It’s been a tough year for City College of San Francisco. The school first ran into trouble last July, when an oversight commission called CCSF’s accreditation into question, citing fiscal, structural and governance issues. The sanction forced the school, and its 85,000 students, into crisis mode, as they scrambled to fix the problems and keep the school accredited. Over the last year, layoffs and wage reductions have helped to trim the budget, though not without protest. And changes have been made to the school’s mission, accounting practices and spending.
In early June, the accrediting commission met in Burlingame to discuss the school’s fate, as well as that of 45 other California community colleges also facing review. About two-dozen City College supporters tried to attend the ostensibly public meeting, but were turned away without a clear explanation. The commission made its decision at that meeting, but the decision will be kept secret until the official announcement, which is weeks away. Meanwhile, the faculty union has filed an official complaint against the commission itself, claiming violation of federal laws and serious conflicts of interest in the evaluation process. The commission has responded to some of those issues in a letter.
KALW’s Jen Chien attended a recent meeting of the Save CCSF coalition, which includes faculty, students and community members. Chien talked with people there about what the mood at City College is like, as they await the commission’s decision.
LESLIE SIMON, CCSF Women’s Studies faculty member: The mood on campus is mixed. It’s been a difficult year, we’ve had to do more work than ever, but I think the last few months we’ve become more hopeful than ever, those of us who are deep into the struggle. I’m optimistic because the college is a great place, and we’ve mounted a very good battle against people that are trying to do us in, to be honest. But I think we’re on the winning side right now.
SHANELL WILLIAMS, President of the Student Association at City College: In July, when the sanction came down, a lot of people were pointing the finger at our college, saying look there’s that bad city college of SF, and wanting to blame us for all these things that some of it is sort of out of our control, with all the level of budget cuts, $53 million is a lot of money, and you know, over time I’ve seen us be able to shift the narrative with all these actions and really get people to see a bigger picture, and look at things more holistically, so I feel really good.
TOMASITA MEDAL, community member: I feel that CCSF is the greatest asset we have. It’s what makes San Francisco special. The way it has been managed up until now reflects true San Francisco values, because it hasn’t just focused on grinding out people to go on to higher, four-year colleges. But, it has enriched the lives of San Franciscans, in a complete way, respecting diversity, having ethnic studies, having the history of art history of pre-Columbian art, Asian-American culture, gay culture, and women’s culture.
ISO MURILLO, student: I get customers at work who will tell me, “Oh, city college, I was going to take a sewing class there,” or this and that and, but I heard it was closing. I was like, ‘No, actually we’re not, please come take your class.’ It seems like it’s definitely prevented a lot of people from registering for classes, because they think it is closing.
MISHKA SCHUDEL, community member: My fiancé currently goes to CCSF, and is trying to get his A.A. in child development and become a teacher. I feel this is a huge attack on our rights as people to have public education. That’s why I’m here fighting, so that my spouse and everyone else can get a decent, affordable education.
Do you go to City College, or know someone who does? What’s your take on the accreditation situation? Tell us about it on our tipline – just leave us a message at 415-264-7106.