Earlier this week, Vivian Malauulu announced she would challenge incumbent Long Beach Community College District Trustee Irma Archuleta, expressing her intentions to run for the Second District trustee position. Malauluu promised to serve with “dignity and honesty” while also trying to shore up some of the civility issues that have persisted within the board.
Malauulu, a journalism professor at LBCC, also serves as the chair for the city’s commission on youth and children and is a registered longshore worker at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports. Some of her early supporters include State Senators Isadore Hall and Tony Mendoza, the Teamsters Union and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), where she previously served as an elected officer.
“My substantial work in education and significant involvement in our community have given me valuable experience and insightful knowledge that will add a fresh new perspective to the Long Beach Community College District Board of Trustees,” Malauulu said in a statement. “ My goal is to truly represent everyone’s best interest on the board, not just the interest of a select few.”
She’ll try to supplant Archuleta, who was appointed to the position after the previous Second District seat was vacated by Roberto Uranga, upon his election to the Long Beach City Council last year. Archuleta had recently signed a two-year extension to continue to serve as the vice president of student affairs at Evergreen Valley College in Northern California. The extension would’ve continued Archuleta’s shuttling back and forth between the two schools to fulfill both duties, however, in July she announced that she was resigning from her post at Evergreen effective in October.
Archuleta was elected as the LBCCD Board Vice President just weeks after announcing her resignation. She replaced Trustee Doug Otto, who was elected as the board’s president.
Malauulu characterized the rifts that exist both between board members individually, and between the faculty and the board, as divisive, leading to low morale among the faculty and lending a vibe of unprofessionalism to the board. She said that it’s not uncommon for her journalism students to return to her classroom after attending a LBCCD board meeting and have the behavior of the board members dominate the conversation. That’s something that she believes needs to change in order for the college to start making strides in the right direction.
“As a faculty member it’s embarrassing to have our board display such public hostility toward each other as board members,” Malauulu said. “I’ll watch some of the comments and the animosity that some of the board members have…it’s just hard on me because I love LBCC so much and I love our faculty, our staff and our students.”
In her statement declaring her candidacy in next April’s municipal election, Malauulu said she would renew efforts for vocational programs at a college that has seen many such initiatives discontinued in recent years. Doing so could benefit single mothers trying to learn a new trade to better themselves and could also go a long way toward helping veterans who were educated on the battlefield but lack an outlet for those skills once they return home. The college dropped 11 trade programs at the beginning of 2013 in a cost cutting move.
“I’ve been teaching at a community college long enough to know that not everyone is an academic,” Malauulu said. “I’ve had students who are divorced mothers that haven’t worked a day in their lives and they want to learn some skill that they can take to a job and I think we’re doing a disservice to them. That’s definitely something that I want to bring back.”
She pledged fiscal responsibility and “absolute transparency” regarding all the board’s actions, and said she would shift the board’s focus to improving resources and working conditions for staff and faculty. Improving those working conditions will improve the learning conditions for students, because to Malauulu, those two are intertwined. She said that having a trustee on the board not so far removed from the classroom could interject a breath of fresh air into the board and give them a new perspective on the ongoing struggles of the faculty and students they serve.
“Most certainly it would cause them to pause and reflect from a perspective that is not already on the board,” Malauulu said. “It would force them to understand that these are real people. Our faculty and staff and students are real people with families. They’re not numbers on a budget. They’re not being lost in math. These are human beings who work very hard to make LBCC the great institution that it is and we need to treat them with a little more dignity.”
Above, left: photo courtesy of Adelyna Tirado.