By Oscar Gonzalez/@originalgamer1
More than 100 people crowded the March 24 Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees meeting demanding the dismissal of Chancellor Bruce Leslie.
Students, professors and members of the community filled the Alamo Colleges-Building E at 201 W. Sheridan. Inside the meeting room protesters filled rows of seats, leaving standing room only. Others filled an overflow area outside the meeting room where they watched the live feed, cheering loudly when speakers made a point on their behalf.
Following awards and recognitions, students with signs in hand, filed into the meeting room with chants of “students first!” during a two-hour Citizens To Be Heard segment of the meeting.
Students weren’t alone in their protest. Several professors from the Alamo Colleges spoke regarding their dismay over managerial and financial decisions made by Chancellor Leslie.
Speakers’ major criticisms:
- Spending on a new $1.5 million cosmetology program at Palo Alto College, while other programs suffer financially
- Lack of funding for a Mexican-American studies program
- A plan to include ebooks into the tuition, with plans to remove the use of textbooks
- The lack of a women’s center to provide assistance for female students suffering from abuse
- No nurse on staff at most colleges
- Removal of majors on associate’s degrees
Following the Citizens To Be Heard segment, the meeting continued as normal. No action was taken by the board in regards the chancellor.
Not all students in attendance were there to protest, including SGA president of San Antonio College, Karen Elliot. Representatives from the student government associations from the different Alamo Colleges spoke during the meeting at the request of Chancellor Leslie.
“Pointing a finger at somebody is never going to feel good and it’s not usually going to get the response you want,” said Karen Elliot, American Sign Language Interpreting sophomore.
“It’s important to realize that when they point fingers at the Board of Trustees, they’re not facilitating a dialogue.”
Faculty at this university explained why dissatisfaction with the administration at the community college level impacts A&M-San Antonio.
“What’s going on at the Alamo Colleges between Chancellor Leslie, between the faculty and between the students is one of the dangers when you don’t really pursue shared government from an administrative position,” said Edward Westermann, associate professor of history and president of Faculty Senate.
In this situation, Westermann said you have people who feel like they don’t have input or that their views are not being taken into consideration.
“Some of these issues that we’re seeing — the protest issues, the anger, the dissatisfaction — takes away from the educational mission that should be the focus of the university or a community college. That’s really the disappointing fact of what’s going on with the situation,” he said.
The Student Leadership Coalition, a grass-roots organization formed at Palo Alto College, said they will protest April 23 at PACFest, an official Fiesta event at Palo Alto College.