City College President Michael Gutierrez has been on the road to recovery and remains optimistic since being released from the hospital Aug. 14.
“All things considered, I feel very blessed,” Gutierrez said Friday in his first phone interview since the accident.
He suffered a concussion, a lacerated liver, four compressed back fractures and 15 rib fractures in a four-car accident Monday, Aug.12.
Gutierrez was driving westbound on Highway 50 headed toward the City College Davis Center when he was hit from behind, although he said he doesn’t recall much of the accident.
“When I first started to wake up, I thought I was dreaming,” said Guiterrez, who added that he remembers hearing people saying that his car had been struck in a collision.
“I started taking inventory: ‘Do I have all my limbs? I think I do. Oh, my God, I have all my teeth,’” he recalled. “I could sense myself feeling short of breath and hurt on the chest area.”
Guiterrez said that his recovery has been slow but going well, and he has been encouraged by his doctors to start walking more.
“I was able to sit down in the morning and put on my socks by myself and my shoes by myself,” said Guiterrez, “which is a huge accomplishment to me to be able to do that.”
He said that while even simple things are difficult for him right now, he is grateful to be alive.
“Having the outpour[ing] of support, the well wishes, prayers, good vibes, all of that—there are times when I want to become really emotional and just so grateful, and it hurts [physically] when I feel that,” he said. “The feelings that I get of the love that I’ve been given… I really have no words for that.”
Gutierrez made a brief video appearance during convocation Friday. The campus community acknowledged his accident during convocation Friday, with speakers, among them Chancellor Brian King and acting President Albert Garcia, expressing their continued support for Gutierrez’s recovery. Fall semester classes begin Saturday, Aug. 24, with most students returning Monday, Aug. 26.
Guiterrez said he looks forward to returning to work and that the accident has reassured him about his purpose.
“I know doing what I do—working at community colleges, working so that our students are able to fulfill their opportunities and their goals—I know I’m doing the right thing in my life,” said Guiterrez. “And that’s what I want to do, and I’m more sure of that than ever before.”
City College President Michael Gutierrez was released from the hospital Aug. 14 and is now home starting his recovery.
Los Rios Chancellor Brian King sent an email update on Gutierrez’s condition to the campus community Aug. 15 stating, “The well-being of Michael Gutierrez and his family has been at the center of my thoughts all week. The news of his terrifying accident was jarring and has certainly impacted us all. We are heartened by early signs of Michael’s improvement and grateful that, given the nature of the accident, his injuries weren’t far worse. Despite 15 broken ribs, he was able to walk the day after the accident.”
According to King, Gutierrez and his family expressed their appreciation “for the support from their SCC and Los Rios families.” He sustained major injuries in a four-car accident the morning of Aug. 12 on westbound Hwy. 50 as he was heading for the City College Davis Center.
“The outpouring of concern and assistance from the college, district and surrounding communities has been touching, and an indication of the kind of leader and person that we have in Michael,” King said. “He is loved and respected by friends and colleagues in the capital region, throughout California and across the United States.”
King also said City College will be accepting contributions to provide food delivery services to the Gutierrez family. Donations can be made in Carrie Bray’s office in Rodda Hall North 269.
According to King, Gutierrez will be focusing “exclusively on his recovery for at least the next six weeks.” King said to ensure that Gutierrez can appropriately focus on getting better, Vice President of Instruction Dr. Albert Garcia has been appointed acting president.
“It’s important that we give Michael space to focus on his recovery and know that college and district leaders have things well in hand. We are fortunate to have a great leadership team at SCC with Albert, Vice President of Administration Carrie Bray and Interim Vice President of Student Services Dr. Davin Brown, as well as incredibly talented and committed faculty and staff,” said King. “We know the college won’t miss a beat as we prepare for the beginning of another semester.”
According to The Sacramento Bee, which did not name Gutierrez in the initial story, a car driving in the fast lane struck Gutierrez’s car, which was stopped in traffic near Harbor Boulevard.
The Bee reported that the driver of the car stopped in traffic was taken to UCDMC with major injuries.
City College Communications and Public Information Officer Kaitlyn MacGregor said the president’s office has several get well cards available for anyone in the campus community who would like to send well wishes to Gutierrez. People may also drop off cards at the president’s office (Rodda North 277) that will be delivered to Gutierrez.
According to MacGregor, Los Rios Chancellor Brian King stopped by the hospital the day of the accident to offer support to Gutierrez and his family. MacGregor said City College will do whatever is necessary to help Gutierrez and his wife and two children through this ordeal.
King said it was evident Gutierrez has enormous confidence in the City College administration, faculty and staff and “their ability to kick off the 2019-20 school year with the same passion and energy that [Gutierrez] always brings.”
City College President Michael Gutierrez was moved out of intensive care and onto a regular floor at UC Davis Medical Center the day after he sustained injuries in a four-car accident Monday, Aug. 12.
