Thursday, December 28, 2006

SMC Re-arranges Deck Chairs on the Titanic

A simple peek at Santa Monica College's Administration webpage reveals that there has been quite a mass exodus of administrative positions at the college. Starting with the SMC Board of Trustees, we've seen the departure of Carole L. Currey, Dr. Dorothy Ehrhart-Morrison, and Herb Roney. New to the Board is retired judge David B. Finkel, who has taught political science at SMC, focusing on Constitutional law, an area that SMC is in much need of understanding and compliance. Also new to the Board are Louise Jaffe and Andrew Walzer. Listening to the thoughtful questions and concerns of these three new board members, I am hopeful that SMC is moving forward in the right direction to solve its numerous problems.

SMC's Senior Administrative Staff has also seen some adjustments. David Muller (husband of AET Dean Katharine Muller), Associate Vice-President of Facilities has vanished. For the last decade, the college has provided not a single photo or bio on Mr. Muller, questioning what exactly he did for the college. According to a confidential source, former SMC President Piedad Robertson hired both Mullers as part of a package deal when she first took office. Prior to his position of VP of Facilities, David Muller received $7566 per month as a Facilities Management Consultant. According to the SMC Board of Trustees minutes for July 6, 1998, "Mr. Muller is needed in order to complete projects in the facilities area during the recruitment period for the Associate Vice-President, Facilities created by the management reorganization." Somehow, as a consultant, he succeeded in recruiting himself for the VP position.

Also gone from the SMC administrative roster is Vice-President of Planning and Development, Robert Sammis. On or about November 2006, Marvin Martinez eased into this position. There was complete secrecy governing Sammis' departure from SMC. According to confidential sources, Sammis' was quietly "released from his duties" at SMC. Sammis also served as inside legal counsel as well as chief negotiator in faculty contract disputes. Both the Classified Senate and the SMC Faculty Association constantly criticized Sammis for allegedly unfair labor practices and were pleased with his dismissal from the college. Sammis also had a history of stonewalling compliance with the California Public Records Act.

Robert Sammis living it up Piedad Robertson and Don Girard
From left to right: Robert Sammis Living it Up; Piedad Robertson and Don Girard

Both the Vice-President of Human Resources and Vice-President of Business/Administration positions are vacant. Jeff Shimizu is listed as the Vice-President of Academic Affairs. Two new administrative positions have emerged. Teresita Rodriguez has been appointed Vice President of Enrollment Development in an effort to fix SMC's ongoing enrollment problems. According to the college, it is having difficulty both retaining its students and recruiting new ones.

Don Girard, SMC's marketing director, and a man who has been cited for his well-versed knowledge in the college's politics, has moved into a very questionable administrative position. Previously, he had been listed as Executive Assistant to the President and was a founding member of the SMC Foundation President's Circle. Girard also had a hand in preparing the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the troubled Bundy campus. Now, Girard is listed as Senior Director of Government Relations and Institutional Communication. Precisely what government relations are needed and how institutional communication will be improved is not described, as SMC's webpage simply has no information on Girard's new position. Will SMC provide this information or will Girard's more expensive administrative position remain a mystery as David Muller's had been in the past? Is SMC merely re-arranging deck chairs on its institutional Titanic or will these new positions actual serve to benefit the SMC community? Only time will tell.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, December 22, 2006

Chanukah, Tikkun Olam, and Social Justice

Sadly, Chanukah ends tonight. For many Jewish people, it is a celebration of lights, food, and family, but for me, it has always been a profoundly spiritual transition period, a time to reflect on the previous year and to center myself for the year to come. During this time, I try to follow the path of Tikkun Olam, a Hebrew phrase for "repairing the world." To walk the path of Tikkun Olam is to reach out for social justice. According to the Kabbalah, the world was viewed as a pottery vessel that was insufficient to hold the light of God. As the universe was unstable, it inevitably shattered into shards. Since the universe was broken, it was in need of repair. It is through one's deeds of goodwill and social justice that the universe can be rendered whole again.

