With the Year of the Rabbit underway, California’s community colleges may soon have the option to make Lunar New Year (LNY) as a state holiday, under a bill announced today by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). AB 264 gives community college districts the flexibility to observe LNY without increasing the number of days schools are closed. For example, they can combine Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays as one holiday and add LNY as another.
“With hate incidents against the Asian American Pacific Islander community still happening, a Lunar Year holiday for college students would be beneficial. It gives them a time to reflect on the special significance of this celebration and to encourage acceptance. We’re better as a society when we create opportunities for communities to learn about each other,” said Ting.
AB 264 comes months after City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees President Alan Wong successfully passed a resolution urging the state Legislature to amend the California Community College Education Code to allow the LNY observance.
"Lunar New Year is the most widely observed holiday for families in California's Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, but our Asian and immigrant community college students have had to decide between going to class or celebrating with their parents and grandparents. At a time when the Asian community is still reeling from hate-motivated incidents, this is our opportunity to promote cultural understanding and support the Asian community,” said Wong.
“Celebrating Lunar New Year would provide me time during the school year to reconnect with my family in China,” said Lingyi Li, an international student at City College and president of the City College Chinese Culture Club. “It would allow me time to reflect on my culture, history, and spend time calling and meeting with friends and family.”
Ting has been a leader in helping to meet the needs of California AAPIs at the state level. As hate crimes against Asians increased because of COVID, it became increasingly clear California has not invested in these communities. As Assembly Budget Chair, he fought for AAPI Equity Budget and additional investments for his district to strengthen cultural resources. He has also championed various legislation to address hate, including greater civil rights protections and improvements to the way law enforcement handle hate crimes.
AB 2596 (Low) was signed into law last year, declaring LNY as a state holiday for state employees, but it does not apply to community college districts. Hearings for AB 264 should begin in the Spring.