Special to The Guardsman
By Sarah Lapidus
A process to revitalize the Labor Studies department by forming a committee to evaluate and improve the program’s “viability and responsiveness” began April 5, according to an email sent by Academic Senate President Mandy Liang.
Department Chair Bill Shields fears this process will end with the termination of his program.
“This administration has been terminating our program in slow motion by making so many cutbacks to our budget,” Shields said.
In the past several years, the administration decreased the department’s funding, removed their secretary, and cancelled a labor-focused performance class that lead to students protesting at the Jan. 25 board of trustees meeting.
The department used to have an office at Evans Campus, but “we were forced out,” Shields said. He now uses his own money to keep his office materials in private storage.
“(The administration) swears up and down that they are not going to shut us down, that they just want to help us. But we’re not so sure, because everything they’ve done has shown the opposite,” Shields said.
The notion that the Labor Studies department will be shut down is “flat out not true,” City College Spokesperson Jeff Hamilton said.
“The department needs the necessary adequate resources and funding to continue to help the program fly,” Liang said. “There is a lot of potential in the growth and the program,” she added.
According to the City College District Policy Manual, the purpose of the revitalization process “is to have an established process in place to guide a discussion should it be needed.”
Hamilton said a program goes through this process when not enough students are enrolling or when the reviewed curriculum needs to be updated. They use specific criteria to measure whether a program’s curriculum needs to be upgraded.
Hamilton said it was made clear during a meeting with Board of Trustees members Brigitte Davila and Tom Temprano that the college was committed to revitalizing the course.
Shields remains unconvinced.
At a Labor Community Studies Advisory Board meeting on March 16, members the labor union SEIU Local 87, whose building the meeting was held in, showed their support of the program, Shields said.
“We fight for everybody, but we also have special needs that need to be taken care of as well,” Shields said. “The deciding factor will be if our community supporters are active and can be heard.”