Mills projects a community service image, from the Institute for Civic Leadership to the number of internships and non-profit job postings that decorate the bulletin boards in the Career Center. But the College obscures and overlooks its Oakland home and associates itself with Berkeley and San Francisco.
While prospective students are told that Mills is located in “the heart” of the San Francisco Bay Area, the College’s neighborhood in Oakland continues to be neglected in its inclusion in campus life and the College’s promotion of the city to its students.
The glossy brochures sent to new students give the impression that San Francisco and Berkeley are just a hop, skip, and a jump away. But, without a car, students are looking at at least an hour to cross the Bay and up to eight dollars for a round-trip BART ticket.
Currently the College does little to assist students in exploring and spending money in Oakland, with its two-stop shuttle. Students can use the AC Transit buses, but it’s expensive: $70.00 for a
Instead of emphasizing its proximity to Berkeley and San Francisco, Mills should make more of an effort to promote and celebrate its own city. It’s hypocritical to say that Mills is community-oriented while it does not support Oakland’s businesses and cultural life except for shuttling students to a decidedly upper-middle class neighborhood bordering Berkeley.
For instance, the Laurel and Dimond districts are full of interesting shops and inexpensive-but-delicious restaurants, Fruitvale is grocery store paradise, and the Grand Lake, downtown and Temescal areas can provide students plenty of entertainment without sending them on a costly trip to other cities, while infusing our city with resources it needs.
Adding a shuttle stop or two closer to campus, subsidizing bus passes, and encouraging students to support local businesses are some possible ways of enacting the claim that Mills cares about what happens to its community outside the gates. Making it clear in our advertising that we are not located in San Francisco or Berkeley, and clear in our actions that we love Oakland despite its problems would truly be community-oriented behavior.