SF City College Students Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

SF City College Students Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

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Editor's Note: A week after City College of San Francisco learned that its accreditation would expire next year, more than 1,000 students, faculty members and supporters rallied at the school’s downtown campus to protest the decision. Many say the school’s loss of accreditation is part of a larger push to privatize one of the nation’s largest community colleges. While some believe the school could remain open beyond its July 2014 deadline, others are simply worried about where they can go to complete their programs if the school does in fact shut its doors. All agree that whether or not CCSF survives, the real fight is keeping the doors open for the city’s low-income and minority students.

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Nalo Gonzales, 24
Taking courses to get into a teaching credential program

The news was extremely shocking … I call into question the motives behind the ACCJC [Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges]. I believe this is a scare tactic … the recommendations they’ve told CCSF to work on are overreaching the boundaries of the commission in general and have nothing to do with the quality of education [provided by CCSF]. So the way I see it is, instead of focusing on the school possibly closing, I’m more focused on how we can save it and ensure that programs and services and courses aren’t cut and that the quality of education doesn’t diminish.

Michael Madden, 21
Sound Engineering

I was incredibly upset. At first, I thought they were really serious about doing this. But then we realized the decision is not final. The ACCJC understands the decision is not final because the college has to appeal it in court. So this decision is going to get tied up in court. The ACCJC also said the school needs more time to address certain issues. So there’s a grey area there, at least for us activists, that they’re actually going to close the school next year. What they want to do is use the notice to impose pressure to do what they’ve already been doing, which is cut courses, [cut] teacher pay and lay off staff.

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Hydra, 22 and Cynthia, 20
Taking ESL classes at the CCSF Mission Campus

CCSF is critical for immigrants who want to improve their English, whether to pursue an academic degree or to find work. Our mothers are both taking ESL at City College. We were both planning to enroll this fall. If it closes, I guess we’ll try and get into San Mateo Community College, but we haven’t begun planning for that yet.

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Moises Montoya, 54
Former CCSF student

The reason for this [decision by the ACCJC] is money and privatization. They want us to believe that privatizing education is better because it’s more efficient. But is it? It doesn’t ensure the quality of an institution.

I’m worried for my niece and nephew who are about to graduate high school. Their options are becoming increasingly limited. Now they’re considering either joining the military or getting a job right away. Although there are pros to joining the military, the reality is you don’t learn to think critically without an education. The next generations should have a choice.

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Vidi Nguyen (at left in red), 19
Biology major

I don’t understand why students are preyed upon. First student loans, now this. I don’t have a plan B. I love this school. The vibe is different; it’s friendly, people are open. City College just feels like home. Despite everything, I have faith things are going to work out.

Paul Hanhan, 21
Psychology major

I'll probably be done by the time this accreditation issue affects the school, but I‘ve learned a lot from City College. I’ve put a lot of time, money and effort into this institution and I’m here because I feel that other people should have the right to the same chances that I got here.

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Steve, 40
Radiologic Sciences

My internship starts in July, when the school’s accreditation ends. I’ll still have a semester left to complete the program.

It took me four years to get where I’m at, knocking out prerequisites and applying to get into the program … just to come to this. My plan right now is to just keep going and controlling what I can at the moment … and that means passing my classes.

At my age, it’s tough to have to come up with a plan B, especially with young ones at home. If there were another program, I would transfer, but it takes so long just to get in because of the competition. These programs accept just 15 students a semester out of hundreds of applications, so it’s not like I can just jump ship and get into another program. It’s a process that can take years.

Derryln Tom
Chemistry Teacher, Mission High School

The majority of our students can’t afford to go straight into a four-year university. They’re smart enough, and they may have the grades, but they’re competing with so many other students around the state and the country to get into those. Closing City College impacts our immigrant students, it impacts our students of color, it impacts students from single-parent or no-parent households.

The sad thing is that our students are all on vacation right now, so they’re all dispersed. They’re in for a rude awakening come September. And if they follow the mainstream press, then they’ll think the school is closed and won’t sign up for classes. I’m telling them that I’m signing up for classes in the fall.

There’s no question … the message this decision sends [to our students] is that you don’t matter.

Reporting by Peter Schurmann, Vicki Cheng, Leah Andritsch, and Gabriela Ferreira