“The COC board is not interested in COVID-19.”
This headline refers to the March 11, 2020, College of the Canyons board of trustees meeting. Michele Jenkins uttered these words, captured on video, during a board meeting that quickly turned chaotic as concerned faculty, student leaders and two of the five board members demanded to address the college’s response (or lack thereof) to the pandemic crisis.
Highlights of that meeting include:
Michele Jenkins, current board president, originally refused to place the COVID-19 topic on the agenda and further complained that an hour of the meeting had already been spent listening to faculty and students on the topic.
When board member Edel Alonso, eager to discuss the health crisis, asked to approach the board as a member of the public, Ms. Jenkins declared: “No Edel, you are not a member of the public.”
If left to board President Michelle Jenkins, there would have been no public address of the pandemic on March 11 — no ability to hear from leadership on how the college planned to respond to the crisis, or opportunity for the public to ask questions.
And yet, only two days after that meeting, on March 13, the college made the decision to close its doors to the public and sent all students, faculty and staff home.
If only the board had been willing to listen to board member Edel Alonso or the dozens of faculty and students who showed up that day – and who had been pleading with the college to address the COVID-19 crisis. If only board President Michele Jenkins had been interested in discussing the looming threat of the pandemic in a timely manner as we expect from our elected officials. Instead, we witnessed a failure of leadership in a time of campus and community crisis.
Edel Alonso, Jerry Danielsen and Sebastian Cazares are running for the board of trustees positions in Areas 2, 3 and 4. It is time to elect board members who will provide leadership to the college and who will take seriously the concerns, health and safety of COC employees, students and taxpayers of the Santa Clarita Valley.