City College of San Francisco Wants Noncitizens To Vote in College Board Elections

Trustee Alan Wong announced the plan for allowing international students to participate in board elections in early December.

College campus
City College of San Francisco leaders put forward a plan to allow noncitizens to vote for its elected officials. | File Photo/Ingleside Light

City College of San Francisco is putting forward a policy at its December governance meeting to allow non-citizen City College students to vote in Board of Trustee elections.

The announcement was made several months after the First District Court of Appeals upheld the city’s non-citizen voting program, which allows non-citizen parents of children living in San Francisco to continue voting in school board elections, in August. For City College students, they would need to be enrolled in classes in the previous or current academic year and also need to meet other existing qualifications to vote, namely being at least 18 years old and a San Francisco resident.

“It would get students invested in their education and increase participation and involvement,” Wong said in a news release. “Many students at City College are newly arrived immigrants seeking skills and opportunity in a new country and encouraging them to participate in our democracy adds a new dimension to their education.”

There were over 53,000 students enrolled in the college during the 2019-2020 academic year and over 25,000 enrolled for credit during the 2021-2022 academic year according to the college’s institutional metrics. It’s estimated that over a third of those students in 2019-2020 were born outside of the United States, Wong said.

The policy, however, doesn’t go unopposed. James Lacey, founder of the United States Justice Foundation, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he believes this to be a political stunt and doesn’t see how “letting Chinese citizens vote in their board elections would help solve their real problems.”

Wong countered that all enrolled students regardless of where their from should have a say in school governance and he doesn’t think foreign governments are looking to enroll and infiltrate City College communities just to vote for the college board.

The policy decision will move on to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as a potential charter amendment before putting it on the ballot for San Francisco voters.

“For me this is about making sure that all of our students have a voice regardless of their citizenship status and empowering them and we’ve shown that when City College takes a position on something, we’ve been able to make change,” Wong said at the meeting.

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