To City College Trustee Tom Temprano and the Board of Trustees

CCSF students and the community were peacefully protesting to protect their education and faculty when they were surrounded by police at Tom Temprano’s house. Despite the clear effort to intimidate them, the students did not back down. A CCSF student holds a sign that says “Abolish SFPD! Not CCSF! Stop the 600 layoffs!” – Photo: Glenn Mercado

by Alexis Yonan, Gracie Quinn and Eira Kien of CCSF Collective

On Monday, May 10, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to accept American Federation of Teachers – AFT2121’s – bargaining agreement, effectively preventing all 600 plus layoffs of part-time and full-time faculty. This is a victory with a cost: Our faculty is forced into yearlong 4-11 percent salary concessions, the continuous trend of downsizing through fewer FTEF (full time equivalent faculty) – from 575 FTEF in the spring to 520 FTEF this fall – remains, and although no part-time instructors are laid off, a number will probably not receive work due to the smaller budget. 

This is while top administration responsible for mismanaging City College of San Francisco carry on with their six figure salaries. 

This accomplishment came at the cost of the working class, majority BIPOC students pushing past exhaustion, incited to take time away from work and their personal lives to mobilize to save City College. We were afraid of losing our community members, resources and education. We saw so clearly the connections between these cuts and systemic racism. 

On Thursday, May 6, in an attempt to highlight the need to protect education in the struggle for racial justice, CCSF Collective led an AAPI and Black Solidarity virtual press conference and rally on the steps of Mission High School. We connected our messaging around free higher education and refusal of austerity with calls to redirect funding from the police toward the resources that keep our communities safe, such as City College. These actions were held in solidarity with the nationwide actions taking place across universities for Abolition May.

During the press conference, AFAM (African American) Studies student Tiera Cummings-Scales shared her experiences with anti-Blackness from the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community and how Ethnic Studies can cultivate interracial solidarity. CCSF ESL (English as a Second Language) student Pan Ei Khaung drew parallels between what was happening in her home of Myanmar to the human rights violations that led to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Back at the Mission High School rally, former CCSF alumnus Damien Posey from US 4 US Bay Area identified the cuts as a direct attack against the city’s youth and an advancement of the school-to-prison pipeline, as City College was there for him when he returned from prison.

It was this spirit of AAPI and Black solidarity and resistance that we carried with us as we moved on to an independently organized action beginning with a march. Students marched in the streets alongside the community to the home of CCSF Trustee Tom Temprano. 

CCSF students and community take over the streets on May 6 holding gigantic signs of Thea Selby, Tom Temprano and John Rizzo created by Alexis Reiko. A community member holds a “Save Ethnic Studies: AAPI + Black Solidarity” sign. They marched from Mission High to the home of Tom Temprano. – Photo: Nick DeRenzi

We were determined to compel him to listen to us and stop the layoffs. As we chanted and heard powerful speeches, we were swarmed by 50-100 police officers. At least 40 officers were dressed in full riot gear, while students chanted, “Money for college, not for cops!” in fear, anger and pain.

Moments after the May 10 Special Board of Trustees meeting ended, Trustee Tom Temprano sent an update through his Instagram stories saying how “structural budget issues” need to be addressed and that he will continue fighting for CCSF. If that is the case, he should join the students, BIPOC community and white allies, who kept fighting for CCSF and their demand to defund the SFPD when police in riot gear surrounded them. Tom Temprano should use his connections as legislative aide to Supervisor Rafael Mandelman to work toward fully funding CCSF by defunding the SFPD, which has a budget of $1 billion. 

CCSF alumni Sean Monterrosa, Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez-Lopez and Donovan Lynch were all murdered by police in the past decade. Think about how part of defunding the police can involve supporting impacted families such as the Monterrosas, who are still healing and need access to mental health resources.

Public records requests have shown that through Temprano’s role in the D8 Supervisor’s office, he frequently collaborates with SFPD and Neighborhood Watch groups that work to criminalize and harass people experiencing housing insecurity. Approximately 50 percent of unhoused youth in San Francisco identify as LGBTQ+, and many CCSF students including our CCSF Collective members have been included in that metric. 

We need representatives who understand that when they talk about criminalizing homelessness, they are talking about us, the students of CCSF, not a nameless faceless group that can be vilified or dismissed. We are scapegoated with decades of failure from neoliberal gentrifiers in public office because we are the ones who display the symptoms of this cruel systemic harm. While San Francisco’s accessible mental health support at CCSF is constantly facing cuts from career politicians like Tom Temprano, students at City College are struggling to pay their rent and living with the threat of an eviction or a mental health crisis further subjecting them to violent encounters with the police. 

CCSF alumni Sean Monterrosa, Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez-Lopez and Donovan Lynch were all murdered by police in the past decade. Think about how part of defunding the police can involve supporting impacted families such as the Monterrosas, who are still healing and need access to mental health resources.

The role of violent policing in our communities and our administration’s constant advancement of a corporate austerity agenda must stop. Our member Eira Kien is a queer Vietnamese Chinese American student and former Project SURVIVE peer educator who co-coordinated these actions alongside other community members. The goal was to reclaim our narrative as students and reaffirm that our education is worth saving and that racial justice must include protecting education. 

From violence to cuts, AAPI and Black communities have faced harm during Black Lives Matter and Stop AAPI Hate. Doubts around the movement to defund and abolish the police tend to include concerns that resources to prevent violence do not yet exist. 

