Civic Center Campus is Reborn

Civic Center Campus next to Civic Center BART and Muni Station at 1170 Market Street, San Francisco on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo by Patrick Fitzgerald /The Guardsman)
Civic Center Campus next to Civic Center BART and Muni Station at 1170 Market Street, San Francisco, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo by Patrick Fitzgerald /The Guardsman)

By Patrick Fitzgerald/ Social Media Director

After much concern, City College’s Civic Center campus has partially reopened to an approving community with classes in English as a Second Language and adult basic education with intentions of full operations by spring 2016.

The site at 1170 Market offers a number of compelling advantages. Foremost is its easy commuter access, being located right next to BART and MUNI’s Civic Center station. Two additional distinct advantages over the old location at 750 Eddy are plans to equip the location with smart classroom technology and this modern facility is air-conditioned.

“I think it is great. It’s brand new and friendly. It is small but I think it is functional to study (and) go here,” student Enrique Quijano said. “We are near the BART station. It is very convenient.”

Only Two of Five Floors Open

A total of five floors are subleased until 2021 from the Art Institute of California. Two floors are currently operational and three more will be remodeled beginning this month. Plans ultimately will include 10 smart classrooms, two computer labs, a library, a bookstore, a student lounge and other offices for student services.

“The student body originates from 50 different countries,” Dean of Civic Center campus and John Adams center Carl Jew responded in an email. “Primary languages spoken include Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish and Arabic. A vast majority … are enrolled in English as a Second Language”

The campus mission is ambitious; to serve not only the Tenderloin neighborhood but also the civil service community who work nearby composed of city, state and federal workers. As a center for public service, ultimately it aims to provide high quality, affordable instruction to nearly 1,700 expected students.

Contained in this lofty goal was the hard reality of a very rocky transition beginning last January with the closing of 750 Eddy due to a report about by seismically unsafe conditions by Thornton Tomasetti engineering firm. That’s when numerous headaches for faculty, students and administrators alike magnified and unfortunately presently continue.

“The Friday before the Monday of (the Spring 2015) semester we were told we weren’t able to go to our campus,” Instructor Kevin Cross said. “(The administration) told us we were going to move to 33 Gough … and they told us we were going to start our classes at the fourth week of our semester. 33 Gough was a disaster.”

Significant city and community support made the Civic Center campus dream a reality as a viable neighborhood resource. District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim introduced a resolution that passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors on March 18 calling on City College administrators to reopen the Civic Center campus.

The Coalition of Public Education (3CPE), made up of La Voz Latina/Central City SRO Collaborative, the Community Housing Partnership, the Vietnamese Youth Community Center, Young Workers United and Glide Memorial Church, together with the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 (AFT 2121) constituted the campaign. This campaign highlighted the need and called on the city and college to provide affordable quality education that would be accessible to neighborhood residents.

“Together, the groups collected thousands of resident signatures in support of the campus and held several neighborhood actions and forums,” Alisa Messer, an English teacher at City College and political director of AFT 2121, who attended many of the coalition’s weekly meetings, said. “Once the group knew that a new location had been secured, though, 3CPE wasn’t about to step aside. They’ve been holding enrollment outreach events in the Tenderloin and recently collected over 300 neighborhood surveys in seven languages about CCSF.”

There is much more work to be done to complete the new facility. Three floors need to be remodeled by this January from business offices into educational classrooms.

Originally, the Art Institute was to vacate all floors before the fall semester. Then word came down in July that the campus would have to be opened on a make due basis with only two floors.

Administrators, faculty and students will have to wait for the significant breathing room that three additional floors will soon provide.

New Civic Center Campus building at 1170 Market Street, San Francisco, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo by Patrick Fitzgerald / The Guardsman)
New Civic Center Campus building at 1170 Market Street, San Francisco, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo by Patrick Fitzgerald / The Guardsman)

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