When Keith Kimber heard about the accreditation crisis at City College of San Francisco, he decided to help out the only way he knew how: by enrolling in classes.
As a result, the 33-year-old now splits his time between his home in Sacramento and a friend's house in the Castro district so he can keep up with the 15 credits he's taking in San Francisco.
"I heard the college was at risk," he said. "Enrollment is important."
Still, just in case CCSF loses its accreditation, Kimber hedged his bets with another five units of study through the Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento.
Kimber was joined by thousands of fellow students at CCSF's main campus Wednesday for the first day of classes since the school learned it would lose accreditation next July. School officials have filed for a review of the ruling, the first step in the appeals process.
Although that news startled the student population, many on campus Wednesday were more concerned over the fate of the school than their own future.
"It's not good for the school if people stop coming," said Jeff Miclat, 22, of San Francisco. "It's good that I can get classes, but last year there was a lot more people."
Nikki Pizzi, 22, of San Francisco had hoped to take a few more years of classes at CCSF before she could transfer to a four-year university. Although accreditation does worry her, she hasn't begun looking at other community colleges.
"I'm trying to take as many courses as possible," she said.
Students filled the hallways at the Ocean Campus hoping to get into classes. Although wait lists were a problem in the past, this year many classes had room for a few more wishing to enroll. According to college officials, enrollment was at 25,813, which is down 10.2 percent over last fall. Officials have raised concerns over the enrollment dropping because of accreditation sanctions. Even if CCSF does remain open, the school's funding is tied directly to its enrollment.
Part of the school's challenge is keeping students informed. The college has adopted the motto "Open, accredited and enrolling" to encourage students to come back to school this fall.
Also Wednesday, members of the Save City College Coalition student wing were entering different classrooms for a minute at a time hoping to talk up CCSF. They took the occasion to highlight the U.S. Department of Education's announcement that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which handed the judgment to CCSF, is not in compliance with some federal standards.
Political science professor Tim Killikelly said although he is concerned about accreditation and what it means for City College's future, he's treating this semester as business as usual.
"We're here, we're doing our thing," he said. "We have great instruction and a commitment to keep doing a good job."
For Kimber, that means supporting public schools.
"City College has a lot of unique programs," he said.