April 2007 Archives
The Sunday morning tanker-truck accident that caused a section of freeway to collapse in Oakland will make commuting difficult for SF State students and employees commuting between San Francisco and East Bay for weeks to come.
As a result of the damage to the section of the MacArthur Maze interchange, where Interstates 80, 580, 880, 980, and Highway 24 converge, CalTrans and other transportation officials are providing alternatives for those whose travel is affected by the incident.
In addition, SF State offers some additional services for those commuting to and from campus from the East Bay.
Check back with [X]Press Online for any updates regarding public transportation between San Francisco and Oakland.
NO FREE TRANSIT
Over 30 Bay Area transit agencies offered free transportation to commuters Monday in an effort to reduce the number of traffic problems as a result of the collapsed overpass. However, it was only a one-day occurance, and travellers once again have to pay to ride Bay Area public transportation.
BART will continue to run increased train service between San Francisco and the East Bay through Wednesday. Longer cars will be in use during regular travel hours from 4 a.m. to midnight. Additionally, six more trains will run between the Pleasant Hill and Montgomery Street stations during the peak hours of the morning, along with three more afternoon trains between the Pleasant Hill and Montgomery stations and an additional afternoon train from Daly City to Richmond.
The BART website advises travellers to arrive at stations earlier, or to postpone travel until after the rush hour commute. BART customers are also encouraged to take the bus to and from the station, as parking is expected to be limited due to the increased ridership.
SF STATE SHUTTLE
To handle the increased number of SF State students and employees using BART during the construction project, the university has added an extra shuttle running between SF State and the Daly City BART station.
CARPOOLING TO SF STATE
Those interested in carpooling to campus can find contact information for fellow SF State students and faculty in their area who would like to carpool through the Parking and Transportation department's Ride Match program. Application forms are avaliable in the Parking and Transportation office, located next to the University Police station on North State Drive, and on the Parking and Transportation website at http://www.sfsu.edu/~parking/text/ridematch.html
COMMUTING BY CAR:CalTrans approved alternate routes
ALTERNATE ROUTE: Westbound 80 to Southbound 880
--Take 80 West to 580 East.
--Transition from 580 East to 980 West.
--Take 980 West to rejoin 880 South.
ALTERNATE ROUTE 1: Eastbound 80 (Bay Bridge) to Eastbound 580
--Take 80 East, exit at West Grand Avenue.
--Travel east on West Grand Avenue to Northgate Avenue. Make a left onto Northgate.
--Travel north onto Northgate to the 27th Street onramp to Highway 24 or East 580.
ALTERNATE ROUTE 2: Eastbound 80 (Bay Bridge) to Eastbound 580
--Take 80 East to the Buchanan Street exit in Albany.
--Loop around on Buchanan to take 80 West to 580 East.
ALTERNATE ROUTE 3: Eastbound 80 (Bay Bridge) to Eastbound 580
--Take 80 East to 880 South.
--Travel south on 880, transition to 238 South.
--Take 238 South to 580 East.
Organized by Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism (CIIJ), three panelists will present a mid-day discussion on how journalism students can create new media opportunities in today's journalism market of job cuts. The hour-long panel was streamed live on SF State's campus in the Humanities building and is now available in case you missed it.
Over a thousand people gathered on Ocean Beach near Lincoln Way on Saturday to spell out a direct political message concerning the president: "Impeach!"
It marked the second time this year that people gathered on the sand near Beach Chalet to raise awareness of their cause, by lying down and spelling out their opposition to George Bush and Dick Cheney.
“We’re just trying to take back our country, it’s been stolen by a bunch of neocon fascists and it’s time to take action,” said Mark Spindler, a 51-year-old Fremont resident. “Impeachment is not only a possibility, but our duty as citizens.”
The Beach Impeach II event was organized by San Francisco cab driver Brad Newsham, who also put together the first edition in January. Word of it mostly spread online, with the site A28.org calling for a National Day of Impeachment. The site listed over 80 other similar impeachment-oriented events scheduled across the country.
“I’m amazed at how willing people are not to know! They don’t want to know, and when you do know, you can’t help but be here,” said Judi Campbell, a Half Moon Bay resident who was joined by Kona, her golden retriever. “But it gets in the way of people going to Target, or whatever. I don’t think people want to know, and that’s disturbing. This needs to get people thinking.”
A helicopter flew overhead and stopped above the throng of political spellers for approximately 20 minutes to gather photos of the action. The crowd was an eclectic mix of families, social advocates and group organizers alike, all united as one big Etch A Sketch of change.
“I don’t like the war, I have so many complaints about Bush that I don’t like him, and none of my friends do,” said Almudena Martin, a 33-year-old native of the Basque Country of Spain. “People that don’t see the reality need to see this message the most.”
After the helicopter departed, participants enjoyed the free food and music that was part of the spirited gathering. Booths were set up along the sidewalk with bumper stickers, T-shirts and community leaders all urging a concerted effort at changing the White House.
“This is one more step to get rid of these monsters, and to remind people that this is an option -- it‘s in the Constitution,” said Rick Gerharter, a news photographer who lives in Lower Haight. “People have to be held accountable, and when a president has done such outrageously illegal actions, then he needs to be called into account.”
In addition to a resonating message of impeachment, others sought to spread awareness of climate change and domestic terror issues, including beliefs about cover-ups in the September 11 attacks.
“It’s great to be able to get the point across that Bush and Cheney are lying to people, including the main core of their lie, which is that 9-11 was an inside job,” said Tantra Bensko, a 48-year-old Sunset resident who wore a white shirt with Bush’s head flanked by the word LIAR. “Words have power when we get together.”
As the crowd slowly dispersed from their spelling, a female voice on a bullhorn reminded them to join together in the march to “Camp Pelosi,” which is a protesting hotspot outside Nancy Pelosi’s Pacific Heights manor. Signs with her name, urging her to listen to her constituents were all over, and a sense of disappointment in her lack of will to impeach was palpable.
“George Bush is a liar, Americans are not behind Bush or the Iraq War,” said Rae Abileah, a local groups coordinator for CODEPINK. “We’re in a state of disaster, a state of emergency. Hopefully Nancy Pelosi will hear this message and put impeachment back on the table.”
Tension seemed inevitable Friday morning, as barricades and police stood as testament to what might be expected when two opposing viewpoints collide.
Despite protests by the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), the noontime Israeli Independence Day celebration put on by the San Francisco Hillel and The Israeli Coalition remained peaceful and respectful.
Held in Malcolm X plaza, the event marked the 59th year of Israeli freedom and was a celebration of music. It was met by protest in the form of signs reading “The Only Peace Israel Wants is the Last Piece of Palestine” and “Israel, You Betray The Memory of 6 million with your Brutal aggression in Palestine,” as well as others. Members of GUPS also waved flags in support of their cause. However, there was no violence.
The event began with music provided by the hip hop group Djoo Kroo, which consists of members Mor Ben-Shimon, 20, and Yotam Ben-Shimon, 21. They are cousins and are from Los Angeles. According to SF State student Jason Daks, who helped to bring the group to campus, was their first show in San Francisco.
“We’re excited,” said Mor. “It’s just another opportunity to meet new people and get the word out.”
Mor’s rap counterpart and cousin Yotam said that he was happy that the situation did not turn violent or disrespectful.
“We didn’t fight or anything,” he said in reference to supporters of Palestine sitting on the lawn. “They’re over there, but they could have been over here. We have power through music.”
“It was very subtle,” Mor said in agreement.
The highlight and greatest show of unity during the day was when rapper Killah Priest, a Wu Tang Clan affiliate, brought Mandeep Sethi onstage. This is because Sethi has different viewpoints than those of Killah Priest. After Sethi, an 18-year-old BECA freshman, performed a freestyle rap onstage, Killah Priest ignited the crowd with a declaration that “Only through Hip Hop can we have unity like this.”
Sethi said that he thought the event was very powerful because Palestinian supporters were simply there to be seen and because he was allowed to express his viewpoint on stage without repercussions.
“Revolution and revolutionary thought are born out of love,” he said. He also explained that some of the university coordinators of the event wanted him to get off stage, not the crowd.
Not everyone, however, was entirely pleased.
“It’s a musical event,” said Brian Gallagher, a 24-year-old political science and history major and GUPS member. “They want people over there, and a picture doesn’t show how many actually support Israel.”
Early on, Palestine supporters felt that the barricades made them seem like they were caged in.
“Apparently the cops put covers over the bars to make us feel more comfortable, and now they’re gone,” said Shaghayegh Pouriamehr, a 24-year-old microbiology senior. “Now we’re covering them up like always.”
“Growing up with Disney” was certainly the shocking section of the Thursday evening presentation on how media affects self-image held in Rosa Parks room D and presented by the Koinonia group, a Christian fellowship group.
Showing a short clip on Disney characters, such as "The Little Mermaid", "Pocahontas", and "Bambi", Ng said that Disney’s productions shape kid’s images of gender with its characters.
“Values can be portrayed from what we see,” said Ng.
The gathering of about 20 women was part of the many activities and presentations that the Koinonia group at SF State prepared for the community in the campus.
“We like important topics that interest people, and engage them to know more about it,” said Nancy Kim, 26, also member of the Kiononia group.
Going from Disney, to Discovery Channel programs and advertisements, Alison Ng, 28, who facilitated the presentation, said that media affects everyone, including kids.
The issue Ng raised was that advertising is in all forms of media, affecting the mind, behavior and body image.
The physical perfection portrayed by models makes women at early age feel a sentiment of constant dissatisfaction, leaving them thinking that they do not measure up to the ideal. This issue leads to further consequences, such as, fad diets, eating disorders or cosmetic surgery, according to Ng.
According to the statistics given on the presentation, fad diets don’t work to meet perfect image, it might cause anorexia or bulimia. These two eating disorders are commonly present in college-aged women affecting a 5 percent of young women with anorexia and a 4 percent with bulimia.
According to the presentation, this trend affects women particularly because they are, in most cases, presented as mindless objects or images.
“Become part of the community with role models,” said Ng, finishing the presentation with images of successful and notable women like Condoleezza Rice, Rigoberta Menchu, and Mother Teresa.
After the presentation, guests had the opportunity to give feedback about the presentation, and some guests came up with suggestions and comments on the issue.
“I came because I wanted to know more about the topic,” said Khatera Kakar, 23, an international relations major.
But Kakar also suggested that topics like these should be presented to younger kids who are growing up with the trend.
“For most of us, we found our way,” said Kakar.
If two SF State professors have their way, you might be able to write your essay in the same window you check your e-mail.
Computer science professor Arno Puder and information systems professor Leigh Jin are working together to make an open-source software that will do just that.
The software, called XML11, will make it easier for developers to make innovative Web features, such as the ability to run applications inside a Web browser.
“The distinction between the desktop [application] and browser becomes blurred,” Puder said about the program's potential use.
According to Puder, with the help of the program, a developer can easily implement feature-rich applications for the Internet. The program helps developers create Web sites, such as MySpace and Wikipedia, which allow users to contribute to site content with ease.
"This is achieved by a process called cross compilation, where a developer-friendly programming language is translated, or cross-compiled, to a language needed for Web applications," Puder said in an e-mail.
“I’m very much excited about the inter-college collaboration,” Puder said about working with Jin.
Jin added they are currently developing a business model to attract more open source developers to the project.
“Hopefully that will, in turn, attract more open-source developers to contribute to the XML11 project,” Jin said.
The project is an open-source software that potentially can change the way the Internet is used.
Puder said he came upon creating the program while doing research in 2004 and said it evolved over a period of time.
“Here we’re completely free of economic pressures, constraints and can focus on long-term research projects,” Puder said about creating the software at SF State.
SF State is also the only university to be a part of the OpenAjax alliance, an organization of vendors, open-source projects and companies using Ajax — a Web scripting tool — and successfully adopting it into Web applications. In the past, Puder has given presentations at Google and Sun Microsystems concerning the program.
“My hope is that it turns into a thriving open-source project that gathers a community of developers around this project,” Puder said.
Jin said she started paying attention to open-source projects and became interested in it. Jin said she met Puder at a seminar, and that’s when he told her about the project.
“I thought it was a wonderful opportunity for me to actually participate and contribute to a real open-source project,” Jin said.
Jin is creating a business model for the project where it can be profitable as an open-source software.
“Most open-source projects struggle with business models, because the software itself is free,” Jin said.
Jin began to introduce XML11 to Bay Area Linux, an open-source operating system, user groups to draw attention to the project. She also contacted open-source activists, lawyers on how to attract attention to XML11 for developers to contribute codes.
Jin said Puder is inspiring and visionary and said the collaboration is a wonderful model for SF State.
“I feel like I’m really a part of the team,” Jin said.
Several hundred SF State students walked out of classes Thursday morning to protest a fee increase for Fall 2007. This stemmed from the California Board of Trustees voting in March to increase CSU fees by 10 percent for the next school year.
These raised fees have created much discussion, anger and emotion among students throughout California. The walkout is one attempt to protest the increase and here is part of their journey.
Ryan Carney stands in the middle of Cesar Chavez Student Center holding a bowl of candy. In the midst of lunchtime chaos, he directs diners to three different waste bins and gives them an ecological lesson in the process. Then, and only then, does he offer them a treat from his bowl.