In an Aug. 13 email to the campus community City College Communications and Public Information Officer Kaitlyn MacGregor wrote, “While [Gutierrez’s] injuries are significant, we are optimistic about his recovery.” She said that the move from intensive care was “a good indication of his improving condition, and we hope he will be home soon.”
MacGregor said that the team of City College vice presidents who are temporarily in charge of the campus visited Gutierrez and his family in the hospital. They said that Gutierrez was “in good spirits.”
The accident occurred Monday morning as Gutierrez was driving westbound on Hwy. 50 to the SCC Davis Center.
According to The Sacramento Bee, which did not name Gutierrez in the story, a car driving in the fast lane struck a car believed to be Gutierrez’s, which was stopped in traffic near Harbor Boulevard.
The Bee reported that the driver of the car stopped in traffic was taken to UCDMC with major injuries.
In an Aug. 12 email sent to the campus community by MacGregor wrote, “This morning, President Gutierrez was in a serious car accident and, while he is conscious and believed to be stable, he is currently at the hospital being treated for several major injuries.”
MacGregor said it is not clear how long Gutierrez, 50, will be away from campus.
“I haven’t heard anything about him having surgery,” said MacGregor. “Hopefully, we will get an update on his recovery and timeline, but I’m sure it will take at least a few days to really know the extent of his injuries.”
According to MacGregor, Los Rios Chancellor Brian King stopped by the hospital the day of the accident to offer support to Gutierrez and his family. MacGregor said City College will do whatever is necessary to help Gutierrez and his wife and two children through this ordeal.
In the interim, Vice Presidents Albert Garcia, Carrie Bray and Davin Brown will each step into a temporary role as administrator in charge of the college on different days, MacGregor said.
MacGregor said the president’s office has several get well cards available for anyone in the campus community who would like to send well wishes to Gutierrez. People may also drop off cards at the president’s office (Rodda North 277) that will be delivered to Gutierrez.
Gutierrez became president of City College in July 2017 after working in higher education in Texas since 1992, according to the City College website. Among other roles, he served as executive vice president for academic affairs and student success at Eastfield College in the Dallas Community College District.
According to an article in saccityexpress.com published Aug. 20, 2017, Gutierrez said that he “believes strongly in the value of community colleges, and is grateful that he has the opportunity to help the community.
“‘It does feel like we are changing the lives of people in our community by allowing them the opportunity to transform,’ Gutierrez said. ‘I’m all in. It really does feel like I’m giving back to the community that I serve.’”
Nearly 200 faculty, staff, students and children gathered in the City College quad July 1 to hear Gov. Gavin Newsom announce that state residents will be able to attend any California community college for free for two years as part of the 2019-2020 Affordability Budget he just signed into law.
Minutes before speakers took the stage, Newsom signed into law SB 76, SB 77 and SB 93. SB 77, is the bill granting free tuition to community college students for a second year. Californians can already attend the first year of community college for free, after the passage in 2017 of AB19, the California College Promise program, which allocated $46 million to the state’s 114 community colleges.
“Higher education is not just CSU and UC,” said Newsom. “The first door on higher education is community college, and we are proud to have a second year of community college free.”
Newsom said that his budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year provides $2.4 million to City College to cover student tuition.
City College Student Senate President Kimberly Ramos made the opening remarks and introduced Anthony Rendon, speaker of the Assembly. Rendon spoke to overcoming limitations faced by government officials who seek funding to aid issues, such as health care for immigrant students, programs for homelessness and the cost of higher education.
“I’ve been told we can’t help college students who need basics like food and shelter to go along with their academic needs. Whether it’s social services or K-12 education or work protection, we have often heard the same refrain of ‘we can’t do that,’” said Rendon. “This year we are proud to turn that around. This year we can say ‘we can do all of that.’”
According to Rendon, Newsom’s budget will expand healthcare access, increase housing production, invest in education and increase the Cal-EITC Working Families Tax Credit.
President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate Toni Atkins expressed gratitude to everyone who worked to bring Newsom’s budget to fruition.
“We have agreed to a budget that is bold and responsible, and I am extremely proud of the final product,” said Atkins. “Californians can look at this budget and be reassured that we have our eyes on the future—both in the goals we should strive for and the challenges we must prepare for.”
Atkins said that Newsom’s budget gives the people of California what they deserve—a budget that makes investments in their future.
“We came across with a budget that reflects the collective wisdom, not just of us, but each and every one of you,” said Newsom, adding that California values shine through in the Affordability Budget.
“We’ve got a lot of challenging issues in this state, and we have a lot of work to do, nothing no more challenging than what’s up on this board addressing the issue of affordability,” Newsom said gesturing towards a poster board outline of his Affordability Budget.
According to Newsom, California is growing faster than the United States and as a state, it is not just about growth but about inclusion.
“We cannot live in the richest and the poorest state and live in a just society,” said Newsom. “We have got to mind that gap.”
