Santa Barbara City College Commits Slow Suicide

Commits Slow Suicide
Former professor Celeste Barber heckled into tears defending The Pledge at SBCC meeting 1-24-2019

A college, any college, is procreated, nourished, and sustained by one principle; college is a beacon and community resource for the contentious, open life-of-ideas, the creative exchange of ideas, and the clash of opposing, even unpopular ideas, for the development of individual student’s character as informed members of the larger society. A college, any college, is not a factory producing cogs in some mindless collective machine. Nor is a college, any college, a secular monastery where an elite sacerdotal caste fantasizes rules and regulations for living to be imposed on the general society that funds their cloister. A college, any college, is not a place where the popular philosophy of a previous generation becomes legislative policy mandates for the present generation.

When a college, any college, abandons both fiscal responsibility and the search for reality, truth, goodness and beauty using logical analysis, evidence, and respect for opposing views, then that college commits suicide. Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) is now a dimmed shadow and faint echo of its once well-earned rank among the top Community Colleges in America. SBCC committed suicide.

For 23 years, I taught philosophy at SBCC. I was honored and happy to do so. Unfortunately, to the minds of many on the California Central Coast and the nation, Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) is no longer a college, no longer a haven for the exchange of opposing ideas, no longer an institution of higher education. Steadily declining for the last twenty years, on January 14, 2019, SBCC committed academic suicide. The trigger was pulled when the president of the SBCC Board of Trustees, Robert Miller, cancelled the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag that began each of their meetings because he deemed it ‘racist’. When a former English professor, Celeste Barber, addressed the trustees in public comment urging restoration of the Pledge, Mr. Miller allowed a frenzied mob of staff, faculty, and students to heckle her into tears holding a photo of her WW2 war veteran father as she recited the Pledge herself. One year later, Mr. Miller presided as the Trustees made a fiscal kamikaze dive dipping into the college reserves increasing its debt.  Once the premier community college in the nation, SBCC chose to be an institution of lower indoctrination into cultural Marxism, i.e. the contradiction that absolute power is the only ‘truth’, and all language is ‘ambiguous’ , therefore there is no truth. Both claims cannot be true at the same time. Cultural Marxism is founded on logical contradictions.

Suicide of a person is the last desperate act of a confused, frustrated, and embittered mind. Suicide of a college is the last desperate act of education ideologues unwilling and unable to engage in civil dialogue with those of different points of view. The visceral will to power destabilizes and deranges the mind when it crashes on the rocks of objective reality, truth, goodness and beauty. Better then to destroy the college, the cultural Marxists say, than to have their Communist Utopian fantasies and emotions go ignored and unfulfilled. Suicide is the only answer. They must destroy the old culture completely in order to create a materialist Heaven on Earth. That means indoctrinating school children. That means seizing power over government funded schools. To do that, they must get rid of anyone who stands in their way. As we’ve seen with Berkeley’s ANTIFA riots, cultural Marxists are prepared to use any means necessary including violence to destroy traditional American culture.

“I no longer live in the country I was born into”, murmurs many an American these days. Perhaps you’ve noticed the national academic trend. Reason, logic and verifiable evidence are no longer the metrics for government school’s faculty hiring, curriculum competence and/or administrative staff.  Mere accusations now suffice for a truth to power straight out of Karl Marx. White-supremacy, toxic- masculinity, racism, fascism, homophobia, transgenderism, adultism, rape-culture, atheism, socialism, communism, cultural Marxism are now the current metrics for student success, faculty evaluations, and administrative staff promotions. It didn’t happen overnight as you know. It took 2 decades for far-leftists to exploit their moderate liberal-progressive enablers and seize power over all government funded schools in America and many private ones along the bleeding way. One after another, government schools are committing suicide after drinking the cultural Marxist Kool-Aid. These are clear cases of academic suicide. 

What follows is a chronology of that institutional history that destroyed what once was the top community college in America. Since its founding by the Santa Barbara High School District in 1909 until 2002 with the appointment of former Planned Parenthood National COO, John Romo, SBCC was a shining example of a college that thrived as an emblem of that principle. SBCC operated on traditional pedagogic principles, relentless logical analysis of ideas, and rigid empirical/analytical verification of evidence. Before Dr. John Romo took over as president, from Dr. Peter MacDougall, hiring of new faculty and staff was predicated on intellectual competence in their disciplines. College hiring policies shifted from rationality to emotional pandering of student whining and complaints planted in their minds by an increasingly far-left faculty and staff. By the time Dr. Anthony Beebe resigned as President and Superintendent for health reasons in May of 2019, Santa Barbara City College had degenerated into a far-left boot camp for ‘social justice warriors’ determined to crush anyone who stood in their way.

