February 2005 Archives

The California studies minor may be saved from discontinuance after all, following an agreement between the program’s director and the dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences last week.

“A deal was made and we accepted it,” said Lee Davis, program director of California Studies.
BSS Dean Joel Kassiola and Davis informed the Academic Senate on Feb. 22 that they were trying to work out an agreement that could make the proposal for discontinuance unnecessary, according to Ellen Griffin, university spokeswoman. The proposal was postponed to give the parties more time to discuss a plan.

“I met with the director of California studies and her supporters in an effort to achieve the needed saving without discontinuing the program,” said Kassiola. “We adjourned with a plan that I hope can be implemented and agreed to in time to withdraw the discontinuation.”

Kassiola and Davis declined to disclose the details until the plan is finalized. Davis was confident enough of the plan to announce the continuation of the program to her Thursday night class,

Anthropology 352: Peoples and Cultures of California, according to Tiffan Chilcott-Knauss, president of the California Studies Student Association (CaSSA) at SF State.

“She said that we saved California studies,” said Chilcott-Knauss, 23, senior and geography major.
Chilcott-Knauss, along with other members of CaSSA, worked on a rebuttal and attended the Academic Senate meeting to show their support of the program.

CaSSA was started in January to address the possibility of discontinuance of the program. Members of CaSSA attended the Academic Senate meetings in T-shirts that read: “I’m a California studies minor.”

This was to address the proposal’s claim that there were no California studies minor students. The program now has 14 students, said Davis.

“We’re fighting for something we believe in,” said Davis, who has a Ph.D. in anthropology and took a job organizing the California studies program in 1997.

First developed in 1995, the California studies minor is a program that combines an in-depth study of the state of California with other disciplines. For examples, some of the courses in the minor include English 531: Selected California Literature, Biology 305: Marine Plants and Animals of the California Coast and Geology 272: Earthquakes and the San Andreas Fault.

The proposal for discontinuance is just one of many problems that California studies has faced since its inception. Though published in the Bulletin since academic year 1997-1998, according to Davis, the minor wasn’t viable until it was listed in the Bulletin in Fall 2004.

The minor had too many units and three of the classes that were required were never offered prior to that, said Davis. She also said that she wouldn’t sign off on anyone who wanted to take the minor.

“You couldn’t finish it,” said Davis. “Courses weren’t offered so I told them to just take the classes.”
Davis knew about the problems of the program within the first few months but the changes didn’t go to the Academic Senate for approval until Spring 2002. Without elaborating, Davis attributed the delay in the revision of the minor to political issues outside of the program.

“It’s bureaucracy,” said Davis.

Even after the senate approved the changes and all of the minor classes were offered, the new 21-unit program missed the publication deadline for the next bulletin. The program was fully listed for the first time in the Fall 2004 bulletin. Unfortunately, SF State officials had decided in Spring 2004 to discontinue the minor.

Davis said that this was one of the reasons why no students were registered as California studies minors as stated in the proposal.

“It doesn’t allow any new students to get in,” said Davis.

The California studies program is only offered at nine of the 23 California State University campuses. Sonoma State University’s California studies program was the only other CSU whose program was proposed for discontinuance, according to Davis. The program was ultimately saved.

One other benefit of discontinuance stated in the proposal was that once the California studies minor was cut, Davis would be able to teach more classes.

“The college has a huge teaching need, (and) there is a really desperate need for teachers,” said Kassiola.

According to Kassiola, BSS has dealt with budget reductions of $1 million this year. Discontinuation of the California studies program will not only save around $12,000 and allow Davis to teach more classes, but will also free up the space which the program currently uses as an office.

The savings would go to Central Administration to give back to the CSU system, according to Kassiola. The free space would go to new faculty to use as offices. Though the details of the proposal have yet to be released, Davis said she is confident that it will pass.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Davis.

Some, though, don’t want to start celebrating until the matter is completely settled.

“I’m waiting on the Senate meeting to get excited,” said Chilcott-Knauss. “We fought as hard as possible.”

The California State University system may begin conferring clinical and professional doctoral degrees - independent of the University of California - if the state legislature and the governor approve a new proposal from State Senator Jack Scott, D-Pasadena.

The state bill, SB724, was written to allow the CSU system to address a growing need to provide doctoral degrees in select health and professional fields whose needs, CSU administrators say, are not being met by the UC system.

If passed, the legislation is expected to have an immediate effect on SF State’s audiology department, which trains students to diagnose and treat people with hearing problems.

Dr. Marcia Raggio, a professor of audiology at SF State, said the university needs to expand its masters programs to offer an Au.D., the professional doctorate awarded in audiology that will soon be required to meet California licensing standards.

“There is a huge expansion in the field in terms of knowledge you must have,” said Raggio. “It’s the way the whole industry is headed. We need a doctoral program.”

Under California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, only the UC system has the power to award doctoral degrees. But UC officials have so far opposed the CSU’s attempts to develop its own programs.

Since 1965, the UC and CSU systems have jointly developed a dozen doctoral programs. A partnership between SF State and UC Berkeley offers three professional doctoral degrees in education for individuals who want to be school principals or pursue a career in school administration. Another program, with UC San Francisco, lets SF State students earn one of two physical therapy doctorates.

These programs are too few in number and not being developed throughout the CSU fast enough to meet California’s needs, according to university officials.

“The CSU says joint (doctoral) programs are not coming on board fast enough,” said Jason Murphy, a legislative aide to Scott.

Murphy, who helped work on the proposed legislation, said there seems to be no widespread desire within the UC system to create new programs.

UC spokesperson Brad Haywood said the UC system is committed to saving tax dollars and providing the best education possible.

To give the CSU system permission to develop its own doctoral programs would cost more than joint efforts between the two systems, and could ultimately leave little distinction between the missions of the two universities, Haywood added.

“There is evidence that a joint partnership works,” Haywood said.

The partnerships allow the state to leverage its resources and create less duplication between the two university systems, he added.

The Master Plan defines the UC mission as that of being California’s primary research university and the only university capable of awarding doctoral degrees. The CSU role is limited to teaching undergraduates and awarding master’s degrees and certificates.

UC Provost M.R.C. Greenwood urged the CSU Board of Trustees Committee on Educational Policy in a speech last January not to make piecemeal changes to the state’s Master Plan.

“We need to see if a particular change such as this makes sense given that there are large areas of unmet needs within our existing missions,” she said. “My goal as provost is to have UCs comprehensively look at the state’s need for graduate education across all disciplines, including new and emerging fields.”

But Murphy said the UC is not committing enough resources quick enough to meet California’s needs.

“There is an immediate state need and the UC is not meeting it,” said Murphy.

The legislation isn’t designed to encroach on the UC’s territory, he added. It won’t seek permission to award Ph.D.s that lead to university teaching and jobs. Nor will they push to set up medical and law schools.

“We’re not going after (the) UC’s bread and butter,” Murphy said.

But what they want to do first is set up Au.D. programs. New audiologists, who currently need a master’s degree to diagnose and treat hearing problems, will need a doctoral degree within two years under new requirements.

In California, San Diego State University and UC San Diego have partnered to offer the only joint Au.D. degree in the state. Currently, there are six CSU campuses within California – including SF State – that offer master's degrees in audiology. Five of the six programs may close if they’re not allowed to offer doctoral degrees, CSU officials say.

Several universities have rebuffed the SF State audiology department’s attempts to partner with them to create a joint doctoral degree.

Stanford University, the University of San Francisco and UC San Francisco have all declined to partner with SF State, said Raggio, who added that she worries about a decline in the quality of care for those
suffering from hearing loss.

Officials at health care provider Kaiser Permanente, a large employer of audiologists in the Bay Area, say they’ve had a hard time hiring enough audiologists to meet their needs, according to Raggio. To fill the gap, officials may turn toward hearing aid technicians to diagnose hearing loss. These hearing aid technicians need only a high school diploma and a passing score on a state exam to diagnose hearing loss.

Often they are employed by the manufacturers of the hearing aids they sell. Unlike audiologists, hearing aid technicians are unable to treat hearing loss with much more than a hearing aid, Raggio said.

Trays full of cannabis brownies, cakes and other baked goods sit on tables in a room hazy with marijuana smoke at the San Francisco Patient’s Cooperative and Medical Cannabis Community Center.

This assortment of “medicated” confections and profuse marijuana consumption was the culmination of the third annual National Medicinal Marijuana Week, which began Feb. 12.

National Medicinal Marijuana Week originated in Oakland in 2003 to support medicinal cannabis activist Ed Rosenthal and to educate a community that was largely unaware of medicinal marijuana issues, said Alex Franco, volunteer coordinator for Americans for Safe Access.

This was San Francisco’s first year participating in National Medicinal Marijuana Week, and the organizers, medicinal marijuana advocacy groups Americans for Safe Access and the California Marijuana Party, have branded the week a “huge success.”

“Our goals were to spread awareness and support for medicinal cannabis and let the local government know we appreciate their support,” Franco said, “and I think we have been extremely successful.”

The weeklong series of events included concerts, a “spreading the love seed planting,” a benefit honoring medicinal marijuana activists Ed Rosenthal and Dennis Peron, several educational seminars and a medicinal marijuana health fair.

SF State graduate Kevin Zin, 25, works at the Medicinal Cannabis Center in San Francisco, but said he does not smoke marijuana.

“I think it’s cool that it’s used for treatment, as long as it doesn’t turn into abuse,” said Zin, who described himself as a conservative. “But I think that using it too much is a negative thing.”

Stewart Kellar, 22, is a broadcast and electronic communication arts major at SF State. Kellar said medicinal marijuana is valid for serious illness, but believes that the practice has gotten a little “willy nilly.”

“Medicinal marijuana being used to treat anything is ridiculous,” Kellar said. “(Marijuana) shouldn’t become like a blanket medicine.”

Kellar said that many people, including a friend of his, are getting marijuana recommendations for illegitimate ailments.

“I think that when it’s used for cancer patients its one thing,” Kellar said. “But when it’s like ‘oh, I ate some bad Chinese food, give me some pot,’ it’s not medically sound.”

Use of medicinal marijuana became legitimate in 1996, when 56 percent of Californians passed Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act. The proposition, which became California Health and Safety Code Section 11362.5, granted “seriously ill” Californians the right to obtain and use marijuana for medicinal purposes. It became the first statewide medical marijuana voter initiative adopted in the United States.

The active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can be smoked or ingested to stimulate appetite, reduce nausea and ease chronic pain, according to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine.

Some of the most common maladies treated by marijuana are cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis and migraines. However, the proposition states that use can be extended to “any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.”

Patient Stephanie Delucca was diagnosed with HIV in 1989, and developed Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC), a bacterial infection of the intestines.

Delucca said she was given six months to live and as a last resort prescribed medicinal cannabis. Since then, Delucca said, her MAC and HIV have been dormant, due in large part to medicinal cannabis.

“Marijuana plays a big part in my health and my life,” Delucca said. “I doubt I’d be alive and healthy today without it.”

Since 1996, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have also approved ballot initiatives legalizing medicinal marijuana.

However, propositions such as 215 put state law in direct opposition to federal law which, under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, deemed any marijuana use illegal. This creates a difficult situation for medicinal cannabis users and distributors, who are subject to federal raids and prosecution despite state legality.

San Francisco District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said this discrepancy between federal and state law is the reason that the medicinal marijuana system is “rife with problems.”

“Medicinal distributors must pirouette around the federal impediments,” Mirkarimi said. “Clubs are forced to operate in the shadows.”

Wayne Justmann, a counselor and advisor at Alternative Herbal Health, a medicinal cannabis “club” on Haight Street, said that Medicinal Marijuana Week was “well served to continue to educate the populous on the proper use of cannabis.”

Justmann acknowledged the risk of operating a cannabis club despite possible federal prosecution, but said he is more concerned with providing care to those who need it.

“Our goal (at the club) is to meet the needs of the patients on a day-by-day basis and hope that we are able to provide care tomorrow as well,” Justmann said.

Since the passage of the Compassionate Use Act, several bills provide defined state guidelines for medicinal marijuana possession. Senate Bill 420 allows patients to possess up to six mature or 12 immature plants and up to a half pound of dried marijuana.

The amount of marijuana that patients may legally possess and cultivate varies from county to county. For example, in Sonoma County, patients can have as much as 99 plants and 3 pounds.

In some counties like San Francisco, patients may also obtain voluntary medical cannabis identification cards which make it easier for law enforcement and cannabis distributors to identify legitimate patients.

Dewayne Tully, spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department, said that the SFPD acknowledges medicinal marijuana patients and will not cite individuals who can show proof of their patient status and are within possession guidelines.

“We uphold the law, whatever it may be,” said Tully. “If a person has a card and doesn’t exceed the set (possession) amounts, they won’t be cited or arrested.”

Franco said she expects a bright future for medicinal cannabis in San Francisco. Organizations such as Americans for Safe Access will continue to celebrate and support medicinal cannabis, Franco said.

“Someday hopefully, everyone will be educated about our cause,” Franco said. “and then we’ll have no need for medicinal marijuana week.”

Adolescent binge drinking may cause permanent brain damage, a recent study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found. The study was published in this month's issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Researchers Fulton T. Crews and Kim Nixon from the university's Bowles Center for Alcoholism Studies examined the effects of binge drinking in a study partly funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The researchers studied two groups of rats. One group consisted of adolescent rats, aged 28 to 42 days and the other control group consisted of adult rats. The researchers gave the rats large amounts of alcohol mixed with nutritional drinks for four consecutive days. The alcohol consumed was large enough to create high blood levels.

Rats from both groups experienced brain damage after binge drinking, but only the adolescents had experienced damage to the frontal association cortex, anterior piriform and perirhinal cortcices parts of the brain. In humans, these areas are represented by the orbital frontal and temporal cortical areas, which control memory, emotions and decision making, according to the Website of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies.

SF State psychology professor Virginia Saunders said that while the human brain is more complex than a rat’s, research on rats can give some insight into the human brain. Saunders also said rats go through a period of adolescence and experience some of the same physiological changes as humans.

"In the neural sense their brains are composed like ours, ours is just more complex. It’s similar enough that we can begin to make those generalizations knowing that our brains are more complex. We can get the basic answers," said Saunders.

Saunders is conducting a long-term research project on the behavioral markers of alcoholism among college students. Behavioral markers are acts of behavior they may indicate a person is genetically prone to alcoholism, and could face alcohol abuse problems in the future if they drink heavily in college. According to Saunders, behavioral markers substitute expensive DNA tests showing the same factor.

Saunders said that while most research focuses in on the long-term effects of alcohol abuse, she is not surprised by the findings of the study.

"That’s true, it could happen in just one four-day episode, it will definitely happen if you continue. That’s the kind of binge that could cause permanent damage," Saunders said.

At SF State, several students under the age of 21 said that the type of binge drinking described in the study is not uncommon among people of their age.

Film major Alan Fackler, 18, lives at the Mary Ward Hall. He said he knows many people who sometimes or often drink alcohol for four days at a time.

"This is college, man, people drink. I know a lot of people who can take that, four days in a row," Alan said.

Liberal Arts major Rachel, 18, said she had gone through a four day period of alcohol drinking at least once, during a trip to Mexico with her friend, psychology major Kelly, 19.

Both said other students do it as well.

"It’s not common, but it happens," Rachel said.

Kelly and Rachel, who live in the dorms, said they believed the dorm lifestyle contributes to heavy drinking habits. Fackler, however, said he believed freshmen in general drink a lot.

"It doesn’t have anything to do with the dorms, it has more to do with independence," Fackler said. "I think a lot of people drink in college because it’s our first time away from home."

Both Kelly and Rachel said they are not likely to stop drinking, despite knowing the consequences of heavy drinking and being aware of the risk of liver damage.

"It’s something I think about, but it’s not gonna make me stop," Kelly said.

Besides the type of brain damage described in the study, there are also other risks related to binge drinking, said Saunders. For students that have genetic factors indicating an increased risk of alcoholism, heavy drinking in college could lead to alcohol abuse or alcoholism, Saunders said.

"I’ve watched very good students disappear just because of alcohol problems," Saunders said. They disappeared in the level of not being very successful in their lives, not being able to maintain personal relationships or jobs on a regular basis."

"Many college students can go through the heavy drinking years of college, come out on the other side and learn to drink responsibly, some students are not just able to," Saunders said.

Environmentalists and health advocates told the San Francisco Board of Supervisors last week that the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) still has not removed its worst polluting diesel buses from service, despite a ballot initative passed last year requiring them to do so by Jan. 1.

In March 2004 two-thirds of San Francisco voters passed Proposition I. It mandated that all 144 diesel buses made before 1991 be retired. Muni will phase out 45 of its 1988 models this year, then 56 of the 1989 models next year, and 40 of the 1990 buses the following year.

Linda Weiner, director of communications for the American Lung Association, spoke at the City Hall hearing on Feb. 16. She asked the Board of Supervisor's Land Use Committee to pull diesel buses off the road as soon as possible.

"These buses are so old they cannot be retrofitted with any modern technology and in the meantime continue to spew toxic emissions that can lead to lung cancer and premature death," Weiner told supervisors Sophie Maxwell, Gerardo Sandoval and Jake McGoldrick.

She cited a finding from the California Air Resources Board that a substantial number of cancer cases could be traced to diesel fuel exhaust. The 1998 study done by the board found that bus exhaust contained arsenic, dioxin, lead, mercury and benzene.

According to Weiner, one out of six people in San Francisco complain of asthma. She advised anyone with a respiratory ailment to avoid being exposed to diesel fuel exhaust. She cautioned the infirmed who live along a Muni bus route to stay indoors during hours of its service operation or even to wear a surgical mask.

"The particulate matter from diesel bus exhaust exacerbates asthma," she said. "And it's especially bad for young children or the elderly."

Anna Marie Cabarelloz is a junior majoring in photography at SF State. She relies on the No. 28 bus to commute to school. She said she is well aware of the diesel exhaust, but it only bothers her a bit when she exits the bus.

"I would definitely use an electric (Light Rail Vehicle) if they had a different line," said Cabarelloz. "I can use the L (Taraval) but the distance is kind of far for me."

Cabarelloz, who lives just two blocks from the No. 28 line, can still hear it roaring pass at night while she is trying to study for exams. She said that she and her friends would prefer to take the M-line, if it ran all the way up 19th Avenue.

"That would make much more sense," said Cabarelloz.

Joe Speaks, representing Muni, maintained that a three-part strategy known as Muni’s "Clean Air Plan" was on schedule to meet its goal. He said the objective was to convert the entire fleet by 2020 with Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEVs).

"The fleet is already 51 percent electric," Speaks said.

The first part of the plan is to maximize the conversion of 500 diesels to ZEVs. The second step is to replace conventional diesels with electric drive buses. And finally, the plan called for an immediate upgrade of conventional diesels to low emission diesels. Speaks said it would reduce emissions by 88 percent from the 1997-2003 levels.

"Let's not get carried away with the latest whiz-bang technology," Speaks cautioned.

He referred to Muni’s plan to purchase a fleet of diesel/electric hybrid buses. They will cost $25 million and Muni is still exploring ways to obtain the funds. He reminded the Land Use Committee that Muni is under pressure to close a $57 million gap it has incurred for the 2005-06 budget.

Jon Golinger, former organizer for Proposition I, now spokesman for an environmental coalition that includes the National Resources Defense Council, told the Land Use Committee, "We realize it's a tough budget climate, but not a penny for cleaner buses should be spent on operational costs."

Golinger explained that buying buses is a capital expense and that Muni has a reserve fund just to buy buses. He said Proposition K, passed in November 2003, raised the sales tax from 8 percent to 8.5 percent in the city for transit improvement, especially for Muni.

He complained that it was a cause for concern that the first deadline for complying with a voter-approved measure has come and gone without compliance. He said Muni could have applied for a one-year extension but has taken neither action and is in violation of the law.

He said diesel buses covered homes all along their destination routes with sooty exhaust. People passing by the buses and passengers riding inside are exposed to toxic emissions, he said.

"You see them, you taste them, they're there every day," Golinger said.

Golinger said he hoped the Board of Supervisors would force Muni into compliance or else the City Attorney could be compelled to file a lawsuit.

John Rizzo, chair of the Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club told the Land Use Committee he agreed with the previous critics of Muni.

"Proposition I was succinct. Voters knew what they were voting for. It's the law! And Muni needs to abide by it," siad Rizzo.

Despite his demand for compliance, Rizzo said he hoped the Sierra Club could work with Muni to implement Proposition I in any way we can. But Rizzo said Muni squandered an opportunity several years ago when they turned down government funding to buy 15 natural gas (CNG) buses.

Although environmentalists are pleased with plans to purchase hybrid diesel-electric buses, they maintained that the CNG models would emit the least emissions.

Students and faculty evacuated the Humanities building late Tuesday afternoon to the tune of the building's fire alarm.

Hundreds of students poured outside at about 4:10 p.m. and remained outside for the next 35 minutes as police and fire officials searched the roof and all five floors of the structure. Fire officials have not yet released the cause of the alarm.

SF State student Ellen Lavin, 19, who has not declared a major, was in her ethics and medicine class on the second floor when the alarm erupted through the building. Lavin said the class was preparing to take a quiz shortly before the building was evacuated.

“As we were leaving (the professor) was giving us handouts and telling us to get outside,” said Lavin.

Bruce Smith, 55, a master's student in English, was waiting on the first floor for his English 421 class to begin at the time of the fire alarm.

“First we thought it was a test,” said Smith. “Then somebody saw a truck outside and we realized that it might not be. People were pretty calm, it was an orderly exit.”

The crowd of students waiting outside remained organized as the building was searched. The students passed the time by chatting, smoking, and reading quietly.

Zack Mohr, 20, a history major, sat reading on the curb in front of Café Rosso during his unexpected break from class. Mohr said he was unsure whether or not he was supposed to return to class.

“I'm guessing we are, we just came out in mass,” said Mohr.

When asked if he was upset that the time he designated for class was now being spent outside, Mohr replied, “No not really. What the hell, it's a nice day.”

Flowers and candles adorned a memorial tribute on Wednesday to Dr. Gladys P. Blacut, a Spanish lecturer with a 20-year history at SF State. Nearly 50 people gathered in Room 473 of the Humanities building to remember Blacut, who died on Feb. 11 at age 67.

Foreign Languages Department Chair Midori McKeon tearfully described working with Blacut to be a privilege and honor.

“I am awed at the largeness of the vacuum that her departure has created, which I know we cannot easily fill,” McKeon said. “She poured her unselfish love to the benefit of students and set uncompromisingly high standards for herself as a teacher to bring out the best and the most of her students.”

Blacut had been battling breast cancer and liver failure for several years, and eventually her kidneys were affected as well.

“She was very resilient,” Spanish Professor Gustavo Calderon said. “We thought she was going to beat it, but in December it (cancer) came back with a vengeance.”

Calderon described Blacut as a beloved colleague and friend with a great knowledge of literature.
“She had the most tender respect for all students,” Calderon said. “We are very sorry to say good-bye to her forever because this gap will never be fulfilled. We will remember Gladys as a beautiful and modest human being who never said anything bad about anyone.”