Newsom said that he is not focusing on redistribution but rather on predistribution by seizing the opportunity gap, the readiness gap and the achievement gap. He believes that achievement starts at the beginning of life, before people enter the education system.
The Affordability Budget invests in education for Californians, paving the way to universal preschool, recruiting and retaining qualified educators and facilitating tuition freezes at the UC and CSU levels, according to Newsom.
Newsom talked about the California earned income tax credit, explaining how the budget more than doubles the investment in the Cal-EITC to $1 billion, which will increase the number of participating households from 2 million to 3 million.
According to Newsom, the Affordability Budget preserves health coverage for Californians and includes a series of proposals that reduce health care costs and increases access for families. Newsom said that he believes in universal health care.
“California became the first state in the country today to provide subsidies for families earning as much as $150,000. They’re gonna get an average on a monthly basis $120 to help them with their Medicare costs,” said Newsom.
Newsom recognized the homelessness epidemic and spoke to the importance of mental health services in the fight against homelessness. His budget includes a $1 billion investment to provide homelessness emergency aid, increase mental health support and fund rapid rehousing and basic needs initiatives for students in the University of California, California State University and the California Community College systems.
Newsom acknowledged that there is still more work to be done, but that this budget is a solid first step to managing the affordability crisis. He said the state needs to start focusing on income and wealth disparities, help support the middle class, and address the issues of housing and homelessness in California.
“We are well on our way to a more enlightened future,” said Newsom.
The student-run newspaper at City College has seen many seasons over the years and, as its staffs and advisers attest, will continue to evolve.
The paper originally started as Jottings, a three-page, two-sided mimeographed sheet in 1921, according to a history of the college, “Celebrating 100 Years: Sacramento City College.” Jottings became The Blotter in 1922 until its name changed—at the recommendation of the college’s first president Jeremiah Lillard—in 1929 to The Pony Express. The name changed again in 1972 when the paper dropped the “Pony” and shortened to just the Express.
Pam Slater, editor-in-chief of the Express in spring 1972, was part of the group of people that changed the name of the newspaper.
“We were trying to figure out how to bring it into a more modern world, and so we decide to change it to just the Express,” said Slater.
Back then, Slater said, the newspaper ran a weekly print paper of 8 to 12 pages with advertisements, and the staff consisted of about 16 people, not including the editors. She said she became interested in journalism in elementary school and created a one page newsletter “South Land Park Post Script” after her initials, P.S., and was also co-editor for the Kennedy High School paper, the Clarion. Because of her experience on the Express, Slater was hired at The Sacramento Bee as a “copy girl” running stories from reporters to editors to the production staff and then spent 25 years as a reporter for The Bee.
“The best thing there was the newspaper adviser Tom McClelland—we called him Mac—and he was one of those people that never sat down. Always on the go, always teaching, always making everything better,” she said as she flipped through old copies of the Express. “I think truthfully that I learned everything about journalism from him.”
Tom McClelland came to City College as a teacher and newspaper adviser in 1969, filling in for journalism instructor Dr. Jean Stephens who was getting her doctorate.
“My job was to motivate them—make them want to learn. To teach a student to be a writer is difficult. I was never certain I could do it,” McClelland said in his memoir, “Job-Jumping Through Life.” “I turned out some excellent writers. I tried to give them plenty of writing assignments, critiquing their work, asking them to rewrite again and again.”
After McClelland left, Stephens returned to her former position as journalism instructor and Express adviser until 1986. Ginny McReynolds then took over as the department’s only teacher for several years and continued to advise the paper off and on until 2002.
“I was hired to replace Dr. Jean Stephens, who was retiring and had advised the Express [on and off] for 29 years,” said McReynolds. “She knew that the paper had to be computerized, but didn’t want to choose the computers for someone else. I really didn’t know what I was doing, but we bought a few Macs and went for it!”
For nearly 22 years, McReynolds taught a full load of classes in journalism, communication studies and English.
“I loved getting to work with students this closely. In a classroom, you meet students and work with them on papers and projects, but at the Express, or any college newspaper, you have the chance to work on an ongoing project,” said McReynolds. “It is inspiring to watch the students grow and develop. I got to grow in ways that I never would have if I’d only been in the classroom.”
Donnell Alexander, who was advised by both Stephens and McReynolds, held a variety of positions at the Express from 1986-1987, ranging from sports editor to editor-in-chief to managing editor. Alexander was originally a psychology major and took the newspaper production class on a whim.
“It’s where I got my start,” said Alexander, who now co-hosts a podcast and publishes a newsletter, both called WeedWeek. “I’ve worked at ESPN and had films in sundance and I take everything back to the Express.”
Alexander described a typesetting class he took at City College in which he and his peers laid out copy. He said that after the articles were typed up, they would bring them back to the classroom and assemble the newspaper column by column.
