Dozens of Santa Barbara City College faculty are requesting that their in-person classes scheduled this fall are moved back online after the Board of Trustees voted down a widely supported vaccine mandate for staff and students.
The current policy — adopted by the board on May 27 — “strongly encourages” students and employees to be vaccinated and that those students or employees who elect not to must wear a mask, observe social distancing, and submit to periodic COVID-19 testing.
The college’s Academic Senate and Faculty Association held a special meeting on June 8 to come up with an alternative motion that mandates COVID-19 vaccination, among other stipulations. It had unprecedented support from a unanimous Academic Senate, unanimous Faculty Association, and strong support from the California School Employees Association (CSEA). But it was still shot down by the board at its June 24 meeting in a 4-3 vote. Opposed were Trustees Veronica Gallardo, Kate Parker, Robert Miller, and Peter Haslund.
But despite the trustees’ June 24 vote, the Academic Senate is not backing down.
The Senate unanimously adopted a resolution in response Tuesday — again with the full support of the Faculty Association and the CSEA — that demands a vaccine mandate be put in place by July 12. They will also hold a special meeting to consider a Vote of No Confidence for Trustees Gallardo, Miller, Parker, Haslund, and the Superintendent/President Dr. Utpal Goswami.
“The Board of Trustees’ refusal to support even part of the proposal demonstrates a disregard not only of science, but also the unified voice — and safety — of employees and students,” the resolution reads.
Faculty have protested by emailing their department heads and requesting that their in-person classes be switched to online, or that there is at least a 50 percent room-capacity cap for those who must instruct in person. So far, more than 120 have emailed and cc’d all faculty in protest. The resolution also includes that in the absence of a vaccine mandate, their requests for virtual classrooms should be met.
The Vote of No Confidence meeting will take place July 14. Until it is added to a future agenda, the Board of Trustees will not revisit the vaccine mandate issue.