A City in Crisis: community calls for united front
By Patrick Tamayo
Many within the City College community agree that establishing a united front to face the school’s problems is important, even despite a lack of concrete solutions.
A group of concerned students, faculty and staff gathered July 24 at the SEIU Local 1021 headquarters in Potrero Hill to discuss the looming accreditation issues that could force California’s largest community college to lose federal funds or even close.
However, there were some in the crowd who felt that certain groups were being left out of the conversation.
Two minutes into the meeting, Doretha Evans, a City College employee of 25 years, loudly interrupted the meeting’s facilitator Rafael Mandelman.
“You need to include the workers if you want any of this to work,” Evans said.
She also said the lack of adequate staffing has become such a problem that there is only one plumber tasked to take care of all the main campuses.
“Fifty people alone will not take care of a school of our size,” Evans said.
Concerns regarding additional concessions were brought forward by members of the faculty.
Political Science instructor Michael E. Estrada said faculty have endured several pay cuts over the last few years and were recently faced with an additional pay decrease recently suggested by interim Chancellor Pamila Fisher.
“The interim chancellor wanted a 7.17 percent cut initially,” Estrada said in an email. “The negotiation teams entered into a 2.85% tentative agreement with her [Fisher] which has been approved for recommendation by the union’s executive board.”
Faculty will vote on the negotiated agreement early in the fall.
Estrada, an instructor at the college for seven years, said if the pay cut is accepted it will be the fourth consecutive year that faculty members stomach a loss in pay.
“Before that though, five and six years now, we haven’t received a cost of living adjustment,” he said.
San Francisco City Supervisor Eric Mar said that he and Supervisor Christina Olague would be teaming up to draft a resolution in support of the college but noted that it would do little beyond showing support.
The college has until next March to fully respond to the recommendations contained in the 66-page report released in June by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Much is riding on a $79 per-parcel tax initiative on the November ballot — proposed by the college’s Board of Trustees — as well as on Governor Jerry Brown’s own tax package.
Skepticism toward the parcel tax was also evident among some attendees.
“I don’t really have faith in the parcel tax,” City College student DeBray “Fly Benzo” Carpenter said.
If either initiative fails City College’s financial problems will likely worsen.