January 2007 Archives

Muni Track Closures at West Portal to Castro

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SF State students are experiencing a change in their routines since the San Francisco Municipal Transport Agency, entered phase two of its metro improvement project on Jan. 29.

This change, which affects San Francisco's Municipal railway (Muni), will force students to cope with fewer trains and changing schedules.

The Metro Improvement Project, which began on Jan. 17, 2006, is an effort to replace the overhead wire system that powers the trains. The upgrade is important and, according to SFMTA’s Web site, will increase reliability and lower maintenance costs.

Monday’s change will move closed sections of track from the area between the Castro and Van Ness stations to the expanse between the West Portal and Castro stations.

It will also move the time of track closure back an hour, from 10 to 9 p.m. It is the final phase of the improvement project and is expected to run through early 2008.

But it is not an easy obstacle to ignore. SF State students, among others, must learn how to incorporate this change of routine into their daily lives. Considering that the closed section of track is now closer than ever, and shuts down an hour earlier than it did previously, it may take a little getting used to. This may be a challenge for students who are not used to public transportation, but others are familiar with the ongoing changes.

“Well, it’s been like this for a while,” said 20-year-old psychology major Nicole Madison, who uses Muni to get home from class. “The only difference is that it will be closing an hour earlier.”

This hour difference raises concern for students attending evening classes. Students said that they may be unable to get to the West Portal station by 9 p.m. and therefore miss their chance for an expedient ride home.

“I have a night class that lasts till 8:45 p.m.,” said Niko Volonakis, an undeclared 19-year-old sophomore. “There’s almost no way that I’ll be able to get to West Portal in time to catch a train.”

SFMTA public relations representative Kristen Holland ensured that Muni has considered the problems that may arise and will provide extra transportation for those who need it.

Holland said patrons who use the N-Judah and J-Church lines will have full access to their respective trains. In addition to this, shuttles leaving from the West Portal station will make stops at Castro, Church and Van Ness stations, providing inbound transport from West Portal after 9 p.m. These aids, in combination with an informative advertisement placed in a recent issue of The Golden Gate [X]press, are designed to ease the oncoming transition.

Holland did stress, however, that riders should arrive early because the West Portal and Castro stations will be closing at 9 p.m. and trains will be leaving approximately 10 minutes before that.

“If you’re there at 9 p.m., you won’t get a train,” she said. “They all leave before 9 p.m.”

Muni officials have taken further steps in their preparation for the shift in protocol. The railway sent out a memo to SF State’s department of parking and transportation, which is posted at http://www.sfsu.edu/~parking/ and will be posted in further campus memos.

Parking and transportation representative Patricia Tollar offered some advice to SF State students looking to beat the bewilderment.

“Students can take the M car to West Portal and use the buses,” Tollar said of the shuttles that will be provided and are supposed to run approximately every six minutes.

Tollar also emphasized that SF State offers another alternative in the form of its regular shuttle service to the Daily City BART station, which runs until 10 p.m.

“Students can go to the BART station instead,” she said.

For more information on how to decipher San Francisco’s municipal myriad, visit www.sfmta.com/metro or call (415) 673-MUNI for assistance with trip planning.

Political Brew

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Before you take a sip of your coffee this morning, stop and think what it says about you.

Does it tout your personal convictions about human rights and decent wages for labor, or that you buy the cheapest beans around for your morning fix?

A group of SF State students want our school’s coffee to say something about the entire campus. That’s why they have started a campaign to ensure that every one of the coffee venues at SF State offers Fair Trade-certified coffee.

“With Fair Trade coffee, you know the farmers who grew and harvested the beans get a decent price for their work. A lot of campuses in the U.S. have 100 percent Fair Trade coffee, so it’s something we really should be able to accomplish,” said Shuntelle Martin, one of the students organizing the project. “Students just need to know about it, so this semester we’re really focusing on awareness.”

That’s why Martin, 24, a senior majoring in international relations, spent time last Thursday sitting in front of the Cesar Chavez Student Center at a table with some of her co-campaigners trying to educate students about the benefits of Fair Trade products.

