December 2007 Archives

Major updates on SF State computer software

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The SF State Division of Information Technology will be performing major updates on Thursday, December 27 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During this time, SF State e-mail, MySFSU, FAVORS, iLearn and EPOS will not be available.

iLearn will also be getting additional updates on Friday, January 4 and Wednesday, January 23.

Greenhouse seeks expansion

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Hidden between the Business and Science buildings, the tiny SF State Greenhouse, used by the biology department for propagating plants and research, is slated to move to
more spacious location that will begin construction in mid-July 2008.

Professors and students alike said the current greenhouse is too small to accommodate more research projects, and SF State has turned away potential researchers here because of limited space. On the eighth floor of Hensil Hall there is an older and bigger facility, but due to poor construction, sources say plants fry on a hot day and freeze on a chilly
one. That greenhouse is now being used as storage.

“I hope the future of the greenhouse as a whole is that it gets what it’s been hoping for and can expand into a new facility that it desperately needs because it’s kind of packed,” botany major Alex Busuttil, who called it his “sanctuary,” said.

The new location is planned to be constructed between Thorton and Hensil halls, but according to the greenhouse’s manager, Martin Grantham, there are still some kinks to be worked out.

“A greenhouse is a space designed for optimum plant growth, it involves controlling the environment,” Grantham said. “The greenhouse here is needing to be used sometimes in
research. So you want to have it set up to have a wide range of possible settings for different environmental conditions.”

SF State student stabbed at house party

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SF State business student Benjamin Herbert Floriani, 21, was fatally stabbed at a house party in Santa Rosa on Saturday morning. He was dead when emergency services arrived.

Santa Rosa police were notified approximately at 1:09 a.m. that someone had been stabbed in the 700 block of Blair Place in Santa Rosa.

“When emergency personnel arrived, a male was found deceased on the living floor,” said Sgt. Lisa Banayat of the Santa Rosa Police Department.

Between Saturday, December 15 and Monday, December 17 , five suspects have been arrested that were connected to the stabbing and three other stabbings at the same party. Alex Paul Hopper, 20, Matthew Timothy O’Day, 19 and Donald Bittner, 19, were booked on suspicion of murder. Noah H. Minuskin, 19 and Rory O’Day, 18 were booked with alleged accessory to the murder. All of the suspects are residents of Santa Rosa.

The autopsy report will not be available for several weeks, but preliminary reports say Floriani died of a stab wound to the heart.

The three other victims all survived their injuries according to Banayat.

Investigators are still looking for witnesses with information regarding the death of Floriani.

DUBLAR CHAR, Bangladesh (SFSU) – Aboard a U.S. Marine CH-53E Super Stallion Helicopter, I watch as the waters of the Bay of Bengal meet the coastline of Bangladesh. The aircraft is flying along the same path used 19 days earlier by a deadly tropical cyclone.

Sidr, a Category 4 cyclone, struck Bangladesh’s southwest coast around 9:45 p.m. on November 15, 2007. With maximum sustained winds of 240 kph (150 mph), the cyclone unleashed lethal floodwaters upon the impoverished country. The death toll stands at 3,167. An additional 1,724 people remain missing.

The Bangladesh government estimates that 360,000 people have been left homeless. For thousands of cyclone survivors, life has become an ongoing search for clean water, food, shelter and medical aid. This search has led hundreds of Bangladeshi fishermen to a remote landing zone on the low-lying island of Dublar Char.

As the Marine helicopter pilot orbits the area and prepares to land, several small fishing villages emerge from a vast maze of mangrove trees. A reduction in altitude reveals the scarred landscape of the island. Many of the tropical trees were unable to withstand the winds of Sidr. Fractured trunks and broken branches litter the exposed intertwined roots of the coastal evergreens.

Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Lu Le, the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Surgeon is seated across from me in the aircraft. LCDR Le is leading a small Mobile Medical Team (MMT) in support of Operation Sea Angel II. The team quickly exits the helicopter and regroups nearby.

Kneeling in the tall windswept grass, LCDR Le ensures that his team and their equipment are accounted for. The team, comprised of both Marines and Sailors, guard their medical equipment from the strong rotor wash created as the departing helicopter briefly hovers overhead.

"Lets go, we have a limited amount of time," LCDR Le announces to his team. "We want to ensure that these survivors receive treatment today.”

The MMT lifts their equipment and walks towards the large crowd of fishermen. Within minutes, the team begins treating the first of 160 patients. Several of the men sustained traumatic injuries while clinging to trees during the cyclone. Oral rehydration salt is provided to dozens of patients suffering from diarrhea and dehydration. Both conditions are attributed to drinking contaminated water.

“ I was glad to see the American helicopter this morning,” Rabiul Islam, a young fisherman, proclaims. “Today we are not forgotten.”

In an interview at the nearby Alar Koal Shelter Station, Lieutenant Johir Raihan, Contingent Commander of Dublar Char conveys that more than 300 fishermen from the area were killed during the cyclone. Many were drowned by the violent floodwaters.

“The shelter was full beyond capacity. There was no room to sit down. Everyone remained standing throughout the night.”

As the afternoon air fills with black dragonflies, I speak with Krishnapada Chakraborty, a Project Management Specialist with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He explains that floodwaters are not the only devastating forces that threaten the people of Bangladesh. The powerful winds of Sidr have temporarily uncovered conditions that preceded the cyclone.

“The Bangladeshi people are hungry. There are limited job opportunities in this country. The men in the Dublar Char fishing villages are working in very dangerous conditions. They risk their lives for little pay. These are very poor men.”

Early the next day, the MMT is inserted into the sprawling city of Barguna. More than a thousand people quickly surround our U.S. Marine CH-46E Sea Knight Helicopter. A security detail from the Bangladesh Military directs us to a row of waiting vehicles.

Our convoy speeds through the crowded streets towards the nearby Barguna General Hospital. Standing in the back of a military truck, I watch as our Bangladeshi driver forces countless rickshaws and pedestrians off the narrow dirt roads.

As we arrive at the hospital, a sea of patients quickly floods the lobby. The Bangladeshi Military resorts to using furniture from the lobby to create a barricade between the MMT and the growing crowd. A group of hospital officials directs the MMT to three isolated examination rooms located on the ground floor of the hospital.

LCDR Le lifts a sheet of X-ray film up to a beam of light shining into the examination room through a barred window. The film reveals a spiral fracture of the left tibia. If not treated properly, a young child could be disfigured for life. LCDR Le applies a splint to the injured fragile leg. As the child is carried out of the room, LCDR Le and his team are unaware that many critical patients are on the overcrowded floor above.

Two locked metal gates separate the MMT from desperate patients located on the second floor of the Barguna General Hospital. I hear keys rattle against the gate leading to the west wing of the second floor. A staff member slowly pushes an empty steel gurney through the unlocked gate. I move alongside the gurney and pass into the long shadows of the west wing.

Approximately 200 patients occupy the two wings. That number of patients is twice the maximum capacity of the floors original design. Many of the people on the second floor have sustained serious injuries from Cyclone Sidr.

An unattended patient extends her open hands towards me as I walk across the trash strewn concrete floors. The faces of the Bangladshi patients are concealed by a sudden power outage. However, their pain-filled voices continue to resonate through the shadows and stale air.

While I continue photographing patients, an unidentified staff member declares that the Barguna General Hospital is grossly mismanaged. In addition, he identifies conditions that expose the health of patients to unnecessary risks.

“We have only one janitor. The hospital is not clean. We are unable to care for our patients. A decentralized medical system would better serve the sick and injured. Our operating budget should be based on need. All over Bangladesh, from the city of Barguna to the city of Chitagong the government is not the same…it is not the same.”

My conversation with the unidentified staff member abruptly ends, under the direction of Dr. Abdur Rashid, the Barguna District Surgeon. Dr. Rashid refuses to answer questions or comment on the conditions in the hospital.

