October 2003 Archives
The nine candidates in this year’s mayoral race each bring different strengths and perspective to the table. In the interest of bringing the students closer to these candidates, [X]press writers and photographers followed the top eight candidates around their campaigns. The Matt Gonzalez campaign granted our staff the most access to its events, and the length and depth of his audio-visual profile reflects this. Other candidates, like Gavin Newsom, were not so receptive to our project. His profile is text- and photo-based.
On Monday, Oct. 27, [X]press also co-sponsored a mayoral forum with the Society of Professional Journalists, during which each of the nine candidates addressed SF State students and their questions.
Please take the time to view these candidate profiles by clicking on the "MEET THE MAYORS" button to the right. We hope that these profiles bring our readers closer to these interesting candidates and can help them to make informed decisions at the polls on election day, Nov. 4.
Halloween in San Francisco will never be the same.
Centered in the Castro, Oct. 31 is usually a night of carousing and abandon, attracting revelers from all over America. It's a night that brings out San Francisco’s wild side, a night when authorities usually turn a blind eye to public intoxication and other minor lawlessness. Usually.
In the wake of last year’s five stabbings and other assorted violence and chaos, the city is cracking down on one of America’s most famous street parties with a series of draconian new measures that include closed liquor stores, more police officers and more than three miles of police barricades.
This is also the first year that the event is being sponsored by several large corporations. Companies like Wells Fargo, Clear Channel and Anheuser-Bush are contributing to the cost of the event, which includes four entertainment stages. As attendees enter the area through one of the 14 police monitored gates, they will be asked for a voluntary contribution of $3.
According to San Francisco Police Department spokesmen, there will be a record amount of undercover police officers roaming the streets on Friday, ready to give anyone with an open container a ticket up to $90. Anything resembling a weapon, even if it's part of a costume, will be immediately confiscated by the police.
The mayor’s office, Board of Supervisors and the SFPD are working in conjunction to make this Halloween an alcohol-free night. District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty is the driving force behind what police spokesman Dewayne Tully described as “a bit of a crackdown.”
Tully admitted, “It’s obviously wishful thinking to think that nobody is going to be on the streets drinking that night, but we’re going to take every measure possible to control the evening as much as possible.”
"Controlling the evening" also includes calling a halt to the festivities and dispersing any crowds by midnight, an unusual measure for an event that usually carries on until at least two or three o’clock in the morning.
The Castro Muni station will be closed by 8 p.m. to prevent overcrowding, but BART will extend its hours to the East Bay until 1 a.m., all in an effort to take control of what was once a spontaneous event completely unfettered by the authorities.
“I had been planning on going this year, but now, forget it, it’s going to be stupid – and boring,” said Mark Defoe, a senior biology major at SF State. Defoe has gone to the Castro on Halloween for the last three years.
Others were a little more positive about the new measures, but still expressed reservations.
“I think it’s good that they’re making it safer, last year it felt really out of control and ugly, but it's too bad that they couldn’t have found a way to make it safer and still retain the sense of freedom that Halloween night has in San Francisco – I may just skip it this year,” said Zoe Lampard, a Sophomore liberal studies major at SF State.
Robert Raul of SF State’s Queer Alliance said, “Safety wasn’t a big concern of mine last year. OK, five people were stabbed, but that’s only five among thousands – but since I don’t really like drinking in public anyway I think its cool to have no drinking, and the city’s spending money on this anyway, so I think its OK.”
Over 300,000 people are expected to attend the festivities this year.
Alongside the vital medical care the Student Health Center provides to the nearly 30,000 students at SF State, the school-funded center puts an emphasis on providing health education and preventive care -- but these services are in jeopardy if the center doesn't receive a much-needed increase in funding, officials from Student Health Services said.
Despite the recent cutbacks and a stagnant budget, Student Health Services hosted a steady flow of students for their annual health fair Wednesday. Hundreds of students took advantage of free services, how-to demonstrations and informational booths on topics ranging from HIV prevention to stress management.
Health Educator and event coordinator Eva Wise feels that the fair not only brings attention to the center and the extensive and mostly free services it provides, but also is a great reminder of what students can do to avoid health risks.
"A lot of things we offer are free and it is good because in general a lot of what the Student Health Center does is to help young people take care of themselves," Wise said.
Arturo Gomez, a nursing student, feels the center needs to publicize its events and services more.
"It would be helpful if the health center provided more information or a reminder," Gomez said. "The health center is very important. If you have an emergency you should come here. Especially if you live on campus, you should come here for problems that can be prevented."
Free services at the fair included flu vaccinations, HIV tests, body fat and bone density measurements, along with educational information on healthy eating and overall good nutrition.
"I came in to get nutritional advice. I lost a lot of weight and I'm trying to gain it back," said Sally Morey, a special education major. "I was missing things and they spelled it out for me."
According to Wise, the fair was held at no cost to the center, which has felt the burden of campus-wide budget cuts over the last year. The center has lost its psychologist, seen the number of full and part-time physicians dwindle and has not received a cost of living increase in 11 years.
The center is funded by student money, which is included in each semester's fees. Currently students pay $84 a semester, up from $60 last year, and there is a referendum to raise the fee to $114 starting next year.
Marie Schafle, medical director of the center, fears if more money does not come in, more services will suffer.
"The hardest thing to provide is psychological treatment. Our psychologist disappeared because of the budget crunch," Schafle said. "Right now if you don't have a gun in your hand, you can't get treatment."
Schafle has tried to coordinate care with the county, but she said San Francisco Health and Human Services, like most publicly funded programs, is facing its own crunch.
Despite the tight financial situation, Wise feels the nearly 60 employees at the center are providing a great service to the campus.
