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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Class cancellations, basic needs, and ‘flying pigs’ at 5/14 meeting for PCCD Trustees

Abigail+McMurry%2C+Acting+President+of+Associated+Students+of+Laney+College%2C+spoke+against+last-minute+class+cancellations+at+the+May+14+Board+of+Trustees+meeting.
Photo: Romi Bales
Abigail McMurry, Acting President of Associated Students of Laney College, spoke against last-minute class cancellations at the May 14 Board of Trustees meeting.

The Peralta Community College District (PCCD) Board of Trustees held a regular meeting on May 14, which included a number of construction project approvals, a presentation by PCCD’s basic needs coordinators, and results of the chancellor’s new Flying Pig Awards.

Alongside the report-outs from district officials, there were several public comments on the topics of class cancellations and a name for Laney’s new library.

Faculty, students speak against class cancellations

A number of students and faculty spoke during public comment on behalf of the Peralta Federation of Teachers (PFT), Peralta’s faculty union, taking a stance against the practice of last-minute class cancellations and module changes at PCCD.

The topic was first broached by Matthew Goldstein, President of the District Academic Senate (DAS) during his routine DAS report to the board. Goldstein shared that the chancellor and college presidents had rejected resolutions proposed by each of the college’s academic senates against class cancellations.

A number of other public speakers, five faculty and two students, spoke in favor of changing PCCD’s strategy away from last-minute class cancellations, in favor of alternative solutions such as lowered class sizes.

Among the speakers was Abigail McMurry, Acting President of the Associated Students of Laney College, who read the contents of a petition signed by “100-plus students and counting.” The petition asks for consistent and reliable class offerings, reduced class sizes, and a district-wide schedule for two years.

McMurry said that a class cancellation this semester disqualified her from enrolling in EOPS, a program which offers a number of services to participating students, including forms of financial aid.

McMurry described the impact it had on her, causing a last minute scramble to find a new class as well as her own reliance on funds like EOPS.

“Me, as a student, I truly depend on the money that comes from sources such as the Pell Grant and the money that I receive from EOPS,” McMurry said.

Mark Lisby, an instructor at Berkeley City College (BCC) shared similar concerns over uncertainty from an instructor perspective, the effects it could have on faculty healthcare, and class preparations in cases where classes are changed to online-only.

In an emailed statement to The Citizen, PCCD Chancellor Tammeil Gilkerson responded to the speakers’ concerns.

“Each of the presidents and I responded to the respective senate resolutions and affirmed our commitment to improving scheduling that prioritizes student success and equity,” Gilkerson said. “As such, we would not characterize our responses as rejecting the resolutions.”

Laney librarians want to name new library

Six Laney College staff members came to advocate for the naming of Laney College’s in-construction Library & Learning Resource center to be named after former head librarian, Shirley Ann Dumas Coaston.

YiPing Wang, Laney’s current Head Librarian, cited Coaston’s 30-plus years of service at Laney’s library and her impact on the Laney library.

“This gesture will not only celebrate Ms. Coaston’s remarkable achievement but [will] also inspire the future generation of students and faculties at Laney,” Wang said.

 

Chancellor reports on events, hands out awards

Chancellor Gilkerson commented on a number of recent PCCD events, including the Peralta Online Equity Conference, PCCD’s first-ever district-wide Asian American Pacific Islander graduation, and PCCD Facilities Project Coordinator Jamille Teer’s election to the California Community College’ Classified Senate Board of Directors.

Gilkerson also announced the winners for the inaugural Flying Pig Awards, which were given out to celebrate “exceptional” Peralta community members. Among them were student worker Amine Boughzala, and PCCD employees Brock Drazen, Hope Lane, John Nguyen, Kyla Oh, and Nicholas Shere.

 

Basics Needs Coordinators explore success and future of program

Tina Vasconcellos, PCCD’s Vice Chancellor of Educational Services, gave a presentation alongside the four colleges’ Basics Needs Coordinators which covered how each college is tackling the student needs of food insecurity, housing insecurity, emergency financial support, and clothing needs.

The presentation highlighted the successes of the basic needs programs since their introduction in 2020, such as over 60,000 meals served across the different meal programs.

Susana Abdurahman, Merritt’s Basic Needs Coordinator shared a success story of their housing funding, about a student parent escaping domestic violence.

“We were able to use the grant to get her a hotel for about a month’s stay,” Abdurahman said. “And in that time she was able to connect with other community members and folks and find more sustainable housing for her and her two young kids.”

The coordinators also shared goals for expanding their programs, such as establishing Basic Need Center Spaces at the College of Alameda and Merritt College, extended support for student housing, and emergency gas stipends.

Links to each college’s basic needs program can be found here: College of Alameda | Berkeley City College| Laney College| Merritt College

 

From the consent calendar

The consent calendar is a group of agenda items typically approved in one motion without discussion. Trustees may pull items from the consent calendar to discuss and vote individually.

The board unanimously approved this week’s consent calendar, with zero items pulled for discussion.

Facilities

An agreement was approved for Allstarz Plumbing and Engineering to remove and replace sewage output pipes at College of Alameda’s Aviation Maintenance Technology Facility for $58,980. The set completion date is by Jul. 31, 2024.

$218,500 was added to a contract with Powell & Partners Architect for ongoing repairs and remodeling to the Laney College Student Center, extending the contract through Dec. 31, 2025. This is in addition to the pre-existing contract stipulation of $133,900.

An amendment added to PCCD’s contract with AE3 Partners Inc., for their construction of Merritt College’s Child Development Center. The amendment added $191,637 for an additional 31 day extension. Additionally, the amendment canceled the plans for a connecting road to the center.

Finance

The consent calendar included PCCD’s third-quarter fiscal report, which projects post-expenditures revenue of $16,923 for the 2023-24 term. This is down from the previous year’s revenue of $2,647,401. The report states Peralta has no significant fiscal problems that must be addressed this, or next year.

Personnel

The position of Tina Vasconcellos was reclassified from Associate Vice Chancellor of Educational Services to Vice Chancellor of Educational Services, effective July 1. The reclassification comes with a salary increase to $252,077. According to the California State Controller, the salary for this position was $192,065 as of 2022.

Nathan Failing was appointed Acting Dean of Student Services at Laney College through Dec. 31 at an annual salary of $168,051. Failing previously served as Laney’s Student Accessibility Services Coordinator/Counselor since 2019.

Pieter DeHaan, a Biology Instructor at Berkeley City College, is set to retire on June 1.

 

Closeout
Mahogany Camel. Via: McNary Williams Jackson Funeral & Cremation

Board President Paulina Gonzalez-Brito closed the meeting in memory of the late Mahogany Camel, a former student at Laney College and student worker at Laney College’s Umoja-UMBAKA program.

“Mahogany’s warmth and dedication as an Umoja-UMBAKA student worker and a volunteer leader in the Black Student Union enriched our campus community,” Gonzales-Brito said. “Her spirit lives on in her daughters and the memory she leaves behind.”

About the Contributor
Ian Waters
Ian Waters, News Editor
Ian Waters is a Bay Area native, who has lived in the East Bay his entire life. He is interested in how and why things are designed, which often manifests in a passion for playing and analyzing games. He often fails to focus on a singular subject for long, reading to a plethora of interests such as reading, movies, and thinking about (but never acting) purchases of spices. In addition to The Citizen, he also writes play reviews for Theatrius.
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