Letter to the Editor: Chris Rogers

The following is a letter to The Current from ARC Student Chris Rogers. 

I do not know Mr. Riley.  I was not here to know his part in the ASB’s support of “Prop 8” in 2008.  The only things I know about Mr. Riley are what I have heard in passing from other students and individuals who were present at the time this all happened.  I will say that Mr. Riley paints a conservative picture of himself on his own website.  I withhold all judgment on these opinions, as I do not personally know him.

It would seem that he has chosen to omit in his letter to the editor those certain parts of the policy that governs the ASB.  The district policy granting the right to students to create the ASB is a power granted and governed by California Education Code 76060-76067.  This code says that a college “may authorize the students of a college to organize a student body association”.  The keyword in that sentence is “may”.  “May” is not the same as “will” and does not guarantee the right to anything.  Los Rios District Policy further authorizes the students to create the ASB, but its actions “are subject to the review and approval of appropriate College officials” (LRCCD Policy 2311 Section 1.1).  This would seem to mean that anything that the ASB does (from its bylaws to its spending of money) is subject to the review of the Administration.  These policies were already in place prior to anything that happened this semester.

For the past two years I have been at ARC, the ASB had not passed bylaws.  However, the district and ARC saw fit to allow the ASB to function.  This year would have been the third year that the ASB would have not adopted any bylaws.  I think it is well within the rights (and by policy a requirement) of the Board of Trustees to require the ASB to adopt the bylaws.  As far as the spending of money from the ASB budget, again this still falls under the purview of the Administration.  They have the right to stop the expenditure of money per district policy due to their right of administrative review over the ASB. I do not think that complaining about noncompliance with the ASB Constitution is grounds for a grievance.  In fact, a public apology given to the students, which the ASB represents, is more in order.  Failure to adopt the bylaws for this long into the semester has stunted the use of money by the ASB to help and represent the students of ARC.  This is their core function and it has been failed.  The ultimate responsibility for this falls on the shoulders of the ASB and its acting president.

Mr. Riley’s letter seems to be a stream of consciousness about the things he has tried to do.  It further discusses how the Administration has stopped him.  The interesting thing about all this is the use of “I” and “me” instead of “we” and “us”.  The last time I checked, the ASB was not made of one person.  The ASB is a team effort that everyone on the ASB should be taking part in.  If Mr. Riley feels that it is only him trying to do anything, then he should talk to his fellow members of the ASB.  If others on the ASB are helping Mr. Riley, then he should be taken to task for his comments in his current letter, as they would not be representative of their contributions.

I cannot speak to any of the events of Mr. Riley’s detainment by Campus Police or his subsequent excusal from campus.  What I can say is that I have met a few of the officers on the Campus Police Dept. and have found them to be professionals.  They genuinely look out for the protection of the students on campus.  They do their best to do their job within the scope of law that the State and LRCCD tells them to go by.  I withhold any substantive judgment on this until the Current publishes more of the story.

Mr. Riley also discusses how he attempted to use California Supreme Court precedent to attempt to get his name on the special election ballot.  In the case of B.T. Collins, 38 of his petition signatures were validated, 2 short of the required 40.  When his lawyers brought this before Judge James T. Ford, 2 signatures that were invalidated were ruled valid, and he allowed B.T. Collins’s name to remain on the special election ballot.  It would seem as though those within the ARC system in charge of these matters (the faculty advisor of the ASB Tanika Byrd and Vice President of Student Services Pam Walker) had reviewed Mr. Riley’s petition signatures and only validated 48 of them, 2 short of the required 50.  Since none of the 4 invalid signatures were ruled valid, then he did not meet the requirements for inclusion on the ballot.  Most judgments on something of this nature involve “good faith” and a validation of requirements met through some other means (usually by a judge decreeing something valid that was not previously).  Since this is not the case, then not including him on the ballot is the correct course of action.

I take one last issue with Mr. Riley’s letter.  It is his use of race and veteran status to attempt to politically and emotionally charge an issue.  I come from a mixed racial background.  My father is half German and half Cherokee Indian.  My mother is half Irish and half Japanese.  I am also a Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.  I would never use any of those to bring public discredit onto anyone or anything in order to further my own personal goals.  I have been to several Veterans’ events at ARC over the Summer 2013 and Fall 2013 semesters.  Mr. Riley has not been present at any of these.  Since I began working as student help with the Veterans Services Office and Veterans Information Center, I have not seen Mr. Riley in either office.  It is interesting because for someone who claims that the Administration of ARC has “denied the rights of a veteran just before Veterans Day (sic)”, I have not seen him exercise them on campus.  I am having difficulty connecting the logic of how his rights as a veteran play into all of this as well.  As a veteran of the U.S. Army, I can speak to the fact that we were never taught to blame others for our own mistakes.  We were taught to take responsibility for what we had done (or gotten ourselves into) and face the consequences.
If any of Mr. Riley’s allegations are true, then he is within his full right to petition and do as is legally allowed to rectify the situation.  If anything he has said truly happened, from racial discrimination, violation of his rights as a veteran, profiling by the police, and misappropriations of school funds, then we should all take a long hard look at every single one of the organizations involved.  However, if this is not the case, then Mr. Riley should publicly apologize to each organization he has indicated in this debacle.  This is his duty as a member of the ASB and representative of the student body.  This is a college campus that should be dedicated to its mission, which is educating students, preparing them for the rigors of a four-year university or graduating with a certificate/degree in their chosen career field.  This is not some place to build or further a political platform.

“If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought – not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” -Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Chris Rogers

Software engineering/Applied math major

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