By Hannah Asuncion
The closure of the Fort Mason Campus has affected the community of students and faculty who used to take classes there, especially the Art Department who has now been affected by this talk of the disposal of their art supplies.
There’s been numerous conjectures when it comes to the Board of Trustees and their decision-making process for this certain situation. Therefore, it’s been quite indefinite where the future for these art supplies from Fort Mason will lie ahead.
Art Department Chair Anna Asebedo, believes that it was in the end of May when the Board of Trustees decided to no longer pay the rent for the Fort Mason Campus, due to state funding getting reduced over the years.
“Fort Mason definitely lost the credit classes, pretty much consistently over the past eight years because of funding difficulties.”
Asebedo worked with contractor Mark Swirling, who was very responsive when it came to help organize the packing of all the City College related properties at Fort Mason. Fort Mason didn’t just provide art classes, it had an extension program, workshops, and even some healthcare classes.
“I spent the month of June packing up everything… also designating what equipment there would be room for at the Ocean Campus and what I hope will be moved into the STEAM building because Art is part of the STEAM building that’s gonna open 2024,” Asebedo said.
Some materials were put into containers at the Balboa Reservoir and some might be auctioned off, especially the ones they don’t have room for. City College has been facing a tremendous loss of staff from all departments and their class offerings are also getting much smaller.
Asebedo believes that constant communication is very important especially now, since there’s a new interim Chancellor. “People lost an amazing area to learn and to be part of the art community… I’m hoping with continued work with the facilities group and with people like Mark Swirling and the chancellor’s office we can do a better job describing the activities that we’re working on right now,” Asebedo added.
The surplus property of the Fort Mason lease is ending Sep. 30, according to Leslie Milloy, Chief of Staff. Items such as kilns, potters wheels, art presses, welding equipment, essentials like worktables, cabinets, stools, and lockers were moved to the Ocean Campus and Chinatown Centers.
The rest of the equipment, which is no longer usable, is part of the Surplus Disposal list on the Board agenda for action at the next board meeting on Sep. 24. According to the Board Policy 7.33 and California state law, “all state institutions – including the College – must follow a standard process for identifying and disposing of surplus property to prevent any conflicts of interest”.
The Board must first vote on the Surplus Disposal list before any sale or disposal takes place. Once they vote, then the College is legally obligated to get a third party to orchestrate the sale, disposal, or re-use of any property.
Alan D’Souza, Member of AFT 2121’s Executive Board, believes “it is extremely unfortunate that the College decided against renewing our lease at Fort Mason and instead to shutter programs that had served the surrounding communities for decades.”
D’Souza also thinks that City College needs to open access rather than shut doors since the college is currently struggling to grow enrollment.
“As to the disposal of ‘surplus equipment’ from Fort Mason, Art Department faculty spent countless hours this summer inventorying college resources and thoughtfully designating equipment that should be moved to other locations, placed in storage, or removed from the college inventory,” D’Souza said.
There were lots of public comments made during the Aug. 27 Board of Trustees meeting regarding the availability of usable items from this list of equipment for the general public and nonprofits.
Although there hasn’t been any update on the Board’s action to auction off any sellable items; D’Souza “will continue urging the District to revisit delivery of educational opportunities to the Marina and surrounding communities.”
Vick Van Chung, a community advocate, “believes the Board policy should be updated, regarding whenever we dispose of property to have it go through the participatory government council … Department chairs know their department better, they are the ones who are the best to make the decision.”
Chung also thinks that the administration should get used to the idea of going to the committee, college stakeholders, and recommend it to the board before coming up with plans and broad decisions.
“The reason for where I am is because of art, it helps me have a sense of control/freedom in my own body. Art education isn’t just about access also providing access whether or not it makes you feel. It’s everywhere. Art is directly involved in processes, it’s disappointing to know what we used to have to what we have now,” Chung added.