While more recent journalism students have not had the experience of assembling a print paper by hand, the work is still hard and requires dedication.
“The experiences that you have at the beginning help you form your habits and your patterns,” said Alexander. “The work you do at the very beginning pays off at the end, and in some ways it’s some of the most important work that you do.”
Some former staff writers have come full circle, such as Rachel Leibrock, who is now the current journalism professor and adviser for the American River College student-run newspaper, The Current. She was on the Express from 1988-1990—first as a staff writer and then features editor.
“What I remember from that time was really learning how a newsroom works and that collaborative sense of what makes a story,” said Leibrock, who went on to work for the Sacramento News & Review, eventually as its editor-in-chief, and for The Sacramento Bee. “What’s the best story for our paper? Or how do we serve our community? What are the stories that we tell to serve that community?”
Doug Herndon, current dean of English at ARC, was once a staff writer and editor-in-chief of the Express. Herndon started as a reporter in 1992 and became editor-in-chief in 1994. He came back as an instructional assistant while going to Sacramento State and later returned again as an advisor around 2005. Herndon said the paper taught him how to meet deadlines and work collaboratively with people.
“I think the thing that my little crew is known for is a piece that we did on an AIDS hospice called Hope House,” said Herndon.
During the early ’90s, Hope House was being threatened with closure. Herndon and his staff went and talked to the people who ran Hope House and met 12 men who had come to live and die there.
“We were there most of every day for about four months, and I think even during that time we saw three of the guys that we got to know die,” said Herndon. “We kept covering Hope House until really everyone we knew there had died.”
Hope House was the focus of a special issue about AIDS for the Express and was then picked up by the Sacramento News & Review, The Sacramento Bee and local TV stations. Thanks to all the coverage, Hope House was able to stay open.
“It was kind of the best experience you could have as a young journalist for really seeing like, ‘Oh, this is good work to do in the world you can actually make a difference,’” said Herndon.
Herndon was among the group of journalists who experienced the beginnings of a more technologically advanced newsroom.
“We put the paper out on the very first Macintosh computers, which had little 7-inch screens,” said Herndon. “We would get so frustrated just trying to lay out a page 7 inches at a time that we would want to throw those computers out the window.”
Dianne Hiemer began her career as a part-time journalism adviser and instructor in 1995 and was hired full time in 1997.
“In the late ’90s is when major media outlets were waking up to the fact that digital news media is here to stay,” said Heimer. “They had to figure out a way to move primarily the print version on to online.”
Heimer was instrumental in digitizing the Express. She took a sabbatical to study how other media outlets transitioned to online and knew it was the direction the program needed to go.
In 2000 the Express started using Dreamweaver—which was really “shovelware,” Heimer said, meaning that the staff took the same content from the print edition and put it online.
“I thought it was critical for our program for out students to be trained not only in reporting, not only in news writing but now this new part of journalism, which was online,” said Heimer.
Current Express advisers Jan Haag and Randy Allen note that the Express for several years has primarily been an online paper with student editors daily loading articles and photos onto the website (saccityexpress.com), then adding new material to its monthly print editions.
As the Express staff bids farewell to the print version of the Express and as preparations for the fall 2019 semester in the journalism department are underway, the question being asked is what impact will the digitization of journalism have?
“I think it’s [journalism] has always been evolving to this direction, and I think that we shouldn’t fight it but to go there and bring all the talent,” said Slater. “There’s so much talent from journalists and reporters and photographers, and I think even though that we are not going to be holding the paper in our hand, it’ll be a wonderful product in the end.”
The transition to being a fully online Express has been in the works since Heimer and her students launched the earliest digital version almost 20 years ago.
“It’s strange, but it’s time,” said Heimer. “Even in the last two or three years, the students here—like the Gen Zers don’t understand journalism in the form of a print newspaper. They’re informed, they keep up with what’s going on, but they do that completely online.”
While readers will no longer be able to pick up a physical copy of the Express, student journalism at City College will continue.
“The stories will always be there,” said Leibrock. “It’s just how you tell the stories is going to change a little bit. How you present the story might change a little bit, but the content is still there.”
When a number of Sacramento cannabis dispensaries received their recreational business licenses, longtime consumers witnessed eager first-time buyers pack waiting rooms during the first weeks of January 2018.
But with more adult users (you must be 21 years or older) visiting dispensaries, there’s something to be said for common courtesy, especially when it comes to better preparing for a trip to pick up some pre-rolls and edibles. The budtenders will thank you, and so will other customers. SN&R turns to the experts behind the counter for some tips on dispensary etiquette to help make the experience a positive one for all involved.
A trip to a dispensary can be a new and exciting experience. For some, it may even feel like entering a 420-version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But it’s also important to be aware that there are medical patients who are there to pick up prescriptions to help treat serious illnesses. Customers buy everything from CBD salves to help relax muscles to cannabis flowers that promote appetite after chemotherapy.