During the first week of school, Martin, Ofir Uziel, 28, and Phimy Truong, 22, handed out flyers and collected signatures for a petition to convince the university to adopt a 100 percent Fair Trade policy. This week they have a table offering more information as well as free samples of certified Fair Trade products, such as coffee and fruit.

“We really want people to know they can make a choice with their purchases,” said Uziel, a junior environmental studies major. “Fair Trade coffee on campus is really a vehicle to raise consciousness, to educate students about this concept.”

Last semester, SF State professor Andy Peri assigned the students in his Environmental Problems and Solutions class a project: design a campaign to target an environmental problem. Martin, Uziel and Truong, along with some other classmates, decided to focus on getting Fair Trade coffee available in every coffee shop on campus. The project inspired them so much, they decided to take it beyond just a class assignment, and started campaigning seriously, along with guidance from Peri.

“There are two parts of this campaign. We want to continue to work with the various managers of the venues on campus, but we also want to focus on educating students about Fair Trade” Peri said. “Eventually, we want students to say they won’t drink anything but Fair Trade coffee.”

From 1962 to 1989, coffee harvests were regulated by the International Coffee Agreement (ICA), an international treaty between the coffee-producing nations of the world and the countries they export to. Expert opinions as to whether the ICA actually did good or harm are conflicting, but the reality is that when it was dismantled, a surplus of coffee harvests ensued, along with a severe crash in coffee prices. As a result, farmers who were making a decent living selling their coffee were suddenly plunged into poverty.

Enter the Fair Trade movement. Started as an effort to target the abysmal wages of farmers, the movement came up with a certification process and a label for foods that would assure the consumer that their food was purchased at a fair price. Now headquartered in Bonn, Germany, the Fair Trade Labeling Organization (FLO) oversees certification groups in more than 60 countries. TransFair USA, based in Oakland, is the only organization that certifies Fair Trade goods in the United States.

According to TransFair USA, coffee is a $5 billion per year business, and Americans consume 2.3 billion pounds every year, more than any other nation in the world. Though it remains largely based in the “specialty coffee” market, coffee bearing the Fair Trade label has grown in the last eight years.

In 2002, TransFair USA knew of more than 400 U.S. college campuses that offered Fair Trade coffee, and even some of the larger chain coffee shops, such as Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee, have started to offer a Fair Trade version of their brand. The selection at such coffee houses, however, sometimes leaves much to be desired. When Peri went into a Starbucks and asked for a cup of Fair Trade coffee, he was told the Fair Trade beans weren’t readily brewed.

“Instead of a regular cup of drip coffee, I was offered a French press of the Fair Trade brew,” he said. “What I got was like sludge in a cup. That’s not going to be appealing to a lot of people.”

As for the coffee venders on campus, the biggest selling point will be the demand from students.

Carmelina Narciso, owner of Taqueria Girasole and Carmelina La Petite, said she is more than willing to offer a Fair Trade option, but she needs to know it will sell.

“I think it is fantastic, the whole Fair Trade thing. If we can help out our community as well as the communities our coffee comes from, that’s wonderful,” Narciso said. “But I’m a businesswoman, too. If students want it, I want to offer it. Most of all, I want my customers to have a choice. I don’t want their options to be limited.”

The student campaigners understand the vendors’ concerns, but still want to push for a campus stocked with 100 percent Fair Trade coffee.

“The response from all the owners of the shops on campus has been really positive, but they need to know there’s a demand for the product,” Martin said. “Fair Trade products really do something for farmers and the environment. And we believe people will pay for a clean conscience.”

Security Dots See Little Sales

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While laptop and iPod theft dominate crime reports on and around campus, sales of a product designed to recover valuable items and deter thieves are flat.

Datadots, the sprayable transparent dots, the size of a grain of sand with a unique personal identification number that links to a nationwide database, have been available in the SFSU Bookstore for $19.95 for six months.

Kits contain 500 DataDots, enough to tag up to ten personal items with the owner's contact information. They don't stand out the way etching contact information can. Also, compared to radio frequency transmitter chips or GPS devices it’s less expensive and does not interfere with electronic signals.

