October 2006 Archives
In the lead up to the Nov. 7 elections, two dominant political parties are slugging it out using the mainstream media as their boxing gloves. In the maelstrom of political punches, though, third parties often don't even get to step in the ring.
Unless it's at SF State, where a debate last week between a Green Party candidate and a College Republican offered a dose of democratic street fighting when the far left got a seemingly rare opportunity to spar with the right.
“I would like to respect you,” said Leigh Wolf, an SF State Republican running for the District 14 Assembly seat, to his opponent, socialist and Green party candidate for U.S. Senate Todd Chretien. “But honestly, after inferring that I am a racist – I expected more from you.”
Instead of a civil exchange of ideas between two people at the polar ends of the political spectrum, the debate dissolved into an onslaught of character bashing.
“College Republicans substitute racist stereotypes for facts,” Chretien said. Some of the nearly 30 people in the mostly-student audience applauded.
The 90-minute debate, organized by SF State’s chapter of the International Socialist Organization, or ISO, focused on the U.S. government's war on terror and immigration policy.
“The idea that the people of Iraq cannot run their own country is a racist fantasy,” Chretien said in rebuttal to Wolf.
Third parties, such as the Green Party, are often muscled out of high-profile state and national debates because, experts say, they lack political capital and electability. But when just two parties determine what is going to be said or not said in the political arena, some say it discourages people from even casting a ballot.
“When potential voters only hear the Democrats and the Republicans they may be turned off to even vote,” said Francis Neely, assistant professor of political science and scholar of political theory at SF State.
If it were up to Elizabeth Connely, an SF State student who attended the debate, the staged political debates unfolding across the country would include more than just humdrum Republican and Democratic jabs.
“I think there should be a third party, a fourth party and a fifth,” said Connely, 19, who is majoring in political science at SF State. “Democracy is a plurality of views that come together and get sorted out.”
To Wolf, however, the debate was less of a professional exchange of viewpoints and more of what he called a “character assassination” debacle.
“Intellectual debate is not what they are interested in,” Wolf said. “This was just a hit job on the College Republicans.”
When the moderator took a question from an audience member, Wolf was accused of being a “racist” for stepping on flags believed to contain the Arabic symbol for God at a College Republican-organized rally supporting the war on terror Oct. 19 in Malcolm X Plaza.
Green Party candidates like Chretien have largely been unsuccessful getting in on the big debate this campaign season.
Peter Camejo, Green Party candidate for governor, protested when he was not allowed to partake in the gubernatorial debate between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Angelides Oct. 7. A week later the League of Women Voters withdrew their sponsorship of a debate in New York when Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate, was excluded.
“We have a two-party system which ruthlessly opposes a third party, or anything else to the left in this country,” Chretien said. “The Democrats and Republicans agree much more than they disagree.”
The Green Party says when a third party is excluded, it’s anti-democratic and violates voters' ability to make informed choices.
Even so, it’s scrappy debates like last week’s, Wolf said, that undermine third party inclusion into the ring.
“I expected a higher level of discourse,” Wolf said.
Many describe SF State as a “commuter school” where most students go home right after class. However, SF State students are coming from outside the Bay Area more than ever as the university packages itself as a more residential campus.
The composition of the Gator population has significantly changed in a short period of time, with more students living on campus. Some students said they were looking for a quintessential college experience, complete with after-class activities, cheerleaders and strong school spirit.
In 1996 about 1,500 students lived on campus. This semester 2,256 live on campus, according to SF State Housing and Residential Services statistics.
“By the mid-1990s Southern California students surpassed Bay Area students in on-campus housing,” said Jan Andreasen, executive housing director.
Since the fall 1998 semester the average age of undergraduate and graduate students dropped from 26.3 to 25.2 percent, according to the Office of University and Budget Planning Statistics.
In the fall 1994 semester 44.3 percent of all undergraduate and graduate students checked “White Non-Latino” as their ethnicity, while 33.6 percent checked the same box in 2005.
Ethnicities that show significant enrollment gains from 1994 to 2005 are Filipino by 3.9 percent, Chicano/Mexican American by 3.9 percent and Latino by 1.4 percent. Black, Chinese, Native American and "total" Asian students showed little change.
The CSU, along with the ambitious SF State Master Plan for modernization, has anticipated the growing trend of Southern California student migration. The plans include raising enrollment from the current 29,000 to 36,000, a 25 percent increase.
“In 1998 the chancellor predicted a ‘tidal wave’ of new students, and that SF State would become a destination campus,” said Joel Kassiola, dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
“This is the largest freshmen class in SF State history with more 18-year-olds than ever before,” he added.
Potential reasons for the influx of Southern California students range from the logical to the more speculative.
In 2005 SF State made a $134 million purchase to ease the pains of long waiting lists for on-campus housing, adding 697 units and 25 acres to the campus with the Stonestown Apartments acquisition, now renamed University Park North.
“Student housing is the controlling factor for our growth,” said Ellen Griffin, SF State director of Pubic Affairs.
Griffin suggested that parents of students from outside the Bay Area feel better when sending their kids off to a school with plenty of on-campus housing.
Many students find SF State appealing because schools like San Diego State and CSU Long Beach are increasingly difficult to get into because of impacted programs, while the CSU has no plans to build new campuses in Southern California, according to administrators.
SF State is widely known for left-of-center politics, ethnic diversity and the student anti-war, indigenous and immigrant rights activism in the 1960s that eventually spurred the creation of the first College of Ethnic Studies in the United States.
A higher proportion of Latino and black students now come to SF State from outside the Bay Area, rather than inside the Bay Area, according to Jo Volkert, associate vice president of Enrollment Planning and Management.
“We are pleased Southern California is increasing our diversity,” she said.
Some students said they enjoy making all of San Francisco their campus, with its myriad of museums, galleries, internship opportunities, theaters and nightspots.
“There’s nothing to do in San Diego and I don’t like LA, SF State’s not this boring commuter place I heard it was,” said Jouliette Davidov, 21, an international relations and Spanish double-major from San Diego.
Some speculate that SF State’s cameo appearances on MTV’s reality show “Laguna Beach” put it on the map for many students.
In 2004 one of the show’s characters, Stephen Colletti, attended BECA classes at SF State where a film crew followed him to and from class.
“There’s no question that we gained a lot of recognition from the show. The fact that he was cute was enormously helpful exposure,” Volkert said.
While the university actively recruits students at five locations in Southern California over one weekend each year, Volkert said the university organizes more than 100 visits to college fairs in the Bay Area.
“We don’t want to neglect our students who live off campus,” Volkert said.
Many students come to SF State wearing flip-flops, tank tops and shorts – a la Southern California.
“It’s funny on the first day to see the kids from down south running off to Stonestown to buy the warm clothes that they need here,” Andreasen said. “They’re just not used to it yet.”
Mary Park, Mary Ward, the Towers at Centennial Square and the Science and Technology Theme Community are full of freshman, Andreasen said.
“We had to add 200 freshmen beds this year and we expect to need 150 more next year,” she said.
One way to enhance school spirit is through the renewed appreciation of university sports.
“This used to be a big commuter campus, but we are trying to build pride in SF State athletics,” said Jamil Sheared, 25, the recently hired spirit coordinator whose position was created last year.
A few years back the men’s basketball team played UC Davis at home. Davis brought its pep band, drowning out the cheers of the Gator fans. Since that game there has been a push for a better pep squad, according to J.E. Saffold, vice president of Student Affairs.
Participation is up for many campus activities with more than 2,000 students registered for intramural sports. At 8 p.m. on a weeknight, herds of students hang out in Malcolm X Plaza, exercise in a packed Village Fitness Center, walk to film showings, lectures, music concerts and study at the library.
“You can see the need for a late-night restaurant,” Kassiola said.
Administrators stressed that the university will grow to meet the rising demand for on-campus activities.
“We’re going to have to provide more facilities,” Saffold said.
All of SF State’s hard work promoting community involvement paid off with an award in October.
To recognize the university’s commitment to service learning and civic engagement, the Corporation for National and Community Service honored SF State with the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
The award was announced Oct. 17 at the Campus Compact 20/20 Visioning Summit, in Chicago.
More than 500 colleges and universities applied for the Honor Roll, which is sponsored by the CNCS and several other organizations including the Department of Education.
In total, 345 schools were honored, and an additional 141 schools received a presidential honor for their distinguished community service working with the hurricane relief efforts.
Perla Barrientos, who has been the director for the SF State Office for Community Service Learning for six years, said it is great that the university was recognized for such an achievement, even if the credit needs to go elsewhere.
"It's the students who are the ones doing the volunteer work in the community, as part of either a course or in other ways," Barrientos said.
Colleen Bentley, the special projects coordinator for the office of the chancellor, has recently created a group of six individual campus videos which spotlight what the students do in the community. SF State is included as one of the six campuses, and the video can be viewed at www.calstate.edu/csl/news_pubs/videos.shtml.
"San Francisco State is very far out in front, in terms of service learning and civic engagement," said Bentley. "It’s another part of the university education, which is making a well-rounded student."
A recent survey has found the bulk of young American adults failing at a range of questions testing their basic geographic literacy, and SF State may not be an exception.
The survey, commissioned by the National Geographic Society, suggests young Americans are ignorant about geography while the reasoning and significance is being explored. The survey asked 18- to 24-year-olds in the continental United States basic geography questions.
“I have always found it staggering that we don’t know much of geography,” said SF State geography professor Qian Guo. “And I have been further perplexed that many simply do not care that they don’t have basic knowledge and perspective of geography.”
Results from the 2006 NGS survey include:
• 20 percent of young Americans think Sudan is in Asia (it’s the largest country in Africa).
• Despite U.S. invasion in March 2003, 63 percent of young Americans cannot find Iraq on a map.
• 70 percent cannot find North Korea on a map.
• Half of young Americans cannot find New York on a map.
An informal survey conducted by [X]press showed that 10 out of 23 SF State students failed to point out New York State on an unmarked map.
Theater major Summer Gephart, 19, who found New York with ease, said such global unawareness is probably from our early educational system being under-funded.
“Younger people are not applying themselves, especially in high school,” Gephart said. “This has to do with teachers and how they perform, but also growing up in our society makes me believe people don’t think globally. People just don’t care. This is definitely a nationalistic nation.”
The NGS survey results suggest young people in the United States – the most recent graduates of our educational system – are unprepared for an increasingly global future.
“Maybe we are still suffering from Manifest Destiny syndrome, number-one mentality, and the perception that we are in the land of plenty,” added Guo. “We don’t need to know our country’s geography and we still reap a lot relatively easily. We don’t need to know the geography of the rest of the world since it seems that all the rest of the world still tries their best to reach our shores, and we can tell them what to do.”
History graduate Conrad Moore, 23, is currently enrolled in the teaching credential program at SF State and plans to teach high school history. According to Moore, there are more than 100 future teachers in the program. None are emphasizing in geography.
Moore said geography was not a focus in the public schools he attended. The last time he remembers being taught geography was in the sixth grade. He said it should be reworked into our public schools.
“Geography is a pretty basic field of knowledge,” Moore said. “As a history teacher, I can work geography into my history lessons. You could work the subject into any curriculum, really.”
National Geographic has teamed up with partners, including 4-H Club and the National PTA, to create a five-year call to action for children, parents and schools in hope to improve geographic literacy. The multimedia campaign is called “My Wonderful World,” and its mission is to give kids the power of global knowledge by motivating parents and educators to expand geographic offerings in school, at home and in their communities.
According to the National Geographic Web site, in 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed legislation establishing the third week in November as Geography Awareness Week. Since the signing, about 1.5 million students have participated in geography-related activities, yet their retention seems to be another story.
“I definitely think that geography should be in the earlier years of K-12 education, especially when kids are still curious and in their formative years,” said Guo. “It is depressing to geography educators because we have not done a good job.”
Visit www.mywonderfulworld.org to test your own geographic knowledge.
SF State’s Political Science Students Association and College Republicans held a debate Wednesday between Howard Epstein, R-San Francisco, and Barry Hermanson, GP-San Francisco, both running for State Assembly.
Although the candidates were from opposing sides of the political spectrum, they did find some common ground.
“There was zero animosity between the candidates,” said Leigh Wolf, spokesman for the College Republicans. “They were very professional, and I would say that today’s debate was politics at its finest.”
Some attendees speculated that Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco – who was scheduled to attend, but did not – was trying to avoid the type of embarrassment she suffered during her debate at SF State last spring. The College Democrats were also absent.
“I am not surprised that they didn’t show up,” said Wolf. “I don’t blame them after what happened last time Fiona was here.”
For Epstein and Hermanson, Ma’s absence left an open playing field for their thoughts on her contributions as a member of the San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.
When asked to comment on Ma’s political objective, Epstein and Hermanson had many of the same opinions.
“I would if I knew what it was,” said Epstein, followed by laughs from the audience, as well as from Hermanson. “She is from the more liberal side of the Democratic ideology, and I am from the more common sense side.”
Hermanson replied by thanking Epstein for his comments on Ma.
“Fiona is very hesitant to tell people where she stands on issues,” said Hermanson. “Fiona Ma did nothing. I have made more of an impact on people’s lives in San Francisco in the last four years than Fiona Ma has made since she started her political career.”
The opponents also debated workers’ rights, medical marijuana and Proposition 87, which would tax California oil companies to support alternative energy.
“Proposition 87 is not a perfect initiative,” Hermanson said. “I am going to vote for this initiative because I would rather spend a little extra money now, than a lot of extra money in the future.”
Hermanson’s opponent, Epstein, disagreed with him on Proposition 87.
“I am not going to vote in favor of Proposition 87,” said Epstein. “There is nothing in Proposition 87 for the state. All the money goes to venture capitalists.”
On the issue of marijuana, the opponents once again found some ground for agreement.
“It should be legal and it should be taxed,” said Hermanson.
Epstein said medical marijuana should be legal, but argued that policies have not been properly implemented in California.
“Medical marijuana isn’t being dealt with the way it was meant,” Epstein said. “Medical marijuana is a good idea, but it should be in pharmacies. They shouldn’t be going to Joe’s in the Tenderloin. It’s not a good policy.”
Although the debate was about issues important to Californians, only about 10 people attended the debate, most of whom were from the organizations that organized the debate.
“The debates were very useful in helping me make some important decisions,” said Amanda Arsenith, 25, senior and liberal arts major, who is not affiliated with either organization. “These were two candidates that I didn’t know much about, and I think it is really important to be informed about all aspects of the election, not just who is running for governor.”
SF State students, instructors and anti-war groups participated in a six-hour teach-in to express their dissatisfaction with the Bush administration and the course of the Iraq war.
Guest speakers included four SF State history professors, members of Code Pink Women for Peace, and the California Peace Action, as well as more than 30 SF State students expressing opposition to the war.
The “Iraq War Teach In” came on the same day as a White House press conference, where President Bush acknowledged his dissatisfaction with the war, but vowed to continue the course of action, saying, “The stakes couldn’t be any higher.”
Marissa Blodnik, 19, expressed feelings of powerlessness over the war in Iraq, and wanted to know how she and others could get involved with the anti-war movement. Blodnik said that she was once a very active and vocal opponent of the war, but became discouraged over the last couple of years by what seemed a hopeless situation.
“I’m trying to get back involved,” said Blodnik, a math major at SF State. “To learn more, educate others, and gain back that power. I wanted to see what these professors and educators think the next best step for the movement is.”
Professor Jules Tygiel, who headed Wednesday’s discussion, said the best way for students to get involved with the anti-war movement is to educate themselves.
“Educate yourself so that you are prepared to go out into the world and speak to people knowledgeably, said Tygiel, who teaches a 20th century U.S. history class at SF State. “We feel somewhat doubly paralyzed in San Francisco because normally we don’t run into people who disagree with us terribly, so that becomes a challenge as well.”
The teach-in was held in room 270 of the science building, and was sponsored by the Historians Against the Iraq War and the College of Behavioral and Social Science. It included four sessions of open discussion on topics like civil liberties, the future of Iraq, and American politics.
Arturo Sernas, 21, said the U.S. military is the number one source of violence in Iraq, and that the United States should pull out immediately. Sernas said it was important for him to attend the teach-in because he feels that anti-war sentiment is high around the country.
“I think that it was just a pretext to control the region,” said Sernas, a history major at SF State, regarding the war in Iraq. “The whole war on terror was an opportunity for the Bush administration to exploit the region for its resources.”
Panelist Laura Wagner, 30, decided to show a scene from season five of the TV show “24,” where a nuclear warhead is stolen and a suspect is taken into custody who is thought to know the whereabouts of the leader of a terrorist organization.
According to Wagner, she wanted people to engage the issue of torture and what they are willing to give up in the name of security.
“We passively accept the messages that we get from television and movies,” said Wagner, a history professor at SF State. “I chose it because it is a very strong exposition of the idea that we need to do what is necessary in order to protect national security. I think were living in an atmosphere where we think there is always a crisis, and that we need to do whatever to combat it.”
For a few hours, students looking to answer the call of nature found locked bathrooms in the Humanities building Wednesday.
