Monthly Archives: June 2023

Chabot College President Susan Sperling Retiring: A Legacy of Education and Advocacy

After 35 years of dedicated service and unwavering commitment to the Chabot College community, President Susan Sperling has announced her retirement this Spring Semester 2023. Her departure marks the end of an era characterized by educational innovation, inclusivity, and tireless advocacy for the needs of California community college students. As we bid farewell to President Sperling, it is essential to reflect on her impactful tenure and the positive changes she has spearheaded during her time at Chabot.

President Sperling’s journey at Chabot began with a sense of competition and uncertainty. She vividly remembers her first day on campus in 1987, when she was interviewed for a faculty position. The job market for educators, especially in social sciences, was challenging, adding to the competitive atmosphere. Despite initial skepticism from the then-college president, President Sperling successfully secured the position in anthropology, “I did get the job. I began to teach. I began to appreciate what Chabot was, the heart that Chabot had, the excellent staff and faculty.”

Over the years, Chabot College has experienced remarkable evolution under President Sperling’s leadership. The institution has become more diverse and inclusive, both in terms of its student body and its staff. When President Sperling arrived, there were few women teachers or leaders in administrative roles. The college was predominantly white and male. Recognizing the importance of diversity, she championed efforts to hire individuals from diverse backgrounds, “Excellence is not just found in one gender or one ethnicity, it’s found in people from diverse backgrounds and that is an important part of what we do as community educators.” 

President Sperling’s tenure has been marked by her unwavering dedication to equity and social justice. She strongly believes in the power of education to uplift marginalized communities, working tirelessly to ensure that Chabot College remains an entryway to higher education for all. “I recognize the critical role played by students, faculty, and staff as educators, advocating for their perspectives and expertise in shaping policies and decisions that best serve the needs of California community college students.”

However, President Sperling also acknowledges the challenges that lie ahead for Chabot College and community colleges across the state. She highlights a disconnect between the knowledge and experiences of educators, and community college students with the prevailing beliefs of think tanks, lobbyists, and legislators. “This disconnect poses a significant threat to the future of community colleges and the students they serve. I think this disconnect is a very, very problematic thing for the future of this precious resource for all of the people of the California community colleges, which have been the entryway to higher education for marginalized communities, for our working-class people, and for first-generation students.”

As President Sperling prepares to pass the torch to her successor, she offers invaluable advice for a smooth transition and continued success at Chabot College. She emphasizes the need for leaders to understand that their work is a collective effort involving students, staff, and faculty. Decision-making should be inclusive and guided by the highest aspirations and goals of the college community. President Sperling also highlights the importance of standing up for what is right, even in the face of controversy, underscoring the necessity of unwavering dedication to student equity and success.

Chabot- Las Positas Community College District (CLPCCD) Chancellor Ronald P. Gerhard shared his thoughts on President Sperling’s retirement, “President Sperling’s retirement elicits feelings of pause and reflection. I have had the honor to work with President Sperling for the past 5 and 1/2 years in various capacities.”

Ronald continues, “There is also a sense of celebration in recognition of her storied career. Personally, I am excited for her and for the next chapter of adventures that awaits her and her family. Professionally, she has been a force of stability and leadership during her 36-year career at Chabot. Having served as a faculty member, union leader, dean, and president, her leadership has helped create and elevate many of Chabot’s signature programs. I would be hard-pressed to think of any part of Chabot where President Sperling has not left her indelible mark.”

When asked how she hopes the college community will remember her contributions, President Sperling emphasizes her commitment to composure, respect for students’ brilliance, shared governance, and the dignity of all labor. Her leadership has been rooted in a deep sense of equity and social justice, leaving an indelible mark on Chabot College.

As President Sperling’s last day at Chabot College approaches, the campus community is planning farewell celebrations. However, for President Sperling, the most anticipated event is a long walk around the campus, where she can appreciate every moment and reminisce about the meaningful interactions she had with students under the shade of trees and in the classrooms, “It has been as much my home as it has been my workplace.”

As Chabot College moves forward, it will carry President Sperling’s legacy, remaining a place where students, faculty, and staff continue to work together to create a brighter future for the community and beyond.

Parking at Chabot College

The parking fees at Chabot have attracted attention due to their high taxes and the prices of their fines. 

Here at Chabot, the parking may seem affordable with a permit for the semester being $45 for a motor vehicle and $30 for a motorcycle; however, when compared with the price of a violation fine, the numbers don’t seem to add up.