The dots are applied within a clear adhesive to the surface of assets like a computer, cell phone, mp3 players, stereos or even a bicycle.

Daniel Johnson, a Help Desk consultant in the school's Instructional Technology Department said the product is useful and ideal.

"You could spray it at several spots, maybe even inside the device," said Johnson, a senior biology major. "It could work, assuming that the machines are recovered and the law enforcement knows how to check them,” Johnson said.

Police use a 50X magnifier to identify the dots, then search the database and return the property.

Johnson echoed a common complaint: the product seems to only help if an item is recovered and many ask: “how often does that happen?”

In Washington state, where DataDot Technology USA is based, "millions of dollars in assets" are found but never returned because thieves wipe out a computer's internal memory and scratch off serial numbers, said Scott McKeever, the company’s program Development Director.

"The police get pretty frustrated when they do bust a thief and they find stolen goods but they can't return them to their rightful owners," McKeever said.

Security is an issue that Residential Advisors, such as Jazz Vassar of the Fast Track Community Hall's second floor, talk about at meetings with resident freshmen. But watchfulness is more often recommended than DataDots.

Vassar said she informed incoming students about security precautions.

"Oh yeah (theft) happens. Most of the time, it will be someone who invited a friend and they may try to steal something," she said.

Vassar herself had a laptop and stereo system stolen from her car last semester but has yet to buy a can of DataDots, which are transparently glued to the external surfaces, for her new computer.

Anuj Chatterjee, a coordinator in the bookstore's computer section, said the initial order of 100 cans made prior to the Fall semester have yet to sell out. “Concerned mothers get their kids to buy them for their laptops. (The company) put out flyers in the dorms,” he said.

Vassar and other residents said they realize thefts happen and as long as they keep their doors locked and don't stray from valuable electronics in public spaces there is little need in purchasing additional security.

Black History Month's Meaning

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The month of February is a time to honor the culture and history of Black people around the world. On the eve of this celebration, students share their thoughts on the meaning of Black History Month.

Hillary Clinton Contends for Presidency

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Hillary Clinton throws her hat in the political ring, adding to the diversity of the upcoming election’s picks for Democrats. Announcing her candiancy through webcasts made available on her website, Clinton may become the first female president in history.

SF State students share their opinions about whether or not Clinton is a good choice for candidacy against other firsts like Barack Obama.

Anti-War Activists Rally in San Francisco

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Thousands of anti-war protestors marched the streets of downtown San Francisco Saturday afternoon in a show of dissatisfaction with President Bush’s call to send more troops to Iraq.

Police lined up in front of Old Navy on Market and Fourth streets in anticipation for the march. Protestors amassed around the Powell Street cable car turnaround, while speeches condemning the Bush administration’s handling of the war were shouted out on loudspeakers.

The event coincided with an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., which drew tens of thousands of people, as reported by the Associated Press.

San Francisco’s march was organized by the January 27 Coalition, which is made up of many groups that oppose the war in Iraq. Some organizations from SF State attended, including The International Socialist Organization (ISO), and Students Against War.

“The November elections showed people are against this war,” said Kevil Neel, 42, a member of the ISO branch at SF State. “People in power are more interested in U.S. power, and they don’t want to admit defeat.”

Alex Dempsey, a senior philosophy major at SF State, spoke for Students Against War. He said that he was grateful to be around so many other people who oppose the war, including fellow college students.

“There are no activism classes,” Dempsey, 22, joked about school. “So we taught ourselves by coming out here.”

Protestors started marching along Market Street after 1 p.m. They carried all kinds of signs and props to show their discontent with the Bush administration. One person carried a placard of a skeleton with flapping arms, against a backdrop of fire, which said: “Iran, Iraq, Syria. Not in my name.”

The march flowed down Market Street, turning north on the Embarcadero, before ending at Pier 31, where everyone gathered for more speeches.

Lacei Amodei, 20, a sophomore liberal arts major at SF State, said it’s important to rally so the newly elected Congress can see that people are becoming increasingly tired of the war in Iraq. She is a member of Youth and Student Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER).

