April 2005 Archives

Dozens of SF State students turned out today for an on-campus blood drive.

The Student Health Advisory Committee invited the Blood Centers of the Pacific back after a blood driver last semester at Student Health Services. The blood drive, which took place in the conference room of the Student Health Services building, had 50 people scheduled for appointments today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as dozens of walk-ins.

Bay Area hospitals use close to 500 pints of blood per day, but the Blood Centers of the Pacific can only supply around 250 pints, according to Kelli Quinlan, a recruiter for the blood centers. The non-profit organization sends for blood from other parts of the country. They supply blood to over 40 hospitals locally, which accounts for over 50,000 patients annually.

“We have always experienced a shortage of blood,” said Quinlan.

Students filled out an extensive health history questionnaire. They were required to meet with a nurse who elaborated on questions and performed a mini-physical, checking temperature, blood pressure and iron levels. After successfully completing the screening process, students donated a pint of blood each.

Students were turned away if they had not eaten within the past four hours, weighed less than 110 pounds or had gotten a tattoo less than a year ago.

Students chose to donate blood for numerous reasons, but primarily it was to help others.

Ty Ronquillo, a 28-year-old political science major, has been donating blood every eight weeks for the last 10 to 11 years. His interest was first sparked in high school when a speaker came to emphasize the importance of giving blood. Ronquillo was then encouraged further when he joined the U.S. Army.

“There are so many people out there that need blood,” said Ronquillo. “Sept. 11 was really a wake-up call for Americans. It’s important that we help our neighbors without any recognition.”

Some donated blood because they had a personal relationship with a friend or relative who needed blood.

“My uncle had kidney problems in the past and had lots of blood transfusions, so that’s why I thought I should help others,” said Grace Layugan, a biology major.

When Vanessa Kinney, a 21-year-old psychology major, entered the conference room her face was sheet white and her eyes darted around the room of chair beds anxiously. Despite her visible nervousness, Kinney gave blood anyway.

“Needles, nurses and blood in general - I can’t stand,” explained Kinney. “My mother is AB-, which is a rare blood type and if anything happened to her I would want someone to help. Although I am not her same blood type I can help another person.”

The Blood Centers of the Pacific has many reasons they recommend giving blood - every three seconds someone needs a blood transfusion, a pint of blood can help up to three people, you’ll receive a mini physical, you’ll learn your blood type, it’s safe simple and it saves lives. Today's volunteers at Student Health Services received a coupon for $15 off a purchase at Sports Basement for their donation.

Two additional blood drives take place this semester. One will take place at the Village apartments on May 4 and 5. Another blood drive will take place at Mary Ward hall on May 9.

SF State students and staff were bussed yesterday afternoon to a demonstration rallying against classroom cuts, fee hikes and declining enrollment at California State Universities. Holding up signs and chanting, the protesters filled Golden Gate Avenue in front of the California State building.

The two buses provided by the CFA from the SF State campus were filled with students, according to Joshua Castro, the ethnic studies representative of the Associated Students Inc., and Asian-American studies senior.

The rally was sponsored by the California Faculty Association with the support of student and teacher organizations around the Bay Area – including United Educators of San Francisco, San Francisco Labor Council and the California Nurses Association.

“Today was the day that we picked to demonstrate all over the state of California on behalf of the public institution of a higher education, primarily for the California State University, because that’s where we are from and all the students are from who are at the demonstration today,” said John Travis, president of the California Faculty Association.

“In the last two years, we’ve had over a half million dollars worth of cuts, and those cuts have hurt us very badly,” said Travis. “We’ve come here to the governor’s office to tell him we have to have additional resources brought back into the California State University in order for us to do our job.”

Travis said higher education in California has been taking for granted for many years He also noted that California leads the nation in graduates in nursing, teaching and engineering and these graduates are important for the California economy.

This coming fall, students are expected to carry even more on the financial burden. Undergraduate fees may rise 7 percent while graduate fees may jump by 10 percent, according to a CFA research brief compiling earlier this month.

Eric Mar, an Asian-American studies and ethnic studies professor and the president of the San Francisco Board of Education, remarked the budget cuts have been affecting students’ access to a higher education, denying access to over 15,000 students at CSU schools, he said. In addition, the cuts have also harmed the quality of education in classroom, Mar said.

“My class size doubled in a couple of years,” Mar said. “I teach one class with 132 students. It’s very hard to teach that size with little administrative support.”

ASI President-elect Chris Jackson was one of the many SF State students participating in the rally.

“I was very impressed to see over 100 SF State students coming out to the rally on a rainy day in the middle of a week,” said Jackson, a senior double majoring in speech communication and urban studies.

“The most effective way to cause change is to get out there and show that students do care about these budget cuts and continue to come out and continue to fight,” Jackson said.
assignments as well as advising students on how to write a good research paper and how to think about the material more critically.

“It’s really important that the teachers in the school district and students K-12 (kindergarten through 12th grade), community colleges and CSUs stand together to build a broader coalition.”

Chris Jackson was one of the many SF State students participated in the rally.

“I was very impressed to see over 100 SF State students coming out to the rally on a rainy day and the middle of a week,” said Jackson, the ASI president elect, and a senior, double majoring in speech communication and urban studies.

“The most effective way to cost change is to get out there and show that students do care about these budget cuts and continue to come out and continue to fight,” Jackson said.

SF State photojournalism major Omar Vega appeared in San Francisco’s Hall of Justice on April 20 to request a civil compromise in response to charges that stemmed from an Oct. 24, 2004 incident.

Vega, 18, is charged with tampering with a vehicle and second-degree misdemeanors in auto burglary, and is due back in court on May 17 to find out if charges will be pressed or dropped by the district attorney’s office.

Vega said asking for a civil compromise does not mean he is accepting responsibility. It only means he has to pay for damages in order to get the charges against him dropped.

Vega’s father, Toby Vega, said he thinks the university should be held responsible to some degree.
“From here it will be interesting to see what the university is going to do,” Toby said. “The lack of security (in the dorms and) the lack of security (on campus) ... are the issues here. By kicking Omar out of the dorms, they are not attacking the problem.”

Last year, [X]press editors gave Vega a semester-long assignment to document life in the freshmen dorms. Vega took pictures of four SF State students, Blake Street, Nicole Dion, Steven Stodola and John Macrery, who had found a set of car keys as they allegedly located the car, a Ford Mustang, broke in and stole cash and CDs. Vega was subsequently evicted from the dorms and could still be expelled, depending on the outcome of his case.

All five defendants are due in court May 17.

Since the incident, Vega has continued to stary busy with school, maintaining full-time student status and remaining involved with his photojournalism work.

He spent part of the winter break photographing the damage from the Indian Ocean tsunami for the Oakland Trubune, and traveled to the Iraqi war zone during spring break.

A proposal to lower Vermont’s legal drinking age to 18 has sparked a national debate about youth drinking.

Since Vermont State Representative Richard C. Marron (R) introduced the bill - which is still under review - 17 lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors. If the law passes, Vermont would become the only state with a drinking age under 21.

Until 1984, several states had a legal drinking age of 18. Then the federal government passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which prohibits any state with a drinking age lower than 21 from receiving a federal highway maintenance grant. Vermont’s grants total $9.7 million.

The proposal is raising important questions about how to prevent young people from drinking, and what effect alcohol has on adolescents versus adults. Some supporters of lowering the drinking age point out that 18-year-olds are considered adults in most other legal aspects and are allowed to vote, drive, and join the military.

At SF State, opinions differ as to whether lowering the drinking age is a good idea or not.
BECA major Derek Waterman, 20, said he believed there is a contradiction when 18-year-olds are prohibited from drinking alcohol.

“If you’re mature enough to decide who’s gonna run the country, you should be able to drink,” Waterman said.

Twenty-three-year-old Joceoyne Ampon disagreed.

“I think it’s different, mainly because it’s a drug, it’s something that takes a bit more maturity,” said Ampon, who added that she believed adolescents would drink more if it was legal for them to do so. They wouldn’t be sneaking around as much,” she said. “They would be more able to purchase alcohol.”

Waterman said he has seen a lot of underage drinking and believed that lowering the drinking age would make people drink more responsibly.

“Lowering the age to 18 would stop binge drinking, at least in college, because I noticed that in college people drink a lot because it’s harder to get a hold of,” Waterman said. “The fact that you can’t get it anytime you want makes you want it more when you can.”

He also said underage drinking also adds the thrill of doing something illegal.

“Since you’re breaking the law, it’s kind of exciting,” Waterman said.

The question of whether lowering the drinking age actually reduces underage drinking is a topic of debate in a nation where about 50 percent of 18-year-olds drink alcohol on a regular basis.
Since 1975, three national studies have surveyed youth drinking: Monitor the Future, the Youth Risk
Behavior Survey and the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Their statistics show the rates of youth drinking started to decrease in the late 1970s and continued to decrease until 1990s, when the numbers stabilized.

A recent survey by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that 53 percent of 12th graders had consumed alcohol in the month prior to the survey, and 30 percent had binged on alcohol in the previous two weeks. Binge drinking is often defined as having four drinks for women or five for men within two hours.

Drinking increases after the age of 18, and binge drinking reaches its peak between the ages of 18 and 22, according to the institute’s statistics. These statistics also show that college students are more likely to drink than non-students in the same age bracket.

Michael Ritter, coordinator of the SF State Creating Empowerment through Alcohol and Substance Abuse Education program, said that through his work, he has seen younger students usually engage in more dangerous drinking habits.

“My experience here has told me that younger people tend to have a pattern of more heavy drinking,” Ritter said. “Often the people we see, they don’t have any experience with alcohol and they come to college and they have access… I don’t know if they are immature or less experienced.”

However, Ritter said he is not sure whether lowering the drinking age would increase the problem or not.

“I’ve asked myself this question, whether prohibition leads to more dangerous habits with drinking, and I’m not sure,” he said.

Linda Juang, psychology professor at SF State, said research on the adult brain versus the adolescent brain between ages 18 to 21 shows little difference between the two in terms of cognitive development.

“The decision making process is pretty similar to adults. They can think like adults,” Juang said.
Juang also said research by Laurence Steinberg at Temple University, shows that while adolescents’ brains may be fully developed cognitively, they are also more influenced by peer pressure, which can cause them to engage in risky behavior.

Recent research in neuropsychology has also discovered previously unknown physiological differences between the adolescent and the adult brain. This research shows that the adolescent brain continues to develop new neurons and brain cells between the ages of 18 and 21, but researchers don’t yet know the implications of this period of development.

“What is really the implications of that?” asked Juang. “Does it really lead to real changes in behavior? The direct link to behavior is still not known.”

University officials dropped complaints filed against four out of six SF State student organizations on April 20 for allegedly violating school policies.

La Raza, Voices for Sexual Freedom, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, and the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor all were cleared of allegedly violating school protesting policies. The organizations received letters from the Office of Student Leadership and Development saying they may be disciplined for their involvement in a March 9 protest against on-campus military recruiters.

