Ann Marie Cataño I want to adopt you. An editorial two years ago by Ann Marie Cataño, frankly I am jealous I was not as advanced politically at your age. She is doing no more than demanding her First Amendment Rights. The irony is that if this were a right wing group the institution would be running scared.. “Only Mexicans so don’t worry!” – Rudy Acuña
LA MISIÓN October 29, 2012
EDITORIAL: Chalking On Campus
By Ann Marie Cataño
“I just spoke with District Lawyers this afternoon and
they made it very clear that under no condition is
“sidewalk” chalk allowable. It is vandalism and
should be treated as such. Any sidewalk chalk is to be
cleaned up immediately. Also, we have a “defined”
free speech area and we do not have the authority to
extend this area. The District has litigated this in
the past and they strongly encourage us not to
“allow” extension of the free speech area due to
Daniel G. Villanueva Los Angeles Mission College
Vice President of Administrative Services
At Los Angeles Mission College, students are being targeted for their level of activism on campus, and for the message they are trying to communicate. On Tuesday, August 28, 2012, several students began “chalking” at Los Angeles Mission College. What seemed as a non-violent action and an exercise of their rights of freedom of speech was quickly washed away by administration, custodians, and water hoses. However, Los Angeles Mission College does NOT prevent the children from the Child Development Center from chalking on campus, nor were the students prevented from doing so on Denim Day, April 25th 2012, when they chalked the sidewalk as well.
This is clearly an act of censorship, political suppression, retaliation and intimidation. Students are being treated differently in order to silence their collective student voice, and keep them from exposing issues that affect all of the campus community, not just students.
The question is, why? At around 7 am, it was noted that Ms. Stephanie Atkinson-Alston began snapping pictures and walking around the sidewalks that were being chalked on.
Messages included “Stop the Budget Cuts”, “We Demand Fair and Equal Treatments for Staff and “Screw Off Academic Senate President.”
Ms. Angela Echeverri has been the Academic Senate President for over ten years now, teaches one Biology course and gets paid over $150,000 a year, while we as students are struggling to even get into one class. Ms. Echeverri has continually harassed and intimidated students and faculty members. One day as I was parking my truck she approached it and began writing down my license plate number down. She repeatedly harassed students during the LAMC Occupy that took place May 31st-June7, 2012.
According to faculty members interviewed, her tenure has been so tyrannical and antagonistic to colleagues who disagree with her agenda and to the well-being of the school, that last spring faculty members voted to recall her from her position as Academic Senate President. Although the recall was successful, she continues to illegally hold her position.”
Under her leadership, violation of the Brown Act was made official policy, with the drafting of LAMC Academic Senate policies that restricted the participation of students and the public. The Brown Act was written into law to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent with openness and transparency, and any entity that receives these funds must be open to public participation. As a consequence, Los Angeles Community College district lawyers mandated that LAMC Academic Senate rewrite their constitution to adhere to the
Brown Act. If these problems were not enough, there have been several very serious allegations of race baiting made against her with substantial evidence and student and faculty testimony, with the district and campus have been very slow to discipline her on (Refer to Volume 1 Issue 2 of La Misión)
As Administrators began questioning students as to why they had written “Screw off Academic Senate President”, the students responded, “Do you think its ok for certain faculty and Administrators to harass and intimidate students?”
Of course, there was no logical response for this question. Ms. Atkinson-Alston was rude to the students and Ms. Atkinson-Alston stated that she had “more power than the students.” She ignored all questions, laughed and snickered at them with her arms crossed as they walked by.
As the students continued chalking, Ms. Atkinson-Alston was still in clear view, making several phone calls. There were two sheriffs present as well. She continued harassing the students, telling them to stop, when in fact they were only, engaging in a peaceful demonstration, exercising their freedom of speech.
The students continued chalking, until several custodians, including Wally Bortman, came out to wash the chalk away. With the students still clearly chalking, Mr. Bortman began hosing down the sidewalk, stating “If she doesn’t move I [will] squirt her.” (referring to Ann Marie Catano) He proceeded to squirt her, ruining her shoes, as well as those of fellow students Victor Martinez and Kimberly Calito.
The question remains: why? Mr. Bortman claimed the students were wasting his time, and the students claimed their rights were being violated. Is a washable substance like chalk indeed vandalism, or were these students being targeted for their level of activism on campus? For raising awareness against people such as Ms. Angela Echeverri.
The students continued chalking throughout the week, on campus and public property, but it was later made clear to the students that they were no longer allowed to chalk on campus property, and any further chalking would be treated as vandalism.
On Friday, August 31, 2012 President Perez sent out an email in regards to chalking. However his report was incorrect. Chalking was not done on Monday, and his email in fact communicated the wrong information. Clearly, chalking is not a crime, and should not be treated as such.
By their actions against certain students over the past week, the Los Angeles Mission College administration and the Los Angeles Community College District’s Legal Office is depriving students of their freedom of speech. It is clear that the campus and district administration would rather give in to the faculty at LAMC (who are the real problem), rather than take into account what the students have to say. However, what is more disturbing is the fact that it is clear that it is NOT the chalking that is the problem, but that these actions against students’ free speech rights are an act of retaliation against the students for courageously exposing the corruption in the academic senate.