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    City College Update, Campos Announces, and Remembering Jazzie Collins

    It has now been just over a month since the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) announced its decision to terminate accreditation for City College of San Francisco, effective July 2014. Within a week of the ACCJC’s announcement, the Chancellor of the statewide community college system had temporarily suspended the locally elected Board of Trustees and imposed a special trustee with wide-ranging powers and the charge to save the College.

    As the new guy on the Board, I have, of course, been frustrated to be sidelined so soon after taking office in January. But the real frustration is that we are even contemplating the possibility that City College could close next year. As many have observed, the ACCJC does not appear to be questioning the quality of instruction or the programs being offered at City College. Its primary concerns instead appear to be in the areas of finance, administration and governance. The College has serious challenges in all three areas, some of which frankly have been exacerbated by the ACCJC’s threats to shut the place down, but none of these challenges are sufficient justification to kill an educational institution serving 85,000 students a year.

    Many people have asked me over the last month what they can do to help. The answer is simple: enroll in a class. Most of City College’s funding is based on enrollment, so a dip in enrollment has a direct impact on the school’s bottom line. Unfortunately, the decline in enrollment since the ACCJC first sanctioned City College one year ago has been more of a crater than a dip. San Franciscans also need to let their state and federal legislators know how much they care about City College and how intolerable and outrageous it would be for them to allow this great institution to close.

    August’s big local political news so far has been Supervisor David Campos’ announcement that he will be running for a seat in the State Assembly next year. As termed-out incumbent Tom Ammiano’s endorsed pick to succeed him, Campos will be a formidable candidate. Campos has a strong record as a tough negotiator, defender of the public interest and champion of the least powerful among us. Unfortunately, with Board of Supervisors President David Chiu also rumored to be considering a run for the same seat, we may be looking at yet another only-in-San-Francisco political deathmatch that will divide communities and sunder friendships. The fact is that both Chiu and Campos are talented and able public servants, and it’s too bad they cannot both represent us in Sacramento.

    Finally, a word or two about a friend who recently passed away entirely too soon. Since Jazzie Collins’ death in early July, many communities have been mourning her loss. For those who did not have the privilege of knowing Jazzie, she was a fierce HIV-positive African American transgender activist who managed over the last two decades to work on almost every progressive political campaign and cause in town. For those who were lucky enough to know Jazzie, you know what a loss her death is to San Francisco. Rest in Power, Jazzie Collins.

    Host Christina Olague spoke first and introduced speakers at the memorial for transgender activist Jazzie Collins. Photo by Rink.


    Rafael Mandelman is a member of the San Francisco Community College Board of Trustees. He is also a partner at Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP.