November 2003 Archives

With War, Questions Remain

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Frustrated students who support and condemn the war in Iraq debated whether the United States should remain in Iraq Wednesday evening, Nov. 19.

About 75 students listened to the Students Against War and the College Republicans groups when representatives of both student organizations debated on the topics of justification (of the United States’ presence in Iraq), economy and human rights issues concerning the war. Both groups debated the three topics against each other, leaving students in the audience the opportunity to question them afterwards.

Defending the nation’s presence in the war, the student College Republicans felt it was the United States’ responsibility to the international community to maintain troops in Iraq.

“It sounds like colonialism,” said Cassandra Kellaris, a Student Against War member, in response to the College Republicans’ justification for the nation’s interests in the war. “We owe them reparations, we don’t owe them military tanks.”

After loud sighs and bickering among the audience, students who support the war challenged the motives of those opposing the war.

“How many people are going to die before this ends,” responded Justine Prada, Students Against War member and cinema student.

Students who challenged the motives behind the war felt the monetray costs of the war are draining the United States economy.

“Eighty-seven-million dollars is going to the occupation of Iraq,” said Kellaris. “With that money, every state’s deficit would be relieved”.

“We should look at the $87 million as an investment,” rebutted Zepeda.

The debate ended with both groups acknowledging the need for a quick resolution.

“I hope one day all justifications I gave today will be proved correct--I’m sure that our president will do everything in his power to provide what was demonstrated here today, democracy,” said Zepeda.

“What we do in life echoes in eternity,” Zepeda continued, quoting Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Responding to the large number of students who attended the debate, the Students Against War group plans to organize future campus anti-war campaigns.

“The turnout shows how many people are interested,” said Jeff Boyette, Students Against War member and cinema student. “People are indifferent or apathetic looking somewhere to plug in their thoughts, frustrations and anger.”

Some of the students in the audience openly supported the war, but the fear of being verbally attacked was evident.

“Tonight, I was afraid to come because I thought I’d be the only College Republican here,” said Danielle Elizondo, a College Republican and special education student who was in the audience. “I think we should have more of these (debates) on campus because everyone listened to what each side had to say”.

“We hope to use this as an organizing event, to show that we are organizing against the war,” urged Boyette. “People still feel isolated. There are other people who feel the same way, and they’re not alone, not isolated.”

A student from the audience stood up and said that people need to focus on resolutions, not on what’s going on.

“I think we’re all very polarized because of our own ideals or lack of it,” said Jared Thompson, a chemistry student. “All of us have been denied of what’s really going on because we get our info from a biased media.”

The Students Against War group is planning a week of action, where they will encourage students to wear black armbands to display their resistance to the war in Iraq.

The Stress of it All

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Sleepless nights and coffee-filled mornings are what students like Sonia Beauchamp go through with the arrival of finals.

Beauchamp, 25, has to wake up early, commute to school, work late shifts and all the while juggle her academic responsibilities. Returning home from a late night at work, she can barely stay awake as her tired body struggles to study; ultimately she must rely on numerous cups of coffee to make it through the night.

Beauchamp is not alone. Numerous students on campus have full-time jobs and responsibilities outside of school that they are accountable for. The constant balancing act between school and outside responsibilities comes to a climax with the onslaught of test and deadlines.

As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor, a 1999 survey of 683 colleges conducted by the University of California at Los Angeles reported 30.02 percent of the students surveyed "feeling frequently overwhelmed."

The report continued by saying the number of working students had increased in the last decade leading to greater stress amongst college students.

For many, school is stressful enough with the constant readings and deadlines set by instructors. For many students, it becomes an even greater challenge to fit such an incredible workload into their already booked lives.

"I have two tests next week, but I have no idea when I'm gonna find the time because I work 30 hours a week," said Beauchamp.

In addition to time management, students may feel added pressure with the financial burdens that come along with attending college. Many students must independently pay for their own tuition, transportation and living expenses while in school.

"Maybe if my parents would pay for my school and car, then I would just chill and study for my classes," said Craig Milakali, 21, an SF State student.

"All I do is stress about school and work 'cause I have to pay for both, and on top of that study."

With so much in the balance it is a wonder that students find any time to sleep, and many only get the opportunity to sleep five hours a night, ending up restless and tired the next morning.

"When I sleep five hours, I swear it feels like I just closed and opened my eyes," said Alicia Sanchez, 21.

"In order for me to function, I need about eight hours to feel rested.”

Waking up to the cold weather and misty fog that often surrounds SF State can be even harder when a student has only slept five hours. It is a routine for many to go to school, work and then come home to study past midnight.

"I get home from work at 10 p.m. and start my homework, and finish at about two in the morning," said Gina Shafiei, 22, BECA major.

“The routine of sleeping five hours feels likes it’s killing me."

As the days become cloudier and stress fills the air, students can find comfort in knowing there are various forms of relief found on campus. A variety of stress- relieving techniques are offered in the Student Health Services Center. These methods not only help students vent their frustrations but also help them learn how to manage stress.

"Students need to learn how to relax and prioritize what they need to do each day to lower their stress levels," said Eva Wise, head of the Meditation Clinic on campus.

"Stress can take a toll on the body and make the person feel weak, but meditation can regain that control of balance and focus."

One of the newest stress-relieving techniques being offered at the Student Health Center is reiki. Reiki is a natural relaxation technique that balances the body’s energy through the use of healing touch.

Another form of stress relief can be found at the meditation clinic. Here, students learn ways to clear their minds in an attempt to regain balance and focus.

"All I can say is that when I'm stressed, I feel like all the doors of opportunity are closed and I constantly feel nervous and shaky," said Maria Ramirez, 24, liberal arts major.

"Meditating honestly feels like I can slow down time and reorganize my thoughts kind of like a calendar."

As more students begin to familiarize themselves with the various ways they can de-stress on campus, calmer days may be just around the corner.

"Stress just sucks when I'm studying for midterms,” said Elvira Viveros, 26, journalism major. “But if I can learn how to calm down and balance my activities I will be a happy camper."

RELATED LINKS
» SF State Meditation Clinic
» SF State Stress Management Clinic The stress management clinic offers one-on-one consultations, group "calming hours," and workshops.
» Reiki This page, sponsored by the SF State Student Health Services, explains the relaxing techniques of Reiki.

Bookstore Fraud Case Postponed

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New evidence could affect the current charges against the the 19 defendants in the SF State bookstore fraud case.

The new evidence was presented by prosecutor James Thompson in the form of a memo a little more than two weeks ago. In light of this new complication, a motion was approved this Thursday granting defense attorneys in the SF State bookstore fraud case an additional two months to prepare for their pending case.

If the SF State bookstore is found to be a private company rather than a governmental organization, felony charges of embezzlement and theft of public funds against 19 defendants could be reduced to misdemeanors, which carry half as much jail time.

“If the bookstore is an independent private company, the penalty is half as severe as if it is a governmental organization,” defense attorney Anthony Lowenstein said. “The charges still are felony charges, but the jail time is half less.”

When charges were first filed by the district attorney's office in January of this year, the bookstore was treated as part of SF State and therefore a governmental institution. The contents of the new memo, however, describe the auxiliary relationship between the bookstore and the university. It stated that the bookstore is in a contracting association with the university. This fact has great impact on the case, according to many of the defense councils.

The 19 defendants in the case are charged with committing fraud and stealing money from the bookstore. According to the prosecution, the defendants faked merchandise returns and falsified returns for themselves and their friends. Investigators traced the alleged frauds as far back as 1999. A former supervisor discovered the illegal activity in January of 2002.

Thompson explained the new evidence affects two of the four charges filed against the defendants. He said the charges of embezzlement and theft of public funds could be reduced to misdemeanors, which carry a much less severe penalty.

David Harrison, attorney for Michelle Monce, spoke in court asking Judge Lam for additional time so the defense can get the necessary documents to prove the bookstore is not a governmental organization. Judge Newton Lam quickly approved the motion by the defense with no objection from Thompson.

The next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 28, 2004.

The world-renowned Australian pianist who was tapped last year to head the recently merged school of music and dance has resigned as director of that program.

Barely a year into his term, Professor Roger Woodward stepped down as director of the school of music and dance in early September, according to top-level administrators.

Wan-Lee Cheng, associate dean for the College of Creative Arts, is currently the acting director through the end of the fall semester while the department seeks to hire a replacement.

Some students say his resignation comes in the wake of much confusion about Woodward’s leadership and concerns regarding the direction of the school.

A group of students formed the School of Music and Dance Student Council, which has drafted a letter expressing further concern about rumors that the university may require going outside the school to find a replacement for Woodward.

Their draft letter to President Robert Corrigan and Dean of the College of Creative Arts Keith Morrison, which they are asking students to sign, reads in part, “The School of Music and Dance has been leaderless for the past year. As a result, faculty and students have suffered.

“Faculty members have scrambled to keep classes and administrative processes going. They are stressed and overloaded. Students are confused about who is running the school, frustrated that we have been kept in the dark about decisions that affect our education and are becoming increasing disillusioned.

“The thought of continuing in this manner for at least the next 18 months angers us. The idea of the school of music and dance disregarding qualified candidates from within its own walls seems absurd.”

Woodward remains on the music faculty teaching piano. He would not comment on his resignation because of advice from his lawyer, nor has any official explanation given for his stepping down as director.

“Roger is no longer the director. Beyond that, it’s really not appropriate for me to talk about it,” said John Gemello, SF State provost and vice president of academic affairs.

SF State’s legal counsel, Patricia Bartscher, to whom [X]press was referred to by Gemello, said she would not comment on personnel matters.

