September 2006 Archives
As twilight settled over SF State and the flow of people across campus slowed to a trickle, a medley of students seated themselves in the Humanities Auditorium Sept. 27.
These 50 or more students sat waiting for this semester’s BSS 275 course, titled “California: The Promise vs. the Reality in the 2006 Election,” to begin.
As soon as the panelists organized themselves onstage, and the echoes of whispers and shuffled papers from the audience quieted, Joel Kassiola, dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, welcomed the class and introduced the evening’s discussion point.
Since 2003, the college of BSS has offered a broad-themed course with weekly rotating topics and a panelist-based discussion for both registered and drop-in students. While this semester’s theme focuses on the Nov. 7 local, state and national elections, past classes have explored ideas of social justice and social change, and the 2004 presidential elections.
As many as 18 different SF State departments are represented in this semester’s pool of 34 scheduled panelists, and former Senator John Burton spoke in the third week of class.
Many of this semester’s attendees said the structure of the class provides them with a deeper understanding of California history and politics through the variety of perspectives presented by these panelists.
Past discussions have honed in on topics such as recent California history, Republican and Democratic visions, the history of California's economy and the history of California demographics.
“I think it’s worthwhile. They cover some issues that they don’t cover as in-depth in the newspaper,” said SF State chemistry major Robert Theis, 30. “It feels like when you read the newspaper you just get a sound bite, but here they go over the topics.”
Theis’ classmate, John McDonald, 38, an SF State liberal studies major, agreed with Theis that this semester’s class provides students with relevant information so they can make informed decisions at the ballots.
“It shows you that you can make a difference, that your vote does count,” McDonald said. “The main thing is knowing what’s going on before you do vote.”
According to Kathryn Johnson, coordinator of special projects for the college of BSS and co-facilitator alongside Kassiola, one goal of the class is to show students their studies are applicable to real life.
“It’s the idea of raising these issues in a way that is relevant to their studies,” Johnson said.
Johnson also explained that the course helps students to identify their own political beliefs.
“It’s kind of a reflective course that takes you from the personal to the political,” she said.
For some of the panelists who participate in the weekly discussions, it’s hard to see the impact of their cumulative work.
“It’s difficult to say if it changed their views,” said History Professor Abdiel Onate, a panelist from a class dedicated to California history and demographics. “But one thing is clear: that they are better informed, that they have different perspectives on the same problems.”
For some students, these “different perspectives” apply to real life not only in a political sphere, but in other ways as well.
Pat Sullivan, 48, a daycare teacher and SF State master’s student of early childhood education, has taken her class experiences and brought them to a much younger generation.
“In part because of my involvement in the class, (my preschoolers and I) decided to talk about the empowerment of voting,” Sullivan said.
Although most of her students aspire to be Superman, Sullivan said that they now know, “When they grow up, they’ll have the power to vote and that’s pretty strong.”
Sullivan also agreed with Johnson that the various topics and perspectives covered in class gives real life meaning to her other studies.
“I think that all this stuff, that this history, ethics and psychology has a real-life application to the outside world. As students we sometimes forget that’s why we’re studying,” Sullivan said.
The class is not without its sagging eyelids and nodding heads, but many of the students agree with Dean Kassiola’s statement that the course has been a grand success.
“It is really exciting because it makes me appreciate SF State so much more,” Sullivan said.
Come election night, BSS 275 will host a pizza party open to the public in Jack Adams Hall with a live analysis of the results performed by Political Science Professor Francis Neely. The class will continue past the elections with discussions on the history of social change in California and the potential impact of the results of this year's elections.
All classes are open to the public and take place Wednesday evenings from 7:15-8:55 in Humanities 133. A complete copy of this semester's BSS 275 class schedule and featured panelists is available at www.bss.sfsu.edu/bss/.
Last week’s faculty union meeting started with the feel of a protest rally, as SF State staff member Russell Kilday-Hicks attempted to lead the 70 or so people in attendance through a version of “Arnold, Union Organizer,” sung to the tune of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
In a campus-to-campus campaign by the CFA, which made its way to SF State on Sept. 28, a member of its bargaining team outlined where they stand regarding the current negotiations.
The presentation, titled “Stop the Rip-offs,” is part of a two-month tour of all CSU campuses, which focuses on the CFA’s claim that the university is ripping off both the students and faculty.
CFA president John Travis, who heads the faculty bargaining team, was unable to attend and speak at the event because of travel problems. Andy Merrifield, the associate vice president of the CFA for northern California campuses, replaced Travis as the main speaker.
In the presentation, Merrifield, who is also a political science professor at Sonoma State, touched on a variety of topics related to the university’s recent history of financial burdens that the CSU and the chancellor have put the system under, thus making the bargaining process for a faculty salary increase even more difficult. This was in reference to what he called the Loot and Scoot Scandal, which was a decision by the CSU board of trustees to award extra pay to outgoing top-level university executives.
Merrifield said the average increase in executive salary during the scandal was 14 percent, and the total increase was 19 percent. In the last 20 years, he pointed out, the CFA faculty has only had a 3.5 percent salary increase.
A story appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 18, of this year, revealed the scope of the scandal, which dates back to an October 2005, decision by the CSU board of trustees.
Chronicle staff writer Jim Doyle said in his piece that former CSU employees, such as Barry Munitz and Christine Helwick, have made out like bandits after they left the university system.
Toward the end of the hour-long presentation, attendees were given the opportunity to raise concerns and ask any questions about the contract, the CFA or the university.
SF State English professor Erik Solomon, who is the CFA retirement representative on campus, suggested there be a concerted effort by the CFA to reach out in an act of good faith and contact a member from the board of trustees.
But it was Jagdish Jain, an SF State English professor who has been teaching here for 36 years, who, for over five minutes, got the attention of everyone in the Rosa Parks Room with some demanding questions for Merrifield about the two different faculty salary options the university has proposed.
He said that after all the research he’s done on the subject, he still hasn’t seen the CFA address the fact that there is an alternative to the base 14.87 percent salary increase on the table.
The alternative involves a higher general salary increase for the 35 percent of all faculty who are paying for their service step increase, which would leave out many tenured and long-term faculty members who have hit the pay ceiling.
Sue Pak, the SF State CFA coordinator, was curious about Jain, considering how long he had the floor.
“I don’t know who he is,” Pak said after the presentation. “I don’t even know if he’s a CFA member.”
What Jain asked, to be clarified by Merrifield, was the role of the incentive/equity pay program increase, which would take away 3 percent from the 24.87 percent salary increase offer the CSU has proposed.
Jain said the CFA and CSU should both scrap the increase and put the 3 percent back in the salary pool and distribute it as a part of the General Salary Increase over the next three or four years.
"The chancellor loves the whole incentive pay program because he can divide the faculty," said Jain. "By dividing the faculty, he controls the faculty."
SF State librarian Eliose McQuown, who is the campus CFA political action chair, said the university and the chancellor do not have the faculty's needs in mind.
"CSU has done absolutely nothing to try and get extra money for this system," McQuown said in the meeting.
Merrifield admits the terminology and number crunching involved makes it difficult to understand. Not only that, but the uncertainty of funding from the state legislature is still up in the air.
"The whole system is almost indecipherable," Merrifield said.
The Educational Opportunity Program staff welcomed more than 25 SF State students and faculty to their open house on Friday at the Student Services building.
Attendees were treated to refreshments, handouts with brief information about the services, and complimentary pins that read "EOP: San Francisco State University/Educational Opportunity Program."
September was declared EOP month in 2003 after Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 124 was passed by the California State Legislature. The resolution was introduced by one of its authors, Marco Firebaugh, the assembly majority floor leader of the 50th Assembly District.
"It was to honor all the work that EOP has done," said Ginger Yamamoto, director of EOP.
Yamamoto said when the resolution was passed in 2003, there was a discussion about state budget cutbacks that would eliminate outreach programs, including EOP, although it is not considered that type of program.
"As a result of that, all the EOP statewide put a lot of effort into staying open," Yamamoto said.
EOP, which was established at SF State in 1969 and instituted by the Harmer Bill, provides students with disadvantaged and low-income backgrounds an opportunity to receive assistance through the program's wide range of services.
Many students who have been with the program since their freshman year at SF State came to the open house to show their support.
Kevin Tan, 27, a senior psychology major who has been in the program since fall 1998, said he appreciates the resources that EOP has provided for him.
"It helped me raise my GPA, skills, and getting help with my homework and time management," Tan said.
Another student, Tafara Manning, 27, a senior Africana major who has been in the program since 1997, said she appreciates the advising EOP offers to its students.
"My adviser is really helpful with preparing me with trying to get into graduate school," Manning said.
According to statistics computed by the faculty of EOP, an estimated 2,300 students enroll in the program per semester and about 500 new students enter the program each fall, with a breakdown of 300 first-time freshmen and 200 transfers.
EOP provides two main units in tutorial and advising.
The Guardian Scholars, Student Support Services and the Summer Bridge Program are three programs under EOP.
"The program is essential to student survival on campus," said Sam Jones, an academic adviser who works with EOP.
The program is considered more than just a service to its students and faculty.
"The program acts as a second family," said Yvette MacPhee, senior program coordinator of EOP. "It's a really good feeling."
Some say it could make Treasure Island a diverse community, thriving with sustainable living, while others are skeptical of its legitimacy and are concerned about evictions.
Presented in a shiny booklet, the newest development plans for Treasure Island were displayed at the Eighth Annual Treasure Island Community Day Festival on Saturday.
The plan included a proposed green design for the island’s future.
“Green products that are safe for the environment are to be sold on the island, as well as for the community. That’s how far we are taking this approach,” said Maryanne Thompson from the Treasure Island marketing and community development office.
There are three main public priorities in the latest development plan: to make TI a model of sustainability and green design, improving the community’s workforce, employing thousands of people with new jobs and offering 1,800 new below market-rate housing units, said Jack Sylvan of the Mayor’s Office of Base Reuse.
Before any plan gets the thumbs-up, one great concern must be addressed: this man-made island is susceptible to liquefaction and lateral spreading in a major earthquake.
Since its creation in 1939, parts of the island have sunk below sea level and when the earthquake shook the Bay Area in 1989, some buildings sank a couple inches when the forged land mixed with groundwater, an example of liquefaction.
Director of SF State’s California Studies program and TI resident, Lee Davis remembers signing the most peculiar clause she has ever seen in a lease when moving to the island in 2003.
“In the lease, I had to initial and sign my whole name after one paragraph called the ‘liquefaction clause,’” she said. “If the earthquake comes, we’re screwed. The island continues to sink.”
The new plan pours hundreds of millions of dollars into seismic improvements throughout TI, including the stabilizing of the 259,000 tons of rock used to craft a seawall during original construction.
The major seismic retrofitting will occur when what are called "pilings" are driven across the island, actually solidifying the transplanted earth.
The money made from the sale of the land will pay for the redevelopment process itself, said Sylvan.
The plan also includes the construction of a new school and 300 acres of open space.
“This plan calls for the biggest parks improvement project since the creation of Golden Gate Park,” said Sylvan.
Davis, known around the isle as the TI historian, considers the community one of the most fascinating social experiments in the country.
“Treasure Island should be studied and acknowledged,” said Davis. “There are about 1,000 people living out here including those in drug rehab, housed homeless and market-rate housing – yet, it works.”
Davis is concerned, however, for the future of these social services once construction begins.
“This is a temporary holding pen. Where will they put them once development starts? There are no good answers at all,” said Davis. “Most TI residents use social services.”
Social services, such as the Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative, provide housing for the homeless and assure them economic development opportunities.
Sylvan assures these social services are there to stay. Reconstruction of the “existing housing will be the last phase of construction…they will have new units with this plan,” said Sylvan.
Clebert Triggs, 41, and Denise Grace, 44, both live at the Walden House outpatient recovery home on TI and were granted a one-year rehabilitation stay.
“I would like to be one of the first ones out here when homes become available,” said Triggs, who is in his fourth month at Walden. “It’s so nice out here – out of the congestion of the city. You can hear a pin drop at night. Out here I use seagulls as my alarm clock.”
Grace agrees, but realizes her future is tentative.
“I want to move in with my family, but it’s hard when all I get are closed doors at every corner I turn for help,” said Grace, a mother of seven who completes her one-year rehab in March, and then has nowhere to go.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom attended the festival, smiling and giving high fives.
Grace asked the mayor what she should do to assure housing on the island after Walden.
“He gave me a card and pointed to someone he said may be able to help me,” said Grace. “Another brick wall.”
The plans are to be reviewed by the Treasure Island Development Authority and the Board of Supervisors late this month.
For more information on Treasure Island’s redevelopment processes, visit www.treasureislandonline.net.
Some SF State students could soon pay less for a month’s worth of rides around San Francisco.
City officials are currently considering a proposal by San Francisco District 1 Supervisor Jake McGoldrick to offer discounted monthly MUNI passes for “transitional youth,” people aged 18 to 24. The new fares could come as early as next year.
The idea, McGoldrick said, is to encourage young people to use mass transit more often by making it affordable.
“The future is now, where we’ll see a new generation opt for public transit,” said McGoldrick.
If implemented, San Francisco would become the first city that has an offer of discounted transit fares specifically for young adults.
Details are still being worked out over what kind of discount will be offered for these riders.
The transitional youth discount could be anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent off the regular adult fare, about $22.50 to $36, according to Iqra Anjum, a member of the San Francisco Youth Commission who first conceived the plan.
Currently, a monthly Fast Pass for adults costs $45. Discounted passes for senior citizens over 65 and youth aged 5 to 17 are available for $10. Passes are also available to qualified low-income residents for $35.
The proposed passes would be good for use on MUNI buses and trains, as the current discounted passes are. The passes would not be accepted on BART. They would be sold wherever regular MUNI passes are sold.
McGoldrick said the discounts might also be phased in for certain age groups, such as 18- to 21-year-olds first, in order to see how much of an immediate financial impact MUNI can absorb.
“We’re also looking at increased ridership,” McGoldrick said. “We do know we’ll pick up some increased capacity.”
Inspiration for the plan first came to Anjum after watching an 18-year-old student receive a citation for not paying the $1.50 fare to ride MUNI.
“People think that as you turn 18 you suddenly become an adult and have access to money,” Anjum said.
She took her proposal to McGoldrick, who also chairs the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.
McGoldrick expressed interest for the project, following several visits to London.
“I have spoken with the mayor of London about it,” McGoldrick said. “He wanted to keep the fares low for public transit. It’s now free for those age 16 and under as a way to encourage folks to use public transit.”
They started working with the Office of the Legislative Analyst on a study of the effects the discounted passes would have on MUNI’s deficit.
A second study had to be commissioned when the analyst’s office only took into account single-ride fares as opposed to monthly passes of varying discounts. Anjum said the results were just released, but she still needs to go over them with the budget analysts.
Once they look at the OLA report, McGoldrick and the Youth Commission will begin drumming up support by contacting youth and other organizations. A hearing on the matter before the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee is planned for sometime in November, at City Hall.
“We already have the access we need,” Anjum said. “I’m sure the other supervisors will support it. We just need student support.”
However, there is still a lot of convincing that needs to be done before these passes become available.
MUNI officials haven’t been briefed on the concept yet, but they may not be receptive to the plan because of the financial problems the agency faces, Anjum said. Recent reports show MUNI is running an $11.7 million deficit.
“Since MUNI is not making any money they are the only ones who are going to be opposed,” Anjum said. “But with more 18- to 24-year-olds buying passes, it would even out.”
MUNI spokeswoman Maggie Lynch did not respond to a request for comment.
Many MUNI riders in the affected age group said they would definitely purchase a monthly pass if it were discounted.
“That’s good, because $45 is too expensive for us as students,” said Yan Lu, 19, an SF State accounting major, as she waited for the M line above campus.
Sam Subia and Maggie Oblanca, 19-year-old SF State nursing students, said the proposed discount would be convenient, considering their limited finances.
“Our jobs are mainly minimum wage, for most of us,” Oblanca said.
“The best thing to do is to save money,” Subia said. “I just think it’s going to be neat.”
There has not been a draft in the United States since the Vietnam War, yet for many SF State students military service is still a requirement.
For SF State students from countries as far away as China and as near as Mexico, entering the military is not a choice. Of the 94 countries represented by foreign students on campus, 53 have some form of compulsory military service.
The formidable Turkish military weighs in at more than a million troops--second only to the United States among NATO members--and military service often holds an important position in a Turkish man’s life.
“I do not have any worries about going into the military,” said SF State graduate Husam Erciyes, who now works as project coordinator for the SFSU Bookstore. “It is a source of pride. To protect any inch of our land is our pride.”
Even after more than five years in the United States, Erciyes says his heart remains in Turkey.
“My purpose in coming here is to get an education and job opportunities,” Erciyes said, “but after three, five or even 10 years, if anything happens at home--God forbid--I am the eldest. I have to take care of things.”
When a Turkish man goes to his prospective bride’s house for the first time, the first question the parents ask is whether he has completed his military service, Erciyes said.
“It is something like an entrance into manhood,” wrote SF State graduate Ahmet Cebeci, 28, in an e-mail interview. He recently completed his military training in Turkey, where he now resides.
Generally after graduating from high school all Turkish men are required to complete 15 months of service, but both Erciyes and Cebeci postponed their service while attending SF State.
However, for many young Taiwanese males, military service means something very different.
“A waste of time,” said Grant Lo, 27, when asked how he felt about compulsory service.
Lo left Taiwan to study English in Canada at age 17, two years before reaching the age of eligibility for military service--a requirement Lo hopes to avoid.
