CCSF students occupy Conlan Hall in protest to accreditation process

CCSF students occupy Conlan Hall in protest to accreditation process
Nora Spalholz carries a banner during a march to the Chancellor's office at City College of San Francisco. Students have four demands for Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman they are trying to present on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Photo by Deborah Svoboda/ Special to Xpress

Lalo Gonzalez, a 24-year-old student working toward his teaching accreditation, doesn’t mind getting arrested if it gains awareness of what’s currently happening at City College of San Francisco.

On Feb. 21 starting at 1 p.m., a group of CCSF students, including Gonzalez, rallied together on their campus to protest the administration’s lack of communication with students over the accreditation process the school is going through. According to an ABC7 report, there are currently about 30 students occupying Conlan Hall. There is no word for how long the students will stay there.

As a member of Save CCSF, Gonzalez helped organize the protest. He feels that the occupation of Conlan Hall — a CCSF administration building — is a necessary step in preserving the future of the school.

“I know that if I don’t take this risk there may not be classes in the coming semester,” Gonzalez said.

Eric Blanc, a student at City College of San Francisco, speaks to a crowd of students and protesters who have marched to Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman's office and have taken over the lobby, demanding to be heard on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Photo by Deborah Svoboda / Special to Xpress

CCSF may lose its accreditation next month, which would effectively close its doors to thousands of students.

In order to remain accredited, CCSF must make changes in the way the campus is run. According to Save CCSF the school would be forced to eliminate classes, programs, and cut wages.

Samuel Santos, associate dean at CCSF was caught off-guard by the protest — he didn’t know that it was happening until the day of the event. Santos, however, welcomes student activism with open arms.

“We’ve allowed it and we encourage student activism on campus,” Santos said. “We’ve made no arrest and we support the students in their cause.”

The protest started around 1 p.m. at Ram Plaza in CCSF. The group of students then circled around the campus a few times and met back at Conlan Hall to discuss further action for the protest, according to student reports.

Norma Ruiz, 32, and a CCSF student studying public health, participated in the event. As the first person in her family to go to college, she stands to lose the bridge between the present and a successful future.

“My success and the success of others hinges on colleges like CCSF,” Ruiz said. “I came from the streets and this is the only way to make a better future for myself.”