Thus, during the eight days and nights of Chanukah, I try to reaffirm my Jewish faith and dedicate myself to working toward this social justice. When we place our Chanukah lights in the window for the world to see, we are connecting to the outside world and rekindling our commitment to social justice and truth through advocacy and positive steps in repairing our small share of the larger world that connects us all regardless of our religious beliefs. Without the courage to first examine problems, we will never be able to search for viable solutions.

In a world that is often shrouded in shades of moral grayness, one needs a spiritual light to guide one towards the truth. Arthur Schopenhauer, the 19th century German philosopher, stated that all truth passes through three distinct phases: "First, it is ridiculed... second, it is violently opposed... third, it is accepted as being self-evident." When I think of a perfect example of this search for truth, I think of the American Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. First, African-Americans were ridiculed, humiliated, and set aside with separate lunch counters, water coolers, and restrooms, to name a few of the segregated accommodations.

YouTube has some very revealing black-and-white documentary footage of this very disturbing period of American history. I have gathered a collection of some very powerful tributes to the Civil Rights movement and the Holocaust, which you can view on my YouTube page HERE. With your own eyes, you can see and listen to racist college students stating that African Americans did not deserve to attend the same colleges as they did because they were intellectually inferior. When Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders stepped up to provide human dignity to their spiritual brothers and sisters, truth entered its violent opposition phase. Suddenly, the police that were supposed to protect and serve its citizenry were turned against it. Children of color were blasted with powerful fire hoses, beaten with police batons, and attacked with fierce canines. Peaceful demonstrators were arrested for exercising their rights to freedom of speech and assembly.

Even more shocking were that otherwise civilized Caucasian women, perhaps loving mothers and wives, would turn to such hateful acts as pouring hot coffee and ketchup on the heads of African Americans who did nothing more than sit at their lunch counters in public establishments. Many innocent people lost their lives to stand up for their beliefs and to repair this shattered world of racism. Finally, truth found its home in the self-evident fact that all people, African-Americans, Jews, and others are created equal in the eyes of God and the state and federal laws finally caught up to their moral counterparts.

When I ask for courage to fight for social justice, I think of those who went before me and who sacrificed so much to make this world a better place not only for themselves, but also for future generations. Small steps can make a difference in improving this world, whether it is to give a voice to the voiceless, to provide love and support to someone in physical or emotional pain, or to bring a hot plate of food to a homeless person on Chanukah or Christmas. Even if one is homebound or economically disadvantaged, one can spend as little as a few minutes a day to make a difference such as posting a comment against the many racist and anti-Semitic ranters found on YouTube and other online forums, or emailing one's public officials about a social injustice one may witness, or even telling someone that you love them.

As one single person, I cannot repair the entire world. I cannot feed the starving, repair the ozone layer, end the world's petty wars or global warming, or find a cure for cancer. So, I work within my knowledge and limits and do my part to make Santa Monica College a better school for those who attend it or wish to attend it in the future. Through my SAVE SMC blog and website, I bring to light serious issues that need to be addressed that might otherwise be overlooked. I have also worked to educate the students of their rights under the law and the policies that SMC's administration are attempting to pass that might very well jeopardize those liberties we hold dear. Additionally, I have worked tirelessly for about a year and a half to obtain vital public records from the school and to make those records easily accessible for the public.

Slowly and surely, despite great obstacles, personal sacrifice, persistence, and a belief in the search for truth and moral justice, I have seen significant changes at our school. Administrators have resigned or have been released from their jobs and SMC has examined some of its policies and implemented new ones to help students, especially the disabled who have previously been disenfranchised. I have given courage to others to stand up for their rights and hopefully have been a role model and voice to many.

Finally, SMC's attorney, Joshua Morrison, has agreed to comply completely with the California Public Records Act in regards to all six sets of our requests for records. This was no simple task as I had to spend months researching the public records act, researching the records we wished to obtain, writing many emails and letters, and entering into many legal negotiations and discussions. I had to file two lawsuits to encourage compliance with the law, muster up the courage to speak personally to the SMC Board of Trustees, and I had to endure many encounters with SMC's campus police as they attempted to scare us away through interrogation and intimidation. I even had to endure wrongful disciplinary sanctions including arbitrary enrollment holds and being thrown out of school without any due process rights whatsoever. Yet, I knew deep inside that God would always be my advocate and guide and that truth was on my side and that I would persevere. I read that courage is not the absence of fear; it is the ability to continue in its face. I also read the following: "Adversity truly introduces us to ourselves." I feel that both these words of wisdom ring true to my ears.

