TRANSCRIPT: Live Chat with Chancellor Marvin Martinez 4/16/2020

On April 11, a food pantry hosted by the Power of One Foundation was at Santa Ana College. How did Santa Ana College come to participate in this, and are there any future plans for more events such as these?

Good, good questions. So who got this all started was the Power of One Foundation. The Power of One Foundation wanted to have an area location where they can distribute food so obviously only so many areas to choose from. They selected us and obviously we gladly did that. We wanted to participate in that whole effort because this is what we believe a college like Santa Ana College should be doing. They should be active in these types of events. Today you have people who don’t have food to eat and I’m so glad that the college played a significant role in hosting the event. So that’s how it got started.

The City of Santa Ana was involved, the Santa Police Department, and so I’m really thankful to the staff also at the college, from the security officers, other custodial maintenance staff, to the managers out there who worked to put together the event and were there at the event. I don’t know if you heard that cars were lining up from two in the morning, just to show demand. The challenge with an event like this one is always the logistics of it, the organization of it. You can imagine two to 3000 cars parked in all lined up on the streets there to try to get in. I think that they were able to serve as many people as they could. I don’t know if they served everybody that came that day; my understanding is they gave over 4300 bags of food.

There were people coming in cars. That’s a lot of cars, a lot of traffic. I’m sure, probably some of the neighbors were not too happy seeing cars in front of their homes and couldn’t get out of their homes. But you know, I think it just tells you the demand today. And I’m sure that if they gave out 8300 bags of food, they could have done it that day.

I definitely want to congratulate the campus, congratulate the staff, all those who were involved. Others that were involved, just for your information, included the congressman Lou Correa, the congress member for this area. The President of our Board of Trustees, her name is Claudia Alvarez, was also very actively involved in making that happen. And was a it was a good effort. But as you can imagine the logistics of putting an event like this together are crazy. Just because there’s so many people, so many cars so much to coordinate. But in regards to doing it again, I think that the Power of One Foundation are thinking about, along with the city, to maybe move it over to the Santa Ana Place Mall. The reason is because of the traffic that this event cost. The neighbors were not too happy.

We have people lined up in the morning at 2am and if they need to use the restroom, not too many restaurants around at 2AM, and on campus it’s closed so that does create a problem. I think if they do it at the mall, they definitely have a lot more space to work with because they have a lot of parking lots there and I think traffic might be a little bit easier to manage as opposed to really jamming up the traffic out there on Bristol 17th because those are areas and routes that people take all the time. That’s one of the things that they have been planning on, moving the event over to the mall because you know the mall is not being used right now too.

There was a teleconference April 14 with Chancellor Oakley in which he said to be prepared to educate in some type of social distance protocol. What is the college doing right now in order to further that process for the fall semester?

Again, all good questions. In many ways, he [Chancellor Oakley] was complimenting and supplementing what Governor Newsome announced earlier this week, which is to reopen the state. The reason for taking that direction is that the curve is beginning to the curb. The curve is beginning to flatten, meaning that the there are less hospitalizations, there’s less deaths. I guess they feel that eventually it should be okay. You know, in a few months. Specifically, by the time the fall semester rolls around, it should be okay to bring everybody back. Having said that, they did explain that it won’t be like the normal times. We were not going to have classrooms packed; you’re going to have to do these social distancing. Which means that we’re going to have to think about the class size limit for a classroom is.

In addition to social distancing, they may also ask that we give students face masks. I would not be surprised if they also state that they want us to give students gloves in order to protect people as much as possible because, you know the bottom line is that the there’s still no vaccination and people can still get infected. Even if you establish social distancing there’s still a possibility that you can get infected. The governor and Chancellor Oakley want us to take every precaution possible. The governor also stated that he’s not going to be ready until May 1 to actually state when that day is, whatever that day establishes for us to where the state’s going to be, to officially open or when the executive stay home order will be done.

He also stated in his plan that we should be ready to go back again to the stay at home order if the number you know of cases spike. Again, if they increase and then there’s a surge. If that happens, we need to be ready to again to come back. So what we’re going to be doing = here with the district is that I’m going to put together a task force that will involve a number of faculty leaders. Administration involved classified staff, and I’m sure will involve student leaders, so we can begin to talk about what the fall semester looks like. What is the new normal for us? And know how, for example, will CTE classes look like? How will regular academic courses look like? How will adult education courses look like? Other questions that need to be posed is what courses need to be done face to face and which courses work well online. We also need to give options to students because, some students may say ‘I still feel safer taking this class online. I don’t want to be in the classroom and I’m scared; I fear for me being affected’. We need to give students those options because I think that’s what’s going to happen. And a kind of an example of that is when we open up restaurants, it doesn’t mean people are going to flood restaurants.

We’re going to be very careful about going to a restaurant because we’re afraid of getting infected somehow. And by the way, restaurants, will also need to implement social distancing and the governor talked about throwaway menus. When you get a menu at a restaurant, once you see it and you’re done, you throw it away, so that people don’t get infected. A number of precautions will need to take place. I am sure that in order to keep the classroom sanitized, we may have to think about cleaning those classrooms often throughout the day.