The remaining two groups, Students Against War and the International Socialist Organization, are still under review by the university and may face possible sanctions. Sanctions against the groups can range from a letter of warning to a revocation of their organizations’ funding, rights and privileges.

The Student Organization Hearing Panel is currently reviewing the complaints and will hold a hearing on the matter May 9, according to panel chair Brett Smith.

“We may have made some minor infractions under campus policy, but we have a right under the Bill of Rights to protest,” said Students Against War member Mike Hoffman. “We intend to raise a big fuss about this and make this a big issue. We want to be at a place where whenever there are military recruiters, there will be protesters.”

On March 9 the College of Science and Engineering sponsored a career fair where SF State students looking for jobs or internships in the science, engineering and medical fields could talk to prospective employers. Companies paid anywhere from $300-$350, depending on when they registered, to attend the event, according to the registration form found on the SF State Career Center Web site. According to the Career Center’s attendance list, 24 companies attended the fair that day.

Approximately 150 students marched to the career fair to assemble in front of the Air Force and Army Corps of Engineers’ booth. The protest was organized by Students Against War and supported by the other five groups, according to SAW member Paradis Esmaeili, 18. However, some of the groups didn’t even have members in attendance, Esmaeili said.

Jack Brewer, the director of the Career Center, filed a complaint against the organizations with the Office of Student Leadership and Development after the protest.

“This disruption prevented students from having free access to employers and (denied) their free speech rights to talk to recruiters in a non-threatening environment,” Brewer said in an e-mailed response. “In addition, the students used a bullhorn and performed loud chants which made it impossible for employers attending the career fair to carry on a meaningful discussion with any of our students. The vast majority of the employers left the career fair nearly 2 hours early due to the noise and disruption."

As a result, the Career Center is refunding the over $6,000 in registration fees paid by the various recruiters, said Brewer. He also said the Career Center must still pay for fixed costs such as room rental, printing, food, and shuttle service, totaling about $3,000.

“The university can impose reasonable time and place restrictions (for protests)," said First Amendment lawyer and SF State professor James Wagstaffe. "They can say ‘you can’t protest in the middle of the night, or in a classroom or with a bullhorn.'”

SF State students and SAW members Hoffman, Esmaeili and Katrina Yeaw also may face personal disciplinary action from the school for their involvement in a March 10 incident.

According to Esmaeili, they were removed from the Cesar Chavez Student Center while attempting to pass out anti-military fliers during the second day of the career fair. During the incident, Esmaeili said campus police physically removed her from the building.

All three students received letters from Judicial Affairs Officer Donna Cunningham regarding a complaint she received from the chief of campus safety. All three students must meet individually with Cunningham regarding the complaint. Cunningham could not be reached for comment.

Members from Students Against War, the International Socialist Organization, and Voices for Sexual Freedom met on April 20 to discuss their plan of action against the university for the possible sanctions against the groups and the potential discipline of the three students. Although Voices for
Sexual Freedom is not under review, two of their members showed up to show their support.

During the meeting, a list of demands from the groups to the university was agreed upon by the 19 students in attendance. The list demands that the student organizations as well as Esmaeili, Hoffman, and Yeaw not be punished for their involvement in the protest of the recruiters. The demands also include the provision that school provide an open forum for SF State President Robert Corrigan, a military representative, and a member of Students Against War to debate the issue of military recruitment, and that the entire campus be declared a “free speech zone.”

“(The university) forgot that they’re supposed to be here to secure our rights,” SAW member Billy Caudy said during the meeting. “We’re here to win back our rights and win back our campus.”

On April 26, civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart spoke at SF State to support the student groups. Over 70 people cramped inside room 217 of the Business building. Former San Francisco board of supervisor Matt Gonzalez was also in attendance.

"If they're punished for protesting, I think it's part of the bigger scene," said Stewart. "I think that the campus is a traditional place for young people to grow and encourage thinking."

When the nine members of SF State’s Pacific Islanders’ Club graduate this semester, they’ll be treated to a catered Hawaiian dinner from the Milpitas restaurant A Touch of Aloha and a musical performance from their fellow club members.

If SF State’s student government, Associated Students Inc. had given them more money, they’d have hired a really good band, said club president Cummings Nauer.

But ASI didn’t fund them as well as they’d hoped, she said, so their fellow club members will provide the entertainment.

The club will get $4,800 for its gradation this year, a small decrease from last year’s $5,700 grant. Fifteen groups, including the Pacific Islanders’ Club, will split nearly $40,000 approved by ASI’s board of directors for graduation expenses this year. The 19 elected student representatives control a $3 million budget, raised through the $42 student body association fee paid by all students in the fall and spring semesters. During summer session, that fee dips to $24.

Last year, 12 groups divided up $54,150 to cover graduation expenses. Some of this year’s grants - like those received by the Black Afrikan Graduation Celebration Committee, the Asian Student Union and the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) - are for $6,000 each, while other groups - like the International Socialist Organization - only get a few hundred dollars. International Socialist Organization members said they intend to use their $200 grant to help pay for a speech by Sharon Smith, recent author of the book “Women and Socialism: Essays on Women’s Liberation.”

But some students said that graduation funds are not distributed fairly.

Creative Arts Representative Jonathan Kakacek said ASI has no direct policy on allocating the funds. Some groups, he said, usually graduate 60-80 students and get very large grants, with the argument being that their graduates have very large families and are often among the first in their families to earn a college degree.

College Students in Broadcasting, a group Kakacek represented, expects up to 300 students to graduate and will receive $2,000 in funding for their graduation. Kakacek said the logic behind the funding amounts is skewed.

“To have groups getting $6,000 is ridiculous to me,” he added. “It’s not right."

The broadcasting group requested only what it needed and was granted $2,000, Kakacek said. During the meeting, 13 student groups were awarded grants totaling more than $33,100. At the March 18 meeting, two groups received grants that totaled $6,800. The student board did not reject any group's request for funding although students from some groups admitted to getting less than they wanted.

“We ask for what we think we need and work from what they give us,” said Nauer, about her group’s funding.

Many of the groups contacted for this story did not return phone calls or declined to comment on how they plan to spend their grants. The ASI business office also declined to release the proposed budgets that each group is required to file.

Joshua Castro, vice-president of external affairs said graduation funding is largely based on the previous year’s funding. Vice President of Finance Manar Elmashni did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

On the application for graduation funding, the applicant is asked to specify whether their graduation is cultural-themed or a department graduation. If it’s a cultural-themed graduation, guidelines state the group must “educate and empower the campus community regarding the diverse cultural, political, social, and economic history of SFSU students.” If it is a department graduation, guidelines state it must “heighten the awareness of the campus population regarding issues of personal and community development of SFSU students.”

Funding guidelines prohibit ASI’s grants from being spent on several things, including: alcohol, clothing, DVDs, electronic equipment, travel expenses and payments to SF State students, faculty, staff and family members.

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission voted unanimously last Thursday to extend a temporary olive branch to the more than 100 people who gathered at City Hall on April 6 to voice their support for San Francisco’s disc golf course.

But the reported damage to the eucalyptus and pine tree branches at Golden Gate Park’s Marx Meadow, which houses the course, may lead the seven-member commission to close down the city’s only venue for the popular new alternative sport.

The commission agreed to hire an outdoor arborist to evaluate whether damage accrued from the discs is endangering the trees and whether the extra foot traffic is causing erosion around the trails.

In the meantime, a 60-day extension has been granted for the course, adding to an 18-month trial period that expired April 1. The course will now remain open through the end of June, at which point the commission will reconsider its use.

The conflict began in July 2004, when an arborist expressed concern about damage to the trees to the Recreation and Parks Commission. However, according to Greg Quiroga, president of the SF Disc Golf Club, players were not informed about the memo until October.

SF State technical and professional writing major Humberto Aviles has played at the course several times over the last 18 months and said he sees the threats to close the course as a class issue.

“You look at a regular golf course and the trees are all cut down,” Aviles said. “They dye the grass and waste tons of water, but nobody says anything.”

Disc golf uses the same basic objects and rules as traditional golf, except that a disc, slightly smaller and heavier than a Frisbee, is thrown instead of hitting a ball and metal baskets, positioned about three feet off of the ground, are the targets as opposed to holes.

Quiroga and the roughly 240 members of the SF Disc Golf Club campaigned for several years to bring the course to San Francisco. Members of the club volunteer to clean the course during bi-monthly work parties.

Some players have said that park employees have been unwilling to work with them on ways to minimize impact.

“We’ve put over $11,000 of donation money into the course,” said club member Kevin Prosser, who runs a silk-screening shop and printed dozens of T-shirts for the hearing that display a map of Golden Gate Park, with an arrow pointing at Marx Meadow and the words “Your Course Here” printed across it.

Funds raised by the club were used to install the baskets, to clear debris from the course and, recently, to put netting around the trees most often struck by players’ errant discs.

Ross Hammond, outreach director for the disc golf club, said that a lot of new players tend to miss the baskets and end up hitting the pines and damaging the bark, which can lead to insect infestation.

"Once you dent the tree, bugs can get in it," he said.

"Is the park meant to be a space for recreation or a conservatory for plants and trees?" Quiroga said. "It will be interesting to see what happens.”

According to the Disc Golf Association, the San Francisco course has been used by 5,000 people, who have played more than 80,000 rounds of disc golf.

Prosser said that club members had sent “thousands” of letters and postcards to the commission, asking that the course remain open and in Golden Gate Park. Commission member Lawrence Martin suggested moving the course to John McClaren Park and to expand the current 9-hole course to the standard 18 holes.

However, when Martin conducted an informal poll of the more than 100 disc golfers present, only a few supported moving the course. Most were adamant that the course should remain where it is.

Outside City Hall, many of the supporters said they were unsure what the temporary ruling would mean.

“I’ll keep showing up and doing what I can, but I’ve got no idea what they’re going to do,” said Aviles. “The worst case scenario is that I’ll just have to start driving to Berkeley again.”

Dance Program Saved

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The Academic Senate voted unanimously today to revise the Bachelor of Arts and minor requirements for dance students.

The revisions ultimately saved the dance program at SF State, as it was one of the programs the university had on the discontinuance list. The dance program will now combine with the music and theater arts programs to create an interdisciplinary program between the three.

The dance BA will still be discontinued, but the dance program will stay alive with a revision to the music BA. The university will accept incoming fall 2005 dance majors under the condition that they change their major to music. The revision will also lower the number of required units for dance students from 57 to 45.

Dance professor Susan Whipp, got involved “the day (dance was) put on the discontinuance list.” Whipp helped write the dance revision proposal, and said she was excited by the Senate’s decision.

“It’s my passion, I really believe in this major,” Whipp said. “The students and faculty have made so many strides and I couldn’t see that go.” She also said she expects to see the major grow larger than the 80 full-time equivalent dance majors and 18 dance minors the university has this semester.

