Campus community prepares for remainder of semester


Brandon McCapes

The sun rises over a smoky sky at SRJC on Monday Oct. 9.

Brandon McCapes, Deputy News Editor

Parts of the Santa Rosa and Petaluma campuses opened on Wednesday to offer support services to students, staff and community members affected by the North Bay fires, with a community event called SRJC Strong planned for Thursday night.

The devastating fires that raged since Oct. 8 took the homes of at least 400 students and 50 staff, displacing many more through mandatory and advisory evacuations and closing the campus for two weeks.

Students can come to campus to access all services the college provides in Bertolini Hall this week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in addition to shower access in Tauzer Hall and access the internet in the library.

The campus will host an event called SRJC Strong from 7-9 p.m. Thursday night to help bring the community together to heal. The event will provide free food, massages and resources to students, staff and community members affected by the fire.

President Frank Chong said, “We’re really working hard to try to get the students ready to come back. We have mental health services and grant applications for students who have lost their homes and are homeless now.”

“We thank them for their patience, and I hope they understand that this is a once-in-a-lifetime catastrophic event so it’s not business and usual,” Chong said. “Even when we come back, it won’t be business as usual.”

SRJC’s Culinary arts program will host a “Sonoma Family Meal,” supplying hot meals to anyone in need from noon to 2 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. Oct 18-22 in the parking lot at 1700 Mendocino Ave.

Faculty and staff have encouraged students to return on Oct. 23 despite hardships they faced in the fires, stressing the the school will work with students to help them complete the semester.

“We are going to bend over backwards to make sure students can do what they need to do to get through this semester,” said Ellen Maremont Silver, SRJC Director of Communications. We’re not giving up on this semester. We’re all in this together.”

Dean of Instruction Mary Kay Rudolph is working with academic departments to decide which course material can be cut due to the two-week closure while still providing students with the necessary tools and skills they need.

Rudolph stressed the importance of students returning to complete the semester. “Don’t think you have to quit,” she said. “We will do everything we can to help you. I know it feels overwhelming, and you’ve missed two weeks and maybe you were riding a D to begin with, but we’re here and we want to help you succeed.Don’t give up on your dreams—we will help you.”