Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Chancellor fields hostile questions

    Laney Psychology Professor Kimberly King listens while Peralta Chancellor Jowel Laguerre answers her question. Photo by Brian Howey

    Concerned students, faculty talk Oakland A’s at Fall Open Forum

    By Brian Howey

    Peralta Community College District (PCCD) Chancellor Jowel Laguerre met harsh disapproval from students and staff in an Oct. 16 open meeting in the Laney Forum.

    The chancellor fielded questions from Laney students on possible free tuition in 2018 and the college’s infrastructure issues.

    But the discussion centered mostly on the proposed Oakland A’s stadium at the PCCD offices across the street from Laney College and Laguerre’s negotiations with the baseball team.

    “I think you’re falling down on the job,” Laney student John Reimann said, referring to the chancellor’s lack of knowledge about Oakland A’s owner John Fisher and his reputation as a developer.

    Reimann and several other students felt Laguerre was uninformed about the A’s and dismissive of student and faculty concerns about the effects of the stadium.

    Laguerre deflected attacks throughout the meeting.

    He became defensive when a student asked how he would benefit personally from the ballpark.

    Chancellor Laguerre responds to a question at the Oct. 16 Fall Open Forum. Photo by Brian Howey

    “That is so unfair,” Laguerre said. “That’s not proper at all to ask.”

    The chancellor pivoted to an impassioned story about his background as a Haitian immigrant to the United States and his dream to serve the students of the PCCD.

    “There is no amount of money in the world that would make me compromise what I believe… is the best thing for my students, for my community, for my faculty…and for myself,” Laguerre said to some applause.

    Laney English Department Co-Chair Chris Weidenbach said that if Laney’s current funding were better spent, the campus wouldn’t need fiscal support from private interests like the A’s.

    Weidenbach is one of several faculty members critical of district spending during public comment segments of PCCD Board of Trustees meetings.

    Reimann and several other students felt Laguerre was uninformed about the A’s and dismissive of student and faculty concerns about the effects of the stadium.

    Some say funding that could be used for teacher salaries and infrastructure shortcomings is instead being spent on unnecessary positions in the PCCD administration.

    Laguerre touched on the subject of free tuition for all first-year students in the 2018 school year.

    Assembly Bill 19 (AB 19) was signed Oct. 13 by California Governor Jerry Brown, and allows California community colleges to waive tuition fees for all first-year students.

    But the future of AB 19 remains uncertain until next year’s budget can fund to the new law. Without money, the bill will fizzle.

    California community colleges now charge $46 per unit each semester.

    Free tuition would be contingent on full-time enrollment.

    It’s good that the bill was signed, Laguerre said, so the district could promote the free tuition before next fall.

    Enrollment at Laney has dropped about 9.4 percent since 2014, and enrollment decline was a common topic at the forum.

    Laguerre said the influx of students in response to free tuition “would be very welcome.”


    Brian Howey is a Tower Staff Writer. Email him at deathandtaxes(at)tutamail.com.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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