Most of his friends are Taiwanese and his girlfriend of seven years lives on the island. Although Taiwan is a large part of Lo’s life, its military requirement is not.
“It’s not in my schedule,” Lo said with a smile when asked if he will ever complete his service.
The SF State graduate has not returned home in more than nine years, and will have to stay away from his native country for eight more years to avoid the requirement.
Military service in Taiwan has lost the urgency it held ten years ago. During Taiwan’s first popular elections an outspoken call for independence provoked a massive show of force by mainland China, which does not recognize Taiwan as a country. Instead, the Beijing government considers the island a separated province, said Jean-Marc Blanchard, associate director of the Center for US-China Policy Studies at SF State.
But tensions have cooled since those anxious times.
Many young men cheat on their medical exams or make deals with officials in order to skip out on their service, he said.
In Turkey however, the situation remains hot. A border conflict that ended a year ago between Iraqi Kurds and the Turkish military caused casualties numbering in the thousands.
Upon returning to Turkey after graduation, Cebeci was faced with a choice: either serve in the military for six months with the rank of private, without the freedom to leave the regiment, or serve 12 months with a higher rank, higher salary and greater freedom.
Cebeci chose the first option and served six tough months in Edirne, the most northwestern part of Turkey, near the Greek border.
On top of the punishing weather conditions, Cebeci found military life stifling and frustrating.
“The worst thing is you are like a captive and have very little freedom,” he said. “The discipline is strict and there are harsh penalties. Sometimes they push you so hard that you want to scream and yell, but you cannot.”
The hardships that come with military service in Taiwan may have more to do with loneliness than physical hardship and frustration.
The phrase “bingbian” was coined to describe one of the biggest fears facing young Taiwanese men entering the military. The term translates to “military change,” which refers to the change of heart a girlfriend can have while her boyfriend completes his service.
While John Yu, 40, served in 1984, he and his girlfriend of three years could communicate only through letters. A year into his two years of service (the requirement has since been reduced) she ended their relationship without explanation.
After his discharge, Yu sought out the girl only to learn that another man had led to her change of heart.
“When we go to the military, our competitors multiply,” he said.
However, not all Taiwanese fear “bingbian.”
Hospitality management student Jas Lien, 22, is eager to complete his service, despite his friend’s warning.
“I want to go,” Lien said. “I want to train myself.”
“He doesn’t have to worry about bingbian,” said Margaret Hsieh, 22, Lien’s girlfriend of one year. “When he goes into the military, I will just break up with him,” she joked.
Even though he has already served, Cebeci's concerns are not fully detered since Turkish-born men can be called back for service even after their requirement has been completed.
“I hope I will not need to do it again,” Cebeci said, “because in times of need and war they can still call you back until you get to 40.”
A newly remodeled Westfield San Francisco Centre opened today with President Robert Corrigan, Maria Schriver, Mayor Gavin Newsom and other public figures in the crowd.
With a glass ceiling atrium above and the bustle of Market Street below, SF State will relocate two of its nine colleges to the 835 Market St. building this January.
The largest urban mall west of the Mississippi, the Downtown Center will house the SF State College of Extended Learning and graduate business programs on the entire sixth floor and part of the fifth floor of the building.
The move will mean relocating some 7,700 students from the old extended learning campus located at 425 Market. Approximately 700 students will come from SF State’s MBA program at the main campus and the executive MBA program in Redwood City.
John Dopp, the director of graduate business programs, said it will provide better opportunities for SF State graduate business students.
"Well first it means much greater exposure and access to the business community downtown," Dopp said. The proximity of the new facility, Dopp said, may mean more guest speakers from and interaction with San Francisco's business community than is now available at SF State's main campus. It will also allow for "more networking and collegiality" among graduate business students than before.
"We'll have a complete new facility to call our own instead of being scattered all over (the main) campus."
Extended learning courses taken at the Holloway campus will remain there.
The Market and Powell Streets mega-mall, which is owned by the Westfield company of Australia, will feature the west coast flagship of Bloomingdales, a 9-screen CinéArts-Century Theatres movie complex, a large spa, offices and over 150 boutiques and shops.
“It means more space and more classrooms,” said Ellen Griffin, spokeswoman for SF State.
The Downtown Center will have 31 classrooms and 9 computer labs, Griffin said.
Funds to pay for the new Downtown Center came from the school’s overall budget and registration and course fees.
No new parking garages have been built for the property but public transportation available, including seven MUNI bus lines, the MUNI Metro, BART and AMTRAK buses.
“An expanded downtown campus will signicantly enrich the continuing education opportunities that the College of Extended Learning provides to the San Francisco Bay Area community,” said College of Extended Learning Dean Gail Whitaker in a press release.
Funds to pay for the new Downtown Center came from the school's overall budget and registration and course fees.
No new parking garages have been built for the property but public transportation available, including seven MUNI bus lines, the MUNI Metro, BART and AMTRAK buses.
The College of Extended Learning is primarily geared toward assisting working professionals in providing skills needed for career advancement or change.
Altogether more than 60 programs are available including paralegal, holistic health and multimedia technology.
No prior degree is necessary to attend the CEL but some programs may have pre-requisites. Prices for each program vary. For more information on the CEL programs visit www.cel.sfsu.edu .
California’s improved budget picture is a mixed bag for CSU students and faculty.
Some programs have been cut, others have received permanent funding for the first time, and money has been set aside for faculty raises, but university and faculty negotiations have broken down, leaving the staff without a contract.
Last year SF State was allotted more than $143 million, and this year the allotment has been increased by more than $12 million, according to Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget Web site.
CSU as a whole received a $140 million increase, making the entire allotment for the state schools more than $2.5 billion.
Despite the extra money, some programs continue to feel a squeeze.
The international program, which sends students abroad and brings students to CSU campuses from around the world, has been cut by $439,000, and the summer arts program has been cut by $43,000 statewide this year.
Because programs such as summer arts, which aren’t held at most campuses, and the international program, which doesn’t pertain to most students, aren’t new programs and don’t have high demand, they were prime candidates for cuts, according to the Web site.
“Two important principles are at the base of CSU budget decisions and allocations,” said Keith Boyum, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs for CSU. “The first is that dollars follow instruction.”
This ensures that ongoing needs and obligations are met first. Then, the needs of new and previously under-funded programs are addressed.
One ongoing obligation that may actually see an increase is faculty salaries.
“The 2006/2007 budget provides an average 3.6 percent for salary increases,” said Clara Potes-Fellow, CSU director of media relations. “The effective salary increase for represented employees and faculty is negotiated by the union with the administration.”
But, so far, the CSU faculty has not negotiated any raises. In fact, they still don’t have a contract.
“Every two years the CFA signs a contract with the CSU to determine their salaries for the next two years,” said Sue Pak, union representative for SF State.
“Last year our contract ended,” said Pak. “We meet every month or so, but as of July, we weren’t able to agree on a salary. If we find that there is no way to move in any direction with the other side, a legal mediator will step in and decide our salary.”
Also, while raises may be in the cards, faculty retirement benefits have been hit hard.
According to the budget Web site, there has been a huge downgrade in campus employee retirement funds. There is less funding because of a scale back in employer-paid contributions. How much will be paid out will be negotiated by the CSU and the union.
However, CSU administrators said the retirement package is fair.
“Faculty retirement is on the Public Employee Retirement System, PERS,” said Potes-Fellow, “which is among the most generous in the nation.”
Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal acknowledges that the cause for strain on the CSU budget is the growing number of applicants wanting to attend California universities. Because of this, Schwarzenegger laid out a new “marginal cost methodology,” which will enable a growth in attendance on CSU campuses, without passing the cost on to in-state students.
“The methodology proposed by the Governor recognizes that non-resident students fully fund their instructional cost, and funds growth-related maintenance to the plant,” according to the budget Web site.
With the 2006/2007 budget, all student fees will go directly into funding the growth of educational programs.
Last year there was a cut of one-time funds for outreach programs provided by the CSU system, which allotted $7 million to make these programs possible. However, this year’s budget increase calls for the permanent reinstatement of these funds.
Also, the new budget is allotting $7.1 million to fund the CSU Outreach/Center for California Studies program.
Since 2003, faculty, staff and students at SF State’s Romberg Tiburon Center have been dealing with renovations.
Now, with the help of a $445,000 grant from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the center, which is the only academic research establishment for wetlands and the ocean in the Bay Area, plans to complete renovations, leaving a state-of-the-art educational facility.
“I am just excited for not having portable bathrooms and kitchens,” said Karen Alroy, a research technician who is currently working on a lobster population connectivity study at the center. “And I am excited to be able to stay inside when I want to drink some tea, once the construction is finished.”
The grant completes a $7 million capital campaign fund from the Goldman Fund for building and program improvements at the center.
Even though a major portion of the RTC program is conducted at SF State’s main campus, the funding they are receiving for the center is essential.
“It is an important part of the educational process, especially for this field of study, to get the students out of the classroom,” said Toby Garfield, the RTC’s acting director.
Pamela Allen, program officer at the Goldman Fund, agrees with Garfield and said the RTC program is crucial for the improvement of the San Francisco Bay.
The center offers a number of courses ranging from “Fierce Forces and Stunning Speeds: The Extreme Lifestyle of Mantis Shrimp” to “The Cellular Response to Heat Stress in Steno- and Eurythermic Fishes: A cDNA Microarray-based Approach.”
In June of this year, the center won a prestigious Duke’s Award for its use of Java networking technology to transmit real-time environmental data via cell phone.
The RTC’s five buildings are located on 32 acres of bay-front property in Tiburon, where scientists and students are able to gather research about the ocean and surrounding wetlands, and take it back to the lab to analyze.
Even though the RTC is the only academic research facility in the Bay Area, which is one of the largest estuaries in the United States, SF State hasn’t given them any funding for their recent extensive renovation.
“Zero. The university hasn’t given us any funding for our renovation project,” Garfield said. “That isn’t to say that the university is totally giving us the high-and-dry. They’re just not giving us any funding for the renovation process we are currently undergoing.”
What the university does supply is the “baseline funding for faculty and staff out at the reserve,” according to Garfield.
In August of 2003, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provided SF State with the hangar-like building in Tiburon to function as a reserve for the RTC program.
With the help of outside contributions from groups such as the Marin Community Foundation, W.M. Keck Foundation, and The Clear Genesis Foundation, the RTC has already been able to make improvements to the information technology classrooms, offices and labs for faculty, and the main teaching laboratory at the center, Garfield said.
“The Goldman Fund believes that by improving the main research laboratory and education building at the site, the capacity of RTC and other groups to promote the environmental protection of the Bay will expand,” Allen wrote in a statement on behalf of the Goldman Fund.
In an effort to appeal to anti-war voters at SF State, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides said if he were to be elected, he would demand on his first day in office that California National Guard troops be returned from Iraq.
Entering the final month before the Nov. 7 elections by speaking to around 150 students and faculty at what was called a “rally against the war” in Jack Adams Hall on Tuesday, Angelides’ pledge is seemingly a shift in campaign strategy to link his opponent, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, with President Bush and the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq.
“I’ve been plain about my views on George W. Bush’s war in Iraq,” Angelides said. “It is wrong for our country and wrong for the Californians who are fighting and dying there.”
Gov. Schwarzenegger’s steadfast alliance with President Bush and his support of the Iraq war is compromising the safety of Californians because National Guard troops, should be reserved for national disasters and domestic order, not a war based on lies, Angelides said.
“You see, a governor’s first responsibility is to ensure the safety of the people of California,” Angelides said, “and a governor cannot do that without a strong National Guard.”
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, 9,000 California National Guard troops have been deployed overseas and 21 have been killed in Iraq. Angelides said the state’s National Guard is currently 20 percent below what is should be.
The elaborate event, in which Angelides’ staffers served free pizza and Mayor Gavin Newsom and Assemblyman Mark Leno spoke, was met with both supporters and opponents who simply do not believe he is a genuine anti-war candidate.
“He’s an opportunistic Democrat,” said Karen Knoller, 19, an SF State student and a member of Students Against War. “He’s talking left because he knows he’s not going to win the election.”
According to previous news reports, the latest Field Poll shows Angelides trailing Gov. Schwarzenegger by 17 points.
During Angelides’ speech, Knoller and other SAW members held up signs reading, “your party supports the war” and “your party is anti-immigrant.”
At one point, Angelides’ staffers attempted to block the signs by holding up larger pro-Angelides signs.
But for the most part, the rally, sponsored by SF State’s College Democrats, reinforced Angelides’ base of democratic voters and drew students and faculty who just wanted to hear what he had to say.
“He understands my needs probably more than Arnold would,” said Colin Coutinho, 24, an SF State grad student studying adult education who plans on voting for Angelides. Those issues, he said, are increasing college tuition and healthcare.
Professor Linda Ellis, chair of SF State’s California Faculty Association contingent, came to the rally not only because the CFA has endorsed Angelides, but also to hear how Angelides plans to catch Gov. Schwarzenegger in the race.
“He’s got to be on the offensive, not the defensive,” Ellis said.
But she also questioned the effectiveness of Angelides’ new campaign tactic in pairing Schwarzenegger with President Bush.
“That’s national politics,” Ellis said. “All politics is local.”
Michelle Montoya, an SF State student and current Northern California College Democrats vice-president, disagrees, saying the majority of Californians do not support President Bush, but Gov. Schwarzenegger repeatedly declares his support for Bush and the Iraq War.
During the 2004 presidential election campaign, Gov. Schwarzenegger campaigned with President Bush in Ohio, then a closely contested state.Although Angelides said he would work to make sure California National Guard troops are pulled out of Iraq, a rebuttal by Gov. Schwarzenegger’s campaign says he would not have the legal authority to do so.
“Phil Angelides is spewing political rhetoric calling for action he knows is both illegal and unconstitutional in another shameless effort to try to get traction in the polls,” said Katie Levinson, a spokeswoman for the governor.
If need be, Angelides said, he would go to court to fight for the return of California’s National Guard troops and would even mobilize other state governors to demand a change in national foreign policy regarding the use of state National Guards. “California cannot afford a governor who is blind to the damage this wrong-headed war is doing to our state and national security,” Angelides said.
Lee Wolf, an SF State College Republican attended the rally not to support Angelides, but to hear what he had to say and for the free pizza. He said Gov. Schwarzenegger has the election wrapped-up.
“The real issue is in the vote,” Wolf said. “It would be shocking if an eighth of this room even votes.”
A SF State dean said Chinaï¿½s rapid economic growth is sure to bring the world closer to environmental collapse unless the country takes a cleaner path to development than the United States.
Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Joel Kassiola along with a group of SF State faculty and students gathered Monday to discuss the global environmental consequences of Chinese industrial development as that country strives to raise living standards for its massive population.
ï¿½Everyone in the world needs to have an interest in how China develops,ï¿½ said to the group.
He didnï¿½t merely point fingers at China, which releases the worldï¿½s second highest amount of carbon dioxide. The United States is the number one emitter.
Kassiola, who traveled to China in June with a delegation from the new Center for U.S.-China Policy Studies at SF State, suggested that the root causes of environmental crises are because of political problems, not scientific inevitabilities.
He said he told an audience at the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China that the U.S. model of industrial development degrades the global environment and China should not do the same.
ï¿½Kassiolaï¿½s speech will be read by the highest Chinese officials,ï¿½ Suijan Guo, SF State political science professor and director of the Center for U.S.-China Policy Studies, told the group.
The discussion, titled ï¿½The Dilemma of Western Industrial Civilization and Chinaï¿½s Path in the 21st Century: Should China Follow the West?ï¿½ was part of a research series at the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
Guo presented the Center for U.S.-China Policy Studies as a bridge of understanding for business, economics, politics, and research between the two countries.
ï¿½We need to encourage alternative, innovative, and creative thinking,ï¿½ Guo said. ï¿½Material goods and lifestyle are the measure of wealth and development in China,ï¿½ he added.
He said the center will encourage faculty exchanges between the U.S. and China and that a potential initiative is to facilitate an investor delegation to explore the option of a ï¿½Silicon-Valley model in China.ï¿½ He gave no further specifics and highlighted all future projects are not finalized.
He said university faculty exchanges would foster deeper understanding by teaching participants their counterpartsï¿½ global perspectives.
Kassiola said he found that Chinese political leaders he met were well aware that a potential global environmental catastrophe could cause a popular uprising in China, in effect unseating them. He said he felt that they understood the political ramifications of environment crises more than most politicians in the United States.
Another participant disagreed.
ï¿½I am very pessimistic about Chinaï¿½s environmental record. There is no evidence that Iï¿½ve seen, other than rhetoric to suggest that China is going against the Western model of development,ï¿½ JoAnn Aviel, international relations department chair, said.
Kassiola continually stated the need to find a new model that is non-American or based solely in Western thought because he said that poorer nations suffer more than richer nations from environmental problems.
One economics student was confused.
ï¿½How can I not think of a Western model of development when that is all the perspective I get in a United States' education?ï¿½ Doug Soung, 26, asked.
Kassiola suggested that the definitions of what is ideal for healthy societies needs to be transformed into a new paradigm where more free time and less pollution replaces overworked droves of commuters coughing through traffic in their petrol-burning cars.
ï¿½I donï¿½t mean to say we are not for economic growth,ï¿½ he said, ï¿½but the current Western model is not appropriate for the globe.ï¿½
The discovery of a collaboration between the FBI and the U.S. Department of Education has spawned renewed debate over a controversial proposal for a national student database.
Project Strikeback examined financial aid databases using names provided by the FBI. It was recently discovered by former Northwestern University graduate student Laura McGann, and has drawn attention to the DOE’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education’s unit record system, or national student database.