Late in the afternoon I see the MMT standing at the front of an endless line of Bagladeshi patients. "Stop screening patients," LCDR Le announces to his team. "Leave all the medical supplies behind. Our ride home is already in the air.”

We are loaded back into military vehicles and transported from the hospital to a landing zone in a nearby field. “That is a solid copy,” Sergeant Cochise Fripp, shouts into a satellite communications handset. “The helicopters are overhead and circling.”

Within minutes we are flying over the city. I watch as we pass over the Barguna General Hospital. The sound of our U.S. Marine CH-46E Sea Knight Helicopter thunders unimpeded through the barred windows and locked gates of the hospital. The Bangladeshi patients on the second floor listen as the helicopters head southwest towards the Bay of Bengal.

While in the City of Barguna, over 300 patients received medical evaluations and/or treatment by the Marines and Sailors of the MMT in less than five hours. The MMT was not provided access to the patients on the second floor of the Barguna General Hospital during the medical aid mission.

James Lee is an undergraduate student at S.F. State University. He is currently embedded as a photojournalist with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Tarawa (LHA 1) in the Bay of Bengal. Stay tuned for more from his journey.

Gender discrimination a hiring concern for state schools

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A report released Tuesday by the State Auditor analyzing the hiring practices of the California State University System found an overall inconsistency in the consideration of diversity when hiring, raising concerns about discrimination issues in the system.

The CSU is “inconsistent in considering diversity” when hiring professors, management personnel, presidents, and system executives, according to the report by state auditor Elaine Howle.

Among the CSU, the largest higher education system in the nation, there is no uniform hiring practice. Each campus has differing levels of detail when estimating the percentage of qualified women and minorities available for employment, a method that impedes the university’s ability to effectively compare data among the campuses, the report said.

Also, the report found hiring practices vary not just from campus to campus, but also among departments. Some take in to account the gender and ethnic composition of search committees for professors, while such practices are prohibited at other departments and campuses.

The audit was requested by the Joint Legislative Committee, which includes Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles and Assemblyman Anthony Portantino,D-La Canada Flintridge, chairman of the Assembly for Higher Education.

“The report shows us that although we are making progress, we could be doing better,” said Eduardo Martinez, spokesperson for Portantino. “More concrete guidelines should be in place to ensure that there is consistency on the ground level, campus by campus.”

The California Faculty Association, which represents 23,000 faculty members at the CSU, was not surprised by the lack of strict guidelines in place.

“Today’s report confirms CFA’s ongoing concerns that hiring practices in the CSU are not only inconsistent, but in some cases non-existent,” said CFA president Lillian Taiz. “CFA is troubled by the lack of consistent guidance system-wide to help hiring/search committees promote diversity.”

While the hiring process for presidents requires input from many stakeholders, the hiring of system executives is largely at the discretion of the chancellor in consultation with the board of trustees, the report said.

The request followed several high-profile gender discrimination lawsuits against the 23-campus university system. As of June 30, the university spent $2.3 million on settlements resulting from employment discrimination lawsuits filed during the five-year period reviewed, and $5.3 million for outside counsel in defending itself against such lawsuits.

Campuses have hiring policies that vary in terms of the amount of guidance they provide search committees for Management Personnel Plan employees, and one campus has developed no policies for these positions that relate to nonacademic areas, the report said.

The audit concluded that the CSU should issue system-wide guidance on the hiring of faculty, as well as to ensure that women and minorities are better represented on search committees. It also recommended that the CSU develop hiring policies to ensure consistency between campuses. The audit did not make recommendations examining discrimination lawsuits.

In response to the audit, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed wrote the university is prepared to review its hiring practices and discrimination litigation. The system maintains that many of the audit findings highlighted the challenge between existing federal requirements for diversity and complying with Proposition 209 approved by California voters in 1996, which prohibits against discrimination or preferential treatment by the state and other public entities.

In a statement from Reed, he maintained that although uniform, system-wide policies are not in place, the “overall workforce of the CSU is diverse, and women and minorities are hired in greater numbers than their proportion of the available labor pool.”

According to CSU spokesperson Paul Browning, the workforce of about 46,000 employees is 53 percent women and one-third are ethnic minorities, and the university’s hiring rates of such are higher than the national average.

“We reflect the population of California,” said Browning. “Of course, there is always room for improvement, and we agree with the auditor’s recommendations in concept.”
Browning said the CSU agrees with the auditor’s recommendations in concept, but maintained that the university’s current practices produced consistently diverse campuses.

“We have a system-wide emphasis on inclusion rather than a specific policy,” said Browning, and went on to say the CSU prefers not to target specific underrepresented groups.

The audit is the second part of the Bureau of State Audits reports, which also includes an examination of employee compensation that was released Nov. 6. The committee will present a plan for implementation at the Board’s meeting in January.

Virtual reality solves real life problems

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Behind a monolithic stone hallway in a lab room filled with algorithm-drenched dry erase boards, students and professors of science come together to tackle some of California’s most troubling issues, such as health and the environment.

“We’re dealing with things like California health care, ecology, economy, and using a lot of collaborative science to deal with what’s happening around us,” said Michael Wong, a staff researcher at the lab known as the Center for Computing in Life Science (CCLS).

CCLS is the brainchild of SF State’s computer science department and unites varied experience levels of biologists, chemists, and other scholars from the College of Science and Engineering to conduct research for practical uses.

Wong, an SF alum, worked as a software engineer for Hewlett-Packard before coming back to run the department’s new center. Now using his background in game theory, Wong is helping put together a computer game to help train future nurses and reduce the state’s nursing shortage.

“The biggest problem is that we don’t have the right number of nursing professionals able to teach at the volumes that we need.” Wong said. “One of the ways that we look to get around this problem and the bottleneck is to take the specialized knowledge from the nursing professors and put it into a simulation.”

CCLS generated a multiplayer role-playing game that puts student nurses in a virtual hospital with virtual patients.

“The people in the computer and graphics areas have made it very colorful and very interesting,” said Jane DeLeon, professor at the school of nursing. “It’s safe, the students can practice and learn, yet the patient isn’t in jeopardy, because it’s a game.”

DeLeon, who provided the institutional knowledge for the project, said the California State Board of Nursing allows nursing schools to experiment with alternative types of clinical training. She added that the simulation could be used to teach beginning nursing skills and more advanced courses in pediatrics and surgery.

To make the game, actors from the drama department portrayed ailments and emergencies like heart attacks in front of the kinesiology’s motion-capturing equipment. Wong and his team then wrote the computer coding and made sure the game retained typical gaming industry qualities such as competitiveness. He said he expects the prototype to launch early next semester.

Wong, who has attended educational game conventions, said most of these are designed for the military or k-12 students.

“This is the first game I know of [that is] aimed at a special group of professionals to solve a social problem,” he said.

In 2003, Dragutin Petkovic, the current chair of the computer science department, came up with the idea for the interdisciplinary research center. He then pitched it to the dean of the College and Science and Engineering and applied for funding. According to Wong, unlike other universities, SF State organizes all its science departments under one college.

“Here at state, the opportunity to do collaborative science is unique and one of our advantages,” Wong said.

Senior computer science major Taeli Goh has used the center to conduct his specialized research in computerized object recognition, which operates face-recognition technology in digital cameras.

“This place is amazing in terms of communication,” Goh said. “People are willing to discuss creatively and share their knowledge. Since my field is young, there’s a lot of opportunity I can improve and enhance my creativity of thinking,” he added. “It motivates me.”

CCLS was able to use research similar to Goh’s, to develop software for the biology department to track a species of invasive ants that threatened California’s ecosystem.
These foreign ants, according to Wong, were invading native Californian ant species and negatively affecting the food chain.