If Tom Temprano will agree to redistributing the ridiculously inflated salaries of Vice Chancellor Tom Boegel and Interim Chancellor Vurdien back to our educators, which we consider a bare minimum request, we will gladly meet with him to discuss the many other things that he needs to do in order to repair our school. 

They do exist, and Project SURVIVE, a peer educator program dedicated towards ending violence from all power structures, is one of those resources. However, it is facing constant threat of closure. A course titled LGBT 50: People of Color was also on the chopping block, affecting the completion of the first Administrative Justice/LGBT Certificate. This is when around 133 Black transgender women have been killed since 2013, 25 in 2020 alone. Since 2015, 48 Black women have been killed by the police.

The only self-defense class, taught by an Asian woman named Janet Gee, was cut. Stop AAPI Hate recorded 6,603 hate incidents to the AAPI community, with 64.8 percent of the victims being women. This is also keeping in mind the events that unfolded in Georgia, where six Asian women were killed due to white supremacy hate crimes. 

CCSF Cantonese was slated to return as a single “conversion class” which has not been finalized. Updates about the full return of Cantonese are difficult to obtain, while 18 percent of San Francisco population speaks it, and the teacher is forced to teach Mandarin due to its certificate program providing more funding through the performance-based Student Centered Funding Formula. 

81 percent of Black part-time faculty faced potential layoffs, as did 43 percent of full-time Black faculty. For AAPI, 47 percent were to be laid off. It is crucial that it is not just AAPI and Black communities standing together, but all of us against the white supremacy that threatens our safety and resources that keep us safe. 

Alexis Yonan, far left, holds a Tom Temprano sign. Another community member holds a sign that says, “Save Ethnic Studies: AAPI + Black solidarity,” with members from the Freedom Socialist Party carrying signs that say “CCSF Admin, Chop from the top!” Aditi, from Defund SFPD Now, speaks about the violent cuts to Project SURVIVE and how defunding the police can help fund education. – Photo: Nick DeRenzi

Alexis Yonan, our member who is of mixed race, Japanese and Assyrian descent, had grandparents who were survivors of Japanese internment camps. At the Mission High rally, she shared how the cuts at CCSF are a race and class issue, that these cuts will erase our histories and our stories. This is white supremacy at work. 

She further stressed that we cannot buy into the myth of the Model Minority or divisive tools such as calling the police who do nothing but disproportionately harm Black and Brown communities. Alexis co-authored the Free Community College Resolution that passed through the Student Senate of California Community Colleges in March, which included working with Black, Indigenous and people of color in an action plan for free tuition, alongside supporting campaigns, initiatives and reforms to redirect funding from the police and military to universal education. 

We thank everyone who showed up to our actions, virtually and in person. As we push to defund the police alongside Defund SFPD Now, we call to free all political prisoners, such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, as Marquise from Bring Mumia Home implored us. As we join the fight for free higher education, we are inspired by Adiel Pollydore of Student Action US, who reimagines education as divesting from the military and the police alongside full cancellation of student debt. 

As we continue fighting for our City College community, we recall this statement from PUSO CCSF’s Win-Mon Kyi, stating that we are in a people’s movement – a mass movement ignited by international solidarity. As we recharge, we hold on to Angela Savage’s words from “Revolutionary Imagination”: “Refuse to gag on the hands they’ve dealt us; you might be around long enough to see what flowers.” 

At the AAPI & Black Solidarity: Save CCSF rally at Mission High on May 6 are, from left, CCSF Collective member Shawn Purcell, CCSF Student Coalition member Linda Fung, and Korean indigenous Taiwanese writer Angelica Savage performing her poem “Revolutionary Imagination.” – Photo: Glenn Mercado

As for Tom Temprano, who requested to meet privately with the students involved, we ask instead that he serves the remainder of his four-year elected term protecting the students. He wrote that there will be no class cuts this year – what will he do to bring back self-defense classes, which are part of the Project SURVIVE program? Or AFAM 60: African Women in the US and AFAM 55: From Funk to Hip Hop? Or Cantonese? 

Instead of empty promises, he alongside the rest of the Board of Trustees can address student demands. A starting point will be to cut the salaries of the wealthy austerity hawks who forced our teachers into a compromise of dramatically reduced pay or replacing them immediately. 

If Tom will agree to redistributing the ridiculously inflated salaries of Vice Chancellor Tom Boegel and Interim Chancellor Vurdien back to our educators, which we consider a bare minimum request, we will gladly meet with him to discuss the many other things that he needs to do in order to repair our school. 

We are disappointed that we have to subject ourselves to interactions with riot police in order to get the attention of our representatives and that we have to do the work of saving our school instead of the people who we pay with our tax dollars. Trustee Temprano seems more concerned with getting elected District 8 supervisor than supporting his constituents, the faculty and student body of CCSF. 

Removing our access to Ethnic Studies, LGBT, Women & Gender Studies classes, and Disability Services and support programs is just as violent an action as calling the police on a group of peaceful and largely POC group of community college students and community. We need representatives who will support us, not subject us to harm. 

Alexis Yonan, Grace Quinn and Eira Kien are CCSF students, part of a student-led art activism and abolitionist group CCSF Collective that is pushing for free higher education and justice for impacted families. Contact them at ccsfcollective@gmail.com.