Dora Balcazar, a friend and former student of Blacut, described her death as a tremendous loss for the Spanish-speaking community as well as women in general.

“Thanks to her, I appreciate women in literature,” Balcazar said. “She was a beautiful person and she’ll be missed terribly. Not only among the Spanish, but all immigrants.”

Former SF State professor Julian Randolph said that there was never a challenge too difficult for Blacut.
“She was devoted entirely to her students, hour upon hour,” Randolph said. “She was soft, warm, and cordial. And she made a spectacular apricot marmalade.”

Spanish professor Emilio Cabeza-Olias described Blacut and the Spanish department not as a group of instructors, but as a family.

“When you don’t have brothers and sisters, all your love goes to your friends,” Cabeza-Olias said. “I’m so glad to see this place today full of friends and colleagues. To know her was to love her.”

Raquel Montenegro-Calvello, a graduate student of Dr. Blacut, said that on the day of the rosary service, a hummingbird caught her eye.

“It was like an omen,” Montenegro-Calvello said. “because later that day I saw another bird that caught my eye, and she (Blacut) had always said that if she came back to earth, she would come as a pajarito (bird).”

Julita McNichol, a graduate student from Spain, described Blacut as a small woman who was huge inside. She said Blacut had two loves: Bolivia and literature.

Near the end of the service, Blacut’s family was presented with an SF State banner and a book of condolence contributed by the students and faculty.

Several people attending the memorial played songs and read poems in remembrance of Blacut. One poem related Bolivia to California, using the condor to connect the two regions.

“We wish you a safe journey, Gladys,” Calderon said at the end of the service. “May the condor of the Andes protect your trip home. To the Andes of your youth, you are now a lily of the field, so pure and bright in the mother land.”

Students are a popular target for credit card marketers, with some students receiving as many as 15 credit card offers in the mail each week. Some offer an introductory rate of zero percent for the first six months, with rates rising to 17, 18 or even 19 percent after that.

Bank-issued credit cards have been around since the late 1950s, and they are well accepted as a method of payment. Some students use their cards responsibly, while others run up late fees and pay high interest rates.

According to the American Bankers Association, studies reveal that American high school seniors averaged a mere 50 percent proficiency when tested on personal finance basics.

“I would say that about 90 percent of students at SF State have credit cards, and approximately 25 percent are in debt,” said Yanchun Zhang, an economics professor at SF State.

Psychology major Sonnet Harrison, 25, said she accepted a credit card with an introductory offer which included no interest on purchases for the first six months. Then the interest rate went up to 17 percent.

"Cash advances are even higher," said Harrison. “Once I had to take an advance of $550, then $50 and $100. I guess this is the way it is when you don’t have money.

“In addition to school, I have two part-time jobs, but I find myself running out of money. I have had car repair expenses, dental bills, and new glasses. My family can’t afford to help me at all.”

For a credit card balance of $1,000, a student might have a monthly minimum payment of only $20. But financial experts said a student making only the minimum payment on such a debt would pay hundreds of dollars in interest.

“Assuming there is no annual fee or late charges, it will take 79 months to pay off that $1,000 debt if the interest rate is 15 percent,” said Zhang. “At 15 percent, the total interest will be $580, so the total expense will be $1580.”

Zhang said that students should shop for a credit card without an annual fee and a low interest rate, offered from a reliable, known bank.

But even with good advice, some students still fall into the cash advance trap.

Zhang said that cash advances should only be used as a last resort.

“Credit card cash advances can provide instant access to 'cold cash' in times of financial emergencies,” said Zhang. “Cash advances are typically accompanied by fees and exorbitant interest rates, sometimes as high as 22.8 percent. If you use an ATM machine, an additional fee may be applied,” said Zhang.

There is another way around this scenario for lucky students such as Christopher Peterson.

“My parents gave me a secured credit card when I was traveling. It was just for emergencies; I never had to use it,” said Peterson.

A secured card has a guarantee of payment from a savings, checking or another credit card. It means that if Peterson had charged something or had gotten a cash advance, his parents guaranteed payment.

Not all students, such as Harrison, have parents who can come across in emergencies.
If cardholders miss payments, a negative mark will appear on their credit ratings – that is a person’s financial report card, said banking experts. It can haunt a person for years and keep them from
getting a car loan or a home mortgage.

Many employers and landlords check credits reports before offering a person a job or an apartment, banking experts say.

Bigger is Better in Plus-Size Industry

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The sharp intake of breathe can be heard, followed by the anxious question, "Is she wearing your shirt?"

"Oh my god!"

The sound of scrambling feet headed to the door follows the excited exchange.

Darlene Davila, 32, of San Jose, is wearing the same shirt as another women to the party and as any woman knows, this is a cardinal sin. Luckily, Davila and her friends have gotten a room at the same hotel the party is at and are rushing to the room to change.

"See this is what sucks about not having enough stores that carry plus-size clothing," said Davila, office manager at Varian Medical Systems in Palo Alto. "Someone is always wearing your shit."

With the extension of waistband sizes the demand for a larger plus-size clothing market increases. Total sales for the plus-size market were close to $17 billion last year, a 5.5-percent increase from 2003 whereas the overall apparel market increased by only 3 percent. Total sales of apparel for 2004 was $93 billion. The raise in sales may have something to do with the fact that people are just getting bigger.

Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults are overweight. The most popular size for women is size 14 compared to size 8 in 1985, according to the market research firm NPD group.

Most of today’s plus-size persons demand acknowledgement and are not afraid to dress for it. But unlike the plus-size styles carried by department stores such as Macy’s and Sears, the plus-size woman isn’t apologetic about her weight.

"It’s a giant piece of material," said Kristy Collins, apparel design and merchandising major and president of Fashion Student Association at SF State, referring to some of the clothing that was available in her size 16 dress frame. "There is either no shape or it’s boxy. It made me look 10 times bigger."

The fashions which Macy’s and Sears currently carry are now making room for stores where being big doesn’t mean losing out on style.

One of those stores is Torrid, a "fashion-forward" clothing store that caters to women sizes 12 to 26. Torrid’s spring line includes a lot of strappy tank tops and knee-length skirts. Nowhere in Torrid would one find the tent-like floral nightgown your grandmother used to wear. Replacing it are see-through lingerie and ruffled panties in colors of red, pink, white and black.

"There are a lot of things in this store that people think big people shouldn’t wear," said Amy Bernardi, 20, a liberal studies major and sophomore at SF State. "But it looks cute and it fit me, so I’m going to wear it."

Stores like Torrid, Lane Bryant and Casual Males, Big and Tall are meeting the demand for more fashionable clothing for the plus-size person in a market of few suppliers.

"Their (plus-size customers) perception, until this store opened, is that they (clothing designers) didn’t make things in my size," said Christine Deutsch, 40, store manager of Torrid at Stonestown.

"They would ask which section is their's and be surprised that the entire store is for them."
Deutsch added that even if they aren’t plus-size, they know someone who is and who would shop there.

Torrid opened its doors at Stonestown Galleria in November 2004. Torrid is still new to the plus-size clothing market as stores such as Target, Ross and Old Navy have been carrying plus-size clothing for some time. But many complain that some of the clothing available are not as trendy, and cater to a much older and more casual crowd.

Collins concedes to shopping at Old Navy when the usual stores she shops at, Lane Bryant and Torrid, do not have what she is looking for.

Torrid currently has 76 stores nationwide and is planning to open 45 more stores in 2005, growing to
121 stores in the four years since its inception in 2001. This is just part of the growing trend that Fat might just be Phat, which is an acronym and slang term for pretty hot and tempting.

"There are levels of fat," said Darren Battle, a disc jockey at Big Boogie Nights, a nightclub catering to people of size. "And some fat people do live healthy lifestyles. Events like Big Boogie Nights encourage active living."  

Battle, aka DJ Zulu, is not only a DJ and owner/propiertor of Darrenteed Productions, which promotes Big Boogie Nights, he's also a big guy himself who prefers big women.

"Fat people need love too," said Battle nonchalantly.

Big Boogie Nights is just one of a growing number of outlets where size is not shrouded but celebrated. And as most women would say, a celebration is just an excuse for a new outfit. Unfortunately the majority of the clothing industry hasn’t heard the call.

For some this is just one more hill to climb to being accepted.

Collins has been plus-sized most of her life. She remembers shopping for a dress during her sophomore year of high school and realizing that she couldn’t shop at the same stores her friends were.

"Nothing fit, so my mom took me to Macy’s," said Collins. Collins’s discomfort was experienced by many people who had to go through the same episode.

"I didn’t really go out to buy clothes because I assumed they didn’t have my size," said LaDonna Harris, 32, a public administration major, about troubles she’s had shopping for her size 28 frame.

Harris admits that it has gotten better recently, though.

"Marilyn Monroe was a size 14," said Collins. "And she is an icon."

Commuter Blues

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It is more expensive to commute to SF State on BART, Muni, and Caltrain than it was five years ago, and with Muni's proposed fare hike on the horizon, students may pay more to take the same trip to campus. Click on any region of the map to view the past, present, and possible costs for a one-way trip from cities around the Bay to SF State. The adult ticket price is the only price listed, without including possible discounts for children, senior citizens, the disabled, or monthly pass holders.

Drag the mouse over any region of the map to highlight it, and click on the region to view the fare comparisons from selected cities. To return to the map, close the pop-up window by clicking on the "x" in the upper-right-hand corner.

Graphic by James Adamson, Golden Gate [X]press Multimedia Editor

A Look at Parking at SF State

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SF State students, who drive to school, have two choices for parking. Many choose to park outside in order to avoid $5 parking charge for the parking garage on campus.

There are plenty of spaces around the campus, but numbers for the unlimited-hour parking are limited. Many students go back and forth to their cars during their break to relocate their cars to avoid being ticketed for overtime parking. Junipero Serra Boulevard, 19th Avenue and Lake Merced Boulevard are some of the streets with the most desired parking because of the non-restricted parking hours. The Golden Gate [X]press Online found that these streets started to fill from as early as 6 a.m. with little to no parking 8 a.m.

The following map shows students’ favorite parking choices, including hour restrictions and number of available space for parking.

The company that SF state uses to contract its drivers for the free shuttle service to and from Daly City BART faces safety questions after a fatal Feb. 11 accident.

Drivers hired and trained by a company called SFO Airporter transport an estimated 3,000 SF State students Monday through Friday between the Daly City BART station and the university, according to Capt. Amalia Borja of the university's Department of Public Safety.

Fifty-seven-year-old Lynne de Matties was killed instantly when her shuttle bus struck a concrete support column on Interstate 280, ejecting her onto the freeway. The 21-seat bus, owned and operated by SFO Airporter, was traveling between the airport and a downtown hotel at the time of the accident.

The crash injured six other passengers including de Matties' husband, who lost two fingers in the crash.

California Highway Patrol officials said they suspect the driver, Melvin Leon Simpson, the older brother of O.J. Simpson, fell asleep at the wheel shortly before the crash that killed de Matties. None of the passengers were wearing seat belts, as the California State Vehicle Code requires safety belts in passenger cars, but not buses.

SF State theater and dance major Anna Sarao, 28, rides the SF State shuttle to and from school everyday, and said she's noticed some safety issues.

“There's no safety, no safety at all,” said Sarao. “There's no seatbelts, you're just holding on to other passengers.”

Sarao said she's concerned about the amount of people that are packed into the shuttles at one time, and a lack of enforced rules.

“There are not really any rules at all except get on and get off,” said Sarao. “They pack a lot of people in.

”Sometimes it seems like 50 people. I don't think we should even be standing in here.”

Sarao said she feels that the drivers for the most part drive safely, “but I would say there's a couple (of drivers) that cut people off and will brake instantly, knowing there are people packed in here.”

When asked if SF State students would actually wear seatbelts during the relatively short rides to and from campus, Sarao replied, “you're always going to have people that don't care, but I think a majority of people would wear them.”

But starting July 1, all newly manufactured buses in California will be required to have pelvic and upper torso restraint systems at every seat. The current SF State shuttles only have belts for passengers using wheelchairs.

The university purchased two new shuttles in January 2004 and is expecting delivery of two more in April, according to Borja. Purchasing the shuttles before July 1 means that they will not be required to have seat belts.

April would be three months shy of July 1, after which the Vehicle Code requires that all new shuttles have seatbelts.

“They're not going to require it for older buses,” said Bill Ashbury, the campus shuttle supervisor for UCSF. “It's like a grandfather clause.”

The 22-passenger UCSF shuttles transport about 7,000 students daily throughout the city, on 30 shuttles the university has running simultaneously, according to Ashbury. Both school must submit to a CHP inspection every year, according to Ashbury.

“They check to see if we work our drivers too much, when they work, the safety equipment on the shuttle, and the overall safety of the shuttle,” said Ashbury.

Ashbury said that if CHP discovers a safety issue on a shuttle, they make a note of it but they don't check to see if the problem is fixed until the inspection the following year.

“I'm kind of amazed they don't bug us more,” said Ashbury. “They don't even require proof of training (for the drivers). But I think it's because we're (SF) State and we don't get many complaints.”

Shuttle drivers for SF State go through a two-week SFO Airporter training period, where they receive vehicle and safety training, an accident prevention course, and customer service training, according to Matt Curwood, the director of sales and marketing for SFO Airporter.

“We try to get them in once every six months for defensive driving training,” said Curwood. “But it's at least once a year.”

Drivers are also required to have a spotless driving record and experience driving buses or other passenger vehicles, Curwood said.

“I drove for Tech TV for six years, not one accident,” said SF State shuttle driver James Lawler. “Then my first month here I had two accidents. The traffic (around SF State) is terrible, especially on Tapia Street,” Lawler said.

“It was just a scrape on the side, no one was injured,” said Lawler. The other accident occurred when another vehicle struck Lawler's shuttle as he was turning into BART, he said.

According to Borja, all the accidents involving SF State shuttles in the last few years have been “minor fender benders,” and in all cases, she added, “the shuttle bus drivers have not been at fault.”

Nick Cox, 23, a broadcasting major, rides the shuttle four days a week and says he feels pretty safe. “They're safer now,” said Cox “They have handles and shit to hold onto. They didn't have that before.”

Streets of Thunder Rumble

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SF State's bike club, Streets of Thunder, is upset with lack of bicycle parking around campus. The club is petitioning for use of a bike rack outside of HSS and around campus. Members claim the bike barn is not convenient for many bicycle riders.

Ecstasy, the illegal drug made popular by club-goers for the heightened sense of euphoria it causes, will soon be tested on terminally ill cancer patients to see if those euphoric feelings can ease their pain and anxiety as they face the end of their lives.

The four-month long study, which was approved on December 17, by the Food and Drug Administration, is expected to begin early this spring at McLean Hospital, a major teaching hospital affiliated with the Harvard Medical School. The goal of the study is to see if the effects of the hallucinogen will make it easier for patients to deal with their families and the unique end-of-life issues that they face.

“End-of-life issues are very important and are getting more and more attention, and yet there are very few options for patients who are facing death,” said Dr. John Halpern, the Harvard research psychiatrist in charge of the study, in a press release.

Ecstasy, which known under the chemical name of 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), works by releasing serotonin from the brain in large amounts, giving users feelings of calm and increased empathy. The drug has become increasingly popular over the last decade, especially with many young people in the dance scene.

Marsha Rosenbaum, director of the Drug Policy Alliance in San Francisco, conducted one of the first federally-funded research studies on MDMA in 1987. Although her study researched the sociological aspects of using the drug, she said that she is delighted that this new research is about to begin.

“We’ve known since the late ‘70s that MDMA was an incredible tool for psychotherapy,” Rosenbaum said. “That was what its initial use was, before it became a recreational drug.”

The study is being sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a non-profit group based out of Sarasota, Fla. The group plans to raise $250,000 to fund the research.

“The longest day of winter has passed, and maybe so has the decades-long era of resistance to psychedelic research,” said Brandy Doyle, in a statement released on the group’s Web site. “This ensures that we will now be able to begin psychedelic research at Harvard for the first time since studies ended in 1965, doing it carefully with the advantage of hindsight and the lessons learned from the past.”

Harvard has in the past been the site of psychedelic drug research, most notably that of Timothy Leary in the 1960s. Leary was dismissed from the university for using undergraduates in his LSD experiments in 1963. Two years later, all psychedelic drug research at Harvard was halted, until now.

Though researchers are touting the benefits of MDMA for those facing near death, not everyone is convinced.

San Francisco resident Jennifer Gould, 29, witnessed her stepfather struggle with a cancer that eventually took his life. She said the final months were extremely hard, but she is not sure if ecstasy would have been a solution.

“I think a drug would mask a person’s feelings,” Gould said. “My father was a strong person, and for him, I think he would have wanted to face the end with his family and friends with a clear mind.”

Rosenbaum, however, said she sees the research as a very positive thing.

“Ecstasy helps people to confront, in a comfortable way, their fears and helps them to open up conversations with loved ones,” Rosenbaum said.

The drug is currently classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule I drug, defined as having a high abuse potential and no medical value. The study group is currently awaiting a special Schedule I license from the DEA before they can begin their research.

Students Rush to Graduate

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Students rushed to the One Stop Student Services Center this morning in an effort to get their graduation applications turned in by today’s deadline. Many students found the entire process frustrating.

"I wish it was easier,” Sean Perl, a speech communications major, said. “I’ve been working on this application, and it’s still not done. And then we have to pay a $40 graduation fee. It’s bullshit! Why do we need to keep paying more to graduate?”

Perl, 23, wishes that the deadline were at least a couple weeks later.

“I’m the type of person that waits until the last minute to do everything,” Perl said.

Brandie Countee, a 22-year-old criminal justice and liberal studies major, said the application process was not that bad, but there should be a specified graduation week so students can get through the application process easier.

“It was hard chasing down department chairs to get their signatures,” Countee said. “It took me three weeks to get one major signed.”

Coordinator of the Student One Stop Services Center, Gene Ferguson, said all students wait until the last minute, but a lot of the students' frustrations come from trying to complete the graduation application online.

“I guess on the web, it’s not very user friendly, but we still have hard copies of the applications.” Ferguson said. “I believe in January 2006 we’re not going to have hard copies anymore, and the web will be more user friendly.”

Ferguson said that a lot of people apply even though they know they cannot graduate, and once a student applies for graduation, they will be taken out of the system.

“A lot of people just want the ceremony, and they know they’re going to be denied,” Ferguson said.

For 22-year-old political science major Amir Preston, turning in his application to graduate was a big disappointment. “I thought I was going to graduate,” Preston said. “But I need just two more units.”

Preston said that at the end of last semester he had 98 units, so he took 17 units on in the spring semester, and then planned to finish the remaining five units in the summer.

“They changed the rule now,” Preston said. “You need to have 100 units by the end of the fall semester to graduate in the spring.”

It has been frustrating for Preston to get his paperwork done as well, since different people tell him different things.

“Some people tell me that they make exceptions, since it’s just two units,” Preston said. “But every person tells me to talk to someone else.”

Jesse Macewan, a 33-year-old counseling major felt that the graduation process and $40 fee was a little redundant.

“You have to pay for things, shift the costs,” Macewan said. “If we weren’t spending billions of dollars in Iraq maybe we wouldn’t have to pay a $40 graduation fee.”

For Kris Vong, a 23-year-old major in Japanese and Consumer Family Sciences, it has been a complicated two weeks in getting the application completed.

“They just told me that if I want to have two separate certificates, I have to pay $40 for each one,” Vong said. “Also I didn’t know that I have to pay in cash, and today is the last day to do it. I just found out too late.”

Although many students are upset about having to pay the $40 graduation fee, Ferguson sees the extra payment as a positive thing.

“You get Arnold’s signature on your certificate," Ferguson said. "It’s worth it.”

It doesn’t take much for students to move into the dorms - a nonrefundable processing fee of $45, a $250 security deposit, and the first month's rent will get your foot in the door.

But for those hoping to live in the dorms or apartments at SF State, it is crucial to not only know about the costs, but also to be aware of the set of rules and policies they are about to live by.

“Undergraduate students are more likely to sign leases without reading or understanding even the basic consequences of lease provisions,” said a report on landlord-tenant issues compiled by the University of Pittsburgh. “Often parents are involved in the process, signing the lease on behalf of the students.”

Ellen Griffin, SF State's director of public affairs and publications, said students are at least aware of the campus housing policies.

“Housing rules and policies are made very clear to students before they apply for housing, when they're licensed at orientation, and throughout their residency,” said Griffin.

Still, questions are being raised about these rules and policies after photojournalism student Omar Vega’s eviction from Mary Park Hall last December for his involvement in the alleged burglary of a resident’s car.

Vega and two other students involved in the incident have been evicted from the dorms, and university officials have initiated expulsion proceedings against Vega. Four other students involved in the alleged burglary were arrested or surrendered to police for booking on Feb. 11.

Griffin declined to discuss Vega’s case, citing rules governing student privacy.

Vega is not the only student who has gotten in trouble at the dorms.

Marketing major George Edmondson, 19, said dorm officials have told him that if he gets in trouble one more time, he will be evicted.

“They kick people out very easily,” said Edmondson. “They are pretty clear on the rules.”

Griffin said prospective and incoming students have access to information about the residential program online and that the policies are in the students’ written license agreements.

“Students also receive a handbook that outlines all the information they need for living in the dorms,” she added. “They are required to attend a floor/community meeting at the beginning of the semester where all information regarding policies is reviewed.”

In addition, for the 250 to 300 students who attend the early orientation program called "Welcome Home," there are parent sessions and sessions explaining the student housing department’s disciplinary process, Griffin said.

The SF State Residential Community Living Guide gives students 13 examples of policy violations such as theft, violation of the terms of a probationary or warning letter, or dropping any object from any residence facility window or roof.

Students disobeying these policies run the risk of being immediately evicted from the residence community.

Students living in the dorms can also be disciplined if they are cited for smoking outside of the designated areas on campus, even those not located near the student housing itself. The University of Pittsburgh’s report gave a possible solution to the tension between residents and housing officers.

“Many of the issues common to undergraduates could be alleviated through education about the renting and lease process before they sign a lease,” the report stated. “Offering basic information to students before signing a lease, perhaps through the orientation process, or as part of programming within the dorms, would go a long way toward preventing many of these issues.”

The fate of athletics at SF State will once again be left up to students, who will vote in March to approve or deny a $35 fee increase supporting the program.

The referendum is the last resort to save the athletics program at SF State, according to Athletic Director Mike Simpson. All SF State students currently pay a $99 athletics fee.

“If this doesn’t pass, there are no athletics at SF State,” said Simpson. “We are not cutting things back and having a Mickey Mouse program.

“Either we get this or we have no program. We will be the only CSU without an athletics program.”
If students pass the referendum, the fee would increase by $18 in the 2005-06 school year, by $6 a year for the following two school years, and by $5 a year in 2009-10, bringing the fee to $134. If the California State University (CSU) budget does not increase, the athletics department will not receive an increase for that year.

One dollar per semester of the proposed increase would be allocated to support the Intramural Recreation Program, which is administered through the kinesiology department.

There has not been an athletic fee increase since 1992. Last year’s referendum was voted down by 233 votes, with about 8,500 students voting.