“There are a lot of people in theater and music that take a lot of dance (classes). This gives them an opportunity to double major,” Whipp said.

“I don’t think I could have live at this university where all the other dance forms are acknowledged and dance wasn’t,” Whipp said.

Team America

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No teachers were available this year to teach the Model United Nations course, forcing the International Relations department to withdraw funding and cancel the annual trip to New York.

Coached by 21-year-old International Relations major Denis Rajic, five students prepared on their own to serve as the American Delegation to the Model United Nations of the Far West, hosted in San Francisco. They faced the challenge of sticking to the stated foriegn policies of the Bush Administration against an international agenda of rebalance and reform and a hostile "World Press," a daily newspaper published during the model UN conference.

New Pope, Old Ideas

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Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, John Paul II’s chief theological adviser for 20 years, was elected pope Tuesday in the first conclave of the new millennium.

The successor to Pope John Paul II, who will be the head of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics, chose the name Benedict XVI, which comes from the Latin for “blessing", and pledged Wednesday to work for unity among Christians and to seek "an open and sincere dialogue" with other religions.

SF State students shared their opinions on the new pope and the Church’s choice of him.

Some SF State students do no agree with Benedict’s conservative position- similarly to John Paul- on issues such as priests being allowed to marry, women being accepted into the priesthood, homosexuality and birth control.

Liz DeGong, 24, an English literature major, said she does not agree with some of the Pope’s stances on issues such as birth control, but she said she understands and respects the Church’s position.

“I think it’s a problem [Pope’s position on birth control] because it shows distaste for women who want to control their reproductive system,” DeGong said.

“But I have a hard time in judging those who are against it,” DeGong said.

Professor Felix Curry, a Bible Christian Fellowship representative, said electing a pope who is so conservative is a nonsense.

“The Catholic Church is undermining the liberal sector of it,” Curry said. “They [Church representatives] are out of reality.”

Some said they think it is too early to give an opinion on the new pope.

Joyce Liou, a Christian Students representative and Chinese language professor, said people have different points of view on issues such as birth control and she said it is too early to give an opinion
on Benedict.

“We have to see what he really practices first,” Liou said. “Then we can comment on him. I do not think it’s fair to judge him now,” Liou said.

Others said they cannot give their opinion on Benedict since they do not know enough about him yet.

“I just heard there was a new pope, but I do not know anything about him,” said Zuleika Amora, 20, a physiology major.

“I’m not knowledgeable to talk about the new Pope, but I think it would be best if a more progressive Pope was elected,” said music major Thomas Puhek, 19.

The traditional Latin Mass was held less than 24 hours after 115 cardinals from 52 countries elected the 265th pope.

Benedict often referred to John Paul II during his message and promised to continue his legacy and to use the Second Vatican Council (The thrust of the council in 1965 was to make the Catholic Church more accessible to everyone) as the foundation for spreading the Gospel to the world.

Benedict is critical of progressive Catholicism and tendencies he considers a problem to the faith such as liberalism, atheism, agnosticism, Marxism, and relativism-- which does not recognize anything as absolute truth.

Benedict has been one of the strongest Vatican voices for Catholic missionary work. He was involved with the 2000 document "Dominus Iesus," which outlined the Catholic Church as the only way to salvation, which angered Protestants, Muslims, Jews and other non-Christians.

The new pope served as archbishop of Munich, Germany, and since 1981 led the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the office that officially supervises "the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world," according to the Vatican.

John Paul gained an extraordinary popularity over a 26-year pontificate, in which he made 104 international trips and Benedict will have to decide whether he will travel as much or not.

The new pope is the oldest elected since Clement XII, who was elected in 1730 at 78, but was three months older than Benedict. He is the first pope from German in nearly 1,000 years- the last pope from the country was Victor II, bishop of Eichstatt, who reigned from 1055-57.

SF State speech and debate team member Robert Hawkins, 21, won the national championship in oral interpretation of drama at the 2005 American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament on April 2.

The tournament, hosted at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., also garnered Hawkins second place in a drama duo and an eleventh-place finish as overall speaker.

“I’ve been doing speech for seven years,” said Hawkins, “I’ve been competing since high school.”
Hawkins, who is on the SF State speech and debate team, was awarded the drama interpretation championship for his ten-minute dramatic monologue performance of an excerpt from “The
Exonerated,” an off-Broadway play composed from interviews with 40 death row inmates. Hawkins played Kerry Max Cook, a man who was wrongfully convicted, served 22 years in prison and was sodomized by fellow prisoners.

“I got the script and prepared for ten months,” said Hawkins.

In the dramatic duo competition, Hawkins and Nathan Feingersh received second place for their performance in “Racial Superheroes.” The piece, an original script written by Feingersh with brainstorming help from Hawkins, illustrated two superheroes that fight off two villains who want to divide the world into two equal halves, black and white.

“We were the only team to get a standing ovation,” said Feingersh.

Hawkins had another second-place finish during the quarterfinals in the dramatic duo category.

Hawkins and Kevin Brianceso performed a piece entitled “Thumb War.” The title is a metaphor for war and the people involved, like the characters they modeled after Hawkins’s brother, who is currently a soldier in Iraq, and Pat Tillman, a former NFL player who was killed in combat in Iraq.

“It was a very moving and powerful piece,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins graduated from Logan High School in Union City, where he was on the speech and debate team, in 2002. As an English literature major, Hawkins became involved in the speech and debate team after his freshman year.

“I needed a break,” said Hawkins, explaining why he did not continue debating immediately after high school.

Hawkins said that after joining the speech and debate team he found it to be unique and exciting.

“It is a wonderful and creative outlet,” said Hawkins, “This is SF State’s best-kept secret.”

After he completes his senior year this summer, Hawkins plans to start his teaching credential. He will be returning to Logan High School as the director of forensics and head coach of the speech and debate team. He said he also plans on attending graduate school for speech and communication.

Hillel the Elder was a first century B.C.E. prophet and teacher who is credited as the man who developed the Judeo-Christian “golden rule.”

When a disbeliever of his teachings tried to embarrass Hillel by asking him to describe the Torah in one sentence, he responded, “What is hateful to you, do not unto your neighbor; this is the entire Torah, all the rest is commentary; go and study it.”

This guiding principle has since been reworded, but the message stays the same, and the organization that adopted the Hillel name seeks to continue the social work and education that brought such notoriety to the ancient sage.

“We want to show that there is something particularly Jewish about wanting to fix the world,” said San Francisco Hillel Executive Director Seth Brysk.

Hillel is an international organization that arose out of the need for Jewish students to have a safe place to study and interact during a period of heightened American anti-Semitism in the 1920s.

According to Fred Astren, director of the Jewish studies program, universities implemented quotas and
accepted only small numbers of Jewish students who would then get “lost in the mix.”

Hillel had a presence on the SF State campus even before the school became a state university. Funded by private donations, the organization began renting a house on Banbury Drive (off 19th Avenue) nearly 20 years ago, allowing it to reach out to more students.

“We would no longer say Jews are a persecuted minority,” said Astren. He added that a new goal of Hillel is reaching out to the many Jewish students who do not closely identify with the religion.

Biology major Dash Harwood, 23, is of Jewish ancestry but said that he has never had an interest in participating in a program centered around Judaism.

“I’m not a Jewish Jew,” Harwood said.

Astren said that of the roughly six million Jewish people living in the United States, nearly half of them are unaffiliated with the religion.

“Hillel can offer them exposure they've never had before,” said Astren. “Their lack of knowledge (of Judaism) could be an interesting thing.”

SF Hillel is, however, much more than a place to learn and study about religion. The house has become “a place for cultural connections,” according to Brysk, as well as “an umbrella" for any activities that Jewish students want to do.

Hillel members have also helped form Tikkun Olam, or “Fixing the World,” a social action group; Yachad, a gay and lesbian support group; and Nefish Nafshi, a women’s support group.

With all of the recent controversy and conflicts on campus about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, a challenge for Hillel has been to keep people from perceiving it as a political organization.

To try and keep all Israeli issues separate from the Hillel organization, the Israel Coalition was formed in order to give interested students a platform on which to discuss the topic.

To coincide with the current peace process, the Israel Coalition brought Mohammed Darawshe, an Israeli Arab, to speak on campus. Darawshe runs Givat Haviva in Israel - a dialogue center focused on easing the culturally embedded stereotypes between Palestinians and Israelis in the region.

“We try to cater to all views,” said Sasha Soyfertis, co-chair of the Israel Coalition. Soyfertis also said she believes Zionism has been largely misdefined on campus.

“It’s not about kicking anyone out,” she said. “It’s about seeing the Jewish people as having a valid culture and history and having a right to a sovereign and safe state.”

The Hillel House on Banbury is unique in that it now serves 13 Bay Area campuses. When Hillel’s downtown San Francisco office closed several yeas ago, the house expanded to serve schools such as
City College of San Francisco, USF and UC San Francisco.

There are bi-monthly Friday Chabat dinners and regular religious observances. On-campus events are commonly scheduled for Jewish holidays and days of reflection. Upcoming events are Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on May 6 and Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) on May 12.

ASI Board Could End On Contentious Note

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A feeling of mistrust between several staff members and some Associated Student Inc. (ASI) board members has created an unusual amount of tension during the past year.

Several ASI staff members claim feelings of mistrust began when former human resource director Khrisean Thomas was fired after a dispute over the purchase of office furniture. The board voted to approve the termination after Thomas got into an argument with President David Abella at a board meeting.

"It doesn't feel good," said Associate Executive Director Jamila. "This is the only time this has happend. He (Abella) set a precedent. It makes you feel insecure."

The 19 student-elected members of the board are responsible for administering a $3 million budget. All students pay a $42 student body association fee in the fall and spring - $24 for the summer session – and board members decide where the funding should go. The board members, who are paid from $400 to $925 a month depending on their position, hold term for one year beginning in May.

There are two training sessions, one being optional, for incoming board members. The first training session is at the end of April and the second is during the summer.

“We as a board didn’t serve the students,” said Joshua Castro, vice president of external affairs about the problems of this past year. “It’s all about practice and making mistakes.”

During a March 16 board meeting, the board passed an action item ordering ASI President David Abella to cease and desist from entering into any contracts after he failed to communicate with his board and staff about a contract he established with an outside consultant.

During the same meeting, a heated discussion took place after two board members were asked to resign the day before. Chief Justice Michael Trujillo asked for the resignations of Science and
Engineering Representative Jacqueline Fernandez and Senior Representative Marisol Almaguer on the
grounds that they both had not attended a meeting during the entire semester.

The termination of an ASI staff member was also brought up at the March 16 meeting. According to certain staff members, the firing of Khrisean Thomas, former human resource director, has left them feeling uncomfortable.

“We’re full-time permanent staff - that’s cold to me,” said Ali. “That’s too much power for students to have.