The restrooms were closed from about 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. because workers had to perform routine plumbing maintenance, according to Brenda Lee, administrative assistant to Robert Hutson, associate vice president of Facilities and Services Enterprises.
After the maintenance was finished, students found brown, discolored water coming out of the faucets in multiple bathrooms.
The brown water was not pleasant to look at, but typically isn't harmful, according to a local plumber.
“A lot of times when you shut a water system down, you'll get discoloration when you restart it,” said Travis Bryning, a plumber with Smelly Mel's Plumbing. “Restarting the system can knock some sand or rust into the water, but it should clear up pretty fast.”
Representatives from One Voice spoke Monday in the HSS building about how their work might help unite Palestinians and Israelis, changing the stereotypical images Americans have of the countries.
“I want to promote that this conflict can be resolved by getting different groups to understand each other,” Eyal Oron, 28, a One Voice youth leader, said about his work with the organization.
One Voice is a nonpartisan grassroots organization that was started in 2004. The organization works with both Palestinians and Israelis to come up with a solution to end the violence between the two nations.
SF State is the first campus the representatives visited this week. During the week they will also be going to San Jose State, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, Sonoma State, Berkeley and Stanford.
Despite the last minute advertisement of the event’s location – it wasn’t advertised until earlier the same day – all of the chairs were filled and some people stood.
The location wasn’t advertised because, according to the event organizers who planned the event for about three weeks, it was difficult to get approval and room assignment from the administration.
Another organizer, Veronica Canton, 29, felt there was little support from the administration to bring One Voice to campus.
“It was difficult for us to get a room,” said Canton. “It seemed as though there was a little bit of concern.”
During the presentation, Oron, along with 23-year-old Dalia Labadi, another One Voice youth leader, gave their opinions on the future of Palestine and Israel and shared personal experiences that influenced their decisions to become a youth leaders.
Labadi started to cry when she spoke about the violent death of one of her friends while she attended college in Palestine. The memory upset her so much, she left the room.
Miriam Asnes, international program manager for One Voice, finished Labadi’s story.
Labadi was so upset about the death, she missed class and, as a result, her grades went down.
When she returned to school she tried to explain why she missed class so her grades wouldn’t be affected, but she was told her crying and mourning wouldn’t help her friend, only doing something about it would. This is advice she has followed, Asnes said.
Currently, One Voice has offices in Tel Aviv and Ramallah, and a headquarters in New York City. The organization recruits young Palestinians and Israelis, age 20 to 30, to become more politically involved.
Youth leaders organize events to get Palestinians and Israelis to reach a solution. This includes conferences, getting a referendum signed, and getting celebrities involved.
“I was scared at first,” Labadi said about her work with One Voice. “I really didn’t think they were going to agree.”
Both Oron and Labadi agreed they had surprises when they were trying to get signatures on One Voice’s referendum.
Once when trying to get signatures in Naples, Palestine, Labadi had to travel around mountains on donkeys to avoid checkpoints. By the end of the day she felt the donkey had worked as hard as her.
“At the end I wanted to ask the donkey to sign,” said Labadi, laughing.
SF State students felt they could relate to Labadi’s and Oron’s experiences and wanted to know more.
“Very rarely do you hear from actual people,” international relations major Lacy MacAuley, 27, said. “You hear all the time what the government and terrorists are doing.”
SF State's J. Paul Leonard Library appropriated more than $116 million for renovation and expansion last month when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law that will do more than give the building a mere facelift.
The new state-of-the-art facility will increase in space by 34 percent, making room for an ever-growing book collection, larger study areas, an automated book retrieval system, and seismic retrofitting.
Following the lead of Sonoma State and Cal State Northridge, the Library Retrieval System is a storage facility that will allow more materials to stay on campus and be quickly available to students through an online catalogue. The catalogue is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from any computer, on or off campus. Students will click on what they'd like to check out and pick up the book from a manned desk within minutes, without having to write down a call number or find it on the shelf.
However some students have expressed concerns over the new system.
"I guess it has its drawbacks, you're not able to physically look at something and put it back on the shelf," said 22-year-old history major Anthony Schwab.
The advantage, university librarian Debbie Masters said, is that the catalogue shows you beyond what's available on the shelf. Books that are checked out are included, and much of the information a student may need is provided, such as the title, author, number of pages, notes and, for some, a table of contents.
"I think that once people have experienced it … they will like it," Masters said, adding that the library hopes to eventually have a system that she likened to Amazon.com, where patrons can "open" the book and "look inside," all from their computer screens.
Built in 1952, SF State’s library withstood the Loma Prieta earthquake that occurred 17 years ago this month. Although four floors were closed because of shelving damage and the need for reorganization, the library remained open. Masters said SF State's library sits in a long line of CSU buildings needing earthquake proofing that has been put off because of a lack of funds and the need for the library to continue functioning.
"It was a known fact in 1995 that the building needed to be retrofitted," Masters said, referring to the year she was hired.
Introduced in early August by state Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, SB 682 was signed into law Sept. 27, increasing the appropriation for preliminary plans, working drawings and construction for SF State's Library and California State's Sutro Library by $21 million, to the sum of $116,553,000.
The Sutro library, a large genealogical collection currently housed near campus will be moved, along with the Labor Archives and Research Center, into the renovated library.
Although all books will be stored in the Library Retrieval System in fall 2009, relocation begins for the renovation in 2008. Masters said “hundreds of thousands” of books will come out of storage and back on the shelf upon completion of the project, which is now planned for 2012.
Most current SF State students will have graduated before the new facility is open, however they will live with the construction.
“It can get pretty disruptive if there is noise,” biology major Ayesha Ali, 20, said.
Masters said a “buffer zone” will be created beginning next summer between the occupied portions of the existing library and the construction being done to create the addition. With a total 378,000 square-feet of space, a greater number of periodicals and journals will be available on campus at the SF State library, which ranks second in total circulation for CSU library collections.
The new building will also feature a central light well that will bring natural light into the center of the building through four floors.
"It will be nice to know what time of day it is," Schwab said, sitting under the florescent lights that now illuminate most of the building.
Other features to be added include new building entrances and renovated mechanical heating and ventilating systems.
“We have to live with the dust,” physical sciences and engineering librarian Caroline Harnly said, referring to the fact that the library will remain open during construction. “It will be exciting when it’s done.”
Information about the building project can be found online at: http://www.library.sfsu.edu/building/.
Although the hit reality fashion television show “Project Runway” has officially ended its third season, SF State students and faculty still have a chance to be auf’d.
The Student Fashion Association (SFA) will be holding a fall fashion show, the first of its kind, on Tuesday, Nov. 28. Although the department usually holds a larger fashion show in the spring, SFA president Lea Badalian came up with the idea of holding a smaller show in the fall that will mimic the Bravo network show.
“We’re doing a runway challenge, and we got the idea from ‘Project Runway’ on Bravo,” Badalian, 21, said.
The show, to be held in Jack Adams Hall, is comprised of four different categories in which the applicants can choose to design.
The four categories include making new outfits from recycled clothing, designing an outfit that represents a style icon, designing an outfit that represents rock and roll, and the final one is making an outfit for a woman living in the year 2020.
The category involving reconstructed designs from recycled clothing, including pieces from a clothing drive held in the Malcolm X Plaza on Oct. 17 through Oct. 19. The department will continue accepting donations through the end of the week. Any leftover pieces of clothing will be donated to a charity that is yet to be determined.
“This is the first time we’ve had a fashion show in our department where it’s been open to any student at SFSU,” Badalian said. “Anyone can participate.”
The fashion show isn’t limited to students. According to 22-year-old apparel and merchandising major Jen Conforti, faculty members are free to enter the competition as well.
Each designer can design only one piece per category, but can participate in as many categories as he or she desires, Badalian said. Applications for both the designers and the models who will display the designs can be found in the SFA mailbox in BH 329.
“We really need designers,” said apparel and merchandising major Monica Reed, 23. Reed designed an outfit from recycled clothing, which is on display in the SFSU Bookstore window. She, along with fellow FSA student Rebecca Finerman, is in charge of the window displays and hopes to change the display each week to reflect a different category in the fashion show.
“It’s a work in progress. It’s an effort on all of our part,” Reed said.
The window drew interest from passing students and faculty alike.
“I’m really interested in this,” said English professor Lois Lyles, who was drawn to the bookstore’s display window. “I enjoy clothing design, I’ve made garments in the past, and also jewelry. So I’m really interested in this project.”
But those with no more experience than watching the fashions on “Project Runway” on their televisions need not fear.
“We’re not worried about perfection,” Badalian said. “This is more for fun. It’s so other people can see your work and you can get your name out there.”
Academic Senate members unanimously approved the first significant changes to the mathematics Bachelor of Arts degree program in more than 30 years.
Under the new system, which will take effect over the next four to six years, math majors may now choose from one of three different disciplines reflecting different career goals: a 42-unit liberal arts track, a 45-unit teaching track and a 48-unit advanced study track.
The current system has only one discipline, which does not differentiate between career goals.
The changes to the curriculum, which were voted on at a recent Academic Senate meeting, are designed to bring the math department at SF State in line with other math programs, said Dr. Eric Hayashi, math department chair at SF State.
“We’re becoming more like the national profile,” Hayashi said.
Department advisers previously encouraged students to follow certain tracks of classes on an “ad hoc” basis, he said.
“It’s not really changing much,” Hayashi said. “Students in the current B.A. program would have been advised to take these courses already.”
The most important change, Hayashi said, is the concentration in teaching.
Students who plan on teaching a single subject, such as math, must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in their subject of interest before going for a teaching credential. In order to obtain a credential, prospective teachers must pass an examination, such as the CSET, or obtain a waiver from their university exempting them from the test.
“We worked out a program of courses from the state credential board,” Hayashi said. “If a student passes with a 2.75 GPA, they are waived from the exams.”
As part of the waiver program, the Course Review Committee approved the addition of two new courses intended to provide early field experience to prospective teachers. The courses will allow students to assist in teaching math to middle and high school students, allowing them to learn about teaching in public schools and earn the 45 hours of preliminary classroom experience required of prospective teachers.
Hayashi said he hopes the changes to the waiver program will attract more math students to teaching.
The liberal arts track is intended for students who double-major in math and another subject, Hayashi said, noting that students who want to go into teaching can use the liberal arts track even though they won’t automatically be waived from taking the credential exam.
The advanced studies program is designed for students planning to go into a master’s program in mathematics.
No changes are planned for the bachelor’s of science program, the minor program, or the master’s program.
The program changes had previously won unanimous approval by the Curriculum Review and Approval Committee, Academic Senate President David Meredith said.
An external review board of mathematicians from other universities who deemed it “excellent” had also reviewed the proposal said Academic Senator Barry Rothman.
The California State University Board of Trustees postponed its October meeting to discuss the 2007-2008 budget and possible fee increases of up to 10 percent so they can await the results of the upcoming gubernatorial election.
Now some of California’s top Democrats have said the postponement may be a political ploy to protect the governor’s record on fee increases.
The meeting, which is typically held every year in late October, has been moved from Oct. 26 to the week after the election. Discussion of fee increases has been moved to January.
In a letter to inquire why the meeting was canceled, Speaker of the California Assembly Fabian Núñez stated that postponing the meeting violated longstanding practice to meet a recommended Nov. 1 deadline by the State Department of Finance and that voters have a right to know about fee increases before the Nov. 7 election.
“The people of California deserve to have all the issues put in front of them in advance of an election,” Núñez said. “A significant increase in student fees at the CSU is certainly an issue of public policy that ought to be put before voters.”
“It would be highly disturbing to discover that the trustees, a number of whom are appointees of the current administration, or CSU executives, allowed election politics to impact the timing of action on the proposed CSU budget.”
Board Chair Roberta Achtenberg said in a letter released Tuesday, “This year is not the first time the Board has not held an October meeting.”
“In those years, as this year, the basic parameters of the budget request were not controversial and were discussed thoroughly at the September board meeting.”
Paul Browning, a spokesman for the CSU Chancellor’s office, said part of the board’s reasoning was Angelides’ and Schwarzenegger’s “different philosophies on how to fund higher education."
While Browning said the rescheduling was a normal thing to do, he also said the postponement of meetings to await election results has never happened before.
In a statement, leading challenger Phil Angelides called the postponement another sign that if Gov. Schwarzenegger is reelected, “students will once again pay the price.”
Angelides said in a press release, he would cut fee increases to the level they were before Schwarzenegger took office, making a CSU degree nearly $2000 less than it is today. He also promised to simultaneously increase attendance in CSU and UC schools by 20,000 students combined a year.
“We’ve seen what happens when Governor Schwarzenegger’s in a budget bind – who carries the burden, who suffers,” Angelides said. “It’s kids and schools and middle-class families.”
“When push came to shove, he stripped money from the classroom, raised tuition and fees, and loaded future generations with billions in debt.”
According the SF State Bursar's Office, fee's at SF State have increased more than 23 percent for full-time undergraduate and nearly 60 percent for full-time graduate students since Gov. Schwarzenegger entered office.
H.D. Palmer, the governor’s chief spokesman on budget and fiscal issues, dismissed allegations that the governor may have any influence on the board’s choice to postpone the meeting.
“We don’t, in any way, shape or form control the board,” Palmer said. “The change in timing and schedule was their decision and theirs alone.”
Board Chair Achtenberg defended the decision by saying, “The Board agreed with the Chancellor that any consideration of a fee action be postponed until January to allow discussions with the Governor – whoever is in office.”
The Gator community has one more transportation option with the recent introduction of a car-sharing program on campus, providing priority parking, insurance, gas, and hybrid vehicles.
The beginning of this semester made SF State the 30th college or university to offer such a partnership with the company Zipcar, and is the first on the West Coast to have the program on campus.
“We are happy to find a program that is for faculty, staff and students,” said Patricia Tolar, the transportation coordinator for the Zipcar program at SF State. “The program benefits everyone.”
Zipcar parking spots on campus are the first two spots in the main parking garage off of State Drive, and according to Daniel Shifrin, the regional vice president for Zipcar, the process of requesting and driving a Zipcar is simple.
After an online request is made, the car is ready within five minutes. Members swipe what resembles a credit card in a machine, which starts a timer. Each car costs about $8.75 per hour or $65 per day.
The self-service car sharing program requires drivers to be 21 years old with a clean driving record and is offered through SF State for a $25 annual membership fee, almost a 70 percent savings compared to Zipcar’s normal joining fees for San Francisco.
Danielle Enos, 19, said she noticed the large Zipcar banner hanging on the entrance to the main parking lot where she parks her car, but is disappointed the program is not offered to her age group.
“I drive across the Bay Bridge, which still saves me money compared to BART,” said the East Bay resident and pre-med major. “I’m not sure if this program would really save me money. Maybe if they had a weekly rate it would be worth it.”
According to a study conducted by the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley, 17 U.S. car-sharing programs have 101,993 members sharing 2,558 vehicles as of June 2006.
SF State’s two-month-old partnership has 15 staff and faculty members and 45 students, according to Tolar. Yet, other students have found Zipcar’s rival as their car-share company of choice. City Car Share also offers Bay Area residents a similar opportunity with competing rates, but does not have cars on campus.
“They do the same thing, but are cheaper and are a local nonprofit organization, unlike Zipcar, which has an obnoxiously big advertising budget,” said Kira Lucier, 24, environmental studies major.
According to its Web site, City Car Share charges members $4 per hour, 44 cents per mile and $10 per month after a $30 application fee.
“I’ve been a City Car Share member for quite a while and I love it. It would be great though if it had the resources to have some pods near campus,” said Lucier.
Zipcar members are able to access over 1,800 cars in 12 states and provinces including metropolitan New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto. Other partnering schools include Georgetown, Rutgers, Harvard and the University of North Carolina.
SF State Zipcar members receive an alternative to car ownership and car rentals and, according to Shifrin, there are significant and positive “green” benefits to becoming a member.
“Our number one hope is to get people in the long run to realize they don’t need a car if they live in a city,” said Shifrin. “We are an environmentally conscious capitalist company.”
According to a recent member survey, 40 percent of Zipcar’s 75,000 members would have kept their vehicle, or would have purchased a vehicle if the car-share company were not available. Zipcar estimates it is responsible for almost 25,000 fewer vehicles on the roads.
Dozens of vehicle models are available to Zipcar members, including Minis, Prius hybrids, BMWs, VW Jettas, and pick-up trucks. SF State has one Toyota Prius and one Mazda 3 on campus.
“When I went to school, sharing a car was the last thing I wanted to do,” said Shifrin, 39. “Today, students have a better attitude toward the environment and the proof is in the use of these cars.”
Even at its loudest, with a band playing and speakers blaring, the noise level in Malcolm X Plaza is not allowed to exceed 95 decibels, however the lower conference level of the Cesar Chavez Student Center reaches almost 90 decibels even before the lunch crowd arrives.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration requires employees to be placed in a hearing conservation program if they are exposed to an average noise level of 85 decibels, but many student center staff and vendors have worked for years without any allowances.