"We still give the same quality of healthcare to students," she said.
The deadline is 5 p.m.
Lailie Ibrahim’s story came in at 4 p.m.
On Wednesday, Sept.3, when [X]Press newspaper’s staff members and editors alike were rushing to make last-minute changes, one loaded word slipped through unscathed: "martyrs."
That word caught the attention of three members of the Israel Coalition: Rebecca Greenberg, Shanie Kletter and Paul Ratner.
On Sept. 4, the issue hit the stands. Ibrahim’s story, "A summer of intensity in Palestine," follows three women who journey to the Middle East to teach art, drama and music to children. The word in question appears on page nine, "… the trio traveled to Nablus where the NGOs set them up with a support group called ‘Women to Women,’ a group of about 30 women family members of martyrs in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."
Kletter read the story the day it came out.
The Coalition waited almost a month before contacting Editor-in-Chief Liz Harrelson with their grievance. "We thought there would be a correction or letter to the editor, or a story on the other side. We gave it some time," Kletter said.
On Oct.8 the three met with the entire [X]press newspaper staff, including adviser Austin Long-Scott, to discuss their objection to the word and other concerns about the lack of coverage of the Israel Coalition.
The main problem they had with the word was that there was no explanation of its meaning. The three believe that most readers think the word describes someone who dies for a good cause and is elevated to sainthood.
"We didn’t think it was appropriate journalism that it was being reported that way," said Greenberg, a 20-year-old psychology major.
Justin Thompson, the arts and entertainment editor, pointed out that the word describes someone who dies for a cause--not necessarily a good cause.
The story, along with its loaded word, made it to print despite Ibrahim’s early uncertainties.
"It was a sensitive thing that Lailie didn’t want to write about because she is Palestinian," said Christine Yee, news editor.
"We did talk about the sensitivity of some of the words," said Ibrahim, 23. Another option was the phrase "suicide bomber," which Ibrahim was also reluctant to use.
"Either word we could have used would have upset someone," she said.
Ibrahim said the use of the word stemmed from the three women she interviewed in the story. "All of them used it," she said.
Yee admitted the word should have been in quotation marks.
"I actually avoided the use of the word ‘martyr’ in the caption," said photo editor Martin Jimenez.
Jimenez felt uneasy about the word from the start.
Not all staff members regretted the use of a loaded word. LeAnn Floyd, 24, believes that removing loaded words from stories would be taking away writers’ tools.
"Just because a word is loaded, does that mean we can’t use it?" she said.
The Israel Coalition trio also questioned the use of the word "Palestine" referring to its own nation. Though the West Bank area was mentioned in the story, the three would have liked Ibrahim to be a bit more specific about certain regions, including Gaza.
"How many people know that West Bank is Palestine?" Thompson asked.
"It just needed a little clarification," said Kletter, a biology major. According to Greenberg, Kletter and Ratner, referring to Palestine as a nation implies that Israel is dominating another country. Though a conflict is evident, Greenberg said Israel is acting within its own boundaries.
"This issue with the newspaper has been going on for years," said Greenberg, who’s been at SF State for three years. Kletter said the newspaper has printed biased articles in the past.
"The newspaper is our campus media," said Ratner, a BECA major, "When the newspaper is loud about Palestine, it quiets the Jewish community."
Despite feeling quieted at times, Kletter felt their messages were received loud and clear.
"I thought it seemed like they were getting a little defensive," Kletter said, reflecting on the meeting. "For the most part we were well heard."
"We appreciated being heard by the entire staff, not just the editors," Greenberg added. The three realized that communication is a two-way street. Greenberg gladly accepted when Reinalyn Ramos, life editor, handed her a list of contact names and numbers for [X]Press staff members.
Despite the controversy, Ibrahim stands by her story.
"I thought it was a good story," she said, "I’m glad, as a journalist, that I got to do the story. I’m sorry they objected."
"I thought the meeting was productive," Ibrahim continued. When writing stories in the future, Ibrahim said she’d keep this meeting in mind.
The [X]press newspaper staff and the members of the Israel Coalition parted ways, agreeing that the meeting was a necessary and positive experience.
"I though it was a very good discussion," said Vince Laus, managing editor. "This is all a learning experience for everyone."
It’s official; the voters of California have spoken.
In what can only be described as a landslide victory for “The Terminator,” California voters turned out in droves to fire Gov. Gray Davis and replace him with Hollywood mega-star Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Now that the dust has settled, how did SF State students contribute to this historic election, or did they contribute at all?
If the on-campus voter registration drive was any indication of students who exercised their right to vote on Oct. 7, it is clear this election peaked the interest of a large group of students. In an e-mail sent to the campus community, President Corrigan expressed his satisfaction with the voter registration drive exceeding all expectations.
In total, there was a near 50 percent increase in students who registered to vote during this year’s voter registration drive compared to last year’s figures. Overall, 1,375 students became registered voters during the 2003 voter registration drive, compared to 922 students who registered in last year’s drive, according to an article written by the SF State public affairs office.
Although voter turnout was huge during this election, there were individuals such as James Sakkis, who decided to stay away from the polls on election day. Sakkis, a 21-year-old business major did not feel familiar enough with the issues at hand. He felt it was better to not vote at all than to “vote wrong.”
"Now that Arnold is elected, I think that he might mean well, but as far as skill and what he’ll be able to do for the state, he'll have to prove himself," Sakkis said. “It might be a joke that Arnold is governor unless he does something right, and I hope he can."
Sakkis is not alone in his hopes that Schwarzenegger succeeds in being a first-rate governor. Judging from poll results there were 3,747,446 Californians who cast their vote believing that Schwarzenegger is the best man for the job. It was these voters who comprised nearly 50 percent of the voting pool, according to the Secretary of State’s Web site.