“(Thomas’) firing was an unjust firing. I’m a professional. I may not like you, but I can work with you.”
Jamie Domingo, business representative, says that she heard certain people say “don’t trust the staff.”

“It’s up to you to believe that or not,” said Domingo, “Before I ran, I was David’s (Abella) assistant; I was part of staff, so from my point of view they were fine.”

The mistrust between board members and staff may be the reason a heated discussion left Thomas without a job. Last August, Thomas and Assistant Business Office Manager Alejandro Rios made the decision to replace the furniture for the board’s college and class representative’s office, which certain board members objected to.

“I felt that the money should be spent in a better place,” said Jonathan Kakacek, creative arts representative.

The $1,300 spent on furniture came out of the $20,000 the corporation designates for office supplies.
The unresolved conflict about the furniture led to a dispute between Thomas and Abella at a board meeting on Sept. 8. Kakacek, who witnessed the altercation, said that Thomas was yelling because no one directly voiced his or her concerns about the incoming furniture. Thomas also felt that she was disrespected during the meeting by Abella, according to Ali.

Less than a week later, on Sept. 15, Abella sent a letter to Peter Koo, executive director of ASI, requesting that Thomas be fired. Later that day, at the board meeting, there was a motion to approve Koo’s recommendation that Thomas be terminated effective Sept. 17, 2004. Thomas had worked for ASI for five years.

Abella declined to comment to [X]press, and Thomas could not be reached.

Thomas was terminated with a nine-month severance package. Though Thomas left the corporation, her workload was redistributed among the other staff members.

“Right now I’m doing payroll,” said Ali. “Why is the associate executive director doing payroll?”

After Thomas left, Abella moved into her office, saying he wanted to be more accessible to the student body. But according to office assistant Mayra Saldana, whose desk sits right outside Abella’s office, she rarely sees Abella during the thirty hours per week she works.

“After five (p.m.) I’ll see him about twice a week,” said Saldana. “From nine to five, (I’ll see him) maybe once a week, and that’s pushing it.”

According to Rios, he believes the students on this campus should be more involved and concerned with the decisions their ASI leaders make for them.

“Students need to hold them accountable,” said Rios. “You can’t hold them accountable in their last month of office.”

Some students aren’t even aware that ASI exists, much less trust that ASI is spending their money appropriately.

“We don’t even know who they are and they’re kids,” said Anamaria Delgado, 24, a liberal studies major and international student.

Diana Castro, 21, English major, questioned how effectively the board controls that $3 million.
“Financial control should be left to someone who knows what they’re doing,” said Castro.

Celebrating Cesar Chavez

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April 23 marks the 12-year anniverary of Cesar Chavez's passing. He fought for farm worker's rights while doing so peacefully. His devoution to equal rights was evident as a lead the Delano, Calif. Grape Strike in which protests marched all the way to the steps of Sacramento calling for better working conditions. Thanks to his hard work, the farm workers finally go they deserved and eventually formed the United Farm Workers of America. Today, his legacy lives through the young and old alike as they fight to preserve his legacy.

SF State’s Student Affairs Committee continued talks on the possibility of discounted Muni “class passes” for students on Tuesday afternoon.

SF State’s transportation coordinator Patricia Tolar and parking coordinator Lily Gee met with the SAC on April 19 to discuss the feasibility of a class pass system at SF State.

A “class pass” program would give students unlimited semester-long access to Muni light rails and buses without paying a fare each time, and without purchasing $45 monthly passes from Muni. The university would purchase bulk transit directly from Muni at a fixed rate and give passes to students and perhaps staff and faculty.

Many other Bay Area universities such as the University of San Francisco, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley already enjoy fare-free transit pass programs for students and faculty.

“We’ve got the possibility of Muni rates going up, we’re looking at 5,000 new students coming to the university, and we have congestion, pollution and parking problems,” said SAC member Larry
Klingenberg, who is leading the class pass effort. “Something needs to be done.”

The SAC agreed that the first step is to conduct a survey of the transportation habits of SF State students. This information will then be used to negotiate class pass prices with Muni.

In 1997, shortly after UC Berkeley’s class pass system was initiated, SF State and Muni agreed on a $60 class pass system, and the proposal was handed over to Associated Students Inc. The fee was never presented for a student vote, however, and the matter was dropped. Muni offered the service to SF State again in 2002 for $54, but ASI decided against it again.

Horace Montgomery, leadership development coordinator for ASI, said an “agreement was never reached.”

“ASI decided that what (Muni) was offering was absurd,” said Montgomery. “Muni completely refused to budge.”

Muni’s current system costs $72 per student and requires every student to pay, whether they use Muni or not. Muni refuses to allow a system in which only students who want the pass have to pay.

This presents a problem for SF State’s student body among which, according to Tolar, only about 20 percent of students live within the city limits and would make use of the pass.

“It’s a hard sell,” said Tolar. “You’re looking at about 15-20 percent of students who are actually using it, and 80 percent of students who are only paying for it.”

Universities vary in the methods they choose to pay for the bulk transit passes; most Bay Area schools opt for the mandatory student fees paid at the beginning of each semester.

UC Berkeley and San Jose State students pay $37.20 and $21.50, respectively, as part of registration costs, but these fees are complimented by other revenue sources. USF students pay the full $60-75, depending on the semester. Other funding options include using parking revenues and fines, general funds or even grant money.

Gee said that all of SF State’s parking revenue is being used for existing shuttle services, so the entire bill would probably have to be footed by students.

SF State sociology major Michael Valenti, 22, said an additional $72 a semester is unreasonable, even
though it covers about three months of unlimited ridership.

“It is a discount, but I would expect it to be much less, since we’re students,” said Valenti. “I ride Muni fairly often, and I still don’t think it would be worth it.”

Another class pass obstacle is the amount of Muni service to and from SF State’s campus. A class pass system would increase peak-hour Muni ridership on buses that are already overcrowded, said Tolar. In addition to providing the class pass, Tolar said Muni would have to improve service to and from SF State to make the program work.

“It wouldn’t be useful to have a cheaper pass if you couldn’t get on the busses,” said Tolar. “If (Muni) can’t guarantee more service, we would just be paying to wait in long lines.”

Tolar and Gee said they fully support the idea of a class pass program, and will work with the SAC to develop a viable program.

“It’s a definite start,” said Tolar. “But resources are the big issue; we need to find out where the money is going to come from.”

Student Walkout Canceled

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A student walkout originally scheduled for this week was canceled after several student groups withdrew fearing disciplinary action from the university.

The walkout, scheduled for April 20, was organized to rally support for SF State faculty, as well as decreases in class size and an increase in the budget for higher education. The six groups that received the disciplinary letters, Students Against War, Voices for Sexual Freedom, Moviemiento
Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, La Raza, the International Socialist Organization, and the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor, are all being evaluated after taking part in a March 9 rally to protest
military recruitment on campus.

According to an e-mail by Lauri Owen, office manager for the California Faculty Association, “many student groups feel too reluctant to risk incurring yet more wrath from the gods of SFSU to engage in yet more civil disobedience. Because so many groups pulled out of the walkout, it essentially fell apart.”

According to Brett Smith, chair of the Student Organization Hearing Panel, a complaint was filed against the student organizations after their involvement in the March 9 demonstration. SOHP is currently investigating the complaint regarding the group’s alleged violation of university policy. Smith said a hearing had not yet been scheduled for the groups, but said it could take place very soon.

Smith also was unable to say who filed the complaint against the groups.

If the groups are charged with violating university policy by SOHP, sanctions may be imposed on the groups. According to the Office of Student Programs Leadership Development policies and procedures guide, the sanctions could be anywhere from a letter of warning to revocation of the group’s recognition.

The protest that saw an estimated 150 students march from Malcolm X Plaza to Jack Adams Hall to confront the recruiters was organized by SAW and supported by the remaining five organizations.

“PACE didn’t have any organizers at the event,” said SAW member and biology major Paradis Esmaeili, 18. “But we’re all facing the same disciplinary action.”

Esmaeili, as well as students Katrina Yeaw and Mike Hoffman, received letters stating that they each need to have a confidential meeting with Judicial Affairs Officers Donna Cunningham. According to Esmaeili, her letter stated that Cunningham wanted to meet with her regarding a complaint she received from the chief of campus safety.

Esmaeili said that on March 9, she Yeaw and Hoffman removed from Jack Adams Hall by university police as they attempted to pass out anti-military pamphlets.

“I was physically pushed out,” said Esmaeili.

Calls left for Yeaw and Hoffman were not returned by press time. Cunningham could also not be reached for comment.

Esmaeili said she received notice on April 11 to meet with Cunningham on April 15. Esmaeili could not make the meeting and said she had her lawyer send a letter to Cunningham explaining that.

An April 27 rally is scheduled to support the groups under review. 2004 vice presidential candidate Peter Camejo and former president of the San Francisco board of supervisors Matt Gonzalez are scheduled to attend the event. Civil rights lawyer Lynn Stewart is scheduled to speak.

Since the College of Health and Human Services unveiled its newest computer lab Jan. 25, students have another place on campus to use powerful computers to complete class projects.

For up to five and a half hours a week, that is.

The new lab, located in room 219 of the Health & Social Services building, is furnished with 41 GX280 flat screen Dell computers and two printers.

But some SF State students enrolled in one of the three classes the lab is open to complain the lab does not offer enough open lab hours. According to the HSS online lab schedule, the lab is open from 1 to 1:30 p.m. and 4 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 1 to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays.

“There is only a month left of school,” said Yana Mlynash, 20, an interior design major. “The good thing is there are a lot more computers to work with, but unfortunately the lab is never open.”

David Macedo, a 30-year-old interior design major, agreed, pointing out the advantage of the new lab is that it offers newer software, but he cannot utilize the lab because is not open at convenient hours.

Ryszard Dziadur, director of college operations and comptroller for the College of Health and Human Services, said the college is working on a system that will provide more lab hours for students.

“There is a solution coming up in June, when we will install a OneCard (student identification card) reader inside the classroom so that the lab will be open during school hours for all students,” said Dziadur.

Having the OneCard reader system will allow students to enter with their valid student identification and will cost less than hiring a lab monitor, Dziadur said.

“It is a college saving opportunity that will pay off in one semester,” said Dziadur. “Currently, we do not have the money to hire a lab monitor due to the budget cuts.”

Dziadur said the money for the OneCard entry system would come from the college's budget.
College officials set aside $50,000 of instructional equipment money to purchase the computers.

Some students are also complaining about one of the printers, for which they pay a one-time $15 lab fee, has been out of order since the beginning of the semester.

In order to use the working printer, students must use their OneCard to print out their work, at a cost of seven to ten cents per a page.

Dziadur said he was unaware of the printer being out of order, and had asked any instructors using the lab to notify the information technology department of any problems.

Another lab, in room 217 of Burk Hall, provides one of the programs the Interior Design 345 class uses, called AutoCAD, and houses 24 computers for student use. But some students would still prefer
the HSS lab.