By capturing the ants on video, biologists and software engineers were able to trace patterns in their behavior and uncover how the movements related to the ants’ genetic makeup. They then ran the hours of video data through a high-powered computer cluster, which has the power of a lab full of 40 computers in one machine, in order to isolate the ants’ genes and find a relatively safe chemical that would cause them to self-destruct.

“We looked to find a compound that causes invasive species to attack themselves and fall apart,” said Wong.

Without the help of the gene-tracking computer cluster, researchers would have spent endless hours watching tape to analyze the ants’ behavior. Instead, each computer in the cluster independently processed pieces of the data to put together one solution- a procedure known to computer scientists as parallel computation.

Wong did his master’s thesis at SF State on parallel computing and cluster applications and says the system is a fairly inexpensive way to conduct high-level research. Using this applied science, he was able to create a virtual chemistry lab, allowing him to experiment with otherwise highly combustible and expensive compounds.

Wong added that CCLS takes a “dot-com” approach in providing a comfortable place to relax and do research. Many students who come through the lab go into Ph.D programs, or take jobs with companies such as Yahoo!, Sony, and Genentech.

“It’s a great launching point for students,” Wong said. “They further their plans and really make a contribution to science and society in California.”

Study finds young adults reading less

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“When was the last time you picked up a book?”

That was the question the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) tried to answer in its new study on the reading habits of young people.

It found that, today, almost half of U.S. citizens age 18 to 24 do not read for leisure. Published last month, the study found that 48 percent of people in that age group said they do not read books outside of work or school, a rise of 7 percent from a decade ago. On average, they spend seven to 10 minutes per day reading, while spending over two hours watching television.

“The declines were steepest in young adults, accelerating at a greater rate than in the general population,” Sunil Lyengar, NEA’s director of research and analysis wrote in the report. “Americans were not only reading literature at a reduced rate. They were reading fewer books generally.”

The authors cited modern technologies as one of the main reasons why people read less. While technologies have made lives more efficient, they also create new ways for people to spend their time, such as playing video and computer games, surfing the Web, or listening to their iPods. Also, with this new efficiency, people tend to expect every other aspect of their lives to move at the same fast speed, which books and other reading materials don’t, according to the report.

“With reading, you have to slow down, to think and imagine. A book doesn’t do all the work,” said Amy Payne, a lecturer for SF State’s creative writing department. Television and video games have made young people used to seeing things as is, she said, unlike books where readers have to imagine the scenery and the characters.

“Most [young people] seem to take pleasure in other technologies to provide them with what they need,” said Bill Christmas, professor of English at SF State.

“It’s easy, it’s available, and you can make it part of a multitask existence,” he said of technologies such as MP3 players and cell phones. “’Who needs books?’ they might say.”

Some students agreed with this assessment.

“Technology plays a role in why people do not read,” said Daniel Mullikin, 21, a creative writing major at SF State. Although he said that he personally reads a lot, he can understand why young people don’t often read. “The digital media makes people not want to read, with iPods around,” said Mullikin.

Sofia Cortez, 22, agrees.

“The Internet and people being lazy has a lot to do with why people do not read in our generation,” said the child and adolescent development major. She said grabbing a book and reading it may seem like too much work for some students.

Katie Choy, 23, said the large amount of reading college students have to do at school may be why many of them don’t read for leisure.

“I read so much at school already, that at the end of the semester I am just burned out,” the psychology major said. “The last thing I want to do is read any more books.”

In the NEA study, the authors also concluded that the amount of reading people do can have a direct impact on other aspects of their lives.

People who read have more advantages when applying for a job, according to the study. Employers who participated in the survey said reading skills are a top deficiency in new employees. Around 63 percent of employers rated reading comprehension an important skill.

Readers who were surveyed also said reading skills can determine the type of jobs they can get. About 70 percent of below basic readers said their reading skills have limited their job opportunities, compared with only 4 percent of proficient readers.

In surveying employers, the study also found a direct correlation between reading and writing skills. Employers rated 47 percent of two-year college graduates and 28 percent of four-year college graduates as deficient in written communications.

To encourage reading, efforts are being made, often using what some consider ironic: technology.

Last month, online retailer Amazon.com introduced their new e-reader, Kindle. Dubbed the “iPod for reading” by some reviewers, the Kindle is the latest device in allowing people to read more conveniently by emulating an electronic book that can hold thousands of novels.

Google has also been working on its Google Books Library Project, creating a digital catalogue of books from library collections, so users can find out a lot about a book before they purchase it or check it out at a library. Books that are out of copyright may be viewed and downloaded in their entire version.

Kevin Conroy, 24, said he often listens to audio books on his iPod. “It’s just easier for me and I do not have to carry a book or even read, I can just listen,” the psychology major said. However, some say reading has to start at home.

Payne recommends that parents start reading to their child as early as possible. “Once you get past a certain age, it’s hard to make you want to read,” said Payne. “The parent or caretaker has to open that world.”

When asked how he would encourage students to read, Christmas said he would advise students to “take literature classes. And check their nano devices at the door.”

Students save their eggs from cracking

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Last week, SF State students demonstrated what would happen if eggs could fly. The idea was for students to come up with creative ways to throw an egg off a tower and have it land safely on a mat a couple dozen feet below them.

Red Bull’s Gravity Challenge, which was promoted at two other colleges, made its last stop at SF State on Dec. 5. For the first time at SF State, students put together teams of up to three people to attempt to defy Newton’s Law of Gravity by saving an egg with their wit and imagination. From 12 to 2 p.m., Students gathered around the stage in Malcolm X Plaza to watch their colleagues drop eggs off the ledge.

“They [are] dropping their eggs in their contraction creations from 26 feet of terror,” said Mikal Gordon, production manager for Red Bull and a recreation and commercial studies major at SF State.

According to Nicolette Amarillas, a junior BECA major at SF State who works for Red Bull, the egg must overcome the 26 foot drop unscathed and in one piece without any cracks or dents. The teams whose eggs touch the ground on landing will receive the maximum six points. If the egg survives but does not fall on the Red Bull mat, only half the points will be awarded, and zero points will be awarded if the egg breaks. The creativity and the idea behind the “egg-landing-machine,” as coined by Redbull, will also be evaluated.

“Our slogan is ‘hopes and dreams’ because that’s pretty much all we have,” said Matthew Lalo, a senior at SF State and a member of Soul Sessions, the first group to drop their egg.

Among some of the egg-landing-machines made by the teams were a box with the Superman logo branded on it filled with popcorn nestling an egg, Pacman with a cone coming out of his mouth, a blow up doll with a hole in her head to hold an egg, and parachutes.

“I think the challenge was a good event, it showed the creativity that students have,” said Sharef Al Najjar, a junior at SF State.

Gabriel Dela Cruz, student brand manager for Red Bull and a senior recreation and leisure studies major at SF State was promoting the challenge for a month and had a turnout of eight teams signing up for the challenge. The first place winner received a skydiving trip, second place received Warrior tickets, and third place received a day of go-carting.

Team Already Killin’ ‘Em or A.K.E. dropped their egg onto the mat with a Pacman egg-landing-machine and was the winner of the challenge, with 12 points. Allen Miller, Erica Clayton, and Kiara Brown, all freshmen at SF State, said they weren’t expecting to win because they made their contraction the night before at 11 p.m.

“I don’t know if I’m going skydiving though,” Miller said. “The only place I fly is in the air and on the courts.”

ASI pursues campus farmers market

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A weekly organic farmer’s market may kick start on the SF State campus as early as March 2008.

Associated Students, Inc., a student-run organization that manages over $4 million in student fees each year, is considering the proposal from ASI Graduate Representative Jeremy Nicoloff. He will give an informational presentation on the subject at the ASI Board of Directors meeting on Dec. 12.

Nicoloff, 31, said he already has permission from university officials to stage the market on campus. He’s now seeking $5,000 per semester in funding from ASI to subsidize the participating farmers to keep prices low.