The way that they were cleaned in the past is once a day. And so now they will have to be cleaned more than once a day, because that will be the demand. I’m sure that the students will want to make sure that it’s clean, more than once a day. So we’re going to set up this task force. What the task force will do is they will begin to study what are the courses we should have face to face and what are the courses that work well online. How many of our courses should we begin to implement face to face? In other words, should we have 50% of our courses face to face on a campus and the other 50% online, or should it be just 25% on campus in 75% online? I think we need to talk about that because I am concerned about the governor implementing in the middle of semester a stay at home order and saying ‘Everybody stay home now! The surge has gone up, a spike in the number of cases’ and it’s really hard to convert an entire campus when we’re offering our curriculum face to face 100%. To convert that literally overnight to 100% online will drive everybody crazy. We need to be very strategic as to how we approach it. Because I know everybody wants to open up and you’re seeing this all over the news.

There’s protests that have taken place in various states against governors who have implemented very strict stay at home orders. And the reason there is a lot of people upset throughout the whole countries is because of the impact it’s having on the economy. The impact it’s having on people who have not been able to work and haven’t been able to have an income to pay their bills and pay their rent and everything else. So no doubt governors are feeling a lot of pressure and I always caution everyone that the there’s still no vaccine and I believe that until there’s a vaccine, people will not feel completely better. They will feel that they’re in danger, somehow. So anyway, that’s what we’re going to do. Very soon we’re going to begin to bring a task force together so we can come up with a plan and see how we want to launch the fall semester.

Are there any plans for the school health centers to be given access to COVID-19 testing as it becomes more readily available?

I think that we would need to check whether we’re able to do that. I don’t know if there’s any expertise [necessary]. You know, I’m sure you have to have some type of certification in order to be able to able to do the test on someone. But if we’re allowed to do that, we can get our staff to be certified. I would welcome that. You know, I’m a believer, big believer, that testing is better. You know, I think there’s an analogy that I heard of on one of these TV news channels. There’s so many analyses that we’re seeing on television about COVID-19 and one scientist explained it that without being able to test, it’s like fighting a fire blindfolded, you know. You could imagine your blindfold; you know there’s a fire there but you don’t know where it is. The only way for us to know what’s really going on is to be able to test people. I think that the more that we can test, the better idea that we have, whether really social distancing is having an impact, just like the way that we think it is. But we’re not going to really know that until more testing is done. But if we’re able to have access to the test, and if we’re able to have certain certification I’m sure that’s needed to be able to offer the test. Or authorization. I don’t know who would authorize us, I’m assuming the Department of Public Health here in Orange County would have to give us authority to do it. If we’re able to do that, yeah, I think we want to be able to offer the test.

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Could you reiterate what you are doing to protect custodians and other essential workers that are on campus?

The essential workers on a campus are given masks, because we were required to wear a mask anyway because that’s a requirement of the county. Actually, we just ordered even more masks, so we can have masks available for all the workers. So we do masks.

Many of our maintenance and custodial staff wear gloves. And for those who would like to have gloves we were able to give them the gloves that they need. So that’s basically what we give them in order to be able to do their work.

What is the school doing in order to help the to ensure international students basic needs? And what is the biggest problem you have seen that our international students have been facing at this moment?

We are concerned about international students because eventually they’re going to have to go back to where they are from. And as you know, the majority of our international students are from China. Once they go back to China, I don’t know if they’re going to be able to come back. I know China has restrictions and their families obviously are concerned about them leaving home. And because they’re hearing about all the news about the COVID-19 here in the States. We’re concerned that obviously that will impact the enrollment in those programs and whether we’re going to have that many students back

But as they’re here, most of the students who are international students are at home like you are. And they are enrolled in classes and taking the classes online. They are taking advantage of all the services that we have online. I know that our staff, our international student staff from both campuses are in contact with the students and trying to answer all their questions. But I think the biggest concern all of us have is what’s going to happen when they go back, you know, eventually when this semester is over. They have to go back to their home for the summer and will they be able to come back? And some of those issues are out of our control we don’t know if number one, their parents will let them back. Number two, we don’t know what the Chinese Government will do and whether they will give them the authority to leave. But, you know, we’re going to do everything that we can to help them and to ensure that they can come back to us and they can continue to enroll in our classes. But yeah, we’re concerned. We’re concerned what’s going to happen to those programs and how will they will be impacted I think the number of students who are international students at Santa Ana College is about 400 or 450 students. Will that get reduced to 100, you know, will that get reduced to less than that? It’s looking that way. It’s looking that way because we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. We are concerned, we’re concerned, you know. But like I said, we’re trying to control what we can, but once they go to China, for example, I’m not saying all those students are from China, but a good number of them are from China. We don’t know what’s going to happen after that, you know, so again, we hope that they can. We’re going to try to also arrange a distance education program with them so they can, if they want to continue taking classes from China at SAC, they can do that and continue their studies. So, you know, again, you know, what is the new normal? Everybody talks about the new normal. The normal today is we’re going to have to be able to do what we can online. I’m sure you’re hearing reports that this could go on for another year or two, and that’ a long time. We need to have answers. The answers can’t be, ‘Oh I don’t know’. The answers have to be ‘Well, look. We’ll put together a distance education program. That you could still be enrolled in. And you could do from China’. I mean, there’s a number of universities as you as you know that do that. I remember last summer visiting New York University, NYU, in the middle, Manhattan, and they have problems with China. They have a program in Shanghai, so you could be out there and take classes the classes that are offered at the NYU campus in Manhattan, New York. We should be able to do that. And we need to have those capabilities to do to also offer our programs online on an international basis. Because we can’t control everything else. Again, all these things are happening so fast, Lesly. But I know that the staff there has been thinking about how they will continue with the program. Can you continue with an extensive program still online? And I believe that you can, again, you know, going back to NYU, they have a program in Shanghai, they have a program in Saudi Arabia, they have a program in London. So, we should be able to to be able to replicate similar situations.

