Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Opinion: SMA vs. FHPD: The BBQ SNAFU

Edward+Kimmel+from+Takoma+Park%2C+MD%2C+CC+BY-SA+2.0
Edward Kimmel from Takoma Park, MD, CC BY-SA 2.0

Disclaimer: The Script is actively following this developing story and is reaching out to involved parties for more details. The initial reports will be by no means all-encompassing… but they will be factual, to the best of our understanding, and without any hearsay. I, CJ Toledo, attended the event with the intention of showing some of my Stanford friends what Foothill College had to offer in terms of social life and events. Regardless of the “fault” of anyone, at the end of the day, several students who attended were scared, hurt, and subjected to dehumanizing treatment whilst being assured that it was standard procedure. 

The mishandlings were numerous, with further information coming to light every day, and given the absolute bedlam of the situation that is to be expected. The SNAFU calls into question concerns about systemic blind spots concerning approving club events, the vetting process of faculty advisors, marketing and promotion for club events, and least surprisingly, systemic racism in the police force. The Script will continue to follow this developing story, and will accept both anonymous and credited tips for our upcoming article.

On Friday, February 16th, at 6 PM, the Student Movement Association hosted an ICC sanctioned DJ set complete with a fog machine and light show, near the on-campus tennis courts. The event itself was intended to inject some excitement and community engagement into an otherwise dead social scene, which ironically they were very successful doing.

Numerous students came to enjoy music, mingling, and munching on burgers and hot dogs. Though not in the open, alcoholic beverages were on hand for those who sought it out, and school faculty member and advisor Jonathan Armer was supposed to be watching over the students to ensure everything was safe. 

Chaos ensued around 8 PM when the revelry was suddenly cut short. Foothill Campus Police, in addition to the Mountain View and Los Altos Police Department, broke up the party with police cruisers and a circling chopper overhead. They were tipped off by some neighbors who weren’t made aware of the bumpin’ beats in their backyard. 

Initially, the atmosphere was festive, with around 50 students in attendance, engaging in dancing, conversations, and even doing some chalk art together. There was alcohol present, with select students indulging and becoming intoxicated. Though not everyone was drunk, Foothill College has a strict no tolerance policy with alcohol, which those in charge of organizing and facilitating the event were well aware of. 

The music that was playing was definitely very loud, as it was intended to be a bit of a concert as well as a barbecue. The DJ/music was less of the focus for most of the folks there, with groups forming up to eat their food, and to introduce themselves to other students and community members. The community being so welcoming and the engagement was a joy to witness and be a part of.

However, the promising night took an unexpected turn when police forces intervened, disrupting the event, causing panic among students, and leaving the students with unanswered questions. In charge of the event was DJ Jonathan Armer, a Foothill faculty member and the SMA club advisor. His job was to ensure that the event had the necessary groundwork, ran smoothly, and did not get out of hand. 

Credit where credit is due, he played a passable DJ set and interacted with the police in a nonviolent manner. That being said, his primary focus seemed to be on getting the music back up and running, as opposed to checking in with students who were clearly shaken up after this whole incident. The vibes were already killed and there was no possibility of revival, but the students needed support and were met with callousness.

As a Native American/Mexican/Irish Muslim Man, I questioned the only officer who was (in my eyes) treating me with respect. Police Officer Joshua Edwards refused to acknowledge that biases existed in any of his partners on the force in any form. He continuously insisted that they were just following procedure and that this whole situation was correctly handled on their end. It reeked of damage control and demonstrated an inability to legitimately address a person of color’s concerns about systemic racism or violence. Foothill College and the surrounding Los Altos community is a cool place, but it undoubtedly has corruption like anywhere else. 

If that is what the following procedure is, then the procedure needs to be changed. There were several students who experienced more policing than necessary, and all attendees experienced unnecessary anxiety due to the mishandling by the police. Due to the mistrust of the students and campus/local police, many folks who were under the influence and may have been deserving of a field sobriety test scattered into the forest to wait out the questioning of those who were sober and compliant (including our Photography Editor Julian Caballero). Thus the police messed up the good people’s night, and lots of the “evildoers” got away. 

This also brings into question the ASFC and ICC’s role. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars that go unutilized and wasted, to where the school is begging folks to tap in and create cool, fun, and safe campus events. Now is the time to join and help with the creation of a fun and safe campus culture, ideally to replace the fearful and dangerous one of this event. There were numerous potential red flags to the situation, and even with mitigating factors in mind, there’s no doubt this was a massive oversight. With sober reflection upon these events, ideally, we can further discuss what other unaddressed issues exist within our campus, and society as a whole. 

The Script encourages you to contact us via our submission form, and the local police force to voice your concerns and qualms about this incident, or police incidents around campus in general. If you would like to know how to help rebuild campus culture, and become a local leader, contact and join ICC (Inter Club Council) or the ASFC (Associated Students of Foothill College). If you want to cover events, become a journalist, or just want to join the coolest club on campus (according to me and other reputable sources), then join The Script via our linktree in the Newsletter!

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About the Contributor
CJ Toledo, Opinion Editor
CJ Toledo is a first-year at Foothill College, double majoring in psychology and philosophy. Always passionate about speaking truth to power, joining the journalism club in school was the next logical step. He hopes to spread a bit of positivity, and awareness in a medium that has been lacking in attention: Newspapers. He also enjoys painting, parkour, and community building. Some other projects besides The Script that he’s involved in include the Stanford Painting Initiative and Spider Parkour.

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