For students and faculty who do not like the din of the lower conference level, a mix of video games, television, and music, they have the option of taking their lunch elsewhere. But for those who have to work in it for hours at a time, whether they enjoy the noise or not, there is no choice.
“If you just come in sometime for an hour or so it’s OK, but me, I’m here until 7 or 9 o’clock,” said Frank Meng, who has owned and operated Asia Express for more than 10 years.
Over the years Meng has brought up the noise issue many times, but his complaints have fallen on deaf ears, he said. The Cesar Chavez Student Center’s top administrator does not agree that there is a problem at all.
“When I’m in different parts of the building I hear no difference,” said Guy Dalpe who has been managing director of the Cesar Chavez Student Center for 15 years.
Dalpe also denied having received complaints this month, although Meng said he had talked to him the day before about the noise.
“The managing director hasn’t done anything about these complaints,” said Mirishae McDonald, chair of the Master Plan Committee, which manages the budget for the Cesar Chavez Student Center. “These problems have been happening well before I got here, and will continue after I’m gone unless I do something.”
McDonald hopes to discuss the issue at a future committee meeting.
“The Depot is for our enjoyment, and there is so much cool stuff down there, however we don’t want it to be to the detriment of those who work there,” McDonald said.
For some, the noise is not a detriment, it's good business.
Osvaldo Castaneda has owned New York “Minute” Deli for more than two years, and wouldn’t mind a little more noise.
“It does not bother me, we play music and a lot of people like it,” Castaneda said. “Before, the TV was on the other side (of the mural wall), it was nice. A lot of people like to come watch sports and news.”
Many Cesar Chavez Student Center staff members would not comment on the issue.
Danny Gotaj, the night custodial supervisor who has been working in the building for 24 years, would only say, “It’s part of the job, you are hired, you just have to deal with it.”
An accordion fire door is used to help muffle the sound made by musicians who perform weekly in The Depot, just above Asia Express, but Dalpe said the door cannot be closed completely because of fire regulations.
The effects of loud noise on the ear differ greatly from person to person, said Colleen Polite, doctor of audiology at UC San Francisco, but the longer the exposure, the greater the chance of permanent damage.
Like Gotaj and Meng, many of the people who work in the lower conference level have dealt with the noise for years, but might not have had to.
Lowering the sound level might be an easy and affordable fix, according to SF State professor John Barsotti, who specializes in sound and music recording.
Twenty boxes filled with housing insulation and placed at key points in the room could lower the noise level by three to four decibels, and make a major difference for roughly $1000, Barsotti said.
Every three decibels sounds double to the human ear, and a three to four decibel difference is a “major difference,” Barsotti said.
Today the California Academy of Sciences is concrete, steel and construction. But soon, it will be a four-story high rainforest stirring with 1,600 live animals and more than 600 free flying birds and butterflies.
These elaborate plans for the Rainforests of the World, a permanent exhibit set to open in late 2008 at the California Academy of Sciences site in Golden Gate Park, were revealed Thursday, boasting an interactive experience.
“We don’t want a Disney-esque experience,” said Chris Andrews, director of the Steinhart Aquarium, a division of the Academy. “We want people to be able to interact with animals and exhibits to make a very different type of experience.”
One part of the dome will have a living tropical rain forest and the four other parts will house simulated rainforests from Borneo, Madagascar, Costa Rica and the Amazonian River Basin, complete with animals and vegetation from their native environment.
“They are diverse, exciting and threatened habits and it’s one of the reasons why a rainforest theme was chosen,” Andrews said.
The Bornean rainforest will have a cave of bats, and bat eating snakes and scorpions. The Amazonian flooded forest will be in a hundred thousand gallon aquarium tank with a tunnel to walk through, featuring turtles, fish and other aquatic rainforest animals.
The $220 million project will simulate “as real an environment as possible,” setting the temperature from 82 to 85 degrees and maintaining high humidity rates. Specific light bulbs will be used to ensure the proper light needed for the environment.
However, the simulated rain forest cannot be identical to their native environments, Andrews said.
“We never fooled ourselves to believe we can recreate nature,” Andrews said. “Nobody’s close to recreating nature. But we’ll provide excellent conditions for the animals to breath, grow, live naturally and reproduce.”
When the construction ends a year from now, the Academy will begin its work to create an environment suitable for the several animal, insect, bird and fish species to inhabit the dome.
A hole will be left in the roof and a tree tall enough to reach the dome’s roof will be lowered in and shortly after the animals will move in.
The aquarium will try and use animals born in captivity according to CAS biologist Ned McAllister. They will be sent to the CAS’s temporary site on Howard Street for quarantine and will spend a year or two in environments that match the one being duplicated at Golden Gate Park. Afterwards, the animals will be slowly integrated into the new museum to see how they interact with each other.
Enthusiasts who want to visit the Academy don’t have to wait for 2008. Students get in for $6.50.
A traveling dinosaur exhibit from New York is at the 875 Howard St. site until February, complete with full skeletons and “the most up to date discoveries in the field of paleontology,” said Andrew Ng, a CAS coordinator. The Steinhart Aquarium is also open.
On the third Thursday of every month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., people can visit the Academy’s current dinosaur exhibit and enjoy music, wine and cheese.
The International Education Exchange Council, an on-campus student organization aimed at bringing American and exchange students together, held a study abroad fair Wednesday. The fair gave exchange students and study abroad alumni a chance to share their experience with people interested in studying abroad.
Tables representing Australia, Korea, Italy, Spain and 12 other countries took part in the fair with approximately 80 former study abroad students and current exchange students from around the world.
The fair, took place on the walkway adjacent to Malcolm X Plaza from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. It is an annual event that has taken place since the organization’s founding in 1994.
The recommended deadline for CSU study abroad applications for the fall of 2007 is Dec. 15 and March 1 for exchange programs between SF State and other schools.
Stephanie Hyland, a third year biology and dance major from Oakland, visited the Mexico and UK tables. She said she’s ready to travel outside the Bay Area.
“I’m just getting bored,” said Hyland who has grown up in the Bay Area her whole life.
“I want to go somewhere and learn another language and learn about people.”
The organization’s co-chair Salim Palekar said he enjoys sharing the benefits of international travel with other students at SF State.
“I’m finding it teaches you a lot about yourself,” said Palekar, who has been at SF State since the beginning of the semester by way of London. “It increases your knowledge of the world and you still learn your major.”
SF State student Laura Neli studied international relations and Spanish in Queretaro, Mexico. Part Brazilian and Peruvian, Neli felt she could relate with Mexicans before her trip but said she can relate to them better now and feels it’s a benefit with California’s large Mexican population.
“I learned a lot about Mexican culture, tradition and history,” said Neli. “I really got a taste of what Mexican life is like.”
The day’s festivities, Palekar said, included a competition among the various tables. The most enthusiastic of the groups will receive a trophy with their countries name on it.
The Germans gave out hot dogs and Japanese students in kimonos offered free sushi and to write names in Japanese.
Though no official winner had been announced the French table may have very well been the winner.
Representing with about 15 people, the girls wore blue, white and red skirts with matching ribbons. Others painted their faces and wore T-shirts with French flags painted on them. They played their own music and danced for most of the two-hour event.
Holding a cigarette in one hand and a baguette in the other, Luc Jodet of Paris said he created his outfit with help from some friends.
“We asked our American friends what the stereotypes are and made our outfits,” Jodet said. His outfit included suspenders, a tight, thinly striped shirt and a red beret.
Students were also on hand to share their experiences in San Francisco while promoting their home countries.
Tore Kristensen is from Denmark. Before beginning school, Kristensen took three years off to ride his bike around the world making 8 trips, the longest ones taking a year from China to Denmark and again from Mexico to Argentina.
This is Kristensen’s last semester of school and before graduation he wanted to study in San Francisco.
“It was my last chance to study abroad and I remember hearing they had a program over here and I wanted to come to San Francisco,” Kristensen said. “So I came.”
Students interested in studying abroad or joining the IEEC should visit the Office of International Programs in room 450 of the Administration building. There you can make an appointment to speak with advisors or former and current exchange students.
You can also visit their Web site here.
All study abroad programs students do not pay application fees just their SF State course fees. All financial aid is accepted as well.
It is once again that time of year. Proposition campaigns slowly make their way into TV commercials and voter registration recruiters begin to saturate college campuses. The 2006 California Election, which is fast approaching, is set for Nov. 7.
SF State is typically known for its high level of political involvement and activism. Some students share their plans and opinions on voting in this November election.
When the United States was preparing for war in Iraq in 2002, Saddam Hussein spoke Arabic in his video denials to having weapons of mass destruction.
The translator played a major role in those videos, being seen as not credible in the United States, SF State lecturer Rev. Rick Van De Water said.
“He spoke in a very low voice, trying to sound like a dictator,” said Van De Water, a lecturer of Arabic at SF State. “And he sounded pretty sarcastic, and didn’t sound trustworthy. Many Americans heard the denials and thought, ‘Yeah right.’”
Clad in a clergy shirt and collar, Van De Water cited this as one example of why more Americans should learn Arabic. Before about 30 students and faculty on Oct. 18, he drew upon his 32 years of living in the Middle East and said learning Arabic can help build a cultural bridge in a time of political conflict.
With the advance of technology and with the world becoming a “global village,” he said there has been an unequal cultural exchange. English has permeated most of the world, while non-English speaking cultures aren’t making a similar impact on the English-speaking world, he said.
“By knowing the language of a people, you’re meeting them on an equal level,” Van De Water said.
Arabic society has a rich culture that is primarily expressed through language, he said. Without knowing the language, misunderstandings can arise.
An example Van De Water cited was President Bush initially calling the war on terror a “crusade.” For many in the Middle East, the word “crusade” has the historical connotation of Christianity trying to dominate Islam.
“It’s hard to believe he meant it that way,” said Van De Water, a priest and minister at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, “but if he had known Arabic, one can assume he wouldn’t have called it that.”
Many Americans only hear Arabic through translators, and things will always get lost in translation, he said.
“Translation is inevitably interpretation,” he said. “Things like the choice of words, intonation, and the translator’s personal biases can dramatically change what is being said.
But learning Arabic can be difficult.
“I was interested in learning a couple years ago, but I found it too difficult,” said 28-year-old Isabella Perez, who is studying events management at SF State. “Maybe I’ll try again in the future, when I have more time.”
When Van De Water teaches Arabic classes, he tells the students they are at a disadvantage because he is not a native speaker. But, he also tells them they are at an advantage because he is not a native speaker, so he knows all the difficulties they face coming from an English-speaking background.
Earlier this semester, while assistant professor Mohammad Salama was stuck in Canada awaiting U.S. security clearance, Van De Water filled in for his Arabic classes.
Van De Water’s lecture was the latest in the foreign language and literature department’s ongoing Foreign Language Colloquium Series. The series is a forum where faculty members and guest speakers from other departments and institutions can speak about subjects in their field of expertise, according to the Midori McKeon, chair of the department of foreign languages and literatures.
McKeon organized the series, and thought Van De Water would be a great speaker.
“Given his 32-year residence in Palestine and Jordan and his extensive educational, social and pastoral work there, I expected perspectives different from the ones we receive from American news media,” she said. “And he delivered.”
Mayor Gavin Newsom, who recently turned 39, has San Francisco newspapers talking about his new relationship with a woman half his age.
On the campus of SF State, students voice their opinions on the mayor's new-found love with a 20-year-old woman.
Tim McCutchan was surrounded by condoms.
ï¿½Condoms, condoms everywhere,ï¿½ said the 42-year-old senior creative writing major when he first saw the colorful and humorous displays at the Latexhibition, an annual event promoting safe sex that has taken place for 18 years.
ï¿½The project is great,ï¿½ he said. ï¿½It was quite creative and I like the message it sends.ï¿½
Each semester the Biology 327: AIDS: Biology of the Modern Epidemic, 322: Human Sexuality: Integrated Science, and 330: Human Sexuality class projects are displayed along the walkway between Burke Hall and Student Health Services.
Students reacted to the displays with laughter and appreciation for the creativity and the message of safe sex they sent.
ï¿½Itï¿½s super. I think itï¿½s a riot and Iï¿½m glad thereï¿½s lots of safe sex awareness,ï¿½ said Alison Barid, a 24-year-old student working towards her teacherï¿½s certificate, who got a laugh out of the ï¿½Rock out with your cock outï¿½ only if itï¿½s wrapped!ï¿½ project, which used condoms to make a rock band on stage.
ï¿½Itï¿½s interesting to see how some people stuck to the educational, genitalia diagrams and others do ï¿½Suck some Dick Cheneyï¿½ with a condom coming out of his mouth,ï¿½ said Sinaya Cotlong, 21, a senior liberal studies major, counseling minor.
Some of the projects illustrated figures by using condoms. ï¿½Variations in Sexual location and Orientationsï¿½ illustrated a gay couple in doggy style, a straight couple in froggy style, and a lesbian couple in 69.
Another group used latex gloves to make a safe sex purse. Others used colorful condoms to make four pairs of underwear, including a pair of menï¿½s briefs and a womanï¿½s thong.
ï¿½Itï¿½s like a satire form of education to display humor about safe sex,ï¿½ said 23-year-old senior communication studies major Jess Dietch, who, with her friend Melissa Ray, 26, laughed at the ï¿½Play it Safeï¿½ display that used condoms on a baseball diamond.
A group of engineering majors, minoring in biology, decided to build a model of the Golden Gate Bridge out of 40 condoms, five latex gloves, dental dams and wood.
Tobe Thomas, 22, who worked on the ï¿½Condom Gate Bridgeï¿½ said the display was quite interesting.
ï¿½Itï¿½s definitely something new to look at walking on campus,ï¿½ he said.
Latexhibition began in 1988 in biology classes taught by Ann Auleb to raise awareness of safe sex and make people more comfortable about condoms by forcing the students to obtain, open and touch latex barriers. The event also created a place for people to come and get information.
ï¿½A lot of the stuff is funny,ï¿½ Auleb said. ï¿½It brings humor to a difficult situation.ï¿½
Past exhibits have been displayed at international AIDS conferences and have even spread to Indiana University.
The biology classes work with SHS to encourage people to get tested for HIV.
ï¿½We want students to be as creative as possible,ï¿½ said biology professor Christopher Moffatt, who teaches Biology 330. ï¿½I think itï¿½s a great project, particularly for students uncomfortable with safe-sex products.ï¿½
Moffatt said the event had a positive effect for safe sex because it gave safe sex a higher profile on campus.
ï¿½The whole point is to get people to get over the fear of buying condoms,ï¿½ said Lauren Entner, 20, a junior psychology major who created ï¿½Sexy Sushiï¿½ in about two hours for Biology 330. Her display, made of colorful condoms, looked convincingly like pieces of nigiri and maki.
Ryan Stemmler and Matt Woods, who both work for Educational Referral Organization on Sexuality, said the project makes people more comfortable talking about safe sex and gets people more comfortable about sex.
ï¿½Creating awareness is important because we see how uncomfortable people who come in here are,ï¿½ said Woods, assistant director of EROS. ï¿½Itï¿½s a drive-by condom taking.ï¿½
ï¿½If youï¿½re embarrassed talking to people providing you with the condoms, surrounded by porn, what are you going to do when you have to use it?ï¿½ said Stemmler.
A four-car accident occurred Tuesday around 8 p.m. on Lake Merced Boulevard near Mary Park Hall, sending one woman to the hospital.
According to witnesses, a Western Eagle Shuttle driving passengers home from San Francisco International Airport collided with the rear of a Subaru Forester, shattering the back window and sending glass onto the hood and roof of the van. None of the shuttle’s passengers were hurt.
Witnesses said paramedics took the unidentified driver of the Subaru to the hospital.
The impact from the shuttle and the Subaru's collision caused a chain reaction, leading to the pileup that involved nine people, including two passengers who complained about pain after the accident.
The driver of one of the cars was Richard Fierro, who was heading home at the time of the accident and said his back was bruised.
He received no examination from paramedics who were anxious to get the woman to the hospital, he said.
Police have not yet released an official statement about the cause of the accident or the injuries.
The van’s driver, Georgi Nikkolov, sustained no injuries. He said the unidentified driver of the Subaru had cut her car in front of the van. Nikkolov said he was not driving fast and the accident was not his fault.
He had taken Lake Merced Boulevard instead of 19th Avenue to avoid traffic.
Stephen Martinez, the driver of the car that was hit last, said the driver of the airport shuttle caused the accident.
“I’m pretty sure it was the van,” said Martinez, a Vallejo resident. Martinez said he experienced a headache after the accident.
“Jolly way to end an evening,” said Hope Herndon, a shuttle passenger who was returning home after flying across the Pacific Ocean from Fiji.
A rally on Tuesday, Oct. 17 quickly turned tumultuous when two flags believed to contain the Arabic symbol for “Allah,” or God, were trampled on by members of SF State’s College Republicans.
The makeshift flags were those of Hezbollah and Hamas, two Islam-based political parties in the Middle East designated by the United States as terrorist organizations. Leigh Wolf, a member of the College Republicans, said the group was unaware of what the Arabic symbols meant until some Muslim students brought it to their attention.
