A sign hangs on a car at a caravan rally calling on CCSF to keep the Fort Mason campus open on Friday, May 15, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Students, faculty say closure of Fort Mason campus imperils many art classes

Dozens of people, students and current and former faculty members of City College of San Francisco, on Monday, demanded the school reverse its decision and keep the Fort Mason campus open as well as hire more African American teachers.

According to the group Save CCSF Centers Coalition, classes at the CCSF Art Campus at Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture like painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and ceramics, just can’t be held anywhere else.

Last month, City College’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to end its lease at the Fort Mason campus as City College faces severe budget cuts. Trustees have proposed moving the art classes to City College’s other campuses like Mission, Ocean and Chinatown.

The Fort Mason campus’ closure after 40 years comes as, according to the group, hundreds of classes have been cut from the Fall 2020 schedule, in addition to the hundreds that were cut last spring.

According to City College art student Marilee Hearn, classes like drawing and painting can be easily moved, but other classes like printing, which uses heavy printing presses, and sculpting, which involves a potentially dangerous process that uses high heat called rakuing, just wouldn’t work at other facilities.

“We have a wonderful art school here. We need to stay here,” she said. “It’s just heartbreaking to know that this beautiful historic campus that has been a cultural gem for decades is closing, and I hope we can stop it from happening,” said Fawnee Evnochides, an English as a Second Language instructor at City College.

In addition to restoring the Fort Mason campus, the coalition is demanding that City College also restore some of the classes and programs that have been recently cut like English as a Second Language, older adult classes and other trade classes.

“These massive layoffs are a devastating blow to our college,” Evnochides said, adding that 60 percent of her ESL department’s noncredit faculty have been laid off. Additionally, the coalition is demanding City College do more to support its African American students, like hire more fulltime African American Studies faculty by Spring 2021, come up with funding strategies for the African American Resource Center and create an African American Studies Associate Degree.

“After the sadistic murder of George Floyd, we decided that we needed to really amp up our efforts,” said Wynd Kaufmyn, part of the Affirmative Action Task Force of the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, which represents teachers and some other workers at City College.

The Affirmative Action Task Force has put its demands in a draft resolution for the trustees to consider passing at Thursday’s meeting.

“At this point we’ve spoken to most of the trustees and the administration and we’ve gotten some commitment, which I hope they will codify in the next Board of Trustees meeting,” she said.

In a separate draft resolution, the Save CCSF Centers Coalition will also demand at Thursday’s meeting that trustees extend City College’s current lease at Fort Mason through the end of Fall 2020 and reopen negotiations for a newer, longer lease.

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