“Everyone is in the dispensary for different reasons,” says Danny Kress, dispensary manager at A Therapeutic Alternative in Midtown. “We might have somebody who is there because they have golf this weekend with friends and then we might have somebody coming in with cancer, and we just want to be really mindful and be sensitive about the people around us.”
Pro tip: Keep the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure-banter to a minimum.
Silence the cellphone
No one wants to be stuck listening to someone’s loud phone conversation. And it’s especially annoying when you’re in a confined space.
“Dispensaries are a no cellphone zone,” says Forrest Heise, dispensary director at Green Solutions. “You can text in the lobby, browse the internet, be on social media—that’s cool. But no phone calls in the building at all.”
Feel free to quietly enjoy your screen time while you wait in the lobby, but in the budroom there’s a different set of rules. “Definitely no cellphones at all in the budroom. If you’ve got your phone out and you’re taking pictures, I think you’re casing the place. I get paranoid,” Heise says. “It’s a courtesy thing.”
Pro tip: Don’t look suspicious. Silence cellphones and keep them in a purse or pocket when in the budroom.
Although cannabis is legal at the state level, it’s still illegal under federal law, cutting dispensaries off from major banks and credit card companies. Therefore, bring cash. Most dispensaries operate on a cash-only basis. For those who forget, some conveniently have ATMs on site. But not all of them do, so hit the bank before you visit.
Pro tip: Avoid the ATM fees and bring Andrew Jackson along for the ride.
Calm and collected
It’s totally normal to feel nervous, especially if you don’t know what to expect from one dispensary to another. But hey, overthinking doesn’t help ease the mind. Head into the dispensary with a positive attitude and an open mind, and your visit is sure to be a more enjoyable one.
“Dispensaries can be intimidating as a thought,” Kress says. “A lot of places it’s very welcoming, very warm. It’s a comfortable environment that should be something that people look forward to coming in to, not something that builds anxiety. This is the place to get away from that.”
Pro tip: Think about all the products made to calm nerves and anxiety such as CBD gummies and massage oils.
Do the research
Heise says that much has changed over the last 20 years—and with that roar of change brings a million questions.
For people who have stayed away from cannabis up until legalization, the spectrum of offerings can be overwhelming. If you don’t know where to begin, simply browse a dispensary’s website, which often includes a menu that showcases its latest inventory. There, you can get a pretty good idea of the different types of products and their uses.
“We’ll answer some questions over the phone,” Heise says. “If you’ve got a million questions, come down and talk to us. I don’t mind doing a little phone consultation but for the full experience come in and we’ll answer all your questions.”
Pro tip: Visit a dispensary’s online menu to get familiar with products in stock.
Whether you refer to them as budtenders or cannabis counselors, any professional working behind the counter at a dispensary is an expert in cannabis and is there to tend to your medicinal—or recreational—needs. A lot of dispensaries host workshops on plant care and cultivation, and wellness classes such as reiki and sound therapy.
Budtenders are constantly expanding their knowledge as cannabis culture evolves. But as informed and knowledgeable as they are, you won’t get the answers you’re seeking if you don’t ask questions.
“Come in with questions. There’s no bad questions or stupid questions,” Kress says. “Come in looking for an education. The person that you’re talking to should be able to answer your questions.”
Pro tip: Asking questions is a great way to build a relationship with your budtenders.
Faculty and administrators sipped lemonade, crunched on cookies and discussed ways to help students overcome current barriers to their higher education goals with Los Rios Community College District Chancellor Brian King April 3.
King sat on a table in the Learning Resource Center and spent an hour addressing comments and concerns as well as answering questions from the nearly 30 faculty, staff and administrators who attended the informal gathering.
The conversation started with discussion around Assembly Bill 302, a proposal that would require community colleges to grant overnight access to campus parking facilities for homeless students to sleep in their vehicles. AB 302 will be heard in the Assembly Higher Education Committee later this week.
King expressed gratitude that the conversation kicked off on topics that can benefit students.
“The biggest barriers that our students face are things like housing insecurity and food,” said King. “The illusion that free college—which means that students don’t have to pay fees—solves the problem is something that we really have to battle together. Because some of our friends in the legislature who have championed the fee payment—we need to remind them that that’s just one of many pieces of the puzzle for our students.”
According to King, City College students pay the most money out of pocket to attend school— more than a low-income, full-time student at UC Davis or Sacramento State University.
“The net cost is higher at a community college, so that’s really contrary to the perception that people have that if fees are free, problem solved—let’s go on to the next higher ed issue,” said King.
While discussing community college fees, King mentioned the Promise Program, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, that grants first-time, full-time students free tuition for their first year of community college.
“It’s wonderful that our first time full time students can attend fee-free,” said King. “But that is nowhere near the end of the struggle that our students face.”
According to King, there is proposed state legislation this year to expand financial aid, but there’s no funding stream for expanding financial aid for community college students.