"The goal was to desecrate Hezbollah and Hamas, not Islam," Wolf said.
Under the watch of at least five campus police officers, including Police Chief Kirk Gaston, the College Republican-sponsored rally in support of the war on terror at Malcolm X Plaza morphed into a heated and emotional exchange of words. Some audience members said they thought the College Republicans were being insensitive to their religion.
“It’s the equivalent of stepping on the cross. How would Christians feel?” said Ali Algarmi, 21, an SF State Muslim student studying sociology. “We see that as being spit on the face.”
After learning of the religious symbols the College Republicans let some Muslim students alter the flags to be less inflammatory before walking on them in protest of terrorists.
“That’s something very holy, and stepping on it, it’s disgracing Islam,” Brian Gallagher said, an SF State student and General Union of Palestinian Students, or GUPS, member.
It is not the first time College Republicans and Muslim students have clashed on campus.
In November 2004, campus police broke up a physical altercation when the College Republicans set up a table in the plaza after the presidential elections and were mobbed by a group of Muslim and Palestinian students. About a year earlier at a pro-Israel event on campus, Jewish students were escorted off campus by police when they were mobbed by members of GUPS.
Tuesday’s rally attracted about 100 people initially, but the ensuing commotion caught the interest of other students just passing through the plaza.
For Carl Clark, 22, president of the College Republicans, the rally was an opportunity for the student political group to voice their beliefs, while also offering SF State students another perspective on the often-debated U.S.-led war on terror.
Clark said he and other group members received physical threats while on stage, but at the same time, he also anticipated the vocal disapproval from students and other student organizations.
“This campus preaches free speech, but unless you are Republican,” Clark said. “We don’t show up and protest their events.”
Members of Students Against War, or SAW, and the SF State contingent of the International Socialist Organization were also on hand to protest by shouting at the College Republicans calling them “racists” and holding up neon-colored signs.
In front of the American flag-draped stage the College Republicans erected a cardboard coffin with a tombstone reading “R.I.P.” to symbolize innocent lives lost to terrorist attacks, Clark said.
“I definitely expected people to be upset,” said Wolf. “But you know what? I don’t really care what they think of us desecrating the flags of terrorists."
At one point, Wolf and Ramsey El-Qare, president of GUPS, confronted and pointed fingers at each other in front of the cement stage. El-Qare accused Wolf of spreading false and derogatory information about Muslims to students.
“They are just being intolerant of other people’s religion,” said Naser Halteh, 22, an SF State student and GUPS member.
Despite the frenzied emotions and the face-to-face confrontations, the police did not actively engage the incident.
For Sean Ajayi, an SF State student who lived in Saudi Arabia for three years, the incident only encapsulates the often-volatile relationship between the College Republicans and Muslim students and the need for a more formal forum for debate.
“All this does is stir up rhetoric,” Ajayi said. “They are as convicted in their values as much as we are.”
Even so, stomping on flags with the Arabic sign for God stings for Sharef Al Najjar, 22, an SF State student studying international business and a Muslim Student Association member.
“The fact that God was on the flag, it was offensive to me and other Muslims,” Najjar said. “You don’t get to step on people’s religions.”
Students arriving at the Humanities building Tuesday were met with a flood of hot water when a pipe broke above the first floor ceiling.
According to witnesses, the incident happened around 9:20 a.m. Hot water rained from the ceiling into large black and blue trash bins positioned outside HUM 133, the Humanities Auditorium, until almost 11:30 a.m., causing at least one class to be canceled for the day, and at least five others moved to alternate rooms, including intro to semantics and 20th century Chinese literature.
The pipes that carry all the hot water used throughout the building began heavily leaking near HUM 133, causing some ceiling panels to fall and water to cover the floor. The classes in the area between HUM 100 and 133, along with the main entrance were affected by the flood.
“Hot water and steam were coming down, and students were determined to get to class,” said Peg Sarosy, academic coordinator for the American Language Institute, adding that she saw at least two inches of water on the floor.
Robert Hutson, associate vice president of Facilities and Services Enterprises, said most of the water was cleaned up by 12:15 p.m., and Jim Lilliston, who is in charge of room assignments in the Humanities building said all the classrooms were cleaned up and back in use by 3:30 p.m. However, HUM 133 was unavailable to host a guest speaker on Wednesday morning.
“It was kind of chaotic,” said Lilliston, “but we managed to get it done.”
The replacement of expansion joints for hot water is currently underway throughout the campus, according to Hutson. He also said the large amount of water was from a leak, not a pipe that burst.
Students were directed to enter the Humanities building through the northern entrance, diverting traffic away from the water logged boxes and papers piled up outside the American Language Institute.
Evan Christensen, maintenance superintendent of Facilities and Services Enterprises did not respond to phone calls by press time.
Anna Elledge contributed to this report.
SF State’s graduate business school may be moving to a new and modern site downtown, but its 700 students will have to shoulder the cost.
According to a report by the SF State Academic Affairs Office, full-time graduate business students could pay about 65 percent more in course fees, or an additional $1,200. Part-timers will be asked to pay 57 percent more increasing their course fees by $700.
The more than $1 million raised each year by the increase would pay for the new property’s rent, heating, air conditioning and instructional equipment. Already approved by SF State President Robert Corrigan, the increase only needs the signature of the California State University Board of Trustees to go into effect next fall.
The Downtown Campus, as the site will be known, will be at the recently remodeled Westfield San Francisco Centre. Joining the graduate business program at the Powell and Market streets building is the College of Extended Learning, which is currently located four blocks down at 425 Market St.
“Wow,” said Brian Petersen, a 28-year-old first-year SF State graduate business student. “That’s good news… sort of.”
“It’s still cheaper than Berkeley or private schools, but funds are tight for a lot of people right now,” said Petersen, noting that many business grad students choose SF State over other schools because of its affordability.
The move was made for several reasons, but most notably for a closer proximity to the financial district for the graduate business school – which is currently split between the main Holloway Avenue campus and a campus in Redwood City – and extra space said SF State spokeswoman Ellen Griffin.
The Powell Street and Market Street location will mean 12 more classrooms than the 19 they have at the current location. Annually that means space for an additional 3,000 College of Extended Learning students.
“The current lease was running out and the owner did not want to renew,” said Griffin in an e-mail interview. “The university saw this as an excellent opportunity to expand and strengthen its programs downtown, particularly those of interest to the business community.”
Annually, 7,700 students, including 1,400 from the graduate business program and 6,300 from the College of Extended Learning, will utilize the new Downtown Campus, and occupy the entire sixth floor and part of the fifth floor. Extended learning courses currently offered at the Holloway Avenue campus will remain there.
The Westfield San Francisco Centre is the largest urban mall west of the Mississippi. It features the West Coast flagship Bloomingdale’s, a nine-screen CinéArts Century Theatres movie complex, a spa, offices, and more than 150 boutiques and shops.
John Dopp, the director of graduate business programs, is excited about the opportunities the move will offer the college and its students.
"First, it means much greater exposure and access to the business community downtown," he said.
The locality of the new facility, Dopp said, means 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," Dopp said.
Though the program is moving downtown, graduate business students will still be asked to pay local fees for the Holloway Avenue campus including fees for athletics, student government and the Cesar Chavez Student Center, according to Griffin.
No fee increase has been forecasted for next semester’s College of Extended Learning students, though no determination can be made for subsequent semesters, said College of Extended Learning spokeswoman Susan Propst.
The College of Extended Learning, which has been at it’s current downtown site since 1993, 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.
Funds to pay for the CEL’s portion of the rent are coming from the university and extended learning’s overall budget and course fees, Griffin said.
If an application for a tax break from the city comes through, the new center will be cheaper per square foot than its current location. However, SF State officials declined to reveal the rental costs of either the new or current sites.
The fee increase was presented for approval to the Student Fee Advisory Board this summer. The board, made up of both students and administrative officials, may advise, but cannot demand, the administration take actions on student’s fees.
Associated Students Inc. President Maire Fowler, who is a member of the Student Fee Advisory Board, expressed concerns over the planned increase at the meeting and again to President Corrigan in a letter written shortly after the meeting this July.
In the letter, Fowler said the new 15-year lease, signed in December 2005, committed the university to a debt of more than $1 million dollars a year.
Fowler also requested the school only give the fee increase to first-semester students.
At press time, she had not received a response from President Corrigan.
While graduate student Petersen thinks the move is worthwhile, he questions the school’s methods.
“You’ve got to think it’s good for the program, but the way they went about it seems a little devious,” he said.
A benefit gala for the 30-year anniversary of Media Alliance, a Bay Area media advocacy and resource center, attracted more than 250 people Oct. 12 for a celebration that included a handful of speakers, although all eyes seemed to be on veteran White House correspondent and star guest Helen Thomas.
Media workers, activists and educators filled the Green Room in Herbst War Memorial Theatre on Van Ness Avenue. Some had been members of Media Alliance since the start, while others were there to support the benefit and get an opportunity to see Thomas, 86, who spoke on topics ranging from covering John F. Kennedy to her opinions on the Bush administration, the Iraq War and the state of media today.
Most famous for the 57 years she has worked as a White House correspondent, Thomas was described at the gala as the “Darling of YouTube,” referring to the younger fan base she recently gained after co-starring with Stephen Colbert in his White House press secretary spoof, available for viewing through the Web site.
“How come only the comedians are telling the truth?” Thomas said of her experience with Colbert, while noting that three pages in the Washington Post are dedicated to cartoons, where political questioning and discussion could have a place.
A spoken-word performance by Oakland-based artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph was met with energetic applause and riled the crowd from the start of the program at 7:30 p.m. During a brief history of Media Alliance’s accomplishments over the last three decades, supervisor Ross Mirkarimi was noted as present and a tip of the hat was given to SF State’s own Raul Ramirez, a seasoned journalist and journalism lecturer.
Nearly an hour later Belva Davis, the first female African-American news anchor on the west coast, took the stage with Thomas for the dialogue the audience was waiting for.
Beginning with questions about working with the Bush administration, Thomas described it as “darkness at noon,” saying the administration was highly secretive and had let the country down. Statements like these prompted hissing from the audience, which seemingly agreed with Thomas’ sentiments.
“What happened to America? Wake up!” Thomas said, later noting that she had never seen the country so life-less. “We gave up our one weapon, which is skepticism,” Thomas said.
Speaking about the quality of media today, Thomas said, “We have really fallen down on the job.”
“I think the press has come out of their coma finally, they could be much better … I don’t understand why they aren’t asking why, just why,” Thomas said of her colleagues.
Continuing the work they’ve done in the past to challenge media conglomerates, like Clear Channel, Media Alliance organized to speak out against media consolidation at last week’s FCC hearing in Los Angeles, and is doing the same for the Northern California FCC hearing in Oakland on Oct. 27.
“The federal government is increasingly using grand juries to circumvent state shield laws and force journalists to divulge their confidential sources. These violations of press freedom have a chilling effect on investigative reporting and our democracy,” the Media Alliance Web site states, with a link to a petition they will send to California senators and representatives.
Delvis asked Thomas about press freedom, and the possibility of a federal shield law, noting the Bay Area’s special interest in it this year, with SF State graduate Josh Wolf behind bars for refusing to hand over material, and two Chronicle reporters possibly doing the same.
“I think it’s getting tougher and tougher,” Thomas said about the ability of today’s reporters to keep sources confidential. “I’d like to see a shield law.”
Chen Chi Kwan's art, although heavily influenced by war, has been described as fluid and alive with his magical landscapes and imaginative use of color.Chen talked about his life's work in front of approximately 100 people Oct. 11 in the Fine Arts Gallery at SF State.
The event was part of the California Calligraphy Summit curated by Mark Johnson, the gallery director. The interview with Chen Chi-kwan was conducted by Chinese poetry and medieval Chinese studies professor Charles Egan, who translated the dialogue from Mandarin to English.
Chen is a Chinese artist and architect who was recently awarded the Eighth National Award for Arts of Taipei.
“Thank you to all of the leaders who have made Chinese culture a part of SF State," said Johnson, as he introduced Chen to the audience.
Guests of the event were shown slides of Chen’s work and he spoke of his motivation for each of the pieces in Mandarin, translated by Egan.
The first painting, titled “Put Down the Sword and Become Buddha” was inspired by Chen who, at 93 years old, has lived though three wars. Blue markings on the bottom of the painting of a solider represent bloodshed. Chen said he didn’t want to use the color red because it would have made the painting too violent.
Born in 1921 in Beijing, China, Chen studied architecture in both China and in the US until he took up painting. He has excelled in both fields since the 1950s.
His paintings have been featured in major museums in the US and in China, and an 80-year retrospective exhibition of his work was presented by the Beijing and Shanghai art museums in 2000.
Now a resident of Burlingame, Calif., he was soft-spoken when he addressed the audience. He wore thick, black-rimmed glasses and Birkenstocks while keeping his cane close to his side.
Frank Yee, a literature professor at the City College of San Francisco and a graduate of SF State, said he was very excited to hear him speak but couldn't hear him. Several other guests agreed and noticed that someone had placed his microphone on the wrong side of his jacket lapel. Yee, who was sitting in the second row, added that he could barley make out what he was saying because Chen was also talking softly.
Only part of the interview was translated from Mandarin to English for those who don't speak the language.
“The reason why calligraphy is so important is because it teaches discipline with brush strokes. There isn’t a single Chinese artist who isn’t good at calligraphy,” Yee said. He added that calligraphy is essentially the cornerstone of Chinese art and philosophy.
Calligraphy is very apparent in Chen's work. One painting shows a mother pig feeding her young. Egan pointed out it appeared to be painted in a single stroke.
Chen said the painting is meant to represent vulnerability, luck and vitality.
Many of those who attended the event were SF State students who are currently studying Chinese and calligrapy. The single-color painting of the mother pig was SF State calligraphy student Annie Kuo’s favorite.
"I think the painting is meant to represent vulnerability and vitality," Kuo said about the piece.
Kuo said she had never heard of Chen's work, but thought it was cool to be introduced to his art.
Chen wrapped up the event by answering questions from the audience and responded to a question regarding his incorporation of windows in his paintings.
“A window is like eye,” Chen said simply. He also mentioned that when he was an architect nothing made him happier than to paint.
Chen picked all of the paintings presented and in one particular piece, titled “Vertigo,” he talked about the piece as a twisted point of view, the fluidity of it, and he added that this type of work is rarely seen in Chinese paintings.
“The moving eye of the painting is what makes this one different and dynamic from western art,” Egan said.
Guests of the event were treated to complimentary dim sum and green tea following the discussion and were encouraged to tour the gallery.
The interview wrapped up with questions from the audience. One guest asked Chen if he might have missed big oppurtunities in the world of architecture while he was dedicating himself solely to his art. But Chen grinned and replied, “I’m just happy playing with paintings.”
Carlos Davidson is the success of last fall’s national hunt for the first permanent director of the blossoming SF State environmental studies program.
Joel Kassiola, professor and dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, said Davidson brings much needed strength to the program.
“He has brought a great deal of energy to serving the wide-ranging students and making them a more unified group,” said Kassiola, who also advises for the program’s majors.
The environmental study department at SF State is in its seventh year. It currently has 150 declared majors, and recently passed a new curriculum through the faculty senate.
“Every field has its caricatures,” Davidson said. “Accountants are boring – whatever. The environmental caricature is someone who hugs trees, and that is so outdated. Environmentalism is interconnected with social justice and has to do with some of the most pressing issues facing humanity.”
Davidson is the department’s first full-time faculty member. As an interdisciplinary program, porfessors bring their knowledge from other departments to teach environmental studies courses.
“I am confident … that the innovative program will continue to grow and prosper under the able and enthusiastic leadership of Director Davidson,” Kassiola said.
The environmental studies department is searching for another full-time member for its faculty this year.
“A lot of my work is building this program,” Davidson said. “There have been a number of successes already. I think the program is growing and solidifying – to having a new curriculum, looking to hire a new full-time faculty member, having a good advising system, and providing job opportunities to students.”
One way Davidson hopes to expand the program is to help implement a minor for anyone wanting basic environmental literacy.
For those declared majors, and future majors, the director’s expectations are clear: “To have more experiential learning and to provide engagement with environmental issues in the Bay Area and on campus,” Davidson said.
He also hopes SF State moves closer to sustainability with the help and determination of students.
“In the past 15 to 20 years, environmentalism has changed radically,” he said. “But this image of an environmental movement that cares about nature but not society still persists, and that’s inaccurate. There is growing recognition that environmental issues have to do with social issues and this movement is central to sustaining human civilization and well-being.”
Davidson spent many years living in Oakland, but once he was given the director position at SF State he moved with his wife and 4-year-old daughter to Pacifica to avoid the Bay Bridge commute.
Along with his “pretty hectic” work at SF State, Davidson is working Proposition L, a local Pacifica ballot initiative, which, if passed, would allow the development of an 87-acre plot known as the Rockaway Quarry.
