The Jan. 16, 2019, College of the Canyons board of trustees meeting began like most others. However, over the course of several hours that evening, the college endured an experience that brought our worst fears to life: a threat of an active shooter was reported on campus.
This meeting was filled with faculty, staff, administrators, community members and the press. All were witness to a college response that was, at best, fumbling and confused. However, as the gravity of our situation took hold, it was also apparent that the lack of quick response from board leadership was a liability and could have put people at risk.
Once the threat was communicated, the training of faculty and staff kicked in: Windows were covered, audience members were moved away from the entrance to the room, and requests were made to turn off the lights. However, for more than 20 minutes after the announcement that an active shooter may be present on campus, the board president tried to continue the meeting. Lights and microphones remained on, and the president and chancellor continued to address an audience that was no longer listening.
It took board member Edel Alonso to address the board president and implore him to end the meeting and secure the room before action was finally taken.
Leadership is tested in these moments: Whether during an active shooter threat, or the more recent COVID-19 health crisis, employees, students and the public look to the board of trustees as stewards of the health and safety of the campus community. Asking hard questions, challenging the status quo, and taking decisive action — these are hallmarks of Edel Alonso’s first term as a board member at COC. Alonso has proven her ability to lead in moments of crisis — a quality sorely lacking in current board leadership.
On Nov. 3, re-elect Edel Alonso to the COC board of trustees. Now, more than ever, our community needs strong leadership: confident in the face of crisis, resolute in their commitment to act in the best interests of our students and the wider campus community.