If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t show up to work

COD trustees continue to boycott board meetings

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It’s the adult version of the silent treatment: College of DuPage Board of Trustees Members Erin Birt, Dianne McGuire and Joseph Wozniak have spent the majority of this past month boycotting scheduled board meetings, and as a result, have done none of the duties they swore to accomplish when voted into office.

The board saw a major change on Dec. 13 when former Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton resigned unexpectedly. Best known for her crusade against former President Robert Breuder and campaign to elect “Clean Slate” Board Members Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein, Hamilton was without a doubt the most outspoken member of the board before quitting due to “personal reasons.” In fact, with the Clean Slate backing her, Hamilton essentially ruled board meetings, many decisions passing with a 4-3 vote. Now, the three members that didn’t side with her are striking back by boycotting the meetings altogether.

It could be a desperate act to show superiority; Birt, McGuire and Wozniak are veteran members of the board while Mazzochi, Napolitano and Bernstein were elected just a few months ago. The 4-3 divide between board members must have been much more frustrating for them, the losing team. However, if they really want to regain control over board decisions, the best route would be to find a suitable candidate to replace Hamilton—a decision that must be made by Feb. 11. Plenty of people have applied for the position, including Sandra Pihos and Matt Gambs, who both ran in this past trustee election. Instead, it seems the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) will have to take matters into its own hands to find her replacement, as the COD board cannot make any final decisions without quorum.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when one remembers all of the other duties being ignored. How is the college supposed to pay its bills? How are all of the day-to-day routine obligations of the board supposed to be accomplished? The list of objectives for each board meeting gets longer and longer every time another meeting is postponed, only to be canceled once again. At this point, even if all board members did attend a meeting, it is unlikely that every objective could be addressed.

As students of COD, we are incredibly disappointed. This behavior is beyond unprofessional. Unprofessional was when Hamilton made snide backhanded remarks to her fellow board members. Unprofessional was the lack of cooperation between members at previous meetings. This current behavior is unacceptable, childish even. These board members are breaking the promise they made to the college and to the community to act as public servants. They are undermining every student, every staff member and the entire COD community. And for what? To prove a point? To spite the Clean Slate? To have the chance to be petty?

If there is a silver lining in any of this, it’s that maybe the decision of hiring a new board member should have belonged to the ICCB all along. After all, it is probably the least biased way of choosing a candidate, and because of that, we could end up with a tiebreaker voter who (for once) votes for what’s best for the college instead of what’s best for his or her buddies on the board. When the Clean Slate was elected, many feared they would use their power to dominate the board, and they did. But with Hamilton out of the picture, the veteran board members have proven that they, too, are a close-knit caste with an agenda that, above all, serves their own needs first.

With every missed meeting and every unpaid bill it becomes clearer and clearer where the real problem lies: our college’s board members don’t know how to play nice. Both sides want everything their way or the highway and Birt, McGuire and Wozniak have proven they aren’t afraid to hurt the school they serve in order to do so. Apparently they haven’t heard of the expression: when you fight fire with fire, everyone gets burned.