By Jackson Ly
Despite City College remaining open and accredited, enrollment numbers for the fall semester having dropped far below target, likely the consequence of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges’ decision to revoke the school’s accreditation next July.
As of Aug. 8, student enrollment has decreased by 12.7 percent compared to Fall 2012, according to the school’s daily enrollment reports. Chris Hanzo, executive director of AFT 2121, a local teacher’s union that supports City College, says classes with only five to six students will likely be closed.
“Part-timers would lose their employment, and full-timers would have to make up and teach a class for free in the future,” Hanzo said. “We really do not want to see a lot of class cancellations.”
The English 58A Contemporary Women Writers and Poets class only had six students and was canceled. Students interested in the class had to find a replacement.
“This is a huge deal. Some of the part-timers in my department are losing their family livelihood and health benefits,” Women’s Studies Department Chair Elisabeth Arruda said. “They have to [teach] 7.5 units to get health care.”
City College faculty members and staff are using mass media, informing through word-of-mouth, passing out course catalogs on BART and telling counselors to let people know that the college is open and fully accredited. Messages saying City College is “Open, Accredited, Enroll Now!” appear all over Bay Area billboards and radio stations.
Enrollment and Funding
If enrollment decreases further, City College will run the risk of losing state funding, which is based on enrollment numbers.
Hanzo says the college will not face any funding cuts this school year, but if enrollment decreases by 15 percent, then the loss of funding would potentially be over $20 million.
He added that further enrollment decreases would send the college into a “scary spiral downward.”
CCSF Gains Momentum
On Aug. 13 the United States Department of Education ruled that the commission is out of compliance with federal regulations and is subject to closure within 12 months if issues found are not resolved.
The department agreed with the faculty union’s 300-page complaint that the accreditation commission violated their own due process.
“We believe that the findings of the Department of Education undermine their [ACCJC] whole sanction of City College, so that whole sanction has to be reversed,” Hanzo said. “The accreditation agency didn’t have a legitimate basis to put City College on ‘show cause.’”