In stark contrast, San Francisco and a majority of other Bay Area counties opposed the recall in large numbers. In San Francisco County the recall was shot down by 80.3 percent of votes. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante received 63.2 percent of the votes here while Schwarzenegger received 19.1 percent.
Vicky Knoop was one such voter who joined the quest in stopping the recall. Knoop, a 21-year-old double major in art and urban studies, opposed the recall and voted for Lt. Gov. Bustamante.
"I think the whole recall is pretty ridiculous. Arnold is less qualified than a lot of the other candidates," Knoop said. "It's a huge step back for supposedly one of the most liberal states in the nation to have a republican governor, even though he is rather moderate."
In discussing why she opposed Schwarzenegger, Knoop said that she was not happy with his proposed tax policies. She also feels that higher income earners should be taxed more, especially when people who make less money are paying a higher percentage of their salary to taxes.
Knoop's overall outlook on the recall was that it made the state look juvenile because it was unprofessional and wasted money.
"Now that it's over I feel like it's not going to be local and state fighting against the federal,” she said. "It's now local fighting against state fighting against federal."
A rare find on campus is Sean Kunz, a 23-year-old marketing student who voted in favor of the recall. Despite his support for the recall, he opposed Schwarzenegger and instead voted for Sen. Tom McClintock.
"Arnold could not give a specific budget plan," Kunz said. "He didn't convince me that he is capable of running the sixth-largest economy in the world."
Kunz felt that Gov. Davis made a huge mistake when he drove California's surplus budget into the red zone. Kunz decided to vote for McClintock because, out of all the candidates, he seemed most qualified to fix the problems in the state.
"With Arnold in the race it didn't seem like the other candidates got a chance to be noticed or heard because of all the media attention that he got," Kunz said. "It seems like he at least chose his advisors well, being that there are some Democrats and some Republicans, but I really hope he does well."
With the recall over, and governor-elect Schwarzenegger primed to take office any day now, it seems that Kunz may have it right and that all anyone can do is hope for a better tomorrow in California's future.
Many students have become outraged at what is now known as the "watermelon incident." Whether viewed as a prank gone wrong or an intentional hate crime, the incident in question has compelled many students to re-evaluate not only their safety but race relations on campus.
Three female students nicknamed the "triple threat" passed a watermelon left over from a picnic amongst their friends in Mary Park Hall, said Kenneth Monteiro, SF State Dean of Human Relations. After being autographed by the group, the decaying watermelon was put into the hall where it eventually ended up in front of Aminat Nicol's door. Nicol, a black student, viewed the watermelon as a symbolic racial attack and was deeply offended by its implications.
To many, this incident has become part of larger group of racially charged events that have transpired in an already tense environment. Before the "watermelon incident," two other black females living in the dorms received anonymous notes bearing racist remarks.
It should be mentioned that at this stage in the investigation, Monteiro said that there is no evidence linking the "triple threat" to any of these incidents.
After the incident was made public, the "triple threat" were verbally threatened by a group of students. As a result, school officials moved the girls to an undisclosed location for their safety.
Many students were dismayed upon hearing the news that the accused were removed from the dorms in order to provide protection from future threats or possible retaliation. They feel that the dorm administration has not taken full responsibility in the matter.
"I didn't like how the accused were moved from their rooms," said Tania Morales, a member of the Raza Student Organization. "Residency assistants should get fired for not being able to do anything about it."
News of the incident spread fast, even reaching students who spend little time on campus. Many, like Flor Perez were stunned by the incidents, as well as what he sees as a total lack of disciplinary action towards the accused.
"I'm utterly shocked by this incident, especially that it happened at SFSU," said Perez. "There should be an investigation by an independent committee to determine what really goes on inside in the dorms."
Other students feel the situation was not only mishandled by dorm administrators but by university officials as a whole.
"I'm pissed off that the university hasn't done anything directly to the perpetrators," said Sasha Benet, a political science major. "If the ethnic backgrounds were switched to where the African-American women were the aggressors, they probably would've been expelled from the university already."
In dealing with this type of reaction from students, Monterio suggested students make sure they have all the facts straight before telling the story. "We have two groups of people with two different experiences and one watermelon," he said. "You have to step back and look at this because both experiences are legitimate."
"The misinformation is natural, dangerous and emotionally painful because then they're (students) encouraged to act in inappropriate behavior," said Monteiro. "Misinformation can serve as an additional insult to the community because it's a hurtful thing."
However, Monterio continued by saying, "The women who refer to themselves as the "triple threat" probably saw it as funny to pass around a watermelon, but people need to understand that they're living around others with different experiences."
The question then becomes how do groups of students from various backgrounds gain perspective and understanding about one another while living in close quarters such as the dorms.
For Sho'mane Ture, a member of the Black Student Union (BSU), understanding is hard to find in such an inexperienced environment. "There is a policy that students living in the dorms have to move out at the age of 20, so a lot of students who have experienced racism are already gone," he said. "There's a gap and a repression of communication of students of color."
At the time of publication, dorm administrators could not be reached for a response to the above charges by students. However, Monterio stressed that dorm administrators were handling the situation in the most responsive way, not only through counseling but also by looking at what "emotional or sensitivity issues" dorm residents may have. Monterio stressed that above all, "we [the school] want people to feel safe."
Rather than feeling threatened, some students have used these incidents as an opportunity to educate students about diversity at SF State.
"We at PACE, would like to express our solidarity with other campus organizations against these racist acts,"said Valerie Francisco, the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor Head Coordinator. "With SF State having been a progressive campus for so long, my sentiment and feelings toward student organizers and people who are working toward social justice on campus has not changed."
