SF Examiner file photoNew school: Construction began in 2008 on the City College of San Francisco campus in Chinatown.

Chinatown digs deep to furnish City College of San Francisco

City College of San Francisco’s new Chinatown campus was to have $5 million set aside for furnishings, but due to massive cost increases for the entire project that money was not enough.

“It will cover some desks and light fixtures, but it won’t cover beakers for science,” said Peter Goldstein, CCSF vice chancellor of finance and administration. “And since we’ll have a teaching kitchen, we literally can’t buy the pots and pans.”

When the Chinatown community heard about the shortfall, many people sprang to action.

Walking drives, benefit dinners and donation centers have been set up to help bridge a $400,000 gap needed to buy desks, chairs and science lab equipment.

“After waiting more than 30 years, we were not going to let $400,000 prevent the building from being ready for re-enrollment,” said Ling-Chi Wang, a professor of Asian-American studies at UC Berkeley and coordinator of the fundraising campaign for CCSF.

The building itself is funded by three municipal bonds for a total cost of $140 million — the original price tag was $4.9 million in 2002. An estimated $5 million was set aside from those bonds to furnish the building.

The campus needed $800,000 total for furnishings, but a former student already provided $400,000 and has challenged the community to come up with the rest.

“We definitely have half of it,” said Sarah Hsieh of Chinese for Affirmative Action, a nonprofit advocacy group for the political and civil rights of Chinese-Americans. “Because of a generous donor, we can purchase supplies and furniture inside the campus.”

Wang said a benefit dinner is scheduled for tonight and as many as 600 people are expected to attend. Tickets range from $100 to $10,000. Additionally, a benefit was held in October and a team of students has been on the streets collecting donations.

Wang said he has no doubt the goal will be met.

“It’s so important to the community that we all take the time out for this,” he said.

CCSF and other community colleges used to receive money to cover materials and supplies to furnish new buildings, but the state’s dire budget outlook has prevented any such funding in recent years.

The campus, located at Kearny and Washington streets and scheduled to open in spring, has taken decades to build due to land controversies and lawsuits. Construction began in 2008.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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