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Accountability Demanded at Heated Cerritos College Trustee Meeting

By Kristin Grafft

A coalition of community residents and leaders stepped forward at the Cerritos College Board meeting on Wednesday, May 2, to demand accountability from board members.

Prompted by remarks made by senate faculty leader Bob Chester, many community members have become concerned that the diversity of the student body and the greater community are not being accurately represented.

This has led to the formation of “The Right to the College Coalition,” named after the idea and slogan “the right to the city”, which they described as the right to change ourselves by changing the city.

Enrique Aranda, the head of the coalition, said, “Our community college is under siege by a senate faculty president and administration that feels untouchable and unaccountable for their pattern and practice of racist micro-aggression and questionable leadership.”

“The school yard bully grew up and is now an administrator at Cerritos College,” Aranda said in his remarks.

“The main goal of the coalition is to push for the development of a community advisory board that would monitor and advise against future racist or homophobic practices,” a spokesman with the new coalition said.

The new group hopes that the establishment of a community advisory board will also lead to “more transparency and improved communication between the community and the college.”

Their first request is that Chester be reprimanded by the college president for his now infamous “homophobic institution” comments back in meeting in April.

“Maybe cultural sensitivity classes and a public apology could be a start,” said Aranda.

Aranda also spoke out directly against Trustee President Marissa Perez regarding her lack of response to the comments.

“You are the helm of this governing board and we expect you to take the reins and learn how to use your gavel,” he said.

Dr. David Sanchez, another member of the coalition, as well as the representative for the Chicano Roundtable Group, spoke on behalf of the Latino and Mexican-American community. “We need to be more tuned in to the community needs,” he said.

Sanchez explained that he believes the reason for Cerritos Colleges’ high dropout rate is because students feel like they don’t fit in with the school’s academic paradigm. “It is reducing the number of Mexican-American faculty and we feel that needs to change,” he said.

Sanchez mentioned the possibility of bringing in the department of education to address these problems.

Another issue raised by the group was their opposition to AB955. A bill supported by College President Linda Lacey aims to expand the availability of high demand college classes, but at the expense of higher tuition costs.

Jami Trinidad, spoke on behalf of the coalition saying, “don’t continue to ask students to continue to carry the burden of California’s budget problem.”

More than 200 students, and community residents attended the meeting.

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