This is the composting pilot station, organized by Ecologically Concerned Organization of Students, or ECO Students. Located behind Natural Sensations, the station was a testing ground for a future composting program in the student center. The program will ensure that the compostables from students, faculty and staff will be diverted away from landfills and back into the ground via farms and vineyards.
Carney, an environmental studies major, said the test run had met with a few challenges.
“At first there was a little resistance from people,” he said. “They didn’t seem to want to have to sort their waste more than they already do with recyclables. But the candy bowl is definitely helping.”
The composting program was initially started last semester, when ECO Students, with the help of student center management, was able to get all the vendors in the center to commit to composting their food scraps. Now in phase two, the project is going one step further by out putting composting bins to encourage the center’s customers to follow in the vendors’ footsteps.
Besides directing the waste and handing out sweets, the students running the compost station also asked participants to fill out a survey about their knowledge of the city’s composting plan. The survey asked what people knew about composting and if they would be willing to compost at school.
“The biggest challenges we face are that no one knows you can throw your food-soiled paper plates in the compost bins and that you can compost meat,” said senior Yvette Michaud.
ECO Students ran the pilot program for two weeks to observe students’ reactions. On May 3 they will present the results from the test station to the student center’s governing board, which is made up of faculty, administration and students. From this, the center and ECO Students can decide what steps need to be taken to get the program off and running and what further education needs to be done to make sure customers can effectively compost.
Edina Bajraktarevic, retail and commercial services manager for the student center, said she was pleased that the student center is putting itself in line with the policies of the city and hoped that others would follow the center’s lead.
“This is a really ambitious project. All the steps we’re taking are really revolutionary,” she said. “To be able to set this great example for the campus and the businesses in the Bay Area is just amazing. There’s just nothing negative about it.”
According to the San Francisco Environment Department, San Francisco was the first large municipality to start collecting food scraps for composting, and is one of only a few cities that composts meat. Sunset Scavenger collects over 230 tons of food scraps and yard waste every day and sends it to Jepson Prairie Organics where it is turned into compost. The finished product is then sold to Bay Area farms and vineyards, which use it to grow the products sold back to consumers at local markets, effectively closing the loop of waste in the region.
The city hopes to divert 75 percent of its waste away from landfills by 2010, and 100 percent by 2020 according to Mark Westlund, public outreach program manager for the environment department.
By the second week of the composting test run, according to Michaud, it was clear that the majority of waste coming out of the student center is compostable. On Wednesday, after the station had been open only two hours, the compost bin was nearly full, while the recycling bin and trash bins had only managed a fraction of their potential capacity.
Once the program is implemented, Bajraktarevic hopes it will save the center money in the future. For now, however, the center is only seeing the cost. The price of products used in composting — such as compostable plastic bags and plastic ware for vendors — are high now, but she hopes the costs will come down when more businesses start using them.
Even with the pressures of higher costs and the daunting task of educating and encouraging the public to compost voluntarily, Bajraktarevic and the ECO Students remain positive.
“There is a huge educational component that we need to provide now, because many people just don’t know about [composting],” Bajraktarevic said. “But this is the right way to go. It will take time, but it will come together. We’re just that kind of campus.”
Over 600 SF State students walked out of classes last Thursday to protest a fee increase for the upcoming school year.
In March, the California Board of Trustees voted to increase CSU fees by 10 percent for the 2007-2008 school year. This would bring full-time undergraduate fees at SF State from $1,583 to $1,728 per semester.
“This is a working-class campus,” said Julian Geaga, 21, who helped organize the walkout. “It’s not fair they pass the cost onto the working class students that the state should be paying for.”
The walkout at SF State follows a string of protests at universities across the state. In the last weeks, students have protested at San Jose State University and Cal State East Bay.
The three main demands of the protestors were to roll back student fees to 2002 levels, stop the cuts in the Education Opportunity Program (EOP), and to offer more classes.
The EOP provides admission, academic, and financial assistance for low-income students.
“(Low income) people need education as well,” said Geaga.
The protest started at Malcolm X Plaza, and steadily gained numbers as they paraded through various buildings on campus.
"I can tell you why I'm out here: I'm broke," said Noel Estes, 21, who was leading chants with a bullhorn. "It sucks being a college student. It’s not fun having $7 dollars in your bank account and not knowing how you’re going to live the next week.”
During the protest, fire alarms in the Humanities, HSS, and Administration buildings sounded. At press time it was unconfirmed why they went off.
“The people who organized this event weren’t involved in pulling the fire alarms,” said Pardis Esmaeili, a physiology major who helped organize the protest. “We wanted to respect the classes and students who didn’t want to walk out.”
When the protest arrived at the Administration building, students chanted for some time, but they became restless and began to make their way inside the building to confront SF State President Robert Corrigan.
Tempers flared as ASI President Maire Fowler, Esmaeili, and others in red shirts tried to block the mob from going in. The organizers were worried that things might get out of hand in the Administration building.
"It definitely wasn't part of the plans," Fowler said. "But it just shows how fired up the student are."
The walkout was backed financially by the CFA and ASI and was organized by students including Geaga and Asella Donovan-Blood.
Some teachers even allowed their students to miss class so they could participate in the protest.
“I excused my students from class today,” said Andy Peri, a geography professor at SF State. “We need to keep education accessible to all the students.”
The protest lasted for more than three hours. At the tail end of the march, students sat inside the Administration building and listened to a few speakers.
Matt Proshka is from Illinois, and he said that the cost of the community colleges there were about equal to what students pay at SF State. As an out of state student, he pays about $5000 a semester in fees.
"I kind of don't know why they're so upset," said Proshka, 26, who was watching the walkout from a distance. "But at the same time, if the fees are able to be lowered, they should. It's better than that money going to line the pockets of some executives."
Most of the students who attended the protest felt that with fee increases would make it very difficult for them to go to school without receiving financial aid, parental help, or working 40 hours a week.
“I work a full-time job and go to school full time,” said Khristina Monroe, 21, who a sociology major. “I can barely afford to make ends meet. Plus, they’re lowering financial aid and cutting classes.”
Additional reporting by Marin Perez
Cal State faculty members will vote next week on the possible ratification of a new contract which includes a 20.7 percent pay raise, the California Faculty Association announced in a statement Thursday night.
The Executive Board of the CFA released the full text of the union's tenative contract agreement with the CSU administration, which the two sides have been working to finalize since a tenative contract agreement was reached on April 3, following 22 months of negotiations.
"The bargaining team and board of directors believe this is a solid contract and we're happy to recommend it for ratification," said CFA President John Travis, in the statement. "Our newest slogan is absolutely accurate: United We Won!"
CFA members at all 23 Cal State campuses will vote on whether to approve the deal starting Tuesday, May 1, with voting continuing until Thursday, May 3.
If CFA members approve ratification, the contract will then go to the CSU Board of Trustees for final approval, which may occur at their meeting scheduled for May 15-16.
At SF State, voting will take place in the lobby of the Cesar Chavez Student Center Tuesday through Thursday from 10am to 4pm.
The complete contract is avaliable for viewing at http://calfac.org/contract.html
Josh Wolf, the longest jailed journalist in U.S. history, was among a panel of speakers discussing the "War Abroad and the War at Home" at a Students Against War meeting Wednesday night.
Wolf graduated from SF State in June of 2006, and went to jail only two months later after refusing to hand over video footage he took at a G8 Summit protest to the FBI, and refusing to testify before a Federal Grand Jury.
The Federal Grand Jury is not like any other kind of legal court system, Wolf said.
“You do not have the right to the 5th [amendment], no right to a lawyer, no judge, there is no record, and no public witnesses,” Wolf said.
Wolf said that if the protests at the G8 summit happened after a soccer or football game, the government would have called it “unruly behavior”, but since it was political, they called it terrorism.
“Journalists should have the right to publish or not publish their material,” Wolf said.
The war abroad goes hand in hand with the war at home, according to Anatole Anton, SF State philosophy professor adding that neoliberalism is at work in Iraq and at work at home. Neoliberalism is the concept of privatization, which is taking an economy and selling off its assets.
“10 percent of our University’s funding comes from private sources, who have interests of their own,” Anton said. “ Essentially, the University is being privatized.”
Anton said the SF State faculty got a settlement in response to their threat to strike, and now the students have to pay the bill.
The natural reaction is for the students to resent the administration and the faculty, but there is a bigger issue, according to Anton.
“If taxes were raised by 1 percent for the people who could afford that, there would be no fiscal crisis at the University,” Anton said.
Our government system is prone to war, and the U.S. spends more on military production each year than any other country, according to Anton.
Just as there are people being tortured abroad, Anton said, Americans are torturing and even more, silencing, people in prison here at home. “We are manufacturing illness in our prisons by putting mass amounts of people in solitary confinement, where they come apart,” Anton said.
Mohammad Hanif, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation said that “students need to put on an analytical lens.” He encourages students to take advantage of being in the university climate and research or at least read about history.
“The Alien and Sedition Act of 1798 was made to weaken political opposition to the government,” Hanif said.
“The purpose of the Patriot Act of 2001 was to prepare for the war on terrorism. It put a segment of the nation in a category to blame for the failures of the government,” Hanif said. “It persuaded the public that if we could contain this community, our problems would be solved.”
“With all the tools and expanded power our government obtained through passing all these acts, was it able to stop the VT tragedy?” Hanif asked.
On the Easter Holiday, nearly 18 months after Hurricane Katrina-induced flooding devastated New Orleans, hundreds of local residents came to party Big Easy style in the uptown neighborhood known as Pigeon Town as they've done for decades.
Although Second Line parades happen on most Sundays, this was the first one on Easter since Katrina.
The parade, a generations-old black community tradition originally formed by people who would follow the city's renowned jazz funerals to hear infectious brass band rhythms without knowing the deceased person personally to form a "second line," preceded under tenuous pressure.
Many New Orleanians that came out to parade still live in Houston, Dallas and Atlanta while those that have returned are likely living with relatives, in FEMA trailers or in other temporary housing.
Unlike most Second Lines before Katrina, revelers danced and sang amid the hundreds of damaged homes left standing, still crumbling and shifted from their foundations. The Original Pigeon Town Steppers, a social aid and pleasure club, along with The Hot 8 Brass Band performed.
Most people-whether at the parade-in their damaged homes, while volunteering for community organizations or on the job-voiced a devout determination to return to and rebuild the city, to improve their living conditions, and to demand that officials cut the red tape they say slows aid to their communities.
While New Orleans is still a broken city, the residents seemed anything but resigned to a broken fate.
The parade, as in most aspects of daily life in post-Katrina New Orleans, continued despite a backdrop of serious concerns: will the bulk of middle and low income residents be able to return in the face of the slow recovery and will the spike in the murder rate, one of the nations highest, continue to plague the city?
The problems hit close to the Second Line. The Hot 8 Brass Band lost 25-year-old drummer Dinerral Shavers in December to gunfire and The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported over 55 people were murdered thus far in 2007 with the current population at about half pre-Katrina levels.
In addition, the New Orleans Police Department recently increased the parade's escort fees from $1200 in 2005 to $2143 due to past shootings at Second Lines.
NOPD first demanded a whopping $7560 until a federal judge approved a deal between the club and NOPD negotiated by American Civil Liberties Union attorneys, according to “Rollin’” Joe Henry, president of the club.
Henry, who has been "second-lining" with the Steppers for 13 years, said the club would have had to cancel if NOPD didn't relent on the higher fees.
"You look at the people here and you think everybody’s back but they’re not all back, they just really miss this," Henry said.
Henry said that last year’s Easter Second Line was cancelled due to raised fees and that in the last year the Second Line Sunday parades go down almost every week and attendance has picked up. He refused to miss this Easter.
“Every Sunday shows a sign that New Orleans is coming back,” Henry said.
This Second Line celebrated the holiday but perhaps more importantly, it flexed the spirit and determination of many New Orleanians.
"It’s hard but it coulda never been better, basically just everyone’s tryin’ to find somewhere to live," Yolanda Brown, 30 said while taking a break from dancing in the street. “That’s what it’s about,” said Henry’s partner, Sylvester Harry, clad in full baby blue and cream colored tux. “Keeping our culture alive.”
Learning to Rebuild
The principal of the only high school open in the Ninth Ward, formerly New Orleans’ most populated district, works each day to foster a sense of stability for his students.
“There is always a need to come back when you’re taken out in the middle of the night, this whole city is kinda in that mold,” Allen T. Woods, principal of Fredrick Douglass Senior High said.
Woods, a jovial man of large stature and warm voice, evacuated to Atlanta just after the floods engulfed his house. There he taught until he learned the Louisiana- administered Recovery School District needed a principal at Fredrick Douglass.
Coming home is one thing, but the basic realities and challenges of revitalizing an education system in what many call a ghost town persist.
Buses now bring students to Fredrick Douglass from across the Mississippi River, and from the Uptown and Gentilly districts where before the majority lived in the neighborhood.
New Orleans lost many teachers after the storms and for about 60 percent of the school’s current faculty, this is their teaching crash course. Six high schools are currently open compared to 20 before the catastrophe.
“We’re starting at minus zero, trying to get to 200 and it’s a task,” he said.