Ture encourages students of color to come together to create and maintain safety at SF State.
"We need more unity among people of color. If we seclude ourselves we're mentally shutting ourselves down from surviving this campus," he said. "We need to be aware of each other's cultures."
However, some students find it hard to share in Ture's hope for understanding of the rich diversity that exists on campus. One such student is Ramon Acevedo, who is not that surprised that incidents of racism occur because he feels nobody really cares.
"This just shows how unaware we really are and that we still have a long way to go," said Acevedo. "We live in a society where racism is prevalent so this doesn't surprise me."
"Does anybody really care? Or is this going to be another thing that happened?" asked Acevedo.
It looks as if Acevedo will have to wait for his answer until the investigation has concluded. At this time no actions have been taken until school officials can determine whether or not a hate crime has been committed.
"Good, bad, or indifferent, hate as an emotion is not illegal or against policy," said Monteiro. "This may sound obvious to some or surprising to others, but many people talk as if they believe people can be arrested for hating, or saying 'I hate you'. The specific question then is whether or not a crime has been committed."
Regardless of the outcome, this incident will continue to resonate with Ture. "It is traumatizing to experience such an attack," he said. "I not only see it as an attack on one person, but on me, my identity."
Maurice Davis had been studying in a secluded area on the third floor of the library before going to his afternoon class last week. The outdated laptop Davis owned was old and heavy and he didn’t feel like lugging it around with him all day. Since Davis hadn’t seen anyone near him, he thought it would be safe to leave his laptop alone for a few hours.
He was wrong.
When Davis returned to the library after class he found that his laptop had been stolen.
“It surprised me,” said Davis, an SF State biology major. “I really thought it would be safe.”
The theft of Davis’ laptop is just one in a number of thefts that have taken place in the library this semester. Students lulled into a false sense of security while studying are discovering their wallets, backpacks and purses missing.
“We’ve had cases of people sleeping in the library who have woken up to find their stuff missing. Cases where people wearing backpacks that were partially open having stuff stolen out of it as they were walking,” said Matt Blevin, building coordinator for the library.
“People are very trusting at the library. That’s not wisest thing to be.”
According to campus police, thieves are looking for targets of opportunity. They will patrol the library casing out the study areas for unattended backpacks, computers or purses. In one case, a student left for the bathroom and came back to find her purse missing. Although she had been sitting in a crowded area in the periodicals/microforms department of the library, no one around her had realized she was being robbed. Witnesses said a man sat down for a few seconds at the woman’s spot with a dictionary and then left.
“The library is a big target for thieves,” said Dave Waldron, supervisor of the periodicals/microforms department, which is one of the hardest hit areas of the library. “It’s a large place and it’s easy to disappear.”
Waldron said that fall semesters usually have more thefts than spring or summer semesters. Although he does not know why this is, Waldron suspects that it might have to do with the influx of new students every fall, many who do not yet know the dangers in the library.
Reflecting on the recent thefts, campus police find themselves frustrated because many of the crimes are going unreported by students. Although all of the library staff interviewed for this article said that there have been a large amount of thefts this semester, only five have been reported to the campus police.
According to campus police, students’ reluctance to report these crimes hampers investigations into the matter. “The most important thing for people to do is to report the thefts. That way we’ll be able to see if there is a trend,” said Sergeant Jennifer Schwartz.
However, many students feel that reporting the thefts are merely a waste of time. “Students are busy, and the police have other priorities they have to deal with before taking theft reports,” said Blevin about student reluctance to report the crimes. “Students don’t have time to wait.”
Campus police are trying to combat the problem by patrolling the library daily and leaving notes on unattended backpacks warning students, “take your valuables with you.”
Despite the warnings, students are still leaving their valuables unattended.
Casey Mills, a SF State student who works in the periodicals department, often sees backpacks and purses on tables and chairs with no one around them. Mills and other library staff have been told to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity and report anything they find unusual. Mills once observed a middle-aged man peaking over cabinets and through bookshelves at tables that might have unattended backpacks.
Although some library staff talked to for this story admitted they had seen suspicious activity, the police still do not have a suspect or know if the thefts are the work of one individual or several.
“People are too trusting,” said Mills, who tries to warn students about the dangers. “They feel they are coming to a safe place. They’re wrong.”
Members of the Afrikan Residents Association held a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 2 demanding that the Housing and Residential Services staff be held accountable for the sluggish progress in disciplining those accused of committing hate crimes against three black residents last month in Mary Park Hall.
The conference was the culmination of nearly a month of tension that has seen accusations, counter-accusations and threats that threaten to tear the residential community apart.
But even as university officials scramble to allay the fears of threatened residents, they are still at a loss to explain exactly what happened or who was responsible.
According to freshman Aminat Nicol, on Sept. 8 three female residents of Mary Park Hall, who were dubbed the “triple threat” by one of their fathers, left a watermelon in front of her door. After reporting the incident to her resident assistant, she said the girls received a “verbal admonishment.”
“The perpetrators of this racist and offensive act continue to live in the dorm. Since this incident, however, I have been subjected to daily intimidation by the offending parties,” Nicol said in a statement she read during the press conference.
“When I complained of this situation to university authorities, I was asked if I want to leave the dorm. It appears that the administrators of this institution are willing to tolerate acts of racism, placing the burden not on the perpetrators but on those to whom the acts are directed,” she said.
But according to Director of Residential Life DJ Morales, since the initial incident, the whole situation has been “fraught with misinformation.”
“I’m the one who bought the damned thing. That’s how the watermelon came into the community," Morales said.
She said that the watermelon was one of many food items purchased for a picnic and was among a bunch of leftover food.
