After a protest that led to City College of San Francisco students being pepper sprayed and arrested on campus Thursday, students and faculty came to City Hall today to continue their call for the reinstatement of the school’s elected board of trustees.
More than 100 people came this afternoon to a rally in front of City Hall that protested the arrest of the two students, one of whom was pepper sprayed by police, during a demonstration at Conlan Hall, an administration building at City College’s Ocean campus.
The demonstration lasted overnight from Thursday afternoon until this morning when the students left the building.
City College Chancellor Arthur Tyler issued a statement today expressing sadness that the incident at Conlan Hall turned violent.
“I ask the entire City College community to tone down the rhetoric and treat each other with respect,” Tyler said.
The chancellor said in the statement that campus police told the protesters that they would not be allowed to enter Conlan Hall due to safety concerns, but a group stormed the building while officers tried to keep them out.
School officials said six campus police officers suffered minor injuries in the altercation with students and one was treated for contact with the pepper spray.
“Please remember that we are colleagues and each is deserving of respect and physical safety,” Tyler said. “We have many challenges ahead and we need to unite around our efforts to keep the college open and to create a future where we thrive.”
Supervisor David Campos joined today’s rally outside City Hall to denounce City College’s response to the protest.
“I was disheartened to see what happened,” Campos said. “We need a full investigation into what led to the pepper spray.”
However, Campos noted that the decision on whether the school will investigate the incident will be up to Robert Agrella, City College’s special trustee and a focus of Thursday’s protests.
Campos held a hearing this afternoon at the Board of Supervisors’ neighborhood services and safety committee on a resolution he introduced that calls for City College’s elected board of trustees to be restored.
Last July, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors stripped the board of trustees of its power and installed Agrella as special trustee, giving him unilateral power over decisions on the school’s rules and regulations.
Agrella was installed after the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges announced it was revoking City College’s accreditation effective this July, citing problems with the school’s finances and governance structure.
A San Francisco Superior Court judge later issued an injunction preventing the ACCJC’s decision from taking effect until lawsuits filed against the commission by the city attorney’s office and the school’s faculty union can be resolved.
Critics said in order to appease the accrediting commission, Agrella has made various controversial changes to City College.
The changes include agreeing to pay top school administrators at amounts above City College’s salary schedule while cutting teachers’ salaries, as well as implementing a new payment policy that requires students to pay fees in full or sign up for a payment plan before registering for classes.
Students have said the policy discriminates against low-income people and those who are undocumented and have to pay higher out-of-state fees.
“Those things happened without any single one of us having a say,” Campos said.
School officials say the policy has been implemented at every other community college in California in the past three years.
State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, also attended today’s rally and criticized the lack of transparency in the current City College administration.
“We need a board of trustees that was duly elected by the people of San Francisco,” Ammiano said.
“We’re not going to take this lying down,” said Shanell Williams, the school’s student trustee. “This is not the City College of San Francisco that we know.”
The Board of Supervisors’ committee at today’s meeting eventually approved Campos’ resolution calling for the reinstatement of the elected trustees.
The resolution will now go to the full board for approval and Campos said it already has the support of a supermajority of supervisors.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News