The world-renowned pianist was appointed in Fall 2002 to oversee the first semester of the merged departments of music and dance. As part of his vision for the program, the Australian native was going to use his international connections to give students more opportunities to perform overseas, according to an SF State press release announcing his appointment.

Before coming to SF State, Woodward was Chair of Music at the University of New England, New South Wales and has performed with the New York, Los Angeles and Israel philharmonic symphonies to name a few in a lengthy and impressive performance resume.

Administrators and faculty are in the beginning stages of discussion over the various plans for hiring an interim and permanent director. There was no official word as to when those plans would be formalized and begun, though there was a suggested goal of having a director by Fall 2005.

Members of the SMD Student Council, which was formed in Spring 2003 by vocalist major Anishka Lee-Skorepa, are concerned about a plan for an external search that was mentioned by Dean Morrison and Provost Gemello in faculty meetings.

According to several student council representatives, Morrison made comments at faculty meetings suggesting that the administration would look outside the music and dance faculty at SF State for candidates for the permanent directorship.

The student council members are concerned that a director coming from outside the school wouldn’t be familiar with the particularly demanding inner workings of the school of music and dance.

“The real issue now is the hiring of the new director,” Lee-Skorepa, 22, said.

“It was officially announced a week and a half ago that the candidates cannot come from the school of music and dance,” said Emily Woo, a student council member and jazz vocal major. Woo said the student council learned of this plan at the Oct. 27 faculty meeting.

The [X]press was denied access to the school of music and dance faculty minutes, but e-mail correspondence from Morrison to Gemello, other administrators and faculty members confirmed this.

In these emails, Morrison explained, “We (Morrison, Gemello and President Robert Corrigan) all agreed that it would be best to have a national search, and then we discussed the timeline.”

He continued further in the e-mail, “On October 27 the faculty of SMD expressed to me their concern that these procedures may abrogate their right to recommend their own governance. I urged them to make whatever recommendation they wished.”

“The issue has not been determined one way or another,” said Gemello in a phone interview. “It is still in the stages. We’ve discussed that (an external search) as a possibility. No decision has been made. These things can take on a life of their own.”

Several faculty members who were contacted for this story would not comment on either Woodward’s resignation or the hiring plan discussions.

As a result of the suggested external search, the student council plans to schedule a meeting with the dean and president to discuss the matter.

Last spring, Lee-Skorepa started the council, when she and fellow students became alarmed by what they viewed as signs of growing problems in the school. They are concerned that the only class offered for vocalists, Vocal Ensemble, was cancelled last year.

They wonder why vocal students were suddenly required to pay for accompanists for auditions and finals last spring. They are also troubled over the conditions of practice rooms and restrooms in the Creative Arts building.

A representative from the five-member student council, which represents each discipline within the department including classical and jazz instrumentalists, classical and jazz vocalists and dance, started attending the weekly faculty meetings this fall, including the mid-September meeting when Morrison announced Woodward’s resignation.

Looking for answers to students’ growing concerns, Lee-Skorepa, a senior, sent a petition in May outlining those concerns to Morrison, Ron Caltabiano, assistant director at the time and Woodward. Among the list of concerns was Woodward’s role as director.

“In light of all of that, a friend of mine and I wrote a petition wanting an explanation,” recalled Lee-Skorepa. “We didn’t ever know what was really going on so that’s why we formed this student council.”

The council brokered a meeting last May, to which roughly 100 students showed up with administration and faculty, including Woodward.

“We were told that the faculty and administration could not be at the meeting,” said Lee-Skorepa. “Morrison was the only one allowed to stay. It ended up being a royal waste of time. He couldn’t answer any of our questions specific to our department.”

Attending faculty meetings has helped some in opening the lines of communication. The council is planning to file paperwork to become a legitimate campus organization.

“Our goals are to be of service to students,” said Lee-Skorepa. “Working toward making it a better department by building a bridge between faculty, administrators and students.”

Fake Hate Not New

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Leah Miller and Allison Jackson are not the first to have faked a hate crime in order to bring awareness to racism on campus.

SF State and the District Attorney’s office chose not to file any complaints of vandalism, filing a false report and tampering with evidence against the two students, instead letting the housing disciplinary and student judiciary process deal with the situation.

Miller, 18, told campus police that an unknown person slid a note under the door of her Mary Park Hall dorm room with the word “NIGG” written on it.

Jackson, 18, said “Black Bitches” was written on her Village at Centennial Square room door — possibly by her neighbor. After a police investigation, both Miller and Jackson confessed to police that they had written the words themselves.

In recent years, other campuses have experienced hate crime incidents later found to be fake.

In 2002, an Arizona State University student was charged on suspicion of faking anti-Muslim hate crimes because he was upset Muslims were being treated unfairly after the Sept. 11 attacks. He now faces trial for the charge of reporting a false crime and one year in jail if convicted.

In 2001, a gay student at the College of New Jersey confessed to sending death threats to himself and a gay student group. He was suspended from campus during the investigation and charged with a felony on suspicion of filing false police reports and harassment.

In 1998, members of Duke University’s Black Student Alliance claimed they did not do something they later admitted, a symbolic lynching. A black baby doll was found hanging from a tree where they were later supposed to hold a protest about the school’s inability to improve race relations on campus, and they tarred a bench to enhance support for their agenda. The group was ordered to pay clean-up costs.

Miller said she wrote the note herself because nothing was being done about an earlier incident involving one of her friends and a watermelon that was left outside her door with the words “triple-threat” written on the watermelon.

Director of Residential Life DJ Morales said in a previous [X]press article, that the situation was “fraught with misinformation.” The watermelon, which holds a negative connotation in relation to African-Americans, was passed around and left outside various rooms before ending up outside Miller’s friend’s door by mistake.

Hate crimes do occur on campuses including SF State.

The SF State Campus Security report cites 11 hate crimes reported on this campus between 2000 and 2002. Two of the crimes took place in the residence halls.

Sgt. Jennifer Schwartz said the crimes reported were “other hate crimes.”

“They are hate incidents. For example, speech written on a wall in a bathroom not directed at any particular person or an anonymous letter written that contains hate speech,” said Schwartz.

SF State’s Department of Public Safety defines a hate crime: “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.”

A series of incidents in the spring 2001 involving pro-Israel and pro-Palestine demonstrators prompted SF State to forward police reports to the district attorney for possible filing of formal complaints. The district attorney in that matter chose not to file any complaints because no specific laws were broken.
Although offensive statements were made to Jewish students and an Israeli flag was taken down, the flag was not defaced and the speech did not elicit an immediate reaction, which would make it a crime.

Alleged crimes included vandalism, interference with exercise of constitutional rights, damaging property, and disturbing the peace of the university.

Mark MacNamara from the District Attorney’s office could not comment on Miller and Jackson specific cases but said the reason for not pursuing a false report complaint has to do with the seriousness of the offense reported and the ambiguity of the law being broken.

Fake hate crimes not new

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Leah Miller and Allison Jackson are not the first to have faked a hate crime in order to bring awareness to racism on campus.

SF State and the District Attorney’s office chose not to file any complaints of vandalism, filing a false report and tampering with evidence against the two students, instead letting the housing disciplinary and student judiciary process deal with the situation.

Miller, 18, told campus police that an unknown person slid a note under the door of her Mary Park Hall dorm room with the word “NIGG” written on it.

Jackson, 18, said “Black Bitches” was written on her Village at Centennial Square room door — possibly by her neighbor. After a police investigation, both Miller and Jackson confessed to police that they had written the words themselves.

In recent years, other campuses have experienced hate crime incidents later found to be fake.

In 2002, an Arizona State University student was charged on suspicion of faking anti-Muslim hate crimes because he was upset Muslims were being treated unfairly after the Sept. 11 attacks. He now faces trial for the charge of reporting a false crime and one year in jail if convicted.

In 2001, a gay student at the College of New Jersey confessed to sending death threats to himself and a gay student group. He was suspended from campus during the investigation and charged with a felony on suspicion of filing false police reports and harassment.

In 1998, members of Duke University’s Black Student Alliance claimed they did not do something they later admitted, a symbolic lynching. A black baby doll was found hanging from a tree where they were later supposed to hold a protest about the school’s inability to improve race relations on campus, and they tarred a bench to enhance support for their agenda. The group was ordered to pay clean-up costs.

Miller said she wrote the note herself because nothing was being done about an earlier incident involving one of her friends and a watermelon that was left outside her door with the words “triple-threat” written on the watermelon.

Director of Residential Life DJ Morales said in a previous [X]press article, that the situation was “fraught with misinformation.” The watermelon, which holds a negative connotation in relation to African-Americans, was passed around and left outside various rooms before ending up outside Miller’s friend’s door by mistake.

Hate crimes do occur on campuses including SF State.

The SF State Campus Security report cites 11 hate crimes reported on this campus between 2000 and 2002. Two of the crimes took place in the residence halls.

Sgt. Jennifer Schwartz said the crimes reported were “other hate crimes.”

“They are hate incidents. For example, speech written on a wall in a bathroom not directed at any particular person or an anonymous letter written that contains hate speech,” said Schwartz.

SF State’s Department of Public Safety defines a hate crime: “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.”

A series of incidents in the spring 2001 involving pro-Israel and pro-Palestine demonstrators prompted SF State to forward police reports to the district attorney for possible filing of formal complaints. The district attorney in that matter chose not to file any complaints because no specific laws were broken.

Although offensive statements were made to Jewish students and an Israeli flag was taken down, the flag was not defaced and the speech did not elicit an immediate reaction, which would make it a crime.

Alleged crimes included vandalism, interference with exercise of constitutional rights, damaging property, and disturbing the peace of the university.