“The HSS lab is one of the bigger labs on campus,” said Lucas Ford, coordinator of information technology for the college. “Essentially, there was heavy usage in other labs, and having a smaller lab would make the students wait longer.

“Also, the old lab was harder to find. This is better for teaching because you are not limited to computers.”

“We're excited about the new lab,” said Jonathan Davis, an information technology consultant for the college. “It is a great opportunity to provide access to computers and top-of-the-line equipment, and an incredible resource for teachers. It creates a smart classroom environment.”

America is growing older.

According to gerontologist David Hahklotubbe, an age specialist, one out of every eight Americans were over 65 years of age in 1997. He said that number will swell to one out of five by 2030.

Preparing for the demographic shift, the School of Social Work hosted a conference on aging at Jack Adams Hall in the Cesar Chavez Student Center last week. A rapt audience of 250, mostly social work graduate students and adult protective service workers, attended.

They heard a forum of social work experts discuss critical issues of aging, including common chronic illnesses, depression and suicide among older adults, and elder abuse.

Susana Konishi is a gerontology graduate student who also works at On Lok Senior Health Services. The conference caught her attention, she said, because she is interested in healthy aging.

She said exercise is the key to good health in old age, and she wants to educate elderly people on how to best benefit from exercise programs tailored to individual needs. She also emphasized the importance of maintaining independence to elderly people.

“Independence is staying in the community,” said Konishi. “They need to stay in their own homes and be able to carry on their lives as they always have.”

Dr. Dina Redman, a professor at the School of Social Work, thanked the audience for ignoring a downpour to attend the conference and introduced social work graduate students Jacqui Lichstein and

Stephne Lencioni, who both organized the event.

Lencioni said American society marginalizes the elderly. She noted that the national perspective often means a fear of growing old, and pointed to the popularity of ‘Botox’ (Botulism) injections to eliminate wrinkles as a symptom of youth worship.

“Old age is not respected,” said Lencioni. “You end up at the time of life when you should be celebrating what you have become, but instead society tells you you’re not valuable anymore.”

SF State graduate Hahklotubbe now runs Choctaw House, a six-bed care facility in Napa that treats elderly people who suffer from dementia. Hahklotubbe told the conference audience that dementia was not a disease, but a classification of many types of memory impairment that can cause a patient to lose touch with reality.

He added that half of all persons over the age of 80 suffer some form of dementia. Hahklotubbe noted that the first line of treatment is not with drugs, but with social and behavior modification through activities and re-direction.

“I’m hoping the message of the conference is, if you start contemplating the process of aging for a loved one, then by osmosis that person will have the tools for (themselves) to navigate the complications of aging,” said Hahklotubbe.

Hahklotubbe cautioned that discrimination against the aged is rampant in the United States and that many people have the misconception that retirees live a life of ease at the expense of the employed.
He noted that the average cost of an assisted living care facility is $6,000 per month.

“If I were to retire now, I could not afford to live in my facility,” said Hahklotubbe. “My wife and I purchased land in Ireland because of the nationalized health care there. My retirement plan is to live outside of the U.S.”

Dr. Patrick Arbore, a psychologist, and Mary Twomey, a social work graduate student, both of the San Francisco Institute of Aging, discussed senior suicide and elder abuse. Arbore, who runs the suicide prevention hotline at the institute, said it should more aptly be called depression prevention, keeping elders from going into a suicidal crisis.

Arbore called depression an undeniable characteristic of elderly suicide. Men commit suicide four times more often than women, he said, but women suffer depression at a rate of four times more than men.

Many elders don’t know how to cope with this torment, Arbore said, so they hide their grief through substance abuse, most commonly alcohol. Arbore added that older people who have been drinking for decades are adept at inducing family and friends into denying that there is a problem.

"Alcoholics avoid the company of those who don’t drink to excess and it is vital to keep open the lines of communication,” Arbore said. “Even as they try to push family away, they are most in need of intimacy but feel ashamed of their behavior.”

He then alerted the conference to the issue of depressed elders who own firearms. He cautioned that firearms are the most commonly used means of suicide.

"Firearms don't offer any chance to intervene," said Arbore. "The most important question (for social
workers) to ask is not, 'Do you drink?' (It is), 'Do you own a firearm?' You've got to be direct, even with somebody (who is) 77 years old."

Twomey explained that 90 percent of elder abuse is perpetrated by family members. It is most often done by adult children suffering substance abuse or mental illness, or a financially dependent child.

She called elder abuse a crime that social workers cannot shy away from investigating and confronting.

"Some elder abusers are likable people, but simply unsuited to be caregivers for the aged," said Twomey.

SF State gerontology professor Cathy Cress closed out the conference on an upbeat note. She stressed the need to re-engage elders into the social atmosphere of everyday life by establishing formal and informal support systems through church, garden clubs or even attending baseball games.

She cautioned students that even at age 20, they have to plan the future.

"It's important for young people to bite the bullet and plan for the last 50 years," said Cress. "The fastest growing population in the U.S. is 85 and over.

“Is the government going to save for you? Social Security is a limited amount of money. You need to know how to fund the last half of your life - and have fun."

Report Says Textbook Hikes Outpace Inflation

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The State Public Interest Research Group published a second edition of last year's online report, “Ripoff 101,” disclosing some of the efforts publishers make to spike textbook prices.

February's more extensive 2005 survey examined the most required books at 59 colleges across the nation. It found that the price of books has been rising faster than the rate of inflation. It also said publishers charged American students more for books than the same books used by students abroad.

“Someone should look into it,” said Tanim Abdullah, a SF State psychology senior. “Maybe all the universities could get together and take a stand for the students. I have used Amazon.com, eBay, and even Craigslist to buy books.”

Abdullah, who is from Bangladesh, said that books are a lot cheaper there. He finds he’s now spending between $80 and $100 per book for his courses. But for other international students, the cost of books in their home country is comparable to U.S. prices.

Johanna Fassbender is a museum studies major and previously attended the University of Tubingen and the Free University of Berlin.

“In Germany we didn’t need to buy as many textbooks because lecturers would put books on reserve in the library,” said Fassbender. “I don’t mind buying books if there’s an opportunity to sell it back.”

Bruce Hilderbrand, Executive Director for higher education of the Association of American Publishers, said that the report is misleading and borderline libelous.

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over this report,” said Hilderbrand. “The report mostly focuses on California, where it is far less expensive to go to school than anywhere in the country. As a California student, if I had to buy a textbook for $100, it’s going to seem expensive compared to my tuition. They are comparing apples to oranges.”

Hilderbrand went on to say that the average college student around the country spends six cents of every dollar of their education on textbooks.

“That adds up to $2.23,” continued Hilderbrand, “which is less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. These same students spend over $100 per month on their cell phones.”

According to "Ripoff 101: How The Current Practices Of The Textbook Industry Drive Up The Cost Of College Textbooks," the publishers issuing the top selling textbooks run new editions every three years. New editions on the average cost 45 percent more than used copies.

Three-quarters of the faculty surveyed said new editions were warranted only half the time.

Hilderbrand said that the most popular textbooks are popular because professors request them, which leads to a demand for them. And because textbooks are not mass-produced, they more expensive to print than a best selling novel.

“Bill Clinton’s biography sold over two million copies and is not going to paperback,” said Hilderbrand. “A best selling textbook sells around 40,000 copies. They are larger and have graphics and photos when most novels don’t."

Another technique publishers use is to bundle books with special instructional CDs that link to online materials, which cannot be re-used by other students if they buy the books used.

“I would rather not use CDs if it costs 10-15 percent more,” said Abdullah. “But I know some people find it useful.”

However, some students do not really object to buying bundled materials.

Emaneab Hailezghi is a civil engineering senior from Eritrea. He said he spends about $600 a semester for books.

“I think the CD-ROM is very helpful, especially if you are a computer-oriented person,” said Hailezghi.

Last fall, the state legislature passed AB 2477, recommending standards to help keep publisher’s textbook prices as low as possible. Assembly member Carol Liu (D-Flintridge, Calif.) sponsored the bill. Liu had noted that lawmakers could not set prices for private industry, but her bill does raise awareness about a largely overlooked issue.

According to Candice Chung, press secretary for Liu, the bill conforms to the recommendations outlined in “Ripoff 101.” The report asked publishers to sell textbooks as inexpensively as they can afford to do, issue new editions only when warranted by updated instructional material, provide ample opportunity to buy textbooks unbundled, and furnish more data on content differences from prior editions to faculty.

"A lot of research shows that books shouldn't cost as much," said Chung. "We can't put a cap on their prices but the bill is a call to action. It brings all the stakeholders to the table and gives publishers time to implement changes."

Wendy Johnson, textbook manager of the SFSU Bookstore, was on vacation last week and could not comment directly. But Johnson did send an email explaining that textbook prices have been rising each year for the last several years. But she cannot state exactly how much prices have escalated.

“I think the biggest impact AB 2477 has had is that faculty seem to have become more aware of the situation, and are asking more about prices, bundles and publisher practices,” said Johnson.

Some at SF State have seen the issue from both sides of the publishing divide. Professor Patrick
Tierney teaches classes in hospitality management and recreation leisure studies. Since he is the co-author of a soon-to-be-released textbook he is well acquainted with the expense to produce a state-of-the-art edition. Tierney said it required over a year’s time to write, edit, and obtain permission to reproduce graphics for his book.

“My co-authors and I were insistent with the publisher that it be priced reasonably (under $50) so students could afford it,” said Tierney. “I understand the real world limits of our students.”

At the end of a hall, in a corner inside of the Cesar Chavez Student Center, is a small room, barely big enough to hold a classroom of students. It is shared by two SF State organizations - the Christian Fellowship and the Muslim Student Association.

For the past 15 years, the MSA has occupied the back portion of room T-139. On this particular Wednesday two SF State students pray as they try to tune out the live music playing inside of the center on the same floor.

To Zainab Sharif, one of the students praying in the room, the music is distracting. Ideally, while praying, music should be turned off and silence is needed because according to the Islamic religion, one’s concentration should be on God. In this case, there is nothing that can be done, and Sharif said she is thankful to have a space to pray.

Most of its members agree that having the MSA on campus is greatly appreciated.

“MSA is a community on campus to unite Muslims and non-Muslims, and to educate and erase misconceptions about Islam,” said MSA President Abdul-Rahman Taleb-Agha. “The main issue is educating ourselves because some Muslims lack Islamic education.

“Our job as Muslims is to propagate and educate the people and teach the people about the absolute purity of God, the oneness of God.”

According to its members, the MSA was formed around the 1970s and has eight board members.
MSA member Jaynap Abdolcader said she nominated Taleb-Agha for president because she felt he was a good leader.

“We chose him for his level of knowledge of the religion, and because he is a trustful character,” said Abdolcader.

