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Students Condemn Budget Cuts While Faculty Concede Pay To Prevent Layoffs

Students Condemn Budget Cuts While Faculty Concede Pay To Prevent Layoffs

Earlier this year on Feb. 25, the Board of Trustees voted—five to three—to issue letters of termination to 163 full-time faculty and 34 administrators, targeting 41 departments, and countless courses.

According to CCSF, these layoffs were proposed because of a $33 million annual budget deficit.

Layoffs of 163 full-time faculty, who were given “pink slips,” would have resulted in an additional 450 part-time faculty members simply not being rehired. 

Though those 450 part-time faculty positions weren’t technically “layoffs,” the outcome would have meant significantly less courses, which faculty and students have fought to preserve over for years—Asian and African American Studies, as well as LGBTQ+ and Women’s Studies, for example.

Students and community activists began to mobilize after first hearing about the layoffs, and viewed the cuts to ethnic studies courses as a “direct attack” on the community.

Two student-led organizations on campus, CCSF Collective and CCSF Student Coalition, planned a “Fight for CCSF” rally which combined Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and Black solidarity to protect education.

“Make no mistake, this is an issue about race and class,” said Alexis Yonan, member of CCSF Collective, a group that combines art and activism through individual and collaborative projects.

AAPI + Black Solidarity

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In honor of AAPI Month and Abolition May, the “Fight for CCSF ” rally met at the steps of Mission High School on May 6, days before negotiation talks. Together with a diverse array of student organizers, activists, and community members, the crowd gathered to denounce the proposed 600 plus layoffs.

Handcrafted signs that read “Stop Asian Hate” and “Black Lives Matter” were scattered throughout the crowd. A picture cutout of the names and faces of trustees’ who voted in favor of the layoffs were carried to the top steps, while organizers set up a microphone.

Standing alongside the trustee cutouts, speakers from across the community gave personal testimonials about the negative effects of slashing AAPI, African American, LGBTQ+, and other courses.

“Make no mistake, this is an issue about race and class.”

Alexis Yonan, member of CCSF Collective

Clipboards with petitions to reinstate Phillipine Studies—the only one of its kind—were being passed throughout the crowd. 

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CCSF student Joemar Olit, 20, a member of Anakbayan SF, which is a youth and mass organization for National Democracy in the Philippines, delivered an impassioned speech to the crowd.

“I’m frustrated about the cuts that were imposed on the departments that foster a community and diversity at CCSF,” said Olit. “As Filipino student, the Philippine Studies Department has given me an opportunity to discover and reconnect with my Filipino roots,” which, he said, has given him more reason and purpose to better serve his community.

Students from Cantonese language class formed the “Save Cantonese Program at CCSF” group after hearing from their professor that the course would no longer be provided in the Fall.

Julia Quon, 25, wearing a traditional Chinese modern-style cheongsam, said “my heart dropped when I heard Cantonese was being defunded.” Quon explained the over 55-year history of the Chinese Program at CCSF, and said that “100 percent of Cantonese classes will be cut if we don’t do something about it.”

Members and supporters of the City College of San Francisco community mobilize on May 6, to protest the proposed layoffs of more than 600 faculty and staff. Following an hour-long rally outside Mission High School, the group marched through the Castro neighborhood to CCSF trustee Tom Temprano’s residence and demanded that he take action against the proposed layoffs. Photo: Benjamin Fanjoy

After taking classes right out of high school in San Francisco, Quon returned to CCSF after graduating UC San Diego to take Cantonese language classes to “connect with my heritage, and learn who we are and where we came from.” Quon’s parents originated from Hong Kong, and she uses Cantonese classes as a way to understand her family history.

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“We thought it was ridiculous, we thought it was a waste of resources to cut Cantonese, even though 70 percent of San Francisco’s Asian population speak the language,”
Quon later told El Tecolote. Working in the healthcare field, to Quon the programs is a vital resource to communicate with those she serves in the community. 

Shortly after the last speeches, demonstrators began to march through the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco, and eventually ended at the door-steps of Board Trustee Tom Temprano.

Temprano, as well as Trustees’ Shanell Williams, Thea Shelby, John Rizzo, and Brigette Davila, voted in favor of the layoffs. 

Protesters called on Trustee Temprano, who was not home at the time, to come down and explain why he voted to approve the layoffs.

Instead, the protesters were met by police in riot gear, countless patrol cars and unmarked vehicles; police said they were called to “protect the building.”

Resident of the building, Eric Ehizokhale, 25, told El Tecolote that he was more “threatened by the presence of police” than he was of the 50 some-odd peaceful protesters.

Ehizokhale, who was involved with BLM protests over the summer, understood how police presence often “escalates the situation.” Fortunately, after the tense standoff between protesters and police, nothing happened.

Trustee Temprano did not respond to El Tecolote emails about the incident.

Faculty Sacrifice Pay To Prevent Layoffs

On May 10, faculty union reps and administrators reached a tentative agreement for a one-year deal which would rescind all layoffs of full-time faculty and administrators in concession for an across the board faculty pay cut of 4 to 11 percent.

Ratified by the American Federation of Teachers 2121 and CCSF administrators, the conciliatory agreement reversed the February 25 decision made by the Board of Trustees.

The biggest allies to those faculty members given a “pink slip” were their fellow AFT 2121 union members, who voted 82 percent in favor of a significant pay cut to their own salaries.

Members and supporters of the City College of San Francisco community mobilize on May 6, to protest the proposed layoffs of more than 600 faculty and staff. Following an hour-long rally outside Mission High School, the group marched through the Castro neighborhood to CCSF trustee Tom Temprano’s residence and demanded that he take action against the proposed layoffs. Photo: Benjamin Fanjoy


Latin American and Latino/a Studies professor Beatriz Herrera, believes this sacrifice is due to the shared values of the faculty. “We would rather reduce our pay than see our colleagues lose their jobs,” Herrera said.

“I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my colleagues,” said Mary Bravewoman, AFT 2121 Vice President and Mathematics Professor. “The fight is not over, we need to bring in more funding for the college.” 

As San Francisco reels in the aftermath of a once in a lifetime pandemic, AFT 2121 has called upon Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors to support a Workforce Education and Recovery Fund (WERF) to protect essential service at CCSF and prevent further cuts.

“As the City prepares for a long road to recovery ahead, our city government, our local businesses, and our residents alike will rely on City College’s workforce training and professional development programs more than ever before,” said Supervisor Hilary Ronen.
Designed by Supervisor Gordon Mar and AFT 2121, WERF has been supported by Sup. Ronen, but in order to be made viable it needs more San Francisco Supervisors to come on board.

“It is in the City’s own best interest to preserve these programs in order to fill our most urgent workforce needs and provide thousands of marginally employed San Franciscans with reliable pathways to job opportunities and financial stability,” said Ronen.

El Tecolote is 51 years strong this month!

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