Senate meeting on May 2 turned into a cage match. The passion that is usually reserved for helping students thrive in their classrooms was used in a different way, as professors went after each other over a decision that will affect students the most.

Tension on the second floor of Cruz Reynoso Hall was palpable, and the air in the room felt heavy. Two sides with very different feelings on what can be deemed as an effective way to learn were on display in a public setting. Regardless of the stakes in this recommendation, the eye was not on the prize. That prize was supposed to be helping students finish their time at Fullerton College in an effective manner.

Our editorial board could go on and on about the actual decision to approve the Curriculum Committee’s recommendation to remove physical education, multicultural, and self-development and lifelong learning requirements to obtain an associate degree. The focus here, however, is strictly about the way in which decisions went down.

There were mistakes made all across this meeting, arguably the most important of the year. It was evident that those in power were trying to do the right thing, but it was also obvious there were backdoor moves brewing behind the scenes from both sides.

The animosity usually reserved for a fight between professors and administrators had flipped on its head to educators against educators. That was the problem in this entire situation.

Proper parliamentary procedures clearly looked to be lost amongst the Faculty Senate, which escalated the situation as well. Confusion between “tabled” and “postponed” along with how to vote and re-vote were at the forefront of issues in their meeting.

Parliamentary procedure is the accepted rules, ethics and customs that governs meetings of an assembly or organization, a process the Faculty Senate uses. According to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, there are five basic principles of Parliamentary procedures:

  1. Only one subject may claim the attention of the assembly at one time.
  2. Each proposition presented for consideration is entitled to full and free debate.
  3. Every member has rights equal to every other member.
  4. The will of the majority must be carried out and the rights of the minority must be preserved.
  5. The personality and desires of each member should be merged into the larger unit of the organization.

In a previously written article from The Hornet, the details of what transpired during the meeting are spelled out. While this piece won’t tell on what happened, we have two ideas that could help make this process at the very least feel above board.

Training from a third-party expert for Faculty Senate:

After discussion with FC Political Science professor Jodi Balma, the editorial board completely agreed with the notion that there needs to be a training on how to operate in a parliamentary setting. There was a lot of confusion leading up to the final vote and on if the final vote itself passed or didn’t, aside from the miscount.

“The Faculty Senate clearly and desperately needs a parliamentarian serving on the Senate Executive [Council],” said Balma in a DM with The Hornet. “It’s crazy that there was so much chaos in that meeting with people not understanding the rules.”

Though Balma believes a position can be created or that the Senate could swap out the role of the Treasurer for Parliamentarian, our board suggests that there should be time spent training the members on how procedures should work. That would show good faith in an effort to be better and make sure the members knew exactly what was happening throughout the meeting.

Proper broadcast of Faculty Senate meetings:

This is something that falls on The Hornet and our partners at Hornet Radio. We can control bringing in a camera to record these meetings, as they are ones that fall under the Brown Act. It creates accountability of those involved, and allows the Hornet community to see exactly what is going into decisions being made that impact them.

The Brown Act was signed into law in 1953 and reaffirmed with Prop 59 in 2004. This amendment was made stating, “The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.” That is where the broadcast comes into play.

Students do feel their teachers care for them, but optics are everything. The way the Faculty Senate meeting transpired on May 2 was problematic. A decision that was supposed to be in the best interest of students turned into a barrage of personal battles. As a group of highly intelligent educators, we hope that policy and procedure will be addressed and fixed in the near future.

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    Dana Rose CrystalMay 13, 2024 at 11:23 am

    I do agree that The Hornet and Hornet Radio ought to cover these meetings, under the Ralph M. Brown Act — but they also ought to cover the Associated Students meetings too. The A.S. has covered many issues that affect students, yet in the past 2 years have failed to produce minutes of these meetings. True, the Brown Act is “silent” on minutes, meaning that while agendas are required, formal minutes are not. (I attended many meetings via ZOOM and in person during the 2023-24 academic year. with then-adviser Joseph Carrithers literally telling students that they didn’t need to record the meetings nor provide transcript, and when I questioned them as a Hornet reporter, was ignored. not even answered as to why the lack of minutes) But how are we to know what is going on, and whether money is being spent wisely? It is Best Practice to have minutes as well as a valuable skill-set for a job to learn how to create minutes. Check out one of the 1963 back issues of The Hornet, where the Associated Students Secretary credits her work there as valuable training for her later job as a secretary. The A.S. used to be better at actually training its student members in such skills — I think that focus evaporated in recent years, where most of the actual work appears to be accomplished by the salaried employees of Student Life and Leadership.