If the funding is approved, the market would probably be a weekly event, starting in March 2008, Nicoloff said.

“The very first meeting we had as Associated Students [this semester] it was one of the ideas that everyone agreed on,” said Nicoloff, a graduate student in kinesiology. “I’ve been bustin’ my ass on it.

“It will be organics only,” he said. “[There’s a] definite emphasis on that.”

Nicoloff and other ASI members have been gathering signatures in order to demonstrate student support for the market.

“I have seen overwhelming support for the organic farmers market not only from students, but professors as well,” Jesse Bevan wrote in an email. Bevan is the ASI representative for Behavioral and Social Sciences. He has been involved in the signature-gathering effort.

“One professor invited me to one of his large lower-division history class for a short presentation on the market and I got almost all 75 students to sign it,” Bevan said.

Nicoloff said he is optimistic that the board will grant the funding, but might pursue the idea of a campus market even without it.

“If the Board says ‘no subsidy,’ which I highly doubt they will, we could still go forward. I’ve got nine farmers signed up with no mention of a subsidy,” he said.

Global warming teaching to replace classes

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SF State students will take a crash course in global warming solutions together in Jack Adams Hall on Jan. 30 and 31, as part of a national teach-in involving more than 1,000 American schools.

The two-day event, called “Focus the Nation,” will feature guest speakers ranging from professors and environmental activists to policymakers. Among the invitees are San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Assemblyman Mark Leno and representatives for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Confirmed keynote speakers include Van Jones, president and co-founder of Oakland’s Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.

Faculty from several disciplines will bring their classes and spend one of their class periods acknowledging the threat global warming could pose to the world and discussing what can be done to combat it.

“We’re always balancing day-to-day things with the more important things in the world,” said Carlos Davidson, director of environmental studies and a major contributor to SF State’s Focus the Nation. The teach-in allows students, faculty and staff from all walks of life to put general concerns aside for two days to jointly confront “the defining issue of our time,” he said.

“Global warming is ‘environmental’ in quotes, but it’s important to every person on this planet, especially students,” said Glenn Fieldman, an environmental studies professor at SF State. “The consequences are being felt now, and they’ll be felt even more later on. This is very much a young person’s issue,” she said.

Attendees will get to participate in activities like a carbon footprint workshop, in which people can learn about how much carbon is emitted to support their lifestyles and what can be changed to reduce that, said Woody Hastings, an environmental studies major involved with the event.

Some of the recommended ways people can reduce carbon emissions, like driving cars less often, may already be common knowledge. Others, like buying produce from local farmers instead of from importers that burn fuel to ship it, may be new to some and can also make a difference.

“People hear ‘global warming’ left and right, but they don’t often make those connections,” Hastings said. “We don’t often hear enough about what we need to do about it.”

An additional theme will be social justice in the face of a global problem. The history of the campus calls for the event to acknowledge that those responsible for reducing emissions and those most affected are different, Hastings said. “It’s not something that’s talked about much when talking about global warming,” he said.

“I think the country is starting to see that climate change is a huge problem. What’s not apparent is that this is a social justice issue,” said Davidson. If hurricanes become stronger, droughts last longer and the sea level rises, poor people of color in undeveloped countries around the world will be hit hardest, he said.

The event joins a handful of the university’s recent efforts to become more environmentally friendly. SF State President Robert Corrigan joined hundreds of college and university presidents this September in committing to reduce SF State’s greenhouse gas emissions and eventually make it “climate neutral.” The spring Academic Senate will likely vote on a resolution to create a sustainability action committee to guide the university toward fulfilling the commitment. And a new class called Campus Sustainability (ENVS 570 in the class schedule), in which students will learn how to audit the campus’ emissions, will also begin this spring.

Davidson said he hopes Focus the Nation will catalyze interest and participation in global warming solutions in students, faculty and staff from all walks of life.

“You don’t know, when you’re in the midst of things, how this is going to play out,” he said. “But this could be a pivotal moment for the university community.”

SF State team created for AIDS Lifecycle event

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Two members of the university’s faculty and staff are putting together an SF State team for June’s AIDS LifeCycle—a 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Rob Strong, general manager of SF State’s bookstore, and Don Taylor, dean of the College of Health and Human Services said that so far about six faculty and students expressed an interest in riding with them, and they hope to raise $2500 per person.

“It was an idea that came out of nowhere,” Taylor, 58, said about deciding to do the ride with Strong.

The ride will be longest either of the men have done. Taylor and another friend rode their bikes from Berkeley to South Lake Tahoe in July for a 2-day, 210-mile ride. Strong, 50, said he had just gotten back into cycling at that point, and said he was inspired by their bike trip when he proposed the idea of doing the AIDS LifeCycle ride together.

“That kind of planted the seed,” Strong said.

Taylor said they are in the very beginning phases of planning for the ride, which takes place from June 1-6, but he knows many students and faculty ride their bikes to school every day and part of the reason getting a group together at SF State seemed so appropriate.

“I’m just hopeful we’ll get a strong group,” Taylor said. “If people are active they’ll be able to do the ride. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible.”

For information about team building at SF State contact Rob Strong at rstrong@sfsu.edu. You can also find more information on the AIDS LifeCycle ride at http://www.aidslifecycle.org/.

Bluebook giveaway at Student Center

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Students gathered around the student information desk in the Cesar Chavez Student Center (CCSC) to receive their free bluebooks, coffee and tea. It was the Student Union’s way of giving back to the campus.

Bluebooks, scantrons, pencils, coffee, and tea were provided at no cost for students in honor of Finals Appreciation Week on Tuesday, Dec. 11 and Wednesday, Dec. 12, from 8-10 AM and 5-7 PM. According to Athena Ennis, the Building and Events Manager for the CCSC, the Student Center has provided students with free materials the week before finals for the past three semesters.

“This is to serve students as a morale booster while they’re getting ready for finals,” said Sarah Doherty, a Senior Theatre major and cashier at the Student Center information desk.

According to Doherty, after this semester, the distribution of free bluebooks, coffee, and tea before finals will officially become something the CCSC does for students every semester. Once the student union brought this idea to Mary Keller, the Assistant Director of Program Services, she immediately decided it was something the student center should do, said Ennis.

The materials were purchased by the CCSC who donated them to the Student Union and Café 101 provided the coffee and tea. Quiet study spaces in Rigoberta Menchu Hall and Terrace Level Conference Rooms are also provided for students to study in from Dec. 11-21 during the hours of 8 am – 9:30 pm. Students also have the opportunity to work out for free at the Village Fitness Center Dec. 11-13.

“I believe that the Student Center should do this every semester and every year, it was thoughtful and very well appreciated,” said Aaron Hicks, a Senior majoring in Engineering and Africana Studies.

Students honor Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Members of the Newman Club, students, and faculty gathered Wednesday in Rosa Parks-D to celebrate the feast of "Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe," "Our Lady of Guadalupe," by serenading her framed image, which was draped in authentic Mexican garments, surrounded by rose pedals and candles.

"It's such a gift to be on campus celebrating this feast together," said Marta Piano, a campus minister of SF State's Newman's Club. "Only she can bring us together. All ethnicities, all different lifestyles, different interests, but because of her we celebrate together and not alone.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is Mexico's most beloved patroness. The story behind Mexico's patron saint is that she appeared one day to a poor Aztec indian named Juan Diego near Tepayac Hill in Mexico. It was here that the Virgen de Guadalupe spoke to Juan Diego and asked "No estoy yo aqui que soy tu madre?" meaning "Am I not hear that I am your mother?" The Lady of Guadalupe asked favors of Juan Diego in which he obeyed. One of her last requests of Juan Diego was to go to the top of the hill and cut the roses that were growing. Juan Diego did what she asked. He cut and gathered the roses placing them in his "tilma"a poncho type of garment made of cactus fiber. The Lady of Guadalupe asked Juan Diego to give the roses to the Bishop and upon Juan Diego's return, as he took out the roses from the "tilma" in his garment was a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A Basilica of Guadalupe was built in Mexico City where the original image is stored.