On April 14, a meeting was held in which the Board discussed about switching to pass no pass grading. What was the decision that they made about that, and if so, how would that be implemented or not be implemented?

Good question. I don’t know. I did speak with Professor Roy Shahbazian who’s the president of the Academic Senate on Monday. And he also did mention to me that on Tuesday they’re going to be discussing this topic, pass no pass. I think over at SCC, I don’t know if they’ve had that discussion yet. But I know it’s going to be discussing one of their future agendas. The CSUs have decided to move in this direction. The UCs, I don’t know they’ve moved in this direction yet, but I’m sure they’re also discussing it. We’re probably going to have to also move in this direction. In order to again give that flexibility to our students because that’s where… when our students transfer, they transfer to a CSU. That’s where they go. Either Cal State Fullerton or Long Beach State or Cal Poly Pomona, but they go to the most part into a Cal State. We need to be able to make those adjustments, but I’ll find out you know and or you could also call Professor Shahbazian and also get their information to see what happened. But I think the way we looked at it, they’re trying to do what’s best for students and I trust that they will make the right decision.

Will construction on campus continue?

Yes, it will. The governor allowed that to be one of the essential functions when he approved his Stay at Home order of March 19, so construction is one of those functions. We’re able to continue with construction. Obviously, the construction firms that are constructing both the science building at SAC and Russell, they also have to take the precautions too. They have to have social distancing. Obviously, they have to wear masks and gloves. But yeah, it will continue.

Santa Ana College sent out a questionnaire this week, asking students about their preference in regards to possible graduation. Has there been any updates in the staff for final possible virtual options or determining the results of what that survey said?

Yep. I think the majority of students want to have some type of commencement.

I think what the issue is Ashley, and everyone out there, is finding the best technology that could be used to do a commencement ceremony. As you recall, I think last year after speaking with the President of SAC, she mentioned that there was over, over 5000 people at the last graduation. So is there a technology that allows for that many people, for example, to participate? My concern is that I just want to make sure that whatever technology that we use its quality, that it’s not cheap. This is an important event. You want this event to be memorable for students, you want students to remember it and appreciate it, even though it’s going to happen virtually.

I’ve asked the Presidents of both campuses to find the best technology that you can and I believe we need to have something. And so they’ve been looking at a number of technologies to use. They’ve also been in contact with other universities who have identified those technologies and trying to see if that can work well for us. So stay tuned. I know that an announcement will happen relatively soon, once we’ve identified a technology.

So what’s interesting about these technologies is that, remember, keep in mind, a year ago nobody needed these things. Now today we all do, but also that technology has become better now, because all of us need new technologies. I’m sure that a year from now, we continue to use Zoom, it will be even better next year. Because there are some issues with it. All of you have noticed. It has some restrictions and I think that once everyone has more time to improve all of these technologies, so that we can communicate or have events virtually, that they will become better.

Chancellor Martinez had an additional announcement to make at the end:

Yesterday, Governor Newsom announced a new program that is aimed in the providing aid to undocumented immigrants. As you know, when the federal stimulus was passed, there was a lot of debate about not giving any of that aid to undocumented immigrants, undocumented students. The governor said, ‘Well I’m going to create my own’. And he did it. This is going to be $125 million that will be provided. 75 million will come from the state, and another 50 million will come from philanthropic partners. The bottom line is this program will provide $500 and also up to $1,000 in terms of household assistance. So they will be providing; it will be probably very reflective of the federal stimulus, that they provided the checks for someone who is… If you’re single, for example, you can get up to $1200 dollars if you make $75,000 or less and up to $2400 for couples. If you make $150,000 or less. It won’t be as much as that, but there will be dollars that will become available. I’m looking at the write-up here that was given to me. They’re talking about $500 probably for individuals and up to $1000 maybe for a couple or married couples, not a lot of money, but it’s something. The governor is going to be working to get that out there, but it’s $105 million. And I’m sure that the he’s going to need to come through with more because the need is so great out there. But $125 million is better than nothing, obviously.

Transcription by Laura Diaz

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