Cuesta College Board of Trustees President Pete Sysak has received a push from the community to resign.
Students, faculty, activists and political leaders throughout San Luis Obispo County expressed outrage over the allegations and behavior of Sysak.
“As a Cuesta alumni myself, as a former Cuesta Honored Alumni of the Year and as a mother who sent both of my children to Cuesta, I have a very deep connection and love for the campus and for the students,” said Heidi Harmon, mayor of San Luis Obispo. “This is deeply concerning and disappointing, there is no question that he has to step down.”
Sysak has regularly shared posts to his Facebook page with disapproval of same sex marriage, transgender individuals, xenophobic and misogynistic remarks. He has taken down the inflammatory posts, and removed all of his friends since the issues began to receive negative public attention.
The board of trustees hosted a meeting on Nov. 4 and 12 to address the Resolution 14-20 Affirming a Commitment to Equity and Anti-Racism.
In the meeting held on Nov. 12 Sysak read a letter to address the complaints that have been made by the public and his colleagues about his social media posts
“I am a supporter of all lives matter for Black, Latino, Asian, LGBTQ, people of color and the unborn. I am against discrimination, hate crimes, anti racist groups, I am against defunding police departments and blue lives do matter. I am a proud American conservative,” Sysak said.
Every member on the board of trustees called for Sysak’s resignation at the Nov. 12 meeting. Sysak refused to apologize and did not follow his colleagues’ advice to resign immediately.
“These verbal and written attacks have been an assault on my character and integrity, I will not be bullied by these attacks,” Sysak said.
With frustration within the community rising, the board referred to two policies: BP 2715, which covers the board code of ethics, and BP 2200, which discusses the duties and responsibilities of the board.
The code of ethics explains the specific expectations for the board and the circumstances in which a member can be rebuked. It is stated under the ethical violations section that board members are expected to maintain the highest standard of ethical behavior. The censure procedure starts with a complaint to the board. Then the grievance will be referred to an ad hoc committee by the board president [currently Sysak] for investigation, if it is deemed that further examination is needed.
The board duties and responsibilities code states that, “The board shall not be bound in any way by any statement or action on the part of any individual board member or employee, except when such a statement or action is in pursuance of specific instructions from the board.”
Some members, including Skysak himself, argued that this includes the posts that he shared on his board affiliated Facebook page.
“It has nothing to do with me being a board member,” Skysak said in regards to his Facebook posts. “My position as a board member is to support the students, the faculty, and the community and my Facebook page is my personal opinion.”
Community members are continuing to demand his resignation including organizations such as the Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success, who have started a movement to get Sysak removed.
There is no space on a board of trustees for a college when your “personal opinions” consists of advocating that students punch teachers in class, that any supporter of BLM is a “criminal thug,” and that members of the LGBTQ community are “mentally deranged.” When you tell a female who is speaking clearly that you can’t understand her because she is “too emotional” live on Zoom, you are demonstrating your misogynistic views. A person with these views has no business making policy for a college. I initially thought that Sysak could remain on the board but I was wrong. He has demonstrated zero empathy or compassion for students upset by his racism and no longer deserves to be on the board.
To students and community members: Sysak does not represent the values of Cuesta College. He is a racist relic and the vast majority of staff, students, and teachers are here to welcome and support students of all minoritized and underrepresented groups.
Skysak says sharing his personal opinions has nothing to do with his job, but that just doesn’t make sense. How could a Muslim student, for example, expect that their school’s trustees have their best interests at heart when the Board’s leader is spouting blatantly anti-Muslim hate?
He’s been pushing back against an equality resolution too, right? His views are obviously steering his actions on the Board. Also, he knew exactly what he was doing sharing Proud Boys posts on his Facebook. That’s a clear white supremacist dog whistle, and nobody’s buying him playing all innocent about it.
Only a matter of time before he gets booted. The faster the people in charge at Cuesta can make it happen the better. This is definitely not helping out with the school’s PR. If Skysak’s on the Board much longer, Cuesta’s gonna have to print “We promise we’re not racist” on all their ads for the next two years.
A former Cuesta student has started an online petition:
A former Cuesta student has started an online petition for the removal of Sysak:
This guy sounds pretty cool.
I will be leaving Cuesta College at the end of the semester unless he resigns. I will not be paying to tuition to a school that clearly doesn’t want me as an LGBT person.
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