No One Shows Up: Public Hearing for WAC Changes Has Underwhelming Attendance

by Nate Leese & Alia Marsha

We walked into the conference room in the Mitchell activity center several minutes before the opening comments after receiving our information packet, and expected there to be more of the SCCC community attending as about 15 came and went from 3 to 3:50 with 4 speakers.

Photograph by Nate Leese.

Photograph by Nate Leese.

The hearing officer was Caren Weiss, Vice chancellor for Seattle Community Colleges accompanied by Marci Myer, Interim Vice President of Student Development Services at NSCC and Derek Edwards from the State Attorney General’s Office.

Caren introduced the purpose of the hearing,

“To receive comments on proposed rule changes to amend WAC 132F-108-050 and WAC 132F-121 which relates to the student conduct code for the district…The purpose of this public hearing is to listen to and record comments, we will not be responding to the comments.”

From the twenty-page list of proposed codes, the four speakers addressed three main points.

Janella Enamorado, student involvement coordinator at SCCC, raises a concern about a change of rule about a campus employee advising more than two student organizations at the same time.

“By allowing more than two students organizations to be advised by one person we are stepping into climate for which our students said we do not meet the part. We truly appreciate every adviser’s volunteer time, and we need to support them as well to make sure they do not get overworked”

Photograph by Nate Leese.

Photograph by Nate Leese.

Najwa Alsheikh, Executive of Administration at ASC spoke on college club funding being taken away: “I’d like to state my support that the process for the funds to be taken away should be transparent and open and include a review board or review process… Transparency in this process is all that I’m asking for”

Two Seattle Central employees, one working for the disability support services at SCCC and the other a conduct officer at SPI took the floor supporting the WAC 132F-121-160 sections 2d and e. Dealing with student conditions of probation or suspension, supporting the requirement of medical evaluation by a qualified professional in order for a student to be readmitted, they backed up their support of the code based on the risk of physical harm when dealing with unstable students.

After the 15 minutes of comments, the room began to empty, as some of the other important points were not addressed for questioning, as the representatives were clear from the start that they would not answer them.

We were the only two left in the conference room until leaving at 3:50, the representatives were talking amongst themselves waiting for the 4:30 mark in order to close the hearing.

Photograph by Nate Leese.

Photograph by Nate Leese.

From the invitations sent via e-mail to numerous students, faculty, and staff at SCCC and advertisements on our blog leading up to the event, we were taken aback by the small number of people involved in a discussion regarding a code of conduct that will affect the SCCC college experience for quarters to come.

Despite the valid and heartfelt commentary, and the speaker’s commitment to their words, the percentage of people involved was disheartening.

The proposed changes can be found here in PDF form:
WAC_132F-108-050
WAC_132F-121

Board of trustees had their first reading on Jan 12th 2012 and second reading will be on May 9th 2013 after the Board has reviewed the comments.

Public Comments can be submitted via e-mail to Vice Chancellor Caren Weiss of the Seattle Community College District at: Caren.Weiss@seattlecolleges.edu

Regarding Section 3 of WAC 132F-121-110:

  • Obstruction or disruption of (a) any instruction, research, administration, disciplinary proceeding, or other district activity, whether occurring on or off district property, or (b) any other activity that is authorized to occur on district property, whether or not actually conducted by the district.
Laurel Holliday, an individual who has already submitted an e-mail response to the proposed WAC Changes, had the following to say:
  • “‘Disruption’ is an overly vague term which could be used to proscribe the exercise of First Amendment rights on campus.  For example, repeated applause for a speaker at a campus event could be deemed a ‘disruption’ as could the expression of disagreement with a speaker.  Unless the ‘disruption’ can be shown to be unlawful under municipal, state or federal law, this constitutes a clear curtailment of First Amendment rights.This section as a whole is overly broad and lacking in clarity.”

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