Friday, February 17, 2012

IVC's student Dissenters: Where are they now?

Delilah at center; Deb at right; circa 1998
     PAST IS PRESENT. Things got pretty crazy at Irvine Valley College and the SOCCCD in the late nineties, what with Brown Act lawsuits, accreditation spankage, State Chancellor’s Office fiscal warnings, Holocaust-denying trustees, and numerous 1st Amendment battles.
Delilah and friend
     STUDENTS. Some student leaders really stand out in my memory of that era, including Deb Burbridge and Delilah Snell, who organized student protests against the Mathur regime (see photo above) and, as a consequence of Mathur and the Board’s crushing authoritarian response, signed on to 1st Amendment lawsuits guided by the redoubtable Carol Sobel and Wendy Gabriella.
     I'm here to tell you that these former students have gone on to big—or, at any rate, good—things. Wonderful things.
     These days, Deb is a full-timer at Long Beach City College, a Professor of Life Science. By all accounts, she’s a blazing success. I've heard about her prowess in the classroom for years.
     And Delilah? Well, you can see her visage in yesterday’s OC Register:

Protesting harsh consequences to
speech enabling instructor, late 1999
Road Less Traveled moves to downtown Santa Ana

     For years now, Delilah has been a ubiquitous local leader of—well, I’m not sure I grasp the category. But her name comes up a lot with regard to all things green and sustainable. She’s into cooking and organics and DIY and crafts. (Recently, my sister has developed an enthusiasm for home-made, green household products, and she has managed to fall into Delilah's orbit. Seems like everybody does eventually!)
     And that, I suppose, is what her store Road Less Traveled is all about. It's moved to a bigger and better location; hence, the news story. Check it out (and see pic below).
     DISSENTERS. One of the best accounts of Deb and Delilah’s early “dissentular” efforts appeared in The Nation—in an article co-written by yet another standout among IVC students of that era, the stunningly energetic Sanaz Mozafarian:
Sanaz off Broadway (2004)
     Last year students, local residents and members of the Jewish and gay communities joined the faculty and staff efforts to challenge the board. In a rare show of Orange County activism, students Delilah Snell and Diep Burbridge gathered nearly 100 of their colleagues for a series of campus demonstrations, the first in the college’s near-twenty-year history. They denounced the hiring of [Raghu] Mathur, demanded the recall of [trustee Steve] Frogue and called attention to the possible loss of the college’s accreditation. The rallies attracted major media coverage. In response, the board, Mathur and their cronies claimed the students were “misled” by a handful of “disgruntled employees” and “leftist” faculty. Even freedom of speech took a nosedive. Snell and Burbridge were initially told to give twenty-four-hour notice before each demonstration and to submit to college officials for review everything they would be passing out. After meetings with the president in which they were accused of “misleading” others and hostile encounters with board supporters, the students were at first permitted one hour a week to hold their demonstrations. Soon it was reduced to thirty minutes.
Sanaz in a film (2005)
     Now the students, represented by the ACLU, are suing Mathur and the board for violating their First Amendment rights. According to the lawsuit, filed this past summer, the demonstrations were relocated from the center of campus to an isolated area where students were told to keep their noise level down. When the limits were questioned, students were told it was not in the “best interest of the college” to hold a longer protest in a more visible part of campus, given the “political climate.”
     The board’s actions are astonishing, but what is even more astonishing is that at a small commuter college, in a largely Republican district where most people never learn the names of public officials, these students cared enough to challenge injustice and are fighting to secure future students’ rights. So much for apathy. (THE NATION, 10/5/98 “What do students want?”)
Sanaz c. 2000
Dafna Kory
     It appears that, after the above article was published, Sanaz continued her journalistic career for a while (she seems to have interned for The Nation and the Village Voice and worked for the Independent Media Center) and then, I think, she briefly went into acting. (Not sure it's the same SM, but it sure looks like her. Same name, same face.)
     Don't know what she’s up to these days, but she seems capable of anything. (Possibly, she's gone into finance or investments.)
     We do get some terrific students here at Irvine Valley College.