“It’s one of those tough issues. If the Legislature would say that some of our operating dollars should go to student financial aid, that’s a very hard balance. The first-year free under Gov. Brown and the second year proposed by Gov. Newsom are both about $40 million that come out of community college operation dollars,” said King. “That’s a hard decision to make because if we’re providing dollars for the fees, it’s taking dollars away from filling the positions for other student needs and faculty and staff.”
King said that it’s unfortunate that the Los Rios district has to spend time looking for private resources because state funding is not what it should be.
“K-12 is funded substantially higher per student than community colleges. CSU is funded substantially higher per student than we are. UC Davis is funded substantially higher per student than CSU, and our students have the greatest needs,” said King. “It’s completely backwards. The whole system of higher education is backwards and it’s wrong. And we say that, and we advocate for it, and change is slow because our four-year partners have a lot of political power and have other revenue streams as well.”
King said that the first step is identifying that securing more state funding is a very high priority for the Los Rios district that is consistent with its values. He also said that given the fact that community colleges are not likely to have the resources that they deserve and that the students need—the district will have to keep lobbying and advocating for more funding in the Capitol.
“What we say our values are at Sac City and across the district is clear. There’s a really clear statement of values,” said King. “If there’s a dissonance between our budgeting priorities and our stated values, that’s a good thing to have a conversation about and say, ‘How can we change that?’”
King also said that the district has to have the courage to say that resources have to come from somewhere within its budget.
“Organizations like ours struggle with reallocating resources,” said King. “Now we need to reallocate the resources toward food insecurity or housing insecurity—toward equity or tutoring.”
After weeks of tension around the allocation of funds to student groups, the City College Student Associated Council (SAC) voted Feb. 20 to allocate up to $5,000 in matching funds to Phi Theta Kappa for members to attend a conference.
The initial controversy heated up Feb. 6 when SAC voted 14-3 to allocate an amount not to exceed $17,000 in non-matching funds from Student Representation Funds to Phi Theta Kappa—a City College chapter of the national honors society—to send up to 12 eligible students to attend the 2019 International PTK Convention in Orlando, Florida.
Six SAC board members are members of PTK, four of whom hold executive positions, according to Student Senate President Kimberly Ramos, and all of but two of whom voted for the initial $17,000 allocation and all whom voted to approve the $5,000 allocation.
However, some SAC board members raised concerns about the equitable use of the funds, money largely raised from the $1 per semester charge included in student fees.
Student Senate President Kimberly Ramos and student trustee to the Los Rios Community College board Danny Thirakul questioned the equitable use of student funds.
Ramos and Thirakul said that City College’s Black Student Union (BSU) and a student group hoping to attend a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education in Washington, D.C, submitted funding requests in the fall 2018. Each group approached SAC with funds equal to their request, and received matching funds for their trips from the Student Representation Funds.
PTK, however, did not come to SAC with two requirements, according to Sheku Baryoh, City College student senator: a list of all members who would be attending the conference and matching funds, a requirement for all student groups seeking funding.
According to the funding policy in the SAC Handbook, “requester(s) must contribute at least as much as is being requested.” For example, if a group requests $100, it must demonstrate that it has already raised $100 to contribute to the project.
It is at SAC discretion to make any exceptions to this policy as stated in the SAC handbook.
“The packet that has been submitted to this board is incomplete from PTK,” said Baryoh. “Technically we should not even be discussing it and just return it back to them and say ‘submit a complete packet.’ The rules says that before any packet is submitted, it should come with the names of all members who will be attending the project. It’s not in the packet. It’s an incomplete packet, so I don’t even want to talk about it in the first place.”
Before SAC voted to reconsider the allocation of funds to PTK at the weekly SAC meeting Feb. 13, Sandra Camarena, City College economics professor and faculty chaperone adviser to the student group attending HACU, voiced her concerns during public comment.
“Of most concern to me is that the matching funds policy, as stated in the SAC Handbook was waived,” said Camarena. “Moreover, I know that the funding request I proposed to you last fall required matching funds. It is also my understanding that another request submitted by the Black Student Union was funded by your group and required matching funds.”
Also during public comment, Rukiya Bates, City College financial aid supervisor and PTK advisor, spoke about the events and activities that PTK has taken part in and expressed her support of the approval of PTK funding.
SAC voted Feb. 13 to reconsider the allocation of funds to PTK until the following week.
SAC reconvened Feb. 20 to vote on the issue. Roby Shideler, vice president of PTK at City College, spoke on the matter during public comment.
After apologizing for a lack of oversight on the funding proposal and stating that he supported the amended request of $5,000 in matching funds, Shideler vocalized some concerns with the current SAC policy on funding approval.
“When BSU asked for $3,000, they were told they needed matching funds, putting a strain on their budget,” said Shideler. “Today we are asking you not to break the status quo for our organization. We do not want the benefits that other clubs have been denied.”
