CCSF students angered by class cancellations

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Despite a day of misty downpours and gray skies, students, faculty members and their supporters gathered in the lobby of the City College of San Francisco’s Conlan Hall on Wed/28 in anticipation of a sit-down with the school’s chancellor, Dr. Arthur Q. Tyler.

The meeting had been requested to discuss increasing displacement at CCSF, with the number of eliminated classes on the rise every day. Yet questions were still swirling about whether college administrators had used much-needed funds to approve higher administrative pay scales without public notice.

Students and faculty delivered a petition signed by nearly 2,500 students opposing the recent course cancellations. When they unrolled the long list of signatures, it reached from the lobby all the way up the stairs to the chancellor’s office door, a physical display of growing dissent. And with the cuts’ affect already resulting in the cancellation of 27 foreign language courses alone, student anger over the course cancellations is building.

Matt Lambert, a CCSF student for several years, said he’d been informed just that morning that his photography class had been cancelled. He said he’d “spent all day this morning talking to people who were in a similar situation as I am, everybody has a class being cut somewhere. So how come classes are being cut, when supposedly City College is getting cash from Proposition A, how come with all that cash classes are still being cut?”

Proposition A, a special tax approved by voters in November of 2012, provides for a new channel of funding for CCSF with a $79 parcel tax. This tax was intended to help the relieve a bit of the struggle that's burdened the college as of late, but now students and faculty are finding themselves fending off class cuts as enrollment declines under the ongoing threat that the school could lose its accreditation.

The meeting with the chancellor was intended to be an open discussion, but in the end, only three individuals were permitted to speak to Tyler face-to-face. A chancellor’s assistant informed the crowd the only three members--including faculty union AFT 2121 president Alisa Messer--were allowed to enter the office and represent the instructors and staff. While students were told they would have to follow the proper channels in order to arrange a formal meeting, many students regarded the move as a cop-out.

Following the meeting, Messer provided a recap. “They say they’re looking at the class numbers, and looking at what they did cut, and making sure they didn’t make any big mistakes,” she told the Bay Guardian. “And maybe they should reconsider or learn something from what they do cut. They did say that they will be setting up quite a number late start classes, which is all news to us. But we made it really clear about the quality of education, and the trust that students have in getting their education at City College, and that it is not the right time to be cutting classes.”

Despite an agenda item that was hastily withdrawn last week after being up for approval, recommending salary scale increases of 19.25 percent for certain administrative positions, Tyler is said to have denied the amount this increase, telling Messer, along with two colleagues, that “there was no intention to raise salaries by 20 percent,” that there was confusion about the lower approved salary ranges posted on the school’s website, and that Tyler is working to clarify this.

On Monday, AFT 2121 submitted formal records requests to learn the exact amount administrators are being paid.