Thursday, April 13, 2006

My Speech to the SMC Board of Trustees

On Monday, April 10, 2006, the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees held a closed door secret session in which my public records case was on their agenda. Afterwards, they held their public session. In attendance were some familiar faces such as SMC Vice President of Planning and Development Robert Sammis and Dean of External Programs Katharine Muller. Joan Abrahamson was also present, delivering a proposal to the Board. I finally saw in person our new president, Dr. Chui L. Tsang. During the public session, we were allowed to make short two-minute public comments. Several professors, including SMC Faculty Association president, Lantz Simpson, made rousing speeches to the Board, requesting fair and equitable treatment. Several students also made heartfelt comments.

Here is the speech I delivered to the Board of Trustees:

Dear Mr. President and ladies and gentlemen of the Board,

My name is Des Manttari. I am a student at SMC's Academy of Entertainment and Technology vocational program. I have recently written a number of you via email about the ongoing violation of student rights at Santa Monica College and republished such on my SAVE SMC blog and website.

We as a community are no longer one of mutual goodwill and respect. Rather, we are a community of bath faith and disrespect, especially against SMC's disabled student body. Over the last year, I and other students have been denied our student records, vital public records under the California Public Records Act, and subjected to unwarranted police force on an ongoing basis. Our rights have not been read, our grievances not addressed, and we have been interrogated in Nazi Gestapo fashion by campus police.

We have been subjected to retaliation, harassment, and threats to our lives by faculty, administration, staff, and students. Several students are fearful of returning to class after a faculty member made an announcement in his class under the guise of school policy that autism is a mental disease that causes a person to be destructive and a problem. This same faculty member threatened to come after his students, get them, have them kicked out of school, and that they would suffer other unspecified consequences. And this faculty member said this all to a disabled student.

Despite writing all of you here not a single board member has responded. Yet today allegedly you discussed me in your closed-door secret session prior to coming here. For three years, SMC has promoted me on its website, claiming that the handicapped are welcome. I ask you now: welcome by whom? SMC has succeeded in turning its diverse community against itself, like a two-headed serpent who is swallowing its own tail.

Now, thanks to the efforts of the SMC Office of Judicial Affairs, the victims are now being blackmailed with suspension. Despite numerous written and oral cries for help, we have been unheard, if not silenced. I ask you now: are we to work together to create a community of goodwill and respect or are we to allow Santa Monica Community College to become a concentration camp of the human spirit?

I ask you to think very carefully about this as our education and our very lives depend on it. Please stop the hate crimes and hate speech against us. Thank you for your time.

After I delivered my speech, the Board was dead silent, like unmovable stone statutes. SMC student Jeff Higley not only videotaped the Board meeting, but he delivered a rousing speech himself. You can check out his blog The Seige for the gist of his speech to the Board. Will we succeed in awakening the community at Santa Monica College or will the words "community" be now and forever removed from our school's vocabulary? Only time will tell.

SAVE SMC blog articles for reference:
03-03-06: SMC Professor Jim Keeshen's Hate Speech Against the Disabled
03-06-06: Unlawful Retaliatory Discrimination by Jim Keeshen
03-15-06: My Email to Jim Keeshen Re: Ongoing Retaliation
03-21-06: SMC's Ongoing Violation of Student Rights and Negligence
03-16-06: Violation of My Civil Rights by Santa Monica College

Des Manttari,
Editor-in-Chief,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL: http://savesmc.blogspot.com/

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