For the third time this year, the Managers Association appeared at the PCC Board of Trustees at the May 17 board meeting to express their disapproval of the actions of four of the seven board members.
By Melissa Michelson
This time, however, they called for the Board President Sandra Chen Lau’s resignation. At the same meeting, the API community and professors at the college spoke in support of Ms. Lau and the Asian-American board majority and accused them of anti-Asian hate.
Members of the Management Association (MA), a non-unionized governance group of 78 managers at the college, spoke about the basis for their lack of confidence in Chen Lau, with lack of “collegiality with the MA” being one reason.
Carlos Tito Altamirano, the VP of the MA, reminded Sandra Chen Lau that she isn’t a “trailblazer” because an African-American and an Asian-American female had served as long-time PCC Board Presidents in the past.
MA Treasurer Raquel-Torres-Retana said they are “witnessing deficiencies with procedures and practices” that she thought could be a problem with the school’s accreditation. For example, she called the decision not to include certain items on a board agenda “censorship,” and she accused the board of “overreach” for looking into the PCC Foundation “without apparent cause”, considering them to be accreditation “red flags.”
David Steiman, Coordinator in the MA, complained of Chen Lau’s improper use of Roberts Rules during board meetings, but congratulated Chen Lau for hiring PCC’s first openly gay president (President Endrijonas) and for pushing the MA governance group to unionize in the future.
Finally, Carol Calandra, Secretary of the Management Association, asked for the other board members to remove Chen Lau as acting board president.
In support of Sandra Chen Lau
PCC Professor Shannon Maraghy who teaches English as a Second Language at Pasadena City College spoke during public comment at the beginning of the meeting calling the timing and nature of the expressed concerns “baseless,” to serve PCC President “Erika Endrijonas’ agenda of retaliation against the new Board, even as she’s on her way out the door.”
Last year, both the faculty Senate and the professors at large at the college cast two votes of No Confidence in PCC President Endrijonas, mainly for her handling of the COVID pandemic return-to-campus. Earlier this year, the Board of Trustees had chosen to allow Endrijonas’ contract to reach its original termination date of June 30, 2024 rather than extend it. Last month, Endrijonas accepted the position of president at Santa Barbara City College.
Maraghy sees the management’s attack as slander against the board members who are “trying to finally bring accountability and good governance to PCC.”
Another speaker, Professor Catherine Cheng, disapproved of the managers engaging in “a campaign of harassment, bullying, and baseless accusations” that is “designed to bully and intimidate our Trustees of color, while the white Trustees skate by under the radar.”
Holding a banner that read “Our community supports the new Board majority!”, a dozen members of grassroots organization Progressive Asian Network for Action (PANA) demonstrated their support for the four Asian-American board members at Pasadena City College. David Monkawa, a founding member of PANA, said his organization is “deeply troubled” by the MA’s “unjustified attacks against these Asian and Black board members who make up PCC’s new Board majority.”
When his speaking time was up and his mic was turned off, a PCC police officer approached him to sit down, and chants of “Stop Asian Hate!” were heard.
Neither the PCC President nor the trustees acknowledged the protest or the calls for Chen Lau’s resignation, but during her report Trustee Chen Lau said she is committed to “continue the dialogue.”
> View the entire PCC Board meeting on May 17, 2023 below:
[This article has been updated for clarification. May 18, 9:30 pm]
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