Secrecy at Southeast Campus raises old suspicions

by Elizabeth Skow

Southeast CampusCity College Electronics Repair students were surprised and disappointed when they showed up for their fully enrolled class at Southeast Campus on Tuesday, Aug. 18, and found out it had been cancelled.

There was no sign or any notice of the cancellation posted, but when students asked, a person at the front desk of the campus said that the class was cancelled because the teacher, Dr. Charles Collins, had retired.

“They knew Dr. Collins was retiring last May,” said student Shashi Dalal. “Usually when someone retires, another person comes to take their place. I don’t understand why they don’t send another teacher to teach these classes.”

The class was a continuation of a spring semester class and, according to a copy of the class roster from May 2009, at least 30 people were signed up to take it in the fall.

Chancellor Don Griffin said that the class was cancelled because of recent budget cuts. One of the ways City College is dealing with the cuts is a hiring freeze. No new instructors were hired to replace retirees, so nobody is available to teach the class. Griffin said the college is trying to shore up a $ 20,000,000 hole in City College’s budget.

The last time City College tried to shift classes from the Southeast Campus, it was part of a secret plan of former Chancellor Day. According to City College Board of Trustees president Milton Marks, Day wanted to move all classes to Evans Campus so students could avoid the neighborhood around 1800 Oakdale. This plan ignored the fact that many students at that campus came from within the neighborhood, Marks said, and when Bayview residents alerted the Board of Trustees to what was happening, the plan was quickly stopped.

Marks said that because of that incident, the students at Southeast Campus have good reason to question City College’s motives. He had not heard about the cancelled class, but said that the Southeast Campus is actually increasing credit and non-credit classes this semester.

“Southeast Campus was the only campus that got more classes this semester,” Marks said. “We are not cutting any classes. Classes have been added there.”

The history of the Southeast Community Facility, which houses the campus, has been fraught with problems. Built in the late ‘70s, the building was a sort of consolation prize from the City for putting the sewage treatment facility in Bayview.

Since being elected and sworn into office by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Teri Jackson as a City College trustee in 2008, Chris Jackson has been pushing the College Board to make the Southeast Campus more useful to the people of Bayview Hunters Point.According to former Southeast Community Facility Commissioner Espanola Jackson, San Francisco gave the land at 1800 Oakdale to the Bayview community, promising a community college, a senior program and a culinary program to benefit the community. Jackson said that the revenue from the building was supposed to go to the city for the first five years, but was supposed to revert back to the Facility Commission after that. The senior program was never started, nor the culinary program. According to Jackson, the city is still taking the revenue from the building.

“None of the promises made by the City of San Francisco to the people of Bayview Hunters Point have ever been kept,” Ms. Jackson said, “from the 1950s to now. It’s all promises and no follow-through, and that’s a natural fact.”

Chancellor Don Griffin said if he is able to reinstate the cancelled computer class next spring, it will be held in a smaller room, because the old classroom is now the home of the new One Stop Student Services office, which will serve 2,500 people in the Bayview community.

He said that he did not know why the students were not notified of why the class was cancelled, but there should have been a clear communication from Dean Hunnicutt. He said he would look into why it happened.

Dalal said students from Dr. Collins’ class have gotten jobs at prestigious high tech firms, and he thinks it is productive for the community and the high-tech industry. He said he thinks the class should include all the students who were enrolled.

Trustee Chris Jackson said the sign was taken off the Southeast facility building because a survey of people in Bayview found that many residents were unaware the campus existed, so the college is getting a larger sign.

Jackson said that the college is trying to make sure that the classes at Southeast Campus reflect the population it serves.

“The only way that the Southeast Campus will move from 1800 Oakdale,” Jackson said, “is if it moves into a new, dedicated Southeast Campus building, which we are pushing for.”


City College announces Gateway to College at Southeast Campus

by Elizabeth Skow and Aaron Salazar

City College Chancellor Don Griffin and members of the Board of Trustees held a press conference Friday, Aug. 28, at the Southeast Campus, 1800 Oakdale Ave., to announce the start of its new Gateway to College program in cooperation with the Mayor’s Office and San Francisco Unified School District.

The program is part of a national network funded partly by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that helps high school dropouts get their high school diplomas at community colleges while earning credits toward a college degree or certificate at the same time.

There are currently 54 students enrolled in the program, and the plan is to add 50 new students each semester, so that it will serve about 300 students after three years. The Gateway program is funded for three years, City College Chancellor Don Griffin said.

Dwayne Jones of the mayor’s “Communities of Opportunity” program spoke proudly about the collaborative effort by the San Francisco Unified School District, Mayor’s Office and City College faculty.

“As we fight poverty, we can’t do anything to impact it until we address education,” Jones said.

Successful Gateway students Stacey Jones and Robert Tago gave testimonials about the difference the Gateway program has made in their lives.

Chris Jackson, City College Board of Trustees member, said it was a happy day to him because his family came from the community.

“When I see this campus and I see all the promise it has and I see all you people here today, I feel like something good is finally going to happen within this community in the Southeast campus,” Jackson said

Elizabeth Skow and Aaron Salazar are journalism students at San Francisco State University. Skow, former editor of the City College newspaper, is interning at the Bay View. She can be reached at