Walking on the Ledge
I owe you an explanation
Several people have been asking me why I am not running for a seat on the JCCC Board of Trustees this election cycle.
After all, I was on the short list to fill the seat vacated by Virginia Krebs, the colleges’ first employee. When that seat went to a former JCCC instructor, I filed to run for one of four open seats on the board in spring 2009. Despite not having secured a seat, I vowed to my supporters to run again in the next election, which made a few people nervous.
So, why then, will my name not appear on the ballot this spring?
The answer is simple: I’m not done yet.
I’m not done being a student at JCCC. I need to focus my time on completing my studies. Although I do believe JCCC should designate a full seat with all the rights and responsibilities thereof to a student — and not simply the Student Senate president but someone who will work alongside the Board of Trustees, JCCC’s president, and the Student Senate’s president.
I’m not done processing the last election. I’m going to be honest. That was a really hard campaign. My team worked themselves to the bone. While we offered a viable candidacy for one of the open seats, we worked against a few candidates who hired firms to manage their campaigns. We worked against established powerbrokers in Johnson County. We worked against the good ole boy network that is still in place. We worked against theft and destruction of our campaign materials and signs. We worked against threats of intimidation and what we perceived as threats of physical violence. Unfortunately, we also worked against the JCCC Faculty Association when they chose not to endorse us.
That hurt the most and, to be honest, it still does.
During my campaign, people (not associated with my team) advised me to work around my last name because voters wouldn’t respond well to it. I was advised to switch my first name from Miguel to Michael in order to help the voter “understand me.” I was advised not to tell people I am gay or to disclose my experiences as a former migrant farmworker and child laborer.
Instead, I stayed true to myself and with my team’s support our campaign reflected our integrity. If that cost us the election, then, I’m glad of it.
Though our grassroots effort to secure a seat did not succeed, it did make one thing clear: Johnson County voters will support a diverse candidate.
I’m not done with the ODEI. After the last election, the college’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) advertised two vacancies for Diversity Fellows. I gathered my wounded pride and applied. I’ve been serving the college in that capacity ever since. As a Diversity Fellow, I’m able to contribute to JCCC with my entire being. I can contribute as a member of the LGBT community, as a Latino, as a spiritual person, as an employee of the college, and as a student. Not to say I couldn’t contribute as those before because I did. I helped found, lead, and participate in several campus clubs. But right now, I believe my unique experience best serves the campus community with me part of the ODEI.
Honestly, my unique position on campus allows me to do things a trustee cannot. It would be irresponsible, unethical, and show a lack of integrity if I failed to fully explore these options in order to obtain a seat on the board.
Like any organization, JCCC faces diversity challenges and opportunities. I want to be on campus working with students, staff, faculty and community members to help guide our campus community in addressing these challenges and discovering these opportunities.
Many of you have heard me say this but I don’t believe in leaving a job until I’ve made it easier for the next person. And I haven’t done that at JCCC yet — at least not to my satisfaction.
My friends, that is the reason my name will not appear on the ballot this spring.