Wednesday, May 18, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 11

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on May 11th, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 11 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 11

What's going on?


What’s gotten into people these days? Just as I was about to zero in on Solvang, again, word of some words at Allan Hancock College nearly made me spit out my birdseed.

An administrator at our local community college “said” some rather ageist and offensive things about a group of students via email to administration staff. And Mary Jo Gabel—who’s taught sewing classes for 35 years at Hancock without a problem till now—not only took that administrator to task but protested the college’s alleged ageist actions against the group of retired, noncredit students. 

“We were made aware back in October that the office has been referring to us—because we were seniors—as ‘the blue haired mafia,’... I filed a complaint in October and let my class know about it on the first of November,” Gabel said.

Fourteen of her students filed additional complaints against Dean of Academic Affairs Sofia Ramirez Gelpi for those words, which were not endearing, Gabel said. At the same time, the college had been in the process of moving Gabel’s noncredit sewing classes out of the college’s on-campus sewing lab and relocating them to, get this, Guadalupe. More than 10 miles away. And then the class got moved again to the Atkinson Community Center, where the students had to sit in broken chairs and had less equipment available to them.

But what’s worse, the students felt discriminated against and disrespected. Over the past several months, they’ve taken their concerns through the proper channels and were given “a determination that the complaints were not sustained.” So on May 10, a group of the students—with blue ribbons in their hair—planned to speak up at Hancock’s board of trustees meeting. 

Down in Solvang, perhaps at least one public commenter should not have spoken up during the City Council meeting. Mary White muddied waters, ruffled feathers, and just generally furrowed many a brow (and other mixed metaphors) with her comments apparently against the city’s newly approved, first ever Pride parade and in defense of the area’s human-trafficking victims. 

“Because of everything that this country has been going through, with human trafficking, child trafficking, I’d love to see you table it [the parade], because I think the timing is really tough,” White said. “It’s very hard to see these kinds of things going on. … This is not about me, this is about our country. It’s about people in this area.”

What the what? I’m not the only one thoroughly confused about her connecting the LGBTQ community with human trafficking. The next public commenter said what we’re all now thinking:

“To equate pedophilia with a Pride event is problematic for me. What we should be doing is supporting one another and lifting each other up,” said Vashti Wilson, a co-organizer of this year’s Juneteenth celebration at Solvang Park. 

Even Solvang’s law enforcement gave public comment in hopes of clearing the air.

“I just want to take a moment as your police chief and reiterate that we have a division of detectives dedicated to human trafficking. We take that very, very seriously,” said Solvang Police Chief and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Lt. Garrett TeSlaa. “There’s nothing to suggest that human trafficking has anything to do with the LGBTQ community.” 

I just can’t believe she said those things out loud. Seriously.

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