Originally proposed to Congress in 2004, the database was rejected because of concerns over student privacy.
It would require colleges and universities to report specific, individual student information instead of general, anonymous information about the student population as a whole.
While Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said public colleges and universities are in favor of the database, some members of the higher education community view it as a threat to students’ privacy.
Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, said a national database with information for each student in the nation is too tempting for federal agencies not to use.
“Build it and they will come,” Nassirian said. “Make it in the name of policy today and don’t be surprised if Homeland Security and the Department of Defense come looking for terrorism and immigrants tomorrow.”
“No question,” he said. “More databases are an open invitation for the invasion of an individual’s privacy.”
One of the basic principles of good information practices, Nassirian said, is limiting the use of information that is gathered to what you tell people it will be used for.
The commission suggests, among other things, that the database be created to “make it easy to obtain comparative information including cost, price, admissions data, college completion rates and, eventually, learning outcomes,” all in a “consumer friendly form” for the general public.
The DOE argues that it would also mean more accountability and a clearer picture of the education system as a whole for legislators to make laws to accurately serve people’s needs.
Secretary of Education Spellings held a speech Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington to present an “action plan” to implement the committee’s recommendations, just a week after the release of the commission’s final report.
In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education before the speech, Spellings said, “Except for the private colleges, the higher-education community is for this.”
However, Jo Volkert, SF State associate vice president of Enrollment Planning and Management, said she is ambivalent about the plan.
“It’s important to realize why it’s useful, but maybe there’s room for abuse,” Volkert said. “There is no easy answer.”
Beyond directory information such as a student’s name, e-mail address and enrollment status, the more intimate details of a student’s education record are confidential under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Any school nationwide that receives federal funding must comply with FERPA.
In the 1950s and ‘60s government agencies misused information against anti-war protesters, people involved in the civil rights movement, and targets of investigations during the McCarthy era.
It was these abuses and others nationwide, Nassirian said, that led to the passing of FERPA laws in 1974.
Rebecca Thompson, legislative director for the United States Student Association, a national student organization, called it a great idea in theory, but said she is afraid there will be no checks and balances over the database.
“We don’t disagree that information should be accessed but they need to notify students,” Thompson said. “Most students would probably agree (to allow the proper authorities to view the information) but they aren’t given the opportunity to make those decisions. They have to see it in the Wall Street Journal.”
It’s this lack of accountability and extent to which government officials can obtain information that Thompson calls “essentially scary.”
Clara Potes-Fellow, spokesperson for the CSU Chancellor’s office, said in reference to the database, “That’s beyond our concern. We assume the federal government is a responsible entity that will safeguard the information it receives.”
The commission’s proposals are now in the negotiated rule making process, a meeting of committees nationwide to hear the concerns of interested parties. Thompson will be on one of these committees and represent the voice of American students.
The next meeting will be at Loyola University in Chicago on Oct. 5.
For a brief moment, an Associated Students meeting earlier this month was disrupted. Water was dripping from the Rosa Parks Conference Room ceiling onto the carpet.
Board members stopped what they were doing, looked up and then casually continued on with business.
Plans are underway to once-and-for-all fix the Cesar Chavez Student Center water leaks that have plagued the building for 16 years and are currently hindering a project to renovate a storeroom in the center and convert it into a computer lab for students.
The student center is planning to spend at least $300,000 to have the leaks repaired.
“It’s not a good idea to have a computer lab where water is leaking into the room,” said Guy Dalpe, the managing director of the student center.
That’s one reason the Student Center Governing Board commissioned the engineering firm Allana, Buick and Bers last April to pinpoint the leaks and make recommendations on how they could be repaired and how much it might cost.
The other reason, said Dalpe, is the last two rainy seasons have emphasized that the leaks are only getting worse.
But you don’t have to tell associate general manager at the SFSU Bookstore, Brian Zimmerman that. When it rains, water trickles down steel beams near the bookstore’s skylights and he had to put down a bucket where water has already damaged the carpet.
“Let me put it like this,” Zimmerman said. “I have been here since 1988 and leaks have always been a problem.”
In one area of the bookstore, water used to drip down from the ceiling and ruin merchandise, Zimmerman said. Eventually the leaks were patched, according to Zimmerman, but quarter-sized rust spots remain where the leaks once were.
In June, Allana, Buick and Bers finished its investigation and presented a report to the SCGB outlining options for repair. It identified two major points where water is entering the center: the bookstore’s skylight and an area under the concrete seating on the building’s viewing tower.
The vacant storeroom, which the SCGB wants to convert into a student computer lab, lies directly beneath the concrete seating leaks on the roof.
Even so, the concrete seat leak on the viewing tower, also known as the Pyramid One segment of the building, is not a surprise to Dalpe or Tony Hayward, the student center’s on-site engineer.
About six years ago, attempts were made to fix the roof leak by resealing segments of the concrete seats. At first it seemed to fix the problem, Dalpe said, but over time the leaks just came back profusely.
Then, Dalpe said, they didn't realize the leak was a much deeper structural problem than just the surface of the concrete seat roof.
“We started to get the idea that the problem was under the seating,” Dalpe said.
Completing the conversion of the vacant storeroom into a computer lab is a top priority for the governing board this semester, said Mirishae McDonald, board member and chair of the Master Plan Committee.
But to get it done, she said, they first have to fix the water leaks and work may not begin until this winter.
Over the summer the SCGB approved the report’s recommendations and is currently waiting on more detailed specifications so they can put the project up for public bidding. Dalpe expects them in two months.
In the meantime, Hayward said the leaks do not pose a safety hazard and, at least for the skylight leak, plans on laying down plastic when it rains.
Designed by architect Paffard Keatinge Clay and built in 1975, the student center houses more than 20 student organizations, offices and food vendors. Hayward blames the age of the building for the leaks.
“It’s a 30-year-old building, the technology is old,” Hayward said. “It’s going to be a big project.”
The SCGB has already set aside funds for the project out of its 2006-2007 operating budget. Dalpe said there will not be an increase in student center registration fees for students to pay for the project.
McDonald said when the work does begin, the day-to-day operations of the student center will continue as normal.
To fix the roof leaks, though, all of the concrete seats will have to be removed Dalpe said, meaning it is likely the viewing tower will be off-limits to students.
The time has shown itself for us to choose between two alternative destinies: continue the dismay of this third rock from the sun we call home or begin the process of providing a healthy environment for our future generations.
At least, that was the dialogue amid a panel of four eco-intellectuals who articulated the latter view Thursday night in front of roughly 350 people at the Laney College Theater in Oakland.
“This green wave is coming and should lift all our boats…eco-apartheid should not be an option,” said Van Jones, the evening’s facilitator of discussion and founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.
The Oakland Apollo Alliance presented what was called a “solutions salon on ‘green collar’ jobs” where the environmentally savvy panelists included SF State urban studies Professor Raquel Rivera Pinderhughes, Oakland Councilwoman Nancy Nadel, and business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 595, Victor Uno.
The EBC’s Web site defines green as a quick way “to say that something is good for the environment – that it is ‘environmentally sustainable.’” Green collar jobs then belong to the resulting workforce of a publicly supported demand for “a whole bunch of new products, services and technologies that, together, are creating a booming ‘green’ economy.”
Councilwoman Nadel said the government must support green design in general to assure the creation of a green economy and sustain the planet for future generations.
“The mentality that we would lose jobs by making a good environment must be changed because it’s simply not true,” said Nadel. “There will just be new jobs protecting our environment and we must make sure these jobs are for everyone in our community, not just the scientists and those with Ph.D.’s.”
“The primary goal is to move the government to change the way of working,” added Pinderhughes. “The pressure has to be on.”
When asked what she had learned about greening cities from her extensive visits and studies of Cuba’s society, Pinderhughes said national investments are fundamental to any change, including education and transportation funding – something Cuba understands.
“We need national investments across the board and to remember what our priorities are,” said Pinderhughes. “Environmental justice through education.”
The Laney College Theater was packed with people of all ages and occupations. High school and college students, architects, teachers and professors, and environmental group members of all types filled the auditorium.
“I am an architect,” said one audience member, “but I would like to be a green architect. It’s just hard to get my clients to change their mentality to want green design as part of their building plans. Most think it’s too expensive.”
One way to shift this mentality of becoming green as being too expensive is for the government to begin subsidizing such projects, according to the Nadel.
“We subsidize our farmers in this country, why not subsidize green design?” said Nadel.
The Oakland Apollo Alliance has posed a five-step challenge to their city:
• To kick the oil habit
• Harness clean, homegrown renewable energy
• Save energy with high performance buildings
• Green the port of Oakland
• Create green-collar jobs in Oakland
“I have created an initiative that I will bring up to the council next meeting that would end oil dependency in Oakland by 2020,” said Nadel.
An initiative paralleling the Apollo Alliance’s first challenge step of kicking the oil habit by “implementing policies and programs that prioritize local, renewable fuel production and good jobs and make city government operations 100 percent free from oil.”
Education was another theme of the evening as the panelists all agreed education would harness green ideas and diffuse such innovations into the local economy.
The feeling of optimism throughout the Laney College Theater peaked as Van Jones exclaimed that this was such a great gathering of consciousness and rhetorically asked,
“Who can be against us?” he said.
Hours before his scheduled return to jail, freelance journalist Josh Wolf joined politicians, journalists and other activists at a fundraiser in San Francisco Thursday night.
The “Free the Media” event at the Crash Club in the Tenderloin raised funds for the Rise Up Network legal fund, providing support for freelance journalists. However, it was as much an evening of revelry, with live music and drinks, as it was a statement against the government’s prosecution of journalists.
“I just met Josh for the first time tonight,” said Bruce Brugman, editor and publisher of the SF Bay Guardian. “I can’t understand why this guy is so dangerous.”
Wolf is scheduled to return to the Federal Correctional Institute in Dublin Friday afternoon after refusing to cooperate with a federal investigation involving the alleged vandalism of a police car during an anti-globalization rally last year.
He would have been at the correctional facility at the time of the fundraiser, if not for a 48-hour reprieve from the courts.
Wolf told his supporters that the situation was bigger than him.
“Maybe this fight won’t win in the courts,” Wolf said, “but now, hundreds of thousands know about this.”
Brugman noted that Wolf was going to prison at the same time San Francisco Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada were ordered to serve time for not revealing the source of grand jury testimony for their book “Game of Shadows,” about baseball’s steroid scandal.
“I can’t think of any city that has three reporters in jail, or facing jail,” Brugman said. “Why the hell is that?”
Sarah Olson, a writer for truthout.org, told the crowd of her own potential legal trouble. Her interview with Army First Lt. Ehren Watada, who faces up to eight and a half years in prison for refusing to fight in Iraq, has prompted the Army to ask for her testimony against Watada, though no subpoena has been issued yet. Five of those years, Olson said, would be as a result of her interviews.
“I’ve decided, and I will, be resisting in whatever ways possible,” Olson said to the cheering group.
San Francisco Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Chris Daly, who co-authored a resolution in support of Wolf, also spoke at the rally.
Mirkarimi was emotional at times as he lashed out at the response to Wolf’s prosecution.
“This issue is not just about Josh Wolf,” he said. “This is about the complete unraveling of everything that makes this country great.”
Daly said Wolf’s legal troubles were as much a battle to grow a progressive movement as it was for freedom of the press.
“If our friend Josh Wolf has to go back to the hopper to get us a little more on fire, then you got to respect this brother,” Daly said. “You got to give mad props to this brother.”
After a year and a half of salary negotiations between the California Faculty Association and the California State University, talks have officially broken down.
At the moment, the university is calling for the negotiating to end in a stalemate and for mediation to begin. An official request by the university went out to the Federal Employment Relations Board, which will decide whether there is the need for a declaration of impasse.
If FERB decides the negotiations are at an impasse, then a mediator, who is appointed by the State Mediation and Conciliation Board, will meet with the CFA and the CSU. If there is still no agreement after the mediation process, then both sides will meet with a three-member, fact-finding panel, which will determine the outcome of the contract dispute.
CFA Communications Coordinator, Alice Sunshine, said the impasse phase indicates the climate of the negotiations.
"All it means is that the bargaining process is not going well, and to bring an impartial mediator to help it along," Sunshine said. "We're not talking about going on strike in a few weeks."
Clara Potes-Fellow, CSU public affairs representative, said that part of the problem in the stalled negotiations process is the intent of the bargaining team for the CFA, who has already rejected two of the university's contract offers.
"We are dissappointed that because the management of the CFA does not want to accept the offers, then the faculty members are not going to to get the salary increases they deserve," said Potes-Fellow. "Now this process of impasse and a mediator and fact finding can take up to six months."
CFA President John Travis said in an email that he had expected the university to declare an impasse, and that they are ready to take the next step. Travis also said that the CFA will have to decide exactly which issues are essentially settled, and which ones are necessary for mediation.
"But there is no difference of opinion on the point that we remain apart on salary and compensation issues," Travis said in the email.
Under the terms of the proposal made by CSU, there would be a faculty salary increase of 24.87 percent spread out over a four-year period. The CFA contends that the number is inflated due to some underlying contingencies, and that the actual increase would be only 14.87 percent.
Linda Ellis, who heads the SF State chapter of the CFA, sent out an email on September 21, to all campus faculty explaining what she described as the university's "Enron Accounting Prices." Ellis said the three "side effects" that bring down the salary offer 10 percent, are the virtual dollars contingent on a raise in the new budget, an elimination of service step increases, and the use of funds for discretionary pay.
"Unlike the leaflets accompanying prescription drugs, what they did not tell you are the hidden side effects in the CSU salary offer," Ellis said in her email.
The reaction from Ellis is in response to the administration's email it sent out last week detailing its contract proposal.
Potes-Fellow said the salary contract offer to the faculty is more than adequate, and that it makes their current salary structure much more competitive.
"This is a very, very big salary increase under any circumstances compared to any other negotiations in this country," Potes-Fellow said. "Now this salary offer has the intention to make up for all the lack of salary increases for the past three or four years."
The salary increase would be set to start for the 2006-2007 school year, but would be dependant upon the completion of the compact budget proposal made by the Governor, which determines the amount of funding CSU gets from the state.
Because of the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act, which is administered by PERB, a set of guidelines have been put in place to ensure the impasse declaration is effective. The request, in this case submitted by the university, should take two weeks to be approved.
SF State Librarian Mitch Turitz said there needs to be some clarification as to the definitive nature of the impasse.
"It's not like the CFA and CSU declares the impasse," Turitz said. "They ask for it, then it has to be passed by FERB."
Turitz said the mediator, in order to make the decision, needs to go back and study the law and contract, then write an opinion to both parties.
If the mediator decides that a settlement between the CSU and the CFA is not possible through mediation, then the dispute will be certified by the mediator, and go on to the fact-finding phase. The three-member fact-finding panel would be made up of one CSU administrator, one CFA union member, and a neutral third party, who is chosen from a list provided by PERB.
The current extension for the faculty salary contract is set to expire after October 1st, so there is the possibility that another extension would be put in place while the negotiations continue.
SF State President Robert Corrigan, in an email he sent out to all campus faculty members last week, made mention of the fact that there needs to be a competitive salary structure.
"Salaries of CSU faculty currently lag behind those at comparable institutions by approximately 14 percent," Corrigan wrote in the email. "After increases for cost-of-living, the current salary offer would provide an additional 12.5 percent toward closing this lag."
On Sept. 28, professor Travis will be on the SF State campus, at the Cesar Chavez Student Center, for a speaking engagement. His discussion is set to center on the status of the recent negotiations, and more specifically, the validity of the CSU faculty salary contract proposal.
The speech will be from 12 to 2 p.m. in the Rosa Parks Room A.
For the first time since political and economic instability forced the California State University to abandon its exchange program in Zimbabwe five years ago, exchange students – including six SF State students – will return to the continent of Africa.
To fill the void left by the closing of CSU’s sole African program at the University of Zimbabwe, three promising new partnerships with African universities have been forged: one in Ghana and two in South Africa.
“The sister universities are really well chosen,” said Trevor Getz, campus representative to the All Campus International Programs Committee. Getz believes participating in the programs “will blow your preconceptions, not just of Africa, but of race, gender, economics, and how people live.”
After the Zimbabwe program was suspended, “we made a commitment to having Africa as a site,” said Leo Van Cleve, director of international programs for CSU. “This is an important part of the world and we need to have people knowledgeable about it.”
SF State geography student Annika Anderson, 19, not only expects to learn from her experience in South Africa, she also hopes to give back.
Anderson’s emphasis is in physical geography, primarily soil – a field of study vital to the continent of Africa.
“There is lots of desertification in Africa because of overgrazing,” she said. Anderson chose South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University because of its expertise in the field.
The 34-hour journey to South Africa will be the first time Anderson has left the United States and her family, which includes six brother and sisters. Yet, she is not nervous about her trip.
“I’m mostly just impatient,” Anderson said, since she must wait until January to begin her studies in South Africa.
Each of the three new sites offers a unique experience.
Students who study in South Africa will find a country rebuilding itself after the racial separation that forcibly took place during Apartheid.
“People are really experimenting with how to heal and facing it instead of avoiding it,” said Getz, who has been teaching African history at SF State for five years.
In Durban, students will experience an urban, tropical, fast paced city at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Getz said.
“They have skyscrapers and amusement parks. It’s very developed,” said SF State graduate student Windy Smith, who visited South Africa more than 10 times while she studied in Zimbabwe in 1998 as a CSU exchange student.
In Port Elizabeth, students will study at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. While the town is relatively affluent, widespread poverty blankets the surrounding rural areas. Smith, 35, chose the area for the possibility of interning with UNICEF.