The Newman club and its members sang a collection of hymns to the soft strums of a guitar. "Mananitas," a Spanish song that closely resembles "Happy Birthday" was sang through out the event to show appreciation to "Our Mother," said Piano.

After two or three songs, different members stood in the front of the room and shared stories of hardship and incidents where a miracle was needed.

"She always gives me the sense that there is hope," said Herman, an SF State student and Newman Club member, "I can just look at her picture and get this sense of relief like everything will be okay."

A special intention and candle lighting ended the ceremony. One by one, each individual approached the image, lit a candle and asked for a special intention of Our Lady Guadalupe.

"From her image you can see that we can always count on her," said Piano. "We need her to know that she can count on us."


Green Jobs Could Save Low Income Workers

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A recent study by SF State urban studies professor Raquel Pinderhughs finds that blue collar jobs in green businesses, or what she calls “green collar jobs,” are creating special opportunities for low income workers to find living wage jobs that not only provide income to feed their families and themselves, but is also working towards preserving the environment, according to an SF State press release.

“Poverty and unemployment are significant problems in the bay Area,” said Pinerhughes, a consultant for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “The study shows unequivocally that green collar jobs can provide workers with limited labor market skills with good jobs and lift them out of poverty."

Derived from a series of interviews with over 20 Berkeley-based green business owners and managers, the study found that 86 percent of green businesses hired workers with little to no previous work experience where 96 percent were provided with on-the-job training for entry level employees.

The demand for more workers in green collar jobs was also overwhelming, were 73 percent of business owners and managers felt that there was a shortage of qualified workers.

Of the unemployed people surveyed in the Bay Area, who were also interviewed for the study, 89 percent expressed a large interest in learning more about blue collar jobs for green businesses.

Pinderhughes also provides conventional guidelines for a model to train workers and provide opportunities for workers to apply for green jobs.

“Professor Pinderhughes’ study is a major leap forward in our understanding of how to harness green business growth to fight both pollution and poverty,’ said Van Jones, president and founder of the Ella Baker Center, were they are campaigning to develop green jobs, which Jones claims is “the nation’s first attempt to carry out the model that Pinderhughes’ study purposes.”

Though the study was funded by the City of Berkeley’s Office of Energy and Sustainable Development and was conducted on Berkeley businesses only, the report has also been shared with policymakers in San Francisco’s Department of Environment as well as city council members all over the Bay Area, such as Oakland and Richmond.

Pinderhughes’ study has also been adopted by the Oakland City Council which is launching the Green Job Corps program in 2008, where the city has allocated $250,000 that will prepare dozens of jobs for Oakland residents in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“Local governments need to foster effective partnerships between job training programs and local green businesses, and to establish green business councils,” said Pinderhughes about the need to foster more government interest on the subject.

Class examines Malcolm X's legacy

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About 70 people gathered Tuesday in Rosa Parks Hall to take part in the final presentations from students of Oba T'Shaka's class on Malcolm X.

Topics included Malcolm X's relationship with Islam, his ongoing influence on hip-hop, and three missing chapters from the acclaimed autobiography of Malcolm X. The class was split up into eight groups of about five members each and this was their final foray into the mind of Malcolm.

"We basically had the second half of the semester to work on it," said Aaron Salazar, 19, whose group focused on parallels between John Coltrane and Malcolm X.

Jasmine Conner, 23, is a group member of Salazar's and said that she was satisfied with her performance and learned about other militant groups like the brown berets and rap philosophy.

Professor T'Shaka, who has taught the course at SF State for about seven years, told his class afterward that he had learned some things he didn't know.

"That's a good thing," he said. "That's what I wanted."

T'Shaka said that they did a good job with the diversity and the impact of Malcolm X in their presentations.

"Look at the diversity of the class," he said. "It speaks to a broad impact; he was the most important thinker the 20th century ever produced."

Salazar, a sophomore, said he was surprised by the number of people that were in attendance.

"It was mostly people from the class at the beginning," he said. "But more people kept coming in later on."



BART fares going up

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As of January 1, 2008, BART will be increasing ticket fees anywhere between ten and 30 cents. The adjustment is the second in a series of four scheduled fare increases.

In May of 2003 the BART Board of Directors made the decision to increase the fare every other year.

According to the BART Web site, the price of gas has gone up 30 percent since their last fee increase. The average BART rider will pay 21 cents per mile, compared to 52 cents per mile if they drive, according to the Web site.

Students who use BART to travel to SF State have mixed feelings about the fare increase.

SF State student Luis Rodriguez travels on BART from Oakland to Daly City five days a week.

“I spend eight dollars a day already,” said Rodriguez. “It sucks, but what can I do about it? It’s still a more efficient way to go.”

Chris Norberg said while he opts not to drive because of parking and traffic, he isn’t too keen on the idea of having to pay more than he already does.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it and I’m not too happy about it,” said Norberg, who catches the train from Pleasanton to Daly City two days a week. “It’s going to cost me more and it takes me a while to find parking there too.”

To try and ease people’s minds, BART is also introducing a newer, faster schedule at the same time as their “modest fare adjustment”.

According to BART, riders can expect to see more trains after 7 pm Monday through Friday, and a “33 percent increase in service, faster commutes, and better SFO/Millbrae service.”

Leslie Santiago doesn’t have a car, but said even if she did own a car, she would still choose to take BART, despite the increase.

“I pay 35 dollars a week and it’s hard, especially being in college,” said Santiago, a SF State student who comes from Oakland's Fruitvale district five days a week. “I have financial aid and a lot of people might not think 30 cents is a lot, but it adds up. But even if I had a car I wouldn’t drive because I’ve always heard that it’s really hard to find parking and the permit costs too much for me.”

For more information visit the BART Web site at www.bart.gov/news.

Sean Penn campaigns on campus

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Students and supporters filled Knuth Hall today to hear actor Sean Penn speak and support Democratic Presidential hopeful and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Podcast produced by Rosyn Park.

“Today I want to share an article I wrote with you young college men and women,” said Penn. He began reading his article about “What an odd week” it has been for him.

“Vladimir Putin meet with President Bush and Bush said that he had a real sense of his soul by looking at him eye to eye,” said Penn. “And yet Putin goes back and says how dangerous our country is.”

Penn also addressed his support for Kucinich.

“No one on the Democratic congress has the nerve to impeach any of the top U.S. leaders but Kucinich is that voice in the party to do something about it. He’s policy over politeness,” said Penn.

SF State student Monica Salamy enjoyed seeing Penn.

“I thought he was straight to point. He did not bash other candidates. Everyone has a different opinion on how corrupt out country is and it’s good to see another point of view,” said Salamy, 20, a psychology major.

The event was put on by the College Democrats.

Students have say on soul food spot

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The Cesar Chavez Student Center held a product tasting for the Student Center’s Soul Food Project Friday, December 7.

Two final candidates supplied students, faculty, and staff with samples of food from their menus to decide which restaurant will serve their food in Cesar Chavez’s food court.

According to Neha Shah, project consultant, the Black Student Union has been trying to have Soul Food served in the Student Center since 1998. Nearly 10 years later, a spot has finally been opened to make it happen.

“If they’re going to be selling soul food here, it should be good,” said Chanel King, a freshman at SF State.

From 10:15 a.m. – 11 a.m., Two Jacks Seafood Restaurant sampled their food first. Erica N. Perry Cooper, owner of the restaurant, said that the restaurant has been running for 30 years and all the food cooked is by family recipes.

“I thought that this would be a good opportunity for the family business to branch out and get exposure,” said Cooper.

