Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our recent past: Saddleback College and “anti-black harassment”

Much ado about nothing? —Or: a pattern of distressing incidents at a cheery college in a sunny place (OC) with a cloudy history

I’ve been looking for stories about our district’s history, and, in the course of pursuing the lurid tale of a certain notorious former chancellor (no, not Mathur), I came across an old (4/10/94) OC Reg article about “anti-black harassment” at Saddleback College—and the hiring of Ned Doffoney, an African-American (not the first; he succeeded Constance Carroll), as President. (See A VISION OF CONFIDENCE: Ned Doffoney, president of a college with a history of racial problems, says he is not single-issue oriented).

You know about Ned: he’s from Louisiana but spent time in education in LA before taking on the Saddleback gig. After he was ousted by 1997’s notorious right-wing Board Majority (Frogue, Williams, et al.), he went back to Louisiana. More recently, he was the President of Fresno City College and, a year and a half ago, he became the Chancellor or the North Orange County Community College District. (See North Orange County gets a New Chancellor.)

According to the Reg article, back in early 1994, “anti-black harassment” had often “put the college in the news”—for years, evidently going back to about 1991.

The Reg explained:
Since 1991, a handful of black staff members and students have sporadically received threatening or harassing fliers or phone calls. Last fall, two black students running for homecoming king and queen abandoned their quests after receiving hate mail. ¶ In November, even as nearly 600 people packed a campus forum on racial intolerance, Ricc Waddell, the would-be homecoming king and president of the black student association, found a threatening, racist note under his vehicle's windshield wiper.
According to the Reg, at the time, the college had hired consultants “to help smooth the way as the campus becomes more diverse.” Evidently, just then, these consultants were about to file “a report…calling for a department of ethnic studies.” (See College May Offer Ethnic Studies Dept. (L.A. Times, 5/19/94).)

The Reg seemed to expect the recommendation to inspire opposition “from parts of the faculty.”

Don’t know what that’s about. (Do you?)

This Waddell kid (of the black student association) was pretty cynical about the Doffoney hire:
…Waddell, 23, the history and psychology major who was the target of the latest racist fliers, said Doffoney has yet to "see the irony in this whole situation." ¶ "He's the master token, and he doesn't realize it," Waddell said. "I just think he's being brought in as a pacifier. (District trustees) don't want Saddleback to get the name of being racist."
But Ned is a pretty charming—and genuinely nice—guy, and so Waddell met with him and then reported that "He's a real cool guy. I'm very happy that he's here."

Nevertheless, Waddell opined that Doffoney would be dealing with a “hostile climate” for minorities. (No doubt there was some hostility. Any old-timers want to weigh in on whether this episode leaves a false impression? A correct impression? A small handful of rat bastards can cause quite a stink. Is that what this was, essentially? On the other hand, South County is the home of both the Minutemen and the Birthers, both arguably racist organizations. Newport Beach, of course, is the home of the nation's foremost Holocaust denial organization, the IHR, whose friends came to the district in significant numbers to support their hero Steve Frogue a decade ago.)

Within a year or two after Doffoney’s arrival, trustee Steve Frogue commenced his perplexing series of criticisms of the IVC Academic Senate--and the Jewish Anti-Defamation LeagueHe even seemed to question an instructor’s inviting an ADL official to speak to a class (at IVC), learning about the Holocaust.

Naturally, that didn’t please the district’s Jewish population.
Digression: the "Menorah cartoon" incident, 1989-1990:

The 26-year old art editor of the Saddleback College Lariat ran a cartoon criticizing Israel's nuclear policy--using Jewish symbols (Menorah, Holocaust). People went apeshit. For a (partisan) review of the facts concerning the incident, see Orange County: A Tragicomedy in Three Acts, by Tom Moran, 3/90 in the willing-to-criticize-Israel (yikes) Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. See also Apology: offensive Lariat editorial cartoon, LA Times, 12/17/89
TigerAnn, cat

I then (as now) taught at Saddleback’s sister college to the north, and, frankly, I didn’t pay any attention—indeed, I was oblivious—to the racial tensions referred to here. I came into the (political) picture only when Frogue commenced sniffing around my office mate’s Holocaust course (c. 1995). (I wrote a piece for IVC’s Voice, criticizing Mr. Frogue’s apparent embrace of the incompetent Institute for Historical Review, a local Holocaust denial organization.)

Do any readers have information concerning these events at Saddleback College of the early 90s?

The article reveals how times have changed—not just with regard to interracial relations (which seem good these days, on our campuses). Doffoney identified among his challenges the setting up of a “computer network”: “Many of our students have computers. Their homes are technologically equipped. And it's our task to catch up," he said.