Smith studied in Zimbabwe in 1998 and visited again in 2001, just before the program was shut down.
“I was on the campus when they were throwing tear gas bombs,” Smith said.
The deteriorating conditions she witnessed in Zimbabwe prompted her to pursue an international relations graduate degree at SF State (her undergrad was in music.) Someday she hopes to return to Zimbabwe to provide humanitarian aid, she said.
For now, she is excited by the possibility of studying in South Africa with her 3-year-old son.
“There are so many kids there, everyone has kids, and on the family level I think we will connect," Smith said. "I will meet a lot of people through my son.”
Currently Smith is an alternate, waiting for a student withdrawal to cement her spot.
In Ghana, Getz said students will study at “West Africa’s strongest university.”
“Politically vibrant and fast growing,” Getz said Ghana has distanced itself from western influence.
“Students studying in Ghana will get a very African experience,” Van Cleve said.
SF State’s Office of International Programs sends more students abroad than any other CSU campus.
This year alone, SF State sent 130 students abroad through CSU programs. The second largest program in the CSU system, Chico State, sent 52 students abroad through CSU programs.
For SF State students, the process has been made more efficient. A newly formed Segment III cluster allows students to complete the upper division requirement while living abroad.
The three new programs effectively open up the African continent to CSU students.
“Students could go to Ghana and then South Africa, and each experience would be completely different,” said Johnetta Richards, who spent six years as campus representative to the All Campus International Programs Committee. “Experiencing another culture broadens your prospective on everything.”
California Faculty Association student interns encouraged SF State students to tear up pictures of President Corrigan in a game to announce CFA’s Flunk Arnold campaign Wednesday in the Malcom X Plaza.
The campaign is a chance for CSU students to win a year’s tuition for creating the best anti-Arnold commercial or Web site.
“Did you guys know you’re getting ripped off here at SF State?” asked intern and fifth-year labor studies major, Asella Donovan-Blood, 23, when she took the microphone Wednesday afternoon.
Donovan-Blood, with intern and senior international relations and Asian American studies major Brian Ragas, 21, called attention to the generous housing and car allowances CSU executives receive in addition to their salary. According to the interns, Corrigan receives a $60,000 car allowance on top of his $261,000 per year salary while student fees keep rising.
To reiterate their point, the two interns invited four SF State students to play a politically centered game.
“How much have student fees increased since 2002?” Ragas asked the participants, who each held a picture of Corrigan.
Before answering, participants were required not to hit a buzzer, but to rip Corrigan’s picture.
The correct answer is 76 percent, Ragas said.
Junior biology and Raza studies major, Olivia Sepeda-Lopez, 20, won the game and received a goody bag with Flunk Arnold stickers and a T-shirt.
Donovan-Blood and Ragas said the CFA will continue to spread the word about Flunk Arnold through class presentations, more speaking in the quad, and tabling, and hopes for large-scale student involvement in the competitions.
“I think the message the CFA tries to get to the students is really important,” said participate and junior political science major, Michelle Montoya, 20.
Senior Asian American and liberal studies major Brandon Lee, 24, said he participated in the game to obtain more information about the governor and campus politics. However, he does not think that many students will make anti-Arnold videos.
“The average student doesn’t know how to make videos,” he said. “I’m just going to watch it on YouTube.”
Within the last week 157 people in 23 different states have fallen victim to a strain of E. Coli bacteria found in certain bagged spinach, ultimately resulting in one death.
Many supermarkets are recalling pre-packaged spinach and some restaurants are even refusing to use spinach in their dishes.
Students at SF State share their stories of how the spinach scare has affected their daily lives.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said during a closed meeting with his staff members in March that Puerto Ricans and Cubans are “hot-blooded because of their mixture of black and Latino blood.”
This comment was released to the Los Angeles Times on September 8. While Schwarzenegger has since apologized, many people still have strong feelings about what was said.
Students at SF State share their reactions to his comments.
Last week, the Pope Benedict XVI quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor who said that the Prophet Mohammed’s teachings were “evil and inhuman.”
The comments caused outrage in the Muslim world and spurred violent protests against the Pope and Christianity.
Over the weekend, Pope Benedict XVI “deeply regretted” his statements, but many Muslims said that it falls short of an apology.
After nearly three months in limbo, stranded and waiting for U.S. security clearance in Canada, an SF State professor greeted his packed classroom Wednesday morning and embraced his replacement while students clapped.
“In the airplane I was worried someone would shout my name and take me off,” Mohammad Ramadan Hassan Salama told the students.
Last week the State Department issued Salama a new visa, effectively permitting him to re-enter the United States and continue teaching Arabic language classes at SF State. Salama, 38, worked and studied in the country for the last seven years.
Salama’s troubles began June 20, when he traveled to the U.S. Embassy in Toronto to upgrade his visa status. There he learned he was prohibited from entering the United States until a “security clearance” was granted by the State Department.Salama, who is Egyptian, expressed his gratitude to his students and SF State faculty for keeping his classes alive while he was stuck in Canada for almost 90 days.
“I am not 100 percent ready to teach yet,” Salama said. “I am really thankful to all of you for staying in this class.”
Salama's 0-1 Visa was granted on September 13. He said he picked it up in Toronto on September 14.
An O-1 visa is for non-immigrant citizens of foreign countries who demonstrate extraordinary abilities or achievements in the arts, sciences, athletics, motion picture industry, education or business. O-1 applications require a rigorous set of documentation on the applicant's past.
Aside from the “security clearance” Salama said he was completely left in the dark and was not given specific reasons as to why he was being barred from re-entering the country.
One student did not hesitate to imply he was unlawfully prevented from returning to his career and family in the United States. His wife and two children are U.S. citizens.
“Are you gonna sue?” asked Fisayo Lagundoye, 24, an Arabic language student.
“Some have raised that point, but I do not yet know,” Salama said.
Salama said he feels fortunate his case received media attention, but he has since learned that hundreds of other Muslim men with Middle Eastern names are facing the same challenges or are denied entry to the United States.
He said he fears that most of these are not considered high profile cases and, therefore, are not covered in the media.
"People of all faiths need to be treated with respect. Muslims' love for this country should not be doubted," said Salama.
He earlier said that at the beginning of his ordeal, U.S. immigration authorities continually addressed him as "mister" and "intended to deprive me of everything, to degrade me."
Salama has a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin.
Salama said he believes in the importance of national security, but at the same time said the system needs to be more efficient and fair. He told his students they should always seek and demand freedom in what he called a “dangerous age.”
“Freedom is something to be respected,” Salama said.
Salama, who previously taught Arabic language and culture to Wisconsin Army National Guard officers and soldiers, missed the first three weeks of the fall semester.
He said he is financially strained due to paying for his living expenses in Canada and his apartment in San Francisco for two months while supporting his wife and two children in Wisconsin.
He ultimately could not afford to keep his apartment in San Francisco.
“It will take me at least four months to reach the financial stability I had before,” Salama said.
He said the dean of humanities Paul Sherwin arranged a new apartment in San Francisco for him and also the foreign language and literature department chair Midori McKeon stayed overnight in her office on three occasions to ensure his classes were not canceled.
“I feel I am part of an amazingly supportive community here at SF State," Salama said. "The support from the dean and the department chair was amazing."
Outraged citizens gathered Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Fifth Annual 9/11 Truth Rally and March to the Power to the Peaceful Concert.
The activists congregated to cry out against conspiracy and demand truth and justice from the US government.
When SF State faculty members checked their e-mail Monday afternoon, a message titled “Faculty Contract Negotiations Update” was waiting in their inboxes.
Sent by SF State President Robert A. Corrigan, the e-mail addressed ongoing negotiations between the California Faculty Association and the California State University system over new faculty salary contracts.
Since June 30, 2004, the CFA has been bargaining with CSU Chancellor Charles Reed for a salary increase, but in the process of negotiation the CFA has found the terms of their expired contract with the CSU extended again and again.
With the current contract extension due to expire Sept. 30 and negotiations at a stalemate, Corrigan’s e-mail sympathized with the efforts of the CFA, but also made clear his support for the CSU’s most recent contract proposal.
“I believe that the CSU has offered reasonable solutions to unresolved issues,” Corrigan said in his e-mail.
The CFA thinks otherwise.
“Their salary proposals are very deceptive,” said Linda Ellis, president of the SF State chapter of the CFA. “There’s hidden fine print that will result in faculty getting less in the long term.”
Ellis likened the new contract proposal to the warning labels on the packaging of prescription medicine.
“The print is so fine that they don’t give anything without taking something back,” she said.
Ellis explained that while the proposal looks good on paper, the CFA has interpreted many of its “reasonable solutions” as quick fixes.
“It’s like giving the people money now so they’ll shut up,” she said.
Asella Donovan-Blood, an SF State CFA student intern, shares Ellis’s disappointment in the new contract proposal because she feels the salary gap between CSU faculty and faculty in other states results in a retention loss on CSU campuses.
“Teachers are leaving because they can make more money and live more cheaply in another state,” Donovan-Blood said.
Despite Corrigan’s expressed hope that the CFA accept the terms of the new contract, Ellis and her colleagues made it clear they have no intention of signing off on the proposal.
“We’re willing to take a reasonable raise,” Ellis said, but only if it has provisions for the long-term welfare of CSU faculty members.
Until the CFA feels that their needs have been met a number of public protests have been organized for the coming months. Student support groups have created a “Stop the Rip-offs” campaign, and members of the CFA plan to stage a bake-sale like scenario to demonstrate their need for alternative means of income.
A hard copy of the CFA's official response to Corrigan's e-mail was distributed in faculty mailboxes today.
A car struck an SF State student crossing 19th Avenue shortly after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, leaving the pedestrian lying face down on the pavement.
An unidentified pedestrian was crossing 19th Avenue at Holloway when she was hit by a station wagon traveling southbound.
According to SF State spokeswoman Ellen Griffin, the woman was transported to a local hospital. Griffin described the woman’s injuries as non life-threatening.
The pedestrian was able to blink as paramedics fastened her to a restraining board.
Authorities interviewed the unidentified female driver of the car at the scene. The driver did not appear to be injured and her car did not appear to have sustained any significant damage in the accident.
More than 100 people gathered Friday afternoon at the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland to support Mumia Abu-Jamal, an award-winning journalist who has been on Philadelphia’s death row for more than two decades.
The rally was organized by the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose goal was to inform the public that Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1982 for killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, will soon proceed with what could be his last federal court appeal to save his life.
“This is a calling to free Mumia,” Partisan Defense Committee member Kathy Igemami said to the Oakland crowd. “This is a conscious frame-up by the Philadelphia Police Department and I think it’s crazy.”
Many protesters wore shirts and buttons that read “Free Mumia” and “Abolish the Racist Death Penalty.”
Some supporters believe the police targeted Abu-Jamal for his involvement with the Black Panthers and for reporting and uncovering stories of racism, corruption and brutality within the Philadelphia Police Department. Supporters, including Abu-Jamul’s lead attorney Robert Bryan, also argue that Abu-Jamul’s trial was unfair and violated constitutional rights including the use of racism in selecting the jury and the judge‘s strong display of bias against Abu-Jamal.
Bryan was unable to attend the rally but weeks before he had posted a letter on www.freemumia.org. According to the Sept. 3 letter, Bryan will submit the appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia on Oct. 3.
“Our purpose is to win this life-and-death struggle, gain a new and fair trial, and see our client walk out of jail a free person,” Bryan said in the letter.
Kiilu Nyasha, a radio journalist and former Black Panther, told the rally participants that Abu-Jamal has received tremendous international support. Recently, city officials in Saint-Denis, a city in France, named a street after Abu-Jamal.
“Now why in the name of hell can’t we do that for our own brother here in the United States?” Nyasha asked.
“We’ve reached a critical point and it’s crucial for more people to join in the fight to free Mumia,” said PDC member Diana Coleman.
She participated in the April 1999 “Free Mumia” rally in San Francisco and said it was the largest she has attended.
“Almost 20,000 people protested and gathered at San Francisco’s City Hall,” Coleman said while pointing to the crowd. “Where are they now? It’s pretty sad.”
A man was killed by gunfire near SF State early Saturday morning after shots were fired at a house party.
Police identified the victim as 19-year-old Zachary Roche-Balsam.
San Francisco Police Sgt. Steve Mannina said an uninvited group of people attempted to crash a party at the 300 block of Victoria Street around 2:12 a.m. The crashers were asked to leave because the party was ending. Minutes later, multiple gunshots were fired at the crowd and house.
Roche-Balsam was the only reported victim, according to Mannina.
There have been no arrests, and the police said the incident is still under investigation.
Live entertainment dominated the scene at “Viva Las Americas,” on Saturday where a salsa band stole the stage located in front of Fisherman’s Wharf.
Decked out in rhinestone-studded jeans, a diverse line of female singers from the band invited the crowd to join in and dance.
The freestyle salsa dance moves of one Caucasian elderly couple dressed in Latin garb inspired others to form a dance circle. As the elderly gentleman clapped his hands and “lassoed” his dance partner in a spin, young and old dancers cut loose and entered the circle.
“I think it is great,” said Ivan D’Arrigo, 14, of Novato. “It’s a great attraction for everyone. They can dance, listen to music, and check out the sights to see.”
Hosted by the San Francisco Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, “Viva Las Americas,” now in its fifth year, is one of the Hispanic Chamber’s largest events during the year, said Fernando Arana, an office administrator for the chamber. He said the chamber offers the event, so the public can learn more about Latin culture and so Spanish-speaking business owners can find help for their businesses.
“We are the platform for (business owners) to network with other businesses and the public in general,” Arana said. “We hope to have visibility in the Bay Area through our Web site and our events.”
D’Arrigo said also he attended the festival to help promote the Bay Area Latino Film Festival booth. He participated in the film festival’s summer program – an ethnically diverse group of teenagers who produced a 30-second commercial for Subaru.
Sylvia Perel, founder and director of the Latino Film Festival said her summer program students have been learning the art of filmmaking and winning international awards over the past nine years.
Perel said she founded the Latino Film Festival, an organization that supports filmmaking for Latinos, 10 years ago, because the Hispanic community didn’t have a presence in the “big picture,” the commercial realm.
Other booths at “Viva Las Americas” included Telemundo television, an affiliate of NBC, Chicana Latina Foundation, a Hispanic radio station and a booth for Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center, a nonprofit that sponsors mural projects in the Bay Area.
Precita Eyes offered kids a chance to make traditional Latin crafts, including multi-color tissue flowers and corn husk dolls made from actual corn husks.
Kristina Lovato-Hermann, a recent SF State graduate and Precita Eyes board member, said she found the organization through a field trip she took in her SF State public mural arts class.
“I traveled up different paths (with the organization),” said Lovato-Hermann, who majored in social work.
I volunteered to work on the murals and eventually became interested in different parts of Precita Eyes – like fundraising, she added.
Another reason for the celebration is that a number of Latin countries celebrate their Independence Day during the month of September, Arana said.
But some fair goers longed for the authentic celebration in “The Americas,” the Central American countries that include Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua, among others.
“Back home it’s different,” said Evelyn Alvarez of Daly City. “They close schools…it’s a big celebration.”
Her husband, William Alvarez, agreed.
“It’s a combination of the Fourth of July, Halloween, and that fair on Folsom Street,” he said. “It’s a big deal back there.”
In addition, William said he was really disappointed with the “Viva Las Americas” festival. A lot of propaganda and news surrounded the event, he said, but the event itself was a small gathering.
“I don’t see a single booth or flag from the Americas,” he said, adding that the fair didn’t offer any Hispanic food or booths for consulates of Central American countries.
William said it was different when he attended a festival for Latinos in Dolores Park a few years ago, where he encountered a booth for the Nicaraguan Consulate that helped him take a trip to the Central American country.
“It was informative and interesting,” he said. “But there was no advertising.”
Along with “Viva Las Americas,” the San Francisco Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosts the “Latino Business Awards” every year to honor distinguished Bay Area Latinos in business. This year’s event will be held on Sept. 27 at the Marriott in San Francisco.
For the technologically or economically disenfranchised student, San Francisco’s TechConnect project shines down like a beacon of hope.
A little more than a year after the city first released a request for information and comment on the project, negotiations to provide all San Francisco residents with affordable wireless Internet access are still in place.
“We’re hoping to have negotiations done in November. We’re actually quite pleased with the progress that has taken place,” said Ron Vinson, administrative officer of San Francisco’s Department of Telecommunications and Information Services, which will run TechConnect.
One of the aims of TechConnect is to provide underserved communities with the same opportunities others in the city enjoy via the Internet.
Because the Internet has become an integral part of many educational, economic and even social institutions, many in such communities may find themselves at a growing disadvantage in a rapidly digitizing world.
According to Vinson, the city thinks that without equal access to such a resource there are inevitably people left without a voice.
Progress toward easing this “digital divide” could begin as soon as next year.
“We would like to have pilots identified by the first quarter of 2007,” Vinson said. “We are in favor of pilot programs because we want to test the performance and reliability of the network.”
To some, this prospect offers a glimpse of a future without dingy Internet cafes, stolen Wi-Fi from a neighbor’s connection, or deficient dial-up services. For others it is a nightmare, complete with visions of Wi-Fi antennas showering the city with harmful rays of radiation.
Doug Loranger, founder and spokesman for the San Francisco Neighborhood Antenna Free Union, SNAFU, said if enough antennas are installed throughout the city for the TechConnect project, the levels of radio frequency radiation could increase to a level that would pose some serious health threats.
According to SNAFU’s Web site, “EPA scientists concluded that the two most important signal characteristics used in cellular communications are possible and probable human carcinogens.”
