Q&A with the Board candidates: Jackson

Photo by James Fanucchi/The Guardsman

By Dalton Amador
The GuardsmanWhy do you want to be a trustee right now in the middle of the accreditation report?I’m running for the Board of Trustees because we’re at a critical point and there will be a lot of tough decisions to make regarding City College’s finances. I want to make sure we take a balanced approach, one with compassion, especially for students. I want to make sure our balancing decisions aren’t made on the back of students. I want to make sure we keep the community in community college, and don’t become a junior college model.

What does your experience bring to the table?

I was student body president at SF State, I was a student activist. I protested the Schwarzenegger/Bush cuts to education. It was the beginning of the disinvestment in higher education. I bring the experience of living in underserved communities and knowing that there are so many people from communities that really do need City College. I also have policy experience; I worked for a state legislator, I was a legislative aide in Sacramento.

What is your connection to City College?

When I was at SF State, we worked with a lot of the student leaders and student advocates at City College. These cuts impacted the CSUs and the community colleges. One of our big protests was at SF State, where ten thousand students marched, and there were also City College students marching with us. I’ve been advocating with City College students for over a decade now, in terms of investing in higher education.

Is it daunting to represent a school of about 90,000 students?

We don’t have one set of students to serve, we have a lot of different constituencies. It’s actually not daunting. I wake up every day really loving the job. I love representing the interests of all of our students from all of the communities in San Francisco.

It’s Day One and you’ve been re-elected. What’s at the top of your to-do list?

Right now the first priority is to make sure we have a chancellor and a special trustee who understand the value of having a real community college. Our interim chancellor is leaving in a month, and we just now took a vote to invite a volunteer special trustee to our table, so even before I’m hopefully reelected, my priority right now is to make sure we have an interim chancellor and special trustee who really support the model and vision of a true community college.

Other than that, my priorities are to continue our Bridge to Success Initiative, which is a partnership with SF Unified (School District), and to make sure students from our local high schools come to City College and can be successful, and to make sure that City College continues to integrate into all of San Francisco’s communities.

Speaking of the special trustee, you were the only trustee on the board to vote against electing a volunteer special trustee. Do you want talk about your reasons behind that?

There was a meeting before Tuesday where I asked that we be given more information regarding the special trustee. We got some information—it was an opinion from the state chancellor’s office—but it didn’t answer a lot of process questions. Questions like, if we have a general disagreement about something, who supersedes whom? That question just wasn’t answered.

There were also questions about the process we would use to elect the special trustee and if it would be a community based process, an open process, or would the seven trustees go into a room and just pick one. There were questions that I still needed answers to, and answers weren’t provided, and we’re taking a huge, monumental step in terms of selecting a special trustee who literally has more power than the board of trustees combined.

But even though I didn’t vote for the special trustee, I still want to move forward, I don’t want to delay anything. I want to make sure that this process happens, that it’s an open process, that there’s time for student input and community input.

What would happen if Prop 30 doesn’t end up passing?

We would lose about 15 million dollars. Even if the local parcel tax (Prop A) passes, and right now the polls say it’s looking pretty good, we would still lose that money if Prop 30 doesn’t pass. If both measures pass, then we can maintain the level of classes we have right now. If it doesn’t pass, there will be more tough decisions. Right now, we’ve done everything that we can to limit the impact of these cuts on students. If Prop 30 doesn’t pass, we can’t promise that anymore.

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