“Rallying is a tactical way to stop the war. It takes constant organization,” Amodei said. “People voted Democrats in office to stop the war. There is a peak of anti-war sentiment.”

Amodei said the November elections, coupled with Bush’s State of the Union speech last week, which called for an additional 21,500 U.S. troops in Iraq, gave people the momentum to organize a large protest with a clear message.

“The message is that the war in Iraq needs to stop immediately,” said Forrest Schmidt, 30, an organizer for ANSWER. “It’s against the interests of the people of the United States, and we want it to end.”

Schmidt said that the “corporate war machine” in America spends resources on war, while ignoring the needs of citizens at home. He said that the war isn’t in the best interest of the average worker in America, adding that “corporate America is making a killing” with the war by exploiting Iraq’s resources.

“This demonstration is important,” Schmidt said. “But it’s also a step for a growing movement.”

Jennifer Hammond, 37, of Santa Rosa, came to the rally with her 1-year-old son Nathan, who sat in a carrying case on her back. She said that she drove over with friends to show support for the anti-war movement.

“I don’t have a sign or anything,” Hammond said. “I’m just here so [Nathan] won’t need to come back 20 years later… I hope we can end this now.”

Cyclists Protest to Demand Safer Streets

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The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition led a small demonstration on the corner of Octavia and Market streets Friday morning, urging changes be made to make the busy intersection safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

The rally was organized in response to a hit-and-run accident earlier in the week that left a female cyclist in critical condition after being struck by a truck making an illegal right turn onto the Central Street freeway on-ramp from Market Street.

“What we want to do today is raise awareness and visibility and to show that this crosswalk is pedestrian space and demand that the city make this intersection safe for everyone,” said SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum, welcoming the crowd.

A group of about 100 cyclists, neighbors and supporters, including City Supervisors Chris Daly, Ross Mirkarimi and Bevan Dufty, held up signs and donned yellow caution tape and orange safety vests. They blocked the pedestrian crosswalk every time the walk sign turned green during the morning rush hour to prevent drivers from making the illegal turn.

The intersection has become notoriously dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians endangered by motorists making the illegal right turn from Market Street onto the Highway 101 on-ramp in order to avoid the legal entrance that is blocks away on Gough Street.

“Most of the time I’ve come in this intersection I’ve seen someone make an illegal turn so it’s definitely an issue,” said Daly, who rode his bike to the demonstration from his home just minutes away.

The SFBC has a long list of recommendations for the city to improve the safety of the intersection that will clearly denote pedestrian and cyclist space. Possible changes include raising the crosswalk and bike lanes to make the pedestrian and cyclist right of way more visible to motorists and coloring or stamping the bike lane with “sharrows” or bicycle markings as in other major bicycling cities like New York, Chicago and Portland.

Demonstrators also urged the San Francisco Police Department to bring hit-and-run charges against the driver of the truck that hit 28-year-old Margaret Timbrell, who is now recuperating. The driver, who claims that he did not see Timbrell, has not been charged.

“The message being sent is that drivers can get away with hitting cyclists and pedestrians and that is not OK,” said Shahum. “We are urging the city to address the problem of this known dangerous intersection.”

Faculty Brainstorm Raising General Education Requirments

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With degree requirement changes for undergraduate students on the horizon at SF State, a task force charged with devising a plan to revise requirements held brainstorming workshops with faculty Monday.

The recently formed Graduation Requirements Task Force, appointed by the University’s Academic Senate, held four sessions during Monday’s Faculty and Staff Retreat at SF State’s new Westfield San Francisco Centre downtown campus.

The current General Education requirements for undergraduate students were established in 1981, and while the program was considered ahead of its time 25 years ago, it is now in need of revamping, said Susan Shimanoff, a member of the task force.

In a brainstorm of ideas, representatives of the task force heard from members of different departments.

Strengths and weaknesses of the current baccalaureate program were discussed along with goals for the future. During the day’s final session, concerns about writing skills, students’ ability to deal with unstructured situations, and the idea of cohesion of courses were bounced around.