“This is a proposal for a luxury hotel and 355 houses on open space,” Davidson said. The development would threaten the existence of local frogs and snakes living throughout the quarry,” he said.
The environmental studies director loves frogs and spends his summers high in the Sierras and the Cascades researching possible explanations for the mysterious disappearance of its amphibians, including the feasibility of pesticide contamination.
Davidson grew up in the greater Los Angeles area and moved to the Bay Area after a two-year stint at Colorado College. Davidson graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor's and master's degree in economics. Tiring of work as a labor economist for unions and cities, he decided to follow his passion of natural science and returned to school for his Ph.D. in ecology at UC Davis. Before working at SF State, Davidson taught environmental science for five years at Sacramento State.
Kassiola said Davidson embodies the true multi-disciplinary nature of this path-breaking program with his bachelor’s in economics and Ph.D. in biology.
“The fact he had an economic background really impressed me and I thought bringing a business side to the environmental field was extremely important,” said Leslie Goodyear, an SF State environmental studies and geography graduate, who participated in the hiring process of a new director two years ago.
“Carlos had such a variety of interests studied that I felt he fit right into this program which is so interdisciplinary,” she said. “All five candidates were amazing, but after the interview with Carlos, I gave him my blessings.”
Try telling Ben Namakin that global warming doesn’t exist. The 26-year-old Pacific Islander, who gave a talk Oct. 11 to SF State students about the effects of climate change in his country, knows just how real rising sea levels can be.
“The people of Micronesia and other islands are experiencing global warming firsthand,” he said. “We’re not just losing our land and our homes. We’re losing our culture. Our cultural identity is at stake.”
Namakin addressed about 35 students, highlighting the experiences of the people in islands such as Kiribati, Micronesia and Tuvalu, which are all located north of Australia.
For almost a month, Namakin has been traveling around the United States with Global Exchange, an environmental non-profit organization, which educates students about the effects climate change is having on countries across the globe. The focus of his activism is to change American dependence on oil.
“We don’t think ‘bad Americans, it’s all your fault,’” he said. “But we really want to get the truth out there. We want to educate kids from the first grade how real this is so they know not to consume so much energy.”
Namakin, who grew up in Kiribati and Micronesia, attended a vocational high school. After graduating with a diploma in marine science and agriculture, he went to work for the Conservation Society of Pohnpei in Micronesia. It was there he began to study the effects of global warming on his country.
Namakin cited numerous examples of the plight of Pacific Islanders against the forces of climate change. When he was young, he and friends frequented a nearby island to kayak and scuba dive. When told by his boss at the Conservation Society to go to the island to see an example of sea level change, he found that his childhood home had been split down the middle with a pool of water and had become two separate islands.
“All I could see was dead wood and trees in the water,” he said. “It’s sad to see your island sink.”
Another serious problem for island residents is the threat to food sources.
“Fishermen use rocks in the sea to navigate where to fish. Now those rocks are under water, and they’re losing their livelihood and source of food,” he said. “Our crops, like taro root, are being drowned by saltwater, and other plants that provide food and medicine are disappearing.”
In his fight for acknowledgement of the effects of global warming, Namakin doesn’t always receive encouragement. He told of a student in Micronesia who advised him to discontinue his campaign because it would never change anything.
“I say to those people, maybe we won’t make a difference, but at least we’re being responsible about it. At least we’re doing what we can,” he said.
When confronted with skeptics of climate change, Namakin said he just presents the overwhelming facts and his own experience.
“It may be easy to believe that global warming is not happening, but it is. About 99 percent of scientists know it is, and they know it is happening at the hands of humans,” he said. “Climate change is real. I want you to believe that. It’s an issue very close to my heart, and something must be done.”
Some Oakland junior high and high school students have found an outlet for their artistic expression thanks to a non-profit organization entitled Opera Piccola’s ArtGate project, an after-school program dedicated to enriching the development of youth through the arts.
An installation entitled “Let Me Tell You What’s Really Going On in the World,” will showcase the self-reflective and poetic works of more than 50 of these students from Claremont Middle School, Oakland Tech High School, and the former Carter Middle School. The exhibit will be on display in SF State's Art Gallery from Oct. 12–Nov. 8.
According to Justa Mui, the program coordinator for Art Gate, Opera Piccola started out in 1989 as a community theatre group providing community-involved performances in and around Oakland.
ArtGate started in 1993 as an after-school program that provides students with professional artists who teach classes ranging from visual arts, dance and theatre. The program is funded through grants.
“Our mission is to provide art to inner-city kids,” said the 31-year-old Mui. “Art education supports, enhances, and enriches their self-esteem.”
According to Carolyn Norr, who teaches the after-school program at Claremont Middle School, and also facilitated the works for the show, the lack of arts funding in public schools can have a negative impact on the development of a student’s critical thinking skills.
California ranked last among the 50 states in terms of arts funding in the public school system, according to a study done by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.
“Art is a way for them to lead," said Norr, an SF State alumni who majored in arts communication and the environment. “Art programs allow students to develop their own analysis on what is going on in the world.”
Cullen Bennett Jr., 11, attends Claremont Middle School and is enrolled in ArtGate. He said that when he heard of the program, he approached his parents immediately with the idea.
“It’s a lot of fun, but it’s really a lot of work,” said Bennett, a 6th grader who aspires to be a professional football player when he grows up.
Bennett wrote a poem for the exhibit entitled, “Just Because Your Short Doesn’t Mean Your Not Equal To Me.” He said he is often teased at school about his short stature, and the poem captures this frustration.
Jaime Schwartz, the art gallery manager and co-curator for the exhibit, said that she approached Norr – a long time friend – with the idea to host the exhibit in the Art Gallery.
“This show for me is not necessarily about the art work, but about the kids,” said Schwartz, 29, a graduate student majoring in museum studies at SF State. “I just feel like this program is so important that I wanted to give these kids a different kind of space.”
Christopher Stevenson, 13, said his father signed him up for ArtGate after completing a similar program the previous year. Stevenson aspires to be a rapper.
“I’ve gained knowledge and I can express myself,” said Stevenson, a 7th grader at Claremont Middle School, referring to his experience with ArtGate. "We get to say what we feel, and I love that.”
With the Nov. 7 senate, local, and state elections fast approaching, students at SF State share their perspectives on voting and what it means to them.
Despite its arresting appearance, Go Girl’s promotional event beside the Cesar Chavez Student Center today garnered more than future sales, it has drawn a critical eye.
“The thing that upsets me the most is that they’re aligning the idea of femininity with being girly, pretty, flirtatious and thin,” said Kimberly Michelmore, 21, an SF State student majoring in child development and minoring in women’s studies.
What Michelmore referred to was the plush pink carpeting, white leather footstools and row of martini glasses filled with Go Girl’s hot pink energy drink propped atop a bar. This “beautiful energy lounge,” as the Go Girl’s press release described the scene, was complete with large banners that read “More jump less jiggle,” “Lipo Sucks” and “You’re sweet enough already.”
“They’re putting on a big front about it being all about women, but it’s all about sales,” Michelmore added.
Not all SF State students received the event in the same way. As late morning classes let out, herds of people lined up in front of the Go Girl bar eagerly awaiting their chance to grab a free martini glass filled with a sample of the energy drink.
“It’s pink, it’s bright, it calls attention,” said SF State student Phillip Estrada, a 24-year-old kinesiology major who stood at the edge of the Go Girl event, unsure if he would try the product.
“I don’t look too deep into it. It’s just another energy drink on the market,” Estrada said.
Juanita Chisler, 20, an SF State business administrative and marketing major, was one of those whose attention was called by the bright pink appearance of the event. After taking a sample of the drink, Chisler and a friend sat down to enjoy a free manicure offered to students by Go Girl. The only shades of nail polish available were pink.
“This is the biggest promotion I’ve ever seen on campus,” Chisler said. “We were going to get something to eat and I said we needed to stop. I wanted to see what was going on.”
Chisler also commented that the event was well designed, adding, “No college student is going to pass up a bar.”
But when asked if she felt the event’s hyper pink appearance and message represented her, Chisler said, “I don’t think that it’s me at all.”
Chisler’s friend and fellow SF State student Emma Deguzman, 20, agreed.
“I usually don’t go for things like these, it’s too commercial and it goes against my politics,” Deguzman said.
Deguzman also noted that Go Girl’s presence on campus had the potential to do some harm as well.
“To be on a campus like SFSU with so much diversity, it might anger some people,” she said.
Nonetheless, the two young women were drawn to Go Girl’s ad campaign.
“It’s smart, it’s really smart,” Chisler said. “It’s not just a booth someone set up outside, it’s a room.”
This is exactly what Go Girl intended.
“We’re trying to give an experience,” said Lisa Hovarth, Go Girl’s account executive. “We’re trying to reach out to the female audience and obviously some people are going to find it sexist, but we can’t please everybody."
Amid growing frustration over the Palestinian mural approved by the Student Center Governing Board, SF State President Robert Corrigan called supporters of the mural “bigots,” while also offering a compromise which would allow it to be painted on the center.
At a closed meeting between Corrigan and Associated Students Inc. board members last week, ethnic studies representative Joicy Serramo told Corrigan she felt disempowered as a student leader.
“I am not disempowering students, I am disempowering bigots,” Corrigan said, according to Serramo and several other board members, including ASI President Maire Fowler.
On July 13, when the SCGB approved the Palestinian mural with a 6-2 vote, Corrigan immediately placed a moratorium on all new murals for the Cesar Chavez Student Center, effectively vetoing the board’s action. He said the mural is “conflict centered” and “it runs counter to values that we hope have taken deep root at San Francisco State.”
The hinging point of the debate concerns a controversial cartoon character named Handalah on the right side of the mural holding a key and pen in the shape of a sword.
At last week's meeting Corrigan issued board members an ultimatum: If Handalah is removed, he will allow the mural to be painted on the center, board members said.
According to board members, Corrigan said, “You are not going to put images of hate on this building.”
Opponents of the mural said Handalah represents the destruction of Israel and the key it is holding represents the “right of return.” The General Union of Palestine Students, or GUPS, the main campus group that sponsored and designed the mural, said Handalah is a peaceful symbol of Palestinian culture and struggle for liberation.
“We told him to shut it,” Fowler said of Corrigan's offer.
In a symbolic show of support for the mural, ASI board members passed a stinging 4-page resolution on Sept. 13 denouncing the moratorium and demanding Corrigan lift it.
“He called us bigots,” said Hector Cardenas, an ASI board member who attended the meeting.
An interview request with Corrigan was not granted and questions to SF State’s public affairs office were not answered before deadline.
Like Serramo, SCGB member Mirishae McDonald, chair of the Palestinian mural committee, said Corrigan is not respecting the planning and adoption process the board adhered to in approving the mural.
“It’s a completely democratic process,” McDonald said. “He doesn’t support students at all. We are the elected leaders of this campus.”
In addition to issues over the mural’s content, Corrigan justified the moratorium by saying he wants the SCGB arts committee to revise its policy for approving student-center murals.
Associated Students board members asked Corrigan why he is just now questioning the process in which the mural was approved.
“For a year now, I have asked for a policy that states what the selection process is for the spaces left, a process that reflected the positive values of this school,” Corrigan said according to board members. “We cannot get ourselves into another situation where we are identified as a Jew-hating university.”
In 1994, controversy over another mural exploded when the then Student Union erected a Malcolm X mural containing anti-Jewish symbols such as skulls and dollar signs superimposed over the Star of David. In that incident, Corrigan eventually called in riot police to protect workers removing the mural.
Corrigan said he would not lift the moratorium until the arts committee revises its policy.
Meanwhile, communication between Corrigan and the arts committee has screeched to a grinding halt as a result of squabbling over scheduling meeting times.
On at least two occasions last month, meetings were canceled culminating in a letter to the SCGB from Corrigan on Sept 25, the day the Palestinian mural was intended to be unveiled, saying he no longer has a need to meet with the committee because it is not in the process of revising the policy.
“He doesn’t want to meet with us,” McDonald said.
In the meantime, GUPS has started a petition to submit to Corrigan. So far they have collected more than 1,300 signatures of students who support the mural, said Charlie El-Qare, former president of GUPS and an arts committee member.
Tenants of the Villas Parkmerced, one of San Francisco's largest apartment complexes, filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, accusing it of illegal rent increases Wednesday.
The tenants claim coupons issued by the Villas Parkmerced are a scam that skirts San Francisco’s rent control laws, which permit a 1 percent to 2 percent rent increase per year.
Tenant Lee Parmelee, an executive administrative assistant with Great Bay Bank, said she recently learned about the lawsuit.
"My rent jumped by almost $450 in January, so I filed a petition with the rent board," Parmelee, an SF State geography alumna, said.
The tenant's attorneys, who are seeking more plaintiffs from the 3,456-unit complex near SF State, said tenants signed a one-year lease for $1,675 a month and received 12 “bonus bucks” coupons worth $350 each.
Tenants could use the coupons, which expired at the end of their lease, at their discretion. After the coupon deductions were made, each tenant paid an average of $1,325 per month for one year.
At the end of their lease the rent was raised to $1,703, a 28.5 percent increase from $1,325, or a 1.7 percent increase from $1,675.
The lawsuit is seeking a court order to place all the leases in question back to a rate comparable to $1,325 plus a 1.7 percent increase.
"We are also seeking restitution for rent over-paid by my clients, emotional and punitive damages,” according to Fredman.
Fredman said the exact total the class action would seek depends on the amount of plaintiffs it will include and the amount of time since each plaintiff used the bonus bucks.
“It will be in the hundreds of thousands,” Fredman said.
Parmelee signed her one-year lease with the Villas Parkmerced in January 2005 with a bonus-bucks offer. She said she was told she could sign up for another year under the same offer in January 2006, since the company would not allow a two-year lease.
“When I went to renew my lease they told me I had to wait for it to expire," Parmelee said. “Then they told me the bonus bucks are only for new tenants."
Parmelee said she will join the class action, but she felt intimidated by the Villas Parkmerced legal team.
“They had two attorneys, their own court reporter, the general manager, the lead sales person, and a real estate appraiser all against me at the rent board hearing,” Parmelee said.
Villas Parkmerced attorney Dave Wasserman, with Wasserman-Taxman Attorneys at Law said the lease contracts in question clearly stated the bonus bucks were revocable at any time. He also stressed the San Francisco Rent Board did not consider the offer a scam.
"The intent was to fairly compete in a very competitive market for good tenants. The bonus-bucks coupons were not a permanent feature of the lease," said Wasserman.
The Villas managers are no strangers to the stringent rent control ordinances in the city. They are under close scrutiny of the Rent Board, and therefore would not risk defrauding tenants, Wasserman said.
Stellar Management, a New York real estate owner and operator, and Rockpoint Group, a real estate investment firm, bought the complex just more than a year ago.
One of San Francisco's oldest and largest apartment complexes, The Villas Parkmerced was built to house returning World War II veterans.
Wasserman suggested an upcoming rent board decision will determine any future litigation, including the class-action lawsuit.
Fredman said the San Francisco Rent Board has 19 cases, two of which were already settled in favor of the plaintiffs.
“If this scheme is legal, then rent control is over in San Francisco,” Fredman said.
The San Francisco Rent Board will hear the matter at 25 Van Ness Ave. on Oct. 17 at 6 p.m.
Abortion, sex offenders, and taxes on cigarettes and oil are the focus of some of the issues to be decided on Election Day, when California voters will decide the fate of 13 propositions on the 2006 ballot.
Voters must also decide whether the state should borrow about $37 billion in bonds to pay for repairs and upgrades to the state’s transportation, flood protection and educational infrastructure. These measures were placed on the ballot by the California Legislature.
Listed here are brief descriptions of the 13 propositions on the November statewide ballot. For more detailed information about these measures, including arguments for and against these measures, visit the League of Women Voters election Web site.
Transportation Funding Protection
If enacted, would amend the state constitution to limit the use of funds raised by the state gasoline tax for use in transportation projects, such as road maintenance and congestion relief. Gas tax revenue could only be loaned to other programs no more than twice during a 10-year period, only during periods of financial hardship, and loans must be repaid within three years.
Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bonds
If enacted, would allow the state to sell about $19.9 billion in bonds for use in transportation projects. The bond money would be used for projects such as freeway and highway upgrades, more carpool lanes, local street repairs, public transportation and port security. The state would have to repay the bonds at a cost of about $38.9 billion over the next 30 years, along with other as-yet-unknown maintenance costs.
Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006
If enacted, would allow the state to sell about $2.9 billion in bonds for use in various housing and development projects. Proposed projects include housing for battered women and low-income senior citizens, homeownership assistance for military veterans and working families, and apartment upgrades for families and the disabled. All projects would be subject to independent audits and cost restrictions. The bonds would cost the state about $204 million a year for the next 30 years, to be paid from the state’s general fund.
Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities
The proposition would allow the state to sell $10.4 billion in bonds to make repairs and improvements to educational facilities in California. Funds would be used for seismic retrofitting and vocational education programs in public schools, renovations, and additional classroom space for the state’s community colleges and public universities. The money would be spent according to strict accountability measures. California would have to spend about $20.3 billion, or $680 million a year, to pay off the principal and interest of the bond.
Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention
The measure would allow the state to sell $4.1 billion in bonds to rebuild and repair the state’s flood control system. The money would strengthen levees in order to protect homes and the drinking water supply system from earthquakes, floods, and other disasters. California would have to spend about $8 billion over the next 30 years to repay the bonds.
Sex Offenders. Sexually Violent Predators. Punishment, Residence Restrictions and Monitoring
If enacted, some sex offenders would be subject to longer sentences and parole terms. Sex offenders who are released from prison would be required to wear global positioning system (GPS) devices while on parole, and for life following their release from prison. Registered sex offenders would be prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, and more offenders would be eligible for commitment to state mental health facilities. There is an expected cost of about $200 million annually within 10 years to enact this measure, along with one-time construction costs of several hundred million dollars.
Water Quality, Safety and Supply. Flood Control. Natural Resource Protection. Park Improvements
Separate from Proposition 1E, this measure would allow the state to sell $5.4 billion in bonds for projects related to flood control. The money could also be obligated to protecting natural resources, parks and recreation projects, and safe drinking water projects. Measure would cost the state $10.5 billion over 30 years to repay the bonds.
Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy
If enacted, this measure would amend the state constitution to prohibit pregnant unemancipated minors from undergoing an abortion until 48 hours after the physician notifies one of the patient’s parents or legal guardian, except in an emergency or with a parental waiver. Physicians could be subject to a fine for violations.
Tax on Cigarettes
The measure would increase the tax on cigarettes by $2.60 to fund various health and tobacco-related programs, including children’s health coverage. Taxes on other tobacco products would indirectly increase. The tax increase is estimated to raise $2.1 billion annually for the specific health programs.
Alternative Energy. Research, Production, Incentives. Tax on California Oil Producers
If enacted, this measure would establish a $4 billion “Clean Alternative Energy Program” to provide incentives for alternative energy use and education. The program seeks to reduce California’s dependence on oil and gas consumption by 25 percent, and funds would be raised through a tax on California oil producers. Tax revenues for the alternative energy programs could range from $225 to $485 million.
Education Funding. Real Property Parcel Tax
Measure would impose a $50 parcel tax on homeowners to raise funds for K-12 education. Certain elderly and disabled homeowners would be exempt from the tax. Annual revenue directed toward certain K-12 programs would be about $450 million.
Political Campaigns. Public Financing. Corporate Tax Increase. Campaign Contribution and Expenditure Limits
If enacted, eligible political candidates for state offices could receive public funding for their campaigns through a 0.2 percent tax increase on corporations and financial institutions. Measure would limit campaign contribution and spending. Taxes are expected to bring in $200 million annually for use in political campaigns.
Government Acquisition, Regulation of Private Property
This measure would amend the state constitution to prevent state and local governments from condemning and demolishing private property for use by other private interests. The measure would also require state and local governments to increase compensation to property owners for losses resulting from changes in the law.
Sources//League of Women Voters (www.smartvoter.org), California Secretary of State’s Office
While most of the mainstream media treated Saturday’s gubernatorial debate with all due seriousness, not enough seriousness was paid to the disappointment some attendees felt.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and State Treasurer Phil Angelides spoke on a variety of points, including taxes, immigration, state security and education during this election’s only scheduled debate, but for all that was said in the 55-minute debate at Sacramento State University, some walked away with the impression that little of substance was communicated.
“Their answers were way too general and, honestly, for someone who watched this who didn’t know about their backgrounds, they wouldn’t have learned anything from this debate,” said Jason Chu, 20, a business administrative and economics major at UC Berkeley, who was one of the students admitted to the debate.
Many California news-media outlets however, painted a different picture.
Most coverage of the debate described the event in fighting language, giving a blow-by-blow account of the candidates’ comments and their implications.
Part of a San Francisco Chronicle headline read, “Schwarzenegger, Angelides also spar on college costs…” and a headline at The Sacramento Bee declared “Dueling priorities offered for state.” The Los Angeles Times said “A jocular Schwarzenegger parried…” and the nationally syndicated Associated Press called the debate “A spirited exchange.”
Keith Bordsen, a Sacramento State student who watched the debate from an outdoor viewing area near Capistrano Hall, where the event was held, described it as not so much a duel as an hour of “bickering.”
“I was not really impressed with the way the moderation was done,” Bordsen said in reference to the performance of the debate’s moderator Stan Statham, president and CEO of the California Broadcasters Association, which co-sponsored the event with Sacramento State University.
According to the CBA, the debate was structured to facilitate a conversation between Angelides and Schwarzenegger. The candidates sat on either side of Statham, who read questions drawn from the general public for the two to answer.
“It didn’t seem all that professional,” Bordsen said.
Chu agreed that the debate format took away from his experience watching the event.
“I didn’t like the format, honestly. The intention was good, but it allowed the candidates to go off on tangents,” he said. “I would have preferred the traditional debate rules.”
What disappointed some viewers more than the debate’s format was its content.
Kayci Simmons, a Sacramento State student who watched the debate hoping to become a better-informed voter, said. “It gave me an idea of what to look up, but they didn’t get very specific because politicians never do.”
Max Reyes, 21, a political science major at UC Berkeley, agreed.
"They were being politicians and dodging the questions, from what I saw," he said.
Other viewers agreed that the debate lacked substantive information, particularly when it focused on issues of education.
“I think they tried to answer in a comprehensive way, but they gave a general view of what they wanted to do, but they didn’t say how,” said Tony Maldonado, 52, a Sacramento State parent who watched the debate from a university classroom.
Both Schwarzenegger and Angelides discussed their desires to improve the public school system in California. Angelides, at one point, pledged to get 40,000 more students into college by the end of his potential governorship.
Andria Black, a government major at Sacramento State who also watched the debate from the outdoor viewing area, said this was a statement that sounded good at first, but left a lot of logistical questions unanswered.
“Even if you get 40,000 students into college, how are you going to get them to stay in college?” she asked. “How are you going to get them to want to graduate? How are they going to pay for it?”
When Angelides was asked how he planned to facilitate such a move, he replied by first listing what he thinks Schwarzenegger has done wrong.
“I said in the debate today that I believe the governor has done the wrong thing by the university,” he said. “He was wrong to raise tuition. He was wrong to cut back on financial aid. He was wrong to cut the budgets on the state colleges. He was wrong to turn 22,000 kids away from the CSU and UC when they made all the grades.
“When I’m governor we’re going to do the following: We’re going to help more young kids go to college and we’re going to expand the capacities of our universities so that kids can get through in four years,” Angelides said. “It’s the way it was and it’s the way it ought to be in the future of this state.”
Black said it is an attractive promise, but questioned the logistics.
“It’s not about how many you get into school, it’s about the quality of the education,” she said.
Chu agreed with Black in that he didn’t think his concerns over the promise’s impact had been adequately addressed.
“When he makes promises, at first it sounds good, but one drawback in letting more students into the system is that it brings down the competition,” Chu said.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Republican incumbent Arnold Schwarzenegger has three years of experience under his belt, and Field Poll reported on Sep. 27 that the actor turned politician led his Democratic rival by 10 points.
CSU registration and course fees rose 8 percent under Schwarzenegger, who cut $240 million from the CSU budget with the promise that revenue would rise each year. Although the CSU fund has increased, student fees are still expected to increase over the next several years.
Schwarzenegger is pushing a ballot measure proposing $10.4 billion in funding for California schools and universities to build classrooms and reduce overcrowding.
He has experienced the naturalization process first hand, and recently signed a bill to establish the Naturalization Service Program to help California’s 2.7 million immigrants naturalize.
State Treasurer Phil Angelides
As State Treasurer since 1998, Democratic candidate Phil Angelides has considerable experience with state finances, but he has failed to win a strong support base. Currently 51 percent of Angelides supporters are voting against Governor Schwarzenegger rather than for Angelides, according to Field Poll.
He is promising to roll back registration and course fee hikes. A reduction he said would amount to “a savings of up to $1,000 for families with students at our state colleges and universities.”
“Angelides is constructing a platform based on funding for higher education to keep California’s promise to provide equitable, affordable and accessible education,” said Hector Cardenas, vice president of external affairs for Associated Students Inc. at SF State.
The son of Greek immigrants Angelides supports naturalizing undocumented people already residing in California. He has chastised President Bush and Governor Schwarzenegger for not “adequately” securing the border.
Green Party candidate Peter Camejo was Ralph Nader’s running mate during the 2004 elections. He attributes universities high registration and course fees to unfair taxation.
“Because we do not have a pure tax, tuition is going up,” Camejo said, adding that if the richest 10 percent paid as much taxes as the poorest 20 percent, $10 billion would be saved each year.
Camejo, a first generation Venezuelan-American, has strong ties with the Mexican American Political Association, and has strong feelings on immigration.
“We do not have an immigration problem,” he said. “Immigrants create jobs, and have subsidized our government $400 billion in Social Security from workers using fake Social Security numbers.”
Edward C. Noonan
American Independent candidate Edward C. Noonan, former Yuba County Republican Party chairman, broke from the GOP in 1999 because the party was becoming too moderate, he said.
He wants to cut many state programs, and criticizes Democrats and Republicans for expanding government.
“If you can’t do it as an individual, the government should not do it for you,” he said. “Our state is going head over heels towards the socialist agenda. Both parties have completely gone into big government, putting our grandchildren and great grandchildren into debt.”
Noonan said immigration is his top priority.
“As Governor I will begin rounding up, arresting, and deporting all illegals found within the borders of California,” he wrote on his campaign Web site.
Libertarian candidate Art Olivier, former mayor of Bellflower, Calif. said the state budget is “way too big” and that higher education costs would be lowered significantly by reforming the teacher pension system.
“Teachers should not be able to retire before 55, and their retirement packages should not be any better than those of the private sector,” he said.
Olivier said illegal immigration is at the root of California’s fiscal problems.
“One of the big impacts on the budget is illegal immigration, which creates a $9 billion drain on the state system,” he said.
Tenants of one of San Francisco's largest apartment complexes filed a class-action lawsuit against their landlord, accusing them of illegal rent increases Wednesday.
The tenants claim that coupons issued by the Villas Parkmerced to new tenants are a scam to contract around San Francisco’s rent control laws that only permit a one to two percent rent increase per year.
The lawsuit, which is seeking more plaintiffs from the 3,456 units near SF State which the Villas Parkmerced owns, claims that tenants signed a one-year lease for $1,675 a month and received 12 “bonus bucks” coupons for $350 each month of their lease. After the coupon deductions were made each tenant paid $1,325 per month.
At the end of their lease the rent was raised to $1,703, a 28.5 percent increase. Under rent control, a landlord charging $1,325 per month would have only been able to raise an existing tenant's rent by $22.52, a 1.7 percent increase, according to Peter Fredman, an attorney with Brayton Purcell.
The lease contracts in question clearly stated the "bonus bucks" coupons were revocable at anytime and the San Francisco Rent Board did not define the offer as a "scam," Villas Parkmerced attorney Dave Wasserman said.
"The intent was to fairly compete in a very competitive market for good tenants. The "bonus bucks" coupons were not a permanent feature of the lease," said Wasserman with Wasserman-Taxman.
The Villas are no strangers to the stringent rent control ordinances in the city, are under close scrutiny of the Rent Board, and therefore would not risk defrauding tenants, Wasserman said.
Stellar Management, a New York real estate group bought the complex, one of San Francisco's oldest and largest, just over a year ago.
Wasserman suggested that an upcoming rent board decision will determine any future litigation, including the class-action lawsuit.
Fredman said the class-action lawsuit has 16 cases, two of which were already settled in favor of the plaintiffs.
“If this scheme is legal than rent control is over in San Francisco,” Fredman said.
The San Francisco Rent Board will hear the matter at 25 Van Ness Ave. on Oct. 17 at 6 p. m.
San Francisco voters have a unique option meant to eliminate costly run-off elections and allow voters to choose the candidate they sincerely want, rather than choosing the lesser of two evils.
Ranked Choice Voting, also known as instant run-off voting, is a system that allows voters in San Francisco to rank their top three candidates in order of preference.
For the Nov. 7 elections, San Francisco voters will use the RCV system to elect the assessor-recorder and the public defender. Residents who live in even-numbered districts of the city will also use it to elect their members of the Board of Supervisors.
"I think it allows people to vote how they really feel without compromising," said Ryan Zalesney, 21, international relations senior. "It's a minor advancement for democracy in general."
San Francisco is thought to be the first U.S. municipality to implement the system other than a one-year trial in Ann Arbor, Mich. in the 1970s. Voters approved the system in 2002 and have since used it in the 2004 and 2005 city-wide elections.
In RCV, if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of first-choice votes, all the candidates with the least first-choice votes are eliminated and those votes are redistributed to the voters' second and third choices, until one candidate has a majority.
In other words, the process resembles a run-off election without requiring voters to return to the polls.
If one candidate has a majority of first-choice votes, he or she is the clear winner regardless of the other rankings.
Voters are not required to rank more than their first choice, but are encouraged to rank three.
Proponents say that the new RCV system prevents third-party “spoilers” from drawing votes away from top candidates. Had RCV been in place in Florida for the 2000 presidential election, Ralph Nader, who had the fewest first-choice votes, would have been eliminated.
Presumably, most voters who ranked Nader first would have ranked Al Gore second. Those ballots would have moved into Gore’s tally, giving Gore a true majority.
This system is used in elections around the world from the Fijian House of Representatives to the Australian House of Representatives. Advocates say the system is catching on in the United States.
Since 2004 voters have approved Ranked Choice Voting systems in Berkeley, Calif., Burlington, Vt., Ferndale, Minn., and the state of North Carolina adopted the system for judicial vacancies.
Concerns over the new system include whether all voters are fully aware of how RCV works and if outreach campaigns to non-English speaking communities are effective.
“Prior knowledge and awareness is very important. It was surprising how many people didn’t know beforehand,” said Francis Neely, an assistant professor of political science at SF State.
In fall 2005 Neely, along with colleagues and students, conducted an exit poll to research voters’ prior knowledge of RCV.
According to Neely, one serious problem with the San Francisco version of the system is that it only allows voters to rank their top three choices.
If a voter chooses his or her top three favorite candidates of out a field of 20, he or she can only express preference for three. For example, if a voter’s top three choices are all “third-party-type” candidates who have a small chance of winning, his or her entire ballot could go uncounted, Neely said.
There were 22 candidates for District 5 Supervisor in the 2004 election. Voters only ranked their top three choices.
Voters are required to rank all of the candidates for the Australian House of Representatives elections, which allows every vote to be counted, according to Neely.
While Neely said he thinks RCV is a step in the right direction toward electoral reform, he worries that few pay attention to the fact that San Francisco only allows three choices.
However, allowing voters to rank all candidates would call for costly technological upgrades and for voters to be generally more informed of every candidate, Neely said.
“If we required all candidates to be ranked it would produce a true majority outcome,” he said.
Voters can use an interactive simulation of the system on the Web site.
As technology advances, the scientific fields will be facing a “data avalanche” that the Internet will have a large role in dealing with, Jim Gray said in a recent on-campus presentation in front of a mix of graduate students and faculty.
“The Internet’s going to be flooded with scientific data,” said Gray, manager of Microsoft’s eScience Group. “How’s it going to work? What language will it be in?”
During the presentation, which is part of the PERNET Computer Science Graduate Seminar Series, Gray said the scientific community has produced almost a terabyte worth of scientific data this year, and it will soon approach a petabyte. These are huge amounts of data. In comparison, an 80-gigabyte Apple iPod can hold about 20,000 songs. If the iPod had a terabyte or petabyte capacity, it would be able to hold about 250,000 or 250 million songs respectively.
The newest branch of computation science will be one that Gray called X-info – X stands for a specific science, like "bio-info" for biology – which involves building the right software and algorithms for computers to effectively analyze and share increasingly larger amounts of data using the Internet.
Professor Dragutin Petkovic, chair of the computer science department at SF State, said he agreed with Gray’s ideas.
“He addresses a very important topic,” Petkovic said. “We collaborate with him on several projects that deal with X-info … and we train students in those projects.”
The skills Gray said he thought students should have when they’re finished with school seemed to catch the room by surprise.
“I got my Ph.D. in a year and a half, and it was the biggest mistake of my life,” he said with a grin. “Learn your core computer science stuff, but take philosophy. A lot of stuff companies will pay you to learn, but while you’re here you have to learn how to get along with people and how to play as a team.”
Gray said almost every field is bringing in an X-info department to help organize data. A good X-info team takes three kinds of computer scientists: those who are good with computer-human interface, those good with building the system (or “plumbers”), and those who are good at mining the large amounts of data and making it usable.
“And then you need a bullshitter like me to get those three groups together,” he said with a laugh.
One problem with computers today, Gray said, was that they are good at finding needles in haystacks, but lousy at finding haystacks. That means computers have problems with sorting through large amounts of data and finding patterns.