If they are picked, Two Jacks Seafood will be selling Oysters, Sole, and Catfish fillet plates for $7.00, an option to mix 2 items on the menu for $9.50, Potato Salad for $2.00, 8 ounces of Macaroni and Collard Greens for $3.00, Snapper and Rock Cod for $6.00, and Prawns for $8.00.

“The Mac ‘N Cheese was great, I’d gladly pay $3.00 for Mac to get me fat,” said Kevin Jenkins, a freshmen majoring in Nursing.

From 12:15 p.m. – 1 p.m., Jessie’s Hot House served their food with a side of three different southern desserts and homemade punch. The owner of the restaurant, Robert Darden, said that the name of the restaurant came from his late grandmother Jessie Davie who was the owner of the original Davie’s Hot House in Clarksville, Tennessee.

“I was excited to be able to have the opportunity to start a Soul Food restaurant on a college campus, especially since my wife went here,” said Darden.

Jessie’s Hot House offered SF State students a breast/thigh wing combo with collard greens for $7.99, BBQ tofu with sweet potatoes for $5.49, snapper with macaroni and cheese for $6.99, 5 piece shrimp with 3 pieces of fried cornbread for $5.99, a breakfast sandwich for $4.50, punch for $1.50, red velvet cake for $2.50, yellow chocolate cake for $2.00, and peach cobbler for $2.25.

“Both restaurants were good, but because I love macaroni and cheese, I would have to choose Jessie’s Hot House,” said Sekani Hamilton, an undeclared freshman at SF State.

SF State proves big draw for world students

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Located in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, it seems only natural that SF State would be the top destination for international students from the around the globe.

For the third year in a row, the university officially lead the pack in master’s degree-granting institutions for hosting international students.

The 2006-2007 Institute of International Education revealed that SF State hosted nearly 2,500 international students and, according to an SF State statement, a nearly 24 percent growth over the previous academic year. SF State also placed second in its category for sending students abroad.

Jay Ward, associate director at SF State’s Office of International Programs, said these figures can be directly attributed to more recruiting for the program both on a domestic level and on an international level with recruiters for the program going overseas to sell the program to other countries.

Ward also mentioned the university's notable diverse student demographics, and said having many international students on campus benefits all students on the campus—especially those that may have a limited knowledge of other cultures.

“A lot of our students haven’t been 50 miles outside this city,” he said. “Students can travel the world without leaving the campus.”

My Yarabinec, coordinator of the Study Abroad and International Exchange Programs at SF State, said there are roughly 200 exchange students. Yarabinec praised the university’s “good support group,” plethora of services, and good reputation for attracting so many students.

“Usually students are satisfied with their stay here,” Yarabinec said. “San Francisco is an attractive destination for young people.”

Katrin Melzer, 23, co-chair of the International Education Exchange Council, came here from Germany at the beginning of this semester and plans to stay through next spring. The psychology major said she is impressed by the psychology program at SF State, adding that her teachers use good “practical approaches” in the classroom.

“They were so caring,” she said of the people she works with in the international studies program. “It was very nice.” She said she would definitely recommend the program to other students. “I’m so happy I did it; I experienced so much I see things differently and I think I’ve grown a lot.”

Melzer said she sees advantages and disadvantages in the exchange programs both here and at the University of Tuebingen, her home college in Germany.

This semester, Bruno Arakaki, 21, became one of the first two students to come to SF State from Brazil. The kinesiology major said he has had a positive experience at SF State.

“I expected people to be colder, but they’re very friendly,” he said.

Arakaki pays for his own housing costs, but a scholarship from Sao Paulo pays for his tuition and travel expenses.

Although Arakaki is going back to Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo in March, he is entertaining the idea of returning to the United States after graduation to look for a sports-related job.

“United States is the country of opportunity if you want to work,” he said.

Marie Pauline Guinam, a journalism major from the Philippines, is known as an F-1 international student because she came to SF State for the full program. Guinam recently won a scholarship in the program for $700, which is a welcome respite since being an international student entails paying an additional $339 per unit on top of registration fees.

“It’s totally worth it,” Guinam said of the cost. “Coming here and adjusting to another culture was a challenge [but] you’re finding out new things—it’s kind of an adventure,” she said.

Grade fraud suspect taken into custody

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An alleged ringleader in the Diablo Valley College cash-for-grades scandal surrendered to authorities this morning in Contra Costa County Superior Court after failing to appear at a scheduled court date Monday.

Liberato “Rocky” Servo, who police were searching for after he failed to turn himself in, was taken into custody this morning but did not enter any pleas, prosecutor Dodie Katague said via e-mail. Servo, who is facing 19 felony counts, was appointed a public defender and will appear in court on Dec. 13, Katague said. His bail was set at $75,000 by Judge Charles Burch.

Prosecutors said Servo, a former student worker in the DVC Admission’s Office, recruited and trained Julian Revilleza, another key figure in the case who accepted a deal from prosecutors and helped Katague file charges against Servo and fourteen others who were implicated in a complaint filed Nov. 29.

Servo, the complaint said, continued referring clients and sending grade change requests to Revilleza after he left DVC. The 28-year-old changed three of his girlfriend Amani Ibrahim’s grades, helping her gain admittance to SF State. Ibrahim, a 2003 DVC graduate, was barred from the university last August after SF State received her corrected transcript from DVC. Katague said Ibrahim was on his list of suspects in August but he said he did not have enough evidence o file charges against her until now.

Ibrahim, who has yet to surrender to police, is one of eight students whose transcripts the university has put on hold due to their involvement with the scandal. Jo Volkert, the executive director of Admissions, said the students, who university officials have refused to name, will not be allowed to enroll in classes at SF State in the future.

Three of the 15 named last week were arraigned Friday and arrest warrants have been issued for the remaining students, Katague said today.

The district attorney also said he expects to file charges against four students from Los Medanos College, DVC’s sister school located in Pittsburg, later this week.

Charges were filed against 34 students in late July, which included Revilleza and three other student workers at DVC. Revilleza accepted a plea bargain in September and will serve one year in county jail. His childhood friend and fellow DVC employee Jeremy Tato plead no contest to the charges he faced and is also working with prosecutors and Contra Costa Community College district officials.

The conspiracy begun in 2000 and surfaced in January of 2006 when a DVC instructor noticed a student of his, Erick Martinez, kept reappearing on his class roster. After several attempts to drop Martinez, who also worked in the DVC Admission’s Office, the instructor notified DVC officials and district police. More than 400 grades are believed to have been changed over the six-year span.

DVC graduates have used their phony transcripts to transfer to universities like UC Berkeley, UCLA, Cal State East Bay, UC Riverside, and UC Davis. DVC is the second largest community college feeder school to SF State behind City College of San Francisco. The Pleasant Hill campus sent 334 students to SF State after the spring 2006 semester, according to a report on transfer pathways by the California Postsecondary Education Commission.

SF State moves toward climate neutrality

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SF State President Robert Corrigan joined hundreds of college and university officals this fall in committing to reduce SF State's greenhouse gas emissions and eventually make it "climate neutral," though the university may not take its first steps until next semester.

A 10-person sustainability action committee was proposed to the Academic Senate in November, but it has not yet been officially considered, said Carlos Davidson, director and associate professor of environmental studies.

The senate may vote on a resolution to create the committee on Dec. 11, its final meeting this semester, or it may want more time to mull it over and discuss it next semester, he said.

The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment has more than 400 signatories from around the country, including the entire University of California system and five California State Universities.

By signing this commitment, a chancellor or president pledges to gradually neutralize their campus' impact on global warming through a multi-step process. The ultimate goal is achieving climate neutrality by reducing the campus' greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible and countering remains with carbon offsets and similar alternatives, according to the ACUPCC’s Web site.

