Celeste Barber, who requested the return of the Pledge of Allegiance to Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees meetings, spoke at the Valentine's Day meeting, moved to the Wake Center for space reasons, wherein the pledge was reinstated amid high emotions.
Pledge of Allegiance Is Back at SBCC Board Meetings
Unruly City College Meeting Raises Unaddressed Racial Tensions
Saturday, February 16, 2019
The Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees meeting on February 14 ended in disarray, not unlike several of their most recent meetings. At this meeting, the board was considering a resolution to add the Pledge of Allegiance to board agendas. The meeting was held at SBCC’s Wake Campus to accommodate the large number of individuals interested in the resolution. More than 60 public comment slips were submitted to speak on the subject of the pledge and about 250 people sat or stood in the audience. Two deputy sheriffs and campus security members were present at the meeting.
By Paul Wellman
SBCC Board of Trustees President Robert Miller had expressed qualms about the pledge and its roots in white nationalism when he removed it from the agenda in January.
The pledge had not been recited at board meetings since at least 1959, according to the trustees’ resolution. Then in July 2018, former City College instructor Celeste Barber requested that it be added to board meetings, which it was. However, in early January the pledge was removed by Board President Robert Miller claiming it is rooted in white nationalism. At the January 24 meeting, during public comment, Barber and two other women requested it be reinstated. At the same meeting, students were protesting the unaddressed racism on campus and incidents surrounding Vice President’s Lyndsay Maas’s use of the unabbreviated n-word. When Barber spoke in support of the pledge audience members heckled her and students began stomping, all of which was captured on campus video and was later picked up and rebroadcast by conservative national news outlets. Shortly after, the pledge was temporarily reinstated on January 29. The February 14 meeting was to determine whether the pledge would be permanently reinstated.
Just over 40 people spoke, most of whom were community members and not current students. They emphasized the importance of patriotism, quoted Martin Luther King Jr., and mentioned phrases from the pledge, particularly, “indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” One man said he understood people’s reluctance to recite the pledge but said, “We need not destroy the [pledge], only live up to it.” Several others speakers called for the resignation or firing of President Miller, and others requested that board members who refused to say the pledge should resign.
By Paul Wellman
While speaking in support of the Pledge of Allegiance at a Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustee meeting, Gary Vandeman used the unabbreviated version of the N-word in his complaint of double standards in language. Some people applauded.
However, about one-third of the speakers veered off topic and began criticizing student activists whom they called “social justice warriors.” One speaker said she was “very tired about hearing about white privilege in our universities.” Also commenting in favor of the pledge was James Fenkner, chair of Fair Education, an organization that’s suing Just Communities, accusing the education group of promoting “anti-white, anti-Christian, and anti-male” rhetoric. Emotions in the audience were already running high when Goleta resident Gary Vandeman used the unabridged n-word. Vandeman said he stood for “equal opportunity,” which was denied to white people if only black people could use certain words. A number of people applauded in support of his comment.
Former student trustee Krystle Farmer rose to protest the use of a racial slur at the SBCC meeting on the Pledge of Allegiance.