SF Green Party Community College Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2016
Due Date: Wednesday, August 31
Candidate Name: Rafael Mandelman
Phone Number: 415-516-7761
Web site: www.rafaelmandelman.com
Name of Campaign Manager: Arthur Welton
Signed voluntary spending limit: Yes
Major Endorsements: San Francisco Democratic Party, Tenants Union, Labor Council, Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
Favorite Incumbent College Board Member: I work well with all my colleagues.
Least favorite: I don't have a least favorite.
1. Could the accreditation crisis have been foreseen and potentially averted? How could the board have done better?
I don't know that there is a community college trustee in California who has been more outspoken in his or her criticism of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. I continue to think that it is outrageously wrong that a private, largely unaccountable group like the ACCJC can threaten a public education institution with closure. Granting all that, however, I do believe many of the issues raised by the ACCJC visiting teams in 2012 and 2014 and by the State Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team in 2012 and 2013 were valid. I do believe that there were serious administrative, financial and governance problems at the College in 2012, and certainly the board shared responsibility for those problems. In particular, the mutual loathing of Board members for each other and of Board members for various College constituencies was not healthy or productive for the College.
2. What is your stance on public and private partnerships within the college?
That depends on the nature of the "partnership." If it means additional resources for the College and its students, I am interested, but not at the cost of academic standards or the independence of the institution. I would want to evaluate such partnerships on the specific facts of a particular case.
3. What is your position on tuition and fees, for in-state students and for international/out-of-state students? Will you actively campaign against tuition increases on the state level?
I believe we should do everything we can to keep tuition down and to eliminate barriers to access for our students. I strongly support Free City College and would certainly campaign against tuition increases.
4. If elected to the Board, how would you ensure that you and the public would receive the college's draft budget with a sufficient time to review it thoroughly before adopting it?
Currently the Board and the public see the budget four times before it is finally approved (two public meetings for the tentative budget in the spring and two more meetings for the final budget in late summer). I tend to think this provides adequate opportunity for public review, but would be willing to consider proposals for additional transparency.
5. What is your position on selling campus properties?
I don't support selling campus properties. In some cases, a long term lease may be appropriate, particularly if the revenues from such leases are used to help address the College's significant capital facilities needs. I am also interested in looking at possibly using surplus College properties for faculty and staff housing.
6. Do you feel there is enough transparency or public disclosure of the Board and the college? How would you change things?
There needs to be more regular communication between the administration and the college community, as well as the broader public. I and other members of the Board have expressed this to the Chancellor, and I believe she is committed to improving communication, but the reality is that the challenges currently facing City College's administration are so great and numerous that communication has suffered. I would like to have more thorough staff reports on issues coming before the Board, for the benefit of Board members as well as the public.
7. Have you attended the Community College Board meeting? Would you change public comment policy at the meetings? If so, how?
I would like to allow up to a half hour of public comment on items not on the agenda earlier in our meeting, rather than forcing people to stay until the end of the meeting to speak.
8. How will you improve outreach and increase access to San Francisco Community College to low-income people, people of color, people with disabilities and students with prior drug felony convictions who are not eligible for financial aid?
The College's outreach efforts were a casualty of the accreditation crisis, as the key staff positions responsible for outreach went unfilled for months, if not years, on end. The College continues to have capacity problems in this area, and I believe ensuring adequate staffing for the College's outreach work, as well as other key administrative functions, will need to be a focus for the board over the next several years.
9. How would you eliminate the barriers to full access to noncitizens to all classes offered by City College?
Free City College would go a long way to addressing this problem. If full Free City College proposal is not enacted, I would be interested in working with the City to at lease ensure funding to pay the tuition of undocumented students who are not eligible for financial aid under AB 540 (i.e., those who did not attend a California high school).
10. What is your stance on gender inequity and how would you ensure that transgendered students feel safe and supported on campus? How will you make positive changes to serve this growing community?
As a gay man, I feel a particular obligation to ensure that transgender students feel safe and supported at City College. We have a strong LGBT Studies department and a number of queer faculty, staff and administrators, but to the extent that Board action is needed to support our transgender students, I would of course want to provide leadership on the issue.
11. How will you increase quality child care at ALL campuses?
City College has an excellent Child Development Department and is able to offer excellent child care at many of our campuses. I am of course open to hearing about ways in which our programming and our support for students, faculty and staff with children could be improved.
12. How will you create more campus work opportunities for students? What is your position on having the college provide health insurance for students?
I am eager to work with our student leaders on a number of work-related issues, including evaluating the feasibility of paying our students the San Francisco minimum wage (the College currently does not, and I think that's a problem). I would certainly support efforts to expand access to health care coverage for City College students.
13. How will you work to counter and prevent profiling and police harassment on campus? What is your position on police firearms on campus?
I am curious to hear the experience of our students with our police. My impression is that our students' relationship and interactions with College police have been better than their interactions with SFPD officers. I believe that this may in part be because our police are not armed. SEIU 1021 strongly believes our police should be armed for their own safety and for the safety of the College community; I am skeptical but have agreed to try to keep an open mind.
14. What is your position on allowing noncitizens the right to vote in College Board and School Board elections?
I support it.
15. What is your position on giving the student trustee full Board Membership and voice?
Currently the Student Trustee can speak and vote on any item, as well as make and second motions. I think that's about right.
16. What are your views of transportation and pedestrian safety to, from and around City College campuses? What, if anything, would you change, and how would you go about making those changes?
I am not at all satisfied with the pedestrian safety situation on Ocean and Phelan. We need a better way for students coming by BART to get themselves from the Balboa Park station to the campus. Like everyone else relying on Muni, our students, faculty and staff also deserve more reliable bus and light rail service.
17. What is your position of recruiting for the military on campus?
I do not support it.
18. What criteria will you use in deciding whether new cell phone antennas will be installed on top of City College buildings?
I am not an expert on the issue, but I would want to look at the latest health and safety data, as well as the financial benefits being offered to the College.
19. Please describe how you make your political decisions. What is the main basis for your decision making (e.g., consultation with your constituents, political consultants, colleagues, unions, businesses, donors, or your gut feelings)?
I try to get as much information as I can, consulting widely with constituent groups and others who may have insight on the issues before us.