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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Proposal to Consolidate City College Diversity Departments Has Riled Up Students

Posted By on Wed, Nov 14, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Can't save everything. But you can save some things.
  • Can't save everything. But you can save some things.
A recession reveals a country's priorities like a house fire. The baby! The photo albums! No, leave the Shawn Estes autograph baseball. Get the laptop!

Can't save everything.

While Proposition 30 and Measure A may have been a bucket of water to City College of San Francisco's financial fire, the initiatives didn't extinguish the budgetary inferno. The institution, which ran a deficit of nearly $6 million last year, is currently considering what it can save and what must go.

One cost-cutting proposal floated: consolidate the college's nine diversity departments.

Some students and progressive leaders, however, aren't having that.

Those nine diversity departments, in alphabetical order, cover: African American Studies, Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, Labor and Community Studies, Latino/a and Latin American Studies, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies, Philippine Studies, and Women's Studies.

It remains unclear what form the consolidation would take. Not that the details would matter to the proposal's opponents, who assert that consolidation would roll back decades of progress that birthed the departments, further disenfranchising minority students.

"The consolidation of these departments would be a huge step backwards, undermining their quality and paving the way for their elimination," the Ocean Campus' Associated Students Council argued in a statement today. "Teachers would be fired, and communities of color would again be denied representation."

The speaker list for a protest at the Ocean Campus tomorrow includes Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and San Francisco Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos.

Students have been wary of the consolidation idea for at least several weeks now. As the Chronicle quoted last month:

The college's administration "is basically saying, 'Your history is not that important to have its own department,' " said [Associate Student Council president] Shanell Williams, who is majoring in urban studies. "We're not going to win real justice, especially for low-income African American, Latino, Pacific Islander students who already have issues with equity and are coming from poor neighborhoods, unless we're a little bit disobedient."

There will be cuts one way or the other. Administrators feel particular urgency to tighten the belt because the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has threatened to revoke CCSF's accreditation if the institution does not get it budget in order by June 2013. Now it's just a matter of priorities.

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Albert Samaha


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