City College students occupy administration building

A group of City College of San Francisco students occupied an administration building Wednesday afternoon and said they intended to stay until their demands are met or they are forced out, a student organizer said.

Around 7 p.m., student organizer Lalo Gonzalez said the protesters had been ordered to disperse by police, but they intended to remain in the building as long as possible:

“They’ve been threatening to arrest us if we don’t leave. … We’re making up a list of who’s willing to get arrested, then we can figure out where to go from there.”

The students entered Conlan Hall on the Ocean Campus at 50 Phelan Ave. at about 3 p.m. demanding the resignation of the special trustee, the reversal of cuts to classes, especially in diversity studies, and changes to the school’s tuition payment policy, CCSF student Sharon Shatterly said:

“We’re here to speak with our administration and at this point we’re going to stay here until we can.”

City College spokesman Jeff Hamilton said earlier that the school had no plan to kick the students out. He said they would be informed they shouldn’t stay in the building but they wouldn’t be arrested if they refuse to leave.

Instead, the school would maintain a police presence in the building overnight, Hamilton said. Sensitive student records and money are kept in the building, so the students can’t remain unattended overnight, he said.

“They’ve sort of latched onto this building as symbolic,” though neither the chancellor nor the special trustee have their offices there, Hamilton said.

The special trustee is a position created when the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges revoked the school’s accreditation in 2013 and turned authority over the school from the elected board of trustees to a special trustee to oversee reforms.

Guy Lease was appointed to the position earlier this year and will oversee the transition back to the board of trustees in July.

Hamilton said if the protesters don’t like the special trustee position, the person who appoints that position is in Sacramento.

Regarding tuition fees, the protesters say the college is kicking students out who have been unable to afford the college’s fees, but Hamilton said if the college neglected to collect fees it would be illegal.

But the school works with students who can’t afford to pay to find payment plans and financial aid, Hamilton said. Last semester when the school dropped students who had not paid required fees, more than half came back after working out a payment method.

Hamilton said:

“We don’t want to get rid of students, we’re a college. … We need more students, we’ve lost a lot of students.”