The “triple threat” kind of adopted the watermelon and treated it like their baby. They decorated the fruit with Sharpie-designed pictures and their aformentioned title. After a while, the watermelon got cracked and began to rot so one of the three girls set it outside her door while she cleaned the juice off of her bed, Morales said.
“She put the watermelon outside of her door and when she came back, it was gone,” Morales said.
What exactly happened after that is unclear, but Morales said that the watermelon was passed around and left outside of various rooms before ending up outside of Nicol’s room.
She said that when she heard of the incident she was upset and assumed that it was racial incident until she had a meeting with the girls and realized that they were unaware how the watermelon ended up in front of Nicol’s door, and didn’t understand why it was being considered a hate crime.
“They were totally clueless,” Morales said, “If you don’t know why this is offensive to somebody, why would you do this to somebody?”
The SF State Department of Public Safety defines a hate crime as being “Any act of intimidation, harassment, physical force directed against any person or family, or their property or advocate, motivated either in whole or in part by hostility to their ethnicity, race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability or political/religious beliefs with the intention of causing fear or intimidation or to deter the free exercise or enjoyment of any rights or privileges secure by the Constitution, the laws of the United States or the State of California.”
Watermelons have held a negative connotation in relation to blacks since the days of the “coon caricature.”
The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, located on the campus of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., describes the coon caricature as being born during American slavery. The Web site displays cartoons of blacks with exaggerated features engaging in stereotypical activities often associated with blacks such as eating watermelon.
Morales said that after meeting with the girls and Nicol, they apologized and things in the dorms were quiet.
“For that period of time, things were okay,” Morales said.
But on Sept. 16, someone wrote “Nigg” on the wall outside of Brandi Park’s door. A note with the same words was slipped under the door of freshman Leah Miller’s room the same day.
“And so they assumed that the women I had initially brought up were responsible,” Morales said.
Miller said she does not feel safe because someone had to be watching her in order to slip the note under her door while she was not there.
“I had been in my room all day long. I left maybe for an hour. When I got back to my room, the paper was there,” Miller said.
While investigating the “Nigg” incidents were being investigated by the SF State Police, Morales said the person who had actually left the watermelon outside of Nicol’s door came forward to let her know that she had done it accidentally and with no mal intent.
According to her, a girl who had recently moved into the residence halls, found the watermelon while doing laundry early one morning and decided to put it in front of her friend’s door as a joke. Being new to the residence halls, she apparently was not quite sure which room was her friend’s and left it outside of Nicol’s door by mistake. After realizing the misunderstanding caused by the mistake, she confided in Morales that she was the one who left the watermelon in front of the door.
On Sept. 23, Morales met with the Residence Hall Association to discuss the ongoing turmoil.
“One of the main frustrations (of the black residents) was they felt like nothing was being done,” Morales said.
But Morales said that she and many campus administrators have been tirelessly working to resolve the issue since it arose. The SF State Police are actively investigating the last two incidents and they have even brought in a handwriting expert to take writing samples. Also, President Robert Corrigan is updated regularly on how the situation is being handled.
Still, to most students present at the press conference, the recent incidents in the dorms were both surprising and upsetting.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that they are trying to remove these ladies who haven’t done anything,” said student Maya Sinley.
Although most were in agreement that the incidents should not be tolerated, there were varying viewpoints on the way that the situation should be handled.
A student who wanted to be referred to only as Violet was visibly irritated by the situation.
“This campus has a history of racism. I don’t think we can appeal to the administration,” she said. “We need to take this in our own hands, even if we have to make it so these girls don’t want to set foot on this campus.”
Deneen Jones of the Homeless Prenatal Program had a different idea about how to deal with the incidents.
"The difference between us and other races is they make other people accountable. What we need to do is take the anger and make them accountable for their actions,” Jones said.
Immediately following the press conference, a member of the “triple threat” was approached in her room by a group of black students and non-students and threatened by one of them.
“One man, who identified himself as not attending the university, came up to her in her face and said ‘I want you to know, if anything happens to those three sistas, I’m gonna fuck you up,'” Morales said. “Now I’m getting calls from parents asking me, ‘What are you going to do to keep my kid safe?’”
All three members of the “triple threat” have since been moved from the residence halls to an undisclosed location for their safety.
“There is nothing racial involved in this at all,” said a threatened member, who asked that her name not be used.
As far as the note and the writing on the wall, she said “I don’t like being accused of something I didn’t do.”
The topic was so heavy on everyone’s minds that it found its way into a number of discussions and programs throughout the day.
Reverend Jesse Jackson’s visit was clearly the most anticipated event of the day, but even it couldn’t escape the controversy.
“In a speech preceding Rev. Jackson’s appearance, ASI President Natalie Batista mentioned the racial incidents affecting SF State’s residential community.
“We are being bombarded with actors and hate crimes and porn stars,” Batista said while discussing issues that pertained to the election that took place Tuesday.
“I see people scared to stay in their dorm rooms. Reverend Jesse Jackson knows of such issues and will address them today,” Batista said.
And indeed he did. After his speech, Rev. Jackson briefly spoke in Malcolm X Plaza.
“Fight racism wherever it manifests itself,” he said. "If there is a case of racism on your campus, protest. Fight back. March.”
“Strong minds break strong chains,” said Rev. Jackson, “Don’t let them steal your joy.”
Morales agreed. She is in the process of setting up a consciousness-raising educational program.
“There is a tremendous lack of information about the cultural hot buttons,” Morales said.
Former ASI President Ronda Newt-Scott shared her interesting take on the issue during the press conference, stating that if blacks are okay with listening to music where racial epithets are thrown around then they have no right to be upset.