“Since the vote was so close, (SF State) President (Robert) Corrigan formed a task force,” said Bridget Morris, 21, a former member of the women’s swim team and co-president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. ”It was … the president’s recommendation to go for another referendum.”

Due to the loss of funding and the defeat of the proposal last March, the athletics department was forced to eliminate six sports: men’s and women’s swimming and tennis, men’s track and women’s volleyball.

“We were worried that we would be unable to keep the program alive,” said Simpson.

Since the Task Force on the Future of Athletics at San Francisco State University was formed, there has been a movement to keep the athletics program alive. During one of the two town hall meetings organized by the task force last year, nearly 40 supporters, ranging from alumni to grandparents, poured into the Nob Hill Room at the Seven Hills Conference Center.

“There was an overwhelming amount of support," said Simpson. "The Public Research Institute did a random survey at SF State which concluded that 91 percent (of students) were in support of keeping the athletics department open."

The task force concluded that SF State could not continue to compete in Division II athletics without further funding.

Since state money and general funding were not available, the task force came up with a few options: the possibility of corporate sponsorship and donations, internal funding, and support from the Associated Students. But because of the timing, those resources were not available, said Simpson.

“At this point the fee referendum is the only way to save the athletic program,” said Robbie Earle, coach of the women’s track and field team. “The university president will not spend any university money on the athletic program, so right now, the program has a $0 budget for next year.”

The department is currently gearing up to solicit support, and officials and students have been working with Associated Students and the campus radio station to gain support in order to help pass the referendum.

Horace Montgomery, leadership development coordinator for ASI, supports the athletics department but says funding should not come out of the students’ pockets.

“I am 100 percent in support of the social aspect that the athletics program provided in the CSU campus, but it concerns me greatly that the university and state government continues to tax students to have the ability to participate in a historically funded program that the campus used to provide,” said Montgomery.

Some athletes see the importance of paying the fee.

“It’s only $17," said Dana Ramirez, 18, nursing major and current SF State softball player. "If it doesn’t pass we will be the only CSU without an athletics program.”

Ramirez is one of many athletes who has received a Division II scholarship. Those students who have received scholarships, according to Morris, will either leave SF State and find other schools to attend, or be forced to continue on without an athletics department or a scholarship. There are about 240 student-athletes attending SF State.

“Compared to scholarships for Division I schools, Division II school students receive less scholarship money,” said Morris. “Not one athlete in our athletic department has received a full ride.”

“Student-athletes can contact schools and begin to seek transfer options," said Earle. "Transferring universities and continuing to play a sport can sometimes be a difficult and lengthy process, but when a university drops athletics or a sport, the process is sped up."

In a strategy meeting held by Simpson last week, a group of faculty and student-athletes discussed questions that may be addressed by students.

“What are we going to say to those students who don’t have an interest in athletics? Why should they vote for this fee?” Simpson said at the meeting.

“When you think of the word college, what do you think of?" said Morris. "Sorority, fraternity, and athletics. Everyone belongs to a family, and this is my family. I belong to athletics.”

“You lose a piece of the college experience (without athletics),” added Mitch Wasik, head athletic trainer.

“I hope students decide to accept a small increase to their tuition by voting ‘yes’ on the referendum,” said Earle. “Our student-athletes are learning life lessons and will represent the integrity of San Francisco State University in their communities. That’s a positive reflection of our university.”

Filipino students and veterans rights activists attended the National Full Equity Now Summit in support of two congressional bills that would restore full benefits to Filipino veterans of World War II.
The bills are a response to the 1946 Rescission Act which “stripped Filipino World War II veterans of the rights and benefits they earned by defending America’s freedom,” according to Student Action for Veterans Equity (SAVE) literature.

The Senate and House versions of the bill, known as the “Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2005,” would give the same benefits to Filipino World War II veterans as American veterans.

Although previous legislation has extended some benefits to Filipino veterans, such as extended health care and the right to be buried in a national cemetery, not all Filipino veterans receive benefits and none of them receive the same treatment as other World War II veterans.

SAVE is a coalition of students and youth around the Bay Area that is pushing for these sister bills to be passed. It hosted the summit at Rosa Parks Hall, and the event was sponsored by two SF State organizations, the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE).

SF State students Princess Bustos and Lyle Prijoles, both Asian American Studies majors and members of LFS, worked the registration table at the Full Equity Now Summit, held on Feb. 12 at SF State.

“(The LSF’s) mission statement is to analyze the problems of the Philippines, the context of us being here in America, and to try to fix problems,” said Prijoles. “Some of our members are also part of SAVE, and the LFS also campaigns for veterans.”

Irene Estrada, a member of SAVE and an SF State student, started organizing the National Full Equity Summit a few months ago.

“We knew that the 109th Congress was coming up, and we needed to have more people involved,” she said. “Right now, SAVE is about seven strong and we really need to have a lot more people involved in this issue.”

Luisa Antonio is executive director of the San Francisco Veterans Equity Center, a center established about five years ago in response to the number of Filipino World War II veterans who are not eligible for veterans’ benefits. She has been working on getting legislation passed for Filipino veterans for over a decade.

“What the equity bill attempts to do is amend part of the Rescission Act of 1946,” said Antonio. “(This act) declassified, or made inactive, the service of Filipino veterans of the Second World War. For (veterans), it’s a slap in the face. They fought, some of them even participated in the infamous Bataan Death March, and yet their services are not considered an active service in the U.S. military.”

It is important that full benefits be restored to Filipino veterans, according to Antonio, because their numbers are quickly diminishing.

“According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, we only have about 8,000 (Filipino World War II veterans) now in the United States, and I know for a fact that number is decreasing,” she said. “The death rate is very high. There are also about 20,000 (veterans) in the Philippines.”

At the summit, however, the mood was not so bleak. Event organizers started off with a call-and-response chant: “What do y’all want for the veterans?” Estrada and SAVE member Jun Cruz asked the audience.

“Justice!” the crowd replied.

“What?”

“FULL EQUITY!”

Full equity, according to summit organizers, refers to the need for complete parity between Filipino veterans and other American veterans.

After this rallying cry, Antonio, also a keynote speaker at the event, discussed the need for advocacy, urged students to take time to notice veterans, and recognized the two veterans in attendance. Organizers introduced one of these men after Antonio spoke - Pablito Nidua.

Veteran Pablito Nidua, who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East and was a Recognized Guerilla from 1942 to 1946, was one of the featured veterans.

“In 10 years, no more veterans can tell the stories of our past,” said Nidua, who was wearing military garb and an American flag print tie. “Thank you so much for fighting for us.”

Students came to the summit from all over California, and even as far as Washington. Around 60 people, including volunteers, were present, according to event organizers. Workshop titles included: Organized Guerillas and the New Philippine Scouts, WWII in the Philippines, and Post WWII in the Philippines.

Janine Fiel, a student from UC Davis, attended a workshop called “Filipino WWII Veteran Women,” where women veterans spoke and a documentary was shown.

“I had never met women involved in the war,” she said. “They didn’t get any recognition, but they did a lot of things. They hid troops and also brought food and water.”

Jean Osbual, a 14-year-old student at Independence High School in San Jose, also attended this workshop and said she enjoyed speaking with the veterans.

“I can see the veterans and talk to them and be proud because it’s part of our culture,” said Osbual, who is a member of a Bay Area youth group called the Filipino Youth Coalition. “I can ask (the veterans) myself, instead of hearing things from someone else. I also know they’d be comfortable telling their story before they leave this earth.”

Arturo Garcia, coordinator for Justice for Filipino-American Veterans, an organization based in Los Angeles, said that this battle for equity needs to be fought for reasons beyond fiscal benefits.

“65 nationalities were recognized by the U.S. government as World War II veterans,” he said. “The only ones not recognized were the Filipinos. This is an insult to the Filipino community.”

Cruz noted, however, that “this is the best chance we’ve ever had. People from all over have come together for the first time in Filipino history to advocate for a bill in Congress.”

Antonio agreed that “it’s encouraging that a lot of people are involved (and) that a lot of students are involved.”

Cruz said that SAVE has plans to go to Washington D.C., eventually. Until then, SAVE encourages people to do what they can in their own community. This can be done by spending time with Filipino veterans, teaching others about the issue, contacting your congressional representatives, or joining rallies.

Those who want to be a part of SAVE and work on veterans’ issues can attend open meetings every Friday at the San Francisco Veterans Equity Center at 1099 Mission St.

Kinesiology major Tricia Mutolo, 22, has been attending SF State for the last year and a half. Throughout her entire SF State career she has been trying to get into an anatomy class, and each semester she is unsuccessful.

“There's only so many slots for people,” said Mutolo. “What they need to do is get more people teaching anatomy so we can get on with our major.”

Many students at SF State share Mutolo's frustrations. Cutbacks at the university have been felt on almost every level the past few years, including the faculty.

During the fall 2004 semester, the university employed 1,592 faculty members, nearly half of which were lecturers, or part-time employees, according to statistics compiled by the university's Office of Public Affairs and Publications. The number of employed faculty members has not been that low since 1998, when the university had about 1,400 less students attending.

Although the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty members (faculty hired on a permanent basis) has increased slightly, there has been a drastic decrease in the number of lecturers at SF State. Last semester, the university employed the lowest number of lecturers in the last eight years.

“It's very difficult to fire tenured faculty,” said Mitch Turitz, president of the California Faculty Association. “So what they do is not renew the contracts of the lecturers.”

Lecturers are hired on a temporary basis, meaning they may only be hired to teach a full academic year or more, or just one semester, according to the university's policy on temporary faculty.

“Technically (the lecturers) weren't fired, they just weren't rehired,” said Turitz.
Although Turitz did say that the increase in tenured and tenure-track faculty is an “improvement,” he said he is still concerned about the loss of lecturers.

“One tenure-track faculty member cannot teach as many classes as two part-time lecturers,” said Turitz. “The loss of lecturers is a very big loss to the primary mission of our university, which is to teach.”

Also adding to the reduction of faculty members over the last few years is the “Golden Handshake” retirement plan set forth by former Gov. Gray Davis for California public employees.

According to the Web site for the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the Golden Handshake plan is “an early retirement incentive program that provides additional age or years of service credit enabling (public employees) to receive a higher benefit than otherwise possible.

This means that faculty members considering retirement within the next few years of their career would receive the same amount of money and benefits if they retired early.

“They were trying to save money, where they can hire new faculty and pay them less money,” said Turitz. “They can hire younger staff at a cheaper rate.”

The early retirement program, coupled with the loss of close to 200 lecturers over the past four years, has increased the number of vacant faculty positions at the university.

“We haven't been replacing them as fast as they're leaving,” said Turitz.

There are 34 full-time faculty positions open at SF State, according to the California State University Web site. Six of the openings are in the business administration department, the number one undergraduate major for SF State students, according to the university's fact page.

The faculty vacancies may lead to students having trouble finding classes, and increased class sizes.

“My class sizes are pretty big,” said Vanessa Aragon, 18, who is studying to become a pharmacist. “My psychology class has 400 students. You don't get to talk to the teacher one on one. It's just not a good learning environment."

She said she would like to see the university hire more teachers to decrease some of the class sizes.

“(In smaller classes) there is a student-teacher relationship going on,” said Aragon. “The teacher actually knows your name.”

Photojournalism major Omar Vega said last week he was exercising his First Amendment rights when he took photographs of an alleged burglary that has resulted in his arrest and eviction from the dorms and could get him expelled.

Vega, 18, photographed as four SF State students and an unidentified male allegedly entered SF State student Karimah Arnold’s Ford Mustang after finding a set of car keys. The group apparently stole CDs and cash on Oct. 24. Vega was arrested Feb. 9 on two counts of misdemeanor auto burglary.

“It was so humiliating,” said Vega, discussing his afternoon arrest by campus police and a San Francisco Sheriff’s deputy. “It was right after class and my ex-roommate Michael and fellow
classmates saw me get arrested and taken away in handcuffs.”

After photographing the incident, Vega published the pictures on a popular photography Web site, www.sportsshooter.com. Debate raged on online discussion boards about Vega’s role as a photojournalist during the alleged burglary. According to a police report, an anonymous caller from South Korea then brought the photos to the attention of the university police department and the housing department.

Arnold filed a police report that her car had been burglarized after she discovered mud on the floor mats and burn marks on the car seats. Arnold, who later identified the car keys police had recovered from a nearby bush, has not returned calls for comment from [X]press.

Vega said the photographs were part of a semester-long freelance assignment for [X]press. The editors of the student-run newspaper assigned him to document life in the freshman dorms for a photo essay in the newspaper last semester.

“We believe that this case has been mishandled,” said journalism department chair John Burks during a press conference held on campus Feb. 11. “We’re here today in support of photojournalism student Omar Vega.”

During the press conference, Vega said staff members at Mary Park Hall have consistently harassed him because of his photography, hindering his work as a student journalist. Vega was evicted from the dorm on Dec. 20 and officials moved to expel him from the university at a hearing on Feb. 8.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s office issued arrest warrants for Steven Stodola and Nicole Dion, both 19, and Blake Street and John Macrery, both 18. All four were arrested or surrendered to police on Feb. 10 and were charged with second-degree misdemeanors in auto burglary and for tampering with a vehicle. The sixth, unnamed individual has not been charged or served with a warrant.
Macrery was also charged with theft and possession of stolen property for taking CDs and an undisclosed amount of cash.

During the press conference, Vega presented a variety of photographs he had taken last semester for the photo essay assignment. One of the photos clearly shows Macrery inside the vehicle, alone, while the other individuals stood next to the car.

Two of the students remain in Mary Park Hall and Mary Ward Hall. Dion, of Pleasanton, and Stodola, of Concord, were suspended and served community service hours. According to Stodola, he and Dion were put on probation by the university for the alleged auto burglary and had to “volunteer” as a form of housing punishment. Stodola declined to explain what type of “volunteer” work they had to serve.
“(Vega) didn’t go (to the car) as a photojournalist,” said Stodola, who resided in the same dormitory as Vega.

According to a report compiled by SF State Director of Residential Life DJ Morales and the housing department, some of the students claimed Vega was “just as excited and eager to find the car as they were.”

Macrery, of Garden Grove (Orange County) and Street, of Temecula (Riverside County) were evicted from the dorms for unknown infractions, according to Stodola. They continue to attend SF State, according to university spokeswoman Ellen Griffin.

According to one of the students involved, Vega did not take anything from the vehicle.
“He (Vega) just took the pictures and posted them online,” Street said just after his release Feb. 10 from the Hall of Justice in San Francisco. “He (Vega) turned into a little bitch. We never stole anything. He made it all up.”

"Omar Vega has heavily understated hisinvolvement in the events that took place that night," Street remarked through an e-mailed statement to [X]press.

Vega pleaded innocent on Feb. 10 to his charges of burglary and tampering with a vehicle, both misdemeanors. Stodola, Dion, Macrery and Street were scheduled for arraignment on Monday.
During Friday’s press conference, Vega said the housing department targeted him and restricted his First Amendment rights to photograph for the newspaper assignment.

David Rourke, associate director of residential life, called Vega “disruptful” in a Dec. 2 letter admonishing him for photographing the following events:

Aug. 31, 2004: Vega photographed a closed memorial service for Kevin Costello, an SF State Presidential Scholar that died during a field trip last year.

Oct. 13, 2004: Vega photographed an elevator emergency in the Science and Technology Theme Community, a special dorm for science and technology majors. Vega said that while he photographed the incident, a resident assistant attempted to knock his camera out of his hand, causing a minor eye injury. Vega subsequently filed a police report.

Dec. 1, 2004: Vega photographed the Christmas decorations and holiday setup inside the City Eats Residential Dining Facility.

The Oct. 24 alleged burglary was not mentioned in Rourke’s letter to Vega.
Vega said another incident occurred on Dec. 2, while he photographed Comedy Night inside the dorms. He said a resident assistant known as “Beavis” slapped his camera. A police report was filed that night.

All of the incidents were part of his attempt to fulfill the assignment for a freshman life photo essay in [X]press, he said.

Vega said a new housing rule was designed for him after he began photographing freshman life inside the dorm areas. Before moving in as a freshman last year, Vega and his father co-signed the standard living agreement contract required of all students residing in the dorms, which includes a student code of conduct. The housing contract obtained by the [X]press did not include any specific rules on photography inside the dorms.

“They’re making an example out of me,” said Vega, who walks around campus with his nametag from jail still attached to his backpack.

Morales, in a Dec. 20 letter notifying Vega of the university’s intention to evict him, said Vega had violated and “disregard(ed)” the Student Housing License Agreement and Student Code of Conduct.

“As members of the student living community, Licensees are held responsible for their actions,” Morales wrote. “Nor was I able to find any exemptions for journalists who conspire, aid or abet (crimes) in the First Amendment Handbook, which is a common resource used by journalists,” added Morales.

According to Rourke’s Dec. 2 letter, Vega was required to follow a set of student conduct guidelines, including restrictions on photography that are not included in the housing contract provided to [X]press.

“Your taking pictures is permissible so long as those pictures are used and maintained in a private capacity,” wrote Rourke. “Pictures you take with a camera and provide to the school newspaper or other journalistic entity for public viewing is not acceptable.”

At the press conference, Burks said housing officials claimed he had signed a contract that waived the
rights of journalists when entering the dorm areas.

“One dorm official said that I have signed a contract that limited access to photojournalism,” said Burks.

Burks has requested a copy of the contract, but has yet to receive one from housing officials.
“Part of their claim is that the department chair sold the rights of the department for photojournalists,” said Burks.

Burks said he has no knowledge of such a contract and has not signed one.

Morales, director of residential life at SF State, said she is not aware that such a contract exists. “I do recall a meeting with (Burks) and some journalism students a couple of years ago,” said Morales in an e-mailed statement. “During this meeting, we came to agreements on who reporters could contact to get access and information regarding housing.”

The day before Vega’s arrest, he met with Judicial Affairs Officer Donna Cunningham to discuss the Oct. 24 incident.

“She was just interested in that day only,” said Vega. “She did not want to hear about a resident assistant hitting me or any other incident.”

E-mails and phone calls made to Cunningham’s office were not returned by press time.
One hour before Vega’s arrest, he met with Jo Volkert, associate vice president, to appeal his dorm eviction.

Stodola said he had not met with either Cunningham or Volkert and had no knowledge if the other individuals involved had been called to similar meetings. According to SF State media law professor James Wagstaffe, whose law office is representing Vega, the arrest came as a shock.

"It's curious to us that the member of the press was brought in first," said Wagstaffe in a phone interview. "This criminal charge is a grave threat to the First Amendment. He (Vega) just happens to have a camera and be a member of the press. We're shocked.”

According to Christopher Waldrep, an SF State professor of American history who teaches classes in constitutional history, the general public has a misunderstanding of the First Amendment.

“A lot of people think that anything goes,” said Waldrep. “But if you think and reflect, you don’t want anything libelous said against you. I’m a big believer in the First Amendment. I’m all for free speech.”
Burks said he supports Vega’s right to photograph events as they occur, including the burglary incident in question. Burks also questioned why the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office issued a warrant to arrest Vega over what Burks said is nothing more than a student photographer reporting on life in the dorms.

Ken Kobre, photojournalism professor and faculty advisor to the student-run [X]press, also said that he believes that Vega was just doing his job.

“Omar Vega was doing exactly what a photojournalist should do,” said Kobre. “He was taking his camera and he was recording the world around him. The people that run the dorm have tried to block him from taking those pictures. They tried to do that almost from the time he arrived.”

Cal State Long Beach President Robert Maxon said the relationship between a student newspaper and the administration can be contentious, but he believes it is important to support journalists during their college years.

“If there is an incident in the dorms, it has to be reported,” said Maxon said in a telephone interview. “(Officials) can’t threaten or try to intimidate. It doesn’t set a right example for young journalists. A picture is as powerful as any story in a paper. The paper is not supposed to be a public relations piece.”

SF State President Robert Corrigan did not respond to requests for comment by press time. University spokeswoman Ellen Griffin declined to comment on the situation, citing student confidentiality.


Staff writers Richard McKeethen, Lachlan Maclean and Daniel Jimenez contributed to this article.

Corrigan Cuts NEXA Program

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SF State President Robert Corrigan has approved the discontinuance of the NEXA BA, minor and entire NEXA program after a recommendation from the Academic Senate was sent to him for a final decision. The decision has left a sour taste in the mouths of most of the people involved with NEXA.

The program will be discontinued at the end of the spring 2005 semester. NEXA, like several other majors and minors, is being proposed for discontinuance due to budget limitation.

The concern now is that students who are in the Segment III cluster which has predominately NEXA courses will be further away from graduation because of this. The two clusters are Ideas and the Making of Culture and Science and Human Values. Nine other clusters have NEXA classes as a choice but these two clusters will be hit the hardest if NEXA is cut.

"All faculty and administration are concern about this," said Associate Dean Elise Earthman, College of Humanities.

She reassured that students are their primary concern. When asked if anything was being done to guarantee that classes in the two clusters were given next semester, she said that the intention was to make reasonable accommodations but no actions has been taken because the office had only just been informed of the decision. 

Geoffrey Green, director of the NEXA program, has taken steps to assure that NEXA's instructors will be available to teach NEXA courses in the fall. Like many of his students, Green is disheartened by the proposal.

"It [NEXA] should not be eliminated because it is a program that is not only unique to this university but to the entire country," Green said in an email, "At times when interdisciplinary programs are in development throughout the Unites States, it is sad and ironic that SF State's NEXA Program (which help pioneer such interdisciplinary education) is deemed expendable by our university."

Green is referring to the science and humanity convergence in classes that NEXA offers like "The Big C: Literary and Scientific Perspectives on Cancer in Contemporary Life".

"Programs like NEXA compel us to see beyond concepts of 'science' and 'liberal arts' and envision possibilities for each within the other," wrote Lucia Lachmayr, a graduate student in English, in a letter to President Corrigan. "Programs such as NEXA are important in that they facilitate a deeper understanding of the interconnectivity of the discipline so that students may continue making similar leaps in critical thinking long after they have left the university."

More than 2000 names were collected in a petition to President Corrigan requesting that the program not be eliminate.

"It's very sad that the program may be discontinued," said Ruth Mahaney, who teaches "Marxism, Feminism, and Social Change". "I think we all need to work on trying to save it, because it’s been a really important program and a really important way to approach issues from several different disciplines and different perspective that I think matches more clearly how things are approached outside of academia."

According to the discontinuance proposal, NEXA was cited due to the decline in team teaching, which was a character of the program's goal of convergence of the science and humanities. Ideally, NEXA classes are taught by two professors. Also it failed to attract students to the major and minor. In addition, it cited during an Academic Senate meeting that the program did not attract new tenure-
track faculty.

NEXA's counters to these arguments were that in its design, NEXA was never supposed to be considered for a major or minor. Its classes were supposed to give students a different way at looking at things. NEXA's program scopes states, "…the influence of scientific thought on our cultural tradition, would be a valuable adjunct to their specialized educations."

NEXA claims that a reason why it could not attract new tenure-track faculty was because of budget restraints already put on them, prior to this discontinuation, which did not allow them to hire any more faculty.