As of 2023, the fine for a “no permit” violation is $35, less than the amount of a permit for a full semester for motor vehicles and only five dollars more than that of a motorcycle. This could be one of the main reasons some students don’t pay for parking as there is no incentive to do so, especially since it would ultimately be cheaper not to.

Campus Safety disagrees with this train of thought, however, stating that although the pricing can be considered expensive it is much cheaper than it would be at a four-year university. They go on to state that while students may feel like it would be easier to opt out of paying in general it would not be a good idea to take that risk.

“Parking permits are being enforced with officers issuing citations on a daily basis through our Permit Readers that are connected to our digital parking system. Parking enforcement is everyday with Campus Safety being on patrol 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Not paying for parking permits can ultimately do more harm than good, according to Campus Security, as the revenue from these permits goes directly towards the maintenance of the parking lots on the campus. This is another reason that the administration urges students to pay rather than risking a “No Permit” citation, even if it would be cheaper.

Another reason that students might be disinterested in paying for parking could be attributed to the incredibly high taxes on digital payments for daily permits. The daily parking permit for all semesters is advertised on the Chabot website as being only $3 but, with taxes included it jumps to a whopping $7 when paying online. 

Of course, when paying with cash at the onsite payment podiums, these taxes can be avoided all together.  However, in a time when so many people rely on debit and credit cards as well as services like Apple Pay, it is rare that every student is carrying cash on them. Lowering these taxes or removing them all together could make students feel more inclined to pay for parking.

Regarding these issues with pricing, especially surrounding the online fees for daily passes, campus security had this to say: “Unfortunately, there is service charge on this system that is advertised when going through the online process; however, there is no service charge at the

Dispensers if students choose to go that route.” When asked why this fee is not advertised on  the website, however, campus security had no response.  

On this issue, Chabot student Michelle Mendoza says that she isn’t really affected by these taxes because she has a permit for the semester. “I like not having to worry about paying for parking when I’m rushing to class, so I bought my permit in advance. It’s much cheaper to do it that way instead of buying a daily permit everyday, anyway.” 

While some students share Mendoza’s sentiment, people like second-year student Brian Aguilar feel like permits aren’t all that necessary, stating: “I take the bus a lot of the time anyway, but if I have to drive and I’m running late or something then I’ll just risk getting the fine. It’s not worth it to get a permit for someone like me.” 

A lot of students who are in the same position as Aguilar, where they don’t drive themselves to campus, feel like the problem doesn’t affect them; however, for students who do have to worry, the task of paying for parking can seem daunting. Hopefully, in the future, Chabot’s administration can determine a solution to this parking issue that is accommodating for both the students and the college.

Political Activism In Music: Jokes For Feelings

Jokes for feelings had humble beginnings in 2006 but soon became a synergized magnet. Led by Band Frontman, Lead Guitarist, and Vocalist Josh Raphael from Palm Springs, California, the Bay Area ska band has been 17 years in the making with roots in Southern California pop-punk. Satirical, upbeat, transformative, and vibey good times music embodies the saying, “If life gives you lemons, then make lemonade.” With albums like “We Don’t Need Your Label Anyways” and “Kill Your Ego Split” speak to overcoming a musician’s everyday misfortunes, relationships, and economic struggles with a smile.  

“We just write about what’s going on in our lives, we do add a lot of comedy and make some jokes, but it’s also a reflection of how we felt about getting older, not fitting in, or in my case, being sick. There was a time when I got very sick, lasting years. I couldn’t play music, run, or do any activities. I had to get treatment, so I wrote uplifting songs that I felt would make me happy. In the beginning, we would make fun of things happening in the scene, the bands deemed as cool took themselves so seriously, and we were nobodies, so we decided to be funny and honest and start our own scene,” said Josh Raphael.

After posting a Craigslist ad, Drummer Antonio Acosta, aka Tony Two-Tone, joined the band’s ranks, a former Chabot College Student and San Francisco Art Academy graduate from San Leandro, California. Growing up in the 1980s breakdance era, the man is a fan of spinning vinyl, Latin ska, reggae, pop, funk, and Latin jazz. He would go on to support elevating the band to new heights and many other bands in the ska scene down the road, which many still hold in very high regard.  

Jokes For Feelings has had a myriad of members collaborate with the group over the years. Experimenting with members, sometimes a musician could play with the band for only a month or stay for years. Their first live show in 2006 at Blake’s in Berkeley was primarily packed with Coast Guard. One of the original members, Josh Vanskike, who played in the band for the first couple of years, wrote a good number of songs before leaving, was enlisted, and brought the majority of his unit from Alameda to the show. “Unfortunately, he shipped out a lot sometimes for up to a year, and eventually, he just couldn’t do it anymore,” said Josh Raphael. While other early years members like Misty and Sean are just names in the backdrop of what has become, at times, a local all-star lineup of guest musicians over the years.        

