By Tyler Lyn Sorrow
More than 50 City College students, faculty, and staff protested the administration’s cutting of classes and layoffs at a rally, organized by the faculty union AFT 2121, in front of Conlan Hall on Aug. 22.
Frustrated by what many felt was a lack of transparency by the administration, tension was compounded by recent registration pile-ups for classes like English 1A where a reported 300 students have been waitlisted. One speaker said that over 200 students were being crammed into one ESL class when the average was about 20 to 45.
The energy was positive overall, but many students spoke about the difficulty of finishing their education plan with several students commenting that the class they had enrolled in had been cut at the last minute.
Trent Jones, who was pursuing the motorcycle technician certificate in the automotive technology department, spoke candidly about how class cuts have affected him and others pursuing trade certificates.
“I want to be here just to make people aware that the last class needed to get your motorcycle certificate was cut the day before you’re supposed to begin. One of the excuses was not enough students,” he says, “But that was not true apparently.
“And then the entry level course with more than enough students was also cut,” he continues, adding, “So as an adult learner, you know, I know that’s a big part of this community here and this school and enriching your life and your education, which is something I’m doing and it’s just a sad thing.”
Of the faculty present, several were delegates of AFT 2121, including Mary Bravewoman, its current President, and Anita Martinez, a former president. Martinez, a former ESL teacher at City College is running for the Board of Trustees in the November election.
”I absolutely hate what this college, what this administration and this board has done,” Martinez says, “to decimate that program in the lives of all of our community and our immigrant community, and also the people who are coming here as international students.”
“It’s critical not just because some of the students will come here to City College for credit classes,” Martinez says. “People rely on just the day-to-day living, people who are parents who need to be able to communicate with teachers who need to know how to get along in the world, people who need it to work.”
Other topics brought up included tenured faculty that had been laid off, reportedly 38. English Professor Steven Mayers was primarily concerned about the welfare of his students and said the college was driving potential future students away.
In response to a question about how faculty and staff were faring after the cuts, Mayers says, “We fear this is the death of tenure.”