“Don’t throw your fist up in no solidarity and you’re bobbing your head to a song with nigga this and nigga that in it,” she said, “If you are a person of color and you hear that music, you should be offended.”
Morales said that at one of the meetings on the issue a black student made the comment, “What if we’re wrong? You know how we like to joke with each other. What if it was one of us? What happens then?”
If that is the case, she said, it is highly unlikely that what really happened will ever be uncovered.
“At this point, whoever did it, they can never come forward now,” Morales said. But there are no plans to stop aggressively pursuing the perpetrators of the last two incidents.
“If it was somebody who did this maliciously they need to be held accountable,” She said.
The investigation for who wrote the offensive word is still being actively pursued.
Reactions range from relieved to puzzled among SF State students and faculty members at the failure of a measure that would have ended the collection of racial information by California state agencies.
Proposition 54 would have made the collection of racial data by any state agency illegal, even if the agency’s method of collection was voluntary such as at SF State. Supporters of the measure said it would allow Californians to keep their race private and to be judged as citizens instead of by their race. Opponents of the measure said not collecting racial data makes it impossible to know where disparities exist in heatlh care, education, law enforcement and other areas.
Many provisional and absentee ballots have not been counted, but it appears that the measure has been defeated by a large margin. The Secretary of State’s office reports on its Web site that of the votes that have been counted, 64 percent of California voters voted against the proposition.
At SF State, opinions vary among some students and faculty as to the significance of the failure of the measure. Some don’t know what to make of the fact that while a Republican was elected governor with nearly 50 percent of the vote, a conservative-flavored ballot measure was so soundly rejected.
Sharon Richardson, a graduate student in social work, said she was very relieved that Proposition 54 failed.
“Not only would the passage have done away with our ability to serve everyone, but we would have reopened the doors to discrimination,” she said.
Richardson, 49, said the lack of racial information would have hindered social workers’ ability to do research, which in turn would affect funding for social programs. She said a specific group that would not have been served would be low-income single mothers, who are already not getting access to sufficient access to childcare and other supports. Proposition 54 would have only intensified these existing problems, she said.
Some students were unhappy that the measure failed. Robert Freeman, a physical therapy major, said that he thought Proposition 54 would have helped minorities be considered more equal in society, but that now inequalities would remain as they are.
Some of SF State’s faculty believe that the failure of the measure is part of a broad rejection of Ward Connerly’s ideas on how to deal with race. Connerly sponsored Proposition 54 and also in 1996 sponsored Proposition 209, which outlawed affirmative action by California state agencies.
“Connerly’s been put to rest as an aborted experiment – at least in California,” said Kenneth Monteiro, SF State’s dean of human relations. He said Californians are searching for a new way to understand race and racism and how it affects their lives. But voters realized that Connerly did not represent what they wanted, he said.
Some faculty and students expressed surprise that Proposition 54 lost so dramatically at the same time that Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, was elected with nearly 50 percent of the vote, according the Secretary of State’s Web site.
“I’m not sure that you can make sense of it,” said Corey Cook, political science professor whose speciality is California politics.
Cook pointed out that surveys done back in March, when the recall was still hypothetical, showed that voters had already decided how they would vote on the recall – about 55 percent for the recall, 45 percent against – and that those numbers had not significantly changed to the very day of the election. But the 64 percent against Proposition 54 – and the identical percentage voting against Proposition 53, a measure which allow California General Fund monies to be set aside for infrastructure projects – may indicate that voters just may have voted no because they didn’t fully understand the measures.
James Martel, political science professor who specializes in American politics and political theory, suggested that voters selected Schwarzenegger and rejected Proposition 54 as a call for moderate conservatism, and that the initiative represented a right-wing idea that most Californians just could not accept.
“Only, very, very conservative people voted for Proposition 54,” he said.
Sylvia Lucas, a political science major, somewhat echoed Martel in his comments.
“I’m ecstatic that the people of California are not ignorant enough to pass Prop. 54 at the same time that they elected Schwarzenegger,” the 20-year-old said.
Gov. Gray Davis acknowledged a likely loss to Republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger according to results tallied thus far in today's recall election.
At 11:00 p.m., Arnold Schwarzenegger was the leading candidate by almost 18 percentage points, tallying 49.3 percent of the vote. Lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante held 31.4 percent. Tom McClintock had 13.1 percent and Green Party candidate Peter Camejo had 2.5 percent.
According to the preliminary numbers released by the California Secretary of State's Web site, with 45 percent of the precincts reporting their results, 55 percent of Californians have voted to recall Gray Davis while 45 percent have voted to retain the governor.
The idea of Schwarzenegger as the next governor worried many Democrats.
“There are many things going through my mind,” said Jonathan Miller, a Bay Area Democratic candidate on the ballot to replace Davis. “The recall could be great harm for the state because Arnold Schwarzenegger could be elected. He could be a big problem because he is going to cancel the increase in the license fee. If it’s canceled, where is the money for police and fire departments?”
Contrary to Miller’s gloomy view on the future of the state, another Bay Area gubernatorial candidate, Michael Wozniak, was upbeat about the election. “I feel great,” said the Democratic candidate. “I feel everything I did in the past three months was worth it.”
The campaign to recall Davis began earlier in the year with Ted Costa as its leader. The momentum was slow at the beginning until Congressman Darrell Issa poured in millions of his own money to finance the signature gathering that is required to qualify the recall. With over 1.3 million signatures gathered, the recalled was finally certified by the Secretary of State, Kevin Shelley.
The recall has captured the attention of SF State students. Mia Rubie, a senior business major, said that she will go to vote in the afternoon after her class is over. “I’ll vote against the recall,” she said. “It’s a waste of money and time. Davis did not deserve to be recalled.”
