Chancellor’s Office holds media teleconference


Courtesy of Drake Baglietto

California Community College Chancellor Eloy Oakley took questions from student media over a teleconference on Thursday. Eloy, who has been chancellor since December of 2016, discussed topics ranging from enrollment to the upcoming elections.

California Community College Chancellor Eloy Oakley hosted a teleconference on Sept. 24 for community college student newspapers and radio reporters and editors, and answered questions regarding several topics.
The teleconference was facilitated by Vice Chancellor of Communications and Marketing Paul Feist and Director of Communications Paige Dorr. Over the course of the teleconference, Oakley spoke on the upcoming elections, enrollment and the current discussions on race.
“Like for many of you it’s hard for me to watch the news these days, particularly in the last few days,” said Oakley. “But the only way we’re going to change the narrative going forward is if each of us shows up and votes.”
There have been efforts by the Chancellor’s Office to engage with student leadership, particularly through the State of the System address, said Oakley. Part of these efforts included entering a partnership with the Office of the Secretary of State.
Feist said the Chancellor’s Office and colleges are promoting the Ballot Bowl, a friendly competition amongst California colleges and universities to register students to vote. Feist also said multiple colleges would serve as voting centers.
Oakley said it is not only important to vote in the presidential election, but to pay attention to critical issues on the ballot. One particular item on the ballot Oakley was particularly supportive of was Proposition 16.
“I’m just here to make sure you all are aware of the importance of Proposition 16 to our future as our student body continues to be diverse,” said Oakley.
Proposition 16, or the Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment, is designed to repeal the 1996 proposition and would remove the ban on affirmative action involving race-based or sex-based preferences from the California Constitution, according to the Secretary of State’s official website.
“We want to ensure that we can do everything possible to support every student from every background and ensure the faculty and the staff that you visit with and what you see in the classroom represents the diversity that you bring to the classroom,” said Oakley. “And that we ensure that whether you’re going directly from high school or transferring to the CSU or to the UC that student body also represents the rich diversity that’s in our classrooms.”
Following this, Oakley gave an update on enrollment numbers, saying current fall enrollments were down by 5% to 7%, though the exact number won’t be known until early 2021. Oakley said the Chancellor’s Office has launched a campaign to keep students enrolled.
“This is the time to get enrolled and stay enrolled,” said Oakley. “This is not a situation that any of us wants to be in but it’s so critical to the future of our students that they stay enrolled because so many of the jobs that have been lost may not be coming back, and many of the jobs that are being created require some sort of college credential.”
The enrollment had an effect on how much aid the CCC system received from the CARES Act, said Oakley. As funding was based on full enrollment and not overall headcount, the CCC system received less aid than some private universities, said Oakley.
The Chancellor’s Office is working on making sure the next stimulus provides funding based on headcount, said Oakley.
“What we’re doing is trying to support local districts and helping them connect to resources to help them get through the economic crisis,” said Oakley “We have a presence in Washington, D.C. and we’re advocating daily for the next federal stimulus.”
Another topic Oakley addressed was the ongoing discussions regarding race going on in the country and the call to action issued by his office.
“We have to take hold of this moment and make sure that we do everything possible to change the direction of systemic racism in our system and our communities,” said Oakley.
Oakley said the office has challenged college leadership to open a dialogue about where they are in terms of race and ethnicity in the classroom and identify areas in need of reform.
The issue of student access to technology and internet services was covered by Feist.
“Several tech companies offer free and low-cost internet for students,” said Feist. “In addition, many college foundations have raised funds for laptops and devices, and this year’s state budget includes block grants for colleges to help in the transition to online learning.”
Oakley also gave key upcoming dates during the teleconference. This included the end of the 2020 Census on Wednesday and the Undocumented Student Action Week starting on Oct. 19, with Oakley stressing the former as important to getting adequate federal support for local communities.
The teleconference ended with Oakley speaking on the possibilities on campus’ reopening.
Oakley said colleges would need to meet several requirements, depending on their location, to even begin discussing reopening. Oakley said they did not have the direct discretion to open when they wanted.
“Many faculty still cannot be on campus. Many classified staff cannot be on campus. So you have a number of complications, even if you’ve got the green light to reopen, that would still cause your college experience to still look very different than what you’re used to,” said Oakley.