From Dissent 45, 2/29/00
The Red Emma Interview: Two Girls Sittin’ Around Talkin’
by Red Emma
Lifestyle reporter Red Emma had a few moments to catch up with newly elected CTA State Council Representative for region HE-5 Lisa Alvarez. Alvarez is a shy Professor of English who generally shuns the style spotlight. Though she’s been active in both Frogue recall efforts and has written editorials appearing in the Los Angeles Times, she prefers to work behind the scenes and get nasty e-mails from silly faculty members.
Alvarez has served as Academic Senate Recorder and faculty advisor to MEChA. She helped organize the largest teach-in held at IVC (against Prop 187) and, famously, refused flowers delivered to her by the mercurial Steve “Jorg Haider” Frogue.
Recently asked by administration to remove anti-Mathur posters from her office door, Alvarez offered that she shared the space with a colleague and thought she might need to ask him first. This clever ruse confused her Dean, who wrote a memo to himself.
Currently, Alvarez, like many faculty, is undergoing a rather extended evaluation process. Although she was observed last semester, Alvarez’s evaluation has, at press date, failed to clear the crowded desk of so-called college President Raghu, who is busy, sources tell us, accounting for overlooked Certificates of Appreciation (he passes them out like candy) and brushing up on his CPR skills.
Urged to run for the State Council position against incumbent (and past-F.A. President) Sherry Miller-White by F.A. reformers, Alvarez hesitated at first, but then took the plunge. She recently discussed her campaign with this Dissent reporter over lunch. We dined at the IVC Food Services court. I had the portobello tamales smothered in a tequila cream sauce, accompanied by guacamole made tableside. Alvarez enjoyed a simple fusilli pasta with feta cheese and a spinach salad. Flouting F.A. tradition, she paid for the meal herself.
We spoke candidly about SOCCCD politics, her goals as new state rep, and district lifestyle and fashion trends.
Alvarez (interrupting): I’m not talking about fashion! Don’t put that in.
RE: Well, let’s get started. So, Comrade Miss Thang, congratulations on your election victory. How does it feel?
Alvarez: Please don’t call me that. But, thank you.
RE: Sorry, girlfriend.
Alvarez: I’m not your girlfriend. Can we please just talk about the position? I’ve got class to teach in five minutes.
RE: Fine. Let’s talk hard ball. How do you account for your recent election victory?
Alvarez: Well, honestly, it’s just because I ran against Sherry Miller-White and everything she stands for and people recognized her name and voted for the other person—who happened to be me.
RE: What was your principal campaign strategy?
Alvarez: I wasn’t Sherry.
RE: And what about your election materials? What did you focus on, what particular issues?
Alvarez: Really, I didn’t have any. If I had, it would’ve been that I wasn’t Sherry.
RE: So, going into the race as a relative unknown, what would you say were your assets?
Alvarez: Principally, that I wasn’t Sherry.
RE: When you talked to potential F.A. voters, what issues did you emphasize?
Alvarez: Well, mostly, that I wasn’t Sherry. But they already knew that.
RE: I see. Well, I want to review the comments you made after learning from CTA of your election this week. Reports indicate that you thanked members who voted for you and you credited your victory to the fact that you…
Alvarez: —Yeah, that I wasn’t Sherry.
RE: Hmmm. Pretty sly tactics, Professor Alvarez. How do you think this strategy worked on members who were on the fence, the sort of swing F.A. voters who recognized Miller-White’s high-profile stand in favor of the Board Majority, her tacit support of Frogue and gay-bashing and the religious right candidates Wagner and Padberg, and her protection of the allegedly criminal actions of the PAC—but who still liked the way she dresses?
Alvarez: I don’t understand your question and I think how she dresses is irrelevant.
RE: Me, too—and soooo gauche—but this was a big race, and so I thought it was important to talk about image. Do you think name recognition played a role in this campaign?
Alvarez: I wish you’d stop calling it a campaign. I just sent my name in on the form because somebody had to. But, to answer your question, yes, I do. People recognized Sherry’s name. They didn’t recognize mine. So they voted for me. Now can I go teach class?
RE: Sure. You’re attending your first CCA Council meeting this weekend, where you’ll presumably be acknowledged as the new rep.
Alvarez: That’s right.
RE: What will you be wearing?
Alvarez: I’m leaving now, Red. I’ve got to go teach. Good-bye.
And thus ended my brief Q & A with Alvarez who, wearing sporty blue jeans, a snappy vest (“Goodwill” she tells me), and a bold, edgy “Recall Frogue” fashion T-shirt (appropriate for any occasion), scurried off to teach her writing class. You go, girl!
Alvarez (yelling from hallway): And don’t call me a girl!