The president of the board of trustees of Cuesta College in California has been called on to resign after racist posts on his social media were exposed.
Peter Sysak, elected to the board in 2014, shared posts on his Facebook page characterizing transgender people as “mentally ill” and women who have had abortions as not deserving to have opinions on human rights, The Tribune reported.
In addition to posts targeting transgender people and women who’ve had abortions, Sysak shared a meme calling the Black Lives Matter movement “a THUG problem.”
Another post reshared by Sysak said, “We live in a society where homosexuals lecture us on morals, transvestites lecture us on human biology, baby killers lecture us on human rights, and socialists lecture us on economics.”
Sysak also shared opinions critical of California becoming a “sanctuary state” for undocumented people, suggesting a negative view towards immigrants.
Community members are now calling for Sysak to resign from his position, as he has violated the board’s code of ethics and standards of practice with his now-deleted Facebook posts.
In a Facebook message to The Tribune, Cuesta College psychology student Ariel Peraza wrote that those elected to the college board are “undeniably racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant.” The student noted that these traits are contrary to courses taught at the college, which include ethnic and queer studies.
Cuesta’s Code of Ethics states that all board members are expected to maintain “the highest standards of conduct and ethical behavior” and “protect, advance, and promote the interest of all citizens.” Board members should also render “independent judgment, uninfluenced by private or interest groups.”
Chance to Reflect
While there are calls for Sysak’s resignation, others have simply called on the board to regulate his social media posts.
Chemistry professor Greg Baxley, an executive member of the college’s Federation of Teachers, would rather let Sysak finish his term. However, he told The Tribute that the board president should “recognize the harm that he could be causing the students of the college he is sworn to represent,” and reflect on how his actions could negatively impact students.
Baxley emphasized that since Sysak is the elected board president, he represents the institution. When his posts belittle the Black Lives Matter movement or insult people’s gender or sexuality, students and visitors of the community may question Cuesta’s credibility as an educational institution.
The professor suggests that Sysak become “anti-racist” and be supportive of students of color and other marginalized groups. Sysak can use his position in a positive way, and make good use of his remaining time as board president, Baxley concluded.