Andre Stewart thought that since Davis got us into the current situation, then he deserves the chance to get us out of it-- and can.
Not all people are excited about the election though. Ricky Ros, a junior and electrical engineering major, admitted that he did not vote because he didn’t care.
Along with the governor's race, Californians also voted on two contentious measures.
Proposition 53, which called for allocation of up to 3 percent of local and state funds for infrastructure projects, was trailing by a large margin, with 35.3 percent supporting and 64.7 percent against. Proposition 53 would be bad to the state government because it tightens the state’s budget and the government cannot use that money for other purposes when needed, said Dr. Robert Smith, a professor in the political science department.
Proposition 54, the racial privacy initiative, is trailing by a smaller margin. The vote for the proposition is 39.2 percent while the no vote is at 60.8 percent.
Proposition 54 would ban any state agency from collecting racial data in the state if passed. Proponents of the proposition claimed that it would help to create a colorblind society. The opponents said that some research is dependent on this type of data, such as medical, educational, and criminal justice studies.
Smith said that collecting racial data is a way to make sure that the society is going in the right direction of becoming a colorblind society. Without those data, there is no way to verify that the society is really colorblind.
San Francisco has reported its typical voting trends, anomalous to the rest of the state. In San Francisco county, the effort to recall Gov. Davis failed-- with 80.5 percent against and 19.5 in favor of the recall. San Franciscans also voted for Bustamante over Schwarzenegger, 63.5 to 18.9 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
With the polls closed, everyone waits with baited breath to find out if California will have a new governor come tomorrow morning.
And although most of us can hardly wait to know the official results of this special election, it could take well over a month before the count is finalized.
It begs the question, what happens once the votes are in?
As part of our special election package, [X]Press hopes to answer this question with a step-by-step look as to why we may not know who our governor is until Nov. 16. According to the California Secretary of State Web site.
* Election officials in the state's 58 counties have up to 28 days to finish counting each and every ballot, which gives them up until Nov. 4 to have their final count ready.
* Once the count is complete, county supervisors then have a week to approve the results, bringing us to Nov. 11.
* At this time, the results are then sent to the secretary of state's office for certification, who has up to 4 days to review and certify the results, giving us a date of Nov. 15.
* Once the certification process is complete, the new governor can be sworn in immediately, which means the last possible date to know who the governor will be is Nov. 16.
This is of course, unless someone presents a legal challenge to the election between now and then. If there is one thing that we have all learned from this recall election, stranger things can and do happen.
For more information about the election process visit the California Secretary of State Web site at www.ss.ca.gov.
In a time when the economy is down and the budget is tight, SF State has found a way to incorporate four new degree programs into the school's curriculum this fall.
Students are now able to pursue a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in interior design, apparel design and merchandising, computer engineering or atmospheric and oceanic sciences.
According to consumer and family studies / dietics department chair Nancy Rabolt, a B.S. degree is better understood in the design industry than a B.A.
Instructors in the meteorology department concur with Rabolt. "You're more employable with a B.S. than you are with a B.A.," SF State meteorology professor David Dempsey said.
Prior to this semester, students interested in meteorology were only able to pursue a bachelor of arts degree with an emphasis in meteorology.
"We had the courses to allow students to meet employment requirements and the equivalent of a B.S., but it didn't show up on their transcripts," Dempsey said.
Because of the tight budget, each of the departments had to find ways to be cost efficient with their courses and resources. For example, the computer engineering program did not require new facilities or courses because the labs are already on campus and the required classes are already being offered.
"Computer engineering is a huge growth area and there's a lot of demand for it," administrative analyst / specialist for the school of engineering Rebecca Shonkwiler said. "The labs and resources are already here, so it is not an expensive program to begin."
The consumer and family studies / dietics department only had to add a few new courses to the curriculum since almost all of the required courses existed prior to this semester. And because many of the required courses are required for both of the new majors, the courses are serving more purposes and have become impacted.
"What we've found our first semester," Rabolt said, "is that we can't accommodate all the students who want to take the classes."
Many of the courses in meteorology and oceanography were redesigned to fit the needs of the students in the combined major atmospheric and oceanic sciences, but no new courses were added. However, students are required to take a block of courses as a rigorous entrance to the program.
"This gives students a taste of what's to come in the program," SF
State meteorology professor Oswaldo Garcia said.
The department has also received hand-me-down computers from the computer science department and are using the same resources they were before the current semester.
Although the budget is a big issue, all three departments are looking for at least one new teacher to add to their faculty. Rabolt said the consumer and fanily studies / dietics department is looking to add one new tenor track faculty member by next fall. The College of Science and Engineering is currently searching for two new computer engineers to join their faculty. And over the next five years the oceanography and meteorology departments are looking to add one more physical oceanographer to their faculty.
The atmospheric and oceanic sciences program is one of the smallest at SF State, comprised of only 10 students enrolled in the major. Both the students and faculty enjoy the intimacy of their program. "I was pre-med, so I'm familiar with classes full of students and a high level of competition," atmospheric and oceanic sciences major Kathryn Saussy said. "Here the competition is more friendly and, because the classes are so small, we can have really good discussions - discussions you couldn't and didn't want to have in a big science class."
Because the school only offered a B.A. Saussy did not want to pursue the degree. "Now that it's a B.S. I had to switch," Saussy said with a smile. "This is my real love."
San Francisco voters got their third chance to cast their vote via the city’s optical-scan ballot method in Tuesday’s recall election. The equipment developed by ES&S Technology eliminates the problem of the punch card balloting used in other California counties that civil rights groups predict could cause voter accuracy problems.
But many residents are still warming up to the relatively new process.