Although the organization does not have an exact number of members, it sends out informational e-mails on events, meeting schedules, and other special events to over 200 students.

“The MSA has become my family,” said Sharif.

Sharif said the MSA is an organization that is there to help the student population and the community.
The MSA involves the campus community by putting on special events and offering weekly educational workshops. Recently, the MSA gave a workshop about slain civil rights leader Malcolm X.

“The Malcolm X event was very successful because it reached out to a larger audience,” said Taleb-Agha.

Many club members said they look forward to their annual Fast-A-Thon event during the month of Ramadan. Clubs like the MSA work with businesses to donate money for those students who are willing to fast for a day.

“People who fast with us get a chance to experience Ramadan,” said Sharif. “Ramadan is a reminder to appreciate what we have.”

Other workshops the MSA has coordinated include talks about such issues as the status of women in Islam, and a workshop titled Islamic Influence on Latin American Culture.

The MSA also offers weekly Halaqas, which translates to mean a "circle of study." Although the women can attend the men's Halaqa, a women-only Halaqa focusing on women’s issues is offered in the student center in room C-112 Tuesdays from 2-3 p.m. Once a week women get together to talk about outreach opportunities, such as helping the homeless with food drives or donating clothing.

The MSA is a nonprofit organization which primarily runs on food sales and donations.
Recently, an imprisoned man wrote to the MSA requesting an Arabic/English dictionary, which costs around $60. The MSA is currently working to gather donations and plans to send the book.

“We try to help with a lot of needs (because) Islam is not just about helping Muslims, it’s about helping mankind,” said Sharif. “Our resources are limited because we are a student organization. Our intention is to do community service and help the community.”

Club members said they have a positive relationship with a lot of the organizations on campus such as La Raza, the General Union of Palestinian Students, the Black Student Union, and the Christian Fellowship.

“We feel the Christians are the people of the book, and respect them,” said Abdolcader. “We do sit down and exchange conversation at times, but they don’t come in the office a lot.”

“At times we may differ on issues but our goals are primarily the same - to educate the students,” said Taleb-Agha. “People who tend to dislike us are acting out of ignorance. We have to be steadfast in what we believe in.”

The MSA provides a space for Muslim students to stay in touch with their religion. Juma’ah, a special Friday prayer, is offered from 2-3 p.m. in Rosa Parks rooms A, B, and C in the student center. About 20 to 80 students can be expected to attend the prayer each Friday.

“Having a MSA is essential because it functions to facilitate Muslims, and provides a nice place for prayer,” said Mikael Santini, a 26-year-old graduate student.
Students like Santini utilize the MSA office for prayer in between or during classes.

“The reason why we pray is because it is a testimony of faith,” said Abdolcader. “We live such a busy lifestyle, and praying helps us to be conscious of God at all times.”

The five pillars of Islam are to pray five times a day according to the sun, to fast during the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sundown, to believe in all of Islam’s holy books, to give charity, and Haaj, which is to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.

“As a religious point of view, Islam wants the best for everybody,” said Taleb-Agha. “It is one of the largest growing religions in the country. People are accepting Islam because they are looking for a good way of life.”

In the future the MSA would like to work with other groups on campus to sponsor events. The organization would also like to have a connection with a local mosque.

“I want a firm permanent connection with a mosque, where we can use its library as a learning facility,” said Taleb-Agha. “Having a scholar to work with on a regular basis; these are the things I plan to work on as president.”

For more information about the MSA, e-mail them at msasfsu@yahoo.com.

Students who’ve stayed in school too long aren’t wasting their time or units, a SF State administrator reported to the Academic Senate on Tuesday.

Helen Goldsmith, SF State’s associate dean of undergraduate studies and a member of the five-person Facilitating Graduation Task Force, reported the group’s preliminary findings in their investigation of why many students don’t graduate within six years of their admission.

The task force was formed at the request of Provost John Gemello in January in response to a California State University system effort to investigate how to remove obstacles and roadblocks on a student’s path to graduation.

A review of more than 300 student transcripts belonging to continuing SF State students who’ve exceeded their degree unit requirements found that most students were progressing toward their degrees and were not wasting time or units, Goldsmith said.

However, many SF State students still aren’t graduating fast enough.

According to university statistics, from the fall semester of 1998 to spring of 2003, just 38.5 percent of the university’s first-time freshmen graduated. This ranked the university 18th of the 23 CSU system campuses.

“It’s not very pretty,” said Goldsmith about the university’s graduation rate. “We’re pretty low.”
Campuses with better graduation rates seem to have fewer students needing remedial classes, Goldsmith said.

Statistics from the CSU Institute of Analytic Studies show that Cal State Fullerton, whose six-year graduation rate is almost 10 percent higher than SF State’s mark, has more than 57 percent of its freshman requiring extra remedial math or English courses in 2003.

At SF State, 63 percent of all freshman in 2003 required the same courses, while 16 percent of freshman required remediation at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, whose graduation rate of 64.6 percent is tops in the CSU system.

The task force - which has yet to complete its work - made four preliminary recommendations.
The first of its suggestions is for the university to solicit opinions from SF State students, staff and faculty on what obstacles they see facing students trying to graduate. The task force also recommended that more work be done to identify issues within the university’s curriculum and registration that could impede students, but most of Goldsmith’s report centered on SF State’s advising system.

The university recommends that students receive advising at each step when they enter the university, declare a major, reach upper division status and are getting ready to graduate. Students on academic probation are also required to get advice, but not enough students are getting the advice they need, she said.

“The five prongs of academic advising are important but we don’t have teeth in any of them, except when a student’s on academic probation,” Goldsmith said.

Palestinian Panel Talks About Gaza Strip Crisis

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A panel of Palestinian students, in an effort to spread awareness about the Israeli occupation of Gaza Strip and the West Bank, encouraged students to get involved with the peace process at SF State on Tuesday.

The event, called “Education Under Occupation: Students From Gaza Report,” was organized by SF State’s chapter of Faculty For Israeli-Palestinian Peace, an American-based network of university faculty striving for peace between Israel and Palestine.

The panel was part of a series of appearances by the Palestinian students at universities across the nation, including Harvard, Columbia, Stanford and UC

Berkeley. The students’ goal is to spread awareness about the actual state of affairs in regions such as the Gaza Strip, where many Palestinians live in poverty and oppression, group members said.

The territories have a long, divisive history of religious and territorial conflict over Jewish claims to the territories as part of the land given to them by God, and Palestinian claims to the lands of their former nation.

Three Palestinian students spoke on the panel: Hekmat Bessiso, Adel Elghoul, and Iyad Abuhajjaj, the group’s translator. The program consisted of a one-hour lecture, where each of the three students spoke individually about life in Occupied Territories, followed by a 30-minute question and answer session. About 100 SF State students were in attendance, some as part of a class assignment and some of their own accord.

The Gaza Strip is a heavily Palestinian region about twice the size of Washington D.C. sandwiched between Israel and the Mediterranean Sea. The Gaza Strip is 45 minutes away from the West Bank, but travel between the two is difficult due to Israeli checkpoints and security requirements, said the students.

“The Gaza Strip is the biggest prison in the world,” said Bessiso, describing the hardships and limitations that many Palestinians face.

The delegation of Palestinian students told vivid stories about their struggle and their frustration and feelings of helplessness.

Adel Elghoul told a story about being arrested and tortured by Israeli police as a teenager for peacefully demonstrating Israeli occupation. Israeli police held a large pair of scissors in front of him and threatened to cut of his genitals, Elghoul said.

Translator Abuhajjaj said that many times he was forced to dress like a woman to get through checkpoints to attend school.

“Our life is full of struggle,” said Abuhajjaj. “If I had a peaceful month, I would be surprised. I would think something was wrong. This is our true life, but nobody knows or hears about it.”

Bessiso said U.S. media only gives America “half the news,” and makes Americans “comfortable” with Israeli policy, despite its tendency to “take much and give less.”

“We are here to be in touch, student to student,” said Bessiso, “We wish for a future where we arrive at a solution to end occupation.”

SF State psychology major Noma Smith, 18, attended the lecture and said she found it to be an “eye-opening experience.”

“I think it was a really good presentation,” said Smith. “I learned a lot of things I didn’t know or ever expect to know about these issues, and it makes me want to go (to the occupied territories) just to be there and to help.”

Although there was one heated moment towards the end during the question and answer period, the panel was neutral, with Palestinian students making it clear that they were “pro-Israel and pro-Palestine” and that “no hatred exists” despite their differences.

SF State French major Nadia Rosenberg, 19, is an Israeli student at SF State.

“It was worthwhile and it was very interesting for an Israeli to hear the Palestinian perspective,” said Rosenberg. “I learned a lot about the other side and that’s important because you can’t always just think about your own side.“

Rana Lee is a Jewish studies major and wasn't happy with the students' presentation. "They spent three quarters of the time talking about how they suffer," said Lee, 68. "I know that. I'm against the way they're treated, but I wanted to know what they are doing about it."

SF State English professor Beverly Voloshin, the moderator for the panel, and said she was pleased with the presentation after its close.

“We were very fortunate to have this opportunity to hear from these students,” said Voloshin. “We don’t get very much news from Gaza, so this was an opportunity to hear from those students who are well informed and students had an opportunity to ask questions, I am very pleased that we were able to do it.”

Nearly half of all SF State freshmen enrolled this year are not ready for college level math and English courses, according to a report published by the California State University system last month.

The statistics, released in March, show that freshmen throughout the rest of the 23-campus CSU system didn’t fare much better. Of the 38,859 freshmen who are enrolled systemwide this academic year, 63.2 percent were qualified to take college level math courses and 53.4 percent were eligible for college level English.

At SF State, 56.5 percent of freshmen were found eligible to enroll in their first quantitative reasoning course, the math or statistics course required for every student’s general education. And 51.3 percent qualified to enroll in English 114, the first of at least two English courses student need to take in order to graduate.

Students who don’t pass have a year to take remedial coursework or risk expulsion from the university.

SF State math department Chairman Dr. David Meredith said that many high school students skip out on math during their senior year and then fail the Entry-Level Mathematics test because they aren’t prepared or are unaware they needed more help in math.

Since students are being tested earlier and problematic areas are being addressed sooner, there’s an expectation among some CSU officials that there will be a dramatic reduction in students requiring remedial classes, Meredith said.

“It’s disappointing that so many students have difficulty (passing the placement exams),“ Meredith said.

Overall, the CSU system is failing to meet its goal, set in 1996, of having roughly three-quarters of all freshmen proficient in math and English. Over the last two years CSU officials have tried harder to identify college-bound students who aren’t proficient in math and English before they get to college.

In a March 18 teleconference, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said that students who come into the university system unprepared for college level English and math usually take longer to graduate.

The Early Assessment Program is a partnership formed last year between California’s State Board of Education, the California Department of Education and the CSU system. It aims to assess high school students’ math and English abilities during their junior year when they still have one year of high school left to improve their skills.

