Chaos Reigns at San Francisco City College

Anthony Huizar, Staff Writer

During a peaceful protest at San Francisco City College on March 13, students were maced and beaten with batons by the San Francisco police department while trying to get into Conlan Hall to host a sit-in.

The students demanded the right to speak with Robert Argella, the appointed trustee who has been making executive decisions behind closed doors during the appeal process to regain the school’s accreditation.

Three CCSF panelists visited GCC on April 10 in Kreider Hall to spread awareness about the problems they are facing with accreditation and what everyone can do to help support the repeal of their accreditation loss. The decision limits the chances of education for students in San Francisco.

The three panelists, Rafael Mandelman, a former CCSF trustee; Jaime Borrazas, a faculty member; and Daniel Acree, a student at CCSF, spoke to a packed house with some attendees even sitting on the floor.

The panelists urged support or AB 2087. This would limit the California Community Colleges Board of Governors from taking power and controlling the decision-making process from an elected trustee.

The students were chanting “Our School” toward the officers setting up the blockade at Conlan Hall. The police were using force to ensure no students entered the building. The protesters questioned why they were being denied access into their school buildings when they are the ones who pay the tuition to fund these facilities. If the school were to shut down, this would force students to enroll at private colleges.

Borrazas urged the crowd to support AB 2087. He believes the de-accreditation of the school is an example of how the education system wants to restrict the role of public education to route students into a private education for profit.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges met to discuss the accreditation of CCSF on June 5 through 7, 2013. The conclusion was that City College failed to meet nine out of 11 standards. It is now on the verge of being shut down. In the meantime, students are taking classes as normal, while the yearlong appeal process takes place.

The ACCJC is an independent organization that accredits public and private colleges. Accreditation determines whether students can can obtain financial aid, whether courses are transferable, if sports teams can participate in leagues, and whether degrees can be granted. Since CCSF failed the evaluation, thee school is on an appeal process for one year. A special trustee was appointed to make executive decisions of the college. The Community Colleges Board of Governors gave Argella the position to uphold all the power in the decision-making process at City College.

Argella has never hosted public meetings or online agendas. He has refused to meet with student representatives and has been making decisions without student input. Clear video footage was obtained during the riot that shows physical assaults by police against students, according to savecsf.org. Students were beaten, pepper-sprayed and punched for protesting to defend their rights for a democratic education.

Acree addressed the student perspective of having his community college shut down. He dropped out of junior college to serve in Iraq a couple years before starting CCSF. He now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He is furious that ACCJC will shut down a school that educates more than one eighth of San Francisco’s population.

“This is a war,” said Acree. “It’s a fight and the only way to win it is to stick together.”

Acree said that City College changed his life. He added how the college has given him a chance to restart his life. Since his return from Iraq, he has shown excellent leadership by becoming the Vice President of the Veteran Alliance club. Even though he is transferring out in the fall, he still worries about the reputation of the school. He doesn’t want the future of his school to not exist, he added.

The enrollment at CCSF’s multiple campuses is more than 100,000 — more than five times the enrollment at GCC.

“We are in this together as community colleges” Jaime Mandelman said.