On their first day of school this week at embattled City College of San Francisco, three Chinese-speaking students practiced an unfamiliar English phrase as they crossed the quad: "Save - City - College."
They picked it up at a raucous noon rally where T-shirts, banners and speakers made it clear that saving the school from closure by the regional accrediting commission will be the main extracurricular activity on campus this year.
"We've got to reverse this madness!" cried Ethan Davidson, a graduate who took the mike to tell the crowd of students he'd earned an associate degree for free years earlier, and then got certificates in HIV testing and counseling for a fraction of the $46-a-unit charged today.
But what "saving City College" will look like is the heavy question hanging over California's largest public school, with its 85,000 students, nine campuses and 100 to 200 "instructional sites" around the city.