February 16, 2021
To the CCSF and Forum Community,
The English Department and the Creative Writing program at City College wish to extend our apologies to all of you who attended Alan Chazaro’s poetry reading on Thursday, February 11th. We felt honored to have Alan read for us since, in addition to being a talented poet, he attended community college and went on to write about growing up in the Bay Area as a Mexican American. Alan received the Lawrence Ferlinghetti Scholarship at the University of San Francisco because of his focus on and commitment to social justice issues in America, and it is clear he is someone that many of us can see ourselves in and that he is a truly inspirational man.
In fact, Alan represents much of what we stand for at City College—a commitment to social equity and diversity. We are proud of our tradition of presenting writers of all races, ethnicities, and gender identities. For this reason, the attack on the reading that occurred when a group of intruders disrupted and insulted the poet and viewers, represents an assault on our values. As you may know, the group took over the Zoom screen and projected racist and pornographic images while they verbally attacked all present in the chat. This was a hate filled act that has no place at any college, let alone City College. City College’s Visiting Writers’ Series is about inclusivity and about presenting diverse voices that will help students, faculty, and Bay Area residents build a supportive and inclusive community based on love and acceptance.
We wish to extend deep and heartfelt thanks to Alan Chazaro for the generous gift of his poems and much gratitude to our audience for their patience and support. It was amazing to hear students immediately reject the intruders’ hate and turn to highlighting the connections they could make to his life and poems. It was inspiring to hear many of you mentioning favorite passages.
We strongly condemn these racial attacks on our presenter and audience members. After reflecting on the intrusion, we have made the following changes to how our online Visiting Writers’ Series events will be managed:
· All participants will be muted throughout the events and will be individually unmuted if they have raised their hand during the Q and A.
· Participants will not be able to change their screen names during an event.
· Participants will not be able to screenshare.
· At least one faculty member will manage the waiting room and settings while another hosts the event.
· All faculty hosting or cohosting a reading will be trained to manage disruptions.
· Chat may be restricted to the host only and disabled entirely if abused.
· Removed participants will not be able to rejoin the event.
· Members of the public will be required to register for the event with their full name and email address before receiving the Zoom link and password.
· Participants without first and last names in their profile will not be allowed in the meeting.
· Any attendee who attempts to disrupt the event will be reported to Zoom and our IT department as well as CCSF administrators.
We hope that all of you—and anyone who attends any of the English Department’s future events—will feel safe knowing that we have put in place measures to ensure that such intrusion will never occur again. We are dedicated to bringing a diverse range of writers—writers of all races, gender identifications, and religions—who honor inclusivity and the power of literature to bring people together in the spirit of love—and never hate.
CCSF Creative Writing Program and English Department