Green insists that NEXA was able to attract new teachers who were interested in joining the program but then later declined when rumors of the discontinuation manifested.

The proposal sited a lack of team teaching but then noted the price of it in saying, "One needs to recognize that team-teaching is costly…In fact, if NEXA was truly doing what it was suppose to be doing [putting two faculty members in each class as team teachers], it would be even more costly than it is and significantly more costly than the University average."

"It's like they are asking you to run fast while they're choking you to death," said Philliph Drummond, manager of the NEXA office.

In an effort to cut cost, Drummond offered to even cut his own position as office manager saying, "There has to be a more sobering approach to balancing the budget."

Employees from every corner of the service sector workforce turned out at a public hearing on Feb. 8 to support and protest proposed regulations that could change meal period policy in the workplace.
Agricultural workers, truck drivers, bartenders and bicycle messengers alike took the podium before San Francisco’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to talk about how the proposed regulations could affect their job environment and performance.

Current labor laws require employees to take a 30-minute unpaid meal break within the first five hours of a shift. The law requires employers to pay the employee the equivalent of one hour’s wages for each day the meal period is missed, or employees can sue for lost wages up to three years later.

The new regulations aim at providing employees with more flexibility to choose when and if they want to take their meal period, defining and clarifying compliance guidelines, and drastically reducing the statute of limitations within which an employee can sue if he or she is not provided break opportunities.

Service sector workers are split on the issue, with some fearing that flexibility will allow dishonest employers to cheat workers out of their breaks, and some desiring the flexibility to waive breaks in favor of better workplace performance. Many SF State students work low-wage service sector jobs that would be affected by the proposed changes in policy.

SF State’s junior class representative, Maire Fowler, 21, is a speech and communication studies major and a member of Young Workers United. Fowler spoke at the hearing in opposition to the regulations.

“I feel that (the regulations) are a move in support of corporate interests and an attack on labor and community,” said Fowler.

Fowler said she worked for several years in a hostile food service environment where employees were intimidated into working off the clock, not paid for overtime, and were treated with “little dignity or respect.”

Labor advocacy groups such as Young Workers United regard the proposed regulations as an attempt to take the responsibility for providing meal periods out of the employer’s hands, and place it in the employee’s. Critics also claim the new “flexibility” will create loopholes for employers to avoid providing adequate breaks and make it more difficult to hold them accountable for non-compliance.

The regulations were ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and drafted by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to quell what Schwarzenegger’s office says is an overabundance of litigation surrounding vague language in the existing labor code.

Dean Fryer, spokesperson for San Francisco’s Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees the DLSE, said the regulations are simply a missing set of guidelines necessary to efficiently interpret and enforce the existing laws.

“The regulations are really about clarification,” Fryer said. “Clarification about enforcement and application … will provide a little flexibility and understanding.”

Fryer said the proposed regulations would not allow employers any leeway in providing required meal breaks.

“We will always have employers who fail to comply, but the new regulations don’t provide any more wiggle room than there was before,” said Fryer. “We still have the authority to bring down the hammer, and we will.”

Fryer said that many people who protest the regulations are misinformed about what they actually intend to do.

“People think that (the regulations) are going to take away their lunch breaks,” said Fryer, “But this has nothing to do with eliminating breaks.”

After the hearing, protesters gathered in front of the building holding brown paper lunch bags and signs reading “hands off our lunch breaks.” A protester in a suit and Schwarzenegger mask was thrown on the ground and stomped in a mock beat-down display for television cameras.

Tony Devencenzi, 23, an environmental studies graduate from SF State, opposed the proposed regulations. Devencenzi is a bartender at the Cheesecake Factory, which is currently involved in three lawsuits concerning meal period violations, according to the company’s October 2004 quarterly report.

“Current break laws are tedious and hard to implement,” said Devencenzi. “But they absolutely need to stay in place, perhaps strengthened, because large corporations like the Cheesecake Factory will take advantage.”

Whether the regulations are believed to be a good or a bad thing seems to depend on the type of work and the veracity of the employer. Agricultural workers, garment workers, truck drivers and assembly line workers said at the hearing that they are often subject to long hours without breaks and are reluctant to allow any manipulation of the current law, which they believe is straightforward enough.

But there are many who say that the strict meal period requirements are extraneous in some work environments, such as the food service industry. Most of the speakers in favor of the regulations were waiters, waitresses and bartenders who said that being forced to take breaks interrupts the rhythm of their shifts, confuses patrons, and costs them precious tips.

SF State criminal justice major Nichole Potter, 24, works at the Outback Steakhouse and says the current meal period laws need adjustment.

“I don’t agree with (the rules) because it interferes with your flow of work,” said Potter. “You’re running around like crazy and then you have to break, and it affects your tips.”

Restaurant proprietor John Ismail said he is indifferent about the proposed regulations. “It’s kind of a wash to me,” said Ismail. “I just comply with the rules, whatever they may be.”

Ismail said it does make a difference to his employees, who lose tips, and some patrons, who are upset by sporadic service when servers have to take breaks during busy hours of their shifts.

“(The patrons) think that they aren’t getting good service when their server leaves,” said Ismail.
Another public hearing will be held in Fresno on March 2 before it is decided whether or not the regulations will become permanent.

New Guidelines to Show Students' Healthier Diet

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Popular dietary plans, such as the low carbohydrate diet, sweep the nation like prevailing winds yet don't retain shelf life. In contrast, The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture together published, "Dietary Guidelines for Americans." The federal government made copies of the 70-page brochure available to the public on Feb. 4.

The guide provides advice about dietary habits to foster health and reduce risk of chronic disease. It
recommends consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages among basic food groups while limiting the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sugar, salt, and alcohol.

Proponents have praised the guidelines as the strongest recommendations to date. But critics charge
that vital information was omitted and focused too much attention on weight loss in order to put the
burden of changing dietary habits on the individual.

Emphasizing weight loss avoids telling Americans the truth about the foods to be avoided, insists Michele Simon. Simon is a former trial lawyer who is an adjunct professor of public health policy at UC
Hastings College of the Law. She said that Americans have become adjusted to eating highly processed food, such as potato chips, pastries, and soda whereas they should instead consume far more whole grains.

“The definition of food has been transformed by industry, yet the dietary guidelines don’t reflect that,” said Simon.

Brand names and fast food menu items dominate our food choices, she maintained.

“Imagine guidelines that said: ‘Stop eating Big Macs and Oreos’,” said Simon. “Those are recommendations Americans could understand but not ones we are likely to hear.”

Simon insisted it would threaten a $500 billion processed food industry that holds considerable
influence over Congress.

But not everyone sees the recommendations with a jaundiced eye.

The guidelines cover all persons over two years old, explained Teresa Leu. Leu is a nutritionist who has worked at SF State Student Health Center for over twenty years. It must be broad so nutritionists can tailor it to those they advise she said.

Often maligned, dairy products are actually a nutrient packed food said Leu. She recommends three servings a day of a non- or low-fat dairy product. And she added that any dairy product made from skim milk has low saturated fat and cholesterol.

Leu went on to stress the importance of eating a breakfast. A person who has been sleeping for eight
hours has used substantial amounts of blood sugar and breakfast can restore a proper level she explained.

“It is not uncommon for college students to skip breakfast, eat an energy bar for lunch and then wait
until 8 p.m. to eat a ravenous meal, eating 2-3 meals worth of calories,” Leu said. “The purpose is to eat until you are not hungry, rather than to be too full.”

She recommends eating every four hours. That way you won’t risk overeating. She favors the use of lean proteins such as turkey, chicken, lentils, beans, yogurt and cottage cheese. Also whole grains, fruits and vegetables are good with every meal, she stressed.

Leu is a certified dietician and is available for one-on-one counseling. She holds office hours from 8
a.m. until 3 p.m. every Monday through Friday and her consultation is free. Those interested must make an appointment and will need to keep a food diary so she can tailor the sessions to individual needs.

Alarming as student indifference toward a balanced diet can be, some SF State students who are parents fear more for their children. Patrick Mattimore is a former South San Francisco High School history instructor who also taught health and physical education. He is now enrolled in SF State’s Elder
College program.

He is also the father of high school and college-aged students. He became concerned about childhood obesity late last year when the California Department of Education disclosed that three-quarters of middle school students flunked the state’s physical fitness test.

He insisted snack food companies have a responsibility to the public, since they are dispensed at public schools throughout the country.

“McDonald’s makes salads,” he said. “They don’t have to promote Big Mac’s. You offer healthy foods in the vending machines. You put in fruit juices instead of soda pop. There are some logical kinds of changes they can make that make for a healthier diet at school.”

Growing up, Mattimore maintained he always played sports in the afternoons. With both parents often
working in many households, children frequently spend recreation time in front of the TV or computer screen, he said. He advocates that parents demand more physical education programs for schools.

“Proposition 13 (1978 property tax roll back) is where these money cuts began to develop," he
said. "I think we make a stand and put our resources in to that (physical education.) Our state now spends $1000 less than we did in the 1970’s on per pupil funding. The Governor has reneged on his promise that he was going to increase funding by a certain percentage to the schools … you tax people for what they think is important.”

Recognizing the prevalence of junk food in American culture, Mattimore advocates making nutritional
education a part of the curriculum.

“Kids need to be taught about what healthy eating is at an early age," he said. "If their parents are going to insist on buying fast food, maybe it’s up to the kids to educate their parents. When they go to the market, they say look, ‘this is what we learned in school, this is what you should be doing.’”

For students watching their diet, they have a friend in Abdu Hassani. He is the manager of the Gold Coast Grill in the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Hassani has changed purveyors that supply his meat products to Niman Ranch. With offices in Oakland and ranches across the country, they rely upon only free-range livestock. Hassani has noticed that since he has started using Niman, there is a lot less grease from cooking and said people love it.

Though he would like to include menu items from his native Morocco, it would take too long to prepare." Students only have a half-hour break," he said. "They want cheap food and lots of it. Our job is to satisfy our customers."

While the American Association of Retired People (AARP) recently launched a program joining higher education institutions to help encourage the growth of gerontology, the study of aging, the SF State’s gerontology department’s enrollment is slowly shrinking due to the program’s suspension.

Admissions to the department have been closed for two semesters while the program restructures and reorganizes its curriculum with the assistance of a special task force.

As of yet the department does not know when it will reopen, said Program Director Anabel Pelham.

“While we are trying to be hopeful and trust that the new program will be an exciting new offering, this closure of admissions does have a negative effect on morale, on our good reputation in the community, employers seeking staff, and for students wishing to get on with their education and realizes,” Pelham said.

The department operates under the College of Health and Human Services.

Last April former HSS dean Don Zingale recommended the programs discontinuance due to a $23 million budget deficit at SF State.

“When comparing the program with other graduate programs it was small, but the university did not calculate that it was the largest in the CSU system,” said Pelham. Pelham said the university is not going to save anything if the program is cut.

“The tenure faculty will be reassigned to different areas,” she said. “The damage will be huge and the savings will be microscopic.”

Some gerontology students agree that the program’s possible demise has serious consequences. “There are serious and obvious ramifications that gerontology will affect social security,” said gerontology graduate student Rafael Gonzalez Hidalgo. “San Jose State University has already cut their gerontology department.

“We need more people in the field because more and more people are living longer - and they need to know how to stay healthy, mentally and physically," said Gonzalez Hidalgo.

Last September, faculty from the gerontology department recommended to temporarily suspend the program instead of discontinuing it. Pelham said one of the reasons for suspension was the workload on faculty. The department has three tenured professors and two lecturers this semester. Since the programs suspension, 90 graduate students were enrolled in the program, according to Pelham.

“It is frustrating and difficult - it’s like giving birth to a new program,” she said. “But the plus side is what’s going to (emerge) on the other side is going to be a strong interdisciplinary program.”
Pelham said the department is offering all its classes on the regular schedule for the spring term but the department’s main concern is the amount of time it is taking to reopen the program.

“We don't know what will happen next semester, which will represent the third semester (that) admissions to the program (have) been closed,” said Pelham.

“We are going to have an influx of Baby Boomers retiring over the next 20 years," said Todd Keitz, SF State gerontology lecturer. “Gerontology is incredibly important to learning how to improve the quality of life for aging Americans, specifically because we are living longer.”

Pelham said the job market for the profession is growing at a stable rate.

“For students this is an opportunity in health and human service careers,” she said “There are many diverse career opportunities in this field. For example, just today another employer called this office with an opening for a half time position as geriatric care manager. This is just one example and many more jobs in the field are announced via a variety of mechanisms.”
Gonzalez Hildalgo is in his last semester and said he understands the pressures what other students may go through in the semesters to come.

“It is very fortunate for me that all of my classes were available this semester,” he said. “I know a lot of people who just started the program who have had to suffer because a certain class was cut or there were no available seats."

“In my case the classes and space was available. It's the newer students who have more of the problems.”

Gonzalez Hidalgo feels students will not be able to explore and devlop within their field of concentration if the program remains suspended. “It's a growing field,” Hidalgo said. “It's not a very smart thing to (cut or suspend the department). It shows a tremendous lack of vision to be making any cuts at all. They should be increasing the program.”

Pelham added: “It’s really important that the community believes that the program is not being discontinued. Students and employers are waiting to get this program back and running.”

Monday’s rainy weather did not stop S.A.F.E. Place and The Women’s Center from performing a skit inside the Cesar Chavez Center in celebration of V-Day. The skit broadcasted useful information for students on dating violence and sexual assault.

Inspired by Eve Ensler’s award winning play “Vagina Monologues,” V-Day is celebrated internationally each Feb. 14 and raises awareness for the global effort to end violence against girls and women. To help promote the effort on campus, S.A.F.E., which stands for sexual abuse free environment, and the Women’s Center used the skit as a role-playing performance that college students could relate to.

The format of the skit was a dating game show consisting of three male contestants, Frederick Roots, Arnulfo Casarez, Megan Parkinson (Parkinson played a male part), and a female contestant played by Najma Nurriddin. Roots and Parkinson acted out the role of chauvinist and egotistical men. Casarez played an open-minded, and respectful man.

When asked what he looks for in a girl, Casarez said, “I want a woman who is educated and acts on her beliefs.”

Roots’ answer to the question ‘Before getting intimate do I have the right to change my mind?’ was “Don’t start something you can’t finish.”

The second half of the skit was an interactive trivia question game where members of the audience received Valentine’s Day candy and free condoms for answering questions correctly. The answers to the trivia questions revealed vital dating violence statistics including; “ a person in the United States is raped every 7 minutes,” and “1 in every 6 women is a victim of an attempted rape.”

The purpose of the dating game was to teach students what is right and wrong when dating. The Women’s Center also wanted to reinforce that hearing “no” means “no” when you are on a date.

Along with free candy the S.A.F.E. Place was handing out flyers with “A Dating Person’s Bill of Rights.” Some of these rights are ‘I have the right to feel safe and be safe on a date and in a relationship,’ and ‘I have the right to set limits and have them respected.’

S.A.F.E. is located in room 205 of the student services building. The S.A.F.E. Place is a student organization that offers sexual harassment advising, counseling, and peer education on sexual assault and domestic violence.

“Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to raise awareness of what rights you have and what principals you must adhere to when dating,” said Nuriddin, a volunteer at the Women’s Center. “Violence happens on Valentine’s Day.”

“I think that the majority of men and women are not aware of what their rights are on a date,” Roots said, “I am a longtime supporter of the Women’s Center.”

Anna Maria Kakis, a SF State student, passed away Monday, Feb. 14 after battling a rare type of cancer for over a year.

On Tuesday afternoon, family and close friends gathered at Duggan’s Serra Mortuary in Daly City to pay their respects to 19-year-old Kakis.

“You couldn’t not like her," said Nick Kakis, her older brother. "She wanted to please everybody. She just made you smile.”

For the past year and a half, Kakis had been fighting a recurrence of a cancer caused by a germ cell tumor that originated in the small of her back, said her older brother Nick Kakis. The cancer was first diagnosed when she was three years old.

“She fought that for almost half a year and beat it,” he said. “Then 15 years later it reoccurred.”

Nick Kakis said the doctors knew of only one other similar case, which occurred in Germany.

Kakis graduated from Burlingame High School in 2003, a small school that is “like a community,” according to her former English teacher Elaine Caret. Caret remembers Kakis as “a leader, full of passion and energy.”

One definite passion of Kakis' was soccer, and according to varsity coach Phillip De Rosa she was an "aggressive, tough player and a deciding factor for victory" in several games.

A teammate and long time family friend, De Rosa's daughter came from UCLA upon hearing the news. Other former teammates and classmates have returned from many of California's campuses and even from as far as Florida.

After high school, Kakis registered at SF State. She had plans to pursue a job in a medical profession and was working as a student clerk in the fitness center of Mills-Peninsula Health Services.

“From this experience she wanted to go into the medical field,” said her father Anthony Kakis. “She thought she had something to give.”

She enrolled full-time at SF State in 2003 and continued her studies online while finishing her last rounds of chemotherapy in February 2004. She signed up for two more classes for the summer term, eager to continue at the school where her father said she “loved the people and loved SF State.”

When her symptoms reappeared in July she was forced to drop her fall semester classes.

Kakis visited the hospital biweekly for treatments, until the doctors finally told the family there was nothing else they could do for her and to make her comfortable, according to Nick Kakis.

“The whole time she didn’t want anyone else to suffer,” he said. “She put on a happy face for us. She wanted everyone to remember her like that, happier times in her life.”

Kakis’ boyfriend, SF State BECA major Anthony Catchatoorian, supported her during her final year. Their families made T-shirts with her picture on them and got neighbors to join them in the Burlingame Cancer Walk 2004. When home from touring with his band, Catchatoorian would often serve as caretaker for her and impressed both families with his love and loyalty.
Catchatoorian’s father, Malcolm, said he thinks the love between the two kept Kakis going and allowed her to keep her optimistic outlook.

That positive energy endeared Kakis to an assortment of people from her nurse at UCSF to her high school guidance counselor, all of whom turned out for the viewing.

Memorial donations may be made to UCSF Children’s Hospital, Pathway Hospice Foundation, Holy Trinity Orthodox Church or the American Cancer Society.

Anna Maria Kakis, a SF State student, passed away Monday, Feb. 14 after battling a rare type of cancer for over a year.

On Tuesday afternoon, family and close friends gathered at Duggan’s Serra Mortuary in Daly City to pay their respects to 19-year-old Kakis.

“You couldn’t not like her," said Nick Kakis, her older brother. "She wanted to please everybody. She just made you smile.”

For the past year and a half, Kakis had been fighting a recurrence of a cancer caused by a germ cell tumor that originated in the small of her back, said her older brother Nick Kakis. The cancer was first diagnosed when she was three years old.

“She fought that for almost half a year and beat it,” he said. “Then 15 years later it reoccurred.”

Nick Kakis said the doctors knew of only one other similar case, which occurred in Germany.

Kakis graduated from Burlingame High School in 2003, a small school that is “like a community,” according to her former English teacher Elaine Caret. Caret remembers Kakis as “a leader, full of passion and energy.”

One definite passion of Kakis' was soccer, and according to varsity coach Phillip De Rosa she was an "aggressive, tough player and a deciding factor for victory" in several games.

A teammate and long time family friend, De Rosa's daughter came from UCLA upon hearing the news. Other former teammates and classmates have returned from many of California's campuses and even from as far as Florida.

After high school, Kakis registered at SF State. She had plans to pursue a job in a medical profession and was working as a student clerk in the fitness center of Mills-Peninsula Health Services.

“From this experience she wanted to go into the medical field,” said her father Anthony Kakis. “She thought she had something to give.”

She enrolled full-time at SF State in 2003 and continued her studies online while finishing her last rounds of chemotherapy in February 2004. She signed up for two more classes for the summer term, eager to continue at the school where her father said she “loved the people and loved SF State.”

When her symptoms reappeared in July she was forced to drop her fall semester classes.

Kakis visited the hospital biweekly for treatments, until the doctors finally told the family there was nothing else they could do for her and to make her comfortable, according to Nick Kakis.

“The whole time she didn’t want anyone else to suffer,” he said. “She put on a happy face for us. She wanted everyone to remember her like that, happier times in her life.”

Kakis’ boyfriend, SF State BECA major Anthony Catchatoorian, supported her during her final year. Their families made T-shirts with her picture on them and got neighbors to join them in the Burlingame Cancer Walk 2004. When home from touring with his band, Catchatoorian would often serve as caretaker for her and impressed both families with his love and loyalty.
Catchatoorian’s father, Malcolm, said he thinks the love between the two kept Kakis going and allowed her to keep her optimistic outlook.

That positive energy endeared Kakis to an assortment of people from her nurse at UCSF to her high school guidance counselor, all of whom turned out for the viewing.

Memorial donations may be made to UCSF Children’s Hospital, Pathway Hospice Foundation, Holy Trinity Orthodox Church or the American Cancer Society.

Ready, Set, Graduate!

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The deadline to apply for May graduation is Feb. 18, and arrangements for Commencement 2005 are already in the works.

The staff at the SF State Bookstore hopes to ease impending graduation woes with its annual Graduation Fair, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 14-18 in the lobby of the Cesar Chavez Student Center.

At the fair, students can order graduation announcements, class rings and diploma frames. Also, the soon-to-be graduates will be able to have their picture taken in a cap and gown for free and learn about SF State's Alumni Association, which costs $20 for the first year and includes insurance discounts and access to every California State University library, among other advantages.

In recent years, the grad fair has yielded a high turnout. Over 14,000 e-mails have been sent to students who are eligible to graduate this spring. Last year, only half that number was sent out and more than 2,000 students attended the fair, said Kirsten Giglione, marketing manager for the bookstore.

Giglione graduated from SF State last year and helped organize the event this time around. She attended the fair in 2004 and urged current students to do the same.

“It’s convenient because you can get your Grad Pack and save up to 20 percent on everything you’ll need. All of our vendors are going to be there. Last year I took care of all my grad stuff in half an hour,” said Giglione.

Grad packs include cap and gown rental, announcements, address labels, thank-you notes, gold envelope seals, an SFSU graduate keychain and a diploma case. The packages range from $200-300, but the bookstore will offer discounts of 10 to 20 percent at the fair. More expensive packages include larger amounts of these items and some extras.

A surprising amount of students do not know about the Grad Fair yet.

“I haven’t even heard of it,” said Melanie Cleary, a chemistry and psychology major who will participate in graduation this May. “But now that I know, I’ll definitely go. I should get that stuff taken care of.”

The university’s 104th commencement ceremony in May will recognize students who have either completed their graduation requirements in the past year or are preparing to receive their degree after the current semester. Renting a cap, gown and tassel set informs planners that a student intends to participate in the commencement.

At Commencement 2004, there were 3,700 graduating students in attendance, and almost twice that number applied for graduation last year, according to Norma Urcuyo-Siani, director of Special Events for the Office of University Advancement.

One alumna was disappointed with her commencement experience last year.

“I bought lots of graduation stuff through the bookstore and my whole family went to the commencement,” said Heather Graybehl, who has her bachelor’s degree in classics. “There were thousands of people there, and you were just called up to the stage by college – not by department. My family left (the ceremony) because they couldn’t even see me.”