Shideler said that other student organizations would agree about the issue within the Student Senate.
“We are asking that you recognize that there is a problem with how the money is spent and recognize that the status quo is limiting student opportunities on campus,” Shideler said.
Faculty Coordinator of Student Leadership and Development Kim Beyrer responded to a public comment question about PTK members on the Student Senate voting on the allocation of funds.
“[Conflict of interest] is another piece of what you need to explore,” Beyrer said. “So when you put this on your agenda and you look at redefining your funding policy, you also need to look at how do you define conflict of interest.”
Lorenzo Cuesta, professional registered parliamentarian who oversees SAC meetings and coaches students on the board on Robert’s Rules of Order, said that the board members who are part of PTK did not have a conflict of interest.
“Conflict of interest means you are getting money that’s going in your pocket for your personal interest that has nothing to do with your obligations, fiduciary duties to this board, to the students on this campus. None of you going to that conference, are going to get money to turn around and buy an iPhone or pay Uber or something,” he said.
“There is no conflict of interest—and all of you who are voting have to vote—because that is your obligation,” he said.
Cuesta continued, “As long as you are here and you are participating, you have to do your duty. If not, then you shouldn’t be a senator. Your duty is to vote. Your voice is required. Do so.”
Not everyone on the SAC board shared Cuesta’s viewpoint. After the meeting Baryoh offered his own interpretation of conflict of interest.
“It’s the intention behind it. As long as they’re gaining something because they are going to go to that trip, that’s something that they are gaining,” Baryoh said. “I’m sorry I don’t share Lorenzo’s definition of conflict of interest.”
Beyrer said after the meeting that the participation of PTK members on the SAC board created problems.
“When [the SAC] get in trouble is when they have rules that they don’t follow because then they’re perceived as being arbitrary and unfair, and that’s always going to be problematic,” said Beyrer. “That’s partly what got us into this pickle is they initially approved it, and people were like ‘Whoa, why them and not us?’ It’s perceived as being arbitrary and unfair—doesn’t even matter if it is, it’s the perception. Perception is people’s reality.”
As Beyrer reflected on the controversy, she also said the council now has the opportunity to make a change.
“It’s unfortunate we had to go through all that,” Beyrer said. “What can turn it into a positive is if they go the next step now and do their work of rewriting their policy and taking it a step further how they define and what makes a legitimate conflict of interest and how they define that.”
Ramos said she understood the opportunity for positive change.
“We are going to create the ad hoc committee to discuss and rewrite our policy regarding matching funds,” said Ramos. “I think it’s important to also add in the transparency and accountability portion into those new policies.”
Ramos also voiced the need to collectively address these concerns. “I think it’s important to as a board come together and define what conflict of interest means to all of us,” she said.
Baryoh said he had ideas about how to move forward and prevent such controversy in the future.
“I’m going to suggest at the next meeting to hold all coming funding proposals until we have put down on paper exactly our rules, make it clear what the rules are so we will not have this controversial issue anymore, so we do not approve anything until we all have agreed on a specific rule,” Baryoh said.
The next SAC meeting is Wednesday, March 6. SAC meetings are open to the public and and take place at noon in RHN 258.
The beginning of a fresh semester is underway and as we enter into this new season, the weather isn’t the only thing that is changing around City College.
“A new day has come to Sac City College,” business professor Dr. Debra Crumpton told nearly 400 City College faculty, staff and administrators who met in the Performing Arts Center yesterday morning for the Spring 2019 Convocation.
After a tumultuous fall semester, City College administrators are banding together to help generate a lasting positive change on campus.
“It’s really been galvanizing this past semester in a really positive way,” said City College President Michael Gutierrez.
Keynote speaker Dr. Luke Wood, Associate Vice President of Faculty Diversity, Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer and Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Education at San Diego State University, gave a 90-minute lecture on how to foster racial equity in education.
“A rising tide does not lift all boats,”
said Wood in a closing statement, prodding administrators, faculty and staff to think outside the box and brainstorm ways to maximize success for all City College students.
“It’s about creating awareness, identifying what our perceptions are, potentially changing perceptions and knowing that this is step one,” Gutierrez said, “Our work with Dr. Wood is just step one. He will continue to be working with us this next year. It’s going to take time but its the commitment to it and knowing that it’s not a one-and-done.”
Crumpton moderated the town hall and panel discussion with a Q & A portion that followed the keynote address.
Gutierrez, City College president; Dr. Wood, keynote speaker; Dr. Khalid White, professor of ethnic studies/African-American studies at San Jose City College; Dr. Lisa Gunderson, registered clinical counselor in Canada and licensed psychologist in the state of California; Dr. Margarita Berta-Avila education professor at California State University, Sacramento; and Nzingha S. Dugas, program manager of African-American Female Excellence (AAFE) made up the panel.
Faculty and staff were given the opportunity to anonymously write in questions, concerns or comments to the panel and have them addressed.
