Up in smoke: Why it’s time for DVC to take more action


Diablo Valley College has seen the effects of the Butte County fire engulf the campus in smoke (Luis Lopez/The Inquirer)

Editorial Board

Schools around the Bay Area have figured it out.

After the fires of Butte County have caused a path of destruction and in turn left the Bay Area surrounded in an evergrowing cloud of smoke, students at Diablo Valley College have been left to head to class while enduring the effects of inhaling smoke.

As of Nov. 15, 4CD has closed all campuses in the district at 3:00 p.m, saying campuses will be reopened on Monday, Nov. 19. With most classes on campus over by 3:00 p.m and most students having Fridays off from class, this poor attempt to show concern for students needs to be improved. If the district genuinely cared about it’s students, it would leave campuses closed until the air quality has shown a genuine improvement and it’s deemed safe for the general public to be outdoors again.

Las Positas College, Skyline College, Foothill College and even CSU East Bay have all realized that at the end of the day, a student’s health has to come above education.

As for DVC, that realization has yet to be seen by the administration. DVC President Susan Lamb has ignored pleas from ASDVC to close campus so that students aren’t forced to endure smoke levels that have now hit an air quality index number of 194, which is six points away from reaching a level of “hazardous” according to Weather Underground.” The AQI number in which every individual is affected by poor air quality is 180.

According to Weather Underground, the dominant pollutant tracked by its DVC station is a particle called PM2.5, which irritates the eyes, nose and respiratory system. This something that students should not have to endure simply because DVC isn’t taking the initiative to protect students.

In a meeting with ASDVC students, President Lamb has stated that the school will not be closed unless the administration receives affirmation from the state that the campus can be closed.

Lamb has also stated that students with health issues such as “asthma or other afflictions” should take their own situation into consideration and take the necessary measures to take care of themselves. Simply accommodating students that have specific health concerns is not enough.

At this point, the air quality is affecting everyone on campus, regardless of current health conditions. With finals fast approaching, and refusal from the school to close campus, students and faculty are left no choice but to come to class to teach and learn the necessary material to succeed. If students and faculty can’t afford to be canceling or missing classes, they are now forced to come to campus and inhale the smoke that other colleges have realized shouldn’t be consumed.

If DVC is not going to close campus until the air quality is determined to be safe, the least they could do is hand out protective respirators to students and faculty. Some students have taken action themselves and brought their own masks, however, the fact remains, students should not have to worry about smoke intake when coming to class.

DVC is not the only school at fault here. Los Medanos College and Contra Costa College have also left students exposed to smoke with no sign of closure as well. CCC’s current AQI is at 174, while LMC’s air quality is at 194.

It’s time for DVC along with the rest of the district to take action, and put students well being before anything else, rather than allowing students and faculty to suffer.