Mark MacNamara from the District Attorney’s office could not comment on Miller and Jackson specific cases but said the reason for not pursuing a false report complaint has to do with the seriousness of the offense reported and the ambiguity of the law being broken.

The false reports by women claiming to be the victims of hate crimes have brought racism to the forefront of discussion at SF State and moved some faculty and students to take a deeper look into how we all perpetuate racism.

Two women living in SF State housing said they were targets of hate crimes because of their race, shaking the campus community into a frenzy to find out if racism is alive at SF State. Longtime Faculty and student organizations are exploring the prospect of racism being an issue at a college that boasts “Love is Stronger than Hate.”

Some say racism and its effects are frequently ignored, rarely discussed, considered taboo and frequently make people uncomfortable with their own behavior, beliefs and their ignorance. Others don’t agree that racism is an issue.

“Racism permeates throughout American society, so of course it’s an issue on campus, “Nabeel Silmi of the General Union of Palestinian Students said. “It needs to be dealt with as not something that’s just on this campus, it needs to be looked at as being woven into the fabric of American society.”

“Race relations are strained at best,” said Laura Head, a black studies professor. “I just find that a lot of people on this campus don’t have respect for people who are different than they are.” Head added that she thinks people in this country are generally in denial about the presence of racism.

“I think there is an underlying quality concern about equal treatment,” said Jamie Newton, psychology professor. “There are people on campus who feel that their experience here has been worse than it should be because of their race, that does not necessarily mean that they are saying ‘the campus has policies that affect me.’”

Not everyone [X]press talked to believes racism is still an issue in America.

“I think racism is just a figment of everyone’s imagination. If people wouldn’t dwell on it anymore, it wouldn’t exist,” Raul Audelo, a member of La Raza said. “It hasn’t really presented itself to me, which is great for me. Maybe it’s just ignorance. It doesn’t seem like it’s permeating everyone’s psyche,” he said.

“I think everyone has certain prejudices, but people have more courtesy and tact in not saying it,” Anthony Phan of the Asian Student Union said.

But some believe that by failing to discuss issues of cultural and racial importance out of fear of being offensive or misguided, people are subject to upholding stereotypes and perpetuate discrimination.

“Racism is a toxin in our social fabric that infects each of us slightly differently, but it’s part of the same syndrome,” said Ken Monteiro, dean of human relations.

The former chair of the psychology department described the syndrome, or the “isms” — racism, sexism, ageism, classism — as a game in which everybody constantly fights to get to the top of the power structure, attaining the most in life while appearing to remaining pure and good at all times, using the faults of others to appear even better than the rest.

“Because none of us are pure we always have the excuse to damn each other as the bad one, or the invaluable,” he said.

“We think of race and racism as individuals acting against individuals motivated by race, and that’s the symptom, not the illness. … It shows up in other ways, prejudgments, distrusts, misunderstandings of the meanings of things that we both think we know the meaning of, for example, a watermelon.” Monteiro said.

Many students have spoken with Professor Head, expressing their frustration with departments being unequipped to deal with complaints they might have about teachers treating them in a racist manner. They feel they are not taken seriously, she said.

“The black students I speak to in general feel that the campus is not sensitive to their needs,” she said.

Head said she believes there is very little possibility of ever overcoming racism, but if the university is serious about resolving racial incidents on campus they need to implement some of the ideas that are recommended at the meetings, committees and summits.

Monteiro suggested people open the lines of communication amongst themselves when discussing racism and remain calm and honest about its affects. “We need to train each other on language skills for correcting offensive or stereotypical speech without encouraging aggression,” Monteiro said. “For example, I could say that you really pissed me off because you said something stupid about me. Another way is to say, I don’t know what you meant, but when you said what you said this is what I heard you say about me. I’d just like to let you know how you made me feel.”

If people can’t resolve their issues cooperatively, the university should have a system in which people can bring their grievances to a safe place for discussion, according to Newton.

Avenues need to be open on campus where people with any concerns relating to biased treatment feel they are welcome to go and raise their concerns, and describe their experience to people who have the power to act in an effort to move forward in creating supportive diversity initiatives, Newton said.

The need to explore potential racial tension pans out into the nation as a whole, but here people can take the opportunity to discuss problems of discrimination and learn from those discussions, then apply the lessons in all aspects of life, Newton said.

“I think students are here to learn, to explore their own potential, to examine their own experience, to question whether practices are fulfilling promises.”

Additional reporting by Reinalyn Ramos

Bogged process fuels room rage

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A tangle of procedural, financial, and spatial issues may have contributed to a Village resident’s decision to fake a hate crime in order to get a room change.

Allison Jackson, 21, admitted to the campus police that she had written “Black Bitches” across her own door in the B building in the Village. Two police reports detail the escalating crisis she and her roommates were experiencing with each other, a crisis severe enough for one roommate to say she developed stress-related illnesses.

The report goes on to say that Jackson faked the hate crime in order to produce an issue serious enough to warrant a room change.

“Basically I was told you had to do something really extravagant to get out of there,” Jackson was quoted as saying in the report.

In an e-mail response, Gina Leachman, Village Property Manager said, “Allison (Jackson) was given the option of moving; however, she expressed interest in staying in the apartment.”

Jackson declined to comment, but Village residents paint a picture of the difficulties she faced in getting a room change.

Miranda Linden, a resident at the Village, said that what happens in the Village is people are thrown together at random with few options to escape.

“It’s like impossible to get a room change,” she said.

Linden, 22, said she knew four people in the A and B buildings of the Village who had gotten into major conflicts with roommates – shouting matches, name-calling, arguments – that continued to escalate without the Village giving a room change. The English major said that one of her new neighbors had only received a change because the police became involved.

Linden also mentioned the $100 fee the Village charges to change apartments and the $50 charge to change rooms.

Linden said the way the Village mediates conflict is also ineffective – name-calling and shouting were allowed during meetings to resolve problems.

“The residents here are completely neglected as far as our ability to get along,” she said.

Stan Prather, community director at the Village who was mediating Jackson and her roommates’ dispute, could not be reached for comment.

Linden’s account is reminiscent of a campus police report of Jackson’s relationship with her roommates before she tried to get a room change. Jackson’s roommates filed a report on Sept. 12, and the text details incident after incident of yelling, name-calling, and confrontation that had grown intense enough to cause one roommate to say she became physically ill.

Yamina Washington, 22, a roommate of Linden, has been to several mediation meetings in support of friends. The impression she received is that unless one person has put his or her hand on another, the Village is not likely to grant a room change.

Kevin Bard, head of a tenants’ group called the Village Association, said several things were going on at the Village that may have prevented Jackson from getting the room change as fast as she might have liked.

Near the beginning of the semester, the Village wanted everyone to wait a few weeks before submitting room change requests because the staff was turning over and couldn’t process the requests quickly, he said.

Bard also said the Village has a harder time processing room changes for women, which is much more difficult because more women than men tend to ask for single rooms instead of double rooms. But since the Village does not allow mixed housing, a woman or man has to move into a single room in an apartment with others of the same sex. The number of single rooms available for women is therefore slim, Bard said.

Mike Murphy, general manager of the Village, said he doesn’t know the statistics of how many women versus men request single rooms. Since there are more women than men at the Village, it would follow that more women request single rooms than men, he said.

The 180 single rooms are not designated as to whether they are going to be male or female rooms. It depends on the applicants every semester, Murphy said.

Race summit sets high hopes

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A paramount summit on race and culture on campus concluded that institutional racism, faculty accountability for their in-class conduct, and safety and comfort on campus are three of the priorities SF State needs to address.

The summit, an all-day event that brought an estimated 400 students, faculty and administrators together to voice their complaints about racial and cultural insensitivities, drafted a tentative list of 10 priorities.

“I was not naïve, but hopeful that the classroom climate had improved more than what these comments would indicate,” said the mediator, Kenneth Monetiro, psychology professor and university dean of the office of human relations, in response to the racist experiences students voiced at the Summit. “Some of their (students’) comments were frighteningly similar to those we experienced three decades ago as we were only just desegregating major universities.”

The all-day summit was hosted by SF State President Robert Corrigan, Jim Edwards, Chair of the Academic Senate, and Natalie Batista, president of the Associated Students, Inc., in an attempt to address concerns of racial relations on campus, said a preliminary report from the Summit on Race and Culture.

“I surely wish there were more faculty here — students are here, administration is here,” said Corrigan of the 400 people present. “I know it’s tough on a Friday but I would’ve liked to see more faculty.”

The opening of the summit was marked by expressive poetry read by Batista as she addressed the crowd about the severity of racial tensions on campus.

Of those present, many stood in line to voice their experiences and opinions in the five microphones set up around Jack Adams Hall. All were encouraged to speak openly about their experiences with racism, and over 250 questions, comments and concerns were made to Montiero.

Topics ranged from requesting a yield sign on Font Blvd. to the sharing of racially-charged incidences.

After a two-hour comments session, the audience was broken into work groups, where they selected the 10 most important issues mentioned during the open-mike session.

Of these issues, several students expressed frustration with some of the music that is played at Malcolm X Plaza.

“They (the “N” and “B” words) are not a part of hip-hop culture. It’s very disrespectful to those who created hip-hop culture,” said Asa Randolph, liberal studies and black studies student. “Until you are followed around in stores, stopped by the police, you won’t understand what it means to be black.”

“We are getting sincere and straight-forward feedback on what they say we need to change on campus,” said Monteiro.

After reconvening to share the group’s top 10 choices, people separated in to small groups and discussed what they felt needed to be prioritized for a progressive campus environment. After about an hour of brainstorming of possible resolutions, all groups reunited at Jack Adams Hall to present their outlined resolutions to the rest of the audience.