     P.S.: DAFNA KORY. I just heard from Rebel Girl. She reminded me of a few other “dissentular” students from the late 90s/early 2000s, including Dafna Kory, who, I’m told, has hit the big time in the world of DIY jams (the kind you put on toast). She’s also an impressive independent filmmaker. Read about her jamology here: Jam Maker Dafna Kory Turns Hobby Into Thriving Business (Civil Eats)
D. Kenneth Brown
     KEN BROWN. Mid-to-late-80s IVC student Ken Brown eventually got his MA (at Claremont) and PhD (at UCI) and taught philosophy for us by about 2000, and he did a great job. At a meeting of the School of Humanities and Languages, however, knowing the risk and with nothing to gain, he dared to openly object to one of the absurd and unprofessional actions taken by of our then-Dean. As a consequence, said dean ceased giving Ken teaching assignments. (I was plenty steamed at the time.) In my book, that makes Ken an honorary "Dissenter."
Pourya Khademi
     A few years later, Ken landed a plum job at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I couldn't be prouder. (See him lecture: Virtual Persons. I've posted the video below.)
     POURYA KHADEMI. Yet another student Dissenter is the estimable Pourya Khademi, a wonderful professional musician, among other things. (I believe that he graduated from Cal in 2010.) Pourya played an important role in the successful SOCCCD 1st Amendment lawsuits of the early 2000s. Check out his wonderful playing in the video below.
Jason Davis
     JASON DAVIS. I'm not sure that recent IVC student Jason Davis is a "Dissenter," but he certainly provided this blog with lots of great pics and info over the years (including a flow of stuff from his two years at UCI). And he's definitely got a dissentular personality--or worse! He's working on a collection of writings (from his blogs) about his Iraq experiences. In the meantime, he's got a real job working for both as a writer and photographer. I have high hopes for the scarily multi-talented Jason.
     There are others, for sure, but I'll tell you about 'em some other day.

Diep (Deb) Burbridge in bio mode
Delilah Snell
• Students Defy Protest Policy (LA Times, 1999)
• Students sue community college district for putting restrictions on campus speech (SPLC, 2000)
• Suit Aims at Rights of Speech (LA Times, 2002)
• District Is Muzzling Free Speech, Judge Rules (LA Times, 2002)
• McNair Scholars Program Will Showcase Student
Research Projects at Summer Symposium
(PolyCentric, 2002)
• Meet & Eat: Delilah Snell, Certified Master Food Preserver in Southern California (Serious Eats)
• Delilah Snell Is a Patchwork Kind of Gal (OC Weekly)
• Project Small (Blog)
• The Imperialists (Sanaz Mozafarian, The Village Voice, 2000)
• What do students want? (Sanaz Mozafarian, et al., The Nation, 1998)
• Sanaz Mozafarian in New York on 9-11 (DtB, 2006)

Pourya Khademi
D. Kenneth Brown
Delilah's The Road Less Traveled


Anonymous said...

I remember the admin stucco-ed over the bulltin boards.

Anonymous said...

Writing for *The Nation*?! WOW! Extremely impressive. It's terrific that you are keeping track of your students' successes, and that (some of) you undoubtedly had a hand in helping them to get there!

delilah@projectsmallblog said...

SO flattered to be a part of this amazing group of people AND to know the incredible staff of IVC who are inspiring, encouraging and made such an impact on my life more than this comment can even express.
This time in my life was such a catalyst for everything after-including: PATCHWORK Indie Arts & Crafts festival and my newest venture (with my niece Nicole), CRAFTCATION the first Indie Business and DIY conference to hit So Cal-EVER this March in Ventura.
A proper party needs to happen with everyone to catch up and celebrate-VIVA LA REVOLUTION! -xo

Bob Cosgrove said...

Well deserved recognition of our colleagues at IVC: you inspire and motivate students. Something we all need to do.


Anonymous said...

I LOVE this kind of post. What terrific students.

I am going to visit Delilah's store in Santa Ana as soon as I can.

I hear her on the weekends on KCRW. She is an occasional contributor to the "Good Food" show with Evan Kleinman.


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