Ralliers demand accountability

Protestors march around Cloud Circle on Ocean campus on Feb. 21, 2013. Photo by Lucas Almeida/The Guardsman

By Cassandra Hendry
The Guardsman

Seek unity against changes made in name of accreditation
About 150 students, faculty, and staff members gathered for a rally organized by members of the Save CCSF Coalition outside Ocean campus’ Ram Plaza on  Feb. 21 to protest the circumstances surrounding City College’s precarious accreditation status.

“The Students united, will never be divided,” said Oscar Pena, associated student council senator, as he engaged the crowd by starting the rally with the chant.

Participants held a sign that read, “Save City College from the 1% Education for the 99%.”

“Education is a civil, democratic, and human right and we will fight anyone who wants to take that away from us,” City College student Michael Madden said.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges put City College on show cause in July 2012, but its previous report in 2006 designated the school as being in good standing.

One of the coalition’s demands was to speak out against City College being put on “show cause” without prior sanction, and to call on the Department of Education to take action and stop the commission’s  misuse of the accreditation process.

A sign at the rally read, “73% of SF voted to save CCSF not privatize it,” referring to the passing of Proposition A in November.

After the rally students marched around Cloud Circle and then into Conlan Hall where Interim Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman’s office is located. They were told that the chancellor was away at a conference when they asked to speak with her and present some demands, which included calling on the Board of Trustees to reverse all cuts to classes, services, staff and faculty, to stop downsizing the mission of City College and to promote equity.

“With them cutting back [resource center hours], it is really hard for me to get my assignments done on time, and I am suffering along with a lot of other students,” Sherron Anita, a DSPS student at City College, said.

Vice Chancellor of Finances and Administration Peter Goldstein tells protestors at Conlan Hall on Feb. 21, 2013 that the chancellor cannot meet with them because she is at a conference. Photo by Lucas Almeida/The Guardsman

Vice Chancellor Peter Goldstein was present and addressed the crowd.

“I am not in a position to speak for [the chancellor],” he said. “I think this college had done a good job at teaching, but the accrediting commission has the power.”

A group of about 30 students staged a sit-in at Conlan Hall and refused to leave until a meeting was arranged with the chancellor. They stayed overnight and in the morning secured a meeting with her for the following Monday.

“I thought the rally was good, but I wish more students and teachers would have come out,” student Rebeca Prieto said.  “The students who were here had good words of wisdom and inspired other students.”

On Feb. 25 City College Interim Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman, special trustee Bob Agrella, and three representatives from the administration met with five of the students that participated in the sit-in. The students were not satisfied with the results of the meeting because they were told that their demands could not be met.

The chancellor sent a campus-wide email explaining why the demands could not be met and the protest has brought even more negative attention to City College.

The Save CCSF Coalition has organized another rally on March 14 at Civic Center at 4 p.m.

The Guardsman