Ironically, SMC has dragged me to court during both Rosh Hashanah and Chanukah. They also dragged me through a mock kangaroo proceeding on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Perhaps this was no coincidence, but a reminder to me of what I was fighting for and that my faith would get me through all of these hard times. Yesterday, during Chanukah, I once again went to the Los Angeles Superior Court to stand up for our rights under the California Public Records Act. If justice is a fountain, let all our rights flow freely now and in the coming new year.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,

SMC Crime Alert: AET Computer Theft

A picture speaks a thousand words. On November 3, 2006, three unknown suspects allegedly burglarized the Academy of Entertainment and Technology (AET) computer lab, stealing several expensive Dell computers. The surveillance photos caught the suspects red-handed, although so far the SMCPD hasn't been able to retrieve the stolen property. Perhaps if Santa Monica College wasn't so busy misusing its campus police force against its students, it might have been able to protect its students from this type of violent crime. Ultimately, these computers will have to be replaced at an expense to us all.

AET Computer Lab Theft Crime Alert Photos and Report

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, December 15, 2006

Springtime for Penchansky and SMC

Well, it was time to do another YouTube video. "Springtime for Penchansky and SMC" deals with Campus Disciplinarian Judith Penchansky's year long attempt to impose a new administrative regulation, AR 4412, down the throats of unsuspecting students at Santa Monica College. Known as the Honor Code, AR 4412 would allow an Honor Council to have unlimited and unchecked powers to discipline and potentially suspend and expel students found in violation of the slightest infraction. Dean Penchansky would have an army of law firms at her disposal, yet you, as a student, would not be afforded any legal representation whatsoever. The Honor Council proceedings would be held in secret and would deny the accused student basic due process under the law. Our free speech and liberties are at stake. Let's take a stand against AR 4412 before it is too late.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Santa Monica College's Financial Death Spiral

While Santa Monica College's administration paints a false and rosy picture of enrollment and fiscal health to the unsuspecting public, the Santa Monica College Faculty Association has the moral courage to tell us all the harsh truth of the college's fiscal and enrollment recovery problems. In an article written by SMCFA President Lantz Simpson, entitled, "Playing Dice with the Future of SMC," Mr. Simpson alleges that SMC is on a continuing and downward "death spiral." By failing to recover students, cutting classes and programs, and laying off faculty, the college may lose $2.2 million!

This was back in 2003 and his predictions seem to have come true. Mr. Simpson writes that "the administration at SMC has been playing dice with the future of the college, taking a huge gamble that could result in the college going into a death spiral of contraction, unable to stop. In fact, it may have already begun." The FAB has further alleged that SMC has hidden $3 million in its current budget. The question on my mind is where did this money go?

Fast forward to September 2005 and Mr. Simpson has written another editorial entitled "College Rolls Snake Eyes." Mr. Simpson offers these words of truth:

The college has failed to return its enrollment back to the level of 2003. This means the college has permanently contracted with a $2 million net loss in state revenue for next year. This also means that the college teeters on the edge of a death spiral of funding cuts, lay offs, and further enrollment drops. Only a massive transfusion of more equalization money or a brand new funding system can save SMC now.

SMC's administration has tried everything to get its students to return back to its educational pasture. It blared from its ivory towers at Pico Palace of its greatness to a deaf student audience. It turned to strategies that panned out to be mere gimmicks that no one was buying. Through its "Field of Dreams" strategy, it funneled bond money into the new Bundy campus and library to the tune of $45 million. This did nothing to attract potential students as is evident in its less than stellar enrollment numbers for 2003. Additionally, the Bundy campus was plagued with access and environmental concerns, costing more money from expensive outside consultants who were brought in to fix these problems.

SMC then launched its student success and retention campaign, which also failed. Then the administration thought that all it needed was a Welcome Center to draw in the students. Despite all this warm and fuzzy hospitality, the Welcome Center remains haunting devoid of students. Not being able to solve its more pressing problems, SMC launched into the free parking campaign, again with little success. As recently as this summer, I received unsolicited emails from SMC that if I registered early, I could potentially win free parking. Somehow, a solid education with quality faculty seems much more appealing.

