Sunday, December 7, 1997

ARCHIVES: "Time for Pie" by Chunk Wheeler (BvT)

     From Dissent, December, 1997.

     Last Monday, Julie, Steve, and I headed south, in separate cars, to attend the monthly Faculty Association [union] meeting (which is always held on the day of the regular board meeting). When I arrived at the usual meeting place, I found a note that said that, this time, we would gather at the San Juan Capistrano Marie Calendar’s. This gooey development made attending the meeting even less attractive than usual, but I didn’t want to abandon my stalwart friends, who, for all I knew, had already seen the note and headed for the Land of Pie. If so, they would surely appreciate the presence of another ‘Viner, and so I drove to Marie Calendar’s. When I arrived, I realized to my horror that Julie and Steve had bailed on the meeting, which made sense, ‘cuz, if you know Julie and Steve, they’re the sort who can get pretty peeved about unannounced location switcheroos.
     Despite the time—I was twenty minutes late—I was among the first to arrive at the House of Mucilage. I found Sherry and one or two others talking shop in a private room which comprised a long Last Supper-style table. Sherry, who sat in Judas’ chair, seemed surprised (horrified?) to see me. Nevertheless, she received me cordially, in a minimalist sort of way, and, for once, she gave me a copy of the agenda, etc. My gratitude was so great that a blushed, and the room was bathed in red light, though that could have been caused by the goddamn Christmas lights that someone had stapled to the wall.
     Others soon trailed in until about eight of us sat around the table, and, by then, the conversation became business-like. The discussion turned to the faculty evaluation procedures, a copy of which Sherry had distributed, and so I took the opportunity to draw everyone’s attention to section L, which seemed to forbid the critical comments that President Mathur had been adding to the evaluation forms of some of his faculty critics (e.g., me). Amazingly, several in attendance took my concern seriously, and they advised me to speak with Ken Woodward, who had not yet arrived.
     Soon, the proceedings seemed just like a meeting, and so, ever the stickler for detail, I asked, “Has the meeting begun?” Sherry said No. Nevertheless, my question seemed to cause her to declare that the meeting had now begun, which surprised me. I asked, politely, if we had a quorum, and, as she had done during a previous meeting, Sherry ignored me. Pete Espinoza, however, interrupted Sherry, saying, “I think this is important; the meetings of every organization I’ve ever belonged to start by determining whether there is a quorum,” or something to that effect. One or two others said they agreed. An unfamiliar woman then suggested that we simply hold an informal/unofficial meeting. The suggestion caused Sherry obvious pain; evidently, she expected to do some real business, despite the unhelpful Marie Calendar ambiance, which seems to shout, “Mmmm! It’s time for pie!”, and the switcheroo.

     But it was clear to all that, though we had pie, we did not yet have a quorum. After a few others arrived, the quorum issue was raised again, and a discussion of quorum rules ensued. The discussion was odd, for opinion was very divided, and it was clear that, among this group, the quorum rules were at best unfamiliar. “Could it be that, previously, the Association has not attended to quorums during its meetings, despite its bylaws?”, I asked myself. A voice in my head said, simply, “Yup.”
     Initially, Sherry seemed unsure whether it was the presence of 2/3 or 1/2 of Rep. Council members that made a quorum, though she soon settled on the latter proportion. (In fact, as I discovered later, the “new” bylaws state that a majority of Rep. Council members constitutes a quorum.) Naturally, some of us attempted to determine the exact number of Rep. Council members (i.e., the number of division reps plus officers), but this, too, produced confusion and controversy, in part because some forgot that IVC is part of the SOCCCD. For instance, someone mentioned that some divisions are represented at each meeting by two reps. And yet, as Ray C noted, the bylaws clearly state that each division is to be accorded only one rep. I think someone said, “Whaddya know!”
     In any case, we continued to try to determine the number of division reps. Then someone asked me, “Are you a division rep?”, and I responded, “I would be if the President would allow it.” This inspired Walt (?) to ask for clarification about my status. (You will recall that, though Steve and I were unanimously elected as reps by the FA members of our schools, during the April 28 union meeting, Sherry refused to recognize us as such. During a more recent meeting, I insisted on being recognized, which led to talk among some union regulars of some sort of accommodation.) In response, Sherry declared that we would not discuss that matter during this meeting. Then, inexplicably, the meeting proceeded.
     It seemed to me that the quorum issue had been left unresolved, for, though some members were under the impression that we were quorum-less, in fact, Sherry had made no clear decision on the matter. Eventually, Sherry declared that the meeting would now go into “closed session,” an occurrence that required that I leave the room, since I, as a non-division rep and non-officer, was not a member of the Rep. Council. Sharon Macmillan made a plea to allow me to remain, but Sherry was unresponsive. As I got up to leave, I reminded Sherry that this so-called “closed” meeting could not be official unless there were a quorum. Then I was told that the closed session would last no longer than fifteen minutes, and that someone would fetch me when it was over.
     I waited a little while, but it seemed to me that I had been put into an undignified situation, for I was sitting by myself, pie-less and disenfranchised, in Marie Calendar’s. I got the hell out of there.

