The Unabauer Manifesto

Roy Bauer is South County colleges' professor of dissent

"The people who took control of the faculty union many years ago have seen to it that they only involve themselves with one issue: faculty salaries," Bauer said. "They are utterly unprincipled. They pursued a quid pro quo with three right-wing Republicans and a Democrat [trustee Dorothy Fortune]. The board majority has nothing philosophically in common with the union, and the union has nothing especially in common with the board. Meanwhile, people like Frogue were able to practice their nutty agenda without a whisper of complaint from the union."

Bauer's battles with the district have brought him recognition-mostly unwanted, he would argue. "I'm a shy person," he said. "I don't like standing up in front of a large group."

He wants it understood that several other faculty members are also fighting the board and the union. But he's also clearly disappointed that some of his colleagues have surrendered the fight-or never joined it in the first place. "The tenured, full-time faculty are the most protected people in the world, but as a group, they're the people we've been able to count on the least," he said. "Look at what I've had to do: I've had to call Frogue a coward to his face. I've had to sue the bastards three times. I've had to challenge the trustees in public numerous times. I've had to publish these newsletters. And, yeah, finally they came after me. But most faculty won't even sign a fucking petition."

It's noon on March 16, a bright, blustery day. Most passersby are oblivious to the portable stage that has been set up in front of Irvine Valley College's brick Student Services Building; they're more concerned about lunch, making it to their next class or pumping more quarters into those damn parking meters. But about 60 people -mostly students occupying the seats set up in front of the stage, others milling about off to the side-are intently focused on the proceedings. The Student Civil Liberties Club, recently formed by two undergrads who had organized weekly rallies against Mathur, Frogue and the board majority, gathered to bestow their first Laser of Liberty award to Bauer.

Wendy Phillips, an Irvine Valley anthropology professor and lawyer who represented Bauer in the open-meeting-law cases, noted: "When I first met Roy, he was this soft, quiet-spoken guy. He was not this savagely political individual who was out to get the Board of Trustees. Nothing could be further from the truth." Calling Bauer "a rare person: a teacher who actually lives what he teaches," a student then presented the award, which Bauer hoisted to much applause. He thanked the speakers "for the lovely, lovely bullshit about me," then apologized that he had to rush off. His next class started at 12:30 p.m.

Bauer missed the remarks by guest speaker Jon Wiener, a UC Irvine history professor and sometime contributor to the Weekly and The Nation. Wiener knows a thing or three about fighting the powers that be: one of his biggest claims to fame is successfully fighting the FBI for years to declassify its John Lennon files. Wiener explained to the crowd that free speech must not be silenced-even if what is being said isn't totally true-because truth cannot come to light without a hearty "clash of debate." Wiener noted that the free speech Frogue wanted to engage in with his JFK seminar should be allowed-but not sanctioned as a college course because the trustee is not qualified to present that kind of academic material.

Besides missing Wiener's speech, Bauer missed the sight of Frogue standing in the back row taking everything in. After striking his palms against each other in order to provide applause so light as to be inaudible, Frogue engaged in a friendly, 45-minute chat with the Weekly. Turns out Frogue has a lot in common with us: he loves KPFK, Noam Chomsky and cold beer. But he does hate what all the district upheaval has done to his family ("There have been tears, many tears"). He actually seemed to be-drum roll-a nice guy.

(Upon hearing this, Bauer remarked, "Yeah, well, even Hitler loved his dog.")

As Frogue walked to his car, he was informed the Weeklywas doing a profile on Bauer and could he sit down for an interview on what kind of person and teacher he thinks Bauer is? "I don't know that; I don't know him," he said, throwing in the obligatory reference to "personnel issues," which elected officials are led to believe must remain confidential under state law. "I can't say what I've heard," he added slyly.

Pressed for something, anything, Frogue came through.

"He's been here a long time. He loves teaching," he said. "That's something that should be applauded. I wish he could just be kinder."

Frogue said the highly charged atmosphere created by district dissenters has led to violent outbursts on campus. Looking at the stage one last time as it was being torn down, Frogue remarked, "So much talent going to waste" before disappearing into the parking lot.

Where does Bauer go from here? "I have not had the luxury of being able to focus only on teaching since the fall of '96," he said. "I think I'm still doing a good job, but I'm certainly more distracted than I used to be. Part of it is that it's a small campus. Every day I run the gauntlet of friends and enemies-mostly friends-who ask me about what's going on with the board and the lawsuits. In the minutes before class, I've got to think about this. It definitely affects my teaching. I look for the day when I can focus solely on teaching."

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