SMC has seen loss of classes, loss of vocational programs, loss of donations, loss of faculty, and lost educational opportunities. Mr. Simpson asks: "When are those responsible for gambling away the college's future going to be held accountable?" Over a year after he wrote these words, we are all still waiting for an answer.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Written Demand for SMC Post-Exclusion Hearing

It's simply amazing how far SMC's administration will go to violate a student's rights. Once again, here's another email and certified letter to Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang. Since he's never bothered to respond to our August 1, 2006 request for public records under the California Public Records Act and since he's failed to respond to my several certified letters requesting a suspension appeal hearing, I am not holding my breathe that SMC will step up to the plate to acknowledge my rights under either state or federal law. SMC claims that it wants to avoid costly litigation, yet is seems to foster such an environment. Is our new president merely a sock puppet to the abusive administration? That question remains as yet unanswered.

Furthermore, with SMC continuing to cancel classes due to its plummeting enrollment, one would think that SMC would do everything in its power to keep its students happy, not perpetually violate their rights and arbitrarily discriminate against them. Judith Penchansky has found endless excuses to deny me any due process while following orders from SMC attorney Robert Sammis. With Sammis now out of the picture, after a swift and silent departure, Ms. Penchansky is now left vulnerable to be accountable for her wrongful actions. It is no mystery why she is using campus police against me to silence her abuse of power. However, all lies inevitably lead to the truth.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MNS LP





DECEMBER 5, 2006

Dear President Tsang,

I am writing to you to request a post-exclusion hearing within the next seven (7) days as required by statute based on Santa Monica College Police Department's Withdrawal of Consent to Remain on Campus, dated November 30, 2006, and as set forth in California Penal Code Section 626.6.

As you are well aware, based on my numerous emails and certified letters to you over the past several months, I was wrongfully suspended for two years from Santa Monica Community College (hereinafter "SMC") without any finding of facts or investigation. Pursuant to Robert Sammis' written communications, SMC's own internal board policies, and the California Education Code, I was to be afforded a suspension appeal hearing within ten (10) days of the date I filed my appeal back in June 2006.

Despite my written insistence that SMC comply with the law, I was not afforded a suspension appeal hearing. Rather, Mr. Sammis (who no longer works for the college as its in-house legal counsel) unilaterally postponed that hearing until mid-September, in violation of my rights. A few days prior to this hearing, SMC's Office of Judicial Affairs, unilaterally cancelled the hearing, despite my written objections.

To date, I have never been afforded a suspension appeal hearing, despite the length and breathe of the deprivation of my property rights to a public education at your school. Additionally, since August 2005, I have requested in writing that I be allowed to inspect my student records, including disciplinary records, and have been denied this opportunity as statutorily set forth in the California Education Code. Furthermore, I had sent you, on August 1, 2006, a legitimate request for inspection and copies of vital records not otherwise prohibited from disclosure under the California Public Records Act. Although the California Government Code is clear that such records, absent a written justification for non-compliance, shall be produced within ten (10) days, SMC simply ignored my request, thus necessitating court intervention. Over four months have elapsed since this public records request and SMC has still failed to provide these records.

As you should be aware, when a suspension appeal hearing is not afforded a student, especially in the light of SMC's restrictions from entering campus, both substantive and procedural due process have been denied said student. Add to this injury that most of the boilerplate allegations against me were based on constitutionally overbroad restrictions of free speech issues and the right to redress the college for grievances, and my rights have been grossly violated on all levels, through SMC's own written policies, the California statutes, and the Constitutional safeguards.

Furthermore, when due process is not afforded a student such as myself who has complied with all her obligations under the law, the suspension becomes null and void. The law is very specific that there is no need to continually exhaust administrative remedies when such efforts have become futile. Not only in the instant case have these efforts on my part become futile, SMC has used its campus police force in conjunction with the Office of Judicial Affairs, to retaliate against me.