Woods estimated that since the school opened last September at least 30 percent of all his students call home “some form of other situation” such as lumped with aunties and friends or living in hotels and FEMA trailers, often without adult supervision.
Woods said the city needs federal Road Home money to reach residents, which would allow recipients to get back on their feet and would stimulate more people to return.
The Road Home program includes $7.5 billion in federal aid designed to give eligible homeowners up to $150,000 each. The federal government appointed Louisiana to handle applications and deliver the funds. It is the largest single housing program in U.S. history, according to its Web site.
“It (Road Home) has over 120,000 applicants and they’ve awarded less than 5,000 checks in almost two years. That’s ridiculous, we’d never get back at that rate,” Woods said.
Woods said the program is too arduous because recipients were required to show proof of home ownership often lost in the floods and to turn in repair receipts rather than receive one lump sum in aid.
Hoping to speed up the process, Road Home officials approved of one-lump payments earlier this month, according to a recent Road Home press release.
“They treat you like a child and that’s the main thing holding us back,” he said.
Woods noted the recovery’s leadership continually disappoints his community, citing a lack of political pressure from the American public, overspending on the Iraq War, and leaders from President Bush's now famous fly-over the Gulf Coast on down to Mayor Ray Nagin's slips of the tongue. Yet he remained optimistic.
“We feel good to be here with all our problems. This is our city,” he smiled.
Rebirth From the Ground Up
Volunteers worked with the organization Replant New Orleans, planting new grass seeds on the front lawn of Fredrick Douglass High, where workers dumped debris for the better part of the last 18 months.
The organization, headed by executive director and SF State alumna, Hillary Strobel, strives to not only detoxify the soil, trees, and plants, but also to be a link in rebuilding the community.
After completing her Masters of Arts in Social Science: Interdisciplinary Studies at SF State, Strobel, 29, literally replanted herself in New Orleans where she teamed with Theo Eliezer, who has been a resident of New Orleans for eight years.
Strobel and Eliezer work throughout the city at no charge, using plants to gradually remove heavy metals from the soil, a process called phytomremediation. The organization partnered with principal Allen T. Woods to add a component to the curriculum to teach how the process works, they said.
"We are basically died hard fruit cake environmentalists," said Eliezer, 24, an Interdisciplinary graduate of International Traditions of Healing at Warren Wilson College in Asheville North Carolina.
The pair, who live off donations, organize plantings in private yards, medians, and parks. They often ride bikes to meet more residents and community leaders or sometimes just to lend an ear.
"There's a huge sense of community in New Orleans and people really come together," Strobel said.
Seventh Generation, the eco-friendly household product company, offered Replant New Orleans a $25,000 grant to continue their work, including the Earth Day unveiling of "Peace Park," which will have 20 food-producing trees, new soil and will employ one local young person to take care of the park for a year.
They plan to continuously organize volunteers from all over the nation, while encouraging locals to care for each planting they undertake.
"It looks like we're going to be here working on the grass roots level for the long haul," Eliezer said.
As the flood waters receded much of New Orleans was left a chaotic wreck of debris. In garbage piles along the streets people began to scavenge "flood bikes" for residents and volunteers often out of necessity.
These were piecemealed together to provide transportation in the post-Katrina nightmare, now they've evolved into something else: a way for kids in the Upper Ninth Ward to be a kid.
As many neighborhood families that have returned are trying to get back to square one, there's little for young kids do to in the area. "We try to be an outlet for their creativity without pressure," Lani Bemak, a volunteer said.
Rusted Up Beyond All Recognition Bikes (RUBARB) is now a volunteer-run bike shop where local kids come to build their own bike, work on art projects or just hang out.
The shop, decorated with colorful how-to-fix graphics and murals along with children’s art projects, has a four-step process where participants must first patch a bike tire, overhaul a wheel, then take apart and resemble an entire bike from scratch and finally "beautify" the shop. In the end it allows a kid to pedal off with their own bike for free, sort of.
"We don't like to just give stuff away. We really want the kids to be engaged," Bemak said.
Normally after the kids go through the process they become return visitors so the volunteers try to have something they can do every time they come around.
Kids tinkered with greasy cogs and chains while a ragga style dirty south song kept a few heads moving.
"OK now do you wanna water the plants before you go home," Bemak said as two little girls with dirty hands eagerly volunteered. They scooted outside looking for a bucket and some plants to douse.
As 6-year-old D'lani Wilson watered flowers outside she proudly pointed at her new bike. She later said her family's evacuation was "fun" due to an exciting helicopter ride.
RUBARB runs from donations and it's main volunteers keep side jobs to stay afloat. Volunteer Elizibeth Lichtman talked of the next big project: getting a water cooler in anticipation of the hot summer with lots of people hanging out, working on bikes.
Bemak, 25, who came to New Orleans to volunteer about a year ago from San Francisco said RUBARB's volunteers take the kids to the zoo or Jean Lafitte National Park for fieldtrips and plan more outings.
"It's discouraging to see the way New Orleans has been neglected on a mass scale by the government but it's really inspiring the way the people are coming together," Bemak said.
Lifting the House
Projections for New Orleans’ full recovery range from 15 to 30 years but by most accounts the city will not be the same. While the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the city’s black population was 67.3 percent in 2000 The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that number was down to 22 percent by the end of 2006. In addition The Times-Picayune reported the city is becoming more affluent and older.
Just up Gallier Street from RUBARB Helen and John Legier, with their son Keven Legier came from outside the city to work on their house for a few hours one afternoon. A line of dirt across the front door about 8 feet off the ground revealed where the floodwaters had settled for over two weeks.
The Legiers were resting on the front stoop of the house they bought 35 years ago, looking through old photos they found. Each time they returned to mow the lawn and survey some belongings (many of their appliances were stolen) they checked to see who came back to the block.
They said it helps to see more people come back as neighbors walked and drove by, often stopping for a quick chat that was likely a first reunion since Katrina.
"I'll give it one more hurricane, after that I'm gonna leave New Orleans," Helen, 65, said, I can't do this again."
She recalled when they evacuated to Salt Lake City, then on to Oklahoma, and Lancaster, Calif. after days without water crammed in a sweltering hotel downtown near the now infamous New Orleans Convention Center.
"You saw bodies in the water, it felt like the world was gonna end."
Mr. Legier, 67, said the city requires all homeowners in the Upper Ninth Ward to raise their homes on stilts by 6 feet to avoid future floods. He said the city offered to pay the $50,000 for the lift but his wife doesen't want to climb the steps.
"Why don't they fix that levee enough? They fixed Florida right up after their hurricanes. Then Mrs. Bush said we might of never lived better than when we were evacuated, Helen said. "Well I couldn't believe she had the nerve to say that."
Inside their gutted and ransacked home Kevin, 38, found a framed photo as his mother detailed the renovations they did the summer before it would all be destroyed. Their insurance company offered them $20,000 while they had just spent $10,000 on improvements, she said.
The photo was of Mr. Legier and his seven brothers at a family reunion.
"We all grew up together around the corner and they are still there. I don't know if she wants to stay but I hope we do," John said.
Nowhere Else to Go
“Oh yes I’m one of the Superdome people,” Cynthia Barrow introduced herself. Barrow grew up in the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the hardest hit sections of the city where entire blocks are left without a trace of the life before.
Barrow, 56, returned to her neighborhood last November after staying in Texas shelters to find her previous house, which she rented for $350, completely destroyed. She now rents a tattered and warped Shotgun style house a few blocks away for $750 with her husband.
“Around the corner they’re renting a house like this for $1500, nobody here makes that kind of money.”
She explained that reliable employment for her two sons is hard to come by since Katrina along with grocery stores and hospitals.
“We're both disabled and we used to be able to take the bus around to get where we need but now you gotta have a car.”
Barrow said her mother was buried in the area and she wouldn't feel at home somewhere else. She contemplated her disdain for seeing her children struggle to make ends meet.
"I'm sorry for them but some things are made better when you got to struggle," she said.
Visit The Hot 8 Brass Band @ http://www.tipsevents.com/foundation/coop/hot8/
Learn more about the Rome Home Program @ http://www.road2la.org/
Visit Replant New Orleans @ www.replantneworleans.org
Visit RUBARB @ www.rubarbike.org/
The small town of Blacksburg, Virginia is 3,000 miles from the big city of San Francisco. Yet the distance seemed nonexistent this past week as students sent their condolences to Virginia Tech.
Last Thursday, the staff and governing board of the Cesar Chavez Student Center set up an 18-foot long banner for students and faculty to write their condolences.
“We put out a banner last Thursday at 4 o’clock and the next morning as I was walking in I thought ‘Oh my God, what happens if nobody signed it?’ When I saw it was completely full I almost cried,” said Mary Keller, assistant director for program services at the student center.
According to Keller, the banners were initially intended to be displayed for a week, but were taken down by Monday because of the overwhelming responses. The six banners were sent to the Virginia Tech student center on Tuesday.
“I think it’s amazing we are doing this,” said Morgan Davison, whose brother goes to Virginia Tech. “Although it took place far away, there are still people here who have been really affected.”
An Africana studies major, Davison, who took part in writing a message on a banner, said that anything SF State can do is enough.
Students wrote spiritual messages such as “God bless you” and “I am lighting candles for you.” Along with light-hearted messages including one that read “in behalf of the people of Raider nation, may we extend our sorrow and condolences to all in Va. Tech.”, from “Fitz,” who included a drawing of the Raider logo crying.
“I think there was a real need for it,” Keller said. “People really poured out their hearts.”
An e-mail from the executive director of the Associated College Union International (ACUI) was sent out to all colleges, including SF State’s student center, encouraging campuses to take part in supporting Virginia Tech.
”People from across the nation, even the world have sent so many messages,” Julie Walters-Steele, Virginia Tech’s director of University Unions, said. “I think for the students it’s been very uplifting and they have appreciated it.”
Walters-Steele said that they have received help in putting up the banners from other schools’ student centers’ staff, including Virginia Commonwealth, James Madison and Radford University.
“The outpouring has been unbelievable,” said Timothy Reed, who came from VCU over the weekend to help ease the union’s load. “A lot of students were coming to the student center to read the messages. It has made a tremendous difference.”
Reed said that not only have other colleges been sending messages, teddy bears and banners, but Girl Scouts troops and elementary schools have also been involved.
“We have hung banners on every free space we could find,” Reed said. “I don’t want to bang on the media, but all they want is the negative out of this. And this has been one of the positive things to come out of it.”
A student at City College of San Francisco was apprehend by the San Francisco Police Department for making threats to fellow students, according to a spokesperson from the school.
At 9:01 a.m., 53-year-old Peter Lee came to school dressed in camouflage and started telling students he was going to kill them in his physics class on the third floor of the campus' Science Hall.
Once Lee started his rants, the faculty responded by notifying campus police and instructing other students and faculty to go into classrooms and stay there. The Ingleside branch of the SFPD was notified and arrived on scene within four minutes and arrested Lee.
"The Public Safety office on campus did everything right," said Chancellor Philip R. Day Jr.
Lee was not in possession of any weapons, and the Science Hall building was on lockdown until the suspect was arrested.
"The faculty did an amazing job in securing the students and making sure everyone was inside and safe," said Carl S. Koehler, chief of the Community College District Police Department.
Mshauri Moore, 28, was in the basement level of Science Hall when the incident happened.
"We were having a club meeting and we didn't really know what was going on," said Moore, an engineering student. "We just stayed inside for most of the incident and found out what was going on when we left the building."
Lee began attending City College in 2005. He is a part-time student, and is in the Bio Technology program.
The college will be looking at the Virginia Tech shooting and the incident with Lee to reevaluate its security procedures and to improve upon the safety of the students and staff at the school.
"For the people who have been calling for a drill, we got one," said Day. "It was a little more real than we wanted. Although no one was hurt, we are not taking this incident for granted."
The aftershocks of the massacre at Virginia Tech have hit the Korean community hard, leaving many SF State students worried that they might now be perceived in a negative light.
James Lee, president of the school's Korean Student Association, said he was shocked that Korea or Koreans are taking responsibility for Cho’s actions. “The Korean-American community does not feel at fault,” Lee said, responding the President of Korea’s formal apology to America. “He was just a guy with issues who happened to be Korean.”
Lee added that he feared the media will skew Cho’s actions, and point social issues at the Korean community as a whole.
Some students do not feel it was necessary for the media to mention Cho’s race at all.
“One of my professors said they focused on his race to deviate from the security problem,” said freshman Jackie Ho.
“He is one person, he does not represent all Asians out there,” Annie Dam, a freshmen, said about the discrimination Asians might be facing.
SF State Korean-American history professor Grace Yoo thinks that it is not race that is the issue but the public's perception of those of foreign descent.
“When people saw the video clips of Cho, they assumed he was an international student,” Yoo said. “The media did not know if they should call him Seung-Hui Cho, or Cho Sueng-Hui.”
Lack of education about mental illness in the Korean-American immigrant community is also a problem, Yoo said.
In a 2005-'07 study Yoo conducted, she found that 30 percent of the Korean immigrant community in the Bay Area and Los Angeles were uninsured. The other 70 percent that were insured were underinsured. Cho’s family is uninsured, according to Yoo.
