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

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Vax mandate looms with shifting deadlines and upcoming Town Hall

Conflicting messaging adds to confusion

Just weeks away from the deadline for the district’s vaccine mandate, members of the Peralta community were still looking for information as the administration promised answers at an upcoming “town hall.”

In an August 5 announcement concerning the return to campus, Interim Chancellor Jannett Jackson said that a vaccination requirement will serve an important public health purpose by providing maximum protection for district students and staff. In an updated August 18 announcement, she refers readers to the Safe Peralta website, which lists October 7 as the date that all students, faculty, and staff are required to have shown proof of vaccination or to have submitted requests for “exceptions.”

On September 28, a message was sent to Peralta faculty, classified professionals  and administrators announcing an October 4 Safe Peralta Return to Campus Town Hall  in which the “soft launch” of a return to campus would be discussed with the Peralta community. The town hall is open to all Peralta community members, including students, but students were not informed of the town hall until September 29.

In that September 29 email to students, Jackson announced that the mandate will be in effect for students on October 13, a notable change from the original October 7 due date. 

Mark Johnson, Executive Director of the Department of Marketing, Communication & Public Relations, explained in an email to the Citizen that even though the deadline for students has shifted, the deadline for employees is still October 7. Johnson said the PeopleSoft system students will use to upload their vaccination status will “go live” on October 4, so the district “wanted to give students a bit more time to upload their documentation once the system is available.” 

However, as of Wednesday evening, the safe.peralta.edu website still showed a note in bold print that said “*All students, faculty, and staff are required to have shown proof of vaccination (or have submitted requests for exceptions) by October 7, 2021.”

Safe Peralta Website
A September 29 screenshot from the safe.peralta.edu website.

Peralta Federation of Teachers (PFT) President Jennifer Shanoski told the Citizen that she had not been informed that the deadline for students had been moved. Shanoski stated that the PFT executive counsel absolutely supports the vaccine mandate, but was concerned with the district’s poor communication regarding the details of the rollout. “Lack of communication means there’s a lot of uncertainty and mistrust in the district’s ability to implement this return,” Shanoski said.

Alejandro Acosta, shop steward with SEIU 1021, the union that represents classified professionals, also said he had not heard of the extension for students.

Acosta told the Citizen that messages to classified staff from the chancellor’s office and senior college administrators have been divergent and conflicting from the beginning of the pandemic, growing “precipitously worse” up until the present. 

He expressed that most of his frustration is based in empathy for the concerns of the rest of his SEIU colleagues, who are largely concerned over the lack of consistent or clear communication and the fact that administrators who are living out of the area — or even out of state — are making decisions that affect the entire Peralta community. 

“From our perspective, (they are) setting sort of arbitrary dates, with reasoning that we don’t understand and doesn’t seem to be based in any kind of data collection around the needs of students,” Acosta said. 

“It’s just — it’s a bit problematic. I wish that it was being done in a more transparent, inclusive, even democratic sort of way.”

The town hall was also announced during the Board of Trustees meeting on September 28. Following the announcement, Student Trustee Mike-A “Micah” Cooper questioned whether information for the town hall would be “disseminated” to the students via email or posted on the district website. 

Mark Johnson assured Cooper that students would be sent the information through the “usual channels” which is “posting on the website and social media.” Cooper inquired again if the information would be sent via email, to which a visibly irritated Johnson responded “Yes–it is.” 

Peralta’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts did not have any mention of the Safe Peralta Return to Campus Town Hall as of September 29.

Johnson added that the town hall had been “announced earlier today” but clarified, with Cooper’s questions, that the email had just been emailed to district employees. Cooper thanked Johnson and went on to inform the community of their daily office hours, offering their email and number.

The Peralta community is directed to the Peralta.edu website for a Zoom link for the town hall scheduled for October 4. While the meeting ID for the town hall functioned properly, the meeting link on the Peralta website meant to allow community access to the meeting seemed as though it was invalid. As of Wednesday night, the link brought users to a page marked “Invalid meeting ID”. According to Zoom customer service representatives, the error code indicated that the Zoom meeting has either expired or deleted. It is unclear if the Town Hall link promoted to the Peralta community will be operational on Monday. 

A screenshot from zoom indicating that the town hall link isn't working
A September 29 screenshot from Zoom using the advertised link for the October 4 district Town Hall.

Some Peralta students have voiced concerns over the lack of accessible information and direction regarding the mandate itself, including how to go about making the October 13 deadline. 