The task force’s implementation has come after an external review committee was employed in October by the Academic Senate to come up with an assessment of the current undergraduate program. The committee included a private consultant and faculty from CSU Bakersfield and Occidental College. The published report proposed “rethinking the entire program from the ground up.”

While Shimanoff could not say with any certainty when a different set of requirements would be officially adopted, she noted that current students would not be affected. Changes to undergraduate graduation requirements will apply to students entering SF State beginning in the fall 2008 semester, according to the Academic Senate Web site.

District Attorney Speaks to Faculty, Administration

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San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris spoke of the connections between education and social justice to a group of SF State faculty and administration Monday night in Downtown San Francisco.

“Everyday as district attorney, I see education as a powerful antidote,” Harris told the mostly receptive audience of educators during a dinner function at the Parc 55 Hotel. “As the chief law enforcement officer of the City and County of San Francisco, you and I are in this together.”

“Education is a crime-fighting tool,” she said. “It’s a way of preventing crime in the first place.”

Harris cited five years worth of statistics from her office showing that among all homicide victims in San Francisco under the age of 25, 94 percent were high school dropouts.

“There is no question that there is a connection between lack of education and victimization,” Harris said.

Harris, who counts several family members as having taught at SF State, said that she has long been aware of the school’s history of social activism. She cited the work of actor/alumnus Danny Glover and others who successfully demanded the creation of the world’s first ethnic studies department during the late 1960s.

More recently, SF State joined other schools and organizations in the city to collaborate with the District Attorney on “Back on Track”, a program designed to help young adults recently released from prinston to re-enter society through educational and employment opportunities.

“In California, the average state prison sentence is 21 months,” Harris said. “In three years of release, 70 percent of these prisoners go back in. We have to recognize that fact and do something about it. We have to help these people be a productive part of the community.”

She cited two success stories of the “Back on Track” program: a young African-American man arrested for drug dealing who will graduate this spring from SF State, and a female, former drug dealer who is graduating from the Academy of Art University with a 3.8 grade point average.

“We’re creating an opportunity for people to be equal, to have access,” Harris said.
As the first female district attorney in San Francisco history, and the first African-American district attorney in California, Harris credited the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as her inspiration in assuming the job.

“Let’s not forget the fact that, though he was a student of Gandhi and a pacifist, Martin Luther King was by no means passive,” Harris said.

The reaction to Harris’ speech was overwhelmingly positive, with many in attendance openly agreeing with her views on crime prevention and reduction.

“It was great having Kamala here,” SF State President Robert Corrigan said as he left the dinner. “She really brought it back between educational institutions and society at large.”

Harris’ speech capped off a daylong retreat in which 400 faculty members converged on the new SF State Downtown Campus at Westfield San Francisco Centre. Under the theme of social justice, the retreat included 64 different workshops regarding a wide range of topics.

“This is an opportunity for cross-campus dialogue that we seldom have on-campus,” Academic Senate President Dr. David Meredith told the audience before Harris’ speech.

Corrigan followed Meredith’s opening remarks by touting the new campus as a way of strengthening the school’s ties to the community. While praising those who participated in the event, he also alluded to the recent contract negotiations that have strained relations between Cal State University administrators and faculty members.

“If the rest of the Cal State University administration and faculty can have this kind of civility, then we can all be better off,” Corrigan told the audience.

The Bottom Line: People, Planet, Profit

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Seasonal plants are not the only thing that will turn green during the spring 2007 semester at SF State.

The College of Business is now offering one of the few master’s programs in sustainable business on the West Coast, joining a small cadre of graduate business programs across the Bay Area and the nation.

Called the M.B.A. in Sustainable Business Emphasis, the specialization is focused not only on the economic goals but also the social and environmental impacts of doing business. In business and environmental circles this approach is commonly known as the “triple bottom line” adding to the traditional expectations of businesspeople.

The program is trying to “transform mainstream business from the inside” by teaching future leaders core principles of being sustainable, said Murray Silverman, one of the emphasis’ creators and a professor of management at the SF State College of Business.

Pressure from consumers, activists and in some cases, from inside the halls of industry, has prompted more recognition of sustainability and demand for professionals who understand its principles, Silverman said.

