At stake if City College closes: a career, job security, a U.S. visa, family pride

By 
Ruth Tam
SF Public Press
 — Aug 1 2012 - 5:56pm

After a harsh accreditation review detailing financial and administrative failures last month, City College of San Francisco has been given a year to prove itself worthy of accreditation or face the risk of closure. (Read ongoing coverage from the Public Press via Storify.) Though the school’s community has promised to fight the criticisms with change, it will be an uphill battle for all those involved. In the struggle to keep the school’s doors open, the possible loss of accreditation would affect more than 120,000 City College students, faculty and staff. Here, in their own words, are some of their stories.

 

“I was thinking about benefits, job security. I just needed to get as much education as I could.” — Saul Mira, 29, student

What are you studying?

General education.

Do you have an outside occupation?

I’m a bartender.

Are you full-time or part-time?

Full-time.

Why did you enroll at City College?

Around 2009, when the recession began and the economy started getting bad, I was afraid that I would become unemployed and I’d have to enter the labor force without the necessary skills. I started coming to City College so I could get the education for a better job. I knew that I needed something else. The bartending wasn’t gonna last forever. Since I’m getting older, I was thinking about benefits, job security. I just needed to get as much education as I could.

Did you anticipate the negative accreditation report?

I knew things were bad. People had been talking about the budget cuts for a while. There was a time where summer classes were cut completely. They’re back on, but it’s much smaller than before. Tuition fees have increased. It’s all about the lack of money. But I never saw this particular punishment coming.

If City College lost its accreditation, how would that affect you?

It’s my last semester, so I really don’t know. I’d be one of the last students to get out of here with full credits. But I still have a lot of friends that still need this school. Where are they gonna go? I worry about the future of everyone else that goes here.

Do you have confidence in the school’s current leadership?

I don’t know, but they have to turn this around. If they don’t feel competent enough, they need to look for help out within the community. I know there have been some issues with the president of the board and people on the board being absent, but I trust that they’re gonna do what’s right for the school. I don’t think they want to see it go away. It’s their home, too.

What is the best idea you’ve heard to save City College?

Every campus should have control of their resources and keep track of how they use their money best.

Are you optimistic for the future?

Yeah, I think so. So many students have gone through here and everyone has gotten something out of this school. This is a big community. We can find a way to have people give back. I’m sure people will come forward and assist as needed.

 

“I didn’t think that the board would let stuff slip like that.” — Doretha Fuller-Evans, 62, Phelan Campus Rosenberg Library lead custodian

Do you have an outside occupation?

I take care of other buildings.

Are you full-time or part-time?

Full-time.

Why did you start working at City College?

I was with the Unified School District. Then there was an opening in 1988 for a full-time position and I took it.

Did you anticipate the negative accreditation report?

It wasn’t a real shock but I thought that the school was doing a better job. I wasn’t surprised at what the report had to say about the school’s leadership, but I was surprised to hear about the recommendations the school got in 2006 and never acted on. I felt like we as a staff were betrayed. I expect people to do what they need to do. I expect professionalism.

If City College lost its accreditation, how would that affect you?

I’d have to go back into the system to get a job. Because I’m older, that might be a little hard. I work a professional job and you gotta take pride in your work. But I think I got some years left.

Do you have confidence in the school’s current leadership?

I didn’t think that the board would let stuff slip like that. I’m still dealing with that. They’re supposed to be public servants. You can’t just sit and watch something go wrong. You gotta say something. When you have a school of this magnitude, with 90,000 students, you gotta have your stuff together. If they don’t work together, this school is history. It won’t fly.

What is the best idea you’ve heard to save City College?

I’m banking on the hope that people will be able to put aside their differences and take care of business. Do something for someone else for a change. I’m here so that students can have a clean environment.

Are you optimistic for the future?

I believe things can be turned around. But things need to be changed. We all have to work together to get this done.

 

“It would suck to be this close to graduation only for it to be taken away.” — Kyle Huey, 23, student

What are you studying?

Business.

Do you have an outside occupation?

No.

Are you full-time or part-time?

Full-time.

Why did you enroll at City College?

It’s cheaper than going straight to a four-year university.

Did you anticipate the negative accreditation report?

