Whose college? - Page 3

San Franciscans decry loss of City College classes — but will the new "Super Trustee" listen?

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Can Super Trustee save City College? Or are the burdens now placed on one outsider too much to overcome? Stay tuned.
GUARDIAN ILLUSTRATION BY ANTHONY MATA

Meanwhile, some in the City College community agree that protesting against changes at City College needs to stop. Hal Huntsman, a math teacher who also helps run student organizing and advocacy group Students Making a Change said in his blog that "I'm happy to say that many of my faculty colleagues are beginning to recognize that continued protest against and criticizing of our accrediting commission (ACCJC) will likely have disastrous consequences."

But he did clarify that sometimes leaders must be held accountable.

"Sometimes that means disobeying laws and directives," he wrote. "And there is always room for professional, respectful input and dialog about important decisions affecting our communities, our students, and ourselves."

Unfortunately, the platforms and places for such "respectful input and dialog" are disappearing.

At a July 25 Board of Supervisors committee hearing on City College, Sups. John Avalos and Eric Mar led a discussion about the accreditation commission. State representatives Tom Ammiano and Phil Ting are likewise spearheading efforts at the state level to investigate the process behind the ACCJC's accreditation ruling, and the legality of its power as a quasi-public institution to make a decision that could shutter an educational institution.

But until then, the public won't have much of a say about anything related to the college — and dramatic changes are already under way.

 

PREPARATION FOR CLOSURE

Agrella and interim Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman are crafting City College's "closure report," which details the steps the school must make in July should it fail to regain accreditation.

The initial closure report is only 12 pages long, and can be found on City College's website. It details how students could transfer credits, how the college would sell its assets, and how faculty would be taken care of in the event of closure.

But nowhere in this report does it mention what would become of the college's many social services. The Second Chance Program, which re-educates ex-offenders; the Homeless At Risk Transitional Students program, which finds housing for students; and the Veterans Resource Center, which gives counseling to more than 1,000 student veterans, are just a few among the many social services City College provides to San Francisco.

In the blink of an eye, they could be gone, and the closure report doesn't include a contingency plan for them.

This is especially troubling to the staff at Larkin Street Youth Services, whose partnership with City College educates more than 20 homeless youth per month. It may not seem like a lot of students, but that partnership is crucial to their education, said Martha Mar, associate director of education at Larkin Street.

Mar especially worries that local colleges like Skyline and Laney are already filled to the brim with City College students who have left San Francisco, leaving little refuge for her students.

"It's going to be hard. It's already difficult for our youth," she said, adding that many are already facing financial hardship or are recovering from addiction and lack of housing. "Having to go somewhere else, its going to be pretty competitive."

City College's social services, non-credit courses and myriad other offerings help nearly every vulnerable class of people in San Francisco. And now, the weight of all of those students rests on Agrella's shoulders. "I think Bob Agrella is a good man, and trying to do a very hard job, I don't want to make it any more difficult for him to do that job," Mandelman said. "That being said, I have a lot of concerns about what's happening to City College right now." Many San Franciscans share those concerns, but it remains to be seen whether Super Trustee Agrella will begin addressing them.