The list of campus priorities, which can be viewed at xpress.sfsu.edu, included making steps to increase multicultural awareness and university accountability, as well as creating a safe campus environment.

Historically, this is the first-ever top 10 list of racial and cultural issues that have become priorities on campus. Three surveys attempted to examine race relations at SF State in 1989, 1996 and in 2002-2003. These surveys concluded that there was a need for racial and cultural awareness, according to the Public Research Institute located at SF State.

Some administrators and faculty hoped this summit would progress social issues on campus.

“I’m impressed with the level of real participation… The willingness to speak honestly and civility, said Robert Corrigan, SF State president. “I think we are learning something.”

While some viewed this summit as a stride towards more awareness of diversity on campus, others were less optimistic.

“It’s a good environment but I don’t think any change is going to happen until something bad occurs,” said Leana Darden, computer science student.

“It was nice to see President Corrigan, it’s my second year here, I’ve never seen him before,” said Erica Botz, undeclared major student with a minor in global peace studies. “I just hope a lot of these things get enforced.”

Sociology professor Chris Bettinger said that in general, people superficially listen to other people’s opinions without understanding their experiences, which, in turn prevents open communication.

“We tolerate the speech, but we don’t really hear it, we’re supposed to allow that speech but we don’t grapple with it,” he said.

“They (students) should have a closer relationship among themselves and with their leadership so that they can increase their ability to work on difficult issues in the future,” said Monteiro. “Following through is a community effort.”

Additional reporting by Christian Soderholm.

Summit Priorities

1.More outreach and retention of faculty, staff and students of color. The result of numerous comments about under-representation of African American, Latino and Native American faculty, staff and students.

2. Promotion of cultural awareness through cultural-sensitivity training addressing all the “isms”: homophobia, sexism, ageism, racism and classism among others.

3. Faculty accountability for classroom conduct. This is in response to numerous students of color who gave testimonials of offensive and derogatory remaris in their classes.

4. Safety and comfort in the classroom and campus environment. This issue was anchored in a number of strong comments about the safety of women on campus as well as another comment regarding selling alcohol on campus as a risk.

5. Black equity issues for students and faculty. This referred to a variety of issues concering African Americans including: restaurants, graduation promotion and providing culturally relevant vendor options.

6. Examine institutional racism. An attempt to capture the range of issues that addressed the need for systematic and institutional change. It included a request for a university self-study, annual summits and creating a model for a national accrediting process to set and maintain standards of cultural sensitivity.

7. University-wide accountability to multicultural diversity. This included a request for reoccurring summits.

8. Student multi-cultural curriculum requirements in general education courses.

9. Misconduct of language policy. Though no policy was proposed, this issue was brought up from numerous complaints of the “N” word referring to African Americans, the “B” word referring to women and the “F” word for gays.

10. Understanding of the unique issues experienced by international students, including visa status, getting classes, cultural misunderstandings, etc.

What War?

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U.S. casualties and Iraqi civilian death tolls continue to increase as the war and occupation in Iraq persists. However, SF State students have been almost invisible in voicing their opinions about the war in Iraq compared with the passionate protests last semester.

Last semester, SF State students and faculty openly protested the idea of a war on Iraq. For example, on March 5, about 300 SF State students and faculty took the initiative to participate in the "Books not Bombs" national walkout strike, organized by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (NYSPC), made up of 15 different youth organizations.

As of November 19, there have been 494 confirmed coalition deaths in Iraq, according to CNN Coalition Casualties. The Associated Press counted 3,240 Iraqi civilian deaths in Iraq during a five-week investigation, but the amount is said to be a lot higher, according to antiwar.com's Iraqi Death count.

Support for both the war and an anti-war sentiment were present at a small debate held on campus, hosted by the Students Against War (SAW) organization, where students questioned whether the United Nations should be involved in the reconstruction of Iraq. Even though students from SAW prepared themselves for the Oct. 25th "Bring the Troops Home Now" national protest in downtown San Francisco, there weren't any plans to stage a protest on campus.

Students from the College Republican student group were in attendance at the debate and agreed to take part in future debates on campus, but at this time no dates have been scheduled.

During the debate Maria Trapaliz, Founder of the College Republican group on campus, said she hoped to break some stereotypes about Republicans. She also persisted that as a result of the protests, troops abroad have a low morale.

"If you actually talk to people who are actually out there, they (the troops) get depressed when they see the anti-war protests and when they see more and more protests, that just shows them that America is against them," said Trapaliz.
"We have to think about our soldiers."

Professors are also curious to know why there has been a significant decrease in student activism on campus.

"In general student activism on campus is much lower than it was during the Vietnam War," said Glenn Fieldman, International Relations Professor. "Students aren't at risk of being drafted; many are worried about getting a job after graduation and worried about having money to stay in school."

For many students, the recall election, mayoral election, and the Southern California wildfires may have sidetracked student activism, but the war continues to claim lives in Iraq.

"It seems that students are active about issues that directly affect them," said Johnetta Richards, Black Studies Professor.

A variety of SF State students claim the lack of media coverage has played a significant role in their lack of response to the war.

"It seems like the mainstream media has not covered the war as much as it did when the war first broke out," said Alan Dizon, BECA major and Assistant for Pilipino Academic Collegiate Endeavor.

"As time progresses, the hype about the war dies down," Dizon continued. "Now that all the hype is gone, no one is going to pay attention to it once it filters down. Current events become fads; it's really sad."

Other students feel the lack of media coverage about the war has left them in the dark about the reality in Iraq. This has caused some students to feel the war is no longer an important issue at the present time.

"The movement not only here on campus, but throughout the United States has retracted due to the amount of TV time and the way that the media covers the U.S. troops in Iraq," said Juan Guzman, Labor Studies student.

"Now people are talking about Arnold and other issues. This society is controlled by a circus, meaning that people's emotions are moved by what the media tells them," said Guzman.

In response to students' criticism about the media, John Burks, chair of the journalism dept. said, "There are still people dying so the war is still going on."

"The coverage was real intense, it (war coverage) was all over the TV, radio, magazines when the war happened," he continued. "But when the president declared a victory, too many American journalists followed the lead."

Schools Not Jails

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The organizations Books Not Bars and Education Not Incarceration put on a rally for SF State students in Malcolm X Plaza today to raise awareness about the disparity between prison and education funding.

Today's rally is a statewide day of action and was just one of the many events put on by these organizations today to educate the community about the impact of the criminal justice system on the lives and budgets of all California students.

The Associated Students and the Student Empowerment and Involvement Center worked with Books Not Bars and Education Not Incarceration to put together today's event, which hosted various speakers, poets and rappers who encouraged students to stay out of the prison system and to divert prison spending to the state's underfunded public education system.

International relations major and member of the Student Empowerment and Involvement Center, Sanjev DeSilva has not been affiliated with Books Not Bars for long, but became aware of it when the organization started developing an SF State chapter, which is still in its formative stages.

"I thought it would be a good [organization] to get involved with," DeSilva said.

Books Not Bars was launched in 2001 as a project of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. The organization pushes for government spending on prisons to be minimized and transferred to the education system.

Michael Molina, a member of Books Not Bars, shared various statistics with students, among them that SF State has recently had a 30 percent tuition increase and another is expected in the near future. More than 120,000 community college students have been forced to leave because of similar tuition hikes.

At the same time, 3,800 teachers have been laid off since the 2003-2004 budget cuts were effected. According to Education Not Incarceration, California ranks number one both in the number of prisoners and in the amount of money spent on prisons.

Signs were held up by students reading facts like $5.1 billion are spent on prisons, whereas the CSU system has a budget of $2.5 billion and the UC system's budget is $2.9 billion.

Molina emphasized the difference in government spending on prisons versus on education. "This is your money!" he yelled repeatedly. He encouraged students to fight for their rights and their money.

Asian-American Studies student Mark Bautista introduced a group of ninth-graders from the June Jordan School of Equity, which is located on campus in Burke Hall. Bautista is a mentor to these students year-round and is employed by the organization, REAL (Revitalizing Education And Learning). Books Not Bars came to the June Jordan School of Equity a few weeks ago to do workshops with the youth to educate them about the organization and asked them to speak at today's event.

These young students eagerly took the stage to voice their opinions about the inadequate educational spending. They led SF State students in chanting, "Books not bars, schools not jails." These high school students encouraged listeners by pointing out that although they are younger they are more active than college students in fighting for their student rights.

Although many SF State students passing through Malcolm X Plaza today seemed mostly uninterested, today's rally was intended to encourage students to be more active by going to the offices of state lawmakers with letters, photos, essays, stories, and anything else to show lawmakers that California students are suffering because of the budget cuts in the educational system and the increased spending on prisons to influence them to prioritize educational spending.

"It's up to us to make a difference," Molina said.

Campus Hate Crimes

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Earlier this semester, a series of incidents in and around SF State shocked and angered the campus community. The confusing circumstances surrounding the events caused even further complications.

Timeline of Events

Sept. 8 - A student living in Mary Park Hall, a campus dormitory, discovers a marked-up watermelon outside their door. Despite follow-up investigations indicating that the situation is not racially motivated, the racist connotations associated with watermelons lead it to be viewed as a hate crime.

Sept. 15 - A week later, the words "BLACK BITCHES" are found on the front door of student Allison Jackson's apartment in the Village, the apartment complex next to SF State.

Sept. 16 - The next day, the word "NIGG" is found written on the wall outside of an apartment in Mary Park Hall and on a note slipped under student Leah Miller's door.