This year nearly 40 percent of California’s 11th grade students took the test, which evaluated their readiness for college level math and English. Twenty-two percent earned a score high enough to exempt them from taking the CSU’s English Placement Test and 55 percent qualified to take college level math.

Before the EAP, most students qualified to take college level math and English courses by passing the Entry-Level Mathematics Test or the EPT.

Kathy Munderloh, the coordinator of SF State’s Early Assessment Program, spends a lot of time talking to high school students.

“I wake kids up to do something their senior year,” she said.

Her job is to educate high school students on what it takes to succeed in college, so they can avoid taking remedial classes.

Munderloh said that she believes the assistance program will go a long way toward reducing the number of students who need remedial coursework.

“The state is not going to give us much more money for remediation," she said. “Universities shouldn’t be teaching high school. ”

SF State offers more than 42 sections of remedial English courses and 25 sections of remedial math.
The CSU and all of those interviewed for this article said many students taking these courses do so because they avoided more difficult math and English classes in high school.

Madeline Lynch, an 18-year-old business major, claims an instructor from high school wasn’t effective. In high school she earned A’s in all her math courses except one, where she earned a C, because that teacher “wasn’t very good,” she said.

As a high school senior, Lynch took a break from math and then took the ELM, scoring a little less than what is required to earn an exemption from taking remedial math, she said.

Based on her score SF State required her to take Math 60 and 70, two remedial math courses, which are proving to be refresher courses for her, she said.

This year, the CSU system developed a colorful multi-language poster to reach out to younger students. It’s intended to be hung up in California classrooms to target students from sixth grade to high school and depicts the pathway to college and what students can do at their grade level to prepare for higher education.

“Meet with the school counselor and tell the counselor that your goal is to attend college,” the poster tells future college-bound sixth graders.

“Try to earn A's and B's and put extra effort into English and math,” the poster tells seventh graders.
The types of advice for sixth graders to high school seniors may vary, but the message remains the same - take lots of math and English and earn good grades.

While the Vatican prepares to elect a new pope and grieves for an old one, here at SF State, the Newman Club, a catholic campus ministry, organized a concert at Malcolm X Plaza on April 4 to remember the pope and sing songs of spirituality.

Pope John Paul II died on April 2 at age 84.

Spirituality echoed through Malcolm X Plaza as four women sung a Catholic song, called “Solidarity,” to the students.

“(We want) to offer commemoration to the memory of a man who lived his life to the fullest,” said Sufern Khoo, a club member.

One of the singers, Griselda Jimenez, 24, said the event was an opportunity to share with students.

“(I want them) to dream and … live out dreams to change society, world, family and friends. We can do something,” Jimenez said.

The sunny day and moving music invited students to sit and listen, but most just walked by.
Rafael Martinez, program coordinator and advisor for the Office of Student Program Leadership
Development, listened to the songs while having lunch. Martinez, who was raised Catholic, said he felt the loss of the popular pope.

“Beyond being the spiritual head of the Catholic Church, this one (pope) is the one I grew up with,” said Martinez.

Born Karol Józef Wojtyla on May 18, 1920 in Krakow, Poland, Pope John Paul II was one of two sons of Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Kaczorowska. In 1942, he began studying in the clandestine seminary. He received his doctorate in theology in 1948 and later became a professor of moral theology and social ethics in Krakow and at the Faculty of Theology of Lublin.

In 1958, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Krakow by Pope Pius XII. In 1964, he was nominated archbishop of Krakow by Pope Paul VI, who made him a cardinal in 1967. He became Pope John Paul II on Oct. 16, 1978.

During his term, Pope John Paul II completed 104 pastoral visits outside of Italy, including one to San Francisco in 1987. He visited the United States four times, meeting with every president from Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton.

“As much as I disagreed with the pope, I do recognize that he was compassionate," said Jeremy Scavarda, an international relations major who called himself a lapsed Catholic. “(He was) more interested in reaching out to people than shutting them out. I honor and respect him for the work that he did.”

Scavarda is a student in Dr. Fred Astren’s Judaism, Christianity and Islam class. Astren, director of the Jewish studies program, asked his class to pay attention to the events as the College of Cardinals elects a new pope. Astren wants his students to take advantage of the transition as a learning opportunity.

“This hasn’t happened since I was a young man,” said Astren. “(The) structure and workings of the Roman Catholic Church are revealed.

“(The) beliefs, hopes and aspirations of the church are expressed.”

The selection of a new pope begins 15-20 days after the pope’s death, according to the Office of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The Conclave, which is made up of the College of Cardinals who are under 80 years old, will be sealed in the Vatican for the secret voting. The cardinals will continue to be isolated until a new pope is elected by a two-thirds vote, though they can choose to allow a simple majority vote.

When a final decision is reached, a chemical is added to the ballots and burned with white smoke emerging from the chimney, signaling the decision. The announcement will be made from the balcony of the Sistine Chapel, according to the Office of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

“When something like this happens we are reminded (of) the impact that religion has on our society, the impact on this religious community and in the world,” said Astren.

District Supervisor Addresses Concerns

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District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, addressed SF State student and faculty concerns about parking problems and possible Muni fare raise during a brown bag lunch held last Wednesday.

It was the first brown bag lunch at the university with Elsbernd since his election in 2004. The Political Science Student Association and the office of SF State President Robert Corrigan co-sponsored the lunch.

In a discussion which included about eight faculty and students, Elsbernd focused on the issues of the proposed San Francisco Municipal Railway fare increase and the lack of parking available for students.

On Feb. 28 the board approved part of a budget proposal that would include a possible 25-cent bus fare increase and reduction of bus lines due to a $57.3 million budget deficit.

The proposal would raise the adult fare to $1.50 from $1.25, and the discounted fare would rise to 50 cents from 35 cents, providing more than $4.4 million in new revenue.

In addition, the proposed fare hike of the price of adult monthly passes would rise to $50 from $45.

“Students are concerned about the fare raise, but there should also be an understanding of the process,” said Elsbernd.

He continued to explain that the Municipal Transportation Agency sets their budget, which comes to the Board of Supervisors who then vote on the proposal.

“The question there is how would we receive funding?" said Elsbernd. “The university can do it through another referendum, but I really don’t know how we would do that.”

Elsbernd said he received an e-mail from a student that suggested added express buses to the 28 and 29 Muni lines. The student also suggested express bus passes, so students could get to the university more conveniently. Elsbernd said he passed the idea on to the MTA.

Elsbernd is working on a plan to make the city’s air cleaner by eliminating diesel buses.
After a student suggested that the two-hour parking limit around Park Merced be raised, Mitch Turitz, president of the California Faculty Association, said the lack of parking space is a the university’s problem.

“The two-hour parking spots are for Park Merced residents,” said Turitz. “Parking is not a Park Merced problem.”

According to Turitz, there are 20,000 full-time students out of a campus that holds about 30,000 students, and the university provides only 2,000 lot parking spaces.

Turitz also expressed his concern about classrooms being crowded. According to Turitz, in the last two years some 100 faculty members have left the university, with few replacements. Since the number of faculty has been cut, so has the number of sections, increasing class sizes and reducing the number of classes offered.

“They (the university) doesn’t seem to have a specific formula to say how many classes should be cut and the lack of faculty isn’t helping the situation,” said Turitz.
A student also raised the issue of the drainage problem, stating last year the school had to shut down for a day because of severe flooding.

Elsbernd said that the Office of Emergency Services has received $20 million in grants for these types of problems, so it is likely that some of the money can be used for 19th Avenue improvements.
Carlos Zepeda, president of the PSSA, said he was pleased with how the meeting went, but plans on publicizing the event more in the future.

“During last year’s board elections, students expressed that they wanted a more hands-on campus supervisor,” said Zepeda. “Having a voice on our campus like Elsbernd is great because we get to the direct contact we need.”

Aimee Zenzele Barnes, program development officer at the Richard Oakes Multicultural Center, remembered last year's rally at SF State during the Board of Supervisor’s elections.

“It was a very good turnout,” said Barnes. “I remember there were a good 300 people there, and one-third of the people were members from the local community that came to meet and question the candidates.”

[X]Press recently interviewed several SF State students about their thoughts on Elsbernd and preceding supervisor Tony Hall and found that most students interviewed were unaware of the role past and current supervisors played at SF State.

During the meeting, Elsbernd explained his role as a supervisor.

“I sit on the Board of Supervisors, and people ask how I balance my role as a supervisor,” said Elsbernd. “You name the issue and I’ve got some role in it. That is the bread and butter of being a supervisor for this district.”

For more information on upcoming brown bag lunches with Sean Elsbernd, contact pssa@sfsu.edu or call (415) 338-1178.

The U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security have made the Visa Mantis process easier for foreign students by reducing the wait time on security clearances.

Visa Mantis is a program that gives special security clearances to foreign workers entering the United States to work in scientific and technological fields, in order to prevent the illegal transfer of technology outside the country.

Under the new Visa Mantis process, foreign students can get their clearance renewed in 14 days or less, thanks to changes in the process and an increase in the security staff that performs background checks.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the number of checks increased, making the process more time-consuming. The auditors for the Government Accountability Office reported last year that Visa Mantis checks were taking an average of 67 days.

International student Hung Piano said that after the Sept. 11 attacks, tightened security made getting a visa a lot more difficult than before.

“I do think the country became less inviting to foreign students,” said Piano. “The laws were more strict, but now it is better because they are changing things.”

Jay Ward, coordinator of International Student Services, said that to his knowledge, no SF State international students have reported problems acquiring the necessary clearance to study in scientifically sensitive areas.

“Luckily, we have not had any bad experiences with students trying to get clearance,” said Ward. “The reason being that there are very few students that fall in that category, since we don’t offer a Ph.D. in the areas which Visa Mantis would apply to.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security website, the Visa Mantis system was established in 1998 to prevent those who may attempt to illegally export sensitive technology from the United States. All non-immigrants planning to work or study in sensitive scientific fields such as engineering, chemistry, and pharmacology must undergo this security check.

Sang Won Yoou, a 27-year-old senior international student from Korea, said he understands the difficulties of rigorous visa requirements.

“It’s a pain worrying about fulfilling all the visa requirements,” said Yoou. “Sometimes if we don’t ask, we don’t know. I’m glad the U.S. is making it easier for us.”

Although Yoou did not have trouble with his visa applications, he said he knows students from Korea who would like to come to study in the United States, but say the process is lengthy.

Previously, students with F-1 visas would have to go through a renewal process each year they wanted to stay in the country. An F-1 visa is a required entry visa for international students, and students with

F-1 visas studying in sensitive scientific fields of study must undergo a Visa Mantis check.
In the past, every year the Visa Mantis clearance would expire during the student’s academic program.

Therefore, students had to reapply for a new visa while pursuing their academic study.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, students who have received Visa Mantis clearance and have a valid visa will have clearance up to the duration of their academic program or a maximum of four years. If the student decides to change their academic major, they will lose their security clearance.

