Report-back: AFT 2121’s meeting with Chancellor Tyler

Last week, faculty and students delivered a 90-foot-long scroll of over 2,500 signatures to our letter asking Chancellor Tyler and Vice Chancellor Lamb to stop the rash class cancellations. (See the SF Bay Guardian’s coverage here.) Unfortunately, they rescheduled the meeting to discuss these cancellations and only allowed three AFT representatives and no students into the meeting. Here’s a brief overview of the conversation. (See also this video debrief with President Messer just after the meeting.)

At the meeting, AFT 2121 reps and faculty questioned the administration’s rationale for cutting classes, especially before January 30, and stressed that course cancellations only exacerbate the crisis in student/public confidence, which is reflected in lowered enrollment numbers this term. We cited the many problems in the registration process, including the introduction of the new payment policies, which have delayed student enrollment.

IMG_1202We provided specific cases where students have been seriously disadvantaged by course cuts, citing, for example, students who will not be able to graduate from their programs this spring because requisite courses have been cancelled. We noted that whole programs will be affected as entry-level classes are cut, narrowing opportunities for future students. We also objected to early cancellations during the period of the Lunar New Year, which always impacts student enrollment and attendance in noncredit courses.

We received some recognition in response to our argument that this is not a “normal” semester at CCSF, and no amount of strong planning or “enrollment management” could predict or prepare for the enrollment patterns we are experiencing. But the current approach to this enrollment crisis will only undermine the trust of students and the public.

We stressed that the cancellation of courses is extremely disruptive for students. This approach to making our school more “productive” is not good business: it will only drive more students away rather than re-building their confidence (and our long-term enrollment). Moreover, it does not enhance the quality of education, which must remain our collective, primary goal.

Chancellor Tyler acknowledged that there are problems with Banner and the registration process. He said that he would review in detail the cuts and the rationales for cancellation. He and Vice Chancellor Susan Lamb said that they hoped many of the displaced students would be accommodated in late-start classes.

Instructor Jean Sieper, who attended the meeting, noted that it was important for administration to hear the voices of faculty and students being directly impacted by the cuts, and she appreciated that they agreed to look more carefully at individual cases. Her three sections of historically full humanities classes are all seeing substantially diminished enrollment this semester.

And there is the big picture, too. “It seems like this school and all community colleges in California are being run as businesses,” Sieper noted. “The problem is that the students have little recourse when the service they have contracted for is canceled or changed.”

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