Accordingly, since the suspension has become null and void at this point, SMC's Admissions Office sent me a written confirmation in the U.S. mail that I could enroll in the Winter 2007 and Spring 2007 semesters. This was further confirmed in emails sent from the college as well as the online SMC student self-serve system. I was given an enrollment date and time for November 17, 2006 at 4:00 p.m. for said semesters. However, on the allotted date and time that I was to register, a mysterious and malicious "disciplinary enrollment hold" was placed on my enrollment, preventing me from registering.

To clear this up, I came to campus on or about Wednesday, November 22, 2006. At this time, Admissions informed me that I could in fact enroll for classes for these semesters. I was given two copies of an official letter from SMC stating this fact and which confirmed the November 17, 2006 enrollment date and time.

I returned to campus again on November 30, 2006 and spoke with Station C, now called the Bursar's Office. Station C again confirmed that I could enroll, but that I had to speak with the Counseling Office to print out a copy of my signature page. I was instructed to sign the signature page and turn it into the Admissions Office.

At this point, I immediately complied and spoke with a counselor in the Counseling office. Two copies of my signature page were printing out for me and I signed one copy. However, on my way to the Admissions Office, near the Cayton Center, I was accosted by SMCPD Officer Mark Kessler, who was later joined by Officer Charles Bays. I was told that I had to accompany him to the Office of Judicial Affairs and speak with Judith Penchansky to have the enrollment hold issue resolved. I once again peacefully complied.

However, Ms. Penchansky once again blatantly violated my rights. When I was in the middle of my first sentence with her, explaining that admissions had sent me a letter, she abruptly cut me off and stated point blank, "You've been suspended for two years, Des." When I then indicated that SMC's board policies and the California Education afforded me a suspension appeal hearing within ten days, she once again cut me off and stated rather rudely, "Des, we're not having this conversation." At this point, Ms. Penchansky turned to Officer Kessler and ordered, "Officer, she needs to leave campus." When I asked her upon which grounds, she stated to me, "Des, you can't be here. You need to be escorted off campus." Again, she stated to Officer Kessler, "Officer, she needs to go."

At this point, Officer Kessler, Officer Bays, and I quietly left the Office of Judicial Affairs. Shortly thereafter, Officer Kessler issued the aforementioned "Withdrawal of Consent to Remain on Campus," citing California Penal Code section 626.6. Under this statute, I have been barred from campus for seven (7) days under the guise that I was "committing any act likely to interfere with the peaceful conduct of activities or such campus or facility, or has entered such campus or facility for the purpose of committing any such act." Since I had done absolutely nothing to warrant such a gross violation of my rights as a student of SMC, I did not consent to this withdrawal.

At the bottom of this Withdrawal Order, confirmation of the action is required by the Executive Officer or Designee, with a signature attesting to the fact, or lack thereof, that there was or was not "reasonable cause to believe that the above named individual committed an act that disrupted, or was likely to disrupt the peaceful conduct at Santa Monica College." To date, I have not received any confirmation of the action taken by the SMCPD on that date.

Clearly, neither you in your capacity as Chief Executive Officer of SMC or anyone you designate could come up with any legal rationale or finding of facts that I disrupted the orderly operations of the campus on this date. I was instructed by the college to enroll and I was peacefully on that campus to exercise that right. Furthermore, since I have never had a suspension appeal hearing, either I would be considered as still in the appeal process or that the suspension has been nullified. Therefore, under either theory, I am still a student at SMC and not an "outsider" or "non-student" as defined by California Penal Code 626.6. Given the fact that SMC has sent me multiple verifications of my ability to enroll as such in the two upcoming semesters, this gives further invalidity to this California Penal Code section.

If you further examine subsection 3(b), it clearly states the following: "The provisions of this section shall not be utilized to impinge upon the lawful exercise of constitutionally protected rights and freedom of speech or assembly." As such, my rights have been violated.

The various legal decisions have found that California Penal Code Sections 626.4 and 626.6 on their face suffer from the defects of First Amendment overbreath, unconstitutional vagueness, and the lack of procedural due process. The purpose of this legislation is to provide a swift remedy, by means of exclusion from campus, of those students who commit overt acts of violence or otherwise engage in illegal conduct which disrupts "the orderly operation of such campus." This law is to protect SMC from illegal campus disturbances or from the possibility of disturbance. Since no disturbance took place on November 30, 2006 and none could be reasonably anticipated, as there were no facts to point to this belief, there were simply no grounds to exclude me from campus for an entire week.