It was definitely surprising. But I did notice problems with the budget. The past few years they’d been cutting classes and last year they canceled the summer program.

If City College lost its accreditation, how would that affect you?

I’d have to go to another school, I suppose. I’d have to go to CSM or Skyline, which is kind of far. I get not enough sleep as it is. I only have one or two more semesters yet, and it would suck to be this close to graduation only for it to be taken away. My mom’s been telling me to finish up. That’s kind of important. I don’t want to be a disappointment.

Do you have confidence in the school’s current leadership?

Not anymore! I didn’t really pay much attention to them before this. I was doing my own thing, taking classes. Recently it’s been like, “what are they going to do now?”

What is the best idea you’ve heard to save City College?

I haven’t followed up on it, unfortunately.

Are you optimistic for the future?

Yes. I’m not really that worried. I feel like City’s too big to be shut down.

 

“I’d be forced to go back to my country.” — Yulla Nicolas, 24, student

What are you studying?

Marketing.

Do you have an outside occupation?

No.

Are you full-time or part-time?

Full-time.

Why did you enroll at City College?

I’m an international student from France and I want to go to San Francisco State University. The only way for internationals to do that is to get an associate’s degree here first.

Did you anticipate the negative accreditation report?

I’ve known about the problems for a while. People were always talking about the budget cuts for more than a year now.

If City College lost its accreditation, how would that affect you?

Hopefully I’ll get my diploma next spring, so I’ll be fine. I’ll be sad for the next generation afterwards. If I don’t get my diploma, it would be really difficult for me to transfer afterwards. I wouldn’t be able to get a job in my field without a degree and I’d be forced to go back to my country.

Do you have confidence in the school’s current leadership?

No. A couple weeks ago I sent every member of the board of trustees an email about health insurance for international students. Even though I already had my own insurance, I had to cancel my plan because the school had put a hold on my account until I signed onto their insurance. I didn’t like it because my previous policy had way better coverage than the one they gave me. I wrote each of them an email and no one responded. I don’t have confidence they’ll be able to pull it together.

What is the best idea you’ve heard to save City College?

I haven’t heard any. I’m not involved in the social part of the school.

Are you optimistic for the future?

For me, I don’t know. I have hopes for the school. I want other international students to have the same opportunity as me, but without all the fees I’ve had to pay.

 

“I’m the first in my family to go to college.” — Alejandro Castro, 20, student

What are you studying?

Education. My dream is to go to Korea to teach English and Spanish.

Do you have an outside occupation?

No.

Are you full-time or part-time?

Full-time.

Why did you enroll at City College?

I’m the first in my family to go to college and I want to finish for my parents. Back in Mexico, my parents were unable to go to a university and they didn’t get a good education. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I wanted to learn from people from different backgrounds — people who have no income and need help, people in the middle and people who are doing really good.

Did you anticipate the negative accreditation report?

It struck me because it would really bring an end to my dream. It would really devastate our community.

If City College lost it accreditation, how would that affect you?

It would make it difficult to satisfy my remaining requirements. I’d feel lost because I don’t have the money to transfer to different schools.

Do you have confidence in the school’s current leadership?

They need to be more organized. They need to do a better job choosing what classes are really needed for students.

What is the best idea you’ve heard to save City College?

I’ve heard that the language center doesn’t get used very often. We could close that and put more resources into the English, writing and math labs. Those are the most important programs to me. We need to figure out what’s really needed.

Are you optimistic for the future?

Yeah. My English teacher told me I didn’t have to worry.

Read additional interviews and ongoing coverage from the Public Press via Storify.

Comments

http://californiacommunitycolleges.cccco.edu/maps/districts.asp
--two year community colleges through out California;
the closest College to San Francisco may be San Mateo College District, Skyline in San Bruno. Oakland has the Peralta Community College District; Lake Merritt off--Lake Merritt BART. There are Community College Districts through out California. For students who came to San Francisco from other bay area cities there are also Community Colleges in San Jose, Fremont, Martinez, and Pleasanton--all accredited.

great article, if you continue you might want to interview someone with a developmental disability who attends CCSF, services and classes for people with disabilities have been continually cut for the past few years with no end in sight, CCSF has basically said they do not want to put resources towards supporting students with developmental disabilities.