“We’re all in favor of providing service to communities who need it, but why rush ahead with something that provides health risks?” Loranger asked.
As far as some students are concerned, these potential health risks are of little consequence.
Evan Bangham, 23, a student at City College of San Francisco and prospective SF State student, has been living without Internet in recent weeks because, “I was stealing from my neighbors, but they found out and locked me out.”
Life without Internet has been “kind of a hassle,” and the prospect of affordable Wi-Fi is appealing to Bangham.
“As long as there were no long-term contracts I’d probably be all game for it,” he said.
In regards to the health risks posed by radiation from a citywide Wi-Fi system, “Let me say it plainly: I think that’s complete bullshit,” said Bangham.
For students with Internet access already, TechConnect is potentially a more attractive option than the services they currently pay for.
“I don’t think services are affordable for a single person,” said George Gomez, 26, an SF State molecular biology major.
Gomez, like many students, shares his Internet connection with roommates, making it more affordable.
A friend of Gomez, SF State student Brandon Hibbs, 22, agrees that many Internet services are not affordable for students, but also can’t imagine life without Internet access.
“Oh my God, I would have such shitty grades,” Hibbs said.
Too many students are dependent on Internet access to go without it, and many courses use online programs, such as Blackboard, that require students to be able to sign on in order to complete their assignments.
Sounding a growing opinion of the Internet’s function in society, Hibbs pointed out, “It just makes things easier.”
California State University’s program to allow retiring faculty to teach part time remains in limbo until a deal can be reached between the faculty union and the CSU.
Due to the stalemate in negotiations, the Faculty Early Retirement Program exists only on a month-to-month contractual basis. In Long Beach, last week, the bargaining teams from both sides met, but no deal was reached.
"Neither side set a date for concluding negotiations," said John Travis, professor of political science at Humboldt State and president of the California Faculty Association. "At this stage, both parties are considering calling for an impasse declaration so we can enter mediation."
Under FERP, faculty members retire, then are hired back to teach only half the year. They are hired back at less than half their original salaries because the university's retirement system pays for all the member's benefits.
Travis said at the moment one of the big sticking points in the ongoing negotiations is the number of years a professor can be in the FERP plan.
“The Administration is not proposing to do away with the FERP program,” he said. “They’re proposing to shorten it."
Currently, the maximum time a faculty member can be enrolled in the program is five years, but according to the administration not many faculty stay in the program for that long.
"System-wide statistics indicate that the average faculty member is enrolled in this program for only three years," said SF State President Robert Corrigan in an e-mail sent to SF State faculty on Tuesday.
The proposal the administration has made, Travis said, is to have the plan decreased by one year each year for the next two school years.
At that point, the plan would be set, with three years being the most time a faculty member can be enrolled in FERP.
"For the individual faculty, it's the best deal ever," said Erik Solomon, professor emeritus of English, and SF State faculty member since 1964. "I was 70 years old when I decided to FERP."
Solomon said the program not only benefits retiring faculty members, but also helps newer faculty members by providing them with an invaluable human resource and information tool. He also thinks it’s a great deal for the students, who get the opportunity to learn from experienced educators.
Travis, however, said it's hard for him to imagine the CFA agreeing to the three-year proposal, and that the administration looks somewhat hypocritical wanting to reduce the time for a popular faculty program that saves the university money in teaching salary and is good for the continuity of the campus.
Mitch Turitz, an SF State librarian who has kept close tabs on the status of negotiations, says the FERP program is a mess, and that it's been like this during the last two chancellors. "This is a sleazy budget deal they figured out," Turitz said. "They're doing it kind of as a power trip."
Travis said enrollment in the FERP program is decreasing due to less faculty members retiring.
As someone who has seen the ups and downs of SF State, Solomon, who is 72 years old, notices a more youthful climate on campus.
"This is a faculty that is no longer an aging one," Solomon said. "I'm not surprised that the FERP program is in question."
At any point during the five years of their enrollment, a faculty member can choose to fully retire. One of the objectives of the program, though, is to make the transition easier for newly retired faculty members, who may have a difficult time adjusting to full retirement.
"Different people react to FERP differently," said Paul Sherwin, SF State dean of humanities and a member of the program. "I think it's really good if somebody is active with their scholarship, or they're involved with a project and want to have six to eight months for research."
The FERP program costs the university less than half the money for a faculty member working only half the time, saving CSU valuable salary costs, and giving them the chance to hire on newer and more cost effective faculty, said Travis.
"As a matter of fact, one of the things we've learned as we do some research on this, is that there are more private industries trying to develop programs like FERP," he said. "Then you have the CSU administration, who is trying to reduce it."
Although rapper Tupac Shakur was slain, perhaps before his prime, he still lives on through his music, movies and books.
On Sept. 13, 1996, Shakur died from gunshot wounds sustained in a drive-by outside of a Las Vegas casino.
Ten years later, students reflect on whether Shakur’s music is as influential today as it was at the time of his death.
Starting Saturday, the California Academy of Sciences will be letting visitors take a walk on the prehistoric side with their new exhibit, “Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries.”
The exhibit, which is on the third leg of its national tour, is displaying many recent dinosaur-related discoveries.
Peter Roopnarine, curator of geology and paleontology for the academy, emphasized the importance of the dinosaur track fossils that are on exhibit.
“The sexiest fossils are the track fossils,” Roopnarine said. “Tracks let us know that dinosaurs underwent migrations, and they also can tell us about their speed.”
The exhibit features a 15-foot by 10-foot cast of the Davenport Ranch Trackway, a fossil of sauropod and theropod dinosaur tracks. Roopnarine explained that the trackway might show a possible hunting ritual along migration routes.
The largest display in the exhibit is a diorama of early crustaceous life featuring new findings from Liaoning Province in northeast China. This area has produced many useful fossils in the past decade due to the lack of disturbance in the surrounding area.
“Liaoning fossils are amazingly well preserved. Delicate features like skin texture and feathers are clearly visible,” said Andrew Ng, marketing and communications coordinator for the academy.
According to Ng, even the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex probably had feathers in its youth to keep it warm.
There is also a mechanical skeleton that simulates the movement of a T. rex, which is helping scientists assess its top speeds and muscular structure.
But dinosaurs aren’t the only ones in the spotlight in this exhibition.
Carol Tang, paleontologist and associate director of public programs for the academy, has spent the last few years focusing on prehistoric sea life.
“The academy has one of the best ammonite collections in the world,” said Tang.
Ammonites are extinct spiral-shaped sea life, and one of the more common fossils.
In addition to seeing actual fossils of sea life, visitors can watch one of the many videos explaining the significance of the artifacts they’re looking at.
Visitors also become part of the extinction gamble when they receive a “Passport through Time,” a card that assigns them one of 24 actual prehistoric species. At the end of the tour, visitors can find out if they or their descendents still exist.
The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until Feb. 4, 2007 at 875 Howard St.
Admission is $6.50 for students, seniors and youth ages 12 through 17, $10 for adults and $2 for children ages 4 through 11.
With the prices of textbooks being an issue for many students, a Minnesota-based company may have a solution: free digital textbooks with advertisements.
While many SF State faculty and students said they liked the idea, they are wary of commercializing a critical learning tool.
“It's somewhat difficult to just sit down and do all the required reading and assignments as is, more distractions aren't needed,” said chemistry major Kristin Brown, 17. “Most ads are bright and colorful and they take up a bit of room. I just want to be able to find the info I need from a book and not spend too much time flipping through pages.”
But, Brown said cost savings on textbooks is important to her.
Howard Quinlan, chief operating officer of Freeload Press, said advertisers see students as a desirable market, but they also want to give back by sponsoring free books.
The 2-year-old company offers more than 20 titles, mainly business related, with ads from companies like FedEx Kinko’s. The books are downloaded as PDF files. Quinlan said an 800-page book would have about a dozen ads that are placed in natural breaks, like the index or the end of a chapter.
The company also offers hardbound texts at about a 60 percent discount, but Quinlan said only 10 percent of their customers order those. No professors currently use Freeload Press at SF State.
“I honestly don't care where students get their textbooks as long as it has everything in it,” said Connie Anderson, a recreation and leisure studies lecturer. “I'm sad that it's gotten to the point where students would need something like this.”
She said she would use an ad-supported textbook if she were able to review a free copy beforehand, and if there were strict guidelines on the amount and content of the ads. Anderson is opposed to ads promoting alcohol and cigarettes, but wouldn't mind music, food or condom ads.
She also said the ads could double as a resource for the specific field. For example, an ad for an outdoor hiking business could enhance the learning experience of a leisure studies student.
Other faculty members see sizable hurdles with ads in textbooks.
“The worst thing in the world would be if the authors stayed clear of controversial issues to draw sponsors,” said Patrick Tierney, a recreation and leisure studies professor. “You can't shy away from the touchy subjects because college is about discussing issues that don't always make you feel happy.”
Quinlan said the perception of the company's textbooks not being credible has been a barrier, but it is a false one.
“We're very much like a newspaper where there's a solid wall between our sales and editorial department,” he said. “If a sponsor wants a say in the text, we tell them 'thank you very much,' and move on.”
He also said that since most of the company's books cover the hard sciences, there's no real debate about the content. As the company expands to other academic fields, Quinlan said creditability wouldn’t change.
“Advertisers understand that this is a unique arrangement and to disrupt that violates the trust of the students,” Quinlan said. “It's critical that we remain transparent.”
Students at SF State said the idea is intriguing.
“As long as the book will get my work done, then that's all that matters,” said Jennifer Cooley, a 20-year-old business major. “It could be penciled all over, chewed around the edges, or bent completely out of shape for all I care.”
Cooley said she thinks most students are so accustomed to advertisements, having ones in textbooks wouldn’t bother them.
“We all ignore the ads in Cosmo, Vogue and newspapers. It can easily be overlooked in textbooks, especially when you're getting a discount,” she said.
“I don't mind seeing ads in my book because I know I won't be fooled into buying everything I see, and besides, I don't care about the ads,” said 18-year-old Angie Aramayo, a political science major, who said saving money is more important.
Rob Strong, the SFSU Bookstore's general manager and lecturer of marketing, said there has been some chatter about Freeload Press in the publishing industry. After briefly evaluating some of the sample material from the company's Web site, Strong said the company's model is “very interesting.”
From a business perspective, online alternatives like Freeload Press are a threat to the school’s bookstore, Strong said. But he sees digital textbooks as part of the slow evolution the industry is going through.
“Book sellers can bang their head against a wall and fight it or they can figure out how to be a part of it,” he said.
Part of the reason for rising textbook prices is the used book market. Textbook publishers receive no revenue from used books, Strong said, so they have to raise the prices of new ones to remain profitable.
“The textbook industry always talks about change, but they're so big and monolithic that it takes a long time,” he said. “Small, nimble companies can innovate, and do things like this. So, we'll see where it goes.”
Twelve years ago a mural was forcibly removed from SF State’s Student Center. And now, at least for the moment, a moratorium prevents any new murals from being painted on the center.
The Associated Students board is challenging the new policy with a resolution supporting a Palestinian mural for the center.
On July 13, President Robert Corrigan vetoed a Student Center Governing Board 6-2 vote approving the mural by placing an immediate moratorium on all new murals for the center, saying beforehand that the mural is “conflict-centered” and “the proposed mural runs counter to values that we hope have taken deep root at San Francisco State, among them, pride in one’s own culture expressed without hostility or denigration of another.”
Ostensibly, it is now almost certain the mural scheduled to be unveiled Sept. 25 will not be completed by deadline because a planned meeting between Corrigan and project members on Sept. 6 has been postponed until later this month.
“If this is such a big issue, he can at least speak,” said Ramsey El-Qare, president of the General Union of Palestinian Students, the leading student group sponsoring the mural that would be what is believed to be the first Palestinian mural at a U.S. university.
It is not the first time Corrigan has intervened concerning a Cesar Chavez Student Center mural.
In May 1994 controversy erupted on campus over a Malcolm X mural, which some students and faculty claimed, contained anti-Jewish symbols. After a week of protests and national attention, Corrigan ordered a squad of police in riot gear to protect painters equipped with sandblasters to remove the mural already painted on the center.
Corrigan did not say what exactly about the Palestinian mural that is controversial, but sources familiar with the project say it revolves around a cartoon character named “Handalah” holding a key on the right-hand side of the mural.
Jamal Dajani, director of Middle East programming for Link TV and former director of San Francisco’s Arab Culture and Community Center, says he knows of the mural and in the past has consulted with Corrigan regarding Arab-Jewish student relations on campus.
The late Naji Al-Ali, a newspaper cartoonist in the Middle East, Dajani said, created the cartoon character. “Handalah,” he said, is symbolic of the Palestinian peoples struggle for liberation and the key the character is holding represents “the right of return” to land in Israel.
Dajani is critical of Corrigan stepping in and undermining the will of the Student Center Governing Board’s vote, calling it “an issue of censorship.”
“This is a reflection of the student’s desire,” Dajani said. “It violates the freedom of expression.”
But the mural, part of which honors the late Dr. Edward Said, a scholar and activist for the Palestinian culture, did not soar through the planning and approving process without concerns over its content being raised.
At the July 13 board meeting, Heather Erez, program director for San Francisco Hillel, the main off-campus student group that represents Jewish students, did object to the cartoon character, “Handalah,” saying it represents the destruction of Israel and does not belong on a public campus.
“It’s a little bothersome for us,” Erez said.
She said Hillel also sent a letter outlining their objections to the board’s Arts Committee in March, but never heard or received word back acknowledging their concerns from anybody from the mural committee.
Students with Hillel, Erez said, would support the mural if it were to be redesigned without the cartoon character and the key it holds.
“These are two things we can’t negotiate,” Erez said.
In the 1994 incident, the original Malcolm X mural – not the current one – contained the Star of David with dollar signs and skulls superimposed over it. Critics of the mural said it was anti-Semitic and racist, but the then Pan Afrikan Student Union said it simply represented Malcolm X’s distaste for Israel.
The issue grew, and before Corrigan called in the riot police and painters, SF State Professor Lois Lyles was arrested for defacing the mural with blue paint, writing “stop racist hate; stop fascism.” The incident found its way to the pages of The New York Times in a story headlined “San Francisco State Destroys Malcolm X Mural After Furor.”
In that case, Corrigan received criticism for the way he handled it. At first, he said he wanted the students to work it out themselves. After all, students, not administrators, govern the Student Center. But when the issue exploded, and Corrigan used the police to subdue it, he was denounced for usurping student power.
And now the Palestinian mural.
In addition to issues over content, Corrigan also justified the moratorium saying before its approval he asked the SCGB to revise its long-term art policy by enacting a set of criteria for murals and a process on how the “finite” space of the Student Center would be used.
But it was after the 1994 fiasco, El-Qare said, that current art policy for the center was created, so he doesn’t buy that aspect of Corrigan’s argument for the moratorium.
“In my opinion, the finite space argument is B.S.” El-Qare said. “He is so afraid of being classified as anti-Jewish.”
The mural is backed by the student groups La Raza, Muslim Student Association, the International Socialist Organization and the League of Filipino Students.
Both Associated Students Inc. and the SCGB have set aside money from their budgets to pay for the painting of the mural.
According to Mirishae McDonald, the mural project chairwoman, the Palestinian mural’s path to approval through the SCGB and the Arts Committee was rarely challenged and that board members were diligent in following the art policy and keeping an open mind to public concerns over its content.
“We did everything and then some,” McDonald said. “There is a big hypocrisy here.”
To date, El-Qare and McDonald say Corrigan has not explicitly told them exactly what content in the mural justifies the moratorium.
“If he can’t tell me what at least the issues are, I am not going to consider altering the mural,” El-Qare said.
In a letter to SCGB members, Corrigan said he would not lift the moratorium until the art policy for the Cesar Chavez Student Center is revised.
“Some guy was stabbed down on Market the other day, right down by my house, and it wasn’t even in the paper or on a Web site anywhere, but this guy died. He ran a zoo and he was a cool guy, and a good environmentalist, but ultimately it’s just another human life.”
Kirsten Gallagher, 22, senior, recreation
“Oh, it’s kind of painfully ironic. I’m kind of sad for the guy, but you can kind of expect it from what he does.”
Jeff Lyon, 39, credential program
“I’m kind of sad because it’s one really weird person left, and I think that there are too many normal people already.”
Julia Loo, 39, senior, psychology major, minor in religious studies
“I think it’s hilarious. He is so arrogant about the way he catches animals. He catches them all the time, and he just thinks that he’ll never get hurt.”
Jason Pickett, 24, senior, kinesiology
“I was kind of disappointed, actually, because I liked that guy. I think he was much better than Dundee, that guy sucked. But he was actually real, I feel sorry for him for expecting that not to happen.”
Peter Davy, senior, 34, cinema animation and film sound
The U.S. State Department told an SF State Arabic assistant language professor today that he could come home after he waited nearly 90 days in limbo for a security clearance.
“It’s like one of those moments when you wake up in the morning and you just don’t believe it,” said Mohammad Ramadan Salama, 38, who was stranded in Canada since June 20 when his visa was abruptly canceled.
Salama, an Egyptian citizen, said no one at the U.S. consulate in Toronto or with the U.S. State Department explained why his visa took so long.
He said he thinks it is possible that his security clearance finally matured, or the media coverage played a part. He mentioned that officials at the State department seemed to speak more respectfully to him once his story was published.
“It is a completely shattering atrocity, as if I was in a shell for 90 days, like I was in jail. I was separated from my children, my wife and from my career,” Salama said in a telephone interview hours after he got word of his visa.