Silverman suggested that firms from The Gap to major California wine companies seek businesspeople able to apply the triple bottom line.

If businesses create problems that become liabilities, stockholders might disapprove. The more waste a firm creates the more money must be spent on disposal. If a firm pollutes heavily or fails to provide worker safety an ensuing public relations rift is likely to hurt the corporate reputation and possibly profits, Silverman said.

“People like working for a good company. No one wants to hear. ‘Daddy, daddy I heard your company spilled toxic waste in the river,’” Silverman said.

Topics addressing sustainability will be covered in one-third of the course work for the Sustainable M.B.A. Classes will be at the new downtown San Francisco campus at the Westfield Centre.

Silverman said he wants the emphasis to attract competitive traditional and non-traditional prospective students.

“We also want students who might reject the idea of business school because of their social values. This emphasis shows that students have the opportunity to bring their environmental and social values into the business world. It’s a way to bring them all together,” Silverman said.

By 1995 many business schools started offering courses in sustainability such as eco-friendly marketing and studies into alternative energy. At the time SF State started Business 857: Business Management and Environmental Leadership.

In 1998, more firms started commissioning annual in-house or third party sustainability reports. In the meantime, SF State slowly started offering more applicable courses and students started making their own tracks to business sustainability.

“I took 857 and it changed my life. I knew I could do business and still live my values,” said Peggy Duvette, a 2003 M.B.A graduate.

Silverman said Duvette essentially graduated with the sustainable emphasis before it was officially offered.

Duvette now works for the Natural Capital Institute, of Paul Hawkins’ Natural Capitalism fame on the Wiser Project, a nonprofit organization in San Francisco that plans to launch an online tool to connect businesses, entrepreneurs, activists, and consumers who are concerned with sustainability.

“I’m becoming an expert in sustainability—you can make a lot of money,” Duvette said.

The Presidio School of Management at Presidio World College and New College of California, both in San Francisco offer “green” business graduate programs.

However, SF State’s sustainable specialization focuses primarily on integrating sustainability into established firms rather than green entrepreneurship and is different than other Bay Area options because it is part of a larger traditional business school.

“We are the only CSU to offer anything like this and we have the gold standard of accreditation,” Silverman said.

The school is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Business Schools, which requires 90 percent of graduate level faculty to have Ph.D.s.

The College of Business will hold an open information session for anyone interested in the Sustainable M.B.A Emphasis on Wednesday, Feb. 21 from noon to 1 p.m. at the new downtown campus.

TB Testing to Continue

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The San Francisco City Department of Public Health will be returning to campus soon to re-screen students potentially exposed to tuberculosis late last semester.

The health department’s TB investigation occurred when the second of two known tuberculosis cases at SF State last year was discovered in late November. More than 250 students, faculty and staff were considered to be at “significant risk.”

Announcements were made in the classrooms shared with the infected ethnic studies student, and on the Student Health Services Web site, while individual letters sent by the health department notified those who may have been exposed to the highly treatable bacterium.

While a free screening was offered on campus during finals week, the health department said they are stressing the importance of a second screening after a three-month incubation period. They project a return to campus in late February or early March to test those who originally yielded negative TB results.

“It’ll be the final test and make sure they’re not infected,” said Tom Hoynes, senior disease control investigator of the city’s health department.

Six of more than the 150 tested yielded positive tests, which Hoynes called a “really low rate.” A positive skin-test means they may have been exposed at some point in their lives, but there is no indication of recent exposure, nor are these specific cases active, Hoynes said.

San Francisco currently ranks within the top 5 of the nations highest TB infection rates, according to Hoynes. He added that one in three San Franciscans would yield positive skin tests.

If the airborne infection develops into disease, some of the symptoms are drenching night sweats, dramatic weight loss and consistent coughing, which commonly force those infected to seek medical help. Cases are then reported to the public health department and investigated.

Interviews with the infected patient lead to those at “significant risk” - anyone who may have shared 12 hours of air with the patient, even if its once or twice a week for an hour, over the course of a semester, Hoynes said as an example.