The law is quite firm that a willful disruption is one of physical nature of such magnitude that due process is sacrificed for the sake of an emergency situation. There was simply no substantial and material threat or significant injury to persons or property warranting exclusion from campus. The law further makes clear that SMC must prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the exclusion order rested upon an actual disruption by unlawful conduct, something that SMC cannot possibly do without outright fabricating circumstances and facts surrounding the events of my day on campus.

Accordingly, when an exclusion order issues without a hearing, as is the case here, a post-exclusion hearing must be held as soon as reasonably possible and not later than seven (7) days following a request by the person excluded. By copy of this written demand, I am requesting that the exclusion order be immediately revoked and that I be allowed to enroll in my classes peacefully or that a post-exclusion hearing be held to either prove or deny the facts that I had disrupted the orderly operations of the SMC campus on November 30, 2006.

A broad reading of section 626.6 yields such constitutionally impermissible applications, that I urge you to declare this exclusion order void on its face. Neither the content of speech nor freedom of association can be restricted merely because such expression or association disrupts the tranquility of a campus or offends the tastes of school administrators such as Ms. Penchansky. Citing from the court's decision, "Protest may disturb the placidity of the vacant mind just as a stone dropped in a still pool may disturb the tranquility of the surface waters, but the courts have never held that such 'disruption' falls outside the boundaries of the First Amendment."

The landmark case of Tinker v. Des Moines School District (1969) made clear that "undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression. Any departure of absolute regimentation may cause trouble. Any variation from the majority's opinion may inspire fear. Any word spoken, in class, in the lunchroom, or on campus, that deviates from the view of another person may start an argument or cause a disturbance. But our Constitution says we must take this risk."

Terminiello v. Chicago (1949) adds that "a function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger." Although the tastes of administrators, students or the public may be offended, campus free speech cannot be restricted merely because others find its exercise distasteful. Papish v. University of Missouri Curators (1973) states that "the mere dissemination of ideas -- no matter how offensive to good taste -- on a state university campus may not be shut off in the name alone of 'conventions of decency'."

Although conduct entwined with speech may be regulated if it is completely incompatible with the peaceful functioning of the campus, section 626.6 on its fact fails to distinguish between protected activities such as peacefully trying to resolve my enrollment hold issues and unprotected conduct that is violent, physically obstructive, or otherwise coercive. Since my speech and activities on campus were in no way offensive to anyone, perhaps with the exception of Ms. Penchansky who seems to have a personal vendetta against me, and refuses to acknowledge why my rights have been violated for the last six months, there is no conceivable way that this exclusion order would hold up under intense scrutiny.

To reiterate, I request that the exclusion order be forthwith withdrawn by you, or absent a withdrawal, that a hearing be held on the November 30, 2006 exclusion order within seven (7) days. The notice of time, place, and date of such hearing, should you choose the later alternative, should be mailed to the following address:

Des Manttari, P.O. Box 64563, Los Angeles, CA, 90064.

Additionally, by copy of this written correspondence, I ask that the two year suspension be nullified based on SMC's refusal to give me the required appeal hearing as set forth by law and that I be allowed to enroll in my classes as promised in writing by the Admissions Office. Finally, I ask for a confirmation by you whether SMC intends to comply with my August 1, 2006 request for inspection and copies of records under the California Public Records Act.

I look forward to your prompt response to this very urgent matter of the ongoing violation of my rights as a student at Santa Monica College.

Very Truly Yours,

Des Manttari /s/

cc: Office For Civil Rights

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, December 04, 2006

Santa Monica College Student Rights?


SMC's Hidden Loopholes and The Double Standard

-- A SAVE SMC Editorial

Have you ever wondered why an institution of higher education such as Santa Monica Community College does so little to uphold the rights of its students (which it supposedly advocates)?

The Board of Trustees recognizes the importance of faculty, staff, students and the community to a safe campus environment. Violent or coercive behavior or the threat of such behavior will not be tolerated. The District through the development and enforcement of violence prevention procedures, will seek to provide a safe environment for students, staff and faculty.

