Controversy At Mendo

Eagle takes heat after publishing dean's letter

By Eagle Staff

On October 30th 1996 the Eagle printed and distributed what may be the first Extra in its 24 year old history. You'll find it reprinted in this issue as an insert. The Extra is totally devoted to three issues which are being discussed in private but no one is dealing with in any public forum: Susan Bell's shocking letter to the Board of Trustees, anger and frustration by some faculty and staff around the process used to hire the present Marketing/PR person, and the underground publications that have recently been distributed anonymously around the college. These three events suggest, in the least, a loss of trust in the top administrators at Mendocino College and intimate that these events are the tip of an iceberg.

The Eagle staff thought that a public presentation on these events was important enough to warrant a special edition.

We have gotten strong (sometimes angry) feedback from some administrators and full-time faculty that we shouldn't have printed this Extra. In fact, by the end of only the first day we were hearing that Eagles were being thrown into the trash and rumors that: 1. The administration thinks there is a hidden agenda on the part of the faculty advisor who edited this Extra, 2. that legal action is being contemplated against the Eagle or the advisors, and 3. that an attempt will be made to shut down the Eagle.

It's hard to believe these rumors are true, yet we actually find ourselves feeling the same loss of trust in the adminstration that has come to light around the events presented in the Extra..

But could any of these rumors true? If so, how ironic it would be. Susan Bell, in her very letter to the Board of Trustees, referred to "an attitude of 'kill the messenger'" at this college. Isn't this the exact response that these rumors seem to suggest?

We want to stop right here and make an important point: in all the somewhat negative responses we have gotten so far about our publishing the Eagle Extra, NO ONE HAS DIRECTLY RESPONDED TO THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THE EXTRA. Instead the focus has been directed to some aspect of "killing the messenger," in this instance, the Eagle.

We definitely don't want to focus away from the real issue here, which, again, seems to be AN APPARENT AND GROWING LOSS OF TRUST IN THE TOP ADMINISTRATION. But, in that context, we would like to respond to a couple of the complaints we have received:

1. We shouldn't have printed Susan Bell's letter because it was "confidential." We were told by the publisher of the Ukiah Daily Journal that, once the letter was put in our mail box (anonymously, by the way), it became public knowledge, and it was our right as a newspaper, if we so chose, to publish it.

Again, the real issue here is the CONTENT of Susan Bell's letter, not whether the letter should have been printed in an Eagle Extra or not. Killing the messenger won't end the distrust that seems to be surfacing at this college.

2. We shouldn't have re-printed the TAB lampoons because they were disrespectful of college personnel and were published anonymously. First off, if what and who is spoofed is not true, then it is hard to understand why people are getting so excited. If any of it is true, then it is remarkably coincidental that the TABs came out in the very midst of the other two issues. And since nothing like these newsletters has ever happened before, they become noteworthy as "revolutionary literature" in the best tradition of the term, and we felt that their occurring at this point in time is very significant, irregardless of their content, and therefore their importance was on a par with the other two events.

At the very least the TABs suggest a lack of trust in the administration. What is the truth here? Shouldn't we as a college community discuss these events going on? Is it right to wait for "confidential" meetings of those very people implicated in these events to decide for us?

And as for the argument that publishing anonymously authored newsletters is wrong, the real issue might be rephrased: why did these TABs NEED to be published anonymously? Perhaps there is a fear of repercussion going on here that once again speaks to the very loss of trust that is at issue.

As a last thought, through all the rumors (or events) that may continue to swirl around the events presented in the Extra, our intent as publishers wasn't, and will never be, to tear down. What is important is the truth. All we did was present the facts. If there is nothing to hide, then there is no reason for anyone to withhold anything. That was our rationale behind publishing the Extra. We felt strongly that the events which have happened recently demand a public forum by faculty and staff and the larger community, and we wanted everyone to be on an equal footing as far as background information. What is really going on here?

And. lastly, while we don't wish to believe the rumors we have been hearing, you might watch closely to see what happens in the near future to the Eagle staff and newspaper. More than anything else, this will indicate how the college deals with the kind of the issues presented in the Extra.

Criticism is an incredible opportunity to grow.

Here are some steps on how to receive criticism and benefit from it. When someone says you are "wrong, sloppy, terrible," etc., in your mind, say, "thank you for sharing that." This thought immediately puts you in a space where you're available to hear and to use the information in a way that can serve you.

After the criticism, ask yourself, "do I hurt?" If the answer is "yes," then know that somewhere within you, you believe the criticism also. Knowing this gives you the opportunity to heal that portion which you find unacceptable within yourself.

"If you want to cease to be vulnerable to criticism, then heal the criticisms... not being vulnerable means you can no longer be manipulated for there is no place for criticisms to stick. This is freedom."

Byron Katie

Spiritual Teacher

Copyright Mendocino College Eagle
Permission granted to excerpt or use this article if source is cited.

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