Sept. 19 - Handwriting analysis reveals that Allison Jackson is a suspect in the Village incident.

Sept. 24 - Jackson admits to writing the comments on her door in an attempt to be moved out of her apartment.

Oct. 2 - The Afrikan Residents Association holds a news conference about the slow progress of the watermelon incident.

Oct. 8 - Miller admits to writing both the comments on the wall and in the note to to bring more attention to the recent events.

Oct. 15 - University Police, the district attorney, and the university attorney decide not to file criminal charges against either Miller or Jackson.

Continuing Coverage

Campus reacts to faked hate crimes: Some say racism still prevelant at SF State. November 20, 2003.

Bogged process fuels room rage: Roommate conflict may have contributed to faked hate crimes. November 20, 2003.

Fake hate crimes not new: Colleges experiance recent rash of bogus hate incidents November 20, 2003.

Race summit sets high hopes: A paramount summit on race and culture on campus concluded that institutional racism, faculty accountability for their in-class conduct, and safety and comfort on campus are three of the priorities SF State needs to address. November 20, 2003.

Hate Crimes Faked:Campus police report that two students who complained of racial epithets wrote the words themselves. Nov. 12, 2003

Alleged Hate Crimes Create Outrage:Sparked by fears of racism, students speak out. October 14, 2003.

Melon Plants Racial Tension: Alleged hate crimes in residence halls outrage black students. October 10, 2003.

Please post comments in the field to the right.

One of the 20 defendants in the SF Bookstore fraud case struck a deal with the prosecution, pleading guilty to a felony charge.

After a week of consideration, Joel Rogers Jr. agreed to a plea bargain and informed Assistant District Attorney James Thompson the morning of preliminary hearing on Nov. 5. Thompson, the prosecutor of the case, said that he made the offer to Rogers a week before the hearing.

As part of the plea bargain, Rogers agreed to pay a restitution fee of $5,600 to the SF State Bookstore while serving probation for three years. If Rogers pays the restitution fee in full he also has the chance to change the current charge from a felony to a misdemeanor after an 18-month period has gone by. Roger will also be required to testify against the other 19 defendants in the trial.

The 20 defendants involved in the case are accused of conspiring with their friends to steal money from the SF State Bookstore while employed there. Thompson alleges the defendants falsified merchandise returns in order to receive money from the bookstore.

According to Thompson many of the defendants worked at the bookstore as cashiers. Their friends would first buy merchandise from the bookstore and later pretend to return these items in order to receive a refund. In actuality, the items bought were never returned. Thompson alleges that the defendants managed to falsify returns by altering computer records.

A former supervisor first discovered the alleged fraud in January of 2002 and reported the crimes to the campus police. After a year-long investigation, the district attorney's office filed charges against the 20 defendants on Jan. 15 of this year. The charges filed include grand theft, theft of public funds, conspiracy, and theft by use of a computer. According to a statement released by the district attorney’s office, the alleged crimes took place between Nov. 20, 1999 and Feb. 14, 2002. According to the investigation records more than $150,000 was taken over that period of time.

The prosecutor was not surprised by Rogers’s decision. “He confessed all along and told his boss about what happened,” Thompson said, explaining the reasons behind Rogers’s willingness to plea bargain. “He has no strong defense, so all he could do is to strike the best deal there is.”

Thompson added that Rogers has been cooperating with the investigators of the case from the very beginning. Most importantly, the decision by Rogers to act as a whistle-blower against the other 19 defendants will greatly improve the prosecutor’s case, admitted Thompson.

Besides gaining a new witness, the prosecution also presented a new discovery that will strengthen its case against the defendants. At this time, Thompson did not elaborate on what the new evidence is exactly.

Many of the defense lawyers present at the hearing thought that the new evidence was important enough to delay the hearing and they asked the judge to postpone the preliminary hearing to a later date. After consulting with the lawyers, the judge moved the preliminary hearing to Nov. 20.

As a part of his deal, Rogers will forgo his right to a preliminary hearing and a jury trial. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 8.

Hate Crimes Faked

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Campus police say two African-American students who complained of racial epithets written on their doors wrote the words themselves to move the issues of racism to the forefront of the university.

One student wrote "NIGG" on a dormroom door. Another on student wrote "Black Bitches" on her Village at Centennial Square door. Both students accused other apartment residents of the vandalism, acording to police reports.

The first incident ocured when the words "Black bitches" was scrawled across the door of a fifth floor Village apartment on Sept. 14 or 15. Allison Jackson filed a report with the University Police claiming that her neighbor was a possible suspect in the vandalism. A handwriting analyst was called to dertermine who wrote the words.

Samples that were used in the case came from Jackson's roommates as well as the accused neighbor and Jackson. The analysis found that jackson wrote the words.

Due to an ongoing and escalating feud with her roommates, Jackson wrote the words in an attempt to get relocated to another room, according to the police report. When told she was a suspect, Jackson explained why she did it.

"I was requesting a roommate move, and I was given that advice in order for the roommate move to be taken seriously, things needed to occur ... issues needed to occur, and that if I really wanted, I could go ahead and pursue those issues, so the issue was basically that I wanted a roommate change."

According to the report, before Jackson admitted to writing the epithet, she said that the racial activties on campus had not been dealt with properly. Jackson said she knew peolple involved in a Sept. 8 incicent when a watermelon was mistakingly placed on a black student's doorstep and that the students didn't feel they were being assisted with the incident.

“As a matter of fact, I had to tell them that you have to go to the next level, if you don’t go to the next level, it will not get dealt with,” Jackson said, according to the report.

A similar seemingly unrelated incident occured in Mary Park Hall.

After concerns that the watermelon incident did not receive enough attention by campus authorities, freshman Leah Miller wrote “NIGG” on fellow resident Brandi Parr’s door on or around Sept. 20, according to the police report. Then she wrote a note bearing the same slur and claimed to her residential adviser that it was slipped under her door.

Miller said she was pressured into doing this by an older student, who claimed that she “had” to do it in order for the University to recognize racism in the community and that things like this had been done before.

“Granted I was wrong and it was stupid of me. There’s no excuse,” Miller told [X]press. “I’m mad at myself that I let someone coerce me into doing this, but it’s been a big learning experience.”

According to the police report, both Miller and Jackson have submitted written statements to University Police admitting to filing a false report, charges of vandalism and tampering with evidence to implicate a suspect.

Filing a false police report and tampering with evidence is considered a misdemeanor and punishable by imprisonment in county jail for up to one year and/or $1,000 in fines. Vandalism is considered a more serious offense punishable by imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines because SF State is public property.

On Oct. 15, the university police, the chief assistant district attorney and the chief administration attorney decided not to file criminal charges against Miller or Jackson, who both must comply with the university’s student discipline process. According to the police report, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office stipulated that it reserved the right to file charges at a later time if Miller or Jackson was involved in another incident.

University police could not be reached for comment at press time.

The disciplinary actions regarding Jackson and Miller are confidential, according to Polidora. “The individual who alleged the hate note has gone through the students judiciary process, as well as the housing disciplinary process,” she said.

Donna Cunningham, university judicial affairs officer, had no comment about the students.

The allegations prompted a campuswide race summit to be held on Friday Nov. 15. Despite the false allegations of hate crimes, the summit will go on as planned, organizers said.

“The summit is not being formed to address the specific issues that came out in the alleged incidence that happened in the Mary Ward Dorms earlier this semester,” director of public affairs, Polidora, said. “The summit is being formed to address the issues underlying those alleged events.”

Summit planner, Academic Senate Chair Jim Edwards said he has known the students admitted to writing the notes for quite some time but that it does not change the fact that the issues surrounding the incidents need to be addressed.

“There was a lot of insensitivity in the way students reacted to the students who got the remarks.”

He said even though the notes were written by one of the people making the complaint, the insensitive reaction to the alleged events has shown that the issue of race and cultural relations on this campus needs to be addressed.

“It’s still in the space and we have to deal with the issues surrounding it,” Edwards said. “She made it real by writing it. It brought out a lot if issues that seem real because of the reaction to it.”

“This campus can light the fire again in America,” Dennis Kucinich yelled out, in reference to the protests that took place over 30 years ago at SF State. Kucinich was putting the call out to current students to wage the same efforts to pull troops out of Iraq as past students did to pull troops out of Vietnam.

“We need to change the priorities of the country,” Kucinich said. “We cannot be complacent.”

Kucinich, an Ohio congressman since 1996, is running for the Democratic nomination for president. He spoke on campus today about his platform, addressing an overfilled classroom in HSS of students and members of the press.

The conference was “part of a larger day,” according to Holistic Healing Studies professor Ken Burrows, who helped arrange the event along with his department and the Environmental Studies department. In light of the overall event, a sustainability workshop that lasted throughout the afternoon, Kucinich highlighted his vision for creating a country run on sustainable and renewable energy.

Kucinich blamed oil, and other non-renewable energy sources like coal and nuclear power, for wars, pollution and massive exploitation, saying that the troops would not be in Iraq if there was no oil there.

SF State History Professor Trevor Getz, who attended today’s conference, has supported Kucinich’s campaign from the beginning. He likes the candidate’s un-dogmatic ideology.

“It’s going to take dedication and vision,” Kucinich said, comparing the movement towards sustainable energy to the way Americans rallied around President Kennedy’s goal of sending a man to the moon. He said that the entire society invested in the space program, and that now the entire society needs to invest in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power in order to break out of the current cycle of global exploitation.

San Francisco mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez introduced Kucinich to a press conference that took place a half-hour before the student conference. Gonzalez, a member of the Green Party, praised Kucinich for his goals of creating a more humane society that makes responsible investments. “Dennis has a great vision for the country,” Gonzalez said.

