By Claudia Drdul
At a Jan. 28 Board of Supervisors meeting Shamann Walton connected the removal of Spring 2020 classes from the Southeast Center to other issues that have long-plauged District 10.
“I’m shocked to find out that no classes will be offered at the Southeast community college at 1800 Oakdale. This is a neighborhood that has been left behind on so many occasions,” Walton said. “Many of the public schools in this district struggle with limited resources. Our students need and deserve more support. To have this site shut down for the spring 2020 semester is unacceptable. This is an equity issue.”
This continues a trend that has been going on for a number of years, in which City College has offered fewer and fewer classes at the Southeast center. In Fall 2019, only three courses were offered at the Southeast Center, Administration of Justice 57 with 22 students enrolled, Fire Science with 30 students enrolled and pre-algebra with eight students enrolled.
This campus, alongside City College’s Evans Center, is part of the Bayview neighborhood which houses much of San Francisco’s black, working-class population. US Census data from 2018 shows the Bayview and Hunters Point neighborhoods have a 13% black and 25% Hispanic population and 11.5% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Latin American and Latino/a Studies Department Chair Edgar Torres said his Colonial History of Latin America class was originally cut in November alongside more than 300 other classes. On Jan. 29, Torres was asked by Social Sciences, Behavioral Sciences, Ethnic Studies, and Social Justice Dean Jill Yee to teach this class at the Southeast Campus, the day after Walton tweeted, “The cutting of ALL classes at the Southeast Campus by City College, underscores the need for the 2.7 million dollar supplemental to save classes for seniors and people of color.”
Torres said, “I don’t suspect we’ll reach the numbers” to keep the class offered, especially due to its late start date of March 16. As of Feb. 15, only 10 students are enrolled in the course. Yee was unavailable to comment on whether or not the course will be allowed to continue without meeting the typical 20 student minimum threshold.
Labor Studies Department Chair William Shields, similarly to Torres, was also asked to teach a course at the Southeast Center by Yee after Walton voiced his concerns. He too shared Torres’ apprehension about the feasibility of offering a course so late in the semester. His 3-unit Labor Rights in the American Workplace class would typically have to contain 54 hours of course-load work so shortening this program by two months will be difficult for both he and his students.
Shields has also been pleading with the administration to find room in the budget to offer “a class at Local 87, a custodial training program” and has been continuously told “there’s no money.”
City College’s mission statement explicitly outlines that administrators are actively working to “close equity achievement gaps” and that the college “continually strives to provide an accessible, affordable, and high quality education to all its students”. However representatives from both the Black Student Union (BSU) and the African American Studies (AFAM) Resource Center feel black spaces on campus are few and far between.
BSU President Nikki Hatfield has raised concerns about what she describes as the disinvestment of the college’s administration in the success of black students. “We continuously divest from students of color, but we say in our mission statement, we’re supporting students of color. It’s very backwards, and I feel like I’m in the twilight zone,” said Hatfield.
According to the California Community College’s 2018 Student Success Scorecard, only 37.3% of African-American students at City College “completed a degree, certificate or transfer-related outcomes” between 2011-2017. A percentage lower than white students, asian students, hispanic students and several other ethnic/racial groups.
Akeli Lord, City College’s African American Studies Student Ambassador recounted her frustration with the lack of full-time AFAM professors and lack of visibility of the AFAM resource center. “For some reason we’re not on the map at all. There’s several other resource centers, there’s the Asian American, Latin American, there’s a queer resource, Women’s Resource, and they’re all on the map, but we’re not anywhere to be found, what do you think that is? I’m just so confused by it” said Lord.
Both Lord and Hatfield believe it is a disservice to not offer any African American Studies courses at either Southeast Center or Evans Center. Lord pointed out the four AFAM classes offered this semester are all on Ocean Campus and “not everyone can dedicate three hours for an African American class. That’s ridiculous. Every African American class that they have is once a week and they’re block classes. That’s crazy.”
As a Bayview resident, Lord is not new to her local government forgoing concerns of environmental contamination. “When I moved in the guy who showed me
my apartment told me don’t drink from the water faucet. He’s like, the water isn’t good here” she said.
Walton has referred to the pollution in his district, from the treatment plant which filters over 80% of San Francisco’s wastewater and the Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard, as “civil rights issues”.
The building the Southeast Center is located in, the Southeast Community Facility, was originally “constructed to mitigate the adverse environmental and social impacts of the Southeast Treatment Plant expansion projects during the 1970’s and 1980” according to the sf.gov website.
Shields described the facility as a sort of “concession to the neighborhood” which community members saw as a “victory” in their long fight against pollution of their neighborhood by the treatment plant.
Above all, Shields believes the solution to keeping City College accessible to the Bayview Community would be to hold City College “community meetings” to find out what kind of services or classes members of the Bayview community need.