He said he has fielded a firestorm of media inquiries since his story broke on Sept. 4 in the Golden Gate [X]press. His story has since been covered by the Oakland Tribune, the Toronto Star, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Salama said he plans to travel to the U.S. consulate in Toronto from London, Canada on Thursday to pick up his O-1 Visa. He said he would then visit his children in Wisconsin for one day before returning to his classes at SF State.
An O-1 visa is for nonimmigrant citizens of foreign countries who demonstrate extraordinary abilities or achievements in the arts, sciences, athletics, motion picture industry, education or business. O-1 applications require a rigorous set of documentation on the applicant's past.
Salama, whose wife and two children are U.S. citizens, has a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin and was to begin his second year teaching Arabic language and literature at SF State.
“You’d think that when someone who has responsibilities to a university and benefits our national security by teaching Arabic language and culture, it wouldn’t take so long,” Paul Sherwin, dean of the humanities department, said after the news of Salama’s clearance.
Sherwin said he thinks Salama’s wait is an obvious result of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
SF State hired Salama in fall 2005 in response to a growing demand for Arabic language classes since 9/11.
The Middle East and Afghanistan are significantly less stable than this time last year, leaving the region and the rest of the world hanging in the balance of uncertainty in a global war of ideas, scholars said at a recent SF State forum.
About 40 people attended the fifth annual forum titled “The Current State of the Middle East.” Panelists included SF State scholars in international relations, anthropology, Jewish studies, and history along with a former U.S. diplomat and SF State lecturer.
Topics included the recent conflict along the Israeli-Lebanese border, the U.S.-led war in Iraq, U.S. domestic security improvements since 9/11, the recent upturn in violence in Afghanistan, the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, and Iran’s role in shaping the region’s balance of power.
Assistant Arabic language professor Mohammad Salama was also scheduled to speak, but was barred from entering the United States while waiting for a security clearance from the U.S. Department of State.
History professor and panel moderator Jules Tygiel read a statement from Salama, who is Egyptian, describing his situation to the audience and panelists. Tygiel noted the empty chair on the panel where Salama would have sat.
The chair was not moved.
History professor Maziar Behrooz said Iran’s participation is the common denominator affecting most major issues in the region.
He suggested Iran helped Hezbollah prepare for the recent conflict with Israel for the past six years and the tenuous Iranian nuclear proliferation debate is actually a diversionary issue.
“Even if it wants to, Iran will not be able to produce nuclear weapons for 15 years. They don’t even have the knowledge,” Behrooz said.
The recent war along the Lebanese-Israeli border was called a win for Hezbollah by some of the panelists, while another speaker disagreed.
Hezbollah did not fight Israel to a standstill. They stood their ground and won the media war, suggested Fred Astren, professor of Jewish studies.
“I suspect Hezbollah’s infrastructure is thoroughly destroyed. The real winner is Syria and the real loser is Palestine,” Astren said.
Others saw the recent war as a strong victory for Hezbollah despite extensive damage to most sectors of Lebanese infrastructure.
“Hezbollah is delivering on reconstruction and becoming more legitimate. I’m afraid the Shiite militant approach is gaining popularity,” assistant professor of anthropology Lucia Volk said.
Volk said her sources in Lebanon told her that radical Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is becoming a major pop icon in Lebanon despite sectarian conflicts within Islam and conflicts between Muslims and Christians.
All the panelists agreed that U.S. foreign policy is a strong determinate to shaping the entire region and ended their speaking segment with statements about the uncertainty of the future.
Community played a huge factor in Monday’s memorial service held at San Francisco International Airport. The service was for the flight crew members who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of Sept.11, 2001.
“Today was a service to memorialize the frontline heroes that lost their lives that day,” said Heather Lauter-Clay, lead organizer of the 9-11 Remembrance Service and United Airlines flight attendant. “We have all joined as one today to honor them together as an airline community, but it goes beyond just the people who work for the airlines. The passengers are a part of our community, too.”
About 50 attendees came to pay tribute to the lives lost on Sept. 11. Airline employees and friends and family of some of the flight attendants who had fallen victim to the attacks were present.
“There must have been more to her life,” said Cathie Ong, sister of Betty Ong, who was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11.
Reflecting on Betty’s life, Cathie took time to say that not only was Betty her sister, but she was also her best friend. She said this makes it even more difficult to let go.
“There is no such thing as first, second, third, fourth, or fifth remembrance service,” said Ong. “Everyday is a remembrance for us.”
During the ceremony, which lasted about an hour, there were many speakers and many tears.
During Deacon Leon Kortenkamp’s prayer, tears rolled down Stephanie Steinkraus’s face.
“The service was really beautiful,” said Steinkraus, a flight attendant for United Airlines. “I helped volunteer to put it together, and one of my jobs was to pick out the flowers for the service. Traditionally, I was told that you should pick white flowers for a memorial, but I felt I didn’t want the flowers to represent mourning. Instead, I wanted the flowers to be a remembrance of life.”
The message of life after the attacks was present through the entire service. The speakers emphasized that they were happy to have been graced with their loved ones’ friendships while they were still here.
There were stories told about the airline employees who were victims of the attacks. Most were funny, but all of them shared one common theme: a reflection of the positive things that came out of their lives before they died.
“The message of life was transcended at today’s service,” said Steinkraus. “It felt good, if it can feel good.”
Another member of the airline community, Steve Edgar, who is a pilot for United Airlines, as well as Secretary and Treasurer of the ALPA, Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, Council 34, shared a few special thoughts about his fellow pilots, as well as the other attendants that were being honored.
”Most people think that the men in uniform that were on the frontline at the start of the war on terror were wearing camouflage,” said Edgar. “But the men on the frontline were the aviators on 9-11.”
Besides flight attendants, pilots, and airline personnel, other key players in the airline community are the non-profit organizations that help make these ceremonies, and aid to victims of 9-11 possible.
One organization, the Airline Ambassadors, which has more than 6000 members, has a special place in the hearts of airline employees and the members of the airline community, said Natalie Mattrazzo, membership and youth program director for the Airline Ambassadors.
“Our organization gave out six million dollars last year alone,” Mattrazzo said. “We help the victims, and families of victims who have been through disaster sights. We get children of victims to orphanages, or get them whatever they need.”
The Airline Ambassadors, founded in 1996, have helped to serve families and children of airline families who have endured a disaster or terrorist situation. It is all made possible through their members, who are generally members of the airline community, however anyone can join.
SF State has a new student organization created to improve and protect the lives of children worldwide, particularly in developing nations.
UNICEF at SF State’s two main goals are to raise funds for and create awareness around children’s issues. The more people who are conscious of the challenges children around the world face, the more advocates you have for their cause, said Theresa Navarro, the organization’s president.
“I’m a child development major so I’ve seen a lot of sad images and statistics about children,” Navarro said.
According to UNICEF, 30,000 children worldwide – or the approximate student population of SF State – die daily from diseases such as polio and malaria. Annually, that is 11 million children.
The vast majority of these deaths are avoidable, and through UNICEF people can lend a helping hand.
When confronted by these harsh truths, Navarro said, a person can react three different ways.
“You can feel guilty, get emotionally drained and do nothing,” Navarro said, “you can feel like you’re only one person and do nothing, or you can come together to make a difference.”
“The essence of being an advocate is doing what you can do,” Navarro said. “As students we have the will to do those little things day by day.”
Start up money will be raised in the initial months, Navarro said, but afterwards all funds donated to UNICEF at SF State will be given to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, the American fundraiser and cheerleader for UNICEF.
All of those proceeds will go toward UNICEF projects like helping kids stay in school and providing immunizations against diseases.
Planned events for this semester include an educational forum on war and its effects on children, a showing of Hotel Rwanda, and the “Trick-or-Treat For UNICEF” fundraiser, which will run through the month of October.
UNICEF at SF State has signed up 20 students to join the organization, including Mark Teramae.
Teramae is a first-semester journalism major, but this isn’t his first time away from his home, Los Angeles. Teramae, who considers himself a world citizen, has traveled to 40 different countries, including several poor nations in central Asia and Latin America. Having seen problems firsthand, Teramae feels inclined to help, seeing UNICEF as “a good organization to help solve those problems.”
Shirin Usmani is a second-year student working on a double major in international relations and biochemistry. Originally from Bombay, India, her father passed away this summer.
“He always went out of his way to help others,” Usmani said. “Working with UNICEF will give me the same opportunity and make my dad proud of me.”
Unlike Teramae or Usmani, Lawrence Tsai has never really been outside the Bay Area. Even so, the 19-year-old sophomore still thinks world events are important. Tsai is joining UNICEF not just to help children but also to support the United Nations, which he’s been interested in since high school.
Especially now Tsai thinks it’s important to “promote interaction between different countries.”
Executive members are in place, Navarro said, solely for administrative reasons. The rest of the organization’s activities are up to members and the committees they’re involved in. All members of UNICEF at SF State can sign up for, create or chair any committee.
The last recruiting meeting will be held Sept. 15 at 4 p.m. in T160 of the Cesar Chavez Student Center.
Regular meetings will begin the following week, and will be held at 4 p.m. on Fridays. For more information on UNICEF at SF State visit their Web site at www.unicef-sfsu.org.
Firefighters at Stonestown Fire Station and the 41 other fire stations across San Francisco paused this morning to remember their New York counterparts who lost their lives in the attacks on the World Trade Center five years ago.
“This brings back memories of the New York incident,” said Lt. Ed Ghilardi of the San Francisco Fire Department. “It brings you the reality of how dangerous this job is.”
“I still feel sad about it after five years,” said firefighter Carl Barnes. “I’ve moved on since then, but I’ve decided to keep it in the back of my memory.”
At 6:58 a.m., the moment when the south Trade Center tower collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, 11 members of the Station 19 Company gathered in front of the station on Buckingham Way. The bells of a fire engine rang five times at three different intervals. The American flag was lowered to half-staff, as firefighters observed a moment of silence.
The 11 firefighters then spent the next 15 minutes reading off the names of the 343 New York firefighters who perished in the attacks, saluting the flag once the last name was read.
“It definitely makes you humble,” said Station 19 Capt. Denise Newman. “It makes you realize it could happen here.”
“It affected us, not only as firefighters,” Newman said, “but as Americans.”
In the dimly lit confines of the Off Market Theater at 965 Mission St., a small audience of men and women assembled Sunday to watch a live debate titled “9/11: Considering ALL the Claims,” aired via podcast by the RU Sirius Show.
Hosted by RU Sirius, a write-in presidential candidate for the 2000 elections, the show was meant to explore the conspiracy theories surrounding September 11 on the eve of its fifth anniversary. The panelists included Joel Schalit, managing editor of Tikkun magazine, and Fred Burks, Web site manager of wanttoknow.info.
While Schalit was slated as the non-believer in 9/11 conspiracies, it became clear that he and Burks actually shared parallel political views, which only diverged at the point of agreeing upon the importance of considering the theories. As a result, the debate shifted to discuss not so much recent claims that September 11 was an inside job, but rather the productivity in entertaining such suspicions.
“At a time when Americans should be reflecting on their responsibility for acting as history’s most destructive world power, we sit here debating whether the U.S. government fired missiles at its own institutions,” Schalit said.
Burks, on the other hand, insisted on the validity of questioning the United States’ role in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Instead of providing outlandish theories based on circumstantial evidence, Burks raised thought provoking points, often encouraging audience members to fact check his arguments against mainstream media reports and U.S. government Web sites.
“It is not my intention to get people in fear and in anger and rage, because I really don’t think that serves anyone. And when we move from a place of passion about transforming our world into a better place is when we’re going to really see some differences,” Burks said.
The debate kept its small audience of 28 people on the edge of their seats, often laughing or shifting uncomfortably in response to the two panelists’ comments.
“I thought it was very interesting,” said Marine Champsaur, 23. “It shed light on new things for me.”
While Champsaur was not fully convinced of either speaker’s argument, she felt that Burks had given her enough confidence and reason to check the facts herself.
“It definitely opened my mind to looking into it,” she said.
For Sirius, this is a serious success.
Sirius feels strongly that this debate provided an opportunity for individuals from each “camp” to reach people they would otherwise not have had a chance to communicate with.
Besides, with all the media attention that is honing in on 9/11 theories and memorials, it is “that time of year” for such communication, Sirius said.
Environmentally aware students generated what they are calling an eco-victory last week with the introduction of a compost program on campus, helping SF State become greener.
Many anticipate the success will push SF State toward developing a more environmentally conscious campus within the next few semesters.
Two food vendors, Café 101 and Natural Sensations, are the first to start sending their food waste to compost while other Caesar Chavez Student Center vendors will be receiving the green bins throughout the semester.
During the first week of the compost movement, deep in the student center’s basement, students primarily from the environmental studies program acted as organic watchdogs, taking note of inorganic material discarded in the compost dumpster. Only organics, materials that were once alive such as food scraps, can be decomposed and reused by nature.
“We were composting peacekeepers,” said Charlotte Ely, SF State environmental studies alumna. The peacekeepers gave the vendors space as they simply observed without interfering.
Carlos Davidson, second-year director of the environmental studies department, says he is inspired by the fusion of idealism and diplomacy he witnessed by the students who spearheaded the compost campaign.
“This has inspired me so much in just my first year at SF State for future projects,” said Davidson.
The environmental studies department hopes to see future sustainability efforts implemented into their curriculum, a solid way of making SF State a more environmentally conscience community while gaining priceless experience, said Ely.
For now, everyone involved in the compost campaign is excited, including Edina Bajraktarevic, manger of the student center.
“We are all enthusiastic to start this program,” she said.
Bajraktarevic said the composting may bring substantial savings to the school, as compost is cheaper to collect than regular garbage. But with the additional costs of green bins and dumpsters, future savings are still unclear, she said.
The student center is so large the campaign has been broken up into “baby steps,” with green compost bins to be distributed to all venders in the next couple weeks. With the help of students and faculty we are “doing it right and doing it well,” says Bajraktarevic.
Others on campus are taking their environmentally friendly baby steps a bit further. Glenn Fieldman, international relations lecturer, brings her own fork to work. Acknowledging it is always difficult to start a new habit, Fieldman said she realized eating in the student center two or three days a week for nine months of the year produces a large amount of non-biodegradable material, especially plastic silverware.
“It’s light, it’s cheap, and I can use it probably 20,000 times and it will still be fine,” said Fieldman while examining her reusable fork.
While the compost campaign and individual action is one step in the direction of Gator-sustainability, other universities across the country are making their efforts as well.
Last May, UC Santa Cruz students voted for 100 percent clean energy throughout their campus, according to a press release by the Campus Climate Challenge. More than 70 percent of students approved a $3 tuition increase per trimester in to pay for clean energy, such as solar and wind, according to the press release.
In 2004, the CSU East Bay campus purchased solar panels that generate roughly 1.45 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year – enough energy to power 255 homes and provide CSUEB with 7.5 percent of their annual electricity needs, according to a press release.
During the summer, these solar panels produce up to 30 percent of the campus’ electricity, saving roughly $200,000 a year in energy costs. And last April, Cal State East Bay received a check for more than $3.4 million from Pacific Gas & Electric Company for the solar installation.
PG&E has a self-generating incentive program, granting reimbursements to utility customers who install on-site renewable energy systems to compensate the costs of installation, according to PG&E’s Web site.
Some SF State students and faculty hope the campus will continue striving for similar projects. Ely and Davidson both said they want the environmental studies department to play a role in budding future projects and creating a healthier campus through sustainable design.
For more information visit www.campusclimatechallenge.org to see what other campuses are doing to become green.
Mix international musicians, yogis, and political speakers along with heaps of dancing revelers for an annual party in the park and you have a modern San Francisco tradition at full steam.
Tens of thousands of people gathered at Speedway Meadow in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for the 8th annual 9/11 Power to the Peaceful Festival (PTTP) Saturday.
The festival, themed “Be Peace Now,” sought to remind attendees that they need to create peace and amicability within their own lives before a new era of global non-violence will arise, according to musician and organizer Michael Franti.
“Today is a sort of spiritual grounding I use in the struggle for world peace so I don’t get depressed,” Franti said, walkie-talkie in hand, in between doing yoga and headlining with the San Francisco-based band Spearhead.
The event featured a 9 a.m. thousand-person yoga session, hip-hop acts Blackalicious and Radioactive, DJs Adnan and Maneesh the Twister, slam-poet performances, a slew of social justice and environmental organizations, along with a chilled-out healing arts geodesic dome providing massage and bodywork inside.
Franti, who lives in San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point District, said PTTP is a blueprint for other peace activists worldwide to spread progressive political messages in order to energize the public and transform the lives of people in developing countries and war zones.
Ironically the festival used "9/11" in its title from its inception to symbolize an emergency need to bring justice and peace to the world. After the attacks in New York the name was seen as even more appropriate, according to Guerrilla Management, the event's production company, which has always held the festival in early September.
Calls for peace, the end of global war, and plenty of poignant jabs at the Bush administration ranging from the comic to the more blistering came from an array of speakers, including Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), former manager of the Grateful Dead Sat Santokh, and the famed nemesis of FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly, Jeremy Glick.
Glick, whose father died in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, gained notoriety for debating O’Reilly on live television on Feb. 4, 2003 over the U.S. response in Afghanistan to 9/11 until O’Reilly booted him off the show.
Each speaker also discussed the war in Iraq or the conflict in Israel, Lebanon and Palestine. Two had very personal connections to the ladder conflict.
Robi Damelin, an Israeli from Tel Aviv, lost her son to a Palestinian sniper’s bullet and Nadwa Sarandah, a Palestinian of East Jerusalem, lost her sister to a Jewish settler’s knife. Both women are members of the Parents Circle Families Forum, an organization of more than 500 bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families. They stood together and embraced.
