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

Peralta Trustee Paulina Gonzalez Brito addresses the crowd at Berkeley City College’s 50th anniversary celebration. The event featured a block party along with a groundbreaking ceremony for the college’s new Milvia Street building. (Photo: Marcus Creel/PCCD)
‘We’re still rising’: BCC celebrates 50th anniversary
College throws block party and breaks ground on new building
Sam O'Neil, Associate Editor • May 6, 2024
Student Trustee Natasha Masand believes her voice has the power to impact the PCCD community.
Student Trustee Natasha Masand finds her voice
Isabelly Sabô Barbosa, Social Media Editor • March 19, 2024
PCCDs classified employees pose for a pic at the first-ever professional development day for classified professionals. PCCD Chancellor Tammeil Gilkerson reflected on the event in her report to the Board of Trustees. (Source: PCCD)
Peralta’s leadership search, CCC public safety earmark, and “rumors” discussed at 4/9 meeting of PCCD Trustees
Desmond Meagley, Staff Writer • April 24, 2024
College of Alameda jazz professor Glen Pearson demonstrates his musical talent on his classroom piano. Hes one of the newest members of the Count Basie Orchestra, a historic 18-piece jazz ensemble that took home a Grammy this year.
The humble Grammy-winning pianist leading CoA’s music program
Desmond Meagley, Staff Writer • March 4, 2024

    ‘Decision Peralta’ lacks main ingredients

    (Left to Right) Trustee Linda Handy, Peggy Morre (Trustee Riley rep), and Cleavon Smith (representing Cindi Reiss), held forth in ‘Decision Peralta’ in the Laney College Forum on Oct. 17. (Photo by Tiehui Fan)

    By Eva Hannan

    The Laney Journalism Department held a candidates night in the Forum on Oct. 17 to give the incumbents and challengers of two Peralta Board of Trustees positions a chance to field questions from audience members and introduce their policies and personalities to the community.

    Board vice-president and Area 5 incumbent Bill Riley is being challenged for his sixth term by Oakland resident and community college instructor Cindi Reiss. Trustee Linda Handy seeks her fifth term as the representative of Area 3, defending her seat from the Oakland mother and union organizer Corean Todd.

    All four candidates note in their campaign literature and online biographies their relationship to the community that the Peralta District is a part of, and three of the four candidates were themselves at one time students of the Peralta district colleges. Only Cindi Reiss has not attended school at one or more of the Peralta Colleges.

    However, only one of the candidates, Handy, actually made it to “class” at Laney for this assignment. For various reasons, Riley, Reiss and Todd all missed the forum put in place to achieve the community connection their campaigns claim they are eagerly qualified for.

    Reiss had been communicative about her inability to attend from the beginning and originally arranged to appear via Skype. When that option fell through due to timing, she lined up a proxy in the form of BCC instructor Cleavon Smith, who is a part of her campaign, to act in her place.

    In response to his challenger being unable to attend, Riley wrote a letter, which was shared at the event, stating that he regretted not being able to debate with his challenger but that he would not attend if she was absent.

    Instead, Peggy Moore, who has worked on campaigns at the national level, spoke on his behalf wearing a t-shirt in support of his reelection. Her input mostly touted the achievements of Riley and the board at large.

    The second challenger, Todd, had confirmed her attendance, but as the event started, then began in earnest with audience questions and passionate exchanges, it became apparent that she would not be present to have conversations with people invested in the Peralta school district either.

    After introductions, audience members began asking the candidates questions. Why the Peralta colleges were always talked about as being “different” was first discussed.

    Moore abstained, and Smith and Handy took turns discussing the important issue. Their ideas addressed the culture and challenges of living in Oakland, and specifically they brought up points about the diversity, racially and otherwise, of the makeup of the instructors at each campus.

    The film “Freeway Fliers,” about part-time instructors at the community college level, was recommended by Handy as a tool for people to educate themselves to the current climate and challenges educators in the job market face.

    Smith responded by narrowing the focus and criticized the hiring practices at Peralta directly, insisting that the demographics of the teachers should more closely resemble that of the students. He said the district was only fulfilling the bare minimum for qualified instructors and had no funding to recruit better-quality and more diverse professors outside of the immediate area and hiring pool.

    Handy then provided numbers for the ethnicities of the instructors at each campus, and the numbers showed a strongly diverse makeup. They also show that despite strong representation of instructors of African or African-American and Asiatic descent, with some Latino representation as well, at each campus close to half the instructors are white and at each campus white instructors hold the majority of positions.

    Student Trustee Aisha Jordan then asked those present about their solution about politics getting into classrooms, which she said has become more of an issue as the midterm elections draw near.

    Handy suggested that some instructors actively promote ways around the rules protecting students from political organization on campus. She claimed that the Peralta Federation of Teachers website had a two-page explanation around the rules for not using the Peralta email for political purposes.

    She encouraged students to file complaints if they feel as though they are being pressured to participate in a politically motivated event. Moore echoed that Riley believed politics had no place in the classroom.

    Other questions the candidates fielded concerned ethics, racial disparity in online class success, and concerns over unionized employees’ contracts. Moderator Michelle Snider kept the questions and responses within the given time frame as much as possible, although there were some responses that ran over.

    West of Lake Merritt and all of West Oakland is Area 7, whose representative, Julina Bunilla, has secured her third term already due to the lack of a challenger. Area 5 picks up on the east side of the lake, but is mostly spread into the hills that run north of East Oakland. Area 3 lies south of those hills between 11th Avenue and Seminary Avenue, and includes the Fruitvale, Dimond and Laurel districts.

    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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