“Cho was mentally ill, a paranoid schizophrenic and I think his parents had no idea, they did not know the symptoms,” Yoo said.
The issue of race, if it did come up was that Cho was seen as a model minority, “because he was Asian, he could not do anything like that. The problem is how people perceived him, the signs were there,” Yoo said.
Yoo does not think there is enough education among college students on how serious mental illness is or how to notice it. “I could see that happening at SF State, with the lack of education,” Yoo said.
Kevin Keeshan, news director at ABC-7 News, commented on the role race plays in reporting a story. “In the newsroom, we always ask ‘what’s the journalistic purpose?'”
Keeshan’s general policy in reporting a non-identified crminial suspect is to identify any characteristics of the individual, so if the public should see this person, they could notify authorities.
“Especially with all the immigration stuff going on, it was important to mention that Cho was a legal immigrant,” Keeshan said.
Cristina Azocar, the director of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism and who teaches courses in diversity, strongly disagrees with the fact that race is involved in this tragic event at all.
“It raises the question, ‘why does the Korean government feel the need to make a statement, or had it not been reported that Cho was Korean, would they not feel the need to make a statement?'” Azocar said.
Azocar disagrees with Keeshan on the importance of mentioning that Cho was a legal immigrant.
“The fact that he was a Korean immigrant is irrelevant, he was an American student studying, with severe mental issues,” she said.
In response to professor Yoo’s comment about the tendency of Koreans to hide mental illness, Azocar says that “mental illness is hidden all over America out of shame. Look at the homeless in San Francisco - they are mentally ill and we ignore it. There is no intersection between race or culture and mental illness.”
Lee said that at this time, education is more important than ever because it is important for people to understand that race has nothing to do with it. “We are lucky we live in San Francisco, being Asian here feels safe,” Lee said.
Edison Dominguez, a senior studying drama, says that SF State student and all American students should try to adopt a postive reaction.
“We are all students and we all feel how Virginia Tech students are feeling. We have to connect with other people, we can’t isolate, it is the only way to prevent this from happening again.”
The dangerous faults that twice terrorized the Bay Area now provide job opportunities for geology students.
Founded in 1979, the SF State Fault Creep Monitoring Project collects data on roughly 30 California fault locations. The San Andreas Fault, which was responsible for the Great Quake of 1906 and Loma Prieta, is among the faults monitored by the project.
Undergraduate and graduate SF State geology students are employed by the Geosciences Department to take measurements of fault creep, which, according the project, is the fault slip that occurs in the uppermost part of the earth’s crust between large stress-relieving earthquakes.
Professor of geology and oceanography Karen Grove, who was a former principal investigator with the Fault Creep Project, added to the definition.
“Fault creep is aseismic movement, meaning it is movement on the fault that isn’t associated with earthquakes,” she said. “So it’s just very slow movement.”
Every weekend students are deployed to a few of the various locations in groups of two. Once on site the students, using high precision equipment, take measurements of the fault creep. Nails, already implanted in the ground, serve as a frame of reference for the movement that occurs.
“We set up our instruments on the nails and measure the changes in the angles,” said Jessica Fadde, 35, an applied geosciences graduate student. “We determine whether something is moving left or right laterally.”
Monitoring the behavior of faults in the Bay Area is of particular importance because it is a region prone to seismic activity that often culminates in an earthquake.
“Fault creep occurs on a lot of faults in the Bay Area due to many of the rock sites not being able to stand friction,” said Jon Perkins, 23, a senior geology major who has been involved with the project since 2004. “The faults, in response to strain and plate tectonics, move at a more constant rate than a lot of other faults.”
Surface earthquakes are largely thought to be caused by excessive pressure build-up on a fault. Tremors occur when faults can no longer withstand the strain caused by friction.
Some faults move at a more accelerated rate than others. The Hayward Fault, which was responsible for the recent small-scale quakes that occurred in Lafayette, Berkeley and Hayward, moves at a particularly rapid rate.
Although fault creep is not the sole indicator of a potential earthquake, it can provide insight on the behavior of faults, especially after an earthquake has occurred.
“The biggest thing that was seen in this time of data was after the Loma Prieta earthquake,” said Grove. “A couple of the faults stopped creeping and others started creeping in the opposite direction.”
But a reduced budget, effective last month, may put a different kind of strain on the project. The creep project, which is largely financed by the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NHRP), experienced a 35 percent reduction of funds during the last grant proposal period.
“We’ve never been funded the requested amount,” said Grove. “But with the new funding cycle, the grant amount was somewhat reduced from previous years.”
While the NHRP could not be reached for comment, Fault Creep collaborators have their own take on the budget cut.
“My cynical reaction to why [the budget] was cut is that we haven’t had a big enough earthquake in a long time,” said Theresa Hoyt, a 21 year veteran of the project.
Grove provided further insight on the project’s financial situation.
“I heard they want us to do more with the data,” said Grove. “In other words they want to see more analysis of the data.”
The budget cut did not affect the $11.50 hourly wage the students receive for the labor they provide to the program, but some participants observed a decline in the number of times they will survey the fault sites in the future.
“We noticed when we got the schedule that only six sites are being read this month,” said Jonathon Polly, 35, an applied geosciences graduate student who has been involved with the project since 2004. “We usually survey a lot more.”
International relations students proved they could hold their own while representing Israel. One of SF State's Model United Nations delegations won an Honorable Mention Award at the world's largest university-level U.N. simulation; beating out hundreds of students from across the globe.
The National Model United Nations (NMUN) Conference, held at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square, served as a forum for college students to compete by assuming the roles of international diplomats and devise solutions to global issues. For the second consecutive year the SF State delegation took home an Honorable Mention Award.
Recognized for their punctuality, commitment and remaining true to their country’s policies, SF State delegates were among students from 25 schools to win the tier-three prize, during the event's March 24 closing ceremony.
“It felt good to be recognized for our hard work,” said NMUN team member Myla Hardiman, 28. “It’s difficult when you represent Israel because in order to stay in character you can only work with a limited amount of countries.”
The 15-member SF State team consisted of domestic and international students alike.
Elizabeth Deheza, 25, an Italian international student, cited staying in character as one of the determinants of their win.
“We had to be as real as possible. If you did something that didn't reflect the policies of your country you were criticized by other students,” she said. “Israel would never team up with Syria or Iran.”
The schedule for the conference spanned the course of five days, with the initial proceedings beginning at 8 a.m. and often continued until 11 p.m. The one- to two-hour breaks interspersed throughout the day gave the model U.N. delegates the chance to network with other diplomats.
“We could, but we wouldn’t, invite Syria out to lunch,” said Hardiman. “We stayed in character and ate with the U.S.”
Hardiman, whose committee focused on water resources and research, complained that certain delegations were combative.
“[The International Hydrological Program] is a committee where there shouldn’t be bickering amongst nations. It just shouldn’t happen,” she said. “But the Syria and Iran delegations were attacking us as if we were in the G.A. [General Assembly]. It just didn’t make any sense.”
The contentious dynamic between Israel and Syria at the conference, continued to parallel the actual conflict that exists between the two countries.
“Syria called us hydro-terrorists,” said Hardiman. “But in actuality, if they had done their research, they were the ones who tried to gather all the other Arab countries to take and block water from Israel.”
Away from the bickering among mock nations and international law, delegates found time to take in tapings of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”
The international relations students also took trips to U.N. Headquarters, where an Israeli diplomat fielded an hour-long series of questions from students and doled out advice.
“She basically reiterated Israeli policy on a number of issues,” said co-head delegate Jared Lee, 23. “Although she did not admit to having nuclear weapons. Israel's official policy on nuclear weapons has always been very ambiguous.”
The trip was funded through the school, so students did not have to pay for their room and board. And they are set to be reimbursed for their airfare.
Planning for the NUMN consisted of four months of meticulous research, with students referring to Israeli newspapers, government Web sites and Journal Storage (JSTOR) as some of their sources of information. The preparations were done in conjunction with The National Model United Nations class, IR 432, which is a requisite for conference participation.
Students enrolled in the spring course may have the opportunity to attend the conference held in New York, or the smaller Far West conference that takes place in Burlingame, Calif. But the class operates as a strictly on-campus club in the fall. Students have the option of taking the class twice to get the full experience.
Professor JoAnn Aviel, who co-teaches the course, stressed that enrolling in the class doesn’t guarantee a spot on one of the Model U.N. teams. Aviel said that students who have attended the club in the fall get the first choice of conference assignments. The student assignments are confirmed if they submit a research paper during the first spring semester class meeting.
“It’s quite unusual that you have to do work before class actually begins,” she said. “[The paper] is a way for students to confirm their assignments and get a head start on the research.”
Students who have managed to secure a place on the team find the experience rewarding.
“As an international relations major, it’s very prestigious to participate in this conference,” said co-head delegate Matt Paul, 25. "It is an honor and a privilege for those who are chosen, and put in the time."
Days after the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, an evacuation drill took place Thursday afternoon in which all five dormitories at SF State were cleared.
It began around 2 p.m. when alarms sounded around Mary Park and Mary Ward Halls, The Towers, Village at Centennial Square, and the Science and Technology Community buildings. Most of the approximately 2,200 residents who were in or around the buildings were ordered to leave the area and proceed to a meeting point across Font Boulevard near the softball field.
Several fire engines arrived in the area about three minutes after the first alarms sounded, and officers briefly stopped traffic on Font to allow residents to cross over to the meeting area.
“We’ve never practiced a drill like this before,” said David Rourke, associate director of residential life at SF State. “I didn’t know what to expect.”
“We have had several false fire alarms, and people don’t know if it’s real or not,” Rourke said. “It’s sticky.”
Rourke said that previous drills focused on evacuating individual buildings, as opposed to the mass evacuation that took place this time. This was also the first time residents were asked to congregate across the street.
In light of the incident at Virginia Tech, on-campus residents received advance notice of the drill Tuesday night via e-mail so as not to “invoke an undue sense of panic,” Rourke said.
For the most part, residents took the drill in stride, even though a few expressed confusion over the organization of the meeting place. Some brought their Ipods and classwork to the meeting area. A couple of men played guitars.
Jean Washburn, a 19 year-old creative writing major living in The Village, worked on her knitting as she waited with other residents to check in with their Resident Assistant. Though she was able to figure out where to go, Washburn wasn’t satisfied with the execution of the drill.
“Why didn’t they do this at the beginning before we’re all settled in?” Washburn said.
Rebecca Palmer, a 19 year-old Psychology major living at Mary Ward Hall, said she was satisfied with some aspects of the drill, but not all.
“They did a good job of getting us all out,” Palmer said. “But they kind of left us in the dark over how long it’s going to be.”
It took 15 minutes to evacuate all of the residents in the area, and residents were allowed to return 30 minutes after the alarms first sounded.
Though Rourke was pleased with the evacuation time, he still sees some need for improvement.
“I’d like to beat [15 minutes],” Rourke said. “Even five minutes into it, people were still walking out of the buildings. That’s not okay.”
A large audience gathered Wednesday night in HSS Room 317 for the Holocaust memorial lecture featuring Sabina S. Zimering, M. D., author of “Hiding in the Open” and survivor of the Jewish ghettos during World War II.
“It was a great turnout, more than I expected,” said Marion Gerlind, Ph.D., who is currently teaching Holocaust and Genocide at SF State. “I think she deserved a great audience.”
There were about 95 to 100 people who attended the event said Gerlind, which forced some to stand in the back or even sit on the floor.
During the lecture Zimering told the eager audience about what saved her from being captured while the Nazi regime was in power and the obstacles that she and many others faced during those hard times, including how she dodged the Gestapo.
“I didn’t know then that my knowledge of Catholicism and my accent-free Polish would save me,” said Zimering.
While in hiding Zimering explained that she had to pretend to be Catholic instead of Jewish, so as not be killed or put in a camp, but that never changed her beliefs.
“I looked at it as on the outside I was a Catholic Pole, on the inside I was a Jewish Pole, and that never changed,” Zimering said.
Zimering explained how difficult it was for her when writing her book to revisit the hard time she had lived though, but after retirement she decided, “it’s either now or never.” She as well thought it would be fitting to feature the colors red and black on the book cover as a “reminder of the Nazis.”
At the end of the question and answer session held after Zimering’s entrancing speech, she was presented a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the history department at SF State.
All in all Zimering’s presentation captivated the audience. So much so that her autobiography, once stacked on the table next to her, was quickly purchased by students interested to know more.
“I am very fond of my students who did not run away from the horrors of the Holocaust,” said Gerlind. “I wanted to bring her here so you can hear her life story, a very interesting life story.”
Kurt Vonnegut, the author who wrote the cult classics “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Cat’s Cradle,” died April 12 from brain injuries at age 84. SF State students and faculty share their favorite Vonnegut novels with [X]press.
The worst shooting in modern U.S. history took place over the course of several hours Monday morning on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va. The current number of fatalities is 33, including the gunman. The suspected gunman who carried out the bloodbath was 23-year-old Virginia Tech Senior Cho Seung-Hui, an English major.
Comparisons have already been made to the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, and the clock tower sniper at the University of Texas in 1966. Students and residents of Blacksburg must now deal with an act of unspeakable random violence.