“We want an end to the cycle of violence. This will not only help Israel and Palestine, but the entire world,” Sarandah read from a prepared statement.
U.S. veterans also took part in the afternoon.
“Iraq is a Gen-X and Gen-Y war, we need to get the young people of the country to speak out against it,” said U.S. Marine Corporal Sean Huze, who enlisted for the Marines on Sept. 12, 2001 and later saw combat in Iraq.
Thousands of U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are returning home to find the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs overwhelmed with cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, and many are ending up on the street without services, according to Huze.
“I believed in the mission when we went to Iraq,” Huze said, “but now I see that WMD was not true, al-Qaida link was not true, and imminent threat was not true.”
Saturday morning, devoted activists and supporters of the Northern California 9/11 Truth Alliance gathered in the cold, gray damp of the Golden Gate Panhandle to prepare to march and chant their way into the park and to the Power to the Peaceful festival.
The marchers, participants of the fifth annual Rally and March for 9/11 Truth, were slow to arrive, but eventually about 50 people showed up to voice their support for what they believe is the real truth behind the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Signs carried by marchers read “Neo-Con Jobs: Iraq and 9/11,” “9/11 was an inside job,” and “9/11 was the largest cover-up of evidence in history!”
Frank Running Horse, one of the founding members of the 9/11 Truth Alliance, said the primary objective of the march was to make an impact on the bigger crowd gathering at Speedway Meadow for the peace festival.
“We just really want to come in with a presence,” said the 52-year-old Concord resident. “We want to be visible to the thousands of people who question the truth behind 9/11.”
Carol Brouillet, the event’s organizer and another founding member of the alliance, had hoped there would be a bigger turnout, but was happy to see anyone come out to support the cause.
“The truth is so powerful. We really hope we can get to be a majority opinion, however long that may take,” she said. “We started this because we didn’t want people to feel like they couldn’t dissent, so our visibility is really important.”
Prior to starting the march to the park, Brouillet addressed the gathering crowd from a small stage.
“The administration has consistently lied to us…and has challenged basic morality by condoning torture, assassination and the abrogation of basic human rights,” Brouillet shouted from the podium. While she spoke, a demonstrator wearing an orange jumpsuit and a black execution hood stood silently off to her side.
The procession continued toward the park, snaking its way up Haight Street, stopping traffic. Chants such as “9/11 was an inside job, orchestrated by the Cheney mob” blared from megaphones and portable speakers. Whistles were blown and drums were beat while the banners and signs floated above the marchers’ heads. Some passing motorists honked and waved while others looked annoyed.
The marchers, however, were not swayed by non-supporters. Holly Severson, a nursing student who joined the activist group Code Pink a month ago, said she came out for the march specifically because of those people who think nothing of political events.
“I’m so frustrated with the general apathy of the American people,” said the 40 year old from Madison, Wis. “I feel so strongly about our rights being taken away, and it just upsets me what’s being allowed to go on.”
Severson has plenty of experience with protesting. Her mother took her to her first Vietnam protest in the ‘70s when she was a little girl, and since then, she’s found something to demonstrate against every decade.
“In the ‘70s, it was Vietnam, in the ‘80s it was Reagan,” she said. “Now we’re trying to drive out the Bush regime.”
As for Carol Brouillet, she’ll take on almost any feat possible to get her message out. She’s running for congress in the 14th district, which encompasses Palo Alto, Stanford and surrounding areas. Her main motivations for her campaign are to advocate for the alliance’s stance on 9/11 truth and to push for Bush’s impeachment.
“We’re out there now. There are people on the street who know us,” she said. “Even if Bush wanted to attack us, there are people who would see. I just feel that whatever happens now, it will be good.”
More than 300 attendants packed UC Berkeley’s Dwinelle Hall Thursday to hear a panel discussion on the history and context of the recent military conflict in Israel and Lebanon.
The teach-in, dubbed Questioning the 'New Middle East': War and Resistance in Lebanon, featured four UC Berkeley professors and one speaker from the Global Fund for Women, touching on the history of Hezbollah, U.S./Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, life inside what they called the world’s oldest refugee population in Palestine, and the possibilities for lasting peace in the region.
UC Berkeley history professor Beshara Doumani told the crowd the year 2006 signals the beginning of a new trend of reducing U.S. and Israeli dominance in the region.
Doumani cited what he called clear assessments of the conflict between Hezbollah paramilitary forces and Israeli forces, and said Israel was defeated.
“We are involved in a decades-long process that is intensifying against demographic and territorial displacement, which is literal ghetto-ization of an entire race of people,” Doumani said, referring to the shrinking of Palestinian controlled land in the Gaza Strip.
Hezbollah is not the official government of Lebanon but effectively controls much of the country. The group – listed as an international terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and Israel – is based in Beirut, with strong support from the Shiite populated southern part of the country bordering Israel.
Though most of Hezbollah’s funding is believed to be rooted in Iran and Syria, the organization is more self-sufficient due to the active investment funds and businesses it manages, according to Zeina Zaatari, a program officer for the Middle East and north Africa with the Global Fund for Women.
Because Hezbollah focuses on entities such as hospitals, schools, clinics, death benefits for soldiers’ families, rebuilding, and media, it is has popular support throughout Lebanon and across sectarian lines, Zaatari said.
“Though its interest has always been declared to drive Israel out of Lebanon, the day after the ceasefire Hezbollah leaders were out surveying damage to give aid to people,” Zaatari said.
She said it is important to understand Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon as part of the global left movement rather than as terrorist groups. Hamas, which gained majority seats in Palestine’s 2006 legislative elections, is also considered a terrorist organization by the United States.
An attendee asked the panelists what they thought about the Israeli people being threatened by all of their neighbors. Many in the room turned their heads, twitched or tightened during the brief pause that followed.
“Israelis are not losing their cities, living on two dollars a day, losing territory — in fact they are gaining territory,” responded panelist Charles Hirschkind, a professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley. His answer elicited boisterous applause.
Doumani suggested that for the past 40 years, international consensus agrees that Israel is breaking international law by occupying Palestine and illegally crossing its border with Lebanon.
“Israel has U.S. support, which leaves an irrational arrogance of power to make the same mistakes over and again,” he said.
He compared the recent conflict in Lebanon and Israel (which lasted from July 12 until Aug. 14) to the Israeli invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon in 1982. The earlier conflict lasted from 1982 until 2000.
“All of Israel’s goals failed then and now,” Doumani said. “Gaza was supposed to be a showcase for Israeli withdrawal, but Israel destroyed the infrastructure and just re-invaded Gaza while world attention was on the Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon.”
Doumani said a new Israeli law passed last summer prevents Palestinians and Israelis who intermarry from living together in Israel.
“This is exclusive to Palestinians. Thousands of families are affected by this,” Doumani said. "Israel cannot be a democratic and a Jewish state at the same time.”
The numbers for international student enrollment are down right now at SF State, but the director of the Office of International Programs thinks the university has seen the worst of times in terms of interest and enrollment levels.
“We are confident, and working to stop the freefall and keep the campus an internationalized community,” program director Dr. Yenbo Wu said. “Bringing international students in can only help and benefit us.”
The total number of international students for spring 2006 was 1,858, a drop of 158 students from the fall 2005 semester. The peak time for enrollment was, not coincidently, the fall 2001 semester, when SF State had 2,566 international students.
Jo Volkert, the associate vice president of Enrollment Planning & Management, said one of the main reasons for the international enrollment decrease is the difficulty in post 9/11 America in obtaining an F-1, non-resident, international visa.
Another factor in the declining enrollment, Volkert said, is that countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia are making concerted efforts to attract international students who would otherwise attend an American university.
But OIP is working to attract exchange students.
“Staff members are traveling to other countries to inform international students the benefits of SF State,” Volkert said.
In fact, Wu recently returned from a trip to China and India, where he visited some colleges and universities.
For some international students, there is also the pressure of having to perform at a high academic level in order to meet the requirements of their financial sponsors.
Two international exchange students from Germany, Christoph Bornkessel, 25, and Fabian Jung, 24, are full-time business majors who are visiting from the University of Applied Sciences in Wursburg.
The students have a financial supporter back in Germany who is paying their tuition and boarding fees because they were not able to set up an exchange with two SF State students.
“We have to take all business classes, and we have to do well and pass all our exams,” Jung said. “If we don’t get the credits, then we will have to pay back our sponsor the tuition fees and pay for our plane flight home.”
The total cost for an international student at SF State paying two semesters’ tuition, fees, and room and board is slightly less than $22,000. That’s not including money for textbooks, transportation, health insurance and personal expenses.
Bornkessel and Jung are quick to point out, however, that regardless of the hardships they might encounter as international exchange students at SF State, the experiences they have had meeting new students and faculty have been very positive.
Stephane Fondement, 28, an exchange student at SF State from Paris who is studying business and marketing, said the adjustment has been relatively easy. Fondement said part of his comfort level is due to the faculty members, whom he says are very easy to speak with and pretty much always available.
German exchange student Jung said the OIP has been very helpful making him feel at ease. One particular OIP faculty member, My Yarabinec, the coordinator of the Study Abroad and International Exchange Programs, is someone whom he said has been great.
“Mr. Yarabinec has gone out of his way to make us feel welcome by showing us the city, and even having a picnic with us at Grace Cathedral Park,” Jung said. “He didn’t have to do that, but he did.”
San Ramon native, Deena Burnett, returned to the Bay Area Wednesday to share with college students her tragic experiences with 9/11 to remind Americans that freedom is worth fighting for.
Burnett said she fell hard the morning of September 11 to hear her husband Tom Burnett calling from inside Flight 93 telling his wife the plane had been hijacked and that he was leading a coalition to ram the cockpit and fight the terrorists. He told her not to worry. Those were his last words to her.
She told this to a room full of students, parents and reporters at St. Mary’s College in Moraga Wednesday evening. The college’s California College Republicans organized this 9/11 memorial event to let Burnett tell her story.
“I’m not much of a public speaker, but I like that college students ask a lot of questions. They’re intrigued when I tell them that they can make a difference,” Burnett said.
Burnett, who now lives in Arkansas, talked about the fear she experienced that day on Sept. 11, 2001. She feared leaving her house, she feared for her daughters, and she feared for safety of Americans. She even talked about the struggle of coping with her three daughters.
Although it has been a tough journey, Burnett remarks, she feels like it is important for Americans to understand that they can make a difference and overcome any obstacle.
“If Tom were here, he would tell us he was just doing the right thing. He would laugh when people called him a hero,” said Burnett. “Making the commitment to be an everyday hero; we each have an obligation as American to do what we can.”
Burnett was asked about national security, the war on terrorism and President Bush’s popularity.
“Five years later we are safer than we ever were,” She said about national security. She said that she does not agree with the criticism of President Bush.
“I think it’s easy to throw the blame when you’re not walking in their shoes,” she said. “He has had made some tough decisions and I respect him.”
Burnett also said she disagrees with the attitudes of the bay area residents against the war and the military.
“I think that anyone who doesn’t believe that war on terrorism is necessary, they don’t remember. They don’t remember how fearful our nation was that day,” she said. “It’s heart wrenching.”
Burnett's comments resonated with those in attendance.
"It concerns me more than anything that the support after 9/11 was high and now it is diminishing. Young people have said 9/11 wasn't that significant," said Bryan Welden. "It deeply concerns me."
For the fifth anniversary in a row, Welden has been organizing the Lafayette Flag Brigade, a project that displays patriotic banners, honoring Walnut Creek residents and those from nearby communities who are currently on duty with any branch of the U.S. military, including the Guard and Reserves, according to the project’s Web site.
Danielle White, co-president of the College Republican Club at St. Mary's, agrees with Welden. "It doesn't matter age, race, political party, this is a day we will never forget and to be reminded of the heroism that was displayed for our country."
The memorial to her husband is a way for people to remember what happened that day, said Burnett. He loved our country, said Burnett. “If he were here, he’d raise his glass and say ‘live every day as it is your last.’”
Burnett said she will continue to speak all over the United States to remind people of the sacrifices people have made to ensure us freedom.
“If this was your last day on earth, have you made a difference?” she asked. “What are you willing to fight for?”
Previously unaware of the upcoming local, state and national elections, SF State student Rinaldi Ravenera admits now that he knows about them, he probably still won’t vote this November.
“I would like to do these things, but I guess it’s the fact that I’m lazy,” said BECA major Ravenera, 23. “I myself have never seen a direct benefit from voting.”
Among the identities ascribed to this generation is one of political apathy, and as the state prepares for the Nov. 7 elections with fundraising dinners and campaigning, some students are reinforcing this identity.
“I am taking my voice away, but I’ve never felt that my voice made much of a difference anyway,” Ravenera said.
And Ravenera might be right.
Francis Neely, an assistant professor in the SF State political science department, agrees with Ravenera.
“The argument that your vote can make a difference is deluded. It’s probably one of the reasons why voter turnout is so low,” Neely said. “If there is no choice on the ballot, if there’s no competition between candidates, then I understand why people don’t turnout.”
Neely said lack of choice and competition is the result of a poorly structured voting system hindered by practices such as gerrymandering, the selective redrawing of districts.
“I’m generally dissatisfied. If you’re talking about the general electoral process, our system could be much healthier,” Neely said.
Despite an ailing system, there are some who think voter participation is a key to creating a government that represents its people and is accountable.
“Voter participation is the most basic form of civic engagement and it’s important that people go out to the ballots and express their opinions at a young age,” said Kelly Komasa, program coordinator of the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement at SF State.
Although the ICCE has yet to plan outreach for the coming elections, according to Komasa, methods such as tabling, classroom presentations and voter education on voting events and ballot initiatives are planned.
But this may be more of an exercise in self gratification than democracy.
Neely likened the act of voting to performing in a “play.” The process of studying a voter information booklet, of waiting in line outside of a neighbor’s garage to vote and of taking an “I voted!” sticker from a slightly bored election monitor, is all done to achieve a feeling.
“The reason why people turnout, is not because their vote makes a difference but because it makes them feel good,” Neely said. “It’s the one place where we feel connected to government.”
Even so, Neely said this “play” is sometimes important for other reasons.
“One reason to turnout is to voice your opinion on the ballot initiatives,” he said. “It’s one of the few areas of our society where we have direct democracy.”
For some students, however, there is still a desire to see more participation from their peers.
“I don’t think people realize what a big role these elections play in our daily lives,” said SF State history major Alexandra Waldhorn, 22.
History major Andrew Sullivan, 27, agrees.
“I wish people were more interested. Period.”
Family and friends remember SF State student Travis Miller as a well-rounded young man who possessed a great deal of talent, deep passion for politics, and love for his adopted hometown of San Francisco.
“He was doing exactly what he wanted, exactly where he wanted to be,” said Julie Miller, Travis’s mother.
Miller was playing video games at his home on 19th Avenue near the SF State campus when he suffered a fatal seizure Aug. 28. He was 23.
According to Julie Miller, Travis had a history of epilepsy and was taking medications to control it.
Travis Miller was born in San Luis Obispo and spent most of his life in the nearby community of Atascadero. After graduating from Atascadero High School in 2001, Miller attended nearby Cuesta College.
“He just couldn’t wait to leave Atascadero to come to San Francisco,” his mother said.
Miller started at SF State last fall, where he majored in creative writing. He also studied drama and played guitar.
Andrew Posen, Miller’s friend and roommate, recalled Travis as a loyal and compassionate person.
“He stood by you no matter what,” Posen said. “Anyone who really got to know him was really touched by him as a person. He was a great person to have in your life.”
Miller was also known for his devotion to political and social-justice causes, actively participating in protests on and off campus.
“He was a very intellectual person,” said Tristan Norton, another roommate of Miller’s. “We’d have a lot of in-depth discussions about things.”
Posen recalled a time when the College Republicans held an anti-immigration rally on campus.
Miller showed up at the protest in a suit and tie. He carried a boom box, and proceeded to play a Dead Kennedys album at full blast to drown out the sounds of the Republicans.
“It was his own way of making a statement,” Posen said.
Miller loved Kung Fu movies, going to concerts and dining out while he lived in San Francisco, his friends said.
Funeral services for Travis Miller were held Sept. 2 in his hometown of Atascadero.
Where were you when you first heard about the Sept. 11 attacks?
Martin Rofael, 17, undeclared
“I had just woken up to get ready for school. My friend called and said ‘Dude, did you hear the news?’”
Rachel Silver, 22, psychology
“I was in my car on my way to school. Coincidentally, I was wearing my ‘I Love NY’ shirt. I just heard an announcer say there’s a plane going into the building.”
Jules Tygiel, history professor
“I was at home getting ready to come to school. Normally, I don’t watch the news in the morning. I was on a streetcar and everyone on the streetcar looked very startled. When I came in, the secretary told me I was the only one who showed up for work. She told me about these planes crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”
Ashley Schofro, liberal studies
“I was still in high school. I was getting ready for school when I heard about it on the radio. I thought it was a joke, then we turned on the news at school.”
Jason Carpio, graphic design
“I was in the BART station. I was on my way downtown when they had an alarm and they escorted everyone out.”
At first the faint voice crackled through the speakers, but seconds later the connection was clear and the voice filled the auditorium.
The nearly 40 audience members were silent, just listening.
“It is beyond destruction,” the voice said.
It was Samah Idriss, editor of the Lebanese magazine Al-Adab and founder of the group Civilian Resistance in Lebanon. He was speaking to the audience live over a telephone from Lebanon.
In response to the ongoing conflicts in the Middles East, three SF State student groups sponsored an event Wednesday night at Jack Adams Hall, in which students could interact by telephone with two activists currently on the front lines.