“I like the method from the last presidential election. It’s a lot easier. You just have to punch ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” said Katie Hubbard, a junior majoring in English. “The new method is confusing at first.”
Some older residents also had a hard time with the method.
“Some people didn’t know what to mark or where to mark the arrow, mostly the elderly population,” said Mel Brooks, 17, of San Francisco, a high school volunteer poll worker at a Mr. Rooter store on Judah Street. “But most younger voters got it. You just fill in the arrow.”
The voting method wasn't the only cause of difficulty. Other voters had problems voting because of the cluttered ballot, filled with more than 100 candidates.
“People had a hard time because it wasn’t alphabetical. It was hard to find a name,” Brooks said. “There were only four things to vote on and people were spending 10 minutes thinking, ‘where the hell is my candidate?’”
With the optical-scan method, voters fill in the empty portion of an arrow pointing to their preferred option on the ballot with a special marker. Scanners used to analyze the ballot are similar to those that are used to grade standardized state tests and the SATs.
The new system was introduced in 2001 after the 2000 presidential election and the controversy that followed about voting counts, stemming from the infamous “hanging chads” left over from traditional punch ballot cards.
In late September, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit hoping for a temporary stay against the state to block the recall, claiming residents in counties that still used older methods were disenfranchised. A 3-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals first granted a stay, but a full 11-member panel from the court ruled against the stay on Sept. 23, saying voters had a state constitutional right to a recall in the quickest time possible.
Support towards Proposition 54 has significantly declined and opposition is growing steadily, according to a new statewide poll released Saturday. This reflects a significant change in voter sentiment as the initiative has continuously led at the polls as recently as early September, The Field Poll, a non-partisan public opinion news service, said.
Proposition 54, or the Racial Privacy Act, has been one of the most controversial political initiatives on the ballot since its conception.
The oppostion reflected in The Field Poll was in full effect as students and the Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke out against the initiative when Jackson visited SF State Thursday afternoon.
Supporters of Proposition 54 argue it will save the state funding, and that it is the next step toward a colorblind society. University of California Regent Ward Connerly, one of the main endorsers for Proposition 54, defends the initiative by claiming that the government has no business granting preferential treatment or discriminating against any citizen based on race, according to the Propostion 54 Web site.
However, this same initiative has outraged many communities of color throughout the state, and it is this same outrage that has driven a wide variety of campus organizations to campaign against its success. This grassroots campaigning had its climax when Jackson stopped here as part of his “Keep Hope Alive/No on Prop 54 Campus Tour." He is visiting many California college campuses to urge students to vote against Proposition 54.
The President of Associated Students, Inc. Natalie Batista opened the event by talking to a packed crowd about the pros and cons of Proposition 54. Hundreds of students stood shoulder-to-shoulder listening to campus organizations like the Black Student Union, the General Union of Palestine Students, the Asian Student Union and others critically voice oppositon to the initiative.
As each speech ended, more and more people crowded around Jack Adams Hall anticipating Jackson’s arrival. Musician Alfredo Aguayo, played his guitar and sang songs about love and war until Jackson took the stage. As Jackson approached the stage the crowd erupted, greeting him with a standing ovation as he stepped on stage at Jack Adams Hall.
“Our values make us strong,” said Jackson. “It’s time for a change; we’re going to win on Tuesday.”
Jackson talked about how Proposition 54 threatens communities of color by eliminating the collection and tracking of racial data for various social services such as health care, education and law enforcement throughout the State. He also said the same forces that were behind the anti-civil rights movement that jailed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are the same conservative forces that want to disenfranchise communities of color.
Jackson also criticized gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California recall election.
“Let him [Arnold Schwarzenegger] terminate in the movies, not in the state,” said Jackson. “We need racial data to enforce the law, we need the truth and it shall set us free”.
“Vote no on Prop 54 and send Schwarzenegger back to the studio,” urged Jackson.
It was evident that Proposition 54 struck a deep chord in many students that day, as witnessed when students from City College of San Francisco talked about their personal experiences with racial profiling. A black student told a story about how he was constantly harassed by police officers in Oregon, where he grew up.
“Stand up or get rolled on,” said Samuel Carr, the President of the SF State Black Student Union. “What I mean by that is stand up, fight against hate crimes and Prop 54, stand up or get defeated.”
“We’re not going to get whited out,” said Valerie Francisco. “It’ll [Proposition 54] just shut us down. We’re not a colorblind society and if we can’t track injustices, that’s worse."
Jackson ended the day by urging students to demand a voting precinct on campus before voting day, Oct. 7. Despite Jackson's persuasions, many students seemed hesitant to approach those students who were attempting to get a voting precinct on campus.
“It’s good to get motivational speakers, and he’s [Jackson] a great speaker,” said Toby Guerrero, ethnic studies graduate student. “But if this is a hands-on school, I still feel that we need to be more hands-on, on how to organize ourselves”.
“A lot of people want to go to events like this but afterwards, then what?” said Guerrero. “He [Jackson] tried to get people motivated at the end, but everyone was quick to leave”.
Steve Phillips from Power PAC, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating Californians about Proposition 54, also spoke at the event.
“This is a historic opportunity to turn the vote around,” said Philips. “On Oct. 7, California is going in a new direction. We’re going to turn this state around”.
As Rev. Jesse Jackson walked out of the Student Center, the crowd followed behind him to Malcolm X Plaza where he spoke more about Proposition 54 and the voting power of students.
"This election is brought on by fear," said Jackson. "If we vote on Tuesday, like we're cheering here today, we will win."
Reflecting on the event, Nina Fendel, Regional Representative for the California Faculty Association said, “We helped organize it and we’re thrilled we got a good turnout. They [students] were all passionate, political and we hope they’ll go out there and vote."