"Students First"? Not Quite

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

Last week, Palomar President Joi Blake penned a defense of her leadership that appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune. Her piece appeared alongside this one, in which English Professor Carlton Smith explained why 92% of faculty voted “No Confidence” in her leadership and why the two largest employee groups on campus called upon the Governing Board to remove her.


President Blake’s piece was, predictably, the same litany of half-truths and credit-taking that has defined her weekly campus updates and that have been taken apart elsewhere (HERE and HERE, for example), so I would like to narrow my focus to her closing salvo: “Despite the outrage and hostility thrust upon me by those who do not share my students-first focus and financial goals, I am confident in the bright, sustainable future we are working toward” (emphasis mine).


Let’s put aside President Blake’s by now tiresome language of victimization, through which she attempts to deflect legitimate criticism of her leadership, and instead examine her claim of having a “students-first focus.” Based on the facts, this claim prompts several questions that I invite her to answer:


Currently, one of the student-centered areas that has been impacted by the dire fiscal situation that President Blake has created is tutoring. These services are in danger of being drastically cut; in fact, faculty who oversee tutors have been told that they needed to let them go by the end of the year unless there was special funding available. Tutoring is a vital support service for our students, and even a cursory glance at the list above underlines the fact that any one of these wasteful expenditures would have gone a long way toward securing tutor services for our students.


President Blake’s repeated assertion that she puts “students first” demonstrates that words are cheap. But her expenses—her reckless spending, her excessive salary—are anything but cheap. They are, in fact, very, very costly to our school, to the surrounding community, and above all to our students.


Incidentally, if you’re wondering how students feel about all of this, here’s an answer.


As President Blake continues to unapologetically run Palomar College into the ground, the real question is, how much longer can we afford her “leadership”?

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