The event, Live from Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq, was organized by the General Union of Palestine Students, Students Against War (SAW) and the SF State contingent of the International Socialist Organization.
“We thought this would be a good event to bring to a student audience,” said Karen Knoller, 19, SF State student and member of SAW.
One of the event’s goals, Knoller said, is to highlight the role of the United States and how its foreign policy is a major contributing factor to the region’s current and long-term conflicts.
The event comes just as Israel announced it will begin to lift its blockade on Lebanon, after the violent battle with the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, which largely ended on Aug. 14.
“First hand sources are much better than the American media,” said Dennis Kroeker, 60, an SF State student who is pursuing a second degree in philosophy. Kroeker said he came because he is interested in Middle Eastern politics.
Sitting onstage in front of a microphone as images of flattened buildings and barefoot children appeared on a giant screen, Knoller took written questions from the audience.
“What’s going on in Lebanon and how does it connect to what’s going on in Palestine?” one student asked.
“It’s important to really know what’s going on in the world,” said Stephanie Fernandez, 19, a sophomore at SF State.
It’s events like these, she said, that help her get a clearer picture of what’s going on in the Middle East.
Also as a live telephone guest from Palestine was Khaleda Jarar, a legislator in the Palestinian cabinet and director of the Ademeer Prisoner support organization.
The idea for the event, Knoller said, was borrowed from the Break the Siege Coalition in San Francisco. Last month the group staged a similar event in the Mission District.
“We see, on Fox News, rock throwing Palestinians,” said Loubna Qutami, 21, a student at SF State who recently spent five months in Palestine, “and we never know why they are so desperate.”
Five years after the World Trade Center tragedy, the city of San Francisco is hosting numerous events on Sept. 9 and 10 to commemorate 9/11.
The three events that have drawn the most attention in recent years are the Rally and March for 9-11 Truth, the Power to the Peaceful Festival and “Be Peace Now Yoga Jam: A Day of Yoga, Music and Activism.”
Since 2002, the Rally and March for 9-11 Truth, sponsored by the Northern California 9-11 Truth Alliance, has been preaching a different side of the story about what happened on 9/11.
“This rally is so important for people who never participated in one because it’s going to wake them up and see the real issues,” said Carol Brouillet, rally organizer and co-founder of the Northern California 9-11 Truth Alliance.
Brouillet has been an organizer for the Rally and March for 9-11 Truth since 2002 and said it has been drawing a lot of attention.
“The movement itself has grown astronomically and the people have been very receptive and supportive,” said Brouillet.
Supporters of the event are encouraged to meet at 10 a.m. in the Panhandle in Haight-Ashbury, where they will march through Golden Gate Park to Speedway Meadows.
Those who do not feel like marching, but still want to be part of the 9/11 remembrance movement are encouraged to mellow out at the park and enjoy the music at the Power to the Peaceful festival (PTTP), and “Be Peace Now Yoga Jam: A Day of Yoga, Music and Activism,” hosted by Yoga Sangha of San Francisco.
The PTTP festival began in 1999 to commemorate political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s impending execution, but the event took on a new meaning after the attack on the World Trade Center.
The festival originally started out in Dolores Park, but has gained so much support over the years that it was moved to Golden Gate Park in order to accommodate the large crowds. In 2004, more than 20,000 people attended the event.
The PTTP festival will feature live entertainment from Michael Franti along with his group Spearhead with Guerrilla Management. Supporters can enjoy morning yoga, with Franti from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Those who do not feel like rocking out on Saturday are welcomed to come clear their minds Sunday afternoon with yoga instructors from San Francisco’s Yoga Sangha studio.
San Francisco yogis are welcome to take the inspiration they cultivate from the PTTP festival and join in a commitment to service and peace.
The PTTP will be held at Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park, while Yoga Jam will take place at Yoga Sangha on 16th Street. The festival is free and will take place on Sept. 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Yoga Jam will be held Sept. 10 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Sept. 11, 2001
Nineteen men affiliated with al-Qaida hijack four commercial passenger jet airliners. The planes crash into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in rural Somerset County, Pa. Excluding the hijackers, a confirmed 2,973 people die and another 24 remain listed as missing as a result of these attacks.
Sept. 14, 2001
U.S. Congress adopts a joint resolution authorizing the president to use all necessary and appropriate military force against those determined to be responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
and Sept. 28, 2001
The Taliban refuses to extradite Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.
Oct. 7, 2001
The U.S. launches Operation Enduring Freedom against the Taliban and al Qaida in Afghanistan.
Oct. 26, 2001
The Patriot Act is signed into law by President Bush.
Nov. 5, 2001
The Justice Department announces it has put 1,182 people into secret custody since 9/11. Almost all of them are from the Middle East or South Asia.
Nov. 25, 2002
Homeland Security Act is passed by Congress, creating the Department of Homeland Security, whose primary mission is to blunt the effects of terrorist attacks in the U.S.
March 11, 2004
Terrorist attacks kill 191 people and wound more than 1,700 in Madrid, Spain.
June 16, 2004
The 9/11 Commission concludes there is “no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaida cooperated on attacks against the United States.”
July 7, 2005
Thirty people are killed and approximately 700 are injured in London after a series of terrorist bomb attacks on the city’s transport network.
Aug. 11, 2006
A terrorist plot to blow up commercial jets in mid-flight over the Atlantic Ocean is thwarted by a British secret agent.
There haven’t been many classes added at SF State this semester, and where classes have been added, lack of funding is putting a strain on department resources.
Both the English and chemistry departments are feeling the strain.
“It doesn’t matter how many classes we add, because when we add more classes, it takes away from our resources,” said Cynthia Tan, an administrative analyst in the chemistry and biochemistry department.
“We don’t have enough faculty or materials to cover the new section, and we haven’t received any additional funding from the school to help with our resources.”
A section of Chemistry 33, an organic chemistry lab, which is required for both chemistry and biology majors, was added, and the chemistry department is currently seeking applicants for tenure lab instructors to run the additional lab.
However they still have not received extra funding to do so, Tan said.
The English department also added sections and made a drastic change in its undergraduate requirements.
The department replaced its “Age of” courses, such as English 501: Age of Chaucer, with three new courses, Literature in English I, II and III.
Although these new classes are replacing the old requirements, they will still be offering the “Age of” courses, just not as frequently.
However, the department has not received any additional funding for its change in core courses, said Beverly Voloshin, professor of English and chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.
“The new courses do not strain departmental resources,” Voloshin said. “The strain on departmental resources is the result of the university’s on-going budget crisis.”
According to English professor Bill Christmas, who will be teaching English 461: Literature in English II, the addition of these classes was long overdue.
“After so many semesters of having to turn away students from my Age of Wit course, it was quite nice this first week to say to all who were trying to add my 461 class that ‘You’re in.’” said Christmas. “I’ve never passed out so many add codes.”
The English department is also adding another section of English 214.
For years students have dreaded failing the JEPET, not only because it would mean taking an extra English course, but also because it could mean a few extra semesters added to their school terms, due to the near impossible odds of finding an open section of English 214.
“Even with the addition of the new course, I still wasn’t able to add the class,” said Amanda Arsenith, a 25-year-old liberal arts major. “If I don’t find a way to get in by next semester, then I don’t graduate.”
But the English department hasn’t received any additional funding for this crucial course, either. The department is using the same professors to cover the additional course load, according to Voloshin.
Although the additional section is welcome, there is still not enough room for all who want to add, as the line outside the classroom last Wednesday showed.
Composting activists on campus are finally seeing the fruit of their labor.
The Cesar Chavez Student Center is initiating its in-house composting program tomorrow, helping SF State keep its waste management costs down and making campus just a little greener.
“If everything is completed, we will be the first green building on campus,” said Edina Bajraktarevic, retail commercial services manager for the student center. She said the student center will be converting a few vendors at a time and aims to have all vendors on board within the next few weeks.
Café 101 and Natural Sensations will be the first vendors to go through the greening process.
“They’re going to start doing it sooner or later, so why not be the first,” said Jack Mizirawi, owner of both food vendors. Mizirawi had been open to the idea of composting when it was presented last spring.
He said the vendors have been told if the program works out well, they may be able to experience a reduction in rent.
“I don’t really expect a big saving,” he said. He thinks if the staff can get it right, it will be easier for customers to follow.
The program includes the introduction of new green bins for composting and staff training. The staff will separate the compostable food items from what is not compostable when making food preparations behind the counter.
“We have the help from the Eco-students and from the city,” Bajraktarevic said.
The composting program is a small victory for the Eco-students, who had envisioned the program to help create a large eco-friendly waste management city that would make other universities green with envy.
“It’s so exciting,” said Charlotte Ely, who spearheaded the project. Ely graduated from the environmental studies program last May.
“I really think SF State will be a catalyst for the entire Bay Area,” she said.
When the Eco-students began advocating for the program last semester, the organization had also asked that the student center purchase compostable utensils and paper products made from potato-based materials and sugar cane fibers. Some vendors had said it was too costly.
The student center will not go through with the purchase of compostable products, Bajraktarevic said.
“They can’t afford it right now,” Ely said. “But it’s still an ideal to work toward.”
Josh Wolf, the freelance journalist who was jailed for not turning over raw video he shot to federal investigators, said his experiences over the past month have been “strange,” yet inspirational.
“When I went in (to jail), I thought about all the positive things I could do,” Wolf, an SF State psychology alumnus, said in a telephone interview.
Wolf, 24, was released on bail last Friday by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He is appealing his contempt of court sentence over his refusal to cooperate with a federal grand jury investigating the alleged vandalism of a police car during an anti-globalization protest in the Mission District last year.
Wolf said he did not want to compromise the “trust system” between reporters and sources.
“If I was forced to turn over my tape, I would be forced to be an agent for the government. Why would any journalist be comfortable being an agent? Why would any protester feel comfortable talking to a reporter?” Wolf said. “What I was covering was people engaging in a First Amendment activity, the right of free and peaceful assembly.”
Wolf’s incarceration marks the first time a blogger has been held in contempt of court for refusing to provide information to a federal grand jury. He said he was discouraged that his plight was largely ignored by fellow bloggers.
“The mainstream media, the established independent media such as KPFA, picked up on it. It didn’t seem to create a storm on the blogs until I was in prison,” Wolf said. “Some felt, ‘Oh, he doesn’t want to turn over the tape, he just wants to become a famous blogger. I want to be a famous blogger, too.’ Then, they thought ‘Josh is in jail so I don’t have to be.’”
Wolf used his journalistic background to talk to fellow inmates and learn about the correctional
system as a whole.
“We have all sorts of embedded reporters in Iraq, but we don’t have any embedded reporters in federal prisons.”
He described the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin as the “most polite place” he’s ever been to.
“It’s not a utopia, but it’s more like a Stalin-esque utopia,” he said. “It’s one of the few places where the guards treat you humanely, from what I’ve heard.”
Spending time in jail inspired Wolf to begin work on a Web site for inmates: Prisonblogs.net.
“One of the most important things I learned is how frustrating it is to not have a way to communicate with people outside your vicinity,” Wolf said.
Since prisoners do not have access to the Internet, Wolf’s site will rely on inmates sending written messages to “sponsors” who will transcribe the messages into blogs. The concept is based on a similar program called Prison Radio.
“There’s no Internet access, but the written word is the written word, whether you type it or write it,” he said.
Wolf is also considering writing a book about the experiences of one of the inmates he met.
A three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will now hear Wolf’s case. If the previous verdict is upheld, Wolf might go back or be placed under house arrest.
Wolf said he is prepared to continue to appeal, if necessary.
“It’s critical that the rights of journalists are upheld,” Wolf said. “I also don’t want to go back to jail. I’m no threat to anyone, why throw me back in jail?”
Several SF State students are saying The Village at Centennial Square is conducting unethical business practices, charging for services not rendered and keeping an inequitable amount of their housing deposits once they move out.
“I think they hold the last person’s money in the apartment hostage to blackmail them to do all the cleaning and then they still take the deposit,” said J Martin, 22, an economics major.
Martin said The Village kept $180 of the $250 deposit he paid to live in a two-bedroom apartment with three roommates, who each paid the same amount for deposit.
“I could understand if there was something broken, but we didn’t break anything," Martin said. "We scrubbed everything spotless. I don’t want the same thing to happen to other students."
Martin and other students are saying they’re being charged for cleaning fees that are unnecessary.
Cinema major Dustin Devoy, 25, moved out of The Village in May. His itemized room condition report shows his rent was $825 to share one bedroom in a two-bedroom apartment. The cost of cleaning his living room, bedroom and bathroom was $37.50 each, his kitchen cleaning cost him $43.75 and his “move out damage” charges were $60.50.
Out of Devoy’s $250.00 deposit, The Village gave him $33.35 back.
“I think there is something very wrong here," Devoy said. "I spent three days scrubbing and I didn’t do any damage."
Jeff Pettibone moved into The Village for the 2006 spring semester and he said his apartment was “trashed” upon arrival.
“I made a full report of the damages, but they still charged me when I left. According to them, I still owe $131.75 plus my deposit,” Pettibone, a political science major, said.
Pettibone said he has friends who left their rooms in worse condition, but received all or most of their deposits back.
“I think they just randomly charge whoever,” Pettibone said.
Students are also finding difficulty in corresponding with The Village management.
“They overcharged me for the summer semester and told me I would get a refund," said John Jewell, a 20-year-old psychology major. "Four months later, they still do not return my calls."
Jewell said he has been unable to contact an Ecumenical Association for Housing representative, since the management company turned over administration to SFSU Housing & Residential Services in the summer.
“My room had no holes, spots or anything. We didn’t party there,” Jewell said.
David Rios, business office coordinator at SFSU Housing, agrees that many problems and complaints carried over after The Village changed hands. He said there is little his office can do about them.
“It’s been a real mess. Their old files and all the complaints have been an ordeal. You have to talk with them or the SFSU Foundation,” Rios said.
Calls to the SFSU Foundation, which administers The Village, and SFSU Housing Executive Director Jan Andreasen, were not returned.
SF State’s first Arabic language professor is stuck at the U.S./Canadian border indefinitely because of visa problems, which left his students in the dark about what will happen to their classes.
On June 20 Dr. Mohammad Salama, the school's first full-time Arabic language professor, traveled to the U.S. Embassy in Toronto to upgrade his visa status, where he was informed he could not re-enter the United States until a security clearance is granted by the U.S. Department of State.
This left two teacher’s assistants with little experience to teach Salama's Arabic language classes.
Salama says he planned on just a three-day trip to Toronto that has now turned into a more than 70-day ordeal with no end in sight. He says he misses his two children and his wife, U.S. citizens who live in Wisconsin. His family was planning to move with him to San Francisco.
An immigration officer told Salama there was nothing he could do, but wait, Salama said.
“I already have my return ticket for the next day, so I asked inquisitively, ‘Could I still return to the U.S. on my original visa?’ to which she answered, ‘No, we have canceled all your previous visas to the U.S., so you can't go back,’” he said in a telephone interview from London, Ontario, Canada.
Without a qualified full-time Arabic instructor, more than 50 students were at risk of losing three to five units just weeks after the start of the semester.
This sent Midori McKeon, chair of the foreign languages and literatures department, into a frenzied scramble to fill, at least temporarily, Salama’s position.
McKeon announced to the Beginning Arabic class last Friday that she found someone to take over Salama’s classes on a temporary basis.
“I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning calling and e-mailing, and then slept in my office to make sure I would be here to say you will have your class,” McKeon told the class.
The temporary instructor is Father Rick Van Dewater, a former American missionary who served for more than 32 years in Jordan and Palestine working with Christians, Muslims, and Jews, according to McKeon. He will be teaching three days a week, while the teacher’s assistant will cover the other two days.
Salama will teach his Arabic fiction literature courses, Abrabic 650 and 850, online.
“I feel good they found a replacement. I thought our class would just end,” said Fahd Mohamed, 21, an undeclared freshman.
But even with a substitute, some students are wary.
“We are all sort of in the dark,” said women’s studies graduate student Rebecca Prather, 29, as she left Friday’s class. “Supposedly they have a teacher for us, but we are off to a rough start.”
Prather said the government’s unwillingness to let Salama back in may be related to American racism.
An [X]press request to the U.S. State Department for specific procedural details of an O-1 visa security clearance, or of Salama’s case was denied. The information cannot be provided because of legal purposes, according to the department.
The U.S. State Department receives 7.5 million non-immigrant applicants a year and out of those, 2.5 percent must go through additional screening, said Laura Tischler, a spokeswoman of consular affairs at the U.S. State Department.
“Additional processing usually takes a few weeks,” she said. Tischler did not specify if Salama is one of those 2.5 percent.
Salama, who is from Egypt, says the U.S. Department of Homeland Security approved his request to change his visa from a student visa to the more prestigious O-1 visa.
An O-1 visa is for non-immigrant foreign nationals who demonstrate extraordinary abilities or achievements in the arts, sciences, athletics, motion picture industry, education or business. O-1 applications require a rigorous set of documentation on the applicant’s past. The employer, in this case SF State, must also petition the INS on the applicant’s behalf, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site.
SF State College of Humanities Dean Paul Sherwin sent a letter to encourage the vice consul of the American Consulate General in Toronto to expedite a swift clearance for Salama.
“I’ve made calls, but I can’t influence this process. No one knows what’s going on. We are all very distressed that he’s not here,” Sherwin said.
Salama, has a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin and has lived in the United States for seven years.
“I have no problem with security, but I think this has gone past the reasonable limit. Two weeks — I could understand if someone has a similar name as me,” Salama said. “It has gone too far for everyone.”