Student interest high for City College’s first Fall Fest

The promise of a $500 incentive draws students to the first in-person, campus-wide event

Students walk across a concrete square surrounded by buildings at San Diego City College

San Diego City College students walk through Schwartz Plaza in front of the A Building, where Fall Fest will take place on December 8.

San Diego City College officials recently announced an event called Fall Fest, slated to take place on campus on Dec. 8, during which $75,000 in aid money will be given to students to entice attendance at the first campus-wide event since the COVID-19 shutdown. 

Fall Fest is described as a food and festival event, combined with a two-hour study jam session.

According to San Diego City College officials, emails promoting the event were sent to approximately 10,000 registered students. 

As of noon on Tuesday, at least 500 people had registered for the event, but only 150 will receive the $500 in student aid.

At a time when community college enrollment is down across the country, City College officials are turning to financial incentives to attract students back to campus.

According to City College Public Information Officer Cesar Gumapas, the event has been in the works the past few months, “but we wanted to have more buzz around it, so that’s why we included the disbursement of funds for the first 150 students,” he said.

A critical question is which students actually received City’s announcement of Fall Fest, let alone information regarding the incentive. As San Diego Community College District students currently do not hold official college emails, the dissemination of information is proving to be challenging and spotty.

After an email sent to faculty on Dec. 3, some students were informed by their instructors about the event. Some City students also received a series of emails sent by City Outreach, but the communication did not reach all enrolled students. 

The first of the emails on Monday informed students of the need to register before attending the event, while the email sent out on Tuesday included an addendum in fine print informing students that in-person registration would not be available and online registration will close at 11:59 pm tonight. 

With 24% of SDCCD students attending classes at two or three campuses, many may not be receiving emails from City College at all.

In the past SDCCD campuses have relied on a district-wide emergency app called LiveSafe, originally intended for informing students of safety concerns, to spread other types of pertinent announcements such as the bi-monthly Hunger Action Drive. This time the app was not used. 

According to a poll of City Times Media students, more than half did not receive an email from City Outreach and were informed instead by their instructors. None have the app. One student found the email in their spam folder.

The funds, which will be available to City College students currently enrolled for the fall semester — whether online or in-person — will be available within four to six weeks, likely in the form of credit through financial aid, Gumapas said. He was unsure whether the funds could still be used by students finishing their last semester at City.

Fall Fest is scheduled to take place in the week leading up to finals. 

“We’re hoping students will connect with our tutors in the English Center, the Math Center, and also get something to eat, enjoy some music and just have a good time,” Gumapas said, “try to bring back the college experience that we had before COVID.” 

There will also be a spring enrollment session, a campus tour, tutoring, and time and space for students to prepare for finals, Gumapas said.

The check-in location will be in Schwartz Plaza in front of the A Building.

To be eligible for the funds, students must register and attend the event. Students will have to check-in and provide proof of vaccination or exemption and proof of a negative COVID test within the last 72 hours.

Link to register: