Xpress staff weighs in on the CCSF accreditation crisis

Cartoon by Kirstie Haruta / Special to Xpress

Cartoon by Kirstie Haruta

With a little more than an academic year left for City College of San Francisco, its accreditation — along with its state funding — will likely be revoked, leading to the closure of the nearly 80-year-old campus.

In a recent op-ed published in the San Francisco Chronicle, the idea was presented to merge CCSF and SF State into a single campus. The article argued that CCSF’s survival could be secured by being adopted by a financially healthier campus and pointed out SF State’s history of healthily dealing with its own set of funding issues.

Solving complex issues involves breaking them down into smaller solvable pieces and dealing with each of those smaller pieces with the attention each piece deserves. While merging the two campuses into a giant one seems like a quick answer at a glance, that solution does not solve the smaller issues contributing to the reasons that CCSF lost its accreditation.

In a published response in the Chronicle, SF State President Leslie E. Wong pointed out that one of the biggest problems with combining both campuses is that “state statute, maintains a distinction between community colleges and state universities, resulting in distinct authority, structures, funding and governance.”

Definitions and legislative issues aside, merging both schools potentially could create more problems than it would solve.

In the business world, it is difficult to absorb a company beset by financial and organizational woes and splice up the valuable assets of the weaker company that would benefit the stronger. The difference with CCSF and SF State is that they are educational institutions, and unlike companies, cannot be broken up for their valuable assets; each department has a need to fulfill, and is required for the success of the school as a whole.

Ultimately, CCSF has a distinction as a community college, not a university. Its role in the college world, to provide general education and an alternative to the ever-expensive costs of university-taught classes, is as important as ever.

San Francisco needs a community college and CCSF has fulfilled that need for thousands of students for many decades. In the heavily populated urban environment that San Francisco is, having an institution that can openly admit tens of thousands of students — regardless of high school grades, and at substantially lower costs than a university — is a must.

Preserving CCSF as a community college and making it stronger should be the goal in the next year of hardship it faces.