The 23-member Associated Students Inc. board of directors controls an annual budget of student funds supporting everything from extracurricular programs and student organizations to college departments.

Each SF State student pays a $42 student body association fee as part of their registration costs. The fee goes to the ASI, a nonprofit corporation that serves as the student government. Revenue is gathered from registration fees, interest on ASI savings accounts and money generated from some of ASI’s programs, generating a roughly $3 million annual budget.

But many students are unaware of what ASI is, what it does, or how their $84 a year is spent. Only 4,257 students, or 14.7 percent of the total student body, voted in the recent ASI elections to determine who will govern the spending of this budget. This was, however, a record turnout compared to previous years, which tended to average about 2,500 votes.

Horace Montgomery, leadership development coordinator for ASI, attributes this increase to efforts to increase awareness about ASI among students, but said that apathy and lack of exposure are still the biggest problems.

“Students don’t even know that ASI is their student government,” said Montgomery. “Students need to realize they are the people who are deciding where to spend your money.”
Interior design major Lindsay Waitsches, 19, said ASI should take a more active role in informing students about their operations and expenditures.

“I think they need to advertise more, and they should get more involved on campus with the actual students instead of just the bureaucracy,” Waitsches said. “It would be nice if they would post something that showed people exactly what they’re paying for.”

ASI is a student-run organization that uses its revenue to support university departments and fund programs aimed at assisting students and bettering extra-curricular life. Programs offered by ASI include the Early Childhood Education Center, which offers childcare for student parents, the Women’s Center, which provides support for women’s issues, a legal resource center, and a program called Project Rebound, which helps formerly incarcerated students enroll at the university. ASI also funds SF State’s performing arts and lectures programs.

The ASI also appropriates money to various departments to fund activities, events and supplies, and helps the university pay for campus projects that will benefit students. For instance, ASI helped the university pay for the concrete SF State pillar at the entrance to campus on 19th Avenue.

Executive Director of ASI Peter Koo said the organization is looking for ideas to “promote ASI more visibly” and emphasize the fact that students must get involved to assure that their money is being spent in desirable ways.

“Voting for someone on the ballot is only the first step,” said Koo. “In order to hold them accountable, you have to come to the meetings to find out what they’re doing. Just because you voted for someone doesn’t mean they are going to represent you.”

The ASI board of directors consists of 19 elected students and four appointed non-students. The elected board members include the president and CEO, vice presidents of internal and external affairs, the vice president of finance, two representatives of the student body at large, a representative from each academic college, and one representative from each student class – freshman, sophomore, junior, senior and graduate.

The four non-voting appointed board members include two representatives from the university, appointed by President Robert Corrigan, a representative of the teaching faculty and a representative of the academic senate. These appointed members do not vote.

Elected student board members serve one-year terms, starting on the first Monday in May. Student board members must maintain a 2.0 grade point average and be enrolled in six units per semester. Graduate student representatives must maintain three units.

Student board members are paid for their participation in ASI. The president and CEO receives $950 a month before taxes. Executive positions such as vice presidents recieve $800 and month, and representatives get $500.

Students are known to put in as many as 40 hours a week into ASI affairs, but some put in far less, according to Montgomery.

"How much work you do depends on how much you want to accomplish," said Montgomery. “If you just want to skate through and not change anything, it won’t take up much time.”

Elected students are given the opportunity to attend training sessions during the summer before their terms. While the training sessions are optional, students will not receive pay if they do not attend.

Training includes lessons in parliamentary procedure, finance, university politics and specific university departments.

Montgomery, who leads the training sessions, said training is thorough but could always be more extensive. He also provides provide further assistance and training throughout the year.

“My job is to be at the student's service,” said Montgomery. “I’m always there to assist them with their needs.”

Chris Jackson was elected to be student body president and CEO of ASI in the recent election. Jackson said he is well prepared and looking forward to his duties as president.

“It’s a gift and a curse,” said Jackson. “There is a lot of responsibility, but you get to change the lives of people on campus.”

On Saturday, April 2nd Pope John Paul II passed away at the age of 84 after suffering for years from serious ailments, including Parkinsons disease.

We asked several students what the death of such a global icon meant to them. Click to the right to hear their responses.

The drums began to reverberate in classrooms across campus as the lion and dragon dancers made their way through SF State. It didn't mark homecoming or a holiday, but a call to the Multicultural AIDS Awareness Day held on April 5.

Held in Malcolm X Plaza and the Quad, Multicultural AIDS Awareness Day was designed to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic. Music performances, speeches, and informational booths all brought attention to the growing threat. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there were approximately 39.4 million people in the world living with HIV or AIDS as of December 2004. The number cuts across all races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.

"We have this event every year to inform the campus as well as student body about different organizations,” said Stephen Monteclaro, one of the coordinators of the event and a member of Alpha Phi Omega, who have been hosting the event for the past nine years. "Where they can get AIDS testing, where they can get information about where to get condoms for free. It's just to give out resources for San Francisco State University as well as the Bay Area. "

"We're just trying to get the word out, " Monteclaro added. "To bring it into perspective it we're having multicultural performances, because AIDS does not affect one race, it affects everybody. No matter what color or sexuality or anything."

The event featured musical performances such from group representation a wide range of cultures. Performers included break-dance troop The Termites Crew, Indian music performers Robin and Sandeep, Sistas-Wit-Style, and the Z Latin Project. Also featured were the GeeYung Dragon and Lion Dance Association, who kicked off the event by leading a procession through SF State.

"Back in the 80's and early 90's (HIV AND AIDS) was well-known and talked about a lot, said GeeYung member Shane Maihui. "And in the past few years it's kind of quieted down, so a lot of people get the misconception that it's pretty much taken care of. And truthfully, it's not. So days like this are really good just to let people know that it's still going on and what kinds of precautions are out there."

Interspersed with the musical performances were speeches by a host of local activists and community leaders. One such speaker was John Iverson, representing organizations such as HealthGap, the Student Global Awareness Campaign, and the Priority Africa Network. He spoke about the urgent need for affordable and accessible HIV/AIDS medications in developing countries such as Africa and India.

"Since I have been infected with HIV for over 25 years, I have been severely ill before there were treatments" Iverson said. "I know what it's like not to have treatment, and to be severely ill. If I didn't have treatment when it finally came around I would have died. (There's a large) amount of suffering that goes on that doesn't have to go on, because the treatments are here and they should be available to all."

The event was originally supposed to feature Mayor Gavin Newsom, but a sudden press conference prevented him from attending. Two members of his administration represented City Hall in his stead. Both SF State alumni, Ninth District and Latino Community Liaison Robert Ortega and Sixth District and Filipino-American Liaison Jason Chan spoke to students.

“We are here just to reinforce that until the disease is cured, we are not going to stop with the awareness, we are not going to stop with the education." Ortega said. "And what better person place to give that education than in a place of higher education like San Francisco State? Like always, San Francisco State is on top of the ball, and we're proud to be here. "

There were a variety of events going on besides music and speeches. Free HIV testing was provided in Jack Adams Hall, and students milled around informational booths munching free pizza as they gleaned information from the many booths. SF State student Stephanie Fredericks filled out an AIDS-related survey as she stood outside the main tent.

"I think AIDS is really prevalent, and as young people we need to know if we have it or not,” Fredericks said. “I think that it's a scary thing to deal with, and a lot of us kind of push it behind us. But it's nice to know for sure."

While many SF State seniors are looking forward to graduation, administrators making commencement preparations still have no word on who will be this year’s speakers.

And as SF State students anticipate their final months of school until graduation day, the graduates of 2005 are wondering what to expect.

SF State’s 104th commencement will take place, rain or shine, in at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 28 at Cox Stadium.

“The minute we know who the speakers are, we place the list on the website,” said Norma Siani, SF State director of special events. “But we usually don’t know this information until the latter part of April or the first part of May.”

According to Siani, SF State President Robert Corrigan will provide information on who the speakers will be as soon as the information is available.

Rizwana Shah, a 23-year-old graduating psychology major, has a wish list of speakers she would like to see at this year’s commencement.

“I have a (few) suggestions about who should speak at the commencement: Bill Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, and Bill Gates,” said Shah. “They are inspirational people who have been through many ups and downs in life.”

Last year, some of the honored guests invited to speak at the commencement were former Mayor Willie Brown and alumnus of the year Chris Larson, co-founder and CEO of the online company E-Loan. Larson created the Larson Scholarship, which awards $2,500 to 10 students who are working toward a teaching credential or a master’s degree in education.

Graduates are required to wear a cap and gown rented or purchased from the SF State Bookstore. All graduates can keep their cap and tassel, but are required to return their gowns following the ceremony on May 28.

The ceremony will begin with a speech given by SF State President Robert Corrigan. The rest of the ceremony will include invited speakers, and be completed with the distribution of diploma covers.

During the ceremony the diploma covers are handed to the graduates without certificates. The graduates will receive their diploma six to eight weeks after the ceremony if they have successfully completed their course work.

About 4,000 graduates are expected to attend the commencement, and an additional 20,000 family and friends will fill up Cox Stadium’s bleachers, said Siani.

Graduates can invite up to five guests, and will be given their guest tickets at the SF State bookstore when they pick up their caps and gowns. One ticket is required for every person needing a seat. Extra tickets will be left at the bookstore, and will be distributed to graduates who sign up for them on a first-come-first-serve basis.

In addition to the graduation ceremony, there is a Honors Convocation, available to students by special invitation only. Each college selects one qualifying honor student to be a hooded recipient and only the top seven percent of students with the highest grade point average (GPA) will qualify.

There is not a specific GPA set for qualification because each college has its own standards. Corrigan’s office will send out invitations in early April. The Honors Convocation will take place on Thursday, May 26 in McKenna Theater at SF State.

The hooded recipients will make a speech and then are draped with a hood lined with the university colors by their college’s dean.

Stephanie Schwartz, executive assistant to Provost John Gemello and organizer of the Honors Convocation, said most of the speeches are inspirational.

“Some speeches include hardships, language barriers, and other challenges that students have to overcome to get through their college education,” said Schwartz. “These are humanitarian stories of students who are going to go beyond SF State.”

Academic counselors recommend that students planning to graduate should look over the undergraduate basic graduation requirements, such as the Online Advancement of Student Information Skills (OASIS).

OASIS is designed to help students navigate through information technology, and students can access a tutorial online at the school’s Web site. Freshman students should complete OASIS by the end of their second semester and transfer students should complete the requirement by the end of their first semester in order to keep priority registration. OASIS must be completed in order to receive a diploma.

The latest information on the 2005 commencement ceremony can be found at the SF State Web site or the SF State Commencement Web site at http://www.sfsu.edu/commencement/

Global Women's Strike organizes march from City Hall to city jail on issues including military recruitment at public schools, treatment of lesbians, and the rights of ex-offenders, all of which concern student organizations on campus.

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