Although broadcasting and cinema student Peter Waymire liked most of Kucinich’s ideas, he did not understand why he would run for the democratic nomination. A registered Green Party member, Waymire believes Kucinich has no chance to win the nomination because the Democratic Party does not support any of Kucinich’s ideas.

Students cheered when Kucinich spoke about his plans if he wins the presidency, such as replacing U.S. soldiers in Iraq with U.N. soldiers, universal healthcare that is not profit-based, and repairing the country’s “corrupt foreign policy.”

Kucinich said that the current administration used 9/11 as an excuse to wage war on Iraq and that if the United States had complied with U.N. weapons inspections guidelines, then we would have known what we know now-- “that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

Kucinich said his role as president would be to change everything. He said that war, poverty, and illness are not inevitable if we look at changing the way things are done. “People in this country are ready for profound change,” Kucinich said.

Kucinich has also served as mayor of Cleveland, in the late 1970's.

For more information about Dennis Kucinich’s campaign, go to www.kucinich.com.

Growing Greens

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Leaders from the California Green Party appeared at the first ever California Campus Greens conference held at SF State Oct. 24 to 26 to stress the need for the student association to do well.

Grant Donnelly, president of the SF State Campus Greens and co-organizer of the event, was pleased with the conference, especially in light that the conference was suggested to Donnelly and co-organizer Rachel Rubin only two months ago. Eighty-five participants representing 12 California universities registered, but the actual turnout was about half that number.

“I was really pleased with the outcome. I think the conference was a success as it brought campuses and ideas together and I think the network will only continue to grow as we continue to get organized through the state infrastructure. I have no doubt that the network will grow as we have the support for our state,” said Donnelly

In attendance were Peter Camejo, California Green Party candidate for governor; Laura Wells, Green Party candidate for California Controller; as well as David Cobb, currently campaigning to be the Green Party's candidate for president.

Camejo, in town specifically to support the conference, said it was important to be there because the Green Party has received so much support from state campuses and youth in general.

“They did a poll in Marin County, for instance, and 22 percent of the high-schoolers considered themselves Green. In the last election ... nine percent of people aged 18 to 29 voted Green, so figure at least half of the people who wanted to vote for us didn't, so that's almost 20 percent of the people of that age group wanting to vote Green.”

Camejo added that the reason for the conference is to try and determine how to encourage more young people to get involved in the electoral process.

“We want young people running for school boards and for city councils, and to not be afraid at the age of 23 or 25 to go ahead and run for office and try to represent the interests of young people.” Camejo was also on a panel of Green Party candidates and organizers discussing the future of the party and the role of Campus Greens.

Robyn Oetinger, co-coordinator of the California Green Party Grassroots Organizing Working Group who also helps to coordinate the activity of the Campus Greens organization, said the conference was meant to organize the statewide efforts of campus activists by building a student grassroots organization.

“At our strategy session, each campus also made a commitment to reaching out to other nearby campuses, whether they’re universities, community colleges, or high schools, to get more chapters established,” Oetinger added.

Donnelly said he was looking forward to a “bit of a break” when the conference concluded on Sunday, but added that there was still a lot work to do.

“With the Matt Gonzalez campaign for mayor in full swing and the election right on the horizon, I think we'll do all that we can to outreach on campus as he is a Green and has a shot at winning.”


Related Links

Campus Greens Web site

San Francisco Goes Green?

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Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez edged out Democrat Angela Alioto to secure a spot against fellow supervisor Gavin Newsom in a December runoff according to unofficial results late Tuesday night.

The race to become San Francisco's next mayor has been a long and winding road for all the candidates. Going into the Nov. 4 election, Newsom led the polls by 20 points. Newsom, a moderate Democrat, faced his strongest opposition from three candidates who are all to the left of him politically. Matt Gonzalez, Angela Alioto and Tom Ammiano all fought for a second-place finish.

Gonzalez, 38, president of the Board of Supervisors, picked up momentum in the last few weeks leading up to the election, especially among young voters, by focusing his campaign efforts on house parties, art auctions, music benefits and poetry readings.

Alioto, 54, a civil rights attorney, is the daughter of one of San Francisco's most popular mayors, Joe Alioto. In the past few weeks, Alioto fashioned her campaign literature to refute Newsom's claims. Alioto, who was recently endorsed by one of San Francisco's most liberal publications, the Bay Guardian, told students at SF State's Mayoral Forum that she is the one who can beat Newsom.

Four years ago, Ammiano waged a write-in campaign for mayor, tallying 49,000 votes that put him head-to-head with incumbent Willie Brown in a runoff race. Although he lost, this act changed the face of politics forever in San Francisco and marked a shift to the left. Although polls suggest Ammiano lost support, he was confident of making it to the runoff.

In addition to mayoral votes, San Franciscans also voted for district attorney and sheriff.

In the close district attorney's race, incumbent Terence Hallinan will face deputy city attorney Kamala Harris in the December runoff. Hallinan received 36.6 percent of the vote, Harris 33.1 percent and Fazio 30.3 percent.

Incumbent Sheriff Michael Hennesey won easily over deputy sheriff Tony Carrasco by more than 60 percentage points.

Gonzalez Comes in Second

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The crowd at the Matt Gonzalez victory party was ebullient as the results of his mayorial campaign were read. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, voters have placed Green Party candidate Gonzalez into a December runoff for mayor against moderate Democrat Gavin Newsom.

"It's going to be Mr. Yuppie and Mr. Bohemian," joked Carlos Clay, a volunteer with the Gonzalez campaign upon hearing that Gonzalez had come in second.

The mood of the crowd, which ranged from scruffy skateboarders to seasoned activists, progressively grew more lively as the evening progressed. Supporters trickled in until a steady torrent filled The Gallery at 111 Minna St. in downtown San Francisco.

"Second place, motherfucker," screamed one overjoyed Gonzalez supporter, as the results were projected on the wall.

Gonzalez, a latecomer to the mayoral race, finally made up his mind and filed his intent to run at 8:11 a.m. on Aug. 8, the final day to declare candidacy with the Department of Elections. He returned later in the day, 20 minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline, to submit the required signatures and filing fees.

"It's a great honor to have people come to the polls to select me for mayor," Gonzalez said to his supporters after all the precincts had reported their results.

The crowd swelled around him and cheered as he addressed them. Gonzalez then began an attack on his opponent in the December runoff, Gavin Newsom.

"My opponent is someone that has spent more per vote than Arnold Schwarzenegger," Gonzalez claimed. "Now is not the time to pick a mayor with the major purpose of ribbon cuttings."

California Green Party recall candidate Peter Camejo was also at the victory party and declared Gonzalez "the next mayor of San Francisco."

Gonzalez’s candidacy declaration created a stir throughout San Francisco's political circle. Lucrecia Bermudez, a leftist mayoral candidate, immediately withdrew from the race. Supervisor Tony Hall, who was thinking about a run for the mayor’s seat at the time, stated that he would not join the November race as Gonzalez's campaign was expected to draw votes from other left-leaning candidates such as Tom Ammiano and Angela Alioto.

The late decision by Gonzalez left him very little time to get out his messages and to build up a momentum big enough to draw enough votes to propel him to the runoff in December.

Many of his campaign volunteers and supporters expressed that concern. Jim Dornenkott, a supporter of Gonzalez, said Gonzalez might have entered the race too late to gather enough support and gain enough votes to make a serious challenge to the frontrunners who had entered the race much earlier.

Gonzalez supporters can at least relax for a moment, with the voting results showing that he is on his way to a faceoff with Newsom in next month's runoff election. Gonzalez garnered 20.1 percent of the total votes as of 11 p.m.

Gonzalez, one of the most progressive candidates in this race, supported the successful Proposition L that will raise the minimum wage in the city from $6.75 to $8.50. The proposition also gained wide support from organizations in the city and from many of his fellow supervisors.

Gonzalez was also a supporter of Proposition I, Child Care for Low Income Families, which passed by 60 percent. Proposition I calls for a new program, Children’s Fund, to be created to pay for child care and preschool for low-income families whose income is 75 percent below the California median income. The money for the fund will come from a portion of the property taxes collected by the city.

Gonzalez spoke out against only one proposition in this election, Proposition M-- the highly successful Aggressive Solicitation Ban.

It's a Runoff!

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The results are in and the race for San Francisco's next mayor will be determined by a runoff election with front-runner Gavin Newsom, who led the mayoral race since its onset, facing Matt Gonzalez.

Newsom maintained a near 20 percent lead over Gonzalez, but without securing more than half of the votes needed to win, he is forced to face Gonzalez in a Dec. 9 runoff.

The battle for the second-place position in the mayoral race has been a struggle for leading contendors Angela Alioto, Tom Ammiano and Matt Gonzalez. At various times throughout the race, each of these candidates held the coveted second-place position in published polls.

Gonzalez beat Alioto for the number two spot in the runoff by four percentage points.

San Francisco has a history of choosing its mayors through a runoff election. This year marks the seventh runoff in the past eight elections. Dianne Feinstein was the last mayor to avoid a runoff when she was re-elected for her second term in 1983, which she won by a landslide.

According to the San Francisco Department of Elections, every front-runner in the November mayoral election won the December runoff. If voters continue this historical trend, Gavin Newsom will become the city's 42nd mayor.

With an additional 35 days to campaign, both Gonzalez and Newsom will use this time to pull in more voter support. By continuing to attend community events and promoting their political standings, both will attempt to snag support from voters who are now undecided in their candidate choice. It is likely that Gonzalez and Newsom will put much of the focus on the marked distinctions that separates them.

