An independent review of the events surrounding last week’s student protest at accreditation-embattled City College of San Francisco, along with the formation of a task force on “campus climate,” was announced Wednesday by school leaders.
The March 13 demonstration took a violent turn -- resulting in injuries, a pepper-spraying and arrests -- when protesters arrived to Conlan Hall to find it locked.
Wednesday’s announcement comes a day before a planned vigil at Conlan Hall, which is also the school’s administrative center, by Save CCSF activists in response to what some are calling a heavy-handed police response to the protest.
“As I stated last week, I am deeply saddened that we had physical altercations involving students and police on campus. I believe we must do a better job at establishing a safe and respectful campus environment,” said Chancellor Art Tyler in a statement regarding his efforts to improve civil discourse on campus. “I think everyone on the City College campus and in the larger community agree that violence is not a means to solving disagreement. We must do better. Our goal is not only to prevent violence, but to promote respectful dialogue and constructive forms of engagement.”
Tyler will officially propose these initiatives -- which also include a forum hosted by the school’s crisis management team on campus issues -- to promote a respectful campus climate.
In another less public email from Tyler sent across the campus Wednesday, he announced that Conlan Hall will be closed today – all business will be complete by 1 p.m. – because of the planned 2 p.m. vigil and fears that violence could again erupt.
“After last week’s events where physical altercations occurred, I received comments from a number of Conlan Hall staff expressing concern for the safety of their work environment,” said the email.
The administration’s handling of recent protests and student activism has not mollified student leaders.
“I definitely believe that this administration, since they won [power], has been looking for ways to suppress student activism on campus,” said student Trustee Shanell Williams, noting that the student code of conduct had been amended recently to limit activism on campus.
In June, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges voted to terminate CCSF’s accreditation, effective this coming July, unless the school comes into compliance with commission standards and eligibility requirements. The termination was not linked to academics.
However, in early January a judge granted a preliminary injunction in a civil case filed by the City Attorney’s Office that accused ACCJC of wrongdoing. No final action on accreditation can be taken until the trial is completed.
The school remains open and accredited, but losing accreditation would effectively force CCSF to close.