But Hoynes said TB is relatively difficult to transmit and slow in progressing.

Treated with antibiotics as a preventative measure over a period of six months, positive patients have a 10 percent chance of developing the disease in their lifetime. Though some strains of the bacterium have recently become drug resistant, rarely does the disease lead to surgery or death in the United States.

Hoynes said the legacy of TB is an endemic and a “massive problem” in some developing regions including Africa, South East Asia, Central America and the former Soviet bloc.

For this reason, patients are often foreign born, as was the case with the student last spring.

“It’s highly, highly, highly likely you got it from a previous source,” SF State Health Educator Albert Angelo said referring to TB’s often-foreign beginnings.

Angelo said there was a lot of unnecessary fear generated by the media attention to the case, which was of concern, but nothing to panic about. He also said it was handled according to governmental and university protocol.

Because the two infected students are connected by some time spent in the same building, the state of California is performing genetic testing to identify the specific strains of TB and will then be able to confirm whether or not the spring and fall cases are derived from the same origin.

SF State Says Goodbye to Professor Simpson

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Professor Dwight James Simpson Ph.D., 85, died Dec. 22 after a brief illness. The international relations professor had been teaching at SF State since 1968 and students, colleagues, and friends said Simpson will be deeply missed.

"Dr. Simpson was the international relations department, to me at least," said former student Kelly Parpovic, who is now serving as a development intern at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. "He was not only my adviser and mentor, but a friend as well."

He was born in Salem, Ore., and grew up in San Mateo and San Francisco. He earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Stanford University, and a postdoctoral degree from University College, Oxford.

Simpson served in the Army in World War II, and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for exceptional bravery. He was president of Bogazigi University in Turkey from 1965 to 1966, taught at Istanbul University, observed the election in Haiti for Human Rights Watch, and frequently traveled to the Middle East.

It was his personal experiences combined with his intellect that made him an exciting and thought-provoking lecturer, students said.

"I took two classes with him, and he just made class come alive," said former student Jen Erickson. "You always knew he was going to do something that you would tell your friends about later in the day."

Never one to hide his opinions on international politics, Simpson was often critical about American foreign policy. But Erickson said he always stressed tolerance and never disrespected anyone who had different opinions than him.

Colleagues said he was somewhat of a secret weapon for the international relations department. He was specifically chosen to teach International Relations 104, open to non-majors, because of his knowledgeable and gripping lectures.

"He didn’t just teach dry theories," said Andrei Tsygankov, associate professor of international relations and political science. "His use of personal experiences and classroom interaction made his lectures exciting. Students would come and see how he teaches and get addicted."

Martin Morales was one of those "addicts." As a freshman in 1988, Morales took one of Simpson’s classes and immediately changed his major from political science to international relations. The next semester, Morales became Simpson's teaching assistant.

During this time Morales said Simpson became a mentor and father figure.
"He taught me everything that’s good about a teacher," said Morales, who now teaches political science at Consumnes River College in Sacramento. "I learned the importance of listening to my students, being accessible, and actually caring about the people you teach."

Simpson was very active outside of the classroom as well. He was an advisor to many groups on campus, was often sought by news media for his expertise in U.S. foreign policy, and often lectured for the Commonwealth Club of California.

Norma Walden, chair of the International Relations Forum for the Commonwealth Club, described Simpson as a modest man who would prefer the conversation to not focus on him. Walden knew him for almost a decade and didn’t know he was was part of the D-Day invasion until she read his obituary.

"He did tell me that as an Oxford University graduate student he took part in the tradition of jumping off the bridge into the River Thames - but I had to ask him about it first," Walden said.

Simpson was a brilliant man who could be very stubborn, said assistant professor Sophie Clavier, a former student of Simpson's.

"If he felt something was right he would pursue it, regardless of school politics or political correctness," said Clavier. "A perfect example of that is him not retiring at a decent age."

Teaching was very important to Simpson. When Clavier visited him in the hospital shortly before his death, he asked her to speak to the dean to make sure he could teach in the fall if he had to miss a semester.