The runoff procedure was not even supposed to be a possibility for San Francisco elections this year. In October 1999, Supervisor Tom Ammiano proposed to get rid of the costly runoff elections, replacing them instead with instant runoffs, an election procedure that Santa Clara County has already adopted.

Last year, San Francisco voters approved this plan for instant runoff elections, but problems in the city's election department and with accessing the software for the new voting system forced the city to delay plans for the instant runoff.

Once instant runoffs are implemented, voters will choose their top three candidates. After the initial votes are counted, the candidate with the least number of first-place votes would be eliminated. The second choice votes from these ballots are then put back in the vote count. This process continues until one candidate emerges with the majority of the votes.

Since the instant runoff procedure has been abandoned for the time being, candidates must wait until December to find out who will be replacing Willie Brown as the city's next mayor.

Propositions Mainly Victorious

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All but one of the 14 propositions on the ballot passed today, with the exception being Proposition N, which would have prohibited the city from taking away taxi permits from drivers with disabilities. Here is a rundown of the results as of 11 p.m.

Proposition H
Police Commission/Office of Citizen Complaints
passed 52 to 48 percent: needed 50 percent +1 to pass.

Proposition H will increase the size of the Police Commission, which oversees the police department and Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC), from five members to seven. Previously, the mayor had the power to nominate all five members.

This proposition will give the Board of Supervisors the right to nominate three of the members while allowing the mayor to nominate four. The Board of Supervisors will also be able to veto any of the mayor’s appointees to the commission, and the OCC will also have the power to file charges of officer misconduct directly with the commission. Previously, the chief of police saw any complaints filed by the OCC before they reached the commission.

This proposition is a response to scandals that have plagued the San Francisco Police Department for nearly three years, most notably, the "fajitagate" scandal, in which the son of the assistant chief of police and two other drunken off-duty police officers allegedly beat two men in front of a Union Street bar. This led to re-elected District Attorney Terence Hallinan indicting almost all the top officers of the police department on suspicion of trying to cover up the scandal and protect its officers.

The San Francisco Police Officers’ Association strongly opposed this measure, saying that it would put politics before the police department, since it would give the Board of Supervisors veto power against the mayor’s appointees to the commission.

The Board of Supervisors argued that the proposition would not give them control of the department, since the mayor will still have the right to fire and hire the police chief as well as the power to oversee the budget for the department.

Proponents of the measure, including the American Civil Liberties Unions (ACLU) and mayoral candidates Matt Gonzalez, Tom Ammiano, Susan Leal and Angela Alioto, argued that the police department is in desperate need of reform. Proponents also argued that the current OCC hampers investigations of police misconduct and has insufficient independence from the department.


Proposition L
Minimum Wage
passed 60 to 40 percent: needed 50 percent +1 to pass.

Proposition L will raise the minimum wage in San Francisco from $6.75 to $8.50 per hour, giving the city's 54,000 minimum-wage earners a raise. A full-time, minimum-wage worker currently makes only $14,000 a year, but Proposition L will raise the amount to about $20,000.

Proponents argued that minimum wage has not kept up with the times by not reflecting the current standard of living for an expensive city such as San Francisco. Proposition L was also important to those 16,000 parents who are currently minimum wage earners.

The main opponents of Proposition L were business groups like the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and the San Francisco Association of Realtors, who claimed the proposition would hurt small businesses, forcing them to lay off workers.

Proposition M
Aggressive solicitation ban
passed 59 to 41 percent: needed 50 percent +1 to pass.


Another controversial measure on the ballot was Proposition M, which will tighten panhandling legislation. The proposition, which was drafted by runoff candidate Gavin Newsom, will strengthen laws against solicitation and in effect ban panhandling. Under this proposition, the new rules will ban panhandling near ATMs, on a street or highway, on public transportation and in parking lots.

Proponents argued that the city has reached a crisis point with the homeless, with 169 homeless individuals dying on the streets last year. By denying the homeless a means to solicit money from individuals, proponents feel the homeless would have no other choice but to enter treatment centers for mental health problems, alcoholism and drug abuse. Those individuals who continue to panhandle would be arrested and placed into treatment programs.

Opponents of the proposition, like the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, claimed that the law would unfairly target the homeless, and that it will violate First Amendment rights by forbidding the solicitation of money in public areas, thus criminalizing speech. Opponents also claimed that the measure could be costly to the city by forcing a police crackdown on panhandlers. They argued the money should instead be used on more beneficial homeless services, instead of trying to drive panhandlers out of San Francisco.

Other Proposition Results
Proposition A- School bonds: passed 71 to 29 percent: needed 55 percent to pass. This measure will finance $295 million in bonds to the San Francisco Unified School District allowing it to repair its facilities to current health and safety standards.

Proposition B-Retirement benefits for safety employees: passed 67 to 33 percent: needed 50 percent +1 to pass. This proposal will allow 440 “miscellaneous” city workers negotiate with the Board of Supervisors for better retirement benefits, since they are not members of the standard city retirement system.

Proposition C-City services auditor: passed 70 to 30 percent: needed 50 percent +1 to pass. The city will create a new auditing division run by the controller’s office. The proposition will also set up a hotline and Web site where citizens could complain about city services and “government waste, fraud and inefficiency.”

Proposition D-Small Business Commission: passed 56 to 44 percent: needed 50 percent + 1 to pass. This proposition will give the city’s small-business commission the power to set city policy regarding small businesses.

Proposition E-Ethics reform: passed 62 to 38 percent: needed 50 percent +1 to pass. This proposal will allow the city to update its ethics and conduct code. It also will further restrict nepotism, campaign contributions and lobbying.

Proposition F-Targeted early retirement: passed 68 to 32 percent: needed 50 percent+1 to pass. Prop F will lower the age of retirement by three years in city positions that are currently being eliminated because of the city’s budget shortfall. This will let newer city employees keep their jobs by giving voluntary early retirements to older employees.

Proposition G-Rainy day fund passed 76 to 24 percent: needed 50 percent +1 to pass. If ever the city has an unusually large surplus of money, this proposition will create a “rainy day” reserve fund. This fund will be used in years when there is a revenue shortfall.

Proposition I-Child care for low-income families: passed 60 to 40 percent: needed 50 percent +1 to pass. It will make the city pay part of the cost of child care and preschool for lower-income families.

Proposition J-Facilities for the homeless: passed 59 to 41 percent: needed 50 percent +1 to pass. Prop J will make the city provide temporary shelters for homeless people with special needs. These shelters will be separate from the city’s main shelter.

Proposition K-Sales tax for transportation: passed 75 to 25 percent: needed 2/3 majority to pass.The city will charge a one-half cent sales tax to help improve city maintenance, transportation for the elderly and disabled, construction of a central subway and upgrades to Muni.

Proposition N-Taxi permit holder disability did not pass 72 to 28 percent This proposal would have prohibited the city from taking taxi permits away from drivers who become disabled and are unable to meet the required number of shifts per year.

Newsom Comes out on Top

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Gavin Newsom topped the list of candidates for mayor of San Francisco with 41 percent of the votes, according to election results. And while San Franciscans will not know who will run the city until the Dec. 9 runoff election between Newsom and Matt Gonzalez, Newsom's supporters stand strong in their belief in their candidate.

Newsom held his celebration party in the Avalon Ballroom of the Regency Hotel on Van Ness and Sutter. As preliminary results displayed on the big screen, the crowd cheered at the results showing Newsom atop the list of candidates.

Sean Martinfield has been campaigning for Newsom by participating in neighborhood walks, phone campaigning and sending out loads of mailers. He expected Newsom to gain 50 percent of the vote which would have prevented a runoff.

"I blame it on low-voter turnout, the city is not taking responsibilty," Martinfield said. "It's disheartening that a small number of people are making huge decisions for the city."

He made it clear that they would work twice as hard to really get the message out for the runoff election.

Rufino De Leon Jr., 35, an employee of SF State, has backed Newsom from the start. "He is able to stand up for what he believes in, as difficult as the issues may be," said De Leon Jr. "The other candidates are just tiptoeing around the issues and trying to stay in the middle. He is courageous enough to take on the hard issues."

Newsom built his campaign platform on the issues of housing, business and workforce literacy. Housing in the "crown jewel," as Newsom calls San Francisco, has proven to be a critical issue. The Bay Area is one of the most sought-after areas to live in the whole world. Part of Newsom's solution is to create business incentives.

"There is a need in San Francisco to align the private, public and nonprofit sectors and to incentivise the development of housing," Newsom said. "This should target the working families and middle- to lower-class families that are desperate to live and work in San Francisco, not just work here."

As an owner of 12 small business that have generated 700 jobs, Newsom said he has an insider's perspective on the struggles small businesses face. Newsom argues that his experience helps him understand what they need from the public sector.

"The businesses are what define the diversity of this city," he said. As mayor, Newsom said he will implement a 16-point small-business plan that will target women, minorities and local business entities.

Tuan Nguyen, a precinct captain for the Newsom campaign, described today as being an especially crazy day for campaign workers. Acoording to Nguyen much of the volunteers had taken the day of work to "give it all up for Gavin."

"I don't think I would have gone into politics if it wasn't for Gavin," said Nguyen, a graduate from the BECA department at SF State. "He has ideas, enthusiasm and a vision for the city that no other candidate does."

Newsom wants to focus on literacy. Growing up dyslexic and having to take classes for it even through college, he believes that the city has an obligation to provide youth with workforce literacy. There are about 14,500 students under-performing, Newsom said. His education plan focuses on increasing literacy rates, stomping out truancy and decreasing dropout rates.