Many current students, however, are excited about getting their degrees and being recognized in the ceremony.

“I’m going to buy everything for graduation - a really nice ring - everything,” said Crystal Hutchinson, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and Spanish this year. “And my parents are more excited about it than me. I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college. I hope they’ll have room for everyone in my family at the ceremony.”

Additional information about Commencement 2005 will be continually updated at http://www.sfsu.edu/commencement. At this time, however, this much is for sure about the ceremony: on May 28, graduates will walk across a stage, take empty diploma cases, and then receive their diplomas in the mail a few months later.

On Tuesday afternoon, SF State’s Academic Senate met for the first time this semester, spending most of the two-hour meeting discussing a proposed discontinuance of the California studies (CAS) minor. Administrators in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS) contend that no student has ever graduated with a minor in CAS since the program began in 1995, making continued support questionable during a time of budget cuts and increased enrollment in other, more popular programs.

Dawn Terrell, associate dean of BSS, told the group of senators assembled in the Seven Hills Conference Center that a faculty committee within her department had recently voted 14-5 in favor of discontinuing the minor.

“We are looking for ways to best utilize resources and reduce costs,” said Terrell. “I’ve estimated, conservatively, that the cost of mounting the minor is $13,000 a year. It’s a relatively small amount, but it could cover three other [class] sections.”

However, Lee Davis, director of the CAS program, says that the minor has not yet had a chance to prove its worth. During the meeting, Davis pointed out that the CAS minor underwent a major revision in 2002, which she believes will make it much more likely for students to pursue in the future. Davis also maintains that the program brings in a substantial amount of grant money, far more money than the program costs to run.

“I have a long history of raising funds and working with the community,” Davis said. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve been the principal writer of at least 15 grants. It’s at least hundreds of thousand of dollars that have come in to SF State, $1.2 million total.”

According to Davis, that source of extra money is already drying up. She said that the school lost $50,000 in grant funds immediately after administrators announced their intention to ax the CAS minor.

“The day after the discontinuance was announced in the press, one of our granting agencies called me and said, ‘If your university doesn’t support you, we won’t either,’” Davis said.

Seated in the back of the meeting room, five students enrolled in the CAS minor wore white t-shirts emblazoned with a map of California bearing the words, ‘California Studies Program.’ Each of the five students had also pinned a copy of their CAS admissions paperwork to the back of their T-shirts, which they claim disproves university records showing only a single student enrolled in the minor.

While all SF State students must declare majors before graduation, there are few requirements regarding minors, meaning that there may be many uncounted students wanting to pursue a CAS minor.

Earlier this year, a group of interested students formed a new campus club, the Cal. Studies Student Association (CASSA), to support the California studies (CAS) program. Club members point to a recent survey they conducted, which found that 98 percent of the 128 SF State students surveyed believe that the program should continue.

Tiffany Chilcott-Knauss, a 22-year-old geography major, said she plans to graduate with a minor in CAS. Chilcott-Knauss addressed the meeting and asked senators keep the CAS minor.

“As I understand it, this was only a working minor in the last two years,” Chilcott-Knauss said. “For the students who found out about the proposal to discontinue the minor, we were a little freaked out. We want this minor to continue. In an era of California’s prominence, now is not the time to discontinue the California studies minor.”

Many academics also spoke in support of the CAS minor, including Richard Walker, chair of the California Studies Center at UC Berkeley.

“We think it’s an extremely bad idea [to discontinue the minor],” Walker said. “It’s darn clear to me that to neglect the study of California is a grievous error. It’s a wrong move.”

Walker also suggested that administrators might have targeted the CAS program for discontinuance due to its small size when compared with other programs in the college.

“There’s an inevitable bias to cut the little program,” Walker said. “It’s easier to cut the little programs than to go after the heavy hitters.”

According to procedures listed on the Academic Senate’s web site, http://www.sfsu.edu/~senate/, senators will revisit the proposed discontinuance again before casting their final votes for or against the CAS minor. If senators vote to discontinue the CAS minor, their recommendation will go next to SF State’s provost, John Gemello.

Senators are expected to vote on the discontinuance during the next scheduled Academic Senate meeting at 2:00 p.m. on Feb. 15 in the Seven Hills Conference Center.

Officers from the SF State Department of Public Safety and a San Francisco sheriff’s deputy arrested photojournalism student Omar Vega, 18, Wednesday on misdemeanor burglary charges at 3:15 p.m. The arrest occurred outside of Burk Hall just moments after one of Vega’s journalism classes ended.

Police took Vega to the Hall of Justice on Bryant Street, where he was held on $20,000 bail, which was later dropped. He was released on his own recognizance at approximately 7:15 p.m. Wednesday evening. He was arraigned at 9 a.m. today at the Hall of Justice, where he pled innocent.

“It was so humiliating,” said Vega, discussing his afternoon arrest an hour after his release. “It was right after class and my ex-roommate Michael and fellow classmates saw me get arrested and taken away in handcuffs.”

Vega said the arrest stemmed from an Oct. 25 incident when a group of five SF State students found a set of car keys. After looking around the campus and the Stonestown area, the students located the car on Lake Merced Blvd. and Font Blvd. The five students unlocked and entered the car while Vega photographed them.

According to documents obtained by [X]press, the vehicle's owner filed a police report, claiming CDs and an undisclosed amount of money were missing.

Steven Stodola, one of the students involved in the October incident, said that Vega never entered the vehicle. Stodola also said that Vega did not engage in any illegal activity and confirmed that neither he nor any of the other students involved were arrested or served with a warrant. Warrants for the four other students have been issued by the San Francisco district attorney's office. Vega was the only student arrested Wednesday afternoon.

Among the other students named in the warrants, Nicole Dion still resides in the dorms and declined to comment on the situation. John Macrery and Blake Street are no longer dorm residents and the sixth participant has not been identified.

Vega said he took several photos of the incident but said he was acting as a photojournalist and not directly involved in a crime. After the incident, Vega published the photos on the Internet, which sparked a First Amendment discussion among journalists.

John Burks, journalism department chair at SF State, said that he doesn't believe Vega's situation should be treated as a crime. "If you see a crime before your eyes, you can surely take photos and alert the public," said Burks. "He didn't hide the photos."

"He was doing what we teach you to do as a journalist," added Burks.

According to attorney James Wagstaffe, whose law office is representing Vega, the arrest came as a shock. "It's curious to us that the member of the press was brought in first," said Wagstaffe in a phone interview. "This criminal charge is a grave threat to the First Amendment."

"He (Vega) just happens to have a camera and be a member of the press. We're shocked," added Wagstaffe.

According to a letter Vega gave [X]press, DJ Morales, director of residential life at SF State, evicted Vega from Mary Park Hall in January for being ‘an active participant in the burglary of a fellow resident’s vehicle.’

Morales declined to comment directly on the incident citing student confidentiality. Vega met with Donna Cunningham, judicial affairs officer for SF State, earlier this week, to discuss the incident and a possible expulsion. Stodola said he has not met with Cunningham yet.

Horowitz Calls for Diversity of Ideas at SF State

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Courtesy of the SF State chapter of Students for Academic Freedom, conservative author and political commentator David Horowitz visited SF State last Thursday for a discussion with students about the need for more diversity of opinion at American universities.

“This is the first time a conservative speaker has ever appeared at SF State,” said Jane Shahi, president of the SF Chapter of Students for Academic Freedom. “He is very provocative in his beliefs, so we expect his presence on campus to spark a great deal of highly spirited debate.”

For a university that prides itself on diversity, most faculty and students at SF State go out of their way to suppress an intellectual dialogue of ideas that do not fit the liberal agenda, said Horowitz.

"It is irresponsible that the president of this university does not enforce academic freedom on this campus," said Horowitz, who is also the founder of SAF. "San Francisco State (University) is not ‘Hannity and Colmes.’ It is uncivilized that there is no respect when there is a difference of opinions and ideas on this campus."

Horowitz was referring to a heated verbal altercation that took place at SF State last November when four women, opposed to the Bush administration, approached a rallying group of College Republicans at Malcolm X Plaza. Both sides later accused the other of physical attacks, and the case is currently under police and FBI investigation.

"There are eight armed guards with me today because the university cannot guarantee my safety," said Horowitz. "We live in a democracy. A speaker should not need protection just to talk to students."
Although he anticipated disgruntled dissent from most SF State students, Horowitz accepted the invitation to speak at SF State because he said he wanted to bring the campus's lack of diversity to the forefront. He argued that conservative professors are blacklisted on the campus, further making it difficult for students to get an open-minded and balanced education.

"SF State is 95 percent on the left," said Horowitz. "The atmosphere on this campus says you're somehow a racist if you don't go along with the majority."

Horowitz said that affirmative action is an excuse to promote minorities and does society more harm than good to advance students who are not academically competitive with their peers.

"I am all for outreach," said Horowitz. "But when you start with racial preferences, affirmative action is a big lie.

“Since 1957, the Master Plan, which dictates that every resident of California is guaranteed by law a place in the university system, has been successful. But that doesn’t mean that every resident has a right to go to Berkeley. A student should go wherever they are going to succeed. There is nothing wrong with going to a school like San Francisco State if you can’t get into UC Berkeley.”

According to Horowitz, a former liberal activist who in the 1970s founded the Oakland Community Learning Center, an inner-city school for disadvantaged children run by the Black Panther Party, Hispanics and blacks that enter college on the basis of affirmative action have a dropout rate of 50 percent. And rather than focus on the real problem - the education of K-12 students - the liberal state elected officials prefer to continue the atrocity of social promotion, he added.

“Everyone doesn’t start off equally in life,” said Horowitz. “And everyone doesn’t develop at the same pace. Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was in her 60s. And (President) Lyndon Johnson went to West Texas State College. Students need to be in a place where they don’t feel inferior and can’t compete.”

Cole Church, a junior art major with an emphasis in conceptual information arts, decided to attend Horowitz’s speech after seeing the anti-Horowitz signs carried by members of the Spartacus Youth Club.

“I thought I’d check it out,” said Church. “It’s not often you get to hear conservatives on this campus.
“I didn’t care much for what he had to say, but he had a right to say it. But people with power shouldn’t scream discrimination or claim to be victims. I mean come on. He’s a white male. Who is he to talk about the black plight?”

SF State student Tatiana Menaker said that Horowitz is one of the most intellectual and serious conservatives she has ever met.

“He’s right,” said Menaker. “Professors are supposed to enlighten students, not brainwash them with their liberal agenda. Because of people like Mr. Horowitz, we get to hear the other side.”

Aside from Horowitz’s complaint of the lack of diversity at SF State, he said that he is also preparing a lawsuit against the Golden Gate [X]press for refusing to run one of his paid advertisements.

“The chairman of the journalism department is ignorant of the First Amendment,” said Horowitz. “And I am unmoved by his reason and decision to not print my ad.

“This is a state institution. I went to school when McCarthyism was outside the schools. But now it’s crept its way inside the schools. The university has become an intellectually un-free place in American society.”

After a one-on-one interview with [X]press, Horowitz was introduced to journalism department chair John Burks. Horowitz confronted Burks and journalism professor Austin Long-Scott, criticizing them over the ad’s rejection and promising victory in his suit.

“Your First Amendment policy is wrong,” Horowitz told Burks. “Talk to your lawyers because I’m about to take a lot of money away from you.”

Later, Burks told [X]press that his interpretation of the First Amendment is backed up by decades of legal precedent.

“No matter how much money or power someone has, they cannot control what you put into print," said Burks. "[X]press is led by very capable editors who have that power (to accept or decline paid advertisements."

“If external groups determine what we publish, we don’t have freedom of speech," Burks said. "(Horowitz) said he wanted to debate me anytime on the First Amendment or free speech, so I hung around in the hall waiting for his interview to finish so that he didn’t think we were trying to duck him. He had his opportunity to do so or I was open the possibility to do so 15 minutes or 15 days from then. He likes to say he’s going to sue you or challenge you to a debate, but these are just efforts to intimidate. Well, we aren’t intimidated."

Burks also said that the journalism department has the full support of the university.

While the majority of the close to 150 attendees of his speech were vocally opposed to Horowitz’s position, several students were excited to have such a high-profile conservative open the doors to a diverse dialogue of ideas.

“I found out he was going to be here through gatorgop.com,” said Janel Adi, a design student at San Francisco Academy of Art University. “So many of us conservatives are in the closet. Speaking engagements like this bring us out into the open and unite us. I hope that this is the first of many more conservatives who stand up to the liberals in this city.”

Greg Sperla, a junior in political science, said he was honored that Shahi asked him to introduce Horowitz to the assembled students and faculty.

“Students for Academic Freedom worked really hard to put this on,” said Sperla. “I particularly liked when he spoke on putting pressure on the university to get conservative speakers and faculty because it’s frustrating being the only conservative in my classes.”

Andrew Posen, an undeclared freshman and a member of Students Against War, said that while he has no problem with Horowitz’s visit to SF State, he found it ironic that on several occasions during his speech calling for “academic freedom,” Horowitz called for disciplinary action against people who dissented with hisses, and for threatening expulsion for others who held up signs in the back of the auditorium.

“He constantly contradicted himself,” said Posen. “I urge liberals and conservatives to hear speakers from the opposite side and engage them in intellectual dialogue. I listen to (Sean) Hannity all the time. I get an ulcer doing it, but we need to be prepared to engage in dialogue when we’re face-to-face with people and issues we don’t agree with."

“After the election, the College Republicans held a debate last semester that was very productive and well done," said Posen. "Nader people, Republicans, Democrats and Students Against War all spoke to each other with respect. That’s what democracy is all about.”

Enrollment Deadline Moved Up

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An increase in freshman applications has ratcheted up pressure on the Office of Enrollment Planning & Management to fill a record demand for admissions.

To cope with this, last fall the University of California raised the minimum grade point average for incoming freshmen from 2.8 to 3.0.

Although there are no plans to do anything similar at SF State, the application deadline has been moved up to deal with the extra pressure on admissions. The freshman deadline closed Jan. 16, and for transfer students it is now Feb. 28. Previously, applications were accepted through May.

“What we have now in terms of applications is just phenomenal,” said Jo Volkert, associate vice president of the Office of Enrollment Planning & Management. “At the freshman level, we have over 4,000 more applications than we did last year at this time.”

High school graduates with a GPA of 3.0 or above don’t need to take the SAT, Volkert said. However, she still recommended that incoming freshmen take the test, as a good score can allow some students to bypass certain remedial requirements.

Complicating academic planning is the persistent budget shortfall California has faced in recent years.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2005-06 budget included a 5.2 percent increase in California State University funding, to $3.8 billion. But enrollment growth is expected to outpace the budget increase, so CSU and UC officials plan to raise fees by eight percent for undergraduates and 10 percent for graduate students.

Jean Ross, the executive director of the California Budget Project, called higher education "a ticket to the middle class," while commenting on Gov. Schwarzenegger's budget last month. The project is a non-profit and through independent analysis, it aims to improve the well being of middle- and low-income earners.

In a Feb. 1 report, the project’s associate director, Barbara Baran, wrote that while higher education didn't take a major hit in the budget, the state needs to be concerned with the rising cost of universities and that residents need to ensure that a growing percentage of Californians have access to a university.

Baran said increased tuition is one of the reasons why higher education fared well in the governor’s budget compared to health benefits for the aged and disabled, which suffered major cuts.
This past year more than $400 million was cut from the CSU and UC systems. If more funding isn't secured for the future, it is estimated that nearly 2 million students will be unable to attend college, according to the Campaign for College Opportunity.

Last year the governor said the state would grow its way out of its budget shortfall. Yet even he now admits that the gap between projected revenues and spending commitments cannot be bridged. State leaders said that the only way to resolve the shortfall is to cut spending, raise taxes or some combination of the two.

However, an opinion poll taken the week of Jan. 23 by the Public Policy Institute Of California showed just one-third of Californians approved of the governor's plans for education funding and that two-thirds favor boosting the top bracket of the state income tax to help balance the budget. Yet it was an agreement worked out between Gov. Schwarzenegger and the CSU and UC systems, known as The Higher Education Compact, that resulted in the present policy.

Volkert said that CSUs and UCs agreed to tighten their belts this year for increased funding next year, but negotiations over the budget continue until summer, so she does not know how it will impact admissions.

Students are applying to eight or ten schools, noted Volkert, so SF State does not know what enrollment is going to be until they notify admissions if they are coming or not.
"That's the nightmare of trying to manage the enrollments, because you don't know," said Volkert. "That's why the CSU pushed for the compact, because we really need to have more assurance from year to year to do long-range planning,"

Even before the current year's fiscal problems, John Burks, chairman of the SF State journalism department, advised journalism majors in a letter to brace for budget cuts that would touch every department. He cautioned students that if they wanted to stay on track to graduate on time, they should enroll in as many courses in their major as their schedule permits. He further explained because of the state budget, multiple sections of course offerings had been reduced to two or just one.

Burks also said that students should sign up early, yet explained, "There's no secret pass to sign up ahead (of assigned priority registration), just don't put it off."

Trason Young, a junior majoring in technical writing, receives financial aid that funds his tuition and books. But to cover living expenses he is negotiating a work/study tutoring job through Student Services. He cautions those who avail themselves of grant opportunities to be proactive.

"Don't assume once you fill out a form you're OK," said Young. "People at an office lose paperwork or claim you filled out a form incorrectly. You really have to put in a certain amount of your own effort."
Young also knows the annoyance of fewer sections. Last fall he missed a management prerequisite for his business degree because only one section was offered. But it has yet to derail his graduation plans, as he managed to get into the class this term.

Despite the struggling economy, 28,791 students enrolled at SF State this year, just slightly less than last year’s record number.

The good news, said Volkert, is that the decline has not affected diversity.

"Our numbers have maintained the same level," Volkert said, "In fact, this year's figures look like they're up in all ethnic groups."

Yet she urges those high school students who have already been accepted not to get a case of "senioritis." Many freshmen are admitted based on grades from their junior year. But Volkert minces no words when she advises students not to slack off.

"The school will rescind an acceptance if you fail to keep up your grades in your core area," she said.

SF State students take longer to earn their bachelors’ degrees than most students nationally and within the California State University system, according to statistics released by Education Trust, a nonprofit national education organization.

Of the 1,732 full-time freshmen that enrolled at SF State in the fall semester of 1997, 38.5 percent graduated by August 2003, netting the university the fifth lowest graduation rate in the CSU’s 23-campus system. Within the same six-year period, nearly 44 percent of all college students nationally and 54 percent of all CSU students earned their bachelor's degrees.

But campus administrators say the issue is more complex than the numbers suggest.

“CSU campuses differ considerably, and a comparison to the overall average may not be very meaningful,” said SF State Dean of Undergraduate Studies Daniel Buttlaire, in an e-mail response.
SF State is a large urban institution, where the average student is older, works more hours outside of class and has family responsibilities, he added.

More than three out of four student have jobs, according to a university survey taken during class registration. And more than 25 percent of those students said they work full-time while attending classes. Many students do end up getting the degrees, but for some it just takes a little longer.
SF State's graduation rate over 12 years for first time freshman is 51.8 percent and 71.1 percent for California community college transfers, the university reports.

It would be best to compare SF State’s graduation rate to other large CSU campuses within urban settings, Buttlaire said. But even then, a comparison of the graduation rates of the seven largest CSU campuses ranks SF State second to last, trailing Cal State Fullerton’s 47.6 percent graduation rate by more then 9 percent.

Helen Goldsmith, associate dean of undergraduate studies at SF State, said typically the CSU campuses outperforming SF State have fewer freshmen requiring remedial math and English classes.
Remedial classes present a bottleneck for some students that could extend their stay in college up to one year, she said.

Cal State Fullerton and San Diego State University, two of the CSU’s most successful large campuses in graduating students, awarded 47.6 percent and 44 percent of their students a baccalaureate degree within six years. And each had fewer freshmen than SF State requiring remedial courses in 2003, according to the most current statistics available.

At Cal State Fullerton, more then 70 percent of freshmen were qualified to take college level math. And 80 percent of San Diego State University’s freshmen entered college without needing remediation, but at SF State, just 56.7 percent of incoming freshman were eligible to take a college-level math course.

Cal State Fullerton and San Diego State University also had fewer students requiring remedial English than SF State. Less then half of Cal State Fullerton’s students and 30 percent of San Diego State University’s students were required to take extra English classes. At SF State, a little more then half of all freshmen in 2003 needed remedial English courses.

Goldsmith said she believes that students who arrive better prepared for college-level courses graduate sooner.

The Early Assessment Program, a collaborative project between the CSU, the California State Board of Education, and the California Department of Education, aims to identify deficiencies in a college-bound student’s readiness for college courses while they're still in high school and have a chance to improve.

At SF State, freshmen students are being provided with more opportunities for support and guidance. More freshmen are attending orientation classes and receiving help in registering for their first semester courses. Additionally some freshmen are enrolling in smaller, linked classes comprised of two courses taught to the exact same students.

An overwhelming number of students in these classes make friends, feel connected and get required support, Goldsmith said.

David Spence, the CSU executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer, said in a press release that a 54 percent overall graduation rate systemwide, although good, is not high enough.

“We believe that to maintain the enormous impact that CSU has had on the California economy, the CSU will have to provide even higher numbers of citizens and workers with baccalaureate degrees,” he said.

SF State has just formed a task force of administrators and members of the Academic Senate to find ways to improve the university’s graduation rate. They’ll be evaluating SF State to see what factors prevent students from graduating in a timely manner and what can be done about it.

When asked why some students don’t graduate, Goldsmith said that for some, “life just gets in the way,” but “the persistence of some students is amazing,” she said. “Things may get in the way, but they don’t let them get in the way of their dreams of a college education.”

A recent CNN study reported students are paying more back in loans now than ever before. With the rising cost of tution and books every year, many students find it mandatory to take out student loans in order to get through the semester. [X]press Online reporters took a random survey of students around campus to find out how SFSU deal with paying for their education.

Tsunami Hits Parents' Business

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From half a world away, the Dec. 26 tsunami that ravaged the Indian Ocean region touched the life of SF State student Patipon Sudtipongkasest.

His family’s four-story hotel, on the seashore of the Patong region near Phuket, Thailand, was destroyed by the giant wave, which killed more than 200 hotel guests and 25 employees.

Sudtipongkasest, an international student who has studied for a web design certificate since fall 2004 said the hotel had about 300 registered guests, mostly tourists from Holland, and 35 employees at that moment of the disaster.

“Everything was destroyed,” said Sudtipongkasest. “It’s been very hard for my family. My family was just crying and confused.”

Sudtipongkasest said his parents spent the next several days finding dead bodies in their wrecked hotel and cleaning up. Volunteers from the Thai government and organizations like UNICEF started to arrive in the area to help three days later, he said.

The death toll from the tsunami stands at around 170,000, with as many as 142,000 still missing. The massive devastation wrought by the tsunami has slowed efforts to get an accurate count of the dead and missing.
Sudtipongkasest and one other Thai student contacted the Office of International Programs (OIP) at SF State after the disaster happened.

