The review panel that investigated Santa Monica College’s response to
the protest at the Board of Trustees meeting on April 3, 2012, during
which some students were pepper sprayed, has completed its work and delivered its report to the college’s Superintendent/President, Dr.
Chui L. Tsang.
Dr. Tsang has released the following statement: “Santa Monica College is an outstanding learning institution, open, diverse, and supportive of the free exchange of ideas. I am heartened by the thorough examination and detailed recommendations provided by the Review Panel regarding the April 3, 2012, protest events. I thank them for their work and guidance.
“I have accepted all facts, findings, and conclusions in the Review Panel report.
“In response, I am directing the affected departments to implement all recommendations as provided for in the report, by means of study, planning, and action, and to report their progress to me in 60 days.
“I concur with the Review Panel’s observation that thisincident is incompatible with our shared values. By adopting these recommendations, Santa Monica College will strengthen its commitment to values of mutual respect and collegial communication.”
On the panel were Professor Eve Adler, SMC Academic Senate President-
Elect, Dr. Patricia Ramos, Dean, Workforce Development, Dr. Nancy Greenstein, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees, Joshua Scuteri, Student Trustee at the time of the incident, and chaired by Robert M. Myers, Campus Counsel.
The protest centered on a previously adopted Board of Trustees’ decision that approved a Summer 2012 pilot program that would make available about 50 self-funded courses to supplement about 750 regular state-funded courses. A group of about 80 students were involved, including Santa
Monica College students and students from seven other area colleges.
The report uses video, interviews, surveys, and published reports to document the events before, during, and after a group of students
clashed with campus police stationed at the boardroom door. During the scuffle, one officer pepper sprayed the crowd. The clash received
extensive national coverage.
The report includes a series of findings and conclusions regarding “pre-planning, crowd control, communications, sufficiency of personnel, behavior of protesters, the needs of the campus community to be
educated on protest rights and responsibilities, and the priority
use of student discipline processes to address violation of campus
It also includes an analysis and review of force by campus police,
noting that while individual members of campus police acquitted
themselves “with commendable restraint and professionalism,” the force “threatened or used by one individual officer was inappropriate.”
The report concludes with thirteen recommendations regarding planning
and facilitating campus speech events,training in operational and
incident protocols, event procedures, a call for educating the campus community on protest rights and responsibilities, the use of student
affairs staff as the primary representatives of the College with groups
of student protesters, “policies on pepper spray-type agents,” specific crowd control policies, revised guidelines on use of batons, the
engagement of the Academic Senate in conflict mediation, and the use
of the student discipline process and the Office of Student Judicial Affairs.
The 185-page Review Panel Report is available online at www2.smc.edu/ /review_panel_report.
We wondered at the time and continue to wonder why the board didn’t
simply hold its meeting in a room that would accommodate all the
people who wanted to speak on the issue.