It's hard to remember a time when we didn't have computers in our offices. Our computers arrived in the mid-to-late 90s.

I recall the district dragging IVC’s computer-savvy (and otherwise-savvy) Peter Morrison out of the classroom (this must’ve been about 1997) to organize and plan this computer catch-uppery. I think they were also trying to keep him above the various frays that then raged at IVC and the district.

Did you know former Chancellor Robert Lombardi? I never had a problem with him, but he occasionally offered less-than-articulate comments to the press over the years. This particular article ends with a typical Lombardian "comment." Commenting on Doffoney, he was quoted as saying
"He makes us all easier with diversity…. When you experience people who are different from yourself and you have a real positive experience with that ... that experience helps us then deal with other people who are different than we are."
Um, yeah. Sure.

“Moments in SOCCCD History” coming soon*:
• Saddleback instructor’s lurid “wide stance” student/teacher conference in the Utt library restroom
• Saddleback instructor’s student-bimbo v. wife brass-knuck-assisted on-desk bout leading to über-costly medical payout
• Irvine Valley banana boy’s unseemly & illicit internet surfin’ in the stacks
• Irvine Valley gasbag leading student prayer huddles pre-tournament, amen
*Well, no, we won't be delving into this kind of history. I mention these events (all real) only because three of the instructors were supporters of Raghu P. Mathur and were part of the corrupt union inner circle that brought us the 1996 Board Majority. And guess what? Those are the three who weren’t fired.

Photo from Steve Turnbull’s “The Great Laguna Fire of 1993”

Comments

Anonymous‬ said...
I was there.
 Brother Ricc invited the Minister of Information from the Nation of Islam [to] speak in the BGS large lecturer hall. The "bodyguards" from the Nation Of Islam were patting down anyone who attended at the entrance. Who knows where our Campus Police where.



Later in the semester the "note incident" occurred. Things were very odd at the time. Linda Newell and her assistant Norma Yanni were the "District Diversity Office" or something like that. They seemed to have an agenda, but I couldn't figure it out.



The forum was hosted by another "Diversity Officer" from another college. Paid, of course. To me it smelled like a RICO investigation was needed. Cause some trouble and collect the cash. Why didn't Linda run the forum? Did her paid host get her a gig on his campus for a forum? Pure speculation on that part, but it sure felt like it.



Not long after that the "District Diversity Office" was dissolved and Saddleback got both employees.



I had the pleasure of working with Ned and he was a professional and a gentleman. He did what was best for the college and—shock—believed in shared governance. He was in charge, but he did listen and work for the best outcome.



Peter Morrison was a most interesting person. He pushed through a District Budget Allocation Model that favored IVC for many years. He was the terror of "DRAC". He got drafted to the District network/computer project because the colleges were bypassing the district in technology.
For those in the know "The (Ed) Buck Stopped Here".



My favorite memories of Peter was when he walked out during Frogue's tirades in the BOT meetings about the IVC Academic Senate elections. When he was done, Frogue would look up and ask "he wouldn't stay to hear me out?"

12:29 AM, December 31, 2009

2 comments:

  1. Good God! It's history at it's best!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was there.
    Brother Ricc invited the Minister of Information from the Nation of Islam speak in the BGS large lecturer hall. The "bodyguards" from the Nation Of Islam were patting down anyone who attended at the entrance. Who knows where our Campus Police where.

    Later in the semester the "note incident" occurred. Things were very odd at the time. Linda Newell and her assistant Norma Yanni were the "District Diversity Office" or something like that. They seemed to have an agenda, but I couldn't figure it out.

    The forum was hosted by another "Diversity Officer" from another college. Paid of course. To me it smelled like a RICO investigation was needed. Cause some trouble and collect the cash. Why didn't Linda run the forum? Did her paid host get her a gig on his campus for a forum? Pure speculation on that part, but it sure felt like it.

    Not long after that the "District Diversity Office" was dissolved and Saddleback got both employees.

    I had the pleasure of working with Ned and he was a professional and a gentleman. He did what was best for the college and *shock* believed in shared governance. He was in charge, but he did listen and work for the best outcome.

    Peter Morrison was a most interesting person. He pushed through a District Budget Allocation Model that favored IVC for many years. He was the terror of "DRAC". He got drafted to the District network/computer project because the colleges were bypassing the district in technology.

    For those in the know "The (Ed) Buck Stopped Here".

    My favorite memories of Peter was when he walked out during Frogue's tirades in the BOT meetings about the IVC Academic Senate elections. When he was done, Frogue would look up and ask "he wouldn't stay to hear me out?".

    ReplyDelete

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