By Patrick Fitzgerald
On the eve of City College of San Francisco’s 80th birthday, we would do well to remember the words above the entrance of the Science Hall. You do remember those words right?
It is easy for us to take our community college for granted. After all, we visit the campuses sometimes much more than we wish to, and stress about assignments, projects and deadlines to notice what the College does for us.
City College is an institution threatened and hobbled by our indifference. It is not just outside forces that would like to reform the College like the American of Community Colleges and Junior Colleges Accreditation Board..
There are also consultants from within that would make the College into an institution of performance over education, of plug and produce programs to serve utilitarian business needs rather than creating critical and flexible thinkers. Is this what we wish City College to become?
Education can be nebulous, and consider courses like philosophy or history. Where is the immediate benefit, the plum of a job at a livable wage with philosophy and history?
Some would argue the real purpose of community college is just job training. Some would substitute technical or career for the word community. We may not be cognizant of what the College really is.
City College is first and foremost a grand community college, offering a broad array of schools and departments from aviation to music. The word community embodies a democratic notion that the institution exists to educate everyone not just to get a job, which is for sure important, but to enlighten us with curiosity and new perspectives as we learn to see the world with more discerning eyes.
The College launched a comprehensive marketing campaign in November that reflected these struggles. Our college is standing tall but are we by its side?
Implied in standing tall is the institution’s need to draw on its dignity and self respect, to put a confident face forward in light of numerous allegations of shortcomings and failings especially with an ongoing accreditation issue.
City College’s faculty is brilliant. If you doubt it, check on your instructor’s background by going online.
Many have chosen to teach at City College, answering a personal calling to serve the public good rather than their purse or wallet. They don’t get paid their worth.
Yet there is an undeniable animosity between faculty and the administration,that divides the institution into factions, weakening the College’s integrity. The battle for direction and leadership should not obscure the institution needs us all to rally by its side and enroll the public’s faith and good will.
Our student body is often self absorbed, stressed to the max just making their way to a new level of professionalism, financial security and maturity.
Our College suffers because while we take from it, do we also in turn show our allegiance and loyalty by spreading the good word about the excellent skills and all the new-found knowledge we learn?
Or do we treat the College like a demanding parent, complaining about the tyranny of its higher aspirations for us?
Where else could we students find the wealth of information and skills at our fingertips in just a couple of acres at such a reasonable price? Where else could we find the wealth of goodwill, networks and contacts we find available here all for the asking?
A $400,000 marketing plan is a wonderful start to let the public know our college is still here and doing great work. We cannot expect a marketing plan to carry the yeoman’s oar alone.
We all must rise during this time of challenge and walk a little taller while our community college is standing tall and moving forward, preparing for a new semester. We, the administration, the faculty and especially the student body needs to see with fresh eyes the bigger picture, acknowledge the good work that goes on here, day in and day out, and be personal ambassadors for the College, boasting to our communities and friends of its good work.
We are City College of San Francisco, we are moving forward and we are proud to stand by its side.