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Guest Opinion: City College is excited to welcome our students back for fall semester

by Shanell Williams and Tom Temprano

City College of San Francisco board President Shanell Williams, left, and Vice President Tom Temprano. Photos: Williams, Rick Gerharter/Temprano, courtesy Tom Temprano
City College of San Francisco board President Shanell Williams, left, and Vice President Tom Temprano. Photos: Williams, Rick Gerharter/Temprano, courtesy Tom Temprano  

City College of San Francisco's students, faculty, and staff faced significant challenges during COVID-19, and the safety of our students has been at the forefront of the college's pandemic response. In 2020, City College shifted most of its instruction and student services to remote formats — which was tough for many of our students. For Fall 2021, City College is increasing the number and range of our in-person classes in a diverse set of course offerings, from auto maintenance and culinary arts to biotechnology and mathematics. The safety of our students, faculty, and staff remains our biggest priority, and all in-person instruction is following strict COVID safety protocols, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for institutions of higher education.

City College was the first college in the country with an LGBT studies program and this fall marks 10 years since we first introduced an associate in arts degree in LGBT studies. Since then, City College has continued to expand its commitment to social justice and the LGBTQ+ community, creating associate degree for transfer programs in feminist, queer, and trans studies as well as gender studies. Fall 2021 also brings the launch of our new public safety LGBTQ+ awareness certificate — another first-of-its-kind program. This two-semester program, a collaboration between Administration of Justice and LGBT Studies faculty, is designed to provide an increased understanding of the LGBTQ+ community, with an emphasis on communities of color, for public safety personnel.

We have many support services available to LGBTQ+ students at City College including the Queer Resource Center, which offers a safe space on campus for queer students to learn. At the QRC students can access student emergency funds and academic counseling support provided by LGBTQ+-identified counselors. For the Fall 2021 semester, Juan Fernandez, the QRC coordinator, plans to host the annual QRC open house and a Title IX "Know Your Trans & LGBT+ Rights" workshop to provide updates and changes in relevant federal and state laws. Fernandez is also developing a voluntary "Out List" so that students can connect with LGBTQ+-identified employees at City College for additional mentorship and support.

City College strives to be a safe and welcoming place for trans and gender-nonconforming students. In recent years the college has implemented a chosen name system for college documents like certificates and diplomas and added gender-neutral bathrooms across our campuses. Last year, City College implemented a gender diversity and inclusion policy to make sure the college is doing everything necessary to support trans and gender-nonconforming students, faculty and staff.

Fall 2021 is also the fourth year of the Free City program! This partnership between City College and the City and County of San Francisco provides San Francisco residents with free tuition or grants for students who already receive financial aid. Accessing high-quality education shouldn't leave students with a lifetime of debt and Free City helps you achieve your educational goals on a budget right here at City College.

COVID continues to present challenges for us all, but City College is here to help San Francisco recover and come back stronger than ever. Whether you are learning English as a second language, planning to transfer to a four-year school, needing to learn new career skills, or are a lifelong learner, City College is here for you. Fall classes start on August 14 and there are over 2,000 class sections in a broad range of course offerings. To access our searchable PDFs click here.

Shanell Williams is president of the City College Board of Trustees and Tom Temprano is the board's vice president. Both are out LGBTQ+ elected officials.

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