The steps include creating a “committee or institutional structure” of students, faculty and staff within two months of signing, completing an inventory of campus emissions within a year and drafting an actionable plan within two years. Corrigan signed the document by Sept. 15, the date considered the benchmark from which SF State would measure progress toward each step.

Even if the committee must wait until the spring, Davidson commended Corrigan for signing the commitment.

"It's wonderful to work for an institution that recognizes climate change at the highest level," he said.

Davidson said he will teach a new environmental studies class in the spring designed to help meet the commitment's challenge. Called Campus Sustainability (ENVS 570 in the class schedule), he and Robert Hutson, associate vice president of facilities and SF State’s liaison for the commitment, will teach students how to measure the university's greenhouse gas emissions. The results of the class will effectively create a campus inventory of emissions in time to satisfy the ACUPCC's deadline, Davidson said.

Neither Corrigan nor Hutson answered requests for comment. A two-month progress report completed by Hutson and available on the ACUPCC’s Web site, however, states that “a Campus Sustainability Committee was formed in FY 07/08 to develop a university-wide culture of stainability [sic] and to advance sustainability initiatives with a cohesive focus.”

The report also claims SF State completed four "tangible actions," of which the ACUPCC asked the university to accomplish at least two by Nov. 15. All four actions cited, however, reflect policy that existed before signing the commitment.

The university—along with all other CSUs—already requires that all new campus construction be in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver standard or equivalent. It also already purchases at least 15 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources (SF State's contract with energy supplier Arizona Power Services requires the minimum be 20 percent), encourages and provides access to public transportation (mainly by connecting the campus to Bay Area Rapid Transit via the daily shuttle) and diverts a relatively high percentage of campus waste (65 percent during the last fiscal year), the report states.

BECA student weaves education, hip hop

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Mandeep Sethi stood in a circle of about 10 students in Malcolm X Plaza on a recent Friday evening . The sun was setting. One student cupped his hands to his mouth and blew a beat. Eighteen-year-old Sethi started to rhyme.

“Check-a, check-a one two, I come through the night straight damagin’ your crew,” Sethi said, letting the words roll off the top of his mind. “If you really want to get it, I can give you what you’re missin’, verbal gimmicks, now listen.”

He hit a word just right with the rhythm and the others gave a slow, “Ahhhhhh” of approval. Then as quickly as it started his freestyle was over and the next guy started to flow.

A broadcasting and electronic communication arts major, Sethi uses hip-hop not only to express himself, but also to raise money for charity and to educate and entertain elementary school children during after-school programs.

SF State professor Felix Kury asked students in his Latino Health Care Perspectives class this semester to fundraise for Clinica Martin Barò, which he created with the help of SF State and UC San Francisco students. Sethi is in the class. So, to fulfill the assignment, he organized an event called Hip-Hop in the Plaza, also in Malcolm X plaza, which happened Nov. 28.

“I could help with their events or I could create my own,” Sethi said. “So I said, ‘fuck it,’ and [fundraising for the clinic] is a dope-ass cause and hip-hop is good for that.”

By selling pizza at Hip-Hop in the Plaza, Sethi raised nearly $150 for the clinic.

In his spare time Sethi works for Definitive Education, an after-school program that educates children in music, physical fitness, language and art through different aspects of hip-hop. Sethi teaches writing, poetic language and reading skills through the art of emceeing.

“We have call and response activities we’ll do,” said Sethi. “The girls and even the dudes are always writing lyrics there, and they’re like six through eight [years old].”

Sethi said he is constantly developing his own emcee abilities.

“I think his lyrical stylings are more akin to spoken word put over a beat,” said Bob Sas, a graduate teaching assistant, who first met Sethi in an oceanography lab last lab. “He focuses more on what he says with his lyrics than weaving his words into the music.”

Sethi has performed at such venues as the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Poleng Lounge in San Francisco. He’s involved with several different bands and crews. Souled Out Underground, a San Francisco-based label, lists him as one of their artists. He has also performed as a lyricist for Black Mahal, a band self-described as a Punjabi hip-hop, jazz, funk experience.

Most of Sethi’s songs, several of which can be heard on MySpace, revolve around topics such as culture, politics, prejudice and personal philosophy.

“He speaks about issues, not like these fake Emcees who are talking about nothin’,” said Cobe Obeah, a 20-year-old accounting major, who has rapped with Sethi a few times. He first met Sethi when he asked to perform at Obeah’s SF State hip hop performance a year and a half ago.

“He gets straight to the point,” Obeah said. “If he wants something, he’s going to get it.”

In Sethi’s song, “Place Where I Live,” he talks about wearing a turban in the United States after the 9/11 tragedy. Sethi comes from a Los Angeles family that practices Sikhism.

“I just talk about things I see on a daily basis and a lot of the things I’m learning about the world is funneled through my rhymes,” said Sethi. “I think music is a reflection of the time and the place of where I am and what I’ve seen.”

In Sethi’s Sunset District room, comic figurines of Batman, Oscar from Sesame Street and others line the window sill and other surfaces. On his desk are speakers, a mixer, a laptop and in the closet a Rode MT1A microphone waits to record. All this is his arsenal for producing his album titled, “When Comic Books Meet Hip Hop,” which doesn’t have a release date yet.

Sethi eased into the closet, tapped the space bar on the laptop and shut the mirrored door. The cursor in the audio recording program started to move.

“Get out of my face professor,” he said. “Don’t stress me. I got enough finals to do, can’t you see. I need to MC to get it out my system, this is what I’m missin’ so I catch the rhythm.”

Study finds dangers in energy drinks with booze

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Alcohol can be twice as dangerous when mixed with an energy drink, according to a new study published two weeks ago by Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Although health officials have known for some time that energy drinks mixed with alcohol were dangerous, the study was one of the first to provide statistical evidence. It showed that students who consumed these energy drink cocktails were about twice as likely to be involved in alcohol-related accidents and injuries than drinking alcohol alone. They were also more likely to be involved in sexual assault or drunk driving.

“[An energy drink] masks the level of intoxication. It combats the drowsy feeling of alcohol and people feel they can drink more,” said Michael Ritter, coordinator of SF State’s CEASE, an organization that helps students deal with alcohol and substance abuse.

Ritter said energy drinks mixed with alcohol can affect drinkers in many harmful ways. Energy drinks contain a high level of caffeine, much more so than coffee-based alcoholic drinks. Both caffeine and alcohol act on the central nervous system, but in different ways—caffeine acts as a stimulant, alcohol as a depressant—that when combined, the two substances give drinkers a sense of being alert while drunk.

Another danger is alcohol and energy drinks both serve as diuretics, so drinkers can get severely dehydrated. Also, the large amount of sugar found in most energy drinks speeds up the absorption of alcohol, which gets people drunk faster, in the same way drinking on an empty stomach would.

These drinks have been available several ways, either by mixing an energy drink and alcohol at a bar, or as pre-mixed in a can and sold at stores. However, canned alcohol energy drinks can pose more of a risk to excessive drinking because they are cheaper and more convenient than bar cocktails.

Some popular canned energy drinks with alcohol currently on the market include Sparks, Tilt, Bud Extra, Liquid Charge, and Hyphy Joose. The Miller Brewing Company and Anheuser-Busch, which own several of the alcoholic energy drink brands mentioned, declined to comment.

The alcohol content in these drinks range from 6 percent to 9 percent, with the highest being Hyphy Joose, which contains 9.9 percent. That means these drinks have a higher alcohol content than most beers (Budweiser, Coors, and Miller all have an alcohol content of about 5 percent).

The majority of these drinks contain ingredients that are typically found in regular energy drinks, like caffeine, taurine and ginseng. Most are infused with alcohol to make the drink become a malt beverage, similar to Smirnoff Ice or Mike’s Hard Lemonade. However, like beers, malt beverages have only about 5 percent alcohol.

Some efforts are already under way to bring awareness to the danger of these drinks.