-- BP 2415 Campus Safety

Violent and coercive behavior or the threat of such behavior against whom will not be tolerated?

In the past, both faculty and students perceived the Office of the Disciplinarian as a place to go for "bad" students. The Office of Student Judicial Affairs is perceived as a place where students go to have problems solved, to sit down and come to agreements, to gather information, and to feel that they have experienced "due process." In addition to improving campus morale, this approach has the potential of assisting the College in avoiding costly litigation.

(July 22, 2002)

Here's how Campus Disciplinarian Judith Penchansky deals with problem resolution:

She refuses to have a written dialogue. She repeatedly refuses to speak to the student. She uses campus police to remove the student from campus. She denies the student any procedural and substantive due process. She refuses to disclose student records for inspection as required by law. Furthermore, she forces faculty, staff, and students to lie against innocent students under coercion and fear of retaliation.

This approach erodes campus morale, dehumanizes the student, and inevitably leads to costly litigation.

The College's Student Conduct Code includes a Code of Academic Conduct that clearly states expectations and consequences for academic dishonesty. These documents are accessible in college publications, through the college website, and posted in all classrooms. Incidences of dishonesty are handled through the Student Judicial Affairs Office.



Let's turn to SMC's Academic Freedom Statement:

The intellectual search for transmission of knowledge should go forward in an atmosphere free from fear of reprisal, while providing opportunities for critical thinking and understanding of conflicting viewpoints. In order that special interests or conflicting public opinion not impede the educational process, instructors and students must be free to investigate, to form conclusions, and to express judgments and opinions. Academic freedom also includes the right to constructively criticize college policies without fear of retribution.

Academic freedom carries with it several responsibilities. Faculty members must strive for factual accuracy and show restraint in dealing with topics outside their area of expertise. While showing respect for the opinions of others, the instructor should, after impartial examination of the evidence, present the conclusions to which the evidence points. Selective omission of available data would not be in keeping with academic responsibility. Promotion of a partisan point of view to a captive audience would be equally unsuitable.

BP 5210 Academic Freedom Statement

On March 1, 2006, SMC Professor Jim Keeshen made a formal announcement to his ET18 Storyboarding class in which he stated that Autism and Asperger's is a "mental disease" that causes a person to be a "problem" and "destructive." Was this a topic within his area of expertise and relevant to storyboarding? Of course it wasn't. Furthermore, had Professor Keeshen done any research online, he would have found an
open letter (dated January 27, 2006) from all the major Autism advocacy groups stating emphatically that Asperger's is "not a “mental illness” or a “disease."

The fear of retribution prevailed in Professor Keeshen's class that day, especially for a student with autism who heard his tirade.

Professor Keeshen threatened his students:

"I'm gonna come after you ... and I'm going to get you to the letter of the law and have you either kicked out or whatever other consequences they can do to you.... Got it? All right, that's all I have to say."

The District is committed to a work and learning environment conducive to open discussion and free of intimidation, harassment, or unlawful discrimination, whether purposeful or inadvertent.

-- BP 3120 Diversity/Affirmative Action

Was Professor Keeshen's announcement to his class an "open discussion" that was "free of intimidation, harassment, or unlawful discrimination"? Of course it was not!

Santa Monica College, as a public institution of higher education which receives federal assistance, is legally bound to prohibit discrimination in the recruitment process, the admission process and the educational process of students with disabilities.

-- SMC Disabled Student Services,
The Laws

We will now take a look at SMC's "Student Bill of Rights" ...

Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the intellectual and social development of students, and the general well-being of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth.

But what if the "pursuit of truth" contradicts the lies that the college administration wishes to uphold at any cost? And what if this "free inquiry" and "free expression" calls for something to be changed at the college through a particular person? What if you send an email to Professor Keeshen, requesting an apology on behalf of the disabled students for his hate speech against those with Autism?

Well, according to Judith Penchansky, you are in violation of Administrative Regulation 4410 L, Rules for Student Conduct, which states that you have engaged in the following:

Willful or blatant misuse of email or other inappropriate forms of communication towards faculty.

