New petition seeks to oust community college professor from role as academic senate president

A fresh petition is circulating among members of the Fresno City College academic senate, seeking the ousting of tenured communication instructor Tom Boroujeni from his position as president of the senate.

Following an EdSource report in November revealing a past incident where Boroujeni was found to have engaged in an “act of sexual violence” against a colleague at Fresno State back in 2015, this marks the third such petition calling for his removal as president.

Christina McCollam-Martinez, a theater design instructor, initiated the current petition on February 12 and is actively advocating for Boroujeni’s expulsion.

“I think they’re hoping it all gets swept under the rug and disappears,” McCollam-Martinez remarked. “It’s not going to happen.”

The president of the academic senate plays a crucial role in guiding academic policy, faculty appointments, and representing the senate and faculty at various college, districtwide, and public forums.

Due to his placement on administrative leave, Boroujeni is unable to carry out his duties as president, as highlighted by McCollam-Martinez in the petition. The State Center Community College District placed Boroujeni on involuntary administrative leave on November 30 following the report by EdSource and faculty canceling classes.

“As there is no set date for his return, the Academic Senate as a body has been severely handicapped, as has the Academic Senate’s voice,” McCollam-Martinez’s petition notes.

McCollam-Martinez has been actively gathering signatures for the petition, both in person and through email reminders, in order to meet the required criteria for a vote on Boroujeni’s removal.

According to the senate bylaws, removing an officer necessitates a written petition detailing the reasons for removal, requiring at least 25% of senators’ signatures to initiate a vote. The Academic Senate at Fresno City College comprises around 70 members on average.

At present, 12 senators have signed the petition calling for Boroujeni’s removal, with the goal of enabling the Academic Senate to continue its essential work without further disruptions.

Securing Signatures Poses Challenges

While the senate bylaws provide a framework for the resignation or removal of an officer, the process to remove Boroujeni as president in such a situation involves a formal petition.

Several women at Fresno City College have lodged complaints against Boroujeni, which he has characterized as “gender discrimination” allegations. The district is currently investigating these complaints alongside Boroujeni’s administrative leave.

The investigations are ongoing, and the district has refrained from disclosing details citing personnel matters.

Noting the lack of support from some faculty members, McCollam-Martinez likened the situation to individuals avoiding difficult truths by not taking action.

She attributed faculty hesitancy to sign the petition to a variety of factors, including a lack of public awareness about the reported misconduct investigation.

Despite the challenges, McCollam-Martinez remains steadfast in her advocacy for Boroujeni’s removal, emphasizing the importance of standing up for principles.

Continuing Investigations in Fresno

The investigations into the allegations against Boroujeni continue, with the district spokesperson confirming ongoing inquiries while maintaining confidentiality on the details.

As the academic senate grapples with the petitions and investigations, the future leadership at Fresno City College remains uncertain.

It is imperative for the academic senate to uphold standards of professionalism and ethics in its leadership, serving as a role model for the college community.

While the situation at Fresno City College unfolds, there is a growing call for accountability and transparency in addressing the allegations against Boroujeni.

The academic senate faces a pivotal moment in preserving its integrity and ensuring effective leadership for the benefit of all its members.

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