OIP is designed to assist the university’s F-1 visa international students and their families on immigration and visa matters, cultural adjustment, and personal and financial counseling.

According to Jay Ward, a coordinator for the international student service program, there have been no reports of SF State international students injured or killed by the tsunami.

SF State currently has more than 2,600 international students from over 100 countries, including more than 300 international students from the tsunami-hit regions, according to Ward.

SF State President Robert Corrigan immediately sent letters to students from the affected regions, expressing sympathy and offering support to students traumatized by the tsunami’s impact.

"On behalf of the university, I want to extend my deepest condolences over the terrible loss of life and devastation that your nation is suffering," Corrigan wrote. "We can only hope that you and those close to you are safe and as well as possible in these circumstances."
A week later, OIP sent out a follow-up e-mail to the students. Ward said five students responded that they were fine and appreciated their concern.

“At this point in time, we (OIP staff) don’t think any international students are affected in any of these regions,” said Ward. “We are assuming everyone is okay, otherwise we probably would have heard of it by now. It’s been over a month since everything happened.”

Ward said OIP might need to see if the university has a financial resource that could be of support for students if there were enough students who needed financial assistance because of the disaster.

Sudtipongkasest will finish his certificate program in May and head back to Thailand, he said. He has a full load of 21 units this semester, and received a $1,000 credit toward his $4,700 tuition after explaining his family situation to school officials.

The tsunami’s impact will likely be felt in the Indian Ocean region for years to come, analysts say. For-profit and non-profit organizations and people throughout the world have already made a great amount of financial, material and humane contributions to the countries. For example, the American Red Cross has raised $236.2 million in 30 days, according to officials at the Bay Area chapter.

At SF State, some student organizations are already planning on a fund-raising campaign for tsunami victims and survivors. Rima Chaudry and Megan Parkinson of the Women’s Center on campus plan to host a fund-raiser event several weeks later.

“It’s hard not to be affected by that even if you don’t have family there,” said Parkinson, 23, an English major. “It’s such an immense thing that’s happened in our culture and society that I think it affects everybody.”

Chaudry and Parkinson sent out e-mails to various student organizations over the winter break to ask if they want to co-sponsor and get involved. The first meeting with several student organizations was held a week before the semester started to discuss how they wanted to do the fund-raiser and how they could collaborate.

“It’s just necessary,” said Chaudry, a 22-year-old senior sociology major. “It’s never a question of any sort of specific inspiration. If you see something that happens, you help in any way you can.

“It’s really important to get students involved because they do have the capability of effecting that sort of change and (helping) out the international community. We want every organization to be involved.”

SF State has discontinued the bachelor’s degree program in Russian, despite a November recommendation by the Academic Senate to maintain the program.

Foreign language department Chair Midori McKeon received notice from Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs John Gemello on Feb. 1. McKeon said in an e-mail to [X]press that she had not received any statement from SF State President Robert Corrigan or from Caren Colvin, chair of the
Academic Senate, before receiving a routing sheet announcing the provost's decision.

Requests for interviews from Gemello, Corrigan, and senate leadership were not returned in time for publication.

After initial cutbacks to Academic Affairs last April, the university curtailed enrollments in the Russian program because of the possibility of discontinuance.

SF State’s Educational Policies Committee voted 15-1 on Nov. 9 for the discontinuance of the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Russian in an overwhelming vote last semester, said College of Humanities Dean Paul Sherwin.

The EPC recommended the Russian program be kept as a minor, said Russian program director Katerina Siskron. While Siskron and McKeon did not dispute the proposal for discontinuance of the master’s degree due to a lack of students enrolled in the program, they went to the Academic Senate in hopes of keeping the undergraduate degree program.

Siskron’s concern was that students with a minor would not be accepted into graduate programs in Russian offered by UC Berkeley and Stanford University.

“We feel it's shortsighted to eliminate the program,” said Siskron. “It’s a way of saying that everyone speaks English and we don’t need to really learn the culture or language of other people.”

Siskron said there was an overwhelming amount of support for the bachelor's program. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Immigrants Rights Commission and the CSU Foreign Language Council all passed resolutions in favor of sustaining the bachelor’s program.

Over 900 people signed paper petitions circulated by students and members of the Russian community to save the program. Another 1,700 people signed online petitions in support of the bachelor’s degree offering, Siskron said.

The Academic Senate supported the program’s continuance by a 26-21 vote on Nov. 30.

"I am proud that we were able to bring out facts that were convincing enough to the Academic Senate to support the Russian B.A. programs continuance and preservation," sad McKeon. "We must believe in the collective wisdom of this great university. I thank all who are involved in the review process for their hard work and dedication."

In order to keep the bachelor’s degree, the department would have to hire two new tenure-track faculty, at a yearly cost of at least $90,000 each, including benefits. There are various ways this money could be spent within the department, including adding faculty to other programs or adding classes, said Sherwin.

The impact on current faculty members in the Russian program won’t be clear until the final group of Russian majors completes its coursework. If student interest in Russian coursework increases in the future, reopening the degree program is a possibility, Sherwin added.

“I don’t think we want to keep programs that aren’t strong and healthy in terms of both the quality of the programs and in terms of the academic quality of the course work,” said Sherwin.

The lack of students - at present eight - enrolled in the bachelor’s program was one reason that Sherwin lobbied for discontinuance.

The only CSU campus still offering a bachelor's in Russian is San Diego State University. Students who want to earn an undergraduate degree in Russian and stay in the Bay Area might consider UC Berkeley. However, that institution serves a student population very different from that of SF State, said Siskron.

“The attack is not on the Russian program,” said Siskron. “What is happening is that small classes and small programs are eliminated or emerged so that you have more and more students per classroom.

“I don’t feel that this is personal or that this is addressed just to the Russian (department),” she added. “I feel that this is just the choices we are making as a nation and as a state. And I feel very sad about those choices.”

Some California State University officials and employee representatives say the new state budget proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a step in the right direction, but it's a stride that doesn’t go far enough to fulfill the needs of the state’s higher education systems.

The good news is that for the first time in three years the proposed 2005-06 state budget has increased next year's funding to the 23-campus CSU system by more than $211 million. The extra cash comes from the state’s general fund, as well as an additional $101.2 million from higher student fees.

However, over the last three years, the CSU system has absorbed funding cuts totaling more then $522 million, leading many to say this year’s funding increase does not go far enough to restore services.

SF State Vice President of Administration and Finance Leroy Morishita welcomes the increase in funding, but with reservations.

“We are pleased that the governor's budget does honor the compact that he made with the CSU,” said Morishita in an e-mail response. “It will provide us additional funds for increased enrollment. However it does not address the more than $500 million in reductions that the CSU and SF State have had to absorb the past two years.”

The proposed budget permits SF State to give faculty and staff pay raises and fund increases in health benefits. It will also help pay larger utility bills and retirement costs, said Morishita.

The governor’s proposed budget fully funds the CSU trustees’ budget request and honors the higher education compact. The compact is an agreement reached last May between the governor and officials from the CSU and UC systems that guarantees a continued investment in California’s public universities through a series of yearly budget increases spanning six years. It guarantees at least a minimum amount of funding each year for enrollment growth, salary increases, health benefits, a larger general fund and rising maintenance costs.

Specific budget details and actual dollars available to SF State won’t be known until the governor’s proposed budget is adopted sometime in June, but so far the proposed budget provides for a 2.5 percent increase in enrollment and funding for up to an additional 10,000 students throughout the CSU system. It sets aside cash for a 3.5-percent pay raise for faculty and staff and an additional $23.3 million in financial aid, which would permit the CSU to award 101,300 State University Grants totaling $232.6 million.

Morishita’s assessment of the proposed budget echoes some of the sentiments of the 23,000-member California Faculty Association (CFA).

SF State’s CFA chapter president, Mitch Turitz, said the CFA is opposed to student fee increases. The university system should look to their foundations and general funds before raising student costs, he added.

He also strongly expressed the CFA’s dissatisfaction with this year's funding for new tenure-track instructors. The proposed budget this year is $7 million less than the $40 million invested last year, he said, adding that last year’s amount wasn’t enough either.

Last year, CFA lobbyists were on the verge of convincing the state Legislature to approve a $100 million hiring budget, but then the chancellor “sold them out” when he agreed to the governor’s budget compact without consulting faculty, Turitz said.

Most of the lecturers do not participate in the non-teaching activities expected of tenured faculty, according to an e-mail response from Jan Gregory, chair of the CFA faculty rights panel.

“While most of the lecturers are exceptionally competent classroom teachers, they cannot serve on personnel committees or do the kind of advising students need in order to make good decisions about their academic programs, whether to enter graduate programs, or career decisions. The impact on the workload of permanent faculty is very high. A budget that provides little additional funding for new tenure-track faculty disadvantages students,” she said.

The CFA advocates a budget increase of another $181 million supporting further enrollment hikes, reduced class sizes, a lower student-faculty ratio, and more tenured or tenure-track instructors for every temporary teaching position throughout the CSU.

The budget additions suggested by the CFA would eliminate next year’s student fee increases and put a hold on further increases until the impact of the fee hikes on students has been studied.

Taylor Chen, the chair of the California Student Public Research Interest Group, a student-run organization dedicated to helping California university students improve their world through civic action, said he was relieved that the proposed CSU budget did not go further and actually cut student aid.

In January, the student interest group, the University of California State Student Association and the California State Student Association launched a campaign to promote the benefits of funding higher education to the California State Legislature.

“The university system has rapidly degraded over the last few years,” Chen said. "This new budget helps, but is still not enough.”

Chen added that fee increases would create a larger burden on already overburdened students.
From 2001 through 2004 the average systemwide university fee has increased from $1,428 to $2,334 for undergraduates and from $1,506 to $2,820 for graduate students. Student fees will increase eight percent for undergraduates and teacher credential students and 10 percent for graduate students in fall 2005. This brings the annual costs for undergraduates to $2,520. Students pursuing a teacher’s credential will pay $2,922 and graduate students $3,102 annually.

Last year’s budget cuts required the discontinuance of several of SF State’s degree programs and large cuts to the university’s sports programs. Caran Colvin, the chair of SF State’s Academic Senate, presided over the discontinuance hearings.

“It’s absolutely better than last year," Colvin said. "(But still), there is not enough money.”

Colvin is pleased that further cuts to university services and classes won’t be required next year, she said, but she added that worries that funds may not be available to expand class offerings and services that would make the university better. This budget is large enough to maintain what the university offers, but offers little more, she said.

“The most important thing is to offer classes students need to graduate,” she said.

Love and Science

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Valentine’s Day seems to bring out euphoric feelings. Chocolates, roses and, sometimes, intimate moments engulf young lovers. Perhaps it’s magic in the air, being aware of how much you love your partner, or feelings of transcendence that bring on such happiness and tranquility.
Either that or it is due to elevated levels of chemicals in the brain.
“Feelings of ‘love’ seem to use the same neural circuitry as other euphoric feelings, including those that participate in substance abuse and addiction,” said SF State biology Professor Barry Rothman in an e-mail interview. “Love may help keep pairs of animals bonded together, which may have survival value, and thus may have been enhanced by natural selection - the engine that drives biological evolution.”

Many scientists agree with this view, where everything can be reduced to hard, physical science.
One such theory holds that love can be put into three categories: lust, attraction, and attachment.

These categories all have corresponding biological components: testosterone, dopamine, and oxytocin, respectively, according to Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher, writing in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

“The function of lust is obvious,” said Ronald Goldthwaite, a biology professor who teaches NEXA courses, in an e-mail interview. “Mating systems vary by necessity; if a species’ young need lots of parental care, monogamy often becomes a norm.”

However, Mark Griffin, an associate professor in the SF State anthropology department, noted that scientists who study primates hold a different opinion.

“(Primatologists believe that humans and other primates) are having sex because it reduces tension, because it increases social cohesion, and it establishes relationships between members of the same sex, members of the opposite sex and members from different generations,” he said.

Fisher’s second category - the feeling of attraction produced by dopamine, which is also introduced by the use of alcohol, cocaine and sweets - is a little more complex. Although the reason why people may become excited with each other is due to increased levels of dopamine, the attraction stage cannot last for very long.

Humans tend to become desensitized to the person that ignites dopamine surges, according to Anthony Walsh in his book, “The Science of Love.”

That’s where oxytocin comes in. Oxytocin is a neural amino acid compound released during childbirth and nursing which creates a parent-child bond. Walsh claims that oxytocin is also found in the blood of men and women during orgasm.

By this rationale, the bonding that occurs between mother and child also occurs when couples are intimate.

Goldthwaite agrees that attraction “highs” can only last for so long.

“Passion does not endure as such in such long-lived animals as humans,” wrote Goldthwaite. “At best it matures into friendships which persist even after children are born. In most of human history, we bred in our early teens and raised our children by age 30 - but then we died by 40, at the close of our reproductive potential.”

However, evolutionary forces are changing in our generations, according to Goldthwaite.

“(Our generation has) antibiotics, contraceptives, long lives, and changed economics for the cost of raising children,” he wrote. “So what we will become is even more unclear now than for most evolutionary ‘predictions.’”

Griffin also believes that changes in monogamy are occurring in the United States.

“There really are, in terms of numbers, very few cultures that truly practice monogamy,” he said. “We’re not actually one of them. We don’t truly practice monogamy, but sort of a mutated form - what anthropologists call ‘serial monogamy.’ I don’t know if there is a scientific advantage.”

Some academics even question that love truly exists – in spite of biological evidence.

"Why do they pair up? That's a big question, a global question," said Joseph Matyas, an SF State lecturer in social psychology. "It's hard for me to talk about it (love). I'm basically pretty cynical. I don't believe in it at all. I used to, but not anymore. Fuck love.”

Students John and Courtney Gregory, however, didn’t seems so jaded. Standing at a Muni stop in front of SF State in an embrace, they looked at each other while waiting for the train with sparks in their eyes and seemed almost in a trance.

They met while completing undergraduate work and both are currently pursuing graduate studies at the university. John studies English literature and Courtney, his wife of a year and a half, studies nursing. On their first date, Courtney made cookies for her future husband. The couple blushed in unison while recounting the story.

“Luck is a big part of love,” said John. “It’s completely mysterious - beyond comprehension.”
When John was asked if the smell of cookies on his first date with Courtney could have triggered dopamine in his brain, therefore igniting feelings of love, he laughed and said, “Well, it could have been. But to be honest, the cookies weren’t even that good.”

Courtney grinned at John patiently as he continued, “Well, they weren’t – at the time. But they’ve gotten better.”

Talking to Kids About Disasters

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In the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, images of the giant wave wreaking havoc on coastal regions and talk of the overwhelming death toll – some 160,000 and still rising – were in near-constant rotation on television news.

Such coverage can be disorienting and frightening for children, who may not understand the relatively low risk they face from such disasters.

But some experts say that large-scale tragedies like the tsunami or the Sept. 11 attacks needn’t traumatize children, if parents and teachers give the right kind of reassurance.

“Children can sense fear coming from adults,” said Cindy Cervantes, program coordinator for the SF State Jumpstart program, which pairs highly trained SF State students with preschool children for one-on-one tutoring in learning skills.

“A lot of people react (to children’s questions about disasters) by trying to change the subject, trying to get the child to forget, but (kids are) smarter than that," said Cervantes. “If a child is asking about something, then they are ready to talk about it. It’s important to get them to talk about their feelings.”

Every age group requires a different type of response, and every individual child will react to tragedy in a different way, Cervantes said. After Sept. 11, making the complex socio-political motives behind terrorist attacks palpable to a group of fourth graders was a challenge, she also said.

“They were asking, ‘Why would someone do this to us?’” Cervantes said. “And it’s hard to answer that question.

“Some children don’t understand people hating each other.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has created a Web site to help children understand and prepare for large-scale disasters. FEMA for Kids (http://www.fema.gov/kids) offers easy-to-read explanations about earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural phenomena, as well as a section on “national security emergencies,” or terrorist attacks.

Children can play online games and help their family prepare for future events by forming an evacuation plan and creating an emergency supply kit. Parents can also order free educational activity and coloring books from the site. The Department of Homeland Security will soon open a kids’ section at its terrorist attack preparedness site, http://www.ready.gov.

“Children, like parents, have complex fears and anxieties about disasters,” said Barbara Ellis, a public affairs officer with FEMA. “We (feel) children are a very important part of the disaster recovery program.

“The more information people have, the better.”

Parents should avoid being deliberately vague or simply telling kids, “Don’t worry,” according to the National Mental Health Association. Instead, they can engage children with specific questions about their feelings, and be realistic in their reassurances, saying things like, “You’re safe now, and I’ll always try to protect you,” instead of offering hollow guarantees.

Appropriate responses will vary by the child’s age. Younger kids may have trouble comprehending why disasters like the tsunami happen or believe that they are in danger of every far-away incident they see on television.

Adolescents can also have difficulty coping with disaster, according to the mental health group, sometimes acting out or regressing to younger behavior. Though teens may not vocalize their feelings, parents should keep the lines of communication open and honest.

Parents can also talk with older children about scientific and technological advances that help keep them safe, like the tsunami warning system or advanced satellites that track hurricanes, according to FEMA.

The international relations department at SF State has added a third section of its Foreign Policy Analysis class, responding to requests from over 40 students who were unable to add the class to their schedules on the first day of the semester.

Professor Margaret E. Leahy told students trying to add the six-unit class on the first day of the semester that they would not be able to do so, according to students who were in class.

Dissatisfied with Leahy’s response, some students approached department Chair Sanjoy Banjeree with requests to add into the course and were told that an additional section could not be added because of new standards informally placed upon class requirements, according to Banjeree.

Banjeree proposed that currently enrolled students lacking prerequisites or passing JEPET scores would be dropped from the course and replaced by the most qualified students in need of the class for graduation, excluding those in need of graduation with concurrent enrollment in prerequisite courses, according to Banjeree.

"When students arrived at my office it was a big surprise,” said Banjeree. “It wasn't clear to me that we could add a new section, so my initial response was to see who the most qualified students were and to allow them into the class.”

The rules that the department set concerning prerequisites and the JEPET have not been strictly enforced in the past, but they will be strictly enforced starting in the fall of 2005, according to Banjeree.

Students like Dylan Whitehead did not accept Banjeree's initial response easily and brought the issue to the attention of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Dean Dr. Joel J. Kassiola.

"I need only 12 units to graduate, six of which are for this class, so this was unacceptable for me," said Whitehead. "It was the most stressful week of my life."

Kassiola met with department staff on Feb. 2 and decided to allocate $11,000 of the department’s discretionary funding would be allocated toward a third section of the course that would provide 20 spots for students.

"All I need to do is find the money," said Kassiola, "It is much harder for the department chair to make these decisions because an instructor is needed, a room is needed- students need to keep this in mind.

“Last fall, the department did not anticipate the number of students who would need the course. It is a disturbing situation but it is a good problem because we will now take all measures to ensure that it does not happen again."

As of Monday, all students who needed the course have been enrolled into the new third section taught by Dr. Leahy or they have been placed into the two existing sections, which have increased in enrollment from 20 to 25 students, said Kassiola.

“We have had problems like this in the past, but not to this capacity. As the campus grows, and BSS leads the campus growth, there will be growing pains,” said Kassiola.

Kassiola believes this issue serves as a hint toward overpopulation problems that educational institutions will be experiencing in the future.

IR majors alone have increased 35 percent since 2000 and will continue to increase, according to Kassiola.

“We have tried to minimize disruption and harm to students and we are committed to having each student not have to prolong their time here,” he said.

Although the issue concerning this semester’s class is resolved, Banjeree remains concerned for those enrolled and for those who will enroll in future semesters.

"Students should still be upset," said Banjeree. "They're not going to get everything that they would have gotten with a better student- to-professor ratio." While still disappointed at the way in which the situation was handled, some students are satisfied with the outcome.

"I wish this could have been sorted out last week because we have been jumping through hoops, e-mailing people and meeting with people about this, but we all got into the class and I'm so relieved," said Whitehead.

Fellow student and IR major Jesse Garrett agrees.

"I feel really good about the outcome and the problem was solved quickly enough, but it would have been better if they had originally made these decisions," he said.

As for the present, Kassiola said all is well, “but this is a wake-up call that this will be an issue in the future.”

Controversial author David Horowitz tried selling his new Academic Bill of Rights to a crowd of 150 students and alumni Thursday in Jack Adams Hall. Roughly 30 of them bought it.

He credited the United States with “liberating the world from slavery … when in 1776 they decreed that ‘all men were created equal.’” He also warned students that they “will graduate ignorant” if not taught to “tolerate a separate point of view.”

Such claims drew hisses and chants from many in attendance, particularly members of the Spartacus Youth Club who stood in the back row of the auditorium holding signs deeming him a racist and a Zionist.

Their constant disruptions angered many in attendance, particularly the College Republicans who raised private funds to pay for Horowitz’s appearance. Alumnus Rodney Leong said, “events like this are necessary when you want to hear all sides.” He added the “unfortunate behavior makes SF State and San Francisco look bad.”

The actions of the Spartacus Youth Club also swayed the opinion of several moderate students in attendance, such as sophomore cinema major Andreas Herczeg. He said he had no prior knowledge of Horowitz and did not agree with everything said, but his opinion of the man was strengthened after he saw Horowitz verbally sparring with the barrage of protesters.

Horowitz gained notoriety as a journalist after graduating from Columbia in 1959 and then attending UC Berkeley graduate school and publishing the left-leaning magazine Ramparts. He abandoned his liberal ideals by the 1970s however, after disillusionment with United States’ policies in Vietnam and southeastern Asia.

On Thursday, his academic freedom included his assessment of SF State as “not a free campus” and being void of “intellectual diversity.” Though highly intellectual and informed in historical matters, Horowitz’s staunchly conservative agenda and divisive writings have resulted in the [X]press’ refusal to print two of his ads in the last year - an action that led Horowitz to threaten the university with a lawsuit. His vehement pursuit of police and university actions against four Arab students who were involved in an altercation with College Republicans last semester also drew a number of protesters to his speech.

At one point he denounced communism, “Cuba was the second richest Latin American country in 1959, before Castro took over,” he said. “Now they are one of the poorest.”

“But they all have health insurance,” someone yelled from the audience.

“Yeah, and no medicine,” Horowitz replied.

Horowitz threatened to sue the university for inequality and called it a disgrace that there needed to be armed officers on hand for his speech just because of his views.

Campus police spokeswoman Capt. Molly Borja said an equal number of officers were present for such notable liberal speakers as Michael Moore and Ralph Nader and additional officers were necessary for crowd control during an appearance by Jesse Jackson.

Tensions rose at the conclusion of Horowitz’s speech when he announced he would take questions from the audience. After a thorough discussion of the failures of Marxism during Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution, four members of the Spartacus Youth Club walked to the front of the stage and attempted to begin rebutting Horowitz’s claims. After they were promptly but peacefully removed from the auditorium and their names taken by police, Horowitz called on a Palestinian-American who requested that he give a factual history of the Middle East region and respond to allegations that thousands of Palestinians have been forced out of their country. Cries for Horowitz to directly answer the questions clashed with the applause from the three front rows packed solely with supporters civilly showing their agreement with Horowitz’s comments.