For that "crime," you are suspended for two years and will be arrested if you step foot on campus. Furthermore, you are not given any due process or right to appeal your suspension, despite the provisions set forth in SMC's own internal board policies and the California Education Code.

So, if you confront someone such as Professor Keeshen for his ignorant and discriminatory remarks, and SMC's administration wishes to cover its apparent liability, you can be suspended with a simple email from the Office of Judicial Affairs. But the school is accountable under the law for its thoughtless and indifferent acts as follows:

In the Gebseret case, the Supreme Court found that a school district could be held liable if the school official had actual knowledge of the wrong of a teacher's misconduct and had thoughtless indifference.

-- Gebseret al. v. Lago Vista Independent School District, No. 96-1896 (1998)

If you desire to publish your views, you are in luck since SMC's Student Bill of Rights, Student Publications, recognizes your freedom of expression through written materials:

Student publications and the student press are a valuable aid in establishing and maintaining an atmosphere of free and responsible discussion and of intellectual exploration the campus. They are a means of bringing student concerns to the attention of the faculty and the institutional authorities and of formulating student opinion on various issues on the campus and in the world at large.

However, you will find in this provision something interesting:

At the same time, the editorial freedom of student editors and managers entails corollary responsibilities to be governed by the canons of responsible journalism, such as avoidance of libel, indecency, undocumented allegations, attacks on personal integrity, and the techniques of harassment and innuendo. [emphasis added]

So what if the statement you wish to offer contests the integrity of a member of the college?

Then you are no longer a "RESPONSIBLE" WRITER.

SURE, you're free to express yourself, BUT




because that contests a person's "integrity," and we all know that



Well, actually the faculty and administration (those whom are our examples at the college), and the SMCPD campus police officers (those who protect the college's students and property) do abide by the SMC College Policies... the new and improved viewpoint discrimination version.

(with a few slight additions)

1. Thou shall not beat up students (without "just cause" or within the sight of credible witnesses or video recording devices).

2. Thou shall not have students arrested (unless they find problems with your personal ethics or lack thereof, discover financial lack of accountability and hidden funds, seek vital public records under the California Public Records Act, or express their views about the questionable and arbitrary policies you have created or choose to defend at the college).

3. Thou shall appreciate thy students (if they contribute to the false image and/or finances of the college).

4. Thou shall honor thy faculty (if they pad enrollment and do not seek cost of living pay raises).


With that in mind, here is the...


1. Don't make waves or file any sort of grievance to defend your rights.

2. Do not openly contest your professors or administrators on their position on any issue.

3. Do not attack the college's stance on any issue.

4. Do not request inspection or copies of public records belonging to the college.

5. Do not attempt to assert your legal rights in a court of law.

6. Do not create a personal blog or website outside of campus to express your views.

7. Stay out of the way and sight of SMCPD campus police officers.

(As interpreted by SMC)

You have the right to only remain silent, and no other rights, when you speak out about any dehumanizing politics at SMC.

Failure to exercise that right after you have exposed the College's harassment and retaliation of those who oppose SMC's political stance will result in interrogation and brutality by SMC's campus police, false charges, and imprisonment.

SMC's various college policies tell us that first and foremost, before any learning can take place or any policies be enforced, there must be the moral elements that constitute a place where people (including faculty, administrators, and campus police officers) can be trusted, a place of integrity.

And, in order to ensure this integrity, the college must go through a periodic "housecleaning," as it were, to weed out those who have gone against the standards of integrity. This means that there can be no "environment of integrity" within the college unless we all take the responsibility for taking whatever actions are necessary to ensure this "housecleaning."

Santa Monica College, is as a community-oriented, open-door, educational institution whose purpose is to educate and enlighten members of the community who seek knowledge. In order to uphold the academic integrity of the institution, all members of the academic community, faculty and students alike, must assume responsibility for providing an educational environment of the highest standards, characterized by a spirit of academic honesty; therefore, under no circumstances will academic dishonesty be tolerated at this institution.

--Preamble to SMC Code of Academic Conduct

To sum it all up...

We have the responsibility to CHANGE whatever needs to be changed to uphold the principles of INTEGRITY


YOU'RE ONLY OKAY as long as you PAY AND OBEY. $$$$$

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,