Marianas Variety Guam Edition – The Local and Regional Newspaper

12 23Wed04232014

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Kudos to GCC

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THIS past week there was a wonderful series of discussions at the Guam Community College related to the 2014 governor’s races. Gov. Calvo spoke on April 8 as an approved Republican candidate and Sen. Rory Respicio spoke on April 9 as a representative of the Democrats. Both were very nice forums and congratulations to Professor Fred Tupaz and his Supervision and Management Program students. The forum student chairwoman was Jamy Jonas and the students did a great job with this event. There was even a voter registration drive at this event!

Guam Community College is able to conduct these types of forums because it actively practices and protects academic freedom. Academic freedom should be at the foundation of institutions of higher learning and it is specifically protected as a part of the accreditation process for Guam Community College. Our community college is accredited by The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. Under WASC ACCJC Standard 1A.2, “Governing boards and administrators protect and support faculty in their exercise of academic freedom. The faculty protects the academic freedom of its members.”

This concept seems to be alive and well at GCC. There was an open forum and lively discussion. The students learned and participated. The topic was a difficult one that could have easily been avoided. By engaging the community and the governing system, the students and faculty at GCC engaged in an important aspect of the learning process. It was wonderful to see this.

The WASC Standards for a university though are slightly different. The WASC Senior College and University Commission has Standard 1.3, “The institution publicly states its commitment to academic freedom for faculty, staff, and students, and acts accordingly. This commitment affirms that those in the academy are free to share their convictions and responsible conclusions with their colleagues and students in their teaching and writing.”

The difference between senior and community college standards is that while the senior college standard appears to require a policy for academic freedom, the community college standard requires the governing board and administrators to support these concepts and for the faculty to defend academic freedom. Standard 1.3 in the senior college side also requires academic freedom due process, which should normally enact or balance these freedoms. This occurs only if there is a process and only if faculty protect academic freedom.

The problem, of course, is that we live on a small island. The drama of our election process is like a shadow of the drama of our lives. We engage in, discuss and mull over these election related events in an intense and focused manner. It is very hard to do academic work in these areas and that is why it was so refreshing to see GCC kick off the election discussion process. It was also very nice to see that many administrators and members of the community attended this event.

This coming election year will be over in less than seven months. It seems a given that Gov. Calvo will likely face off with former Gov. Gutierrez. I asked Sen. Respicio in the open question part of his talk, “If the Democrats declare very late for governor, will they be able to raise enough funds to compete effectively?” He gave a very good answer suggesting that there are low cost methods of campaigning. I think there may be some truth to that. All else equal, if Calvo and Gutierrez squared off after the general election, both would have around 45 percent of the vote. The real race would be for the final 10 percent.

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