Another problem Gray mentioned was a lack of standard representation.
“How can I represent a galaxy on a computer? Or an ant?” he asked. “If it’s between you and me, we can talk, but how do I get a computer to communicate to another computer what I mean?”
The network infrastructure for the burgeoning amount of data needs to be built, Gray said, and one example of a step forward is the World-Wide Telescope project, also known as the Virtual Observatory.
As technology advances in the astrophysical community, the amount of raw data essentially doubles each year. The Virtual Observatory project – a collaboration between the astrophysical community, Microsoft, NASA and others – connects various worldwide telescopes’ data on the Internet. Professionals, hobbyists, and kids can use the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (http://cas.sdss.org/dr5/en/) to find out about millions of points in the universe.
Astronomy data is perfect for this type of project, Gray said, because there’s no commercial value to it, most of it is public, it’s going to constantly increase, and it’s a “nerd’s dream.”
Even with technology moving at warp speed, Gray said he thinks people should be able to slow down their lives.
“I’m a bit of a lunatic, but I believe that if you live until 2050, you’ll live forever. Medicine will be so advanced that it won’t let you die,” he said. “Go and wander for a year in Europe because you’re going to live forever, so pace yourself.”
Campus clubs often involve a lot of responsibilities, extended time commitment, fees, and even added stress. However, the Gamers Conclave club's mission is a fun, free and safe environment to relax and de-stress.
With the upcoming release party for “Guitar Hero II,” an interactive digital game, on Nov. 10, Gamers Conclave members wants to show off their idea of networking through their hobbies as a way for people to make new friends.
The Gamers Conclave club at SF State welcomes anyone who shares a passion for gaming. This includes video games, board games and computer games.
Unlike many other clubs on campus, membership is completely free, even for those who aren’t students.
“San Francisco State is a commuter school,” said club member Barry Figgins, a graduating senior in business. “People come to class, leave and go home because there is no reason to really stick around. This gives people more options to stay on campus, get involved and meet new people.”
With the increasing amount of technology through computer graphics and digital entertainment, gamers now have a wider variety of games and outlets to expand their ways of gaming.
“Traditional board games are fun, but with the technology out there we can do so much more,” said Figgins.
One popular game is “Guitar Hero.” It allows players to jam on a hand held guitar-controller to the sounds of rock and roll, while following notes on the TV screen. It allows for a fun, competitive way to socialize and have a good time.
“People tend to think of gamers as weird and sheltered, playing secretly in their basements,” said Jacqi McKinney, 22, a senior in creative writing. “We really aren’t, we’re just like everyone else. We enjoy spending time with others that share similar interests.”
There are now 300 members on the official mailing list, which has doubled over the year. There are about 30 members who are regulars, although it is growing and becoming increasingly popular.
Club members can also express themselves on their online magazine.
“The club offers so much for those who are creative and wanting to be a part of something,” said McKinney.
With the pressures of school and work, the Gamers Conclave could offer an outlet for people to come together and share their similar passions in a way that also provokes thought and creativity.
“We know there is life outside of gaming,” said Gamers Conclave President Erik Goad, a creative writing sophomore. “Horrible things are happening in our world and playing games offers an escape for people. It is a time for us to chill and relax with friends doing something we enjoy.”
He encourages anyone who is interested in gaming and fun to come to the club’s game nights and see what others, like themselves, are doing.
“We hope to make a fun party out of ‘Guitar Hero II’,” said Figgins. “Everyone is invited.”
The nonprofit group Voter Action filed a lawsuit against the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' office last Wednesday to prevent the use of a new electronic voting system in the November election.
The lawsuit adds to the growing concerns about electronic voting machines, an issue that is blurring partisan lines.
Gabriel Shepard, SF State political science major who is registered Green Party, said he thinks his vote did not count in the 2004 presidential election.
“When I voted in 2004 I was not even asked for my I.D.,” said the 22-year-old who voted in San Diego County in 2004.
“I used a touch-screen computer to vote, which had the option of reviewing your vote. I wonder how many people actually reviewed their vote. How did the poll workers know it was me voting if my I.D. was never asked for?”
Voter Action said Alameda County has not had their touch-screen machines tested for validity by an outside group amid the denial of such a charge by the county. Alameda County has not responded to a request for comment.
The not-for-profit group’s Web site argues privatized electronic voting systems have been shown to have the most severe security risks and records of inaccuracy and unreliability.
Alameda County encountered concerns in the 2004 election with voting machines built by the Texas group Diebold Election Systems, the same group sued in Colorado last June for providing machines computer scientists discovered could be hacked into to change vote tabulation without a trace.
According to the voter education organization California Voter Foundation, on June 1, Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Green Party members joined Voter Action in a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s Secretary of State Gigi Dennis’ decision to allow these machines.
Judge Lawrence Manzanares of the Denver District Court said Dennis’ office “failed to develop minimum security standards, as required by state law, and did an ‘abysmal’ job of documenting the testing during its certification process.”
Manzanares ordered Dennis to comply with state law and adopt security standards for electronic voting machines and retest the systems prior to approving their use in any upcoming elections.
Concerned about security issues, SF State broadcasting major William Riordan, 24, said he has decided to use absentee voting from now on.
"I don’t want to stress over what is happening at the polls with whatever machines they may be using. Voting with an absentee ballot makes me feel comfortable that my vote is being counted,” said the registered Democrat.
California Senator Barbara Boxer and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd recently introduced a bill that would provide paper ballots for use in the November election to states that choose to. California still uses paper ballots.
According to the City and County of San Francisco Department of Elections, the city will continue to use paper ballots in the November election, and will be equipped with Optech Eagles, which scan ballots optically. People who are skeptical about the validity of electronic voting may turn to absentee voting, which is mailed in.
“Scandal can happen with vote tabulation regardless of the system used,” said Morgan Shidler, 23, SF State political science graduate who graduated last May. “In 2004 I worked at a polling place where I could have easily grabbed hundreds of ballots and walked out with them. I think our voting process will eventually go completely electronic, but the kinks must be worked out."
The California Faculty Association kicked off its annual student voter registration drive Monday, a nine-day event to get SF State students registered to vote for the Nov. 7 election.
The purpose of the drive is to get as many students registered, or re-registered, as possible, and to increase political awareness.
“In the 14 years we’ve been doing the voter registration on campus, over 15,000 students have registered to vote,” said SF State librarian Eloise McQuown, who is also the SF State political and legislative chair of the CFA. “I think it’s a great way for the faculty to come together with the students and accomplish a necessary goal.”
The CFA, which is running the event, will get assistance in the drive from the SF State Associated Students, Inc. and the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement.
There will be two designated areas where students can register to vote: at the library plaza, in front of the main entrance, and outside the first-floor lobby of the Humanities building.
The nonpartisan event will run for two consecutive weeks, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, although there will be one additional day to register on Oct. 23.
In 2004, according to a student voting survey compiled by the SF State Public Research Institute, 89 percent of all SF State students who were eligible to vote did so. The survey also found that student awareness increased from 39 percent in 2002 to 53 percent in 2004 because of the on-campus options for registering to vote.
McQuown said SF State is listed as one of the most politically active and socially conscious campuses in the country, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, a university and college resource publication for faculty. Other local schools on the list are UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and Humboldt State.
The Harvard Institute of Politics also recognized the coordinated efforts of campus faculty and administration, most notably SF State President Robert Corrigan, who, over the past few years, has sent mass e-mails to students reminding them to vote.
Aside from students, nearly 2,000 SF State faculty members are registered voters, which McQuown said is a very high number compared to other CSU campuses. McQuown also said there are voter registration drives at other campuses, just not on the same scale.
Last week, Associated Students Inc. sponsored a warm up to the CFA drive titled Storm the Dorms, where members of ASI, along with two representatives from the registrar’s office, set up a booth in the lobby of two predominantly freshman dorms, Mary Park and Mary Hall. A little more than 250 freshmen were registered through the afternoon and evening mini-drive, signaling an immediate success.
Hector Cardenas, the ASI director, said the group is working with the California State Students Association, and that they are about to start the next phase of their efforts.
"Right now, we're falling into our classroom presentations, which will take place the next few weeks in freshman-oriented classes," said Cardenas. "It's there where we'll be able to discuss the minute details that you would easily skip over about whether you need to re-register or not."
SF State librarian and CFA member, Mitch Turitz, will be working at the booth in front of the library, and said one of the most frequently asked questions from students about registering is whether they will be summoned for jury duty. Turitz said there are numerous other ways to make one eligible for jury duty, like applying for a driver's license.
As long as all the coordinated efforts go smoothly, McQuown said she anticipates between 1,000 and 1,500 students to be registered in the two-week period.
Although the records for the total amount of students who have registered on campus for each year were unavailable, McQuown is confident the event will be a success, regardless of the total, because of the civic service taking place on campus.
"Usually the student interest level builds towards the end of the registration period," McQuown said. "You know, like the ‘Hail Mary’ pass."
It was standing room only at SF State’s Poetry Center Thursday afternoon when 75-year-old Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali read from his new book, “So What?” with translator and fellow poet Peter Cole.
Credited with using an unusual style that includes Palestinian vernacular, Ali began writing poetry in his 50s, while selling trinkets to tourists in Nazareth.
“I used to sell camels to the tourists, and at night study Arabic,” Ali said, of his double life as a writer and merchant of the small carved wooden animals.
Self-taught in short-story writing, and later poetry, Ali said he was once told to “leave the poetry to the poets,” but today is part of a new movement of free verse poets who stray from the “formal verse that characterizes most Arabic” poetry, Cole said.
Many of Ali’s poems center on his childhood when, according to the Poetry Center’s short biography of the poet, he was forced to leave his small village in Saffuriyya and flee to Lebanon during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Returning a year later to a place his village had once been, Cole said many of Ali’s poems are a “memory of his village, or echo of destruction,” at the same time, Cole said, they are “highly musical” and “worked out with great artistry.”
Taking turns reading the poems, first in Arabic by Ali and then in English by the American-born Cole, the two played off one another like a superhero and sidekick.
“He was so expressive, you could see it in his eyes,” said creative writing major Rebecca Shaffer, 22, of Ali’s reading. “I felt the translations really captured his poems, I didn’t expect the translations to be so heartfelt.”
Ali was boisterous while he recited his poems, which were both dark and humorous. With equally strong hand gestures he drew out the scenes he described and pointed to the audience with a stiff outstretched finger while he spoke Arabic in the fast, thick voice he may use to convince a friend.
Ali, who Cole said claims to be 750 years old, was silently expressive as Cole read Ali’s poems in English. Ali would nod his head and frown, squeezing the deep grid of wrinkles on his forehead and closing his striking blue eyes, which sometimes appeared to well up.
“I think people were really impressed by his presence, in the sense that he kind of has that authority of a witness,” said poetry center director and workshop teacher Steve Dickison, explaining further that Ali’s work is that of a man who “has had history happen to him.”
"To write, gently first, you must suffer greatly," said Ali.
There were poems with recurring characters, dark poems of long-lost boyhood friends, poems that were indirectly political, and those that were outright funny.
“I think that’s the most we’ve ever had in there,” Dickison said, adding that he counted nearly a hundred people in attendance of the reading, which lasted nearly two hours, with not a yawn to be seen.
Cole has lived in Jerusalem on and off since the 80s. He met Ali at a Jerusalem poetry festival eight years ago, has since helped translate Ali’s work into English. He is accompanying Ali on his two-week United States reading tour. This new book will be Ali's first book published in the United States.
Cole said there’s a difference between the translation he does for Ali on paper, and the kind he does at a reading.
On paper, capturing Ali’s equivalent tone as accurately as possible is the priority, but at a reading, “I don’t consciously try to mirror,” Cole said. Instead, he reads Ali’s poems as he “feels them” in English.
"It seems like they have a real relationship with each other," Shaffer said of what she saw between poet and translator, "He (Cole) really understands the personal aspect of his (Ali’s) poetry."
Ali’s talent for short stories was also evident between poems when he told many anecdotes that were often met with outbursts of laughter from the audience.
“He’s a real character,” Cole said, going on to explain how he and Ali have become close, through travel and the trust that comes from sharing someone’s work and words.
“He trusts me, and I trust him,” Cole said.
Breast tassels, topless ladies, and someone yelling “Tease me! Tease me!” were all part of the fun during the burlesque show at The Depot at SF State Thursday night.
Bombshell Betty, Isis Starr, and Coconut Crème performed their show, “Scenes from a Dressing Room: A Brief Tale of Burlesque” with an actual burlesque performance and dance lesson at The Depot.
The show began with a short play which was co-written by Bombshell Betty and Isis Starr.
“While driving back to San Francisco from a burlesque convention in Vegas, Isis told me about her dream of writing a burlesque play set in the dressing room including actual burlesque performances,” said Bombshell Betty, 28. “We started brainstorming, decided to work together on the project, and here we are.”
The performance was supposed to start at 5 p.m. but did not begin until about 5:20 p.m. due to the microphone checks, lighting arrangements and video camera placements.
Once the performance began there was immediately a microphone situation, and a stagehand had to go onstage and turn on Isis Starr’s microphone, which was scandalously placed near her backside.
“I think I embarrassed him,” Starr said with a wicked grin.
The first portion of the show was a short play and was mainly about the conversations and the actions that go on backstage during a burlesque show, including gossiping, drinking and getting dressed for the performance. Bombshell Betty and Isis Starr were the starring actors, while Coconut Crème acted as an emcee and had a cameo in the show.
After the play there was a brief intermission, then each of the girls in the play did her own burlesque dance number.
Coconut Crème did a dance number to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” complete with a cane, a tailed tuxedo jacket and a top hat.
Bombshell Betty opted for a more classical music choice dancing to Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5.” It was slightly interpretive and graceful until she came across a snag when she was trying to remove her corset and the strings would not come undone.
As she struggled, someone in the back of the room yelled “Take it off,” to which Betty replied, “I’m trying.”
After finally getting scissors and cutting the strings, she unveiled booby tassels and began spinning them while the audience cheered.
Finally it was legendary burlesque performer Isis Starr’s turn to wow the crowd. Starr, who is in her 60s and a grandmother, took it off, and someone yelled. She then donned breast tassels and stripped to the tune of “Razzle Dazzle” from the play “Chicago.”
The burlesque topless dances drew in people from the outside who were curious about the noise that was being generated from The Depot.
Alison Victor, The Depot entertainment manager, was worried that this particular show, as it was a burlesque show and involved female nudity, might offend the women’s center on campus, but Bombshell Betty said “Bring it on!”
Victor taped the performance for Bombshell Betty and for a video blog she is doing for Student Services.
In addition to the performance, Bombshell Betty gave a short dance lesson from her burlesquercise classes, which featured exercises involving burlesque dance moves. This was followed by a dance party with music provided by DJ Stylewise.
Victor was excited about the dance lesson, and even dressed for the occasion by wearing a black corset over a black shirt.
This is the first time a burlesque show like this one has been performed at The Depot, but Victor hopes it will not be the last.
“I think burlesque is empowering for women,” Victor said. “I also thought doing a show like this one at The Depot would be fun and interesting for SF State students.”
For a group of SF State students, what could have been a leisurely sightseeing tour of Mexico this past summer was instead a front-row seat to an erupting democratic movement in another country.
It was the day before the July 2 elections and a reported 1.5 million people squeezed into Mexico City’s Zocalo plaza and its surrounding streets to support and listen to then leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s final campaign speech.
For SF State junior Claudia Lopez, 20, the massive political rally was like nothing she had ever experienced in the United States.
“It felt like we were pancakes stuck together with syrup,” said Lopez, a sociology major.
And now, as the United States is less than a month away from its own elections, the trip and what 14 students saw of Mexico’s budding democracy highlighted, for them, the difference between just calling oneself a democracy and acting like one.
“In Mexico, people had a common goal, they felt like they had to do something right then and there,” Lopez said.
What they did the next day was vote – about 41 million of them, or 60 percent of eligible voters. After all, only six years ago the country shed itself of 70 years of one-party rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, with the election of current Mexican President Vicente Fox.
The June 26 to July 9 trip was part of SF State’s La Raza studies class, The U.S.-Mexico Connection, last spring in which students studied the culture and politics of Mexico and the impact it has on the United States.
Usually the study trip is scheduled for early June, but this year it was pushed back so the class could experience the political climate surrounding the July 2 elections, said professor Teresa Carrillo, the instructor of the class.
“There was such a great expectation for this election,” said Carrillo. “Everyday people we met everywhere were planning to vote. I had never seen anything like it.”
In Mexico, people proudly carry and show off their voter registration cards, Carrillo said.
And Lopez described seeing the spectrum of young and older-aged Mexicans dancing and singing in the Zocalo that day. She was astonished to see even pregnant women at the rally.
“Now you have a generation that believe they have a say,” Lopez said. “You would see youth everywhere.”
Along with observing the elections, the class also met with the Federal Electoral Institute, Mexico’s governing body that oversees elections, and civil outreach groups including the Independent Center for Human Rights of Morelos and a reproductive rights organization.