Clavier was very close to Simpson - the two had shared an office for nearly a decade, and she visited him each day he was in the hospital. She knew things were bad when Simpson asked her to take over grading for one of his classes.

"It was a big blow, and I still miss him," she said.

The "Professor Dwight James Simpson Memorial Scholarship Fund" has been founded by the international relations department. For details, please contact Senem Evrim Ozer at (415) 405-2418.

Donations in memory of Professor Simpson may also be sent to Citizens for East Shore Parks (www.eastshorepark.org).

He is survived by his wife Harriet, four children and 10 grandchildren.

Governor Proposes CSU Fee Increases

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Students of the California State University and University of California systems may be upset to see yet another year with significant increases to their yearly fees.

Last Wednesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a state budget that included CSU fees increased by about 10 percent, and a UC tuition raise of about seven percent for the 2007-08 school year.

For the 23 CSU campuses, the increases will bring the yearly fees to $3,024 while UC will see tuition rise to roughly $6,571 per year.

For some students, these increases will mean an even further strain on an already difficult situation. Yaa Enin, a post-baccalaureate pre-med student at SF State, said higher fees will mean less time devoted to school as she has to work more to support herself.

“For those of us who have to pay our own way and aren’t getting complete financial aid, it’s too hard. We already have to work on top of school, and it’s getting impossible,” said Enin, 24. “I don’t even really want to think about it. As it is, I’ll only be taking one or two classes this semester just so I can work. What will we do when we have even more to pay just to get an education?”

Fees at the two public university systems have been raised by 76 percent since 2002, but last year the governor provided financial support from the general fund that offset the cost to students without losing the money that would have come from fee increases. This year, however, such a solution was noticeably absent from the governor’s budget.

There is still a chance that Schwarzenegger may offer an option such as the buy-out he provided last year. According to the San Jose Mercury-News, students will plan to appeal to legislators to secure just such a solution to the increases. In addition, the fee hikes still have to be approved by the state legislature, a long process during which much can change, according to Paul Browning, media relations specialist at the CSU Chancellor’s office.

“It’s still so early, we can’t tell yet what the outcome of this will be,” said Brown. “It’s still possible that funding could be provided from somewhere else, we just don’t know. But we will definitely try to figure out something.”

One thing is for sure, the money has to come from somewhere. Browning said the state has cut funding to the CSU by over $800 million in the last three years. The 76 percent fee increases students saw from 2002 to 2005 were necessary to compensate for such a huge cut.

“Student fees are part of the mix of CSU revenue, with the state being the largest ‘partner’ in CSU funding,” he said. “Fee increases are necessary if the state does not provide sufficient resources to adequately fund the university and its operations. One-third of the revenues from student fee increases are dedicated to financial aid grants for the neediest students.”

Still, the prospect of yet another increase in fees is daunting to some students. Meg Eisaeian, 24, who graduated from SF State last spring with a degree in psychology and is now looking at CSU for grad school, is worried about more debt when she gets out of school.

“I want to be able to focus on the intense workload of graduate classes without thinking about how I’m going to pay all this off after college,” she said. “I want to think about getting a job I like, not just a job that will pay off my loans.”

Enin was also anxious about paying off the money she has borrowed for school, and increased fees only made her more nervous.

“Since I graduated, I’ve been trying to find a job in my field, but I haven’t been able to,” Enin said. “Students are more in debt when they graduate now than ever before. If the job market doesn’t support our financial obligations when we get out of school, where’s the incentive to even go to college? It’s like we’re going to school to get better jobs, but school is putting us in such debt, those jobs are only serving to pay off school.”

SF State Responds to Baker's Dozen Beatings

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The Baker's Dozen one of the nation's oldest all-male a cappella groups was recently attacked during a New Year’s Eve party in San Francisco while the group was participating in a West Coast concert tour. The trouble began shortly after midnight when the group sang "The Star Spangled Banner."

According to witnesses, the group was taunted and threatened for their conservative dress. After the group left the party they were ambushed by five or six individuals attacking each member. Injuries ranged from black eyes, concussions, to a broken jaw. Police have still not made any arrests at this time.

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