Those voting for Newsom say he represents a new generation of San Francisco politics. John Shanley, Newsom's press officer argues that he doesn't look at the issues the way politicians did 10 years ago.
"He is looking for creative solutions to change the way business is done," Shanley said. "Two or three years ago he created Proposition E which dealt with Muni reform. It gave Muni a direct funding source and improved Muni service. He is doing the same thing with homelessness."

On Sept. 1, the price of Muni was raised a quarter and monthly passes were raised by $10. Newsom put this rate hike in perspective by stating that this would create beteen $15 million and $18 million in new revenue. He argued that it is not an insubstantial amount of money especially with a $347 million budget deficit in San Francisco.

"The overview of reality is I don't like it and it's hard to swallow, but we have to find the resources somewhere," Newsom said.

Shanley was pleased with the results of today's election. He thinks that they are in pretty good shape but cited that it is a brand new race tomorrow. They will put their efforts back into their Get Out the Vote campaign to get voters to the polls. Shanley is confident that Gavin can defeat Matt Gonzalez in December's runoff.

"Gavin debated Matt over Care Not Cash, and it passed by 60 percent," Shanley said. "I think that we are on the right side of the issues, and we are ready for a vigorous debate on them."

Despite a promising campaign, Angela Alioto failed to garner enough votes to make it into the December runoff.

After being introduced by her son Joe Alioto, Alioto received a standing ovation and addressed disappointed supporters.

"We ran an incredible campaign," she said.

She went on to tell supporters that after campaigning for the past nine months, she has become acutely aware of all of San Francisco's problems.

"Just because I didn't win this race tonight, doesn't mean that I will stop addressing those problems."

In the weeks leading up to the election, Alioto remained in a close race for the second place spot with supervisors Matt Gonzalez and Tom Ammiano. According to polls commissioned by Cooper and Secrest Associates of Virginia on Oct. 27, Alioto held the second place spot behind Gavin Newsom in the race for mayor.

Despite these results, Gonzalez was never far behind, and ultimately it was he who managed to pull through and win the number two spot in the December runoff.

"We had a situation where Matt Gonzalez had a lot of momentum behind him," Lance Evans, Alioto's press secretary, said after the election. "People wanted change and, unfortunately, they did not see Angela as that change."

Alioto, a civil rights attorney and former SF Board Supervisor, is known for her passion for politics and the city of San Francisco. She felt confident that as mayor she could address the many crises that San Francisco currently faces.

Daughter of the late Mayor Joe Alioto, Alioto has the reputation of being a fighter, someone who has continuously taken on the hard fight and won.

"She is the most experienced and qualified candidate," campaign volunteer Josh Boxer said. "I think she has proven herself in the courtroom and on the Board of Supervisors that she's a fighter and she knows how to get things accomplished."

Alioto, who served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for eight years and was president of the Health Committee, has passed some cutting-edge legislation. She passed the first smoking ban, the first needle exchange legislation, and the first medical marijuana legislation in the nation. Alioto believes that women legislators do a better job than men with legislation regarding health because they are passionate about it.

"She's a person with heart and she's a person with passion," Evans said. "I think you need not only intelligence and personality, you need passion and you need to care about people. And she does."

Alioto has run for the office of mayor two previous times. She lost her first bid for mayor in 1991 and withdrew from the race in 1995 because of financial problems. She was confident that this election would result in a winning bid for herself.

"I've always wanted to be mayor. I'm gonna love being mayor. And I am the next mayor of San Francisco," she said.

Despite Alioto's loss in her third run for mayor, she remains passionate about San Francisco and keeps high hopes for the future. She has four children and two grandchildren, and told supporters that one of them will become the future mayor of San Francisco.

"Don't be sad," Alioto told her supporters as she fought back tears. "Keep up the fight," she urged as she disappeared into the upstairs office of her campaign headquarters.

Tom Ammiano's second attempt to become mayor of San Francisco fell short on Tuesday--he received only 10.5 percent of votes, not enough to earn him a spot in December's runoff. However, Ammiano plans to continue working in public service.

“Well, we're just a little bit, I guess the word is disappointed, however, some of the propositions we supported really look good. I think a lot of our ideas that are going to shape San Francisco have succeeded. I think that's really important,” he said.

Asked how he thought a runoff between Green Party candidate Matt Gonzales and Gavin Newsom would go, Amminano remained uncommitted.

“I think that's going to be a very interesting and quite a challenge for the city. Hopefully it will result in a very positive change for San Francisco.”

Ammiano, 61, based his campaign on improving public schools, ending governmental corruption, securing funds to make transportation accessible and making housing more affordable.

When Democrat Ammiano became a mayoral write-in candidate in 1999, he received a surprising 49,000 votes, which showed there was an increasing progressive majority in San Francisco, according to Ammiano’s Web site.

Ammiano campaign manager Hunter Cutting said he felt that the poor showing at the polls for Ammiano was mainly due to lack of coherence among the progressive candidates.

“The numbers show that the left is very, very divided in San Francisco, there is no unity and that there was a dogfight among the candidates and the challenge ahead of us is to get some unity going into the runoff.”

Cutting added that Ammiano was not ready yet to endorse any candidate.

“That's up to Tom. I think right now he's got some thinking ahead of him about what to do.”

Currently a San Francisco Supervisor, Ammiano wrote San Francisco’s breakthrough Domestic Partners Law, which legally recognized civil rights issues for gays and lesbians. Ammiano was first elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1994; his term will end in January 2005.

"I love this city. I’ve been involved in city politics for 40 years, mostly as an activist,” said Ammiano during a previous interview with [X]press Online. “The very next step is the mayor’s office so I could bring all this experience, as a real person in a real world to the mayor’s office."

Ammiano has served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for eight years and before that, the Board of Education for four years. Ammiano, a stand-up comic since 1980, has a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Seton College and a master’s degree in special education from SF State.

Even though Ammiano didn’t win the mayoral race, he plans to continue as a San Francisco supervisor.


As wildfires rage on through Southern California, San Francisco would seem to be relatively unscathed, with flight delays and worries, but little else impacting the Bay Area directly.

This is not the case for Michelle Griesgraber, a 21-year-old journalism student at SF State. On Sunday morning, after trying to reach her throughout the night, Griesgraber’s mother bore the news that her great-uncle Stephen Shaklett of La Mesa, a San Diego suburb, was one of 10 people to have been killed by the Cedar Fire, the largest of the blazes. The fire has destroyed more than 230,000 acres. Adding to the anxiety, the family is missing three people still, Griesgraber’s two aunts and an uncle.

“It’s like living a nightmare over the phone–-the missing relatives, the death, just being part of it,” Griesgraber says. “It’s surreal. It makes it worse because I can’t be there to live it with them.”

According to her family and to Shaklett’s widow Cheryl Jennie, Shaklett had broken his leg Saturday night, after tripping over the family’s two Irish Wolfhound dogs, which they train. They had gone to the emergency room for treatment, and were not able to return until after 4 a.m. When they returned, the flames had engulfed their entire house. Jennie and Shaklett decided to split up in order to save what little remained. Jennie took the family’s car, while Shaklett attempted to drive their motor home to safety. As Jennie was driving, the flames and smoke were becoming almost impassable. Jennie encountered a neighbor of theirs named Bob Daly, a retired firefighter who was able to direct her to safety on a different route. Shaklett was not so lucky.

“He told her that he was sure Steve was just waiting down at the bottom of the hill for us,” Griesgraber says. “As they were driving by Bob told her to duck her head between her legs and she might feel better--what really happened was that he was going back and would pass the motor home in flames, and he didn’t want her to see. When they got to the bottom of the hill, he told her the truth.”

Griesgraber says that the family is holding together as well as can be expected, considering the tragic circumstances.

“They’re all bonding together, taking turns cooking, and everything,” she states. “Cheryl said, ‘I’m a strong woman, and I’ll get through this. You can take everything from me, but why did you take my man?’”

As she speaks, Griesgraber alternates between a wide smile and tears, memories flooding out of her.

“Every Christmas we’d all go over to their house. It was a huge place with panoramic windows, hardwood floors, and giant bearskin rugs. We’d walk in, and Steve would have five different kinds of meat carved, roast turkey, beef,” Griesgraber says, her eyes twinkling. “All the women would gather on the porch and drink, and all the guys would be inside playing poker.

“Their house was always open--Steve and Cheryl are probably the most generous people, and we just took it for granted. It’s just so devastating to have it happen.” As she says this, she cannot stop the tears rolling down her cheek. “There’s just so much history,” she says, half-sobbing. “The weddings, the family reunions. I guess we’ll just have to regroup--it’ll be the same as it was, but just missing a very important man.”

The burden is perhaps extra difficult on Griesgraber, who is alone in the Bay Area. While her friends have been supportive, it has been all the harder without family here to comfort her.

“It’s strange,” she says, “but I’d rather be down there suffering with them than up here where they think I’m safe.”

Although the family has managed to recover Shaklett’s remains, plans for a funeral are on hold until the rest of the family has been located, and the situation has settled somewhat. From listening to Griesgraber describe him, it seems as though Shaklett was an imposing, yet sweet man.

“He was huge, six-foot-five, more than 300 pounds with strawberry-blond hair, blue eyes, and a short beard,” she recollects. “The Irish Wolfounds, they looked like regular dogs next to him, when they seriously looked like small ponies in front of anyone else. He was very opinionated, a staunch conservative who’d petition you into watching these right-wing conspiracy videos. He loved discussing politics and money, and was really intelligent. He’d open his house to anyone: liberal, feminist, vegetarian, you name it.”

Visit these links for a map of the fires, the California Department of Forestry, and an animated map of the latest fire positions.

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