Locals Fight for Priority in Nursing Program Admissions

In the weeks after City College of San Francisco’s board of trustees deadlocked on the issue, the college’s chancellor Don Q. Griffin said he has been meeting with key personnel to find if a resolution granting residents admission preferences to the License Vocational Nursing program will better serve the community.

Just last month, after the nursing department chair, the academic senate and others spoke against it, the board of trustees voted 3-3 on a resolution to give automatic admission priority to local residents.

Griffin said that since the vote he has met with the vocational program’s chair, the dean of the health school, and the director of the Registered Nurse Program to discuss “how to end up with significantly more San Franciscans in the composition of the LVN admission process.”

Trustee Chris Jackson, who wrote the failed resolution, said it’s likely that a new one will be presented to the board on Nov. 19. Jackson said it will include a weighted lottery system in which local students will get a greater chance of being selected for a seat in the program, but not automatic priority.

Currently, the vocational program — which prepares students to take the State Board Examination to become licensed practitioners — admits students on a lottery system. That means students who live in Oakland, San Jose or Daily City have the same chances as local residents of securing a seat in the 18-month program.

The program has four faculty members for about 40 students entering this semester.

Last fall, the college received 120 applications for 43 slots. Of the 40 students admitted in the fall semester, 24 are San Francisco residents. Of the 40 students in their second semester, 16 are local residents.

However, Jackson and others say local residents should get priority. That view has strained the relationship between the board of trustees and key personnel in the nursing program. Some are quietly saying the board is meddling too much in the everyday affairs of departments.

“They see it as micromanaging their program,” Jackson said. “They see it as an encroachment of their territory.”

Marks Milton, the City College board of trustees president who voted against the earlier resolution, said nursing program directors want to run the program “the way they best think will serve the community.”

“There’s a kind of feeling that the board sometimes tries to insert in the political mix of that,” said Milton. “The communication is not as good as we want it to be.”

Milton, who voted against the measure, said the board rarely votes against the recommendations of the academic senate.

Griffin said new trustees failed to follow procedures for getting a resolution to the board for the Sept. 24 vote. “That is what I’m trying to pursue now,” Griffin said.

This is not the first time board members have attempted to implement admission changes to the college’s nursing programs. In 2007, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution urging City College to adopt residency priority in the nursing program.

Chita Torres, department chair of the Licensed Vocational Nursing program, said giving priority to San Franciscans would be unfair to residents in nearby cities because City College is the only school offering vocational nursing training at an affordable rate in a 50-mile radius, with the exception of Los Medanos College in Pittsburg and Merritt College in Oakland.

Those schools accept new applicants every 12 and 18 months only, compared to City College, which takes new applicants each semester.

“Our mission at City College is to educate everyone, not just San Franciscans,” said Torres. “Everybody is paying taxes and because we’re getting monies from the state we should not exclude other people.”

In an effort to gain admission, it would lead some candidates to lie about their residency, said Torres.

“They would give somebody else’s address,” she said. “Policing is another major issue. We only have one secretary to figure out who is from here.”

Jackson pointed to his own experience as a college student working as a truck loader for the United Postal Service as a reason for pushing for affordable higher education for local residents and under-served communities.

He said giving admission preferences to San Franciscans will increase the program’s diversity and increase the pool of students from under-served communities. At present, of the 114 students in the three semesters, 17 students are black and 14 are Latino.

Jackson said, “How can it be that low-income students can’t get access to higher education in a state that is so rich?”

There are Mission, Bayview Hunter’s Point and Chinatown residents waiting months, even years, before they are admitted, while others get lucky in the lottery selection and zip to the front of the line, Jackson said.

Many left waiting, he said, “just give up.”

One Comment

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