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Bill to make Lunar New Year a state holiday in CA city colleges announced today

by Akemi Tamanaha, Associate Editor

California community colleges may have a day off to celebrate Lunar New Year in the future if a new bill is passed. Assemblymember Phil Ting and City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees President Alan Wong announced a bill Tuesday morning that would give community colleges the option to make Lunar New Year a state holiday.

AB 264 would give students the opportunity to celebrate Lunar New Year without missing class. The bill offers community colleges the flexibility to observe Lunar New Year as a state holiday without increasing the number of days schools are closed. This means that community colleges could come up with solutions like combining Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays into one holiday and adding Lunar New Year as another holiday.

Ting unveiled the bill at the lobby of the City College of San Francisco’s Chinatown/North Beach campus. First, he spoke briefly about the tragic shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay that claimed the lives of several Asian Americans.

“This year particularly is the Year of the Rabbit. The rabbit that’s obviously a very peaceful creature, so we were looking very much forward to a quiet New Year where we’re ushering prosperity, love, good fortune. And unfortunately, we’ve had some really horrible news over the last couple of days,” Ting said.

“I just wanted to start by issuing our condolences to all the victims, all the families and the communities in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay…” he added.

Ting noted that his children attend San Francisco Public schools, where many children are given the day off for Lunar New Year because of the large AAPI student population in the district.

AAPI community college students are hoping they will get the same opportunity. In September, Wong successfully lobbied the City College’s Board of Trustees to approve a resolution urging the state legislature to change the education code and allow students to observe Lunar New Year as a state holiday.

“We want to make sure that our students, our faculty and staff are no longer having to decide between going to class, studying or celebrating with their family,” Wong said.

Wong also thanked and acknowledge the AAPI students who fought for a resolution like AB 264.

Lingyi Li, President of the Chinese Culture Club at the City College of San Francisco and an international student from Canton, understands how important it is for Asian students to have a day-off to celebrate together.

“That’s why I’m here to speak for all the Asian students and hoping that our new immigrant and immigrant students remember their culture and remember this important day,” she said at the press conference.

AB 264 has been introduced to the legislature and is waiting to be referred to committee. It has until September to pass through all the necessary processes in the Assembly and the Senate before it can be signed into law by the Governor.

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