ASDVC flouts the Brown Act

Theresa Marie

Amidst accusations that ASDVC has been in violation of the state open meeting law in at least three meetings this semester, members are trying to determine whether to blame vandalism or human error. The three ASDVC meetings in question took place on Oct. 25, Nov. 8, and Nov. 15.

Inter-Club Council Vice President AbdulHakeem (Keith) Montes said, “The state law works in our favor. It protects so many of our rights. But if [the ASDVC] is not following the laws that protect our rights, we should be held accountable.”

William Oye, dean of student life, feels that these alleged violations are being taken seriously, but have not caused any serious problems and should be seen in the context of a community college environment – where students should be forgiven of harmless errors and be guided towards the important lessons that their mistakes can teach them.

ASDVC President Katerina Schreck has taken measures to counter act the vandalism that she believes could be the source of the confusion.

“All of the agendas have been posted,” Schreck said. “A lot of them have been torn down. I was talking to a few of the [ASDVC] executive officers and we were all frustrated about this. We want people to have access to these postings so that they can come to our meetings and give their input. That’s why we started posting the agendas near the BFL building, instead of just on the outside of the [Student Union] conference room.”

But Queer Straight Alliance member Nick Holmes is bothered by what he perceives as the cavalier attitude among certain ASDVC members. In a recording of the Nov. 15 meeting, Holmes responds to colleagues who called the situation a common slip up, saying, “This (agenda violation) is a disregard of process and frankly, I’m concerned that’s $80,000 worth of advice not being seen.”

The interim ASDVC Advisor, Yvonne Canada, agreed with Holmes and declared that the Nov. 15 meeting be unofficial.

Since Schreck was not present at the Nov. 15 meeting, she could not explain why that meeting’s agenda was not posted 72 hours in advance, which would be in accordance with the Brown Act. In the recording of the meeting, members can be heard speculating about what happened as Jake Evans, ASDVC Parliamentarian and chair of the ASDVC Constitution committee, leaves the room.

With Evans gone, Sean De Woody, the environmental affairs officer, announced that Evans had forwarded him a text message that was originally sent by Schreck, which indicated that Schreck had posted Tuesday’s (Nov. 15) agenda on the Freedom Board near the BFL building on the Friday before.

Montes told the Inquirer that upon viewing the agenda posted on the Freedom Board, he noticed “…it showed no signs of weathering, even though it had rained extensively over Veteran’s Day weekend. There was a previous agenda from the Nov. 8 meeting on the same Freedom Board. The ink from it was bleeding and the paper was tattered, showing signs of the rain.”

Montes continued. “[The Nov. 15 meeting’s posting] had the time that the meeting was called to order… at 2:05 p.m. It also showed that the agenda had been approved. And it showed that the minutes from Oct. 18 had been noted. To me, that indicates that someone had decided to print one out once it was announced that the Nov. 15 meeting was in violation and that person decided to post it afterwards.”


Even more unsettling to Holmes and Montes was when the adviser, Canada, used the word “vandalism” to account for why the agenda postings for certain ASDVC meetings have been missing.

In an interview, Oye defended Schreck’s diligence in complying with the Brown Act requirements, despite inconvenient circumstances. A 72-hour notice for a Tuesday afternoon meeting means that Schreck would have to post the ASDVC meeting agenda by Saturday afternoon. The school isn’t open on Saturday afternoons and, as Dean Oye explained, “I wasn’t here to help her to get into the building on Friday [Nov. 11] because it was Veteran’s Day.”

Dean Oye and Pres. Schreck have come up with a Plan B. Schreck will be able to post the agendas in the locked display board cabinet on the Administration Building (which also displays housing notices). Thus, her efforts to inform the public of their right to attend the ASDVC meetings with a 72 hour advanced notice will not be marred by vandalism.

Said Oye, “We strive to comply with the Brown act. But, sometimes, certain circumstances create a barrier. I wasn’t here on Veteran’s Day to let her into the building. We had a problem. But, with the locked display board cabinet, we now have a solution. Let us learn from the problem and let us improve upon the problem so that we can learn from this. If we’re not happy or satisfied, we’re gonna do it better.”

Oye also offered a perspective that gave context to this issue. “This is a center for higher education. The students in ASDVC are students. They are not the State Legislature in Sacramento. This is an educational experience to help people learn how to do this; how to legislate. They’re learning. They’re not perfect. Yes, there are funds that ought to be explained to the public and used wisely and in a way that helps us to achieve our goals. But the ASDVC’s main goal is to bring students together at this community college. They organize events so that students get a feel for campus life at this commuter school. They’re trying to make this place a more enjoyable place to learn a
nd thrive in.

The Ralph M. Brown Act is California’s Open Meeting Law. It guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies, including schools and their standing committees. While ensuring that the public had access to information about how their money was being used, the Brown Act also allows citizens to express their opinions and ask questions during these meetings.

All bodies covered under the Brown Act must post the agenda for their meetings 72 hours in advance in a place that is accessible to the public.

In response to the alleged violations, Schreck said, “While I understand that these concerns may be valid to some people, I know for a fact that myself and the other executive officers allow opportunity for everyone to speak at our meetings. We haven’t violated any parts of the Brown Act or ASDVC Constitution and we will continue to hold our meetings on Tuesdays so long as we have items and our agendas aren’t torn down by vandalism.”


Staff writer Sean Wilkey contributed to this article.