In 2009 Bassist, Keyboardist and Violinist Billy Raphael joined the band just as they were touring Southern California. The regular tour route then was LA, Riverside, San Diego, and Palm Springs. Billy Raphael, also a Bay Area transplant from Palm Springs, brought not only his previous band experience and history but previously written unproduced tracks, which Jokes For Feelings released with the addition of a music video, “Vitamin Girl.” Written by Billy, the song is about a routine nightlife experience he would have, “I used to go clubbing a lot in San Diego, and I would hear techno groups playing until four in the morning, and I wanted to write a song about that,” said Billy.    

Billy’s arrival coincided with the band’s transition from pop-punk to ska which Tony largely influenced, “It was fairly easy to transition over because we played in ska bands growing up. Ska is more mellow to play, and pop-punk is a little harder, in my opinion, because you have to play it fast and clear, compared to just jamming and having some fun when you play ska,” said Josh Raphael. Ska originating from Jamaica and Afro-Caribbean music is the forerunner to reggae with youthful punk rock vibes, horn sections, and saxophones. 

The band expanded, taking on three new horn players, and became entwined as a support pillar within the local Bay Area ska scene, standing behind causes, playing charity events, and finding a home at the famous 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley founded by Tim Yohannan who is also the founder of punk rock magazine “Maximum Rocknroll and Music Enthusiast.” The schedule became playing “Pride Runs” in San Francisco, events supporting unity, medical fundraisers, and Gilman benefits. The band began to ignite the Latin ska scene, even performing their songs in Spanish. Simultaneously, members like Josh Raphael took lessons in Peruvian jazz and folk, infusing what he learned into the band to produce a new sound with a Latin jazz influence and even a little gypsy punk combined with ska punk.

There are strong values and principles among some bands playing in the Bay Area who believe in freedom, human rights, anti-discrimination, and anti-racism, just to name a few. With venues that wholeheartedly support these values so much that you can’t even perform there if you don’t uphold these views, this is a requirement within the Gilman community. A volunteer collective with solid connections in Bay Area social justice movements, you will not be playing any music on the Gilman stage if you disregard these core principles.

Tony Two-Tone added a new element to the band, and that’s booking in what was to become “Gilman Ska Night.” This night grew in popularity until LA was a regular departure point for bands heading to the Gilman, reaching across the United States and beyond. Pulling bands from Oregon to Mexico, all looking to participate in the ska nights. At this time, Tony worked with pioneers in the local scene like Jeff Armstrong, who has long roots at the Gilman in the punk and ska scene, and brother to Tim Armstrong of the famous punk band “Rancid,” along with band members with explosive energy and controversial performances like Mike Avilez of “Oppressed Logic.”

The Gilman has always been a destination for all ages, especially the youth, which has led famous names like Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day to donate to the venue. “When I first started, there weren’t as many bookers or a lot of help, and it was a struggle. That’s why we built up shows and brought a lot of new people, but, unfortunately, the kids around at that time weren’t inclined to help, and there were a lot of problems,” said Tony.

Between Jeff, Tony, and Josh, the first “Gilman Ska compilation” was released, giving away up to five hundred free CDs, with Vol. 2 soon-to-follow spotlighting bands like “Sarcasm,” ”Day Labor,” and “Shark Punch.”  The collaboration runs deep with Jokes For Feelings, as many musicians have played in the band. Some of these players were former Chabot Students like Angela Perez, who played horns and did backup vocals. Micheal Booker, another Chabot student, played saxophone and did backup vocals. The team-ups and support for other local ska bands, like “The Skunkadelics,” was well-known and thoroughly enjoyed by many, with members like former Chabot student Sean Funcheon, James Shane, David Marroquin Jr., and Jon Gonzales. Tony Two-Tone was even known to hand out free CDs at the Chabot campus to students.  

The most recent album for Jokes For Feelings was released in 2018, and since then, the crew has gotten busy with life. Tony has since left booking, but musicians and fans will remember Gilman Ska Nights for years to come. He is now a new father, increasingly busy, and joined by Josh and Billy, who are also fathers. They have since reunited for regularly scheduled practice sessions, which brings with it a level of excitement to return to just making good and fun music that people can enjoy.