Mirroring the general trend nationally, not only was faculty/staff hiring determined by how far left your political views were, but also faculty/staff evaluations for promotion and adjunct re-hiring used the same far-left metric. That, in and of itself, would not be terminal to a college, but coupled with the overt suppression of all non-far-left political views doomed SBCC to academic suicide as an institution of higher learning. Any college can only survive if it nurtures a respect for opposing views. That ended under the SBCC presidency of Dr. Lori Gaskin beginning July 1, 2012, Dr. Anthony Beebe’s predecessor. By the time Dr. Beebe took over in 2016 the damage had been done. SBCC became a full-throated cultural Marxist seminary offering sacramental formation in radical feminism, tiresome homosexuality, mentally disturbed gender-bending, illegal migrant sanctuaries, and even social re-engineering for convicted triple murderers all in the name of Marxist salvation in a materialist’s Utopia. 

The fatal last days of SBCC began with the run up to the 2016 presidential election. In 2015 it was impossible to attend any campus public seminar, lecture, discussion, committee, or colloquia without it turning into a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton complete with loud lamentations, uncontrollable weeping and gnashing of teeth at the horrible prospect that Donald J. Trump would be democratically elected 45th President of the United States. Anyone pointing out these unhinged derangements was quickly denounced by mobs of irate ‘social justice warriors’ who received their revealed truths from the new Marxist priests and acolytes on faculty and staff.

Here are just four instances of the Marxist mob-rule now in command at SBCC.
Embattled SBCC Board of Trustee President Robert Miller

1.            After past-president Lori Gaskin failed to get $288 million general obligation bond passed by Santa Barbara tax-payers, she was quietly shown the exit by the governing Board of Trustees in 2014. But on her way out the door she turned an entire ‘In-Service Faculty/Staff’ new semester meeting over to an anti-white, anti-American, racist, indoctrination squad known as Just Communities Central Coast. Day long break-out sessions conducted by academic/staff division and department were then waterboarded by JCCC in the evils of ‘white-privilege’, Christianity, heterosexuality, masculinity, capitalism, and President Donald J. Trump, of course. Anyone objecting was told to sit down and shut up…it’s our turn to rule here.’
2.            With the onset of TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) cultural Marxist trustees, faculty, staff and students made the fatal mistake of staging a coercive ‘stand-in’ demonstration at the January 24th 2019 meeting of the SBCC Board of Trustees meeting. Ostensibly, the protesters were there to urge their Marxist agenda into official trustee policy. Unbeknown to them was the decision by a lone former English professor, Celeste Barber, to speak first urging the board to re-instate the customary recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Board President, Robert Miller, had arbitrarily and unilaterally canceled reciting the Pledge at the beginning of every Board of Trustees meeting on the grounds that in his opinion it was ‘racist’.

3.            When Professor Barber addressed the Board of Trustees (video), who were literally surrounded by sign-waving, boisterous, foot-stamping protesters all hell broke loose among the Bolshivki as she took out a small American Flag, held it aloft and started to recite the Pledge. Senior faculty, some department chairs, many staff and the mob of protesters began verbally abusing Professor Barber so violently that she was reduced to tears as she held a photo of her father who “…fought in WWII defending this country.” No one on the Board of Trustees interfered or tried to stop this blatant, cruel, and relentless mob attack on Professor Barber’s exercise of free speech. None of Professor Barber’s liberal-progressive-feminist ‘friends’ in attendance offered her either consolation or any defense. It was nothing short of an academic gang-tackle of a respected, revered former colleague who dared to oppose the far-left mob now running SBCC. When it went viral in the national media even life-long moderate democrats such as actor and Montecito resident, Rob Lowe, were; Humiliated for Santa Barbara City College making national news for their idiocy.”  to quote Rob’s tweet. Professor Barber single-highhandedly got the Pledge restored.
Former English Professor Celeste Barbara Interviewed by Steve Doocy
Next, when Professor Barber attended the public meeting of the SBCC Academic Senate and was the first to speak protected by her rights under the BROWN ACT, she was ‘ruled out of order’ by outgoing senate president Patricia Stark because Barber voiced her objection to the election of the senate’s new incoming senate president; the very same faculty member who led the disruptive heckling while Barber tried to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag at that January 24th Trustee’s meeting. Stark simply adjourned the meeting and cleared the room rather than allow Professor Barber her right to object to the incoming president’s competency to serve. This suppression of academic freedom remains under ongoing legal action as a flagrant violation of both the Brown Act, and the First and Fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution.

4.            Two Gen Z students pushed back against the cultural Marxist strangle hold on SBCC. Alex Madajian, founder of the SBCC Critical Thinking Club testified at the April 26 meeting of the Board of Trustees: I want to tell you that homeschooled students, Christian students, Conservative students, and Trump supporting students are more discriminated against (at SBCC) than LGBT+ students, feminist students, than people of color students, they are the most discriminated minority at this school.” Trustee Jonathan Abboud is seen smirking at this testimony. Then, on May 4, 2019 the first ever conservative student club was formed by 16 year-old advance placement student Cage Englander. Who was promptly ‘unfriended’ FaceBook by Trustee Jonathan Abboud.

