LMC reacts to the situation

General consensus shows concern.


Michael Benedian

Interim Chancellor Mojdeh Mehdizadeh speaks about the lack of communication in the ongoing personnel investigation.

Michael Benedian, Editor-in-Chief

Following recent allegations of racism made on social media against a Los Medanos College department manager, members of the campus community were given the opportunity to voice their concerns at a special College Assembly Monday. Los Medanos College Associated Students also used their own weekly meeting the same day for students to respond as well.

A video posted Oct. 21 on the social media platform TikTok played an audio recording of an alleged LMC manager making insensitive remarks toward Black people. Additional videos then emerged by an alleged LMC employee about the remarks and an ongoing personnel investigation in which both are involved (see accompanying story for more information).

In response to the TikTok videos, LMC President Bob Kratochvil sent a campuswide email Oct. 23 reinforcing the college’s stance against systemic racism.

We remain deeply committed to the critical work of rooting out systemic racism, inequality, and anti-Blackness at LMC,” Kratochvil said. “We strive to provide an equitable learning and working environment for all students and employees, and to strengthen a culture of equity, diversity, inclusion, and racial justice.”

The email led to confusion for some because it did not specify what videos he was referring to. In addition, Kratochvil wrote he is unable to respond directly to the contents of the social media posts because of a personnel investigation. 

Despite the vagueness of the email, students were still able to find the videos circulating on social media through TikTok and other platforms like Twitter. During a weekly LMCAS meeting Monday, LMCAS President Jeffrey Bui opened the floor to the senators to share their thoughts on the social media posts.

“I feel that this person with those feelings being on campus, it actually makes me very uncomfortable,” LMCAS senator Libby Oye said. “That’s just something that doesn’t sit right with me.”

LMC student representative Marian Martinez said she doesn’t feel safe knowing about the situation concerning a series of videos made by an alleged college employee who claimed he received a threat of violence from a manager.

Bui said this doesn’t look good for the college.

“It’s appalling to hear and I do have trust that the [LMC] president and the vice presidents will make the correct actions, but from now just because of the vagueness it doesn’t feel great,” he said.

That same day, LMC held the College Assembly, which was facilitated by outside consultant Dr. Leah Hollis. She is a workplace advocate and was brought in to act as a third party and help with the conversation. 

“I understand that there is a personnel dispute that is under investigation and with that, as with any investigation, I can’t speak about the personnel issues or the specifics during an ongoing investigation,” Hollis said. “I know that’s frustrating and I’ve been to other schools that have been caught in the same thing where folks want clarity on what’s going on, but the process itself requires more opaqueness than we like.”

Administrator of Justice Professor Anthony Hailey expressed concerns about the safety of the campus along with other faculty members, and he brought up a point that the vagueness of the emails didn’t help.

“I don’t scroll social media,” Hailey said. “So when something’s put out with the assumption that we all saw it, and it was kind of concerning, and we didn’t get more information that bothers me.”

Counselor Sharlice Wright said the campus community being kept in the dark was also in direct conflict with the college’s professed values.

“I’m gonna be honest, it makes me not proud to be an LMC faculty member,” Wright said. “On one hand you have all this marketing propaganda that says we’re so inclusive and we’ve won all these awards… but then on the other hand, when something like this happens behind closed doors, we want to keep it behind closed doors and we want to keep it shuttered and sheltered and not made public.”

The two-hour long assembly gave Hollis and the college the opportunity to directly address questions and comments from members of the college community while also allowing them to explain how they would like the college to respond to the situation.

As the assembly came to a close, Senior Administrative Assistant for the Office of Instruction Leetha Robertson powerfully tackled the issue of anti-Blackness statements and expressed a desire to move forward from this issue to a brighter future for the college.

“While we’re having our race crisis committees and investigations and policies,” Robertson suggested “tackling it from another end,” by dealing “with people as human beings and meet them at that level.”

Her statement was warmly received by colleagues who showed their support through Zoom with hearts and thank yous in this hybrid meeting.

“I think the model that we have right here on campus where we just want to help focus on our students… whoever we see, whatever the plight may be, how can I help you,” she said. “And I hope that we as a college community can embrace that.”