In response to a question asked that touched on an individual being skeptical of getting involved to help make changes because that individual feels they are being blamed for the issue, Berta-Avila stated, “What is it at the core of what we are discussing that is hurting you right now? Don’t be reactionary, get to the core of that pain of feeling blamed and at fault.”
The ongoing discussion during convocation challenged faculty and staff to look inward, check their bias and get creative about ways to bring equity home to stay at City College. Crumpton invited everyone to exercise their agency and privilege.
The conversation around ways to increase equity at City College will continue. Administrators, faculty and staff plan to work collaboratively this year to bring a sweeping wave of positive change through City College.
“We are going only into the future,” Crumpton said in her closing speech. “We are going to learn the things that we need to learn by unlearning the stuff we need to unlearn.”
As Marianna Sousa walks from class to class, she is greeted with waves and “hello”s from fellow students. She is well known around City College from her time serving as student body president. The 39-year-old communication major jumped into the college pool with both feet after mentors, friends and loved ones encouraged her to continue her education. When she began her college journey, she wouldn’t have guessed that by her final semester she would be a published author.
Sousa enrolled in classes at City College in 2015 with the goal of achieving her ultimate career dream of fusing her two areas of focus: communication and journalism. With the right mindset and encouragement from professors, Sousa recalls that she began to thrive.
“I got a great transition into some awesome communication professors,” Sousa says. “Kim Church was really big in helping me understand my power through speech and debate. Professor Heimer was instrumental in my journalism. She referred me to some really great internship programs.”
After the completion of two local internships—the Sacramento Voices program and the other through NPR’s Next Gen internship—she found herself budding with knowledge and was inspired to write. Sousa’s passion for written word and love and affinity for multimedia journalism was born.
“I got really clear that journalism and storytelling was the route,” she says.
Sousa went on to take everything she learned over the course of her academic experience and used it to create a workbook. Over the last year she produced her book, “Own Your Shit.” The book is the product of Sousa’s personal struggles and traumas transformed into a 50-page self-healing guide. It’s broken down into three parts.
“The first part is memoir writing. I learned from a sociology professor the importance of knowing who you are in society is to begin with your own story telling,” Sousa explains. “A lot of us want to be successful and overcome things, but we don’t look back at our history. In that is encoded our trauma and the negative things that affect why we do or don’t believe certain things about ourselves.”
The second part of her book connects struggles to symptoms such as anxiety and depression. The third segment analyzes how the symptoms show up in choices, deficiencies and challenges, according to Sousa.
“It took a year of working it on myself then sharing it with other people,” says Sousa. “As I was healing myself, I started providing workshops and sessions for other people. I started giving to other people what I gave myself, just administering it.”
In Sousa’s first year at City College, she found herself immersed in leadership after her sociology professor suggested she run for student body president. Sousa campaigned and won.
“I’m heavily involved in leadership in the community through activism, but I had never taken up such a formal route. After I got into it, I realized I was definitely built for leadership on this level.”
After serving as president Sousa took on the role of student trustee for all Los Rios colleges, making her the student representative of nearly 80,000 students.
“A lot of people don’t realize when you are in high level leadership you have your own struggles too,” says Sousa. “It’s your job to be the positive representation—not that you don’t have those struggles, but it’s not part of the job to be so open about what you’re struggling with.”
There was a point in Sousa’s journey where her plate was full: She was a full time student, the student trustee for the Los Rios colleges and dealing with family matters that were weighing on her heart. On top of all that, she was nearly homeless. She began falling into depression.
“I was falling apart, and a lot of people didn’t know.”
“Luckily I had an adviser that let me know there is an emergency fund that students can get on campus. That emergency fund helped me to get into a facility (so) that I was not going to be a homeless student.”
Sousa’s fight for her own inner balance led her to undertake what some may consider the toughest job of all: her own healing.
“I realized it’s not enough to look at memes online to inspire you to get mentally and emotionally accountable for the emissions you put out there,” says Sousa. “In working with students and the community, I realized mental health is on a rise because people’s lifestyles are getting harder.”
She began chipping away at a personal project in an effort to transform her wounds.
“I wanted to create a workbook. A lot of the exercises and things that are in it don’t come from this ‘holier than thou’ place. They were literally tools and methods I would pick up from different healers or speakers and maybe modify them in a way that would work for me.”
Sousa says that writing her book helped her heal emotionally.
“I dedicated it to my daughter so as we get on our healing path more and more she’ll know that I not only used this tool for myself and others, but I wrote it as a gift for her as well.”
As Sousa’s time at City College is coming to a close, she plans to take what she has experienced and learned and amplify it.
“In coming to the end of this whole journey I realized the power of reaching—in any capacity, in any role,” Sousa says. “Whether it’s student to student reaching for help in comradery to get through a struggle. Whether it’s student to professor, student to admin. My reach was everything.”