Fiscal suicide of SBCC has been a much slower process spanning the administrations of the past 4 presidents and 2 new Boards of Trustees. Here’s the thumbnail of that self-destruction.

First, according to this official SBCC Adopted budget document, 2020 is dooms day for sustaining sufficient reserve funds to meet the ‘minimum fund balance’ required by rule. In the words of SBCC Trustee fiscal watchdog and veteran businessman, Gregory Koss, “See page 15, 2019-20 Operating Loss $4.7M, General Reserve goes down from $27.9M to $23.2M on $100M of Revenues with LOTS of risk ahead.”

Then, consider three interconnected data points:
1.            From 2009 until 2018 student enrollment slid from about 20K students at its peak to the current 16K registered population in its decline. When the State Legislature capitation policy for funding all 114 community colleges is allocated each year, declining enrollment means declining revenue. Rather than cut back on hiring new administrators to formulate and regulate social engineering of Marxist protocols, a cadre of new administrators was hired each year while faculty new hires declined even to back-fill replacements for former faculty.

College Facts (source: )


Fall 2018
Fall 2009 (for comparison)
Main Campus
Local High Schools (Dual Enrollment)   
Exclusively Online


Full-Time Faculty: 247

Adjunct Faculty: 523
Staff: 366 spread in over 53 separate administrative departments
2.            Legal expenses surrounding law suits have steadily increased from 1995 to 2019 at SBCC. According to the published SBCC budget, budgeted Expenditures by Category as of 7/24/19, lists $250.000.00 allocated for legal services. This does not include cash settlements paid out by the SBCC District as the result of both in-court and out-of-court legal actions taken against the District for alleged First and Fourteenth Amendment violations against individual students, faculty, and staff. For example, the Santa Barbara News Press front page September 14, 2018 headline trumpeted my settlement for free speech and academic freedom violations; Former SBCC Professor Alleging Academic Freedom Suppression Settles With School for $ 120.000.00. This cash settlement followed a similar $ 150,000.00 settlement to former Art Professor William Durham who alleged ‘ageism’ in court complaint that SBCC had a policy of firing older faculty in order to hire younger faculty. Currently, there are 2 other active legal actions still pending alleging First and Fourteenth Amendment violations by SBCC. As the cultural Marxist war on traditional American principles and values heats up more, more of these law suits are highly probable. In May 2018 a Title IX set of sexual harassment claims made by 4 female faculty for ‘words’ in email exchanges was tossed out by a retired self-identified feminists, Judge Elinor Reiner (read 
3.            Push-back against the SBCC Marxist comrades has sparked community inquiry into both Board of Trustees spending and free speech suppression allegations. Two grass roots community organizations have sprung up in the last year triggered in part by rebel SBCC Trustee Jonathan Abboud’s quip to quizzical tax-payers, “I want to make white people politically irrelevant.”  One such group, Fair Education Santa Barbara, exists now to stop Just Communities Central Coast from getting an SBCC contract to indoctrinate students, faculty, staff and Trustees into the evils of Trump voters, whites, Christians, heterosexuals, patriotic citizens,  and old people with ‘old ideas’. FESB, led by parents James Fenkner and Sheridan Rosenberg,  has an active law suit against the Santa Barbara Unified School District on the same racist radical-left grounds embedded in the existing $ 250,000.00 SBUSD/JCCC contracts about to be implemented this fall. Another group,
4.            led by Denice Adams Spangler, is busy grooming candidates for down-ballot elected offices such as school boards and city councils now dominated by socialist comrades of the far-far-left.

The good news, then, is that Gen Z students and tax-payers on the Central Coast are waking up to the fact that they have been funding their own civic destruction and the destruction of The Bill of Rights to the American Constitution. That battle has been joined. Legislative defunding and law courts form the skirmish lines along the battle front of this cultural civil war. Neither side can, nor will compromise. This is what happens when a college commits both academic suicide by abandoning logic and evidence, and when it commits fiscal suicide by ignoring financial realities in order to indoctrinate students, faculty, staff and trustees into a cultural Marxist ideology.  Until and unless political balance and civic sobriety are restored, then it will be over in a few years. SBCC will soon cease to exist. Then, as one tax-payer told the SBCC Board of Trustees at their July board meeting, “…the doors can be closed, and the property and building can be sold with the proceeds returned to the tax-payers who have funded it.”  Both grassroots push-back groups warn parents and donors to think twice before sending either their children and/or their donations to a suicidal community college bent on undermining traditional American principles and values.


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