Horowitz responded by stating that Israeli Jews comprise only 1 percent of the Middle East population and that, “Zionism is the only true national liberation movement for one people in the history of the world.” Continued exchange resulted in the frustrated Palestinian-American storming out of the room while pointing at Horowitz and continuing to argue.

Finally, another student asked Horowitz to offer proof of the blacklisting he has accused SF State of administering to conservative speakers and prospective professors.

Horowitz said that the proof was in the percentages he has seen for himself in CSU faculties, and that “you don’t need a list to have a blacklist.”

Horowitz reiterated his past liberal action, including anti-Vietnam protests and Black Panther fundraising projects, and chided the actions of “today’s” protesters, calling their actions “a mild form of fascism” and quipped that “the left has degenerated quite a bit since my day.”

President George W. Bush unveiled his plans to fix Social Security by creating voluntary personal retirement accounts as an alternative to traditional benefits in his State of the Union address Wednesday night.

Regardless of the political wording, the idea of investing Social Security benefits in the stock market is something that will affect SF State students, professors and the entire country.

“This is a radical change in the way we deal with social policy and is a fundamental change in how we decide to provide care to elderly people,” said Francis Neely, professor of political science at SF State.

Right now, every person receives the same Social Security benefits, regardless of their income, but if the Bush proposal passes, a person’s benefits would be determined by the course of the changing stock market.

“The people who have more money already have investments in stocks and bonds," Neely said. "The risk is someone who would rely solely on their Social Security in their later years would invest in the market and it would not pay off."

The president said the Social Security reform he endorses will affect all U.S. citizens under the age of 55, which has students concerned for themselves and their parents as well.

“I just don’t think it’s fair,” said Jackie Yanofsky, a 21-year-old health education major whose parents are 48 and 51, under the cut-off age.

“They have worked a sufficient amount in their lifetime. Granted they have time to prepare for it, but they still deserve it,” she said.

Bush did not say exactly how his proposed system of personal accounts would work, but it’s commonplace for presidents to avoid detailed explanations in the State of the Union address.

In fact, giving too many details can be a bad political move, according to Neely.

“As soon as they come up with specifics, democrats will attack those, specifically,” professor Neely said. “The advantage of putting it off is that he is out rounding up support for the reform in general.”

Bush’s speech was built upon the fact that political success is not determined by reality, but by the American public’s perception of reality, according to James Martel, assistant professor of political science.

Giving specifics is not Bush’s forte, Martel said, so instead he is laying the groundwork for a general plan before a specific one emerges. By introducing the idea in a positive light, Bush is more likely to succeed, Martel said.

Bush also addressed Pell Grants in his speech.

“We will make it easier for Americans to afford a college education, by increasing the size of Pell grants,” Bush said.

Bush plans to increase the maximum size of Pell Grants from $4,050 to $4,550 over the next five years. However, the Department of Education released a new rule in December that will affect the number of students who qualify for Pell Grants. A report by the American Council on Education found that an estimated 1 million recipients will receive an average of $300 less in federal grant money.

SF State student reactions to the president’s speech are varied.

“I personally think that the creation of voluntary personal accounts is a good idea,” said Leo, a 33-year-old psychology major who declined to give his full name. He also supports Bush’s war on terrorism.

“We have not been attacked in three and a half years. Palestine had an election. Iraq had an election. The Ukraine had an election. For the moment I think it is working,” he said.

Other students are angered by the idea of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

“I think that is disgusting. I can’t believe they would try to define marriage,” said Brenda Malvini, a 19-year-old music major.

New Cuts for Pell Grant

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More than 80,000 college students will be ineligible for a federal Pell Grant next year under a new rule released by the U.S. Department of Education.

The policy change was published on Dec. 23, 2004 in the Federal Register, the public notice of rules and regulations from the government. The new rule affects the U.S. Department of Education’s state tax table. It reduces the amount of state taxes that can be excluded from the equation used to calculate the Expected Family Contribution, know as the EFC. The EFC is the amount a student is expected to contribute to his or her own education and is used to estimate how much financial aid they may receive.

While the state tax table is only a portion of a complicated equation used to decide financial aid, a report by the American Council on Education stated that 89,000 students would lose their Pell Grants under the new rule, although they would have received them under the old rule. The lobbying group, which represents 1,800 colleges nationwide, said another 1.3 million would see a reduction in their grant of $100 to $300, saving the federal government $300 million.

Jacqueline King, the director of policy analysis at the American Council of Education, said the number of grant recipients has gone up but the amount has remained the same. She said the new rule comes at an inopportune time when state governments are cutting funding for higher education, while tuition and fees are being increased.

“There's a lot of concern that the federal government is providing less federal aid at precisely the time it’s needed most,” King said. “There’s concern that this is hitting students at precisely the wrong time.”

Opponents say the problem with the new rule is that it is a long time coming. The tax table is supposed to be updated yearly under the Higher Education Act, but was last changed for the 1994-1995 school year. Department of Education officials said accurate data has not been available since then.

Marya Dennis, a management and program analyst for the department, explained that the new table reduces the allowance for California state taxes by only 1 percent.

“For different states the state tax allowance has decreased therefore making their EFC a little bit higher,” Dennis said. “And what everybody has noticed is it’s going to effect students with Pell Grants, at the very lowest of Pell Grants."

Department officials declined any further interviews with the [X]press, but as press secretary Susan Aspey said in a written statement the new table uses tax information from 2002, the most recent data available.

“We're required by law to do this and we can't pick and choose which parts of the law to follow,” Aspey stated. “Our projections show an increase in the number of students receiving Pell Grants next year and nearly half of Pell recipients are eligible for the maximum award and won't be affected.”
Barbara Hubler, the director of financial aid at SF State, said 7,838 students received a Pell Grant for the 2004-2005 school year. Of those, 106 received the minimum grant of $400 and 3,534 students qualified for the maximum grant of $4,050.

She said the new tax table would increase the EFC in California by $133. The amount means the new federal rule would affect students within a margin of $400. Some students who would receive $400, could lose the entire amount. Others may lose only $200 from their grant, Hubler said.

“You can say, oh, it’s going to be a $133 [EFC], but for students, that’s a lot of money,” Hubler said. “That's a textbook. Our students count their pennies.”

In its final report to Congress on the complexity of the financial aid process, the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance stated that the state and local tax tables could cause disruption in financial aid when they are not updated annually. Instead, the committee suggested raising the Income Protection Allowance - the allowable amount of income for a student - by $1,000 to encourage students to work more and keep financial aid eligibility more consistent. The report stated that any changes that will disrupt financial aid eligibility should be phased in over time.

Matt Gonzalez Runs, but Not Too Far

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Matt Gonzalez is a politician and a lawyer, but unlike many of his high-profile peers, he doesn’t seem motivated by money or power, which makes him unpredictable. He’s a maverick or a rebel, maybe both, depending on whom you ask. His mere presence in San Francisco government has, for the past four years, shaken up many notions of what politics is supposed to be about. One thing is clear about the man and his politics– Matt Gonzalez makes things interesting.

A case in point – during Gonzalez’s last meeting with the Board of Supervisors in early January, a friend showed up at the public speaker’s podium dressed in a red cape, scarlet horns, a plastic tail and a matching pitchfork.

“Matt,” said James Beckett, playing the Devil’s Advocate, “for the last four years you’ve stymied my agenda. What have you to say for yourself?”

Gonzalez smiled, but said nothing.

Later on in the meeting, fellow supervisor Jake McGoldrick read a farewell poem for Gonzalez, comparing him to a vegetable.

“Onion, luminous flask, your beauty formed petal by petal… in the secrecy underground, your belly grew round with dew… so did the Earth make you,” said McGoldrick.

Gonzalez took it in stride.

In many ways, McGoldrick is right – Gonzalez clearly has many layers. He’s a complex person, an activist and an attorney, a man of conscience and conviction. But as you peal away his layers, you quickly realize that Gonzalez isn’t spending much time weeping over his recent departure as president of the Board of Supervisors. He may have left City Hall, but Gonzalez hasn’t yet left the political scene.

“I’m not out of politics,” said Gonzalez during a recent interview in a back room of the house he rents near the Western Addition. “Many of the most politically important people in San Francisco do not hold an elected office. I’ve merely joined their ranks.”

Yet it’s hard to believe that Gonzalez really means what he says. Six years ago, he entered politics mainly to tweak his then current boss in the Public Defender’s office, former San Francisco District Attorney Terrance Hallinan.

“I had a kid who was convicted for selling marijuana. The prosecutor wanted to recommend a six-month sentence, which I thought was stupid. I ran for district attorney to bother the incumbent [Hallinan], and to really call him on his wild claims of being extremely progressive. I was trying to hold his feet to the fire,” said Gonzalez.

Although Gonzalez lost his initial bid for elected office, his next attempt at gaining a seat in City Hall fared much better. During his run for the Board of Supervisors spot in district 5, he stunned political insiders by leaving the large and well-financed Democratic Party, opting instead to join the tiny Green Party. Politically, it wasn’t an easy decision, but for Gonzalez it all hinged on trust.

“Do you know the number of times I’ve had people say to me, ‘Matt, you’re going to join the Democrats and run for the state assembly and try to go to Congress as a Democrat, aren’t you?’ It says to me that that’s the conventional wisdom. I was able to get a lot of people to trust me as a political figure, in terms of ‘trust me on the political issues’, at the outset,” said Gonzalez.

Yet trust isn’t something that Gonzalez easily gives. He said he’s been burned by both fellow politicians and local media, which he chalks up to what he calls a style of machine politics that he said he often sees in government.

“Mayor Brown and I used to have these breakfasts,” Gonzalez said. “At every breakfast, we were joined by two African-American attorneys who were Greens, one of them in his 50s and one of them my age. Willie liked their company. He was impressed by the radicalism of the Greens and he identified with it as the radicalism that he had when he started.

“But then, a month later, he’s calling me a racist,” said Gonzalez. “That’s the machine.

“The machine says, ‘We need your help crushing this threat.’ I understand it. I get it. I get along with him [former mayor Brown] fine. I know what he was doing. He knows that I know what he was doing. He tries to make it up to me. He talks about what a great lawyer I am. It’s his way of saying, ‘Matt, I had to fuck you while you we’re running for mayor, and I had to say bad shit about you, but now it’s all good. I want to make up for it.’”

But even if the establishment isn’t impressed with Gonzalez, it doesn’t seem to faze him. He is, at heart, a misfit, and Gonzalez appears to thrive on playing the role of the perpetual underdog, rejecting powerful allies to side with other misfits, typically those with the least amount of clout in local politics.

“I have a long history with disenfranchised groups, like artists and musicians and what have you; people that are more likely not going to get involved in politics,” said Gonzalez. “You get a candidate that you like, one that knows something about what you do, and you get excited about that.”
During his run for mayor in 2003, Gonzalez certainly excited many SF State students, including 23-year-old SF State environmental studies student Grant Donnelly, the co-founder of the school’s Campus Greens party and a former Gonzalez aide.

“We were quite excited by the Matt Gonzalez campaign for mayor,” said Donnelly. “I was energized, not only by his politics, but by the kind of person he is.”

Even if Gonzalez lost the mayor’s seat to Democrat Gavin Newsom, it was a tight race right to the end. By the time the votes were tallied, Gonzalez had come within three percentage points of beating Newsom, a stunning finish for a third party candidate and a man most voters had never even heard of just four years before.

Gonzalez claims he’s not bitter about the defeat to Newsom, yet it’s clear he hoped that he’d beat the odds just one more time.

“After the election, we weren’t disappointed,” said Gonzalez. “We understood the historic nature of this possible victory for the Green Party. What was disappointing was that we got so close. It’s really more like a missed opportunity than anything else.”

Shortly after the mayor’s race, Gonzalez met with John Halle, another elected Green Party official from New Haven, CT. According to Gonzalez, the two discussed their political futures and both agreed not to run for second terms.

“It was funny – I was trying to talk him out of it and he tried to talk me out of it. I think there’s a real lesson there. We did our work, we enjoyed our time, we fought as hard as we could. We’re OK walking away,” said Gonzalez.

Although Gonzalez said he intends to spend his next few years starting a new law firm, crusading against big business and working on the occasional criminal defense case, it’s hard to believe that he can avoid getting involved in politics again. Gonzalez won’t rule out another run for elected office, and his friends and advisors agree he’s unlikely to abandon the political arena.

In any case, Gonzalez’s fellow supervisors in City Hall already admit that they feel his absence.
“I’m going to miss the guy,” said Aaron Peskin, the newly elected Board of Supervisors president. “I adore him. When Matt gets on an issue, he will not compromise. We have very different styles, but he has been an incredible person and an example to the city. He’s fundamentally changed the way we do politics.”


Transcript of Interview with Matt Gonzalez—Friday, January 7, 2005

Q: So, how does it feel to be out of politics for a while?

A: Well, I’m not out yet.

Q: Well, almost - about a day to go, right?

A: Yeah - I’m not out of politics. I’ll be out of holding an elected office. I think it’s important that people understand that you can be politically engaged in your life without holding elective office. In fact, many of the most politically important people in San Francisco do not hold an elected office. I’ve merely joined their ranks. Look at Kevin Danaher and Medea Benjamin from Global Exchange. I consider folks like Peter Camejo, in Contra Costa County - he’s never won an elective office in the 30 years he’s been running. What I mean is, for the Greens, it’s good that we have some people on the outside and some on the inside.

Q: Let me ask you this - I’ve been doing some research on you, and on the Green Party as well - one of the things that really astonishes me is that only about 3 percent of registered voters in San Francisco are registered in the Green Party.

A: Right.

Q: And yet, in the elections, you seem to do very well, much better, obviously than 3 percent. Who’s voting for you?

A: Well, I think it speaks to what happens if you don’t have a spoiler phenomenon at work. If you’ve got more than two candidates in a race, everybody always says, “The Green is going to spoil the election, ‘cause he or she is taking votes from somebody.” In a two-person race, right - once I’m in a runoff, it’s two-person, they can’t say - what are the typical arguments against the Greens? “You’re going to spoil the outcome,” or that you’re not experienced enough to hold office. “We like you, but you’ve got no experience.”

Well, in this case, in a two-person race, I became president of the Board of Supervisors. So those arguments don’t work and they have to listen to what you’re talking about. The people that listen say, “Hey, I’ll vote for you.” In this city, in San Francisco, I’d say many of the independents are probably closet Greens, people who are independents so they can vote in the Democratic primaries.

Q: How do you think the political process is going to change now that the supervisors, and the mayor, are going to be chosen through ranked-choice voting?

A: Well, I think it’s not going to change – it’s not going to have as dramatic an impact locally as district elections had, because the Greens won a seat in your traditional runoff, right? That’s how I got elected. But I think it’s going to serve as an example for the rest of the country. The Democrats can’t complain about Florida in 2000 when there’s a measure that they can implement, on a national scale, to allow for majority elections so that it couldn’t happen again. We’ve essentially given them an example that they can’t deny.

One thing that people said about IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) is that it favors grassroots candidates, because in traditional elections, what often would happen is you’d have one very identified “machine” candidate, and everyone else would be running as an independent – well, think of the mayor’s race. Susan Leal – “Gavin Newsom’s the machine, he’s not good.” Angela Alioto – “Newsom’s not good, he’s the machine.” As soon as there’s a runoff, then you have the press conferences where, because they’ve been promised things, they come back on board. Everything’s copasetic, they’re all back in the fold, because the machine cuts the deal and takes care of them.

With IRV, you would have to say to say to your supporters, “Newsom’s terrible, but vote for him second.” That’s not going to – you would lose votes if you did that, so it (IRV) favors, I think, the independent candidate, because they hear the message, and if it’s an anti-machine message, then it’s more likely to stay that way.

Q: You definitely don’t seem to be very interested in the machine politics. I mean – I’ve talked to some people who know you, I’ve read some of the articles that you’ve written. I’m told that you don’t own your house – you rent it. You’ve got roommates, and I would never have imagined that the president of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco rents his own home and shares it with roommates. One of your former aides told me that you get your suits at second-hand stores. How is it to deal with a system where money and politics intertwine so deeply? How do you stay apart from that?

A: Well, look – first off, I haven’t gotten a suit at a second-hand store in awhile, OK? But Art Agnos gave me some suits right before the mayor’s race, and we had a running joke that the race was really about trying to get the suits back in Room 200, right?

I think money is the problem in politics. You’re not going to change anything as long as candidates have to seek money to run elections. Let’s be candid – I got defeated (in the 2003 mayor’s race) because my opponent outspent me by a wide margin, and people say it and act as if it doesn’t mean anything. “Whatever – he won, it’s over.”

But if you think about what that really means, to be outspent 10 to 1, with all the soft money and everything combined, 10 to 1 – imagine what would happen now, if this fellow and I got in a fight with you, just 2 to 1. Imagine 10 to 1. (They say), “We’re going to fight you 10 to 1, so we can pour mail all over the city talking about lies, that you want to double taxes, that you don’t like school kids, that you’re a Bohemian that’s going to lead to municipal anarchy.” And you have to respond.

Well, you’re fighting on a lot of different fronts. Every day, a new piece of mail is hitting the neighborhoods calling you a communist and you have to respond. Well - it can’t be done. 10 to 1 – that’s very difficult.

If you’re ever going to get a non-millionaire into that office, or somebody who isn’t looking for the next office that they’re going to hold, it’s only going to be done because of public financing. If the public doesn’t trust somebody that doesn’t run with public monies, they actually start developing an ethic that says, “Putting your own money in a campaign, or raising money among rich people is seen as like, ‘the curse.’” That will happen someday, but it’s difficult.

In Massachusetts, voters approved public financing of campaigns. They approved it also, I believe, in New Mexico – incredibly successful. Even incumbents that ran with public monies, what they had to do was they had to go out and get like 150 or 75 people to give them $25 contributions. Once they had that, they qualified, and then they got money to run. If you didn’t want to agree to public financing, you didn’t have to, you could do it the old way. But everyone that did it the old way was losing; the public only wanted the new way. And the people that won said, “Wow, that’s great, I don’t have to listen to the lobbyists that come to my office. They come to my office now and I treat them totally different.”

The Massachusetts state legislature – I think it was Massachusetts and not Maine – repealed public financing by a voice vote of the legislature, and it was a Democratically-controlled legislature that repealed something everyone agreed had been successful. That, you know – that’s what we’re up against.

Q: Do you think that we’ll see, in the next 20 or 30 years, a major Green Party candidate hold statewide office or national office?

A: I would say yes, because of the experience of the Socialist Party in the early part of the 20th century, and also the Progressive Party in the 1930s. In California, in San Francisco, Frank Havinor was elected president of the Board of Supervisors as a member of the Progressive Party. Before me, this was the last time someone outside the two parties, a member of a third party, had won that post. He later went on to Congress.

He was elected to Congress as a Progressive. Now once he got to Congress, by then the Progressive Party had fizzled out, and he ended up joining the Democrats and being part of their caucus, because the party didn’t sustain itself.

The Socialists had probably a hundred mayors in the United States in their heyday, and they elected Victor Broner to Congress – they had a congressman, believe it or not.
I met, in Milwaukee, just recently when I was there for the national Green Party convention, I met a guy, Frank Zeidler, who had served as mayor of Milwaukee. Zeidler was a registered Socialist and mayor of the town all the way up to 1960.

Q: That I find astonishing.

A: Yeah, it really is, and he’s still alive and he got up there and talked about all the good things that he did back then, the park system that they implemented, this and that. People were very happy with what they did.

Q: It seems like what I hear, especially among you people – you know, I’m your age, I go to school where I’m dealing with people who are in their early 20s, and I hear a lot of talk about social justice. I was trying to think today, “Has this changed in the last 20 years, in the last 30 years?” Is it more important to people now, less important to people now – which way is it? Has it changed? What do you think?

A: Well, I think your question is very ambiguous. Social justice encompasses so many different social phenomena. I think the generation of the 1960s was the most active in terms of trying to liberate our country from sexual, repressive ideas, promoting drug use and other kinds of liberty.

In the 1960s, you still couldn’t find probably two or three printers in San Francisco that would print the word “fuck” if you wanted to print a newspaper, you know what I mean? Times have changed dramatically, and that was part of that effort, so we’ve made some big steps.

What we’re finding though now is that there is a phenomenon of the widening disparity between rich and poor, because of the nature of international capital that is making the corporate entities larger and larger. People that work in these entities, they’re not making enough money. They’re not keeping pace with inflation, not since the 1960s. I think that’s the problem – it’s not easy to fight these gigantic, monolithic institutions. It’s very, very difficult. You look at Bechtel Corporation, you look at PG&E – the city is going to get excited because we’re going to get PG&E to give us about $30 million a year by changing a particular fee that they owe to us. That’s great, but this is like the crumb off the table. It means nothing to them.

Q: Does it ever bother you that your opponent in the mayor’s race parties with the Gettys? I mean, he (Newsom) certainly seems to live the moneyed lifestyle.

A: That doesn’t bother me. What company you keep is your business. What bothers me is that the press never stopped to really contemplate where his wealth comes from.

If you’re a politician, and we want to make you wealthy, we want to give you independent wealth and we want to prop you up, we can’t give you – I can’t give you a million dollars. That’s against the law, right? But I could – now assume I have Getty wealth, right, I’m as rich as anybody, I could say, “Hum, I want you to – I’m going to pay you money to manage some of my investments.” Oh great – you’re just a city councilman, this guy wants you to manage money for him. Now, I’m sorry, but I think that this is pretty scandalous. Just on its face, why would we – that’s a fucking bribe. That’s somebody giving you money, because they’re trying to prop you up, and ultimately, maybe it’s not a bribe because they don’t want something directly in return, but clearly you’re trying to enrich a politician for certain reasons.

And then, let’s say I’m interested in opening some restaurants, and nightclubs and wineries, and in every investment I do, you’re going to be a partial investor. I’m going to loan you the money to invest in these ventures. When you get asked by the press, you think that you’re paying back this money, but you can’t even tell the reporters how much you’re paying. You’re confused, “Oh yeah, what are my house payments? I can’t even remember.” This is basically what went on.

And then, later on, when these entities get sold at a profit to a silent partner who happens to be me, and somebody else buys these back from me and you, you are now a millionaire. You’re running around saying that you’re an entrepreneur and that you know about business and you’ve got a record for being able to accomplish something, and you’ve paid taxes and you’ve paid the payroll tax, and that Gonzalez fellow over here, he’s a lawyer who represented poor people and we don’t even know where his money comes from. Do you know what I mean? That’s what happened.
That story got told, but it gets told in not the way that it ought to be told.

Q: How should it be told?

A: The way I just gave it to you. It’s really offensive that somebody is going to claim to be an entrepreneur because a rich guy wanted to give him money and found a way to launder money into his personal account. I just want to tell you the way it fucking is, because I think you can deal with it, and I get a sense that you’re a righteous guy. I’m just telling it the way it is. It hilarious – you wouldn’t believe it if it were in a movie.

