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    Putting City College Students First

    By Tom Temprano

    It’s hard to believe that 2017 will soon be coming to a close, and with it my first year serving as a member of the City College Board of Trustees.

    City College got a lot accomplished this year, coming out from underneath the cloud of our accreditation crisis to successfully implement the Free City College program, hire a new permanent Chancellor and increase enrollment for the first time in five years.

    At the top of our 2017 goals as a board was a simple concept: put students first. Centering students in our college decision-making seems like a no-brainer, but having it be the first lens we look through is critically important.

    Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Community College District found that almost 1 in 5 of its students were homeless and two-thirds couldn’t afford food. In San Francisco, where our homelessness crisis is out of control, I’m afraid that our students’ struggles are even greater. Addressing homelessness should be the responsibility of every local public agency and a priority for every San Francisco elected official.

    Rafael Mandelman, my fellow Trustee, knows firsthand how homelessness impacts young people and made addressing it our priority, too. He led the college’s efforts to end student homelessness and food insecurity, introducing a first of its kind resolution at our November meeting that paves the way for City College to build housing for homeless students either on campus or in nearby developments like the Balboa Reservoir.

    As San Francisco Bay Times readers know, LGBT youth are disproportionately likely to become homeless. The 2017 San Francisco Homeless Survey found that 49% of homeless youth surveyed identified as LGBTQ. It wasn’t a coincidence then that our three gay Trustees—Rafael, myself and our colleague Alex Randolph—were the three co-sponsors of this resolution.

    At that same meeting, we also put students first by giving them a much-deserved raise. Thanks to a student-led movement, City College’s 1300 student workers will now receive San Francisco minimum wage. This amounts to an $800,000 a year investment in our students’ future. Former student Trustee Bouchra Simmons fought alongside my colleagues Shanell Williams and current Student Trustee Bouthaina Belayadi for years to make this raise a reality.

    Unfortunately, most colleges around the state refuse to do this, subjecting students to unlivable below-minimum wages. In San Francisco, the most expensive city in California, we often had students who would have preferred to work at school take off-campus jobs instead because they couldn’t afford not to do so. City College’s student workers are workers too, and no worker should be paid under minimum wage.

    2018 will bring new challenges and opportunities as we act to protect our undocumented students from the Trump administration, continue to grow our enrollment and launch new training programs and classes in growth areas like those related to cannabis. I’m looking forward to taking this on next year and continuing to put City College students first.

    Tom Temprano was elected to the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees in 2016, making him the city’s youngest elected official. He also owns Virgil’s Sea Room, a small business in the Mission District, and is a member of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center Board of Directors. Follow him on social media at twitter.com/tomtemprano & facebook.com/tomtempranoSF