Regina Radan is a graduate student at SF State, who got her undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech.
"I am in shock at the events that occurred at Virginia Tech today,” said Radan in an e-mail. “I always considered Virginia Tech to be such a quiet and safe campus."
Ashley Brooks is a 19-year-old student at Virginia Tech who was contacted via Myspace.com by [X]press. Brooks said she knew one of the two students who was shot and injured early in the morning at West Ambler Johnston Hall. “He was unaccounted for . . . for a long time.”
Brooks said she’s got most of her information from e-mails from campus officials, and by instant messages from friends.
“The whole fourth floor was shut down,” Brooks said. “The police told everyone to lock their doors and stay away from the windows. A friend of mine was on the floor with her laptop IM-ing me.”
Brooks also described Blacksburg as small, quiet and safe, and the day as one of complete chaos. Brooks said she heard sirens all morning, and said it was impossible to get near campus.
“At a certain distance, the campus police tell you to turn around,” she said.
Brooks said this year at Virginia Tech has been bizarre.
”On the first day of classes this fall, we had an escaped convict loose near campus who killed several police officers, and that shut down campus,” Brooks said. “We’ve also had two bomb threats this month, but everyone assumed that they were just students who didn’t want to take exams or something.”
Brooks worries about the long term reputation of Virginia Tech.
“This kind of puts a bad name to the school,” Brooks said. “I don’t want people to think this is a bad school, contrary to what’s happened."
You can view coverage by the Virginia Tech student press service at:
You can view Virginia Tech Freshman Bryan Carter's personal blog accounting events of the day with a list of victims he compiled at:
Marin Perez and Ian Thomas contributed to this story.
With spring break over and a new faculty contract decided, the California Faculty Association and many SF State students are now turning their attention toward fighting a registration fee hike.
A walkout is scheduled for Thursday, April 26 at 10 a.m. in Malcolm X Plaza to raise awareness among the CSU Board of Trustees that students disagree with their vote to raise fees.
Since the announcement last month of the fee increase, a number of students from various organizations on campus have come together to find possible solutions to the fee increases within the CSU system. One of these solutions includes walkouts on many of the CSU campuses, including CSU East Bay, where a walkout is planned for April 24.
As of Wednesday, April 18 the Associated Students Inc. agenda did not include a discussion on the walkout.
"ASI has not taken an official stance [on the walkout]," Asella Donovan-Blood, ASI Senior class representative said. "But as individuals we stand against [the fee increases]."
Donovan-Blood, who also interns for the CFA at SF State, said that the Northern California plan of action is to take these issues to Sacramento on May 9 to lobby against further proposed fee increases.
The student body needs to keep registration fees low so that every student can have access to an education, said Lacy MacAley, a senior international relations major and ASI elections commissioner.
Professors have been encouraged by the CFA to be supportive of the efforts by announcing or bringing their classes to scheduled walkout meetings and rallies.
Students are also encouraged to contact state elected officials to voice their concerns via phone calls, e-mail, and faxes.
Congressman Tom Lantos' office, which represents SF State, said Wednesday it would have to investigate the issue further before it could comment.
Further information about the walkout will be available Thursday April 19 between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on the top floor of the Cesar Chavez Student Center in room T-161.
The 13th Annual African-American Health Fair was held in Malcolm X Plaza Tuesday afternoon and provided free health screenings and information courtesy of on and off campus organizations.
The health fair was co-sponsored by Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) and Associated Students, Inc.
“It’s all about exposing young people to the different diseases that affect African Americans,” said Brenda Miller, a member of the Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) on campus.
Gilgamesh C. Jeter, also a member of the BFSA, said he wants people to know about these issues in the African-American community.
“We want to raise consciousness about health issues, particularly diabetes, obesity, glaucoma and heart disease,” said Jeter.
There were also health screenings for HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, blood pressure, glaucoma, body fat and fitness evaluations.
According to Dayo Diggs of the Black Infant Health Improvement Project (BIHIP) black women are twice as likely to have poor birth outcomes (lower birth rates and higher rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS) than other women.
“When a black woman has a poor birth outcome it not only affects her and her family, it has a long-lasting affect on a society as a whole,” said Diggs.
The BIHIP’s goal is to increase infant survival rates, low birth weight and SIDS rates among blacks in San Francisco, and provides free confidential services to pregnant and nursing black women. The organization is sponsored in part by the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Sheila Davis-Jackson, a program manager for the Department of Public Health in the Tuberculosis Control Section, said the lack of health insurance and poverty make blacks more likely to be diagnosed with TB.
The Tuberculosis Control Section, located at San Francisco General Hospital, operates a TB clinic specializing in prevention, education, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
“And finally it can be prevented, treated and cured,” said Davis-Jackson.
Condom displays and live entertainment attracted more students in the quad than the usual food and info tables, hoping to raise AIDS awareness.
Wednesday marked the 11th Annual Multi-Cultural AIDS Awareness Day at SF State. The event was spearheaded by National Service Fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, with help from the AIDS Coordinator Committee, the biology department and numerous Associated Students Inc. organizations.
The displays, which encouraged protection and sexual health, were provided by biology professor Ann Auleb’s class.
“This is a really creative idea on promoting sexual health,” said 23-year-old business major Sidney Shaola while she chuckled at the displays. “What a positive event.”
The event provided on-lookers with numerous speakers on HIV prevention, free HIV testing, an entertainer who danced with torches and multi-cultural performances.
Political science major Zinia Gaugopadhyay, 20, and astronomy major Shareen Singh, 22, president and vice president of the Indian Students Association, sang India’s National Anthem and also danced to Hindu film music. It was the second year that the Indian Students Association performed at the AIDS Awareness Day event.
Along with the singing and dancing, a number of organizations came out to show support and offer additional useful information.
SF State’s Peer Counseling Organization passed out flyers.
“We’re just here to reach out to people with HIV and sex problems,” said peer counselor and psychology major Kristin Hunt, 22.
Ty Thompson took part in the event as a representative for Healing Waters, a nonprofit organization in San Francisco. The organization takes men, women and teenagers who are challenged with HIV and AIDS on wilderness and outdoor adventures such as river rafting and camping.
“I’m basically here to offer volunteer opportunities and to help others get out and play,” said Thompson.
As an incentive toward students to stop at each table, Alpha Phi Omega passed out tickets to be stamped by three different organizations. Once the ticket was stamped, it could be turned in for a slice of pizza.
“I’m here to learn and if there’s free pizza then that’s a bonus,” said 20-year-old anthropology major Ryan Sprinkle. “This is a great way to learn and they really make you earn that pizza.”
Alumni Matt Ong, a member of Alpha Phi Omega and advisor of the event, has been involved since 1999. Ong said the turn out has always been high and that’s a very positive thing. Like every year, Alpha Phi Omega’s main goal is to increase the awareness of HIV and AIDS and prevention of the disease.
“We just really want you to go away from this with the knowledge,” said Ong.
Tired of living his life in 45-minute intervals, a Palo Alto science teacher quit his job and poured the little savings he had into converting a tired school bus into a mobile venue for children and adults.
Serving as a party venue by night, and a mobile classroom by day, Jens-Peter Jungclaussen, 37, said his school bus is a reflection of himself and his diverse interests – with a green message.
"The bus is a symbol of `I'm allowed to have fun, I'm educating, I'm mobile,'" German-born Jungclaussen said, from one of the long, padded benches inside the 40-foot-long bus. Parked outside a popular nightclub near Potrero Hill, Jungclaussen has a weekly nighttime gig here, where patrons of the club can come in and sit down, watch a movie, or listen to a DJ spin.
While mobile party venues are common, Jungclaussen´s one-man show runs on veggie oil and has modular interiors to suit various events.
Mark Bondi, 34, said that knowing Jungclaussen was parked at the club was his only motivation to come out. Having rented the bus for his own private party after attending a friend’s, Bondi said the draw is simple: "You can throw your own party and go wherever you want, and Peter is super cool."
The bus is called "DasFrachtgut," German for "the good freight," and has been used as a party bus, billboard and corporate meeting house, while occasionally hosting free educational field trips for inner-city school children. Connecting partying with an environmentally sound message is part of Jungclaussen´s plan, but he admits it is partly a monetary necessity.
The exterior paint job of the school bus has changed several times and the sleek and modern style of the bus interior does not suggest an alternative-fuel vehicle. This appearance is what Jungclaussen said often catches adults, and especially children, off guard, and engages them in conversation. They sometimes discover "it's not backwards to be green," Jungclaussen said.
Girlfriend Inke Noel, 36, calls the business Jungclaussen´s baby, even though the two share a real-life little one of their own. Noel doubles as Jungclaussen´s Web master and is looking to increase traffic to the Web site, meanwhile Jungclaussen said he has no idea how anyone finds out about his service.
But the phone rings more regularly since he staged a free screening of the World Cup Finals in Dolores Park last summer that was attended by thousands and was well covered by the press. It was a "great way to throw a legal party in the park," Jungclaussen said, adding that he thought the city deserved it.
Because of events like these, Jungclaussen said the bus has introduced him to organizations such as Friends of the Urban Forest, and the San Francisco MOMA, all of which increase his teaching ability. "The more you teach, the less connected you are," he said of the traditional school environment, which he said made him feel isolated.
Drawing from his own educational experience and love of adventure, the former pro-windsurfer said he wants to make the kids he teaches "investigators." Working regularly with another German school in San Francisco, Jungclaussen said an ideal classroom is outside the classroom –– exploring in the real world, while staying committed to the idea to not leave a footprint. From nature walks in Muir Woods to day trips in Golden Gate Park, Jungclaussen said his bus is the kind of "classroom presentation" that gives his students "a different motivation to do it."
Peter Zygowski of the Goethe Institute agreed, saying the highlight of his work with Peter was in the fall of 2005. In an e-mail he said, "it seemed like we became the attraction on campus with students of all ages when German and non-German students [were] flocking to the bus during recess. It certainly didn't hurt that catchy pop tunes and cool video clips were being projected on the bus," he added.
Hoping to have a solar conversion of the bus in the near future, to run the projector and sound, Jungclaussen said he is always looking for financial support from those interested in his cause.
"The whole bus should be running off the good" he said. The ultimate goal is "to get the kids and have fun and learn a lot."
Describing grand dreams of having world leaders and "people who are opposed to each other conversing" and holding conferences around his mobile venue, Jungclaussen realizes it may be a far-off idea.
"And then," he joked, "I'm going to save the world!"
For more information visit www.teacherwiththebus.com.
SF State students have one more deadline to remember, as the class registration process is about to change next semester.
The two-tier program, as it is being called by the Registrar’s Office, will take effect in the fall 2007 semester, and it will limit the amount of units that can be taken in the first of two priority registration periods.
Students will first have the opportunity to register for eight units, whereas previously students were able to sign up for 12 units during his or her sole priority registration period. The time of the later priority registration is still determined by the number of units accumulated.
“The old process was one opportunity to register based on total units earned, and it hurt sophomores who didn’t get a lot of their classes,” said Suzanne Dmytrenko, the registrar at SF State. “We decided on eight units to make sure that students get at least two classes.”
The early priority period will be between May 14 and 25, where students will decide which two classes they critically need. They will then have to pay their fees by July 13, or their classes will be dropped. The final priority period will be between July 23 and Aug. 3, and will allow undergraduates the opportunity to add up to 19 units.
Graduate students will be able to add 16 units during this later registration period, although all students should note that if they have any holds, they cannot register for any classes.
“It’s good for those first two classes and good for the short term,” said Krysti Specht, a 21-year-old dietetics major. “But having to go back later, it has potential to be a hassle.”
The idea for using exactly eight units was hatched by the Facilitating Graduation Task Force, which was charged with finding solutions to help students graduate from SF State faster.
In addition to changing the registration process itself, one of the new recommendations includes degree roadmaps, which explicitly lay out the necessary classes for graduation in each major. It is expected that the roadmaps will be completed soon, in anticipation of the new registration process.
One advantage that the new system presents is that it allows students to meet with department staff before beginning the class. This gives those who know what they are enrolled in the chance to talk to professors beforehand, and sort out any concerns or questions that they may have.
Most students remain largely unaware of the changes that are scheduled, but when informed of the plan, remain somewhat skeptical.
“Their intentions are to help the sophomores, and it’s going to help the sophomores,” said Ileana Cabrera, a junior psychology major. “But the juniors and seniors that want to get out of here, they’re going to be held up.”
Individual concerns surrounding the new registration process abound, with many students unsure of why the changes were implemented, and what it means to them personally.
“I really do think that they should help us that are about to graduate,” said Cintia Guerra, a junior international relations student. “We’re so desperate to graduate, while freshmen and sophomores they really don’t know their major and sometimes are taking classes that they don’t even need.”
Currently, notification of the new scheduling process is being circulated through the mail and e-mail, and the Registrar’s Office is working on utilizing the Web sites MySpace and Facebook to make sure students know about it.
Students are encouraged to contact the Registrar’s Office immediately if they have any inquiries about the new system, and there is a registration helpline for students adjusting to the process. Dmytrenko urges students to clear any holds immediately, pay all fees on time and visit the registrar’s Web site frequently. The registration helpline is (415) 338-3333.
