Some were brought to tears and another burst out in song, but overall City College of San Francisco's first opportunity for public comment in nine months before Special Trustee Robert Agrella on Thursday afternoon remained relatively calm.
In fact, the meeting — scheduled for an hour — lasted under 45 minutes. About 70 people attended the session.
About two dozen students and faculty spoke before Agrella, Chancellor Arthur Tyler, Vice Chancellor of Finance and Facilities Ronald Gerhard, and CCSF legal counsel Steve Bruckman.
Some criticized the administration for a lack of democracy at the school following Agrella's appointment last summer in place of the school's elected board to lead the effort to save CCSF from losing its accreditation.
Speakers also raised concerns over staffing and resources in various departments, and some praised a resolution approved Thursday that lifted CCSF's student minimum wage to equal The City's at $10.74 per hour.
But mention of a recent report in which the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office ranked CCSF higher than the statewide average in 10 of the 13 top metrics drew tearful testimony from two students over a lack of resources for the school's Filipino department coupled with a recent decline in Filipino student enrollment.
“Please help us get these resources because it's really important,” said Claire Warren, 21. “I never had hope to go to college until I took a Filipino class.”
Kirsten Santiago, 22, who also identifies as Filipino, said in her four years at CCSF the Filipino department also helped her become a successful student.
Agrella also received comments laced with anger from speakers. Rodger Scott has worked at CCSF since 1972 and said he's pained by the current state of the college. He referred to a student protest last month that ended in arrests and injuries
“What happened on March 17 is shameful, a black mark on this college that people won't forget for a long time,” Scott said. “People are very upset.”
Wendy Kaufmyn, a professor at CCSF, expressed frustration toward Agrella in a lighter tone, singing to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” a song that ended with asking Agrella to step down from his “throne.”
She said after the meeting that she's grateful Agrella decided to hear public comments but that the meeting “falls far short” of what the college community deserves.
“People are acting like he's doing us a favor,” Kaufmyn said. “We're not going to give up until we have full democracy and our City College back.”
Until Thursday, Agrella had only received public comments via email and through individual meetings. He said the March protest contributed to his decision to hold a public meeting, though he'd considered it previously.
“The meeting went better than I had hoped,” Agrella said. He plans to continue holding public meetings.
Six CCSF officers guarded the meeting, which campus police spokeswoman Erica McGlaston said was typical for an event that size on campus. No major incidents occurred.
In June, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges voted to terminate CCSF's accreditation, effective this July. But in January, a judge barred the accreditor from taking any action until a lawsuit filed by The City has been resolved. The termination was not linked to academics.
Losing accreditation would effectively force CCSF to close.