     TWO HOURS LATER, people began to assemble outside the SC conference room where the Board Meeting is usually held. The Board’s 5-7 closed session was running late, and so we were locked out until well after 7:00. Luckily, we were entertained by the delightful spectacle of students setting fire to their hair and stabbing themselves in the arm. We all hooted and applauded, which, along with the hair fires, kept us warm and toasty.
     The Board meeting commenced with the usual rites: the Pledge of Allegiance, a prayer, and the ritual burning of jello. (Is it just me, or are others also creeped out by doing the Pledge? I bet the Mafia has a Pledge of Allegiance.)
     New Board officers were elected. The result: Williams is now the President, etc.
     Some of the speakers during the “public comments” portion of the meeting were provocative. For instance, the Jewish Defense League showed up, and two of its members spoke in their usual vulgar manner. One of them simply hurled inelegant insults at Frogue for three solid minutes. The crowd embraced this fellow as it might embrace an undulating pile of banana slugs.
     But matters soon improved. The president of “Women For” (OC) spoke on behalf of Pauline Merry, a recent recipient of the organization’s “Woman of the Year” award and an even more recent object of the Board Majority’s displeasure. (Against expectations, no announcement concerning Dr. Merry’s fate was made that night.) Other speakers (Brenda B, et al.) spoke movingly against Frogue and the Board. As I kind of counterpoint to Raghu’s recent remarks (see above), I read some results of the recent IVC Accreditation Survey. (E.g., 67% of full-time IVC faculty disagreed with this statement: The college president fosters effective communication within the college community.)
     Student Shelly Riddle politely read the recently-ratified ASIVC resolution concerning the Board Majority. It stated, among other things, that the ASIVC are “outraged” concerning the Majority’s “reckless and unwarranted...reorganizational changes” and have “no confidence” in the Majority, who were individually named. More specifically, the resolution asserted that members of the majority had made statements to ASIVC that did not square with the facts, judging by information the students had acquired.
     As Shelly returned to her seat, Trustee Fortune proceeded to hector her concerning the source of the students’ information. Fortune’s inappropriate prosecutorial manner clearly upset Shelly, who nevertheless held her ground, stating repeatedly that the Board had been sent documents that cited the sources in question. Then Bill Hewitt, who had helped secure the information from the district, stood up to respond to Fortune’s challenges. Predictably, Bill was met with shouts from Williams and Fortune, who indicated that he was out of order. To his everlasting credit, Bill continued, undeterred. In the end, Fortune came across like a first-class Arschloch.
     The next and last speaker was Pourya Khademi, another ASIVC representative. He responded to Trustee Frogue’s recent remarks that seemed to dismiss student government (“those kids”) as illegitimate. Pourya made all the right points, and he made them terribly well.
     I know of several students who, in recognizing and responding to the incompetence and venality of the Board Majority and their friends, have grown tremendously as persons. Shelly and Pourya are among them. Perhaps they can serve as an example to faculty.
     Please read the most recent Irvine World News, which contains several useful articles and a helpful editorial. —CW

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