College Council Addresses Campus Infrastructure and Vaccine Mandates


Photo by Annekingsley, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Mireya Preciado, Staff

The DVC College Council held a meeting via Zoom on Wednesday, Sept. 29, in which faculty discussions ranged from the Brown Act to campus vaccines to the construction plan known as Measure E, affecting infrastructure in the school’s Pleasant Hill and San Ramon locations.

Participating scholars included two sociology professors, Lisa Ratchford and Sangha Niyogi, oceanography professor John Freytag, Puma Program coordinator Marina Varela, Rotaract Club treasurer Zhangyang Zhou, DVC President Susan Lamb, mathematics professor Lindsay Long, Dean of Career and Community Partnership Beth Arman, and guest speaker J.D. Espiritu.

Prof. Freytag, who is also the Academic Senate President, discussed recent changes to the Brown Act – specifically, the fact that President Joe Biden has amended the act, mandating until Jan. 3, 2024, that anyone who participates in governance-related meetings must agree every 30 days to keep meetings online. The rule affects community college councils that are now required on a monthly basis to verify their status between members.

In their discussion of Measure E, College Council participants explained that the school is planning to relocate groups currently based in the Puma Center – which is slated for destruction – to the upstairs of the Language Arts building. But Puma’s coordinator, Varela, raised concerns about the move, saying it could disrupt the longtime spirit of community that was built there.

In the Puma Center, Varela said, students tell her, “I feel safe, here is my only safe space… I feel like I can knock on the door of anyone and feel wanted and safe.”

Valera stated that she wants students to be able to walk by the existing center and see all the resources available to them, and President Lamb responded to Varela’s concerns saying that she was actively listening to feedback about the changes from students and employees across the school.

The College Council also examined the long-running history and budget debate surrounding Measure E, a bill passed in 2014 to build and update a variety of buildings on the San Ramon and Pleasant Hill campuses. The project got pushed back and was put on hold in 2018 due to escalating costs, but got the Division of the State Architect’s approval to move forward in 2019-20.

In the plan’s revised budget, DVC plans to upgrade the Language Arts classrooms and bathrooms, tear down the old counseling center and science center, and relocate the journalism program.

The council also reviewed the school’s vaccination status, revealing numbers that showed a high percentage of DVC students are already vaccinated, and are therefore presumably more ready to return to in-person learning. However, the council acknowledged that some students have decided to stay unvaccinated and may remain home, continuing through online learning in the spring.

Lamb announced that she wants to host a wider conversation next semester about the challenges posed by COVID-19, and the ways that DVC has been reevaluating its priorities and policies as an institution. She said staff members will be brought into conversations with academic colleagues throughout the state over the next couple of months in an effort to “help broaden our horizons.”