DVC student group seeks change at 4CD with list of demands

Demands include disarmament of district police, ethnic studies courses and free student parking


Daniel Hernandez / The Advocate

The Diablo Valley College chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America have released their list of demands to the District Office.

By Emma Hall, Advocate Staff

Students from Diablo Valley College sent a list of demands for the Contra Costa Community College District on August 24, calling for change related to equity and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The list demands the complete disarmament of 4CD campus police, a free student health center, the development and support of an Ethnic Studies program, fully paid office hours for all adjunct faculty and the removal of paid parking permits. 

The demands have been specifically organized by DVC’s Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter. 

Club founder Ali Noorzad, a history and political science major, said the death of Minnesota man George Floyd was a sparking point for change. 

Since the death of Floyd, a Black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, the Black Lives Matter movement has been the driving force behind massive protests against police brutality and racially motivated violence against African Americans nationwide. 

“My entire life, I’ve been living through constant upheaval and police brutality and nothing’s changed,” Noorzad said. 

Noorzad recalls the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a Black boy from Florida who was shot and killed by a man named George Zimmerman in 2012. 

Zimmerman walks free today because of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law which allows the use of deadly force if one feels threatened. 

Criminal justice reform and civil rights advocates have criticized this law, claiming it allows racial violence. 

Noorzad also spoke about the unrest six years ago in Ferguson, Missouri. Protests began after 18-year-old Michael Brown, a young Black man, was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson. 

Brown’s death rekindled a nation-wide debate about police brutality and the relationship between African Americans and the police. 

Now, DVC YDSA aims to make change with their campaign. 

The Complete Disarmament of 4CD Police

According to the most recent 4CD Campus Crime Awareness Report, 507 crimes were reported on 4CD campuses from 2016 to 2018, with only 11 arrests. A majority of the arrests were for nonviolent drug offenses. 

The report states that Contra Costa College had a total of 82 thefts, eight motor vehicle thefts, six robberies, three domestic violence incidents, two dating violence incidents, and one stalking incident. 

“CCC and Los Medanos College have higher crime rates…so just in relation there are going to be more police (on campus) than at DVC,” Clare Katko, a political science major and DVC YDSA member said. “We wanted to make it a district-wide campaign to include all students.” 

DVC YDSA believes the current spending on police services is expensive and overinflated. In fact, 4CD’s 2019-2020 budget states that over $3 million have been spent on police services in the 2018-2019 academic year. 

For 2019-2020, the district has, once again, over $3 million to spend on police services, making it the second highest amount on the district budget behind Information Technology Services. 

4CD Governing Board president Rebecca Barrett said because 4CD has its own police department instead of contracting out to the local sheriff’s department, those funds go to salaries. 

Create a Free Student Health Center 

DVC YDSA is pushing to establish a health services center for each campus in 4CD. According to DVC YDSA, these health centers should cover, but not be limited to, physical medical services including the treatment of colds, viruses and minor injuries. 

DVC YDSA also demands mental health services like counseling, interventions, long-term care and psychotherapy. Educational health services are also included in their demands, which would provide information and resources on healthier lifestyles, substance abuse prevention and other behavioral challenges. 

Barrett agrees with the need for a student health center. She said it is “embarrassing” for the district not to have one. 

“The fact that we’re one of the few college districts that doesn’t have health centers is a concern,” Barrett said. “I just don’t know if a dollar-for-dollar reallocation is actually enough to fund health care services.” 

Despite the concern of reallocation, Barrett says she is willing to talk about the implementation of health centers for 4CD. 

Develop and Support Ethnic Studies

After California State colleges and other universities mandated ethnic studies as a graduation requirement in August, DVC YDSA lists as a demand that 4CD develop an Ethnic Studies program on all campuses. 

DVC YDSA cites research which finds higher education has been predominantly based on Euro-American perspectives. As a result, higher education often denies the history of Black, Indigenous and other communities of color. 

By creating and supporting ethnic studies, DVC YDSA believes more students will gain an understanding of the history of systematic trauma and oppression ethnic groups face. 

The organizers also demand a diverse selection of ethnic studies courses with its implementation. 

CCC is the leading college in the district for ethnic studies, as the college offers degrees in African American studies, La Raza studies and a transfer degree in Social Justice: Latino + Chicano studies. 

Barrett said DVC is working on an ethnic studies program as well. 

Full Office Hours for All Adjunct Faculty 

Seventy percent of faculty in 4CD are adjunct, according to DVC YDSA. 

Adjunct faculty are only paid 50 percent of their hourly rate for office hours, which Katko believes is an economic and race issue. 

“Statistically, most professors who are adjunct, especially at DVC, are not white and not as set (economically) as someone on the tenure track with a bunch of classes,” Katko said. “We’re coming from a place of class demands as well as racial.” 

A portion of DVC YDSA’s demands calls for 4CD to redirect police funding to pay adjunct faculty full hourly rates for the office hours they work. 

“If we’re serious about racial equality, we’re all serious about economic equality. Economic issues are racial issues,” Noorzad said. “If you are truly trying to step up to the plate and change regarding these issues, you’re going to pay your adjunct faculty what they deserve, which is full office hours.” 

No More Paid Parking Permits  

In DVC YDSA’s original campaign, they addressed the removal of parking permits and said they create an unnecessary expense toward attending 4CD colleges. 

At 4CD colleges, permits are sold per vehicle instead of per person. DVC YDSA claims that students who carpool or share a vehicle with family end up purchasing multiple permits or pay $3 at a campus meter each day.

Additionally, buying a parking permit does not directly result in obtaining a parking spot. 

Currently, due to the adoption of online instruction, 4CD announced that student parking permits will not be required for the semester. However, parking violations will remain enforced for parking in staff permitted areas without a permit. 

Katko said this decision by the district has no relation to DVC YDSA’s campaign. 

Moreover, DVC YDSA’s campaign currently has 365 signatures. The club is gathering signatures through Google Forms. 

Noorzad and Katko say the district has yet to respond to their campaign. However, the organization will continue to push their list of demands.