Irene Tjoko goes to trade shows several times a year, but she described the first time she saw anything worth selling at the Bookstore that reminded her of her home in Indonesia.
When Tjoko, the SFSU Bookstore’s gift and apparel buyer, browsed the Mega Conference trade show in Reno for items to sell on campus in late 2005, the World of Good, Inc. caught her eye. The Emeryville-based company sells handcrafted, environmentally friendly or recycled items using Fair Trade practices.
She said she immediately ordered a display stand of worldly goods and then two more in the last year.
“It’s good for us to carry stuff like that, to show appreciation for recycled stuff, Fair Trade or something good for the environment and the earth,” Tjoko, 26, said.
Unlike the usual T-shirts, mugs and promotional products that companies typically offer at trade shows, she said the ceramic mugs from Bali, the embroidered hemp ornaments from Northern Vietnam and more practical items like pumice stone foot scrubbers from the Philippines stood above the rest.
The World of Good often sells items that faraway locals have made for generations. For instance, Balinese artisans make ceramic objects like the company’s green claymation creamer ($17.95).
She said nonprofits are now enabling these products to be sold in much bigger markets, with better financial reaping.
This is what makes the Fair Trade concept so great, according to SF State student Chantell Charpentier, who learned about world economics while studying for her master’s in world history.
“The theory at heart is that if more of the money goes to the producers or the product, it’s to their advantage,” Charpentier said while browsing through the World of Good products. “It goes to help the economy, not to the importer.”
In the case of the Good Fortune bamboo picture frame ($19.95), Vietnamese villagers are using traditional bamboo weaving skills and applying to a nontraditional product that the Western world uses, according to the frame’s labeled description.
As a direct application of the three Rs — recycle, reduce and reuse— Tjoko said the company also has a small line of bright tote bags ($29.95) and purses ($24.95) stitched together using second-hand aluminum soda cans or plastic juice boxes.
The World of Good also offers a line of Bamboolicious dishware; trays ($14.95) and large bowls ($29.95) that are handmade from pressed bamboo fibers and painted in family workshops in Hanoi, Vietnam, according to the company.
Bamboo, which is grass and not actually wood, is a sustainable material that can be harvested and grown every few years without killing the original plant. For this reason, and because it can be used to make anything from utensils to flooring, it has been hailed as a sound ecological alternative to wood.
What really got the bookstore’s Tjokro to start investing in the World of Good line were the little tags the company includes with every item that tells the story of its origin and the benefits of the product.
The tags also describe how far the company has gone to find products from countries that have been impoverished by years of colonial rule, ravaged by natural disasters or simply unable to economically compete with industrial nations.
The company carries items from Asian countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos; Latin American territories such as El Salvador, Brazil and Peru; and African nations such as Kenya and South Africa.
A country such as South Africa, which suffered from an economic slump since the end of the Apartheid, benefits from the jobs created by the production of World of Good’s freedom key chain ($8.95), which feature little metal African fauna.
For more information on World of Good products, which range from $3.95-$44.95, visit the SFSU Bookstore or the Web site: www.worldofgood.org.
About 100 passing students gathered in the Cesar Chavez Student Center’s quad Monday afternoon to protest a small, independent, unnamed, Christian group which was there to spread what the members called “the word of God”; which included angry, taunting speeches against homosexuality.
The crowd only continued to grow as students came forward to fight back against what many considered hurtful and inflammatory messages.
As Kevin Farrer, a roofer from Fremont, preached to the crowd, students gathered together to protest against what he was saying.
“Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay, Born-Again Bigot Go Away!” the crowd chanted as Farrer continued to taunt the crowd.
“You’re not safe from the wrath of God!” he yelled back.
According to Farrer, the school gave his group permission to be on campus. In the last week they have visited UC Berkeley, Stanford and UC Davis. The group’s next stop will be Chabot College in the East Bay.
He said that of all the campuses they have visited so far, the biggest crowd and the angriest reactions have been at SF State.
The group cited freedom of speech as a valid reason for them to be on campus and spreading its message.
“I am for freedom of speech, that’s why I came out here,” said Marisa Castro, a sociology major and lesbian who held a poster reading “I am Gay and Jesus Loves Me” alongside the group’s sign reading “Warning Judgment; Fornicators, Drunkards, Thieves, Adulterers, God Haters, Liars [and in bold capital font] HOMOSEXUALS.”
The crowd gathered together to mock the group and refute the anti-homosexuality messages it was preaching. Demonstrations included a public lesbian make-out session and condom offerings.
John Wattson, a 30-year-old history grad student, said that he offered the condoms so “he’d have safe sex and wouldn’t breed more intolerance.”
Other students taunted Farrer by yelling things at him like, “You just need to get laid.”
“We’re just preachers and they’re just listening,” said the Christian sign-holder, who would only identify himself as “Norman.”
"He's condemned the crowd to death like 20 times," said Tim Guichard, a graduate student in women's studies. Guichard put in his word to Farrer by yelling back at him, "Jesus gave me herpes."
“I’m gay and he is here at one of the few places I shouldn’t have to feel judged,” said Chris Wiebe, a 19-year-old undeclared sophomore, “He is sitting here screaming at us ‘You’re going to Hell!’” said Wiebe, who volunteers at a gay and lesbian center downtown. He said that he felt as a gay student he was being attacked.
The group continued to ignore pleas from students to leave the campus. “I don’t even know why he is still here,” said Jennifer Glass, a 19-year-old freshman business major, “[Farrer] is a disgrace to God.”
“This is an opportunity to reinforce ridiculous stereotypes,” said Brandon Bravo, a devout Roman Catholic cellular and molecular biology graduate student, “The Bible said we should avoid giving nonbelievers the opportunity to blasphemy. [Farrer is] turning something that is sacred into a joke. I’m not the person who is interested in hating or oppressing anyone.”
Bravo continued to try to stop the group and speak with them peacefully, even as they were being escorted off campus by University Police.
“I am finding this effective,” said “Norman” to Bravo as they were walking up Holloway Avenue with UPD. “[College students] are the next generation of people. These are the people who are being trained to be the doctors and lawyers.”
“I don’t force my views on people,” Bravo said. "It is just wasted words unless people want to hear it.”
Before being escorted off campus, students began to crowd even tighter around the group and chanted, “No Hate at State,” along with more public displays from gay and straight students.
As the crowd swelled, a heated argument arose between group member Tom Griner and 23-year-old marketing student Rachael Gero. Gero, a bisexual, was walking from class when she encountered the protestors.
"I was the first to say 'take your homophobic crap and go home,'" Gero said. "That's not God's love. I can't believe [Griner] is here at State."
"They are the ones hating," Griner said of the crowd. "We're just telling them about right and wrong."
The group brought along a video camera “for protection,” Farrer said. The group films all of its events, should students become violent.
Farrer and other group members were pressured to leave as the crowd circled around them and an unnamed faculty member whispered something into his ear.
Perry Shirley, Katie Peoples, Khari Johnson, and Daniel Hug contributed to this story.
For the last 35 years, professor Jeff Jacoby has made noise in the radio world, now he’s making noise with students on SF State's KSFS radio station as the new instructor.
The campus radio station is undergoing a massive reconstruction effort both culturally and physically, obtaining new equipment in pursuit of making KSFS a campus institution, in part because of Jacoby.
Jacoby is in his second semester at SF State as a professor in sound production for electronic media, an emphasis within the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts (BECA) major. In addition to teaching, Jacoby also has a radio show on KSFS, called “DaDa Radio,” on Tuesdays.
“I absolutely fell in love with teaching and I didn’t know,” said Jacoby.
Jenn Solis, 22, a graduating senior as well as the program director for KSFS, said Jacoby has had a huge impact on the program.
“With Jeff coming in it just energized everybody to work harder,” said Solis.
Solis is also working with Jacoby to gain more KSFS listeners at SF State.
“We’re working hard on making a very strong campus presence. We are inviting student groups and organizations to do shows on our station. We have a lot more people on campus who aren’t members of KSFS who want to have their own shows,” said Solis.
Jacoby runs an audio, video and radio production, called Living Sounds Production, and has done so for the past 27 years in New Haven, Connecticut in addition to teaching.
After a number of years in the radio business, Jacoby decided to try teaching and took a job part time at Quinninpiac University in Connecticut for three years.
After teaching at Quinnipiac, Jacoby decided to teach full time and enrolled at the Art Institute of Boston –– not affiliated with the Art Institute of SF –– in the MFA Sound Art program. After he graduated in spring of 2006, Jacoby was hired at SF State.
Prior to attending art school, Jacoby viewed his radio art separate from his communication work as a sound designer, producer or director.
“The school experience was transformative for me. I began to explore sound and radio art in new ways,” said Jacoby.
As for re-vamping KSFS, Jacoby said he will not stop until KSFS is a major player in the BECA department, on campus and in the community.
“It will take the university at large to begin to experience the new KSFS, but they will, I guarantee it,” said Jacoby.
KSFS has recently rebuilt its sound room and production studios, which outgoing KSFS instructor Rick Houlberg is responsible for. In addition, KSFS has also received new equipment.
Jacoby wants his students to know these changes will take time, and demands that students step up and do something about it.
“That’s a cultural shift. It’s a unique media. Radio is not dead, it’s just morphing into something new,” said Jacoby. “As a sound artist I’m bringing a new view of what’s possible on the air.”
KSFS is already streaming on the Internet and Jacoby plans for an iTunes stream, podcasts and even a Webcam feed in the future.
Felipe Neira, a Creative Arts Technical Services (CATS) audio technician at KSFS, said it's important to keep students up to date with the rapid changes in technology.
"Part of this ambitious makeover was thanks to the buzz that Irene McGee, from ‘No one is listening,’ was creating due to her podcast and also the budget approval from professor Rick Houlberg, who was in charge of KSFS at the time,” said Neira. “Thanks to these two people, the ideas in my head, and final design of David Holland at OMNIRAX, KSFS ON AIR room is a more professional environment for the students to learn in."
Jacoby currently sees his work as a professor as priority number one and is determined to become exceptional at it.
“I ask them to re-think their view of what is and further think about what radio could be,” said Jacoby.
Francis Basbas, music director for KSFS, said it was refreshing to have Jacoby after a "dry spell" within the program.
“Jeff came in at a time when people believed radio was out of taste and we learned from him that we can find new ways to make it interesting again, said Basbas.
Basbas, who hosts two radio shows of his own, said when he was a newcomer he was left to figure things out on his own.
“I’ve learned that you really have to take care of your crew. You have to take pride in what you do because with a baby growing like this you really have to see it through from the bottom to the top,” said Basbas.
Jacoby says the radio is a medium of sound and believes in using sound to create a sonic landscape.
“KSFS is changing, I see a wonderful intersect of opportunities and challenges for the students and the department,” said Jacoby.
Jacoby's show can be heard on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Check out the Web site here: KSFS, which can be heard at 80.1 FM and 100.7 FM radio on Comcast cable radio.
Students, faculty, professionals and community members came together Thursday and Friday for the first annual Redefining Wilderness Symposium at Cesar Chavez Student Center.
Sponsored in part by Bay Area Wilderness Training, the symposium was geared toward developing a new understanding of wilderness and how humans relate to it.
On Thursday, various workshops and panels were held where discussion leaders presented their diverse experiences with nature and their opinions of wilderness. Panelists included biologists, professors, philosophers, activists and conservationists. Panel and workshop topics ranged from wilderness use to the politics of land management to how to educate youth to value the great outdoors.
On Friday, the event took a more organic approach. Participants split into groups of about six or seven people and brainstormed their ideas of the evolving concepts of wilderness in a “conversation café”-style discussion. After several rounds of debate and dialogue, the groups came together to present their ideas to the entire audience. Kenn Burrows, founder of SF State’s Holistic Health Learning Center and moderator of the event, said the purpose was to get people thinking about viewpoints other than their own in an interactive setting.
“It really focused everyone. They were able to understand and learn about their own agendas more, and to broaden them,” he said. “We really represent the larger culture here, and there’s a lot of self-discovery going on.”
When the small groups re-converged for the final discussion, they were each asked to make a statement about wilderness as agreed upon by the entire group. Some echoed that youth need more exposure to nature, while some asked how we can care about wilderness if we don’t care about each other first.
Organizers said the event could be considered a success if people walked away with an expanded view of wilderness. Yvette Michaud, senior environmental studies major and one of the symposium’s coordinators, said she was content to know that even the professionals who attended the event gained something.
“I was satisfied that a lot of the participants—panelists as well as audience members—were confronted with new insights that they had never thought of before,” she said. “It was amazing to see the academic and public spheres come together. We’re all working on the same thing, but we’re not connected and we need to be. We need a strong community to move forward and tackle these issues.”
At the end of the two-day event, Kyle Macdonald, founder and CEO of Bay Area Wilderness Training, addressed the audience. He stressed a concept of wilderness that encompasses every aspect of environmentalism. Social justice and conservation are two movements that should work together and feed off of each other, he said.
He advised the audience to ask people what wilderness has meant to them before telling them what they think it means. Because, he said, in the end, “wilderness is so much about what we bring to it; it’s about where we come from.”
A foggy Friday on campus brought runners from around the SF State community to a brand new event that is hoping to kick off an annual trend.
