Notes from the Academic Senate Meeting
of December 7, 1999
Testimony of Deborah Wallace
Regarding the 1999 Grand Jury Report
On Freedom Of Speech at Mendocino College
Submitted in writing to the senate by Ms. Wallace.
(See also testimony by former advisors and editors of the Mendocino College Eagle)
Deborah Wallace, editor of the Eagle student newspaper: entered the following comments into the minutes:
"I do not know if there was instruction going on in the past Eagle situation, partially because I have never heard a single mention of any degrees or credentials which would show that Mr. Collins might be a viable instructor for a journalism program. What 1 can say is that the present situation is much improved from the previous. We have an instructor who allows us complete freedom with the paper and helps us only to stay away from libelous statements and the use of vulgarity, both of which are my policy as Editor more than strict rules from the instructor.
We put out a wonderful paper, which seeks to cover everything happening on campus, the relevant surrounding area, and most recently. relevant things happening in Sacramento. We have a paper which almost all the staff and faculty are proud of, and which is on its way to becoming an award-winning paper, We have been propositioned by the journal for the use of our photos and on occasion even acquired a scoop or two they were envious of, such as our Columbine High story from the perspective of the SWAT commander in charge. We have been to the JACC (Journalism Association or Community Colleges) annual conference for the last two years, and will be attending the Editors' Conference in January.
The comments we have received from the Editors and Colleges all go like this:
W are so glad and proud you finally got your paper up off the ground in the last two years. We were wondering how long it would take your school to get its act together.
We currently, as always, have done the paper in the journalism classes, and do not solicit help from other computer classes as was done during Mr. Collins' tenure. We do not print private correspondence even if we realize that while the first amendment and the watch dog press is very important, the Founding Fathers mentioned an individual's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable rights for a reason. We also seek to check and double-check our sources rather than have to print a retraction after the fact, which is something even one of Mr. Collins' more recent publications had to do after referring to one of my staff as being a part of 'the fundamentalist cabal,' We further would have no problem referring to our publication as something other than the Mendocino College Eagle should the administration choose to cancel the journalism program because we are mindful that it would take a lot more than the College Administration to destroy student free speech on campus.
Lastly, we would certainly refer to the Eagle newspaper as the real thing' once the reins have been handed over to a new group of students, thereby not insinuating the current Eagle newspaper is not legitimate, as Mr. Collins is doing in his publications. His conversations with various business-owners in town have made it difficult to sell ads for the current paper.
One more question I have -- if the supposed infraction by the Administration took place a year and a half ago, almost two years ago, why is now the first time Mr. Collins is bringing it to the Academic Senate? If these issues are within the purview of this body, it stands to reason that they should have been brought to this body immediately.
Thank you for your time.