Proposed layoffs at City College of San Francisco affecting 65 percent of all faculty could endanger the already embattled nursing program, students and instructors said Tuesday.
The CCSF Board of Trustees will decide at a May 10 meeting whether to potentially lay off more than 600 faculty members, which could include over 50 percent of the college’s nursing program faculty.
“We’re really concerned that City College’s understaffed and underfunded nursing program won’t survive that 50 percent cut,” Adele Failes-Carpenter, political director for the American Federation of Teachers 2121 and instructor in the women and gender studies department at City College, said Tuesday at a press conference co-hosted by Supervisor Hillary Ronen and AFT Local 2121, the union representing faculty.
“We know that accreditation for the program is already at risk due to understaffing,” she added.
Students and faculty decried the potential cuts, noting that CCSF is an affordable, accessible way for underserved communities to get an education. The English as a second language department is also imperiled, facing greater than 50 percent cuts to faculty.
Roughly 100 students enter the accredited nursing program annually, and cutting that number to 50 would be cataclysmic for the number and equity of Bay Area nurses, according to Debra Giusto, the program’s interim director.
“There is a nursing shortage in our area, these cuts can’t happen. Our students are low-income students of color, immigrants,” Giusto said. “This is an opportunity for these students to change their lives just like I did.”
The Rebuild City College advocacy group has called on The City to use the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which includes millions of dollars in federal funding, to supplement CCSF’s budget.
The cuts would dramatically affect underserved communities, especially Black and Latino students, who are able to use an affordable City College education to create sustainable careers and give back to their communities, according to many of the meeting’s speakers, including Briana Allen, a Black nursing student at CCSF.
“My neighborhood of Bayview is definitely changing by the minute. It’s gentrifying, and people from that area who grew up there are being pushed out, my family being one of them. I’m hoping to return to my city to become a registered nurse graduating from City College,” Allen said.
“San Francisco being one of the richest cities in the world, we can find the money to fund the dreams of a young Black woman like myself, we deserve the opportunity to stay in our city and give back to it,” she added.
Ronen promised to work to fund CCSF and fight the cuts, and said she will attempt to pass a budget supplement for CCSF at the Board of Supervisors.
“Cutting the nursing program during a pandemic is a special slap in the face,” Ronen said.
The next planned event advocating for funding CCSF will be a caravan in front of San Francisco’s City Hall on May 3.