The SF State cross-country team hosted a “campus run,” held at Cox Stadium. The event was intended to get the community involved and to kick off the annual Johnny Mathis Invitational.
“We’re putting on this race for the campus,” said Tom Lyons, the head coach of the men's and women’s cross-country teams. “The run is for everyone really; faculty, employees, and students.”
Wrestling Coach Lars Jensen was among those participating in the campus run.
“I’m just trying to get a work out,” joked Jensen, who was stretching as other runners arrived on the field.
The run was a one-mile trek that started on the field’s track went up through the campus and back down to the field. Lyons rode ahead on his bike to warn students on campus of the approaching joggers.
The free event was geared towards members of the SF State community in hopes to get them involved with the athletic department, according to Lyons.
“We just wanted to put on an event for the school to show our appreciation,” said Lyons.
While waiting for arrivals, some members of the cross-country team joked around and clapped, trying to get those who were already there hyped up for the brief run.
The cross-country team, most of whom did not join in the run, were stationed along the path to direct runners in the proper route.
“I’m just running for fun,” said Terrie Tiongson, a second year grad student, who was already on the field running and was invited to join the group in the one-mile event.
Even though the event’s weather was wet and foggy, the participants didn’t let the cold bring them down.
“I prefer hot weather but for long distances this weather is better,” said Tiongson.
SF State bags and t-shirts were handed out as a prize at the end of the race for many of the top runners.
Lisbet Sunshine, the Government Relations Director at SF State, came in first place, running the mile at 6 minutes and seventeen seconds.
The event, which kicked off the 25th annual Johnny Mathis Invitational that began later that afternoon and continues all day Saturday, is the first of what Lyons hopes will become an annual event.
SF State Campus Run Results - 1 Mile
1. 6:17 Lisbet Sunshine
2. 6:35 Devon Flynn
3. 6:37 Justin Cascarina
4. 6:48 Esteban Monge
5. 6:53 Derek Monge
6. 6:56 Bryce Schussel
7. 7:05 Terri Tiongson
8. 7:39 Leon Breckenridge
9. 7:41 Miles Orkin
10. 7:46 David Woo
11. 7:49 Jack Hyde
12. 8:14 Robert Maples
13. 8:16 Kamyar Marashi
14. 8:21 Lars Jensen
15. 8:24 Patricia Bose
16. 8:33 Jason Porth
17. 9:34 Cecilia Lo
Josh Wolf made his first public appearance after 226 days in federal imprisonment at a City Hall press conference Tuesday evening.
As a crowd of about 20 supporters cheered from the sidewalk, the freelance journalist and SF State alumnus smiled as he walked by the crowd of reporters and photographers. He shook hands and hugged some of his supporters and friends.
“We at last came to an agreement that not only left my ethics intact,” but also the concept of a free press, Wolf said.
“We don’t need our ‘Free Josh Wolf’ signs anymore,” said Julian Davis, a friend of Wolf’s and coordinator of the Free Josh Wolf Coalition. “Josh won a knockout punch in the late rounds.”
Along with Davis, Wolf’s attorney David Greene, Bay Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann and San Francisco Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Tom Ammiano were on hand at the press conference.
“You went in as a blogger,” Mirkarimi said to Wolf. “You’re out as a hunk with a new cause we can rally around.”
“Josh did what the Giants couldn’t do today, he hit a home run,” Ammiano said, enthusiastically.
Wolf’s freedom came after reaching an agreement with the United States Attorney’s office to submit raw footage he shot of an anti-globalization protest through the Mission district in 2005 as part of an investigation regarding the assault of a police officer and the torching of a police car during the protest. Wolf denied that anything of value is on the tape.
Along with his release from prison, Wolf will not have to testify before a Grand Jury in the investigation.
“Although I feel that the unpublished material should be shielded, the testimony was more egregious,” Wolf said. “It was not a defeat in having to release the video, but it was a defeat in saying I couldn’t hold onto it.”
Wolf contends that his decision to turn over the unedited video would not set a precedent for the government to go after the unpublished materials of other reporters and photographers.
“My resistance [in this case] will decrease the occurrence of that happening,” he said after the press conference.
Wolf reiterated his support for a Federal Shield Law to protect journalists from turning over notes and unpublished material to the government, specifically one that protects freelance journalists such as himself.
“We shouldn’t have to decide who is or isn’t a journalist,” Wolf said. “That’s like state-sanctioned journalism.”
While in prison, Wolf said he received about 1,000 letters from supporters around the country. He praised the support he received from people in the media and others, but decried the lack of national broadcast media attention to his story, even when he became the longest-jailed journalist in American history.
“There’s a rejection by the national media against the independent media,” Wolf said. “We need a dialogue between the two.”
Despite the lack of national media attention, Wolf’s attorney, who is the executive director of the First Amendment Project, said the swell of support helped his client.
“It emboldened Josh,” said Greene, who also teaches mass communications law at SF State.
“With the support, it’s easier to go at it each day,” Wolf said.
Alma T. DiStefano, a 21-year-old student at City College of San Francisco, was one of those who came out to see Wolf. She met Wolf at a protest rally and has been friends with him since.
“I really believe in what Josh is doing,” said DiStefano. “He triumphed and everyone who supported him triumphed.”
Wolf said he has several projects lined up, including the formation of the “Free Media Coalition” to protect reporters from government and corporate censorship, and a service called “Prison Blogs,” where those in jail can be sponsored by individuals who can communicate their messages from behind bars.
In the meantime, a party in Wolf’s honor was scheduled later that evening at the House of Shields bar in the Financial District. However, Wolf said he wasn’t sure he would attend his own party.
“Prison’s like the country, everything’s slow, not much going on,” he said. “Now that I’m back in the big city, everything’s overwhelming.”
A group of about 20 concerned students, with representatives from groups as diverse as the General Union of Palestinian Students and the College Republicans, met in room 116 of the Ethnic Studies building on Thursday to discuss immigration policy in the United States.
The gathering was not only a part of Arab Awareness Week, but was also part of a nationwide event called Night of a Thousand Conversations, which encompasses many organizations and is designed to raise awareness of the issues immigrants are facing. Along with the other 999 gatherings, it was meant to be a conversation, not a workshop or lecture.
“Tonight there will be 1,000 conversations about immigration policy and how we can incorporate immigrants rather that shun them,” said Loubna Qutami, a 21-year-old sociology senior and representative for the Arab Cultural and Community Center San Francisco. “We’re not here to convert your ideas about immigration policy, but to get the word out that it is an issue.”
The group discussed the plight facing immigrants since the 1996 reconstruction of immigration laws. This reconstruction allowed immigrants to be detained, imprisoned and deported due to minor infractions, such as shoplifting or illegally re-entering the country after a vacation. Other topics included how the government has used 9/11 to further divide immigrants and prevent solidarity.
The gathering began with a series of three video clips. These detailed the plight of immigrants detained in a Washington DC area prison, the anguish felt by an immigrant mother when her daughter was detained for three days, and the story of a man who was detained when he asked someone to take his picture for him. It then evolved into a discussion of the video that the participants had just seen.
“Being convicted of a crime is enough to get deported,” said Nancy Hormaeha, a pro-bono lawyer who works with immigrants in Berkeley. She went on to describe that the “most obvious thing about immigration policy is the racism,” and that it is much easier for Europeans to get a visa than immigrants from non-white countries.
Another issue raised was that the United States Government is using 9/11 to divide immigrants into ‘terrorists’ and ‘non-terrorists.’ This is reflected by the fact that some immigrant workers hold signs that read ‘we’re here to work we’re not terrorists.’
“It’s part of another agenda to keep immigrants from becoming unified,” said Abtin Forghani, a 23-year-old BECA Senior.
After discussing these and other issues, such as the fact that Homeland Security detains roughly 20,000 immigrants daily, the participants focused their attention on another series of video clips. This time they depicted not only the plight of immigrants arrested and detained for petty crimes, but also the story of a young Indian woman named Aarti associated with the organization Families for Freedom. Aarti lost her father and uncle to deportation and gave a stirring speech about the rights of immigrants.
This series of videos spawned further discussion on what can be done about immigration policy. Participants debated about how children with immigrant parents are dealt with and how this differs in other countries.
“In Australia,” said Hormaeha, “if a child is a citizen they won’t deport the parents.”
Even though no concrete solutions were offered during Thursday's gathering, everybody came out knowing a little bit more.
“Don’t see me as a child with a stone in his hand/ See me as a man fighting for his land,” were the lyrics that blasted through the speakers at Malcolm X Plaza this afternoon as a parade of scarf-covered children and GUPS (General Union of Palestine Students) members proceeded into the center of the plaza and laid down as if they were dead.
They remained lying there for the bulk of the event, which included fiery speeches from 21-year-old GUPS member and sociology major Loubda Qutami.
“It is the one topic that continues to be ignored by the left and the right of this country!” she yelled passionately into the microphone. “Why do we stand silent?”
The event, part of the 3rd annual Arab Awareness Week, was a commemoration of the massacre that took place in the village of Deir Yassin, outside of Jerusalem.
According to Ramsey El-Qare, 25-year-old political science major and chair of GUPS, the group has been commemorating the massacre with events in or around April 9th for the last 10-15 years.
The group “Politikal Heat” performed onstage during the event. “Everybody say hi to the cops!” Hesham Halteh, a SF State kinesiology alumnus and group member said. At least four uniformed University police were stationed in and around Malcolm X at the event.
When questioned as to the necessity of them being there, an unnamed officer said that it was standard at “these types” of events.
A poster behind the stage featured a picture of the Palestinian cartoon “Handala”, which is the center of the controversial Edward Said mural debate. In the cartoon, Handala is seen holding a key, which symbolizes the Palestinian reclamation of current-day Israel.
“The key represents us, our home,” said 23-year-old information systems major Naser Halteh, adding that those who were offended “don’t want to see us representing our massacre.”
The event was mainly held to get information about what is going on in Israel to the public. The group also handed out fliers with information about media coverage and civilian casualties.
“We don't have an army,” said Hesham Halteh, “It’s about civilians fighting the #4 best army in the world,” he said.
GUPS members also handed out bumper stickers that say “Zionism = Racism” along with carrying a large moving banner reading “Israel, you betray the memory of 6 million with your brutal aggression in Palestine.”
“I don't identify with Zionism, but they (GUPS) should be careful,” said Alex Rieser, a 20-year-old creative writing major and member of the national Jewish Fraternity AEΠ, “It just sparks dissidence,” he said.
“The significance of the event was to show what the Palestinians are dealing with,” said El-Qare.
Music from Politikal Heat is avaliable at www.myspace.com/poliheat. `
The standoff between the California Faculty Association and California State University administrators ended on Tuesday when the union announced a tentative contract deal, putting the union-approved statewide strike on hold.
The deal includes a faculty pay raise of about 3 percent less than what the CFA sought, but was close to a recent independent fact-finding report that the union viewed as favorable, according to CFA President John Travis.
“We have a tentative agreement that will be good for the CSU, good for our students, good for the faculty,” said Travis.
The terms of the new contract include a 20.7 percent base pay increase over the next four years for professors, lecturers, coaches and librarians.
The CSU also released a statement a few hours earlier on Tuesday, that said tenure-track professors’ salaries will increase from $74,000 to $90,749 and full-time professors’ pay will increase from $86,000 to $105,465.
The CSU said the total package will cost more than $400 million over the next four years and $28 million will be set aside to provide new merit-based pay programs targeting senior and junior faculty.
Roberta Achtenberg, chair of the CSU Board of Trustees said she was pleased to come to an agreement with the CFA.
“This is good news for everybody, including our 417,000 students, and we look forward to moving ahead with getting our faculty their salary increases.”
Faculty members of the 12,000-member union voted to strike on CSU campuses statewide starting next week if an agreement was not reached. The CFA union’s board of directors voted unanimously to postpone walkouts, pending finalized contract language.
Patty Baldwin, English lecturer and CFA member, said she was excited about the settlement.
"I think they did a great job. I know it's been a long, long, long process and they did a lot of work for us,” said Baldwin. “They've been wonderful.”
"We can regain our focus now in the home stretch of the semester, knowing we're secure in our jobs and in our classes,” Baldwin said.
Steve Dickison, a full-time lecturer and director of the Poetry Center on campus, said the pay increase has been miniscule over the last five years.
"It is good there is a pay increase,” said Dickison. "Cost keeps going up. In effect, you make less each year."
On Monday the Educational Testing Service (ETS) canceled plans to launch its revised Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) general test. The decision was made in consultation with the executive committee of the GRE Board.
In a press release, GRE officials said problems guaranteeing complete access to the new Internet-based test outweighed the benefits of moving to a new format. The revised GRE was set to begin in September, but instead the company will continue to offer the test worldwide in its current computer-based continuous testing format.
Graduate schools use the results of the GRE to measure the success of a student if he or she was enrolled in a graduate program. The GRE consists of subject test and general test.
“The decision to cancel the revised GRE general test best serves the interests of test takers and the graduate institutions that use those scores to make admissions decisions,” said David Payne, executive director of the GRE program at ETS in a press release.
