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Cuesta College censures Pete Sysak over Facebook posts 

The Cuesta College board of trustees has done about all it can to boot trustee Pete Sysak from his position over controversial posts he shared to his Facebook page. But Sysak isn't budging.

At a meeting on Dec. 9, the board of trustees unanimously approved a resolution to censure Sysak, the result of an ad hoc committee investigation into posts on his personal Facebook page—where he identifies himself as a Cuesta College trustee—that contain everything from totally false information to anti-LGBTQ-plus and anti-Islam sentiments, and messaging comparing Black Lives Matter protesters to thugs.

click to enlarge IN HOT WATER Cuesta College trustee Pete Sysak has been under pressure to resign from his position on the board since September due to controversial posts he shared on his personal Facebook page. - SCREENSHOT FROM FACEBOOK
  • Screenshot From Facebook
  • IN HOT WATER Cuesta College trustee Pete Sysak has been under pressure to resign from his position on the board since September due to controversial posts he shared on his personal Facebook page.

" ... the San Luis Obispo County Community College District Board of Trustees hereby censures Trustee Peter Sysak," the resolution reads, "and strongly requests he resign for the above-described conduct, which violates his role and responsibilities as a trustee; Cuesta College's mission statement; board policies promoting access and equity; and his obligation to promote public trust, and to ensure a safe and healthy academic environment for students, faculty, and staff."

Although the board does not have the authority under state law to remove a trustee from office, a censure amounts to a public proclamation that a board unanimously disagrees with one member's behavior. In this case, the censure resolution was brought forward at the recommendation of an ad hoc committee consisting of newly appointed board President Mary Strobridge and Vice President Patrick Mullen. The committee was formed at a special meeting on Nov. 12, where scores of Cuesta College students, faculty, staff, and San Luis Obispo community members called for Sysak's resignation for the second time that month.

At the Dec. 9 meeting, Mullen said the ad hoc committee met seven times, reviewed 16 pieces of evidence, looked over all relevant board policies and resolutions, and found that Sysak's posts are in violation of Cuesta's policies regarding equity and inclusivity, as they were demeaning to and promoted negative stereotypes about people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ-plus community, people of certain faiths, and women.

The Cuesta College academic senate, a group of staff and faculty who make recommendations to administrators, came to a similar conclusion, and passed a resolution condemning Sysak's behavior and calling for his resignation.

Sysak didn't resign, instead he said that he has been subject of "violent intimidation" and an "organized campaign of lies" designed to destroy his reputation and suppress his right to free speech.

"The ad hoc committee appointed by the board of trustees to review my Facebook shares and in public session asked for my resignation, demonstrating their obvious bias," Sysak said at the meeting. "They have acted as judge, prosecutor, and jury, and their conclusion is what you would expect from a third-world kangaroo court system. The administration and the board of trustees have, in my opinion, demonstrated political cowardice in not recognizing the First Amendment to our Constitution, guaranteeing free speech." Δ

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