City College of San Francisco students, staff and administration remain at an impasse after a meeting today in which students demanded more input in the school’s changes as it fights to keep its accreditation.
A group of five students met this morning with interim City College Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman and other school administrators after dozens of students held an overnight sit-in on campus last week to demand the meeting.
The students are demanding that City College roll back recent cuts to student services and school staff and to allow the students to be more involved in the administration’s choices in its struggle to stay accredited.
“We want to be part of this discussion,” said Shanell Williams, president of the Associated Student Council at the school’s Ocean campus.
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges last July placed the school on “show cause” status.
The sanctions require City College to file a report by March 15 addressing how they are resolving more than a dozen problems identified by the commission, including an excessive number of campuses and high non-instructional faculty costs.
If City College fails to show adequate improvement, the school could lose its accreditation when the commission issues its ruling on June 10.
One of the students’ demands was for the school to hold town hall meetings around the city so more students and other community members can make their voices heard on the changes to City College.
School spokesman Larry Kamer said demands are “never a good way to start a collaborative conversation” but said Scott-Skillman told the students she would consider that proposal.
But the chancellor denied other demands by the students to reverse the recent cuts and ask for the school to ask City Hall to give it a loan until money is available from Proposition A, a local parcel tax approved by voters last November to fund City College, Kamer said.
“We are not in a position to take on additional debt,” he said. “The challenge is for us to fix our problems here, not to go out and ask for someone to give us money.”
Kamer said school officials are readying the report, which is currently more than 240 pages long, but will not have solved all the problems identified by the accrediting commission before its March 15 deadline.
“The biggest problem is the one that’s going to be the slowest to resolve, and that is the fact that we’re spending 92 cents of every dollar on wages, benefits and retirement,” he said.
He said the resolution requires a collective bargaining process with the school’s staff unions that is “not going very quickly.”
However, Wendy Kaufmyn, a City College engineering instructor who attended the students’ rally today, said the administration was at fault for the slow process, with Scott-Skillman sometimes taking weeks to respond to requests for meetings with faculty.
Kaufmyn said the interim chancellor has repeatedly called for unity, but has shown “a lack of communication and transparency.”
She said, “There is no unity when there’s no communication.”
The students said they plan to hold a march and rally outside City Hall on March 14, the day before the report is due to the accrediting commission, to call on city officials to take a more active approach to helping the school.
“We’re confident that if the whole city mobilizes … that City Hall will be forced to listen,” said organizer Eric Blanc.
Meanwhile, the school’s Board of Trustees this Thursday will decide whether to approve the report and send it the accrediting commission. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on the school’s Ocean campus at 50 Phelan Ave.
A draft version of the report is available online at www.ccsf.edu/ACC/ShowCauseReportSecondDraftUpdate3February21.pdf.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News