The primary reason for canceling the test was access. The previously proposed plan called for the test to be administered on a world wide network of 3,200 Internet based testing centers, however ETS officials did not believe that full access to the general test could be safely assured.
“While the graduate community supports, and in fact helped develop and pilot the revised GRE general test, they have also stated that they are satisfied with the current GRE general test, until such time as improvements in the future without the access issues associated with changing to an entirely new test delivered over a brand new testing network. ETS is being responsive to their best interests,” said Payne.
ETS is a nonprofit organization that administers tests worldwide. In addition to administering the GRE, ETS also administers the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
Kaplan, a testing company that helps students prepare for tests such as the SAT and the GRE, had been revising its curriculum to adjust to the new GRE.
Kaplan spokesperson Russell Schaffer said the cancellation of the revised test was certainly unexpected.
“Fortunately for students the change in plans won’t have much impact on them, as students have not yet started preparing for the revised test,” Schaffer said.
Schaffer also said the decrease in the number of days the GRE would be offered was a deciding factor for the ETS to cancel its GRE revision.
Schaffer said the good news for students is that the GRE will not become more costly or challenging, as it was slated to have become under the revised test.
“The real focus is on the students,” said Schaffer about Kaplan’s reaction to the change.
As hundreds of students took advantage of the sunny weather, the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) began its three-day Arab Awareness Week Tuesday with Arab Cultural Day.
Arab countries’ flags hung behind the stage and students smoked flavored tobacco out of a hookah, while the female members of the dance troupe Al-Juthoor (Arabic for “roots”) opened the day’s festivities with a traditional dance.
Dressed in thoob, the traditional Palestinian embroidery, the members of Al-Juthoor performed dabkeh, a folk dance indigenous to Lebanon, Syria and Palestine.
“As Americans, we should be aware of the beauty and culture [of Arab people],” said Debbie Smith, a member of Al-Juthoor.
“We want to call to Palestinian people to stand firm, to get freedom among men and women,” said Smith.
After their performance, some GUPS members, both male and female, joined hands with Al-Juthoor and danced together, expressing solidarity among all Arab students. Student passersby would occasionally stop to watch the performance, sometimes taking pictures with digital cameras or with their phones. Many would sit down in the packed crowd to watch the dancing students, who encircled Malcolm X’s name at their feet.
GUPS chair Ramsey El-Qare felt that Arab Cultural Day was important for all students whose education of the 22 Arab countries is crafted only from what they see in the media.
“The media is not the reality of the Arab world,” said El-Qare. “It stretches from Morocco to Iraq and it’s not just one culture.”
By playing folk, dance and hip hop music from such Arab countries as Palestine, Jordan and Algeria, members of GUPS hope that Arab Cultural Day will express union among Arab students and will break stereotypes against Arab people, on and off campus.
“The typical images [of Arab people] are Arabs spitting into TV cameras,” said Naser Halteh, 23, a Palestinian American information systems major who wore a red Iraqi hutta scarf around his neck. “We have a very rich culture that we need to share on the SFSU campus.”
Since last year, the GUPS organization has also been in its own disputes, such as a run in with the SF State College Republicans after they had stopped on Hamas and Hezbollah flags containing symbols of Allah. Another controversy they faced was over the Palestinian mural that was to be hung in the Cesar Chavez Student Center.
Though the festivities were peaceful and relatively tame, about half a dozen police officers, who refused to talk to the press, were posted around the plaza and near the library, causing unease among GUPS members.
“It is usually much worse, normally there is a whole police force,” said El-Qare of the police officers, later adding, “Imagine what goes on in other parts of the country.”
Other GUPS students, like 23-year-old Chris Kazaleh, a liberal studies student, felt that the peaceful activities that the organization was holding were being oppressed.
“We are always censored,” said Kazaleh. “They don’t want us to feel welcome, they want to block us off.”
Of the non-Arab students who were observing the event, like senior Nate Wollman, 29, a Russian major who was hanging around the plaza eating lunch, the festivities were fun aesthetically, but did not move him towards activism.
“It’s cool for people who are associated, but I don’t have any way of interpreting this [event],” said Wollman.
But for the Arab students, Arab Cultural Day and the rest of Arab Awareness Week will help re-educate American youth from stereotypes against Arab people.
“The festive part of our culture is a big part of our culture that we embrace,” said Kazaleh. “If people want to get educated about Arabs, the number one expert to learn from is the people of that culture.”
Washington Post correspondent Pamela Constable visited the journalism department at SF State on Tuesday.
The lecture hall was filled beyond capacity with students from several different classes lining the steps in order to hear the well-traveled journalist speak.
The speech however, got off to a rocky start when Constable arrived late because of traffic and getting lost in the city.
“I’ve found my way around the entire world but for some reason I get lost in San Francisco,” joked Constable, instantly engaging the lecture hall with responses of laughter.
“She literally risked life and limb to be here,” teased professor Jon Funabiki, who introduced Constable to the eager classroom, and who referred to the accident Constable joked that she had nearly suffered.
Once started, the classroom was instantly enchanted with the tales and opinions Constable related to the audience.
“It was truly an enlightening lecture,” said Bonnie Lasher, 22, a senior cinema major. “She had so many valid points.”
Constable, who has worked as a journalist for 33 years, has been to dozens of foreign countries. She's filed stories from Afghanistan and Iran and was an embedded journalist in Iraq. She spoke of both the hardships and rewards of the path she has chosen for herself.
“It can be very very lonely,” said Constable. “You’re without hot bath, food and clean surroundings. We only had electricity for a few hours each day. If you want to get in this profession you have to be willing to put up with an un-American life-style.”
Constable also spoke heavily about the current conflicts that are plaguing the Middle East, including less of her opinions and more of her observations, sparking rigorous questions from some of the students in the audience about religion, war and journalistic integrity.
“Our job as a journalist is not to say something is wrong, it’s our job as journalist’s to understand it,” said Constable. “It’s my job to understand why things are the way they are and translate it so readers and viewers can understand.”
Towards the end of her lecture she pushed for students to continue to learn and to read the news. She said people are unable to get a story from just a five-minute blurb on the nightly news.
“Far too many people are thinking they’re getting their news from TV and from the Internet,” said Constable. “Then you’re not learning anything.”
Some students responded well to the point made by Constable.
“We are less exposed to the real story behind the news,” agreed Lasher.
Constable left the class with a plea to keep themselves informed in the world of news and constantly be aware of what was happening both abroad and at home.
“How can we be respectable citizens if we don’t really know what’s going on,” she said. “Try.”
This Thursday and Friday will mark one of the biggest environmental events to be organized by students and held on SF State’s campus.
The Redefining Wilderness Symposium, a two-day event in Cesar Chavez Student Center, will attempt to open up a dialogue among attendees and broaden the definition of wilderness.
Yvette Michaud, a senior environmental studies major, who has had a major part in coordinating the event, said the theme, wilderness, was selected because of the innumerable ways in which it has been defined over time.
“There are a lot of different perspectives on wilderness throughout history,” she said. “For me, having a dialogue about it will help us to have a deeper conversation and understanding about our relationship to the natural world.”
The convention will feature lectures and panels, activist training activities, workshops and discussions on the evolving concept of wilderness. Faculty and students from SF State as well as professionals from other parts of the Bay Area will present their research in discussion panels with audience members.
The second day of the symposium will feature more interactive, “conversation-café”-style discussions, wherein participants — panelists and audience members — may break off to discuss their ideas about wilderness and present them to the rest of the event-goers.
“We don’t just want experts talking to the audience. We want a dialogue where everyone participates,” said Michaud. “Based on how we structure the conversation, we hope it will go to a deeper level. We hope that, at the end of the symposium, we can open up our current paradigm of wilderness.”
Participants in the symposium include Pat Tierney, a professor in recreational and leisure studies at SF State, Barbara Beth, an environmental studies major, Kenn Burrows, founder of SF State’s Holistic Health Healing Center, Joel Kassiola, dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Brent Plater, SF State lecturer and attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. Other presenters and panelists are coming from various parts of the Bay Area and San Jose, Yosemite National Park and Northridge.
At the close of the symposium, the hope is that a statement encompassing the numerous current definitions of wilderness can be drafted and an understanding of the natural world and how we as humans relate to it will be developed.
“The deeper goal here is addressing what is at the root of the environmental problem,” said Michaud. “It all has to do with the way we perceive ourselves in the natural world. Our relationship to wilderness has been removed, and we need to think about all of those aspects — including urban wilderness. We need to experience it on every different level.”
For a schedule of events at the Redefining Wilderness Symposium, go to http://www.bawt.org/symposium/mission.php4.
Competition from peers, pressure to write and do research, and the stress of being graded on performance are all burdens that students are more than familiar with.
But these are actually the concerns that our teachers are dealing with year after year. And most students have no idea what it takes to be a member of the faculty on this campus.
The unpredictable life of the lecturer, difficulties attracting quality faculty to the Bay Area and disputes over inconsistent salaries all make the long process of obtaining tenure at SF State a somewhat tenuous one.
Glenn Fieldman, recently hired as assistant professor in the environmental studies department, recalled her years of lecturing at SF State. Since 1989, she has taught in the international relations, political science and environmental studies departments. She was denied a tenure-track position in international relations because she wasn’t finished with her doctoral dissertation, and the next year, after going through the hiring process again, the department lost the funds for the position because of budget cuts. Then, to add insult to injury, in 1991, she, along with the entire body of lecturers, was laid off for a full semester.
“That was the first of a series of budget cuts that hurt the university badly,” Fieldman said. “It changed the campus. The campus you see before you is not the same — it has suffered cuts over and over again.”
When hired for a tenure-track position, an instructor must take on additional responsibilities. The university-wide standards for promotion are based on teaching effectiveness, professional achievement and growth—such as research in one’s field or getting published in an academic journal—and community service.
Usually five or six years after being hired for tenure-track, a committee within each department evaluates the professor based on that criteria. Each department may place more or less emphasis on any of these requirements when evaluating faculty members. After a committee has considered a candidate, they may or may not send recommendations for tenure to the dean, who makes the final decision.
There are currently more lecturers than there are tenured or tenure-track faculty at SF State. If the university suffered another cut like the one in 1991, more than half our faculty would be gone. With no contract and no job security, the position of lecturer is basically a temporary job, said Fieldman.
“You never know if you’re going to have a full load of classes, and it’s always contingent on funding,” she said. “The budget cuts always fall first on the lecturers.”
Even if someone has worked as a lecturer at SF State, that doesn’t guarantee he or she will be offered a tenure-track position if one opens up.
Positions, once they become available, are open to candidates from all over the world. The only real advantage that those who are already employed by SF State have is that they’re already used to the Bay Area — and its high cost of living.
Jim Kohn, chairman of the English department and a full tenure professor since 1984, said a major concern for the university when trying to attract new faculty is the disparity between salaries and what it takes to live comfortably in San Francisco.
“In the English department, we don’t really have the problem of losing positions due to budget constraints,” Kohn said. “What we do have a problem with is candidates accepting other jobs elsewhere. The cost of living in San Francisco is so high that the lifestyle they can afford on a university salary doesn’t match what they can have in other places.”
This disparity has put pressure on the university to offer higher salaries to attract good candidates for faculty positions. The result of this is that a new hire could be offered a salary that is higher than that of someone who has been teaching at SF State for years.
According to Kohn, the last faculty contract negotiated by the California Faculty Association was signed in 2005, meaning no faculty members have received a raise since 2004.
“These issues are all part of the pressures on faculty to want to improve our situation,” he said. “We all want the university to succeed, but what this all means is that we need financial support.”
Kohn said the extracurricular duties combined with teaching numerous courses make for an intense workload for professors. In the College of Humanities, Dean Paul Sherwin has decreased the requisite number of courses for professors from four to three per semester. This, however, has not changed the amount of work expected of professors. Rather, it has changed the nature of the work, placing more of an emphasis on professional development.
According to the CSU and CFA Fact Finding Recommendations, the demanded workload for teachers is too much. In a report released in 2003, recommendations were made by the CFA, the CSU Academic Senate and the CSU administration that called for increased funding for the hiring of more tenure-track faculty. The hope was that an increase in the number of faculty would lighten the load for all professors, but at this point, no additional funding has yet been set aside for that purpose.
Kohn stressed the significance that the CFA contract negotiations have for all faculty members — present and future — at SF State.
“We’re all hoping to sign a contract by next week, because no one wants a strike to happen. But these problems are just getting worse,” he said. “Salaries are based on a hierarchy, and if the scale and amounts that are offered don’t change, we fall further and further behind in the competition to get faculty to come here. This would just make it that much easier to attract and keep good tenure-track faculty.”
DONT ERASE BELOW INFORMATION
INFO GRAPH: (*this info is for the 2005/2006 school year)
Total number of faculty: 1,701
Number of tenured/tenure-track faculty: 833
Number of lecturers: 854
How long it takes to get tenure (roughly): 5 to 6 years
Criteria teachers are graded on when being considered for tenure, promotion or retention:
Teaching effectiveness--continuing education, upholding high academic standards, student evaluations and letters may all be considered.
Professional achievement and growth--research, publication in academic journals, presentations and contributions to the present curriculum may be considered.
Contributions to campus and community--advising to students and student organizations, involvement in community activities, professional societies or as a consultant.