The enthusiasm among Mexicans to vote was a sight for Marisol Miranda, 21, that illuminated, at least partially, the difference between American and Mexican-style democracy.
“They are more politically active, and try to know more about their party,” said Miranda, an SF State international relations major. “You don’t see that here.”
And maybe standing in line for five hours to vote is a difference, too.
That’s exactly what Sonia Vazquez, 24, did. An international relations major with an emphasis on Latin America, Vazquez is a Mexican citizen studying at SF State.
Because she was in Mexico City with the group, outside the voting district of her hometown of Tijuana, Vazquez had to go to a special voting poll in the Zocalo to cast her ballot. For her and her countrymen, this election was too important to not vote.
“In 2000, everybody was so tired of the PRI, they just wanted change,” Vazquez said.
“It was the first time they voted for what they thought was better for the country,” she said of this summer’s election.
The trip is the eighth study tour to Mexico Carrillo has taken students on. Before beginning to teach at SF State in 1994, Carrillo worked on and completed her doctoral dissertation in Mexico City while working in a garment worker’s union in 1988.
It was her work in Mexico City that spurred the idea for the class.
“I wanted students to learn first hand that Mexicans are politically active and they do not have the luxury of sitting back and letting others take care of things for them,” Carrillo said.
Although the immediate aftermath of the close July 2 presidential elections were shrouded in allegations by Lopez Obrador that voting fraud took place, Carrillo said the subsequent protests by his supporters in the Zocalo and Mexico City were a sign of changing political emotions in Mexico.
“It’s a reflection of the true democratization process that is going out there,” Carrillo said.
On Sept. 5, Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute settled the dispute concerning the legitimacy of the election naming Lopez Obrador’s rival, Felipe Calderon of the more conservative National Action Party, the winner by a relatively razor-thin margin of 233,831 votes.
“It feels sometimes that it is a done deal here,” Carrillo said. “It’s not that way there anymore.”
Gold medalist and social activist Dr. Tommie Smith spoke on Thursday to SF State students in Ethnic Studies 285, a class on race, sports and society.
Smith is best known for his iconic gesture of raising his right fist straight into the air while the national anthem played as he received his gold medal during the 1968 Summer Olympics held in Mexico City.
Smith made the gesture to protest the treatment of black people in the United States and was banned from competing in the rest of the Olympics and banned from the Olympic village.
“As soon at the national anthem plays, my hand is going to the sky and merciful heaven, this country needs it,” Smith said about what was going through his mind as he went to the podium.
The San Jose State University alumnus spoke to the class about politics and life.
Smith said people often mistake the raised, gloved fist - a symbol of black power - as a symbol of the Black Panthers.
“I did not want to be held up as ‘one of them,’” Smith said. “I am an individual. I’m a humanist.”
Students who attended the speech were moved and inspired by Smith’s words.
“I thought it was very inspirational,” said Kenric Bailey, 46, a senior industrial arts major. “I wish it was at a larger place so all SF State could hear what he had to say.”
“It was like history coming back to you,” said Noel Estes, 20, a junior religious studies and philosophy major. “It hit me real deep. It was a powerful speech.”
“I thought it was really inspirational,” said Tierney Carter, a 21-year-old, double majoring in dance and biology. “When he was talking about how he felt at the podium and how he feared for his life, something clicked hearing that.”
Carter said the speech inspired her and she felt she needed to speak out more.
Other students felt that Smith was speaking directly to them and that they had a lot in common with the speaker.
Daniel Williams, a 20-year-old business and administration major, said he appreciated the way Smith handles himself and the way he sees life.
“I left with a lot of information and learned a lot of new things,” Williams said.
Thursday's rain did little to dampen the spirits of those involved in the free SF State concert for the environment and human rights this afternoon.
The concert didn’t kick off until an hour after the scheduled 12 p.m. start time. But as the clouds started to clear, more and more students gathered in Malcolm X Plaza to hear the music and to look at the informational booths and photo exhibits that were set up near the stage.
“The objective here is to promote critical thinking on issues that are really serious in today’s society,” said event coordinator Paul Warnow, who works with various universities to set up similar events through the organization Progressive-Alliance.org. “Our country is spending $1 trillion on war. We’re spending money on weapons when we should be focusing our resources on issues that are far more important.”
The event started with a short speech by Ken Burrows, faculty adviser for the student organization at the Holistic Health Network. Environmental studies and international relations professor Glenn Friedman followed with a brief talk about environmental issues and sustainable living.
Keeping with the theme of the event, award-winning San Diego hip-hop/funk band K23 Orchestra performed to a crowd that quickly grew from about 80 people to 150 people. The group’s political messages were showcased through their music as they rapped about pop culture, the war in Iraq and environmental issues.
“We’re trying to get people to open their eyes and look at what’s around them,” said bass player Matt LaBarber. “We want to get them to ask questions, not just accept things the way they are.”
The event was co-sponsored by the Holistic Health Center, which was celebrating its 30th anniversary, as well as UNICEF at SF State. Both organizations had informational booths set up with literature and brochures available to interested students.
“We’re trying to raise awareness, to educate about issues that are affecting people everywhere, like the Darfur genocide and environmental issues,” said child and adolescent development major Theresa Navarro, who is also a UNICEF member.
Complementing the concert and the booth was a photography exhibit, which showcased photos from award-winning and internationally acclaimed photographers Gary Braasch and Ron Haviv. Braasch, who later spoke to the attendees, displayed photos that depicted the effects of global warming with side-by-side comparisons of the Pasterze Glacier in Austria in 1875 with the same area in 2004. Haviv’s photography focused on the genocide occurring in Darfur in 2005.
Midway through K23 Orchestra’s performance, five women started dancing in the plaza, some integrating hula-hoops into their movements.
“The event seems pretty cool,” said psychology major Alex Alvarado, who walked over after hearing the band performing. “They gave a pretty good, concise speech at the beginning for more practical uses of environmental-friendly products.”
Biology major Lex LaFortune, 24, was drawn to the event on his way to get lunch at the Cesar Chavez Student Center.
“I’m really interested in this photo show,” he said. “I can get more information on global warming, genocide — you know, all the fun things people like to do to each other.”
Shoe designer Faryl Robin Morse accidentally entered the shoe industry while she was still in high school, after she brought a $100 pair of pants. Once her mother found out about her purchase she made her return the pants for store credit, but gave her the opportunity to buy them back if she got a job. So she started working at Kenneth Cole.
“I spent senior cut day selling shoes,” Morse said.
Now, 20 years later, after attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and design school Ars Sutoria in Milan, she is still in the shoe industry.
FarylRobin Footwear is only four years old, yet it has managed to gain national success. A success Morse says is homegrown, meaning she and her team get their inspiration from everywhere but other designers.
“I was on a yoga retreat in Mexico. Inspiration can come from anywhere,” Morse said about her 2006 fall collection.
Morse shared career advice and personal experience with some apparel design and merchandising students at a lecture at SF State Thursday, which excited and motivated attendees.
“Very inspiring. I love their shoes,” said Christina Iskandar, 23, a senior who is studying apparel design and merchandising, about Morse's lecture. “I own a pair and every time I wear them everyone is like ‘wow.’”
At the beginning of the school year Morse contacted SF State because she was scheduled to show her collection, modeled by five SF State students, at the new Bloomingdale’s in the Westfield Shopping Centre and wanted to get students involved.
“It’s phenomenal,” said ADM professor Connie Ulasewicz. “Great opportunity.”
Morse started the company to fill a need she felt was being ignored, the need for stylish and affordable shoes for young women between the ages of 25 to 35. The company targets women who are fashion-conscious, but can’t afford to buy a $300 pair of shoes..
“Our costumers wouldn’t buy knockoffs,” said Morse, “they would rather starve to buy the shoe.”
Although she said it takes hard work and a lot of money to run a thriving business, she does credit some of her success to luck. She once flew from Las Vegas with one of her competitors, Steve Madden, on his private plane along with two Nordstrom buyers whom he told to buy FarylRobin Footwear.
The designs caught on and now Morse’s shoes can be found at Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and other stores. Celebrities like Jessica Simpson, Eve and Ciara have all bought her shoes.
“Shoes are my passion,” said Morse, “people should do what they love.”
SF State’s Project Connect teamed up with more than 30 groups, teams and organizations at the Bay Area High School Conference on Oct. 4 to promote higher education for high school students from low-income neighborhoods.
About 350 students from San Jose, Oakland, Daly City, Hayward, and San Francisco converged at Jack Adams Hall for an informational fair with food and live entertainment. The students attended an orientation and ate lunch before visiting their choice of more than 15 workshops, with topics ranging from resume building to cinema production.
Yasmine Williams, 17, is a senior at Oakland Tech High School and said her dream is to attend UCLA and possibly major in journalism. She is one of many who took advantage of the free information at the event, and chose to attend a workshop that outlined the history of minority education in the United States, titled "500 Years of Mis-Education."
“It makes it easier on me. I learned lots of info I didn’t know before,” said Williams, who counted 25 other students from Oakland Tech.
Associated Students, Inc. worker Vanessa Perez said she has been involved with Project Connect for five years, and explained that part of the project’s goals are to help high school students that are under-represented.
“We are here to provide and advocate access to higher education to underprivileged kids,” Perez said. “We are here to motivate, give them tools, and work against the inequity in access of college information at these schools.”
Project Connect is spearheaded by director Mario Flores, a member of Associated Students, Inc. An ethnic studies graduate of SF State, Flores said it has become a passion to return the favor that was given to him.
“As an immigrant student with low income, it was very difficult for me to come to school,” Flores said. “Because my parents did not go to school, they thought it was impossible for me.”
Flores welcomed the nine represented high schools with entertainment from local hip hop station KMEL, who sent Darell “D.C” Coleman out to appeal to the students.
“We like to be out in the community doing what we can,” said Coleman, a graduate of Patten University in Oakland. “The college information is out there. It takes someone to be proactive and go find it.”
In some cases, however, information found students. Skyline College sent recruiter Juanita Quintero to SF State to represent the San Bruno school and educate students about their options.
Quintero said there was a wide diversity represented in the crowd, as students cheered loudly for a song over the loudspeaker.
“This can show them that college is not all about studying. You can have fun, too,” she said.
Another group with a table at the fair was the Black Student Union, which provided information on financial aid and offered help selecting courses. BSU volunteer and Community Service Coordinator Erin Haywood worked to make sure students would be aware of their surroundings, create optimism, and be confident in achieving their goals.
“We want to remind them that there is always an option,” said Haywood, a 20-year-old education major.“It is never too late, and it is never too early.”
One student who was planning early was 14-year-old Jonathan McGinnis, a student at Jefferson High School in Daly City. McGinnis is a point guard on the school's basketball team and hopes to play for Duke University.
“I learned more about different colleges. So if I don’t get into Duke, I’ll have more options,” said McGinnis, who enjoyed the social aspect and the music most about the event.
The SF State step group of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. put on a well-received entertainment act. The group dressed in white shirts and neckties and carried red walking canes. Their dance routine had the crowd on its feet.
“We do this as a community service, never for profit,” said fraternity Polemarch, or president, Brandon Landry, a 22-year-old brodcast electronic media arts senior. “We stayed up late practicing for this one. We are reaching out to all ethnicities.”
A reception honored SF State professor Beverly Voloshin’s artistic endeavors Wednesday and marked the opening of an exhibit that showcased some of the English professor’s artwork.
“My house is full of my paintings and drawings,” she said. “I just picked some of my favorites to display. I decided not to hang any nudes in the dean’s office.”
The exhibit, titled “Paintings and Works on Paper,” which runs through Nov. 3, displayed 35 of Voloshin’s vast array of works she has produced in the last three years. The reception, held in the College of Humanities Office where her exhibit is on display, drew at least 20 of the artist’s family, friends and faculty.
The selected pieces demonstrated the artist’s interest in a variety of diverse techniques, with styles ranging from modern abstracts to lifelike portraits.
One painting was done in an Aboriginal style. Called “Dream of Girl Running,” the piece featured swirls, circular designs and dots in earthy tones, with two small blank spaces to represent her daughter running along a path. Aborigines, whose paintings are called “dreamings” and are meant to tell stories, depict humans or animals in their art as tracks on the ground, and Voloshin stayed true to that tradition.
Another piece called “Petaluma II” portrayed a cluster of abstract shapes with deep turquoise and blue tones. Still more displayed realistic representations of vases of flowers and likenesses of acquaintances and family members.
When asked about her wide range of styles and media, Voloshin said she enjoys experimenting.
“Oil is my favorite medium to work with, but it would take a lifetime to master it. It’s very difficult,” said Voloshin. “I haven’t found my personal style yet, so I’m trying everything.”
Voloshin has been teaching on campus since 1987. She is the faculty coordinator of the Office of Academic Honors and Scholarships and campus coordinator for the California Pre-Doctoral Program, a CSU-wide scholarship program.
Despite her busy schedule, she still finds time to paint or draw at least once a week. Since renewing her interest in art, she has been consistently studying at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Petaluma campus. Next on her slate is to enter her work into the realm of art collectors.
“I would absolutely love to sell some of my stuff,” she said. “I’m hoping to get some hung at a café or somewhere like that. I’m at the point where I would just love to sell something.”
Voloshin said she took up painting and drawing five years ago after her two children left for college. Her daughter, Rachel, said she likes seeing her mom’s works up on display.
“I love seeing them all together. I’ve seen probably half of these works individually, but the way their colors borrow from each other makes it a different experience,” said Rachel Voloshin, 23.
Beverly Voloshin said her major influences include Cezanne, Richard Diebenkorn and Picasso. She hopes to expand her repertoire to other influential painters.
“I really love the old masters,” said the artist. “I would love to study and learn more about the renaissance painters and learn their techniques.”
The exhibit is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Humanities Building room 484.
The candles flickered in the dim room and soft music gently wafted through the air as the Tamarkoz leader Dr. Jilla Benham told the class to inhale deeply while raising their right arm.
Sitting cross-legged and with closed eyes, the Sufi students were then told to exhale while lowering their arm and to focus on the magnetic energy radiating from their palm.
Tamarkoz, or meditation, is an important part of Sufism, according to Paiom Youssefi, 23, president of the Maktab Tarighat Ovessi Sufi Association at SF State. He said Tamarkoz allows a person to clear their minds of unimportant matters and focus on the truth that's in their hearts, which is the essence of Sufism. Sufism is not a religion or a philosophy, rather it's a discipline that helps people find their paths to self-cognition by knowing God, Youssefi said.
“It's often called the mystical side of Islam, but it uses the teachings of all the prophets to help you find the path to self-knowledge,” Youssefi said.
According to Fred Astren, director and professor of SF State’s Jewish Studies, Sufism originally came about by followers of Islam who wanted to get a more personal experience of God. Practitioners of Sufism would experiment through various techniques such as dancing and meditation that did not go over well with traditional Islamic leaders.
“Sufism was a large part of Islam until modern times,” Astren said. “But in the past 100 to 150 years as nationalism and modernity swept into the Islamic countries, they began to scapegoat Sufism as the cause of their society’s problems.”
The MTO order of Sufism is over 1,400 years old and traces back to Oveys Gharani, who lived during the time of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Oveys never met Muhammad, but is said to have learned the teachings of Islam from Muhammad, through his heart.
For the second year in a row, the MTO Sufi Association at SF State only has the required minimum of five members. Youssefi said this is because not many people know about Sufism.
“There are a certain percentage of people who hear 'Islam' and immediately dismiss it,” he said. “And when a lot of people hear 'mystical' they start to think about hocus pocus, but that's not what Sufism's about.”
Astren said Sufism is deeply embedded in Islam, but as it reaches new places it opens up in new ways.
Sufism and traditional Islam share some characteristics, such as reading and praying from the Quran, but the main difference between the two is that conversion is not necessary to practice Sufism, according to Benham.
“Sufism is about the inner reality of religions ... about finding the path to God by finding knowledge in your own heart,” said Benham, who is an off-campus advisor for MTO. “The institutionalized religions are too hung up on rigid laws. If a person is praying in any religion and the essence is not there, it's like eating food and constantly bringing an empty fork to your mouth.”
Esther Halwani recently celebrated Rosh Hashana, and has been practicing Sufism for about two years.
“There's a wonderful example we're taught, where the human spirit is like an apple seed,” said Halwani, event coordinator for MTO. “An apple seed has all the characteristics and potential to grow, but if it's not nourished properly it will never grow into an apple.”
Women are given “100 percent equality” in Sufism, Halwani said, which is different than traditional Islam and other major religions.
“Women lead the meditation groups and do everything a man can,” she said. “It's about finding the truth in yourself, and God's truth has no gender or race.”
Benham said she wants atheists to at least try a Tamarkoz workshop, and see the tools that are out there. Perhaps they would feel more energetic and gradually realize there's more to them, she said.
“When you're thirsty, someone describing to you what water is and how it tastes doesn't help,” she said. “You become quenched when you drink that water.”
The MTO Sufi Association will be holding a meditation workshop Oct. 11 from 11:30 a.m to 2 p.m. in Rosa Parks Room F.