Laney student Tim D., who did not want to give his last name, said he had not received any emails from the district and recommended that the colleges put posters around campus. 

“There’s nothing. I feel like they should be communicating better. Why is it a word of mouth thing, right? The worst sort of communication.”

Students interviewed by the Citizen for this story indicated that they do not check their Peralta email frequently.

In a conversation with the Citizen, Cooper expressed how students at Peralta pull information from different sources, including faculty and social media, but rarely email or the Peralta website. Cooper suggested that texts should be sent out to students, announcing the deadline and guiding students towards the information they need.

“We should really be utilizing all of the announcement systems we have available, especially for something this important.”

The Town Hall: Safe Peralta Return to Campus will be held on Monday, October 4. Current published meeting information lists the Webinar ID as 843 4576 4342 with a passcode of 393416. According to the Peralta.edu page for this event, the Town Hall meeting will be recorded and made available on YouTube. 

About the Contributors
Luke Wrin Piper
Luke Wrin Piper, Consulting Editor
Luke Wrin Piper began writing for The Citizen in 2019. Starting at the sports desk, his focus has expanded into politics, art, activism, crime and all the ways they intersect here in the 510. The people and culture of the East Bay have never failed to fascinate him and he hopes to bottle that local lightning for The Citizen. He thinks there’s never been a better time to be alive, especially for journalists.
Leticia Luna
Leticia Luna, Editor in Chief
Leticia is a Brazilian living in the Bay Area. Her interests range from environment to education, and living abroad since 2013 has given her the opportunity to explore and learn about many cultures — so her interest in cultural diversity has only grown. In Brazil, she has taught English and studied education, now she is pursuing an English degree and hopes to continue learning and exploring the world. Her belief in communicating the truth has led her to this journalism class. Leti is also a National Parks enthusiast and loves to use her camera to photograph landscapes and wildlife. On her off time, you can find Leti on hiking trails around the Bay Area or on long road trips with her friends.
Gretchen Zimmermann
Gretchen Zimmermann, Staff Writer
Gretchen Zimmerman settled in Vallejo, CA in 2002 after spending a couple of decades bouncing around the inner San Francisco Bay area. Before her move to Vallejo, she had lived for no more than a couple of years in one place. Her recent stability has facilitated a greater involvement in her community. She became active in local arts groups first, volunteering with Vallejo Open Studios and Vallejo Art Walk. As she got to know more people and their circumstances, her interests broadened into local politics. She started attending City Council meetings, writing to the local paper, and engaging in serious debates on social media. That wasn’t enough for her. Gretchen decided to get serious about writing and study journalism so that she can delve into meaningful investigative work.
Ulysses Smith
Ulysses Smith, Staff Writer
Born and raised in Oakland, Calif. Ulysses’ father is of Scots-Irish and Danish descent and his Mother is African-American. As a child his dad would take him on bike rides to protests, concerts, sporting events and sometimes even bars across the Bay Area, which developed his fascination for culture. Ulysses’ mother is a dedicated public servant and has worked for the public library system for over twenty years. When she was still with Oakland Public Library she had access to free tickets at A’s games and his dad would take him out of school to see them play. They’d end up getting box seats but would sneak down the stands to be next to the real action and developed his lifelong fascination with sports. He played baseball and basketball off and on throughout grade school, coached in his summers and got a chance to play for state but got knocked out of the division 5 playoffs after the first round. A lifetime addicted to music and gardening as well; he’s been playing the guitar since the age of 7 and later learned the basics of music production, bass guitar, banjo and his instrument of choice the drums. He got a green thumb from his father, a horticulture major, and Ed Rosenthal, the godfather of homegrow. To this day no matter what season he has at least two plants growing. He graduated from Realm Charter High School In July 2017 and enrolled in Laney Community College by Fall 2017. His High School eventually ceased operations and was permanently closed in Fall 2019. During his time at Laney he has worked as a private English tutor, a teacher’s aide for the C.I.S. department and as a sports reporter here at the Peralta Citizen.
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  • J

    JAY DOISSep 30, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    Thank you for the story. It’s sad to see the student trustee’s very valid question rushed off and basically not fully listened to. Kind of shows why the communication is lacking in the first place

    Reply
  • M

    Mike-A ("Micah") CooperSep 30, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    Excellent work as always! Thank you so much for your dedication to the point and our fellow Students!

    W/ love & admiration,
    Cooper

    Reply