Meanwhile, here’s a true story: The Chronicle calls me up, and they want my tax returns. I’m running for mayor and they want to see my tax returns. Fine – I don’t make any money. I’ve got a salary of $37,000 a year before the salary went up (for members of the Board of Supervisors). I call the IRS, I say, “Hey, I’m running for mayor, I need a copy of my tax returns.” I don’t even keep the things because there’s nothing in them. “Ok’, they said, “We don’t do that anymore, but we can give you a summary of your taxes.” “A summary?” I said. “Why can’t you just send … ” “Well, we just stopped sending the complete thing, we just prepare a summary.” So I say, “OK, why don’t you do that for the last couple of years, and if I get somebody on the phone that wants to ask questions about the summary, can you answer them with my permission?” “Yeah, OK.”

We turn over the summaries to the Chronicle, which says I made $37,000. I don’t own any property; I don’t have any investments out of whatever I have in the retirement things, because I work for the city. We say (to the Chronicle reporters), “You can get on the phone and ask anything you want.” And then they publish, over and over again, that I wouldn’t release my taxes.

Q: Why?

A: Because they wanted people to think that I was wealthy and that I was trying to hide my wealth. The Chronicle reporter came to me after the election and wanted to talk me. She was a relatively new reporter with the Chronicle. She said, “Matt, why do you have this attitude?” And I told her this story. I said, “Look, just let me give you this example, if you guys do shit like that, how are you going to expect me to be your pal?” She says, “Well, you know, it’s funny.

One of the first assignments I had was to come to City Hall and get the document you file every year, which is your disclosure of economic interests.” I said, “OK, so you know I don't own anything.” She says, “Yeah, because I got it and looked at it. It was the same thing that was in your tax summary.” Well - duh. They knew I don’t have anything, but they’re trying to promote that idea.

I just gave it to you as an example, but the media is enormously powerful. In this race, they certainly went – “it was an independent expenditure” someone was saying to me, it’s like funding the other guy’s campaign.

Q: I read the article you wrote about, what was it, “Why I Turned Green.” I remember in it that you mention that you were standing – I think you were doing a demonstration for a friend of yours…

A: KRON – Medea Benjamin.

Q: Right. In the article, you basically describe that, “I’m standing out here, I can’t get any (media) coverage on this and television coverage is just supremely important when you’re running for elective office.” Do you think the media has treated you fairly? Do you think they treat third-party candidates fairly?

A: My answer is no to that, but I have primarily relied on what are considered lesser sources, student newspapers, independent weeklies, the online stuff and it has driven the Chronicle crazy. They’re so happy to have a new supervisor in my place, not because – they’re going to miss the stories that they could write about me, but what they love is the idea that they’ve got someone that’s going to talk to them.

I would only talk to them if I really wanted to. If I had something to really say, I’d go to someone I’m going to trust to get the word out, because, you know, these guys can really spin what you say in very negative terms.

During the mayor’s race, I’m giving a talk at City College, and I say, “Hey, you know, we have a problem, a widening disparity between rich and poor. We gotta deal with this. A lot of it has to do with education, technology – community colleges are a way to try and bridge the gap and get people educated, so they can compete in these environments.” John Wildermuth writes a story in the Chronicle, “Gonzalez Calls For A Class War.” What kind of bullshit is this? This is reporting? I would have called up and complained to his editor, except I’m sure he was, you know, right on board with that.

Q: Let me ask you this – where do you go next? In three months, what is a typical day going to look like for Matt Gonzalez?

A: I’m going to be in court litigating cases. I’m going to try and get some big lawsuits off the ground, lawsuits that could take five to ten years to deliver. I’ve got a couple of ideas already. I’m meeting with an expert, on Monday probably, to try and kick this around. To sustain that, we’re going to do nuts and bolts civil litigation and criminal defense work, in cases where we believe that somebody deserves a righteous defense, either because they’re innocent or because they’re guilty but don’t deserve what the state wants, the pound of flesh that they want. That’s what we’re going to do. Hopefully, we can put together something successful.

I think I will continue to be a presence, politically, locally. I’ll continue to write. I write my little thing for Mesh Magazine, I’ll do that every two months. I’ll continue to write my three op/eds a year somewhere, the Examiner, the Chronicle, elsewhere. I just got asked to give a commencement address at New College Law School in May, so I’m going to do that. I’m going to still be involved.

I’ve joined the board of a group in Sonoma County called the Praxis Peace Institute. They host a lot of good political discussions. I’m going to be hosting something later in the month, a lunch here in San Francisco for Ralph Nader, who’s trying to deal with raising money to continue his ballot fight against the president’s re-election effort. So, you know, I’m going to be very involved.

Q: I was reading on the Web this morning about elections in Iraq, and I wondered what you think about that. You seem to be someone who’s very involved in democracy. It’s a word that crops up frequently in your writings. Do you think we’re ever going to have democracy in Iraq? Do you think we’re going to enforce democracy there?

A: I don’t know the answer to that. I think it’s pretty clear that a minority can disrupt elections. I think that if there was that kind of minority movement in the United States, you could have a serious disruption of elections. I think we’ve seen some of that, but I think it speaks to the fact that the United States doesn’t have any legitimacy there.

Nobody trusts the United States, so even if what we’re offering is ultimately, in principle, a sound concept, like people voting for their own leaders, people are suspicious because of who’s bringing this gift. I think it really cries out for a transition with other nations becoming involved. The U.S. has got to get out and let the United Nations – beg the United Nations – to come in with regional partners to try and stabilize what’s going on there.

I don’t know if it can be done. It’s so messed up. There are so many warring factions – I don’t know.

Q: In the last election, San Franciscans agreed that the United States should be out of Iraq, but what are we going to do? What can we do?

A: Well, I think that it ought to be a litmus test for people running for public office. I mean, the right wing won elections because they had litmus tests. For instance, I will not vote for a candidate who voted for the PATRIOT Act. I don’t care if it’s a school board election, or if he’s trying to get elected class president. I don’t care if he wants to get elected to go buy groceries at the corner store – I’m not voting for anyone who voted for the PATRIOT Act, period. Done. Never. I don’t care who their opponent is. I will stay home.

I think that there have to be consequences when we get treated that way. These are not allies of ours, the people who do this. I’m not going to pretend that John Kerry was going to stop the war when he was saying he was going to escalate the war. People that wanted to pretend that was going to happen: I’m sorry, it wasn’t going to happen.

Q: Do you think that there’s anything that the average citizen these days can really do anymore? I’m thinking of the people at my school, young people graduating college. They’re going to get their degrees, go out – but what are they going to be able to do? They’re not graduating from Stanford, they’re not graduating from Harvard, they’re not graduating Yale. What are they going to be able to do?

A: Did you ever read the book Working by Studs Terkel?

Q: No, I don’t think I have.

A: He writes about an interview with a guy who works in a factory line making automobiles. The guy just talks about the dullness of the work, and in the interview, the guy admits that sometimes, he just likes to fuck ‘em up. He likes to put a little scratch in the car as it’s leaving the factory, just to personalize it. I think that this is what we, as human beings, have to do when we are working within these places that are so – they’re so much larger than us.

Obviously, we can’t just decide to live outside of this particular society. We’re kind of stuck with what we have. We need to find a way to metaphorically scratch what we’re dealing with, personalize it. If you’re in a position of power in a law firm or a corporation or in anything, in any kind of bureaucracy, government, school, you have to lean on the side of the most progressive stuff that you can do.

Q: Back in the election, when you were running for mayor, you did pretty darn good. You got 47 percent of the vote as I recall. Yet, I get the feeling that, in some ways, you’re a little bitter about it. During your last meeting with the Board of Supervisors, you talked about your run for the mayor’s office. Did it hurt to lose? Did you think you’d win?

A: No, I didn’t think I’d win. I think that after the election, we weren’t disappointed because we understood the historic nature of this possible victory for the Green Party. We would have been assured of a place to be able to grow from. This would have been a major victory for us. What was disappointing was that we got so close. Now, we weren’t supposed to get that close, that was not supposed to happen, so it’s really more like a missed opportunity than anything else.

Disappointment? Sure, you get disappointed. I’m not as disappointed that I lost the mayor’s race as I was about losing the recent non-citizens voting measure. That one is more recent in my memory. We lost by one percentage point, one and a half percentage points, whatever it was. That’s politics – you win and you lose.

What you’re hearing in terms of bitterness is just someone who is angry about the state of political matters, period. I hope I stay angry, because out of that comes a willingness to do things, like getting a minimum wage passed, or changing how elections are done, or fighting chain stores, or keep zoos from having elephants or whatever the hell the issue is. That doesn’t come because I’m happy with everything; that comes because you gotta be pissed-off. You get out there, you try and change it, you expend political capital to try and make it happen.

The other side feels they have had many losses in these past four years. They know how many elections they’ve lost. We had our fair share of victories.

The progressive community came out stronger than we were six months before the mayor’s race. The progressives were in tatters, we didn’t have a candidate, Newsom was going to win in a landslide. If you look at the numbers, this is something to be proud of. In this election, versus four years earlier, Ammiano – I mean, (Former San Francisco Mayor Willie) Brown and Newsom, four years apart, got the same number of votes, 132,000, 133,000 votes.

The difference was, I had basically 120,000 or 119,000 votes. Ammiano (four years ago) had 90,000. The progressive candidate, in a four-year period of greater displacement, because of gentrification, got 30,000 more votes while the establishment candidate is treading water. They had to spend ten times as much money to do that. That’s phenomenal. I mean, if I were a member of Newsom’s camp, I’m sitting around saying, “We’ve got a problem on our hands, ‘cause if they pick up another 10,000 votes or 20,000 votes, this thing’s over.”

Q: Do you think people are more pissed off now? Why is that change occurring? Is it occurring because people are unhappy with the system as it is, because they’re unhappy with the “machine” politics, because they’re unhappy with all the money in politics, because they’re tired of seeing people walk into politics to line their own pockets?

A: This is what I think; I think that, at one time, people looked at the political spectrum, before Greens were on it, and preferred the progressive Democrat, the middle-of-the-road Democrat. With a Green in there, with such a small percentage of the registered voters in the party, if you run for mayor from a party that has such little power, immediately people know that there’s something authentic about you. Why would you have thrown your lot with such a weak party if all you cared about was political power, right? Why would you do that? It doesn’t make any sense, right?

Do you know the number of times I’ve had people say to me, “Matt, you’re going to join the Democrats and run for the state assembly and try to go to Congress as a Democrat, aren’t you?” It says to me that that’s the conventional wisdom. I was able to get a lot of people to trust me as a political figure, in terms of “trust me on the political issues,” at the outset. I have a long history with disenfranchised groups, like artists and musicians and what have you, that are more likely not to get involved in politics. You get a candidate that you like, one that knows something about what you do, you get excited about that.

Q: How did you choose to get involved?

A: In what?

Q: In politics. I mean, as I understand it, you worked in the Public Defender’s Office for 10 years.

A: Yeah, I ran for district attorney in 1999. I had a kid that was convicted for selling marijuana. The prosecutor wanted to recommend a six-month sentence, which I thought was stupid. I ran for district attorney to bother the incumbent (Terrance Hallinan), and to really call him on his wild claims of being extremely progressive. It was extremely funny. He was good at getting press coverage, but he wasn’t good at implementing his progressive message. I was trying to hold his feet to the fire. Out of that came the political experience that led to the Board of Supervisors.

Q: You’ve been called one of the highest-ranked Greens in the nation, the person who’s gotten the furthest. That makes me think that the people in the party may see you as a torchbearer, as someone who is going to take the party somewhere and do something. Yet, you’ve decided to step down. Has there been pressure from people in the party to keep at this, to keep trying to win elected office?

A: Look – when I ran for D.A., people thought I was crazy. They said, “Why are you running for D.A.? You don’t have a chance.” When I joined the Green Party, people said, “You’re crazy. You don’t have a chance. You’re not going to get elected.” When I threw my hat into the mayor’s race, people said, “You’re crazy – you don’t have a chance.” I want to step down from politics. Do you think I care what all the people who told me I was crazy all those times – I mean, it’s like you have to follow your own counsel. I’ve got people around me that I’m relying on that have kicked this one around and who have helped me make my decision.

This is a decision that was made prior to the mayor’s race. If I’d have won the mayor’s race, hey – I would have served my term, but otherwise I was thinking it would be good to have another Green get the seat. It’s a pretty safe seat I think, and I can continue doing other things.

John Halle was an elected official in New Haven, Connecticut. He’s a music professor at Yale. He is one of the kick-ass, Green-elected officials in the country, and he stepped down after one term. It was funny – he was out here visiting me about a year ago. I was trying to talk him out of it (leaving office after one term). He told me that it was the decision that he had made. I told him that I’d made the same decision, and he tried to talk me out of it. I think there’s a real lesson there. I mean, here we are, we did our work, we enjoyed our time, we fought as hard as we could, we had no illusions of what it is we’re up against. We’re not going to pretend. We know what it is, and nevertheless, we’re OK walking away.

Everyone has a responsibility to go in there and do their term of service. It’s not just me. Everybody out there, anybody out there that has any resentment over the fact that I’m leaving, I want to know why they’re not running. They’re got an obligation to get out there and do something.

Q: You’ve done your time, it’s their problem now?

A: I’m willing to go back, but I think that you need to be rejuvenated outside of these institutions. They are very oppressive places. It’s good to go back and remember who you are.

Q: When you said they’re very repressive places – how so? What’s it like being on the Board of Supervisors?

A: The machine wants to marginalize you, always. The machine tries to stop you from doing what you want, right? The machine is talking to the press every day, against you. Go try that for a couple of years. It’s cool. I fight back every day.

Four years from now, it will simply be eight years since I stepped aboard. I’ll still be doing what? I’m still going to be promoting candidates. The only thing that happens now is that the public gets to assess my four-year tenure and people write nice stories about me. Ross (Mirkarimi) – people write nice stories about him because he’s coming in. No one is threatened by me. “We can be nice to Matt.”

The Greens get all this good press that we wouldn’t have gotten if I’d just gotten re-elected, right? We just keep going. When I’m leaving, I get so much ink it’s incredible. We’re the story.

Q: It’s like they say, “Now we can finally be nice to you?”

A: Yeah, well, look – the press has said a lot of nice things about me. But the machine takes over.
Mayor (Willie) Brown and I used to have these breakfasts. At every breakfast, we were joined by two African-American attorneys who were Greens, one of them in his 50s and one of them my age. Both were very experienced, clerked for federal judges or were partners in a law firm – Willie liked their company. He was impressed by the radicalism of the Greens and he identified with it as the radicalism that he had when he started. But then, a month later – we’ve had these sit-downs over and over again, it's all good. A month later, he’s calling me a racist. That’s the machine.

The machine says, “We need your help crushing this threat.” You know, I understand it. I get it. I get along with him (Mayor Brown) fine. I know what he was doing. He knows

Dream Act almost a reality

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Javier Ruiz is only 22 years old, but sometimes he gets tired of dreaming. Though he has a high school diploma, he cannot attend college because his mother brought him to this country illegally when he was a kid and has no legal United States documentation.

But a pending law in Congress that would allow Ruiz and many young immigrants in his situation to adjust his legal status gives this SF State freshman hopeful a reason to smile–yet again.

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act introduced in July 2003 by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) has a great chance of passing in Congress since it is a bipartisan bill and is getting more and more sympathizers on both chambers of Congress, according to supporters of the bill.

Under current immigration law, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), kids derive their legal status from their parents. If their parents are illegal or undocumented, so are their kids.

If enacted, the DREAM Act will allow those students who were brought into the United States illegally by their parents as minors, finished high school in the United States, never committed crimes, and are not a risk to society, to become conditional legal residents.

In 1982 the Supreme Court ruled that illegal immigrants cannot be barred from attending public elementary and secondary schools, but they cannot attend college.

Under the DREAM Act these students will be required to attend junior college, or join the military. After six years under that law, they will become permanent U.S. residents.

“These kids should not be accountable for what their parents did,” said Luis Campillo, a political scientist at the National Immigration Law Center, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group for immigrants and refugees.

Campillo said the DREAM Act is supported at the moment by 48 senators out of 100, and by 143 representatives out of 435. Among the supporters are Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein both Democrats from California.

Scott Gerber, a spokesperson for Sen. Feinstein, said the senator will promote the DREAM Act, but “the Republicans control the agenda. If the president wanted, he could call up the Republican leaders and say pass this bill [and] it will pass,” said Gerber.

According to the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., between 50,000 and 65,000 illegal or undocumented minors graduate from American high schools each year. The Urban Institute is a non-partisan research organization that analyzes recent data and trends in sociopolitical and economic areas of our society.

Under the current immigration law, the IIRIRA, these students cannot enroll in higher education institutions, greatly diminishing their prospects for good jobs and hindering their full contributions to society, proponents and supporters of the bill said.

Javier Ruiz, for instance, was brought to the United States when he was five years old. He barely remembers the figure of a woman that carried him in her arms as she passed through the immigration control at the Tijuana-San Diego border.

Ruiz attended J. Eugene McActeer High School and graduated in June 2001. He was always among the top students in his class as evidenced by the mostly A’s and B’s on his school report cards. Despite his good grades, he declined to take the SAT.

“I thought I did not have a chance to go to college,” Ruiz said. “I did not see the reason to study hard when I wouldn’t be able to succeed in the United States.”

Upon graduation, he took some menial jobs and struggled to keep his dream of going to college alive.
But while Congress pondered what to do with young immigrants like Ruiz caught in a legal limbo, Ruiz’s mother rooted for him.

“My mother tells me to think positively and that the DREAM Act will bring benefits for students like me,” Ruiz said. He also said he is not sure whether President Bush would sign this bill because of Bush’s focus on Iraq.

“That makes me wonder if he can be trusted,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz’s distrust in the president is hardly an isolated sentiment, for some strong politicians and conservative groups in Washington are raising their voices to challenge and defeat the DREAM Act.
Jack Martin, Special Projects Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an anti-immigrant think tank based in Washington, D.C., said his organization is opposed to the DREAM Act because “it would create a competition for resources with American students.”

“It is sort of rewarding illegal immigration,” Martin said.

He also said he is sorry for those illegal kids who are in a difficult situation because of their parents, “[but] that is not the responsibility of the American people,” said Martin.

Opponents of the DREAM Act also said the bill will cut into federal assistance available to students with legal status; supporters of the bill say students benefiting from the DREAM Act won’t have preferential treatment and that they will compete in the college application pool with other state residents, out-of-state students, or foreign students.

Barbara Hubler, director of financial aid at SF State said the funding is not enough to meet the demands of students for loans and grants, let alone those students who would be able to apply for college should the DREAM Act pass.

“I really appreciate the government and its wisdom that would provide the necessary funds for those students,” said Hubler.

The fate of the DREAM Act is compounded by the top priorities of the 109th Congress. So far, revamping Social Security, and fixing the tax code have already created friction among Republicans.
Despite the uphill battle, supporters of the DREAM Act are increasingly optimistic.

“Sens. McCain of Arizona and Kennedy of Massachusetts are the strongest supporters of the DREAM Act,” said Campillo. Campillo also said his institution is “in the process of launching a campaign in support of the DREAM Act that will group 400 organizations” nationwide.

As the opponents of the DREAM Act gear up to lobby their congressmen to kill the bill, the optimism of the supporters of the bill has reached Ruiz’s imagination.

He has almost completed his requirements at City College to transfer to SF State. His girlfriend is also considering attending SF State with him.

“If the DREAM Act does not pass, I will continue with my education anyway,” Ruiz said. “Maybe another law will come up, or an amnesty… you never know.”

Student Republicans Break the Silence

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Just two and a half years ago, there was no group for a conservative students at SF State to join. As the spring 2005 semester begins, the College Republicans are one of the most talked about organizations on campus, and have plans to stay that way.

After the disagreements and arguments on campus during the days surrounding the 2004 presidential election, fighting misconceptions about themselves has been a constant battle for the group that was started by SF State students Maria Trapalis and Diana Bautista.

One day before the election, a heated debate between President George W. Bush supporters and Sen. John Kerry supporters broke out at the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Campus police were called to break up the disturbance and accusations flew between some College Republicans and Bush opponents.

The negative publicity the incident received locally is a sore spot for the group, and current president Derrick Wray, 27, plans to work toward opening minds and keeping negativity out.

“A lot of us are worried about how people are going to feel about us,” said Wray. “We don't want those negative things to happen again.”

As the semester kicks into high gear, the College Republicans are kicking their organization into high gear. Happier with the national outlook for Republicans than with their prospects on campus, the College Republicans want the truth as they see it to come out.

Last semester was difficult for the group's image, said Wray, but they are coming back this semester to get the word out even more. Now that students know they are here, their next goal is to get their message across. The attention from last semester's controversy has taken the focus away from what is important for the group, said international relations major and vice president Chris Finarelli, 21.

“I've been disappointed,” said Finarelli. “We haven't been able to focus on what we need to.”
Finarelli also said the focus should be on explaining Republican values and spreading intellectual diversity on a campus he feels is very lacking.

“It's so outrageous, the things I hear in classrooms from both students and teachers,” he said.
Although Finarelli would like to change some of the curriculum and make lectures more balanced, speaking up in class is something he feels all conservatives on campus should do.

“The conservative side of the story [is] never taught,” said Finarelli. “Ask anyone, [Republicans are] rich white men who want to exploit Third World countries,” said Finarelli. “[Republicans] are actually extremely compassionate, value personal responsibility and traditional values.”

The negative image of Republicans at SF State is a concern for many group members, but it also adds determination to group members to get the word out and clear up what they feel are unfair stereotypes, said Wray. “Many people don't know where we stand,” he said. “We want to open minds.”

That includes debates with other groups, getting involved with the media on campus and becoming more visible. Yet being visible has caused some problems for group member Lucia Vandenhof, 21, a BECA major. Being recognized as a College Republican at SF State has been a negative experience at times.

“I wasn't looking forward to school because I'm in an environment that's not tolerant,” said Vandenhof.
She said she was harassed during winter break by people who recognized her, and it initially started to deter her involvement with the group.

“The more lies and repercussions, the more I want to fight for [people] to see who we really are,” she said.

Vandenhof “stayed in the closet” for fear of the “liberal climate on campus,” but said that talking to people that understand her is a relief. Like many people, her views are not exclusively conservative. She is pro-choice and a fiscal conservative, anti-affirmative action but believes in equal rights for gays and lesbians.

With active membership at about 20 and hoping for growth in the future, the campus Republican organization will be pushing their agenda this semester in the face of criticism, but with enthusiasm.

“Don't be afraid to approach us,” said Finarelli. “Even if you strongly disagree with us.”


EDITOR'S NOTE
SF State has a reputation for diversity and tolerance. In its history, students, faculty and staff have paved the way for the first College of Ethnic Studies and been on the front lines of political activism locally and nationally. And as the politics of this country have shifted and divided, so has the campus community.

In recent months, campus groups have faced off over the presidential election, the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Several groups have appeared in [X]press coverage of campus protests, rallies or conflicts, but rarely have these groups been covered outside of these kinds of incidents.
This article is the first in a series profiling these sometimes controversial student organizations. This series will focus on the groups’ goals and membership independent of the events that can create controversy. The staff of the [X]press hope this series will increase awareness and understanding of our campus community.

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