Last month, Rockstar Energy Drink discontinued its Rockstar 21 product, which contained 6 percent alcohol. Some speculated that it was a response to repeated complaints of youth mistaking the drink for its non-alcoholic counterpart, according to a press release by the California Coalition on Alcopops and Youth.

The coalition is urging other beverage companies to follow Rockstar’s lead and pull their alcoholic energy drinks off the market. Even though Rockstar still sells other alcoholic versions of its energy drinks outside the United States, the coalition said it felt that was a major step forward.

Also, earlier this year, 30 attorneys general criticized Anheuser-Busch, urging the company to be more responsible, resulting in the company taking its alcoholic energy drink, Spykes, which contained 12 percent alcohol content, off the market.

David Phares, 23, a criminal justice major at SF State, said he once bought alcoholic energy drinks and had enjoyed them. “It tasted like Monster [energy drink] with alcohol,” said the criminal justice major, who said he got drunk after drinking three cans of Sparks. “I would drink it again,” he said.

Not all agreed with Phares.

“It tasted terrible. I got it once and I never got it again,” said Joshua Jarvis, 24, a creative writing major, who said he tried Sparks a couple of years ago. When asked if the drink should be taken off the market, Jarvis answered, “I wouldn’t drink it, but other people can. I don’t care.”

Nena Manivong, 22, an SF State psychology major, said she has never drank any canned alcoholic energy drinks, but occasionally drinks Jagermeister with a Red Bull, either as a mixed drink, or using Red Bull as a chaser. “I don’t really like the taste. I just take it to get buzzed,” she said.

Salsa Night raises clinic funds

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The 3rd Annual Salsa Night, sponsored by San Francisco State University's Community Health Education student organization, raised over $1,500.00 to donate to Clinica Martin-Baro, a non-profit clinic in the Mission District, said Jessica Aguilar, the event's coordinator.

An estimated 250 guests were expected, according to Aguilar, which was by far the largest outcome in it's three consecutive years. CHE was able to raise $1,300.00 alone on pre-sale tickets without including funds from unexpected guests who purchased tickets at the door. CHE also offered free raffle tickets in collateral of monetary donations where raffle winners won monetary gift cards donated by Best Buy, Target, Barnes & Noble, and other local businesses.

"It's overwhelming and so amazing to see all these people here," said an emotional Martha Duenas, president of CHE. "This organization means a lot to us on a personal level. We give it our all and it's wonderful having all this support."

One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit the Clinic, which opened in March of 2006 and is completely student operated, according to Felix Kurry, a 20 year SF State lecturer in La Raza studies and CHE program director.

"We built that clinic from the ground up," said Kurry. "We didn't have to depend on corporations or foundations for funding, which is why I feel this has been one of the more successful mentoring programs."

The three and a half hour event that started at 6 p.m. was filled with non-stop, muy caliente salsa dancing. CHE members, family, friends and SF State sorority Lambda Theta Nu salsa'd to the beats of SF State's own Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble directed by John Calloway and tracks from D.J. Juan Carlos.

According to Kurry, successful events such as Salsa Night has helped raised over $20,000.00 for Clinica Martin-Baro.

To read more about Clinica Martin-Baro, please visit the official website at http://www.ucsf.edu/clinica/.

Students honor World AIDS Day

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Summer Graham, the liaison to District 7 from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, presented San Francisco State University with a Certificate of Honor during the 19th Annual SFSU AIDS Day Commemoration in Jack Adams Hall.

“I just want to congratulate SFSU for their efforts and endless contributions,” said Graham. “Since 1986, SFSU has helped spread HIV/AIDS awareness and I’m proud to present SFSU with a certificate that shows our appreciation.”

Over a 100 students including members of the SFSU AIDS Coordinating Committee attended the commemoration, which was split into two segments.

The first half allowed students of the Nigerian Dance Association to perform two interpretive dances. The first dance told the story of a young girl infected with HIV and her struggles for finding acceptance amongst her peers, one of the members said, and the second dance was a traditional Nigerian dance.

The second segment was an open-ended question and answer session with three members of San Francisco’s Bay Positives, an organization for young people living with HIV/AIDS. They answered questions regarding their health, relationship issues and struggles of living with HIV/AIDS.

All three members stressed the importance of being aware and educating oneself about the disease.

“This is something that should be talked about all the time,” said Carley Flores, a Bay Positives member . “HIV/AIDS holds the common stereotype of being a gay-related disease, but it’s really a socio-economic disease that can infect anyone. It’s just really hard to convince a community that has already been stigmatized with certain stereotypes.”

The commemoration was organized by the AIDS Coordinating Committee who also distributed 1,500 blue flags on the two lawns near Malcolm X Plaza. Each flag represents 22,000 people living with HIV, said Elena Rubio, a SFSU senior and member of the ACC, which is a total of 33.5 million people. In California alone, 151,000 people are infected with 7,000 brand new infections a year, said Rubio. In SF, three new people are infected everyday with HIV/AIDS.

The ACC is also responsible for the SFSU AIDS Memorial Quilt hanging in Jack Adams Hall, which has a rich background that can be read on the ACC’s website, www.sfsu.edu/~aidsinfo. SFSU is the only institution with it’s very own 12x12 quilt, according to the ACC website.

More students implicated in grade scandal

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A student worker in the Diablo Valley College Admissions Office falsified the grades of several students including three of his girlfriend’s, helping her obtain admission to SF State, a complaint filed Thursday in Contra Costa County Superior Court said.

The couple, Liberato “Rocky” Servo, the fifth alleged ringleader in the case who prosecutors said recruited and trained his replacement Julian Revilleza, and Amani Ibrahim, a 2003 DVC graduate, was among 15 students added to the 34 that were named as suspects in the grade changing scheme in July.

Jo Volkert, the executive director of Admissions at SF State, said Ibrahim’s corrected transcript was one of the eight sent to the university from DVC last August. At the time, prosecutors had only identified one of the accused, Christopher MacAtulad, as being a SF State student. The university has refused to release any of the names, but said of the eight, five were students, two had been accepted for the fall 2007 semester and one was a former SF State student who went back to DVC.

In August, Volkert said the eight student’s transcripts were put on hold and the individuals would be barred from taking classes from the university in the future. Volkert confirmed that Ibrahim is no longer attending SF State and will not be allowed to return to the campus as a student but refrained from giving specifics about when and how long she attended the university.

“I can verify that she was in the original list that DVC provided to us,” she said Friday adding that she has not spoken directly with prosecutors. Volkert said the information was “no news” to her.

Prosecutor Dodie Katague said the 15 students have been suspects since his investigation began, but his department felt they didn’t have “sufficient evidence until now” to file charges against the students. Katague said he expects to file charges against four more students, from DVC’s sister school Los Medanos College, sometime next week. Three students were arraigned Friday and the district attorney said Servo is expected to surrender to authorities on Monday. Arrest warrants have been issued for all 15 students, he said.

MacAtulad, who plead not guilty to one felony count in September and is not scheduled to appear in court until late January, paid more than $4,000 to have 15 grades changed, the August complaint said.

Ibrahim, the court documents said, had her boyfriend change two grades, a C to a B and a D to a C, in February of 2003. A third grade, from a fall 2003 Math-142 class, was changed in January 2004 from an F to a C.

Servo, 28, is said to have recruited and trained alleged ringleader Revilleza between July and August 2004, the complaint said. Furthermore, the complaint indicates that Servo contacted Revilleza several times between September 2004 and February 2006 giving him names of clients and what grades to change.

At least eighteen students from the first complaint had contact with Servo before having their grades changed by Revilleza or Jeremy Tato, another DVC student employee.

The second complaint came after Revilleza, who was originally facing 23 felony counts and plead guilty to 15 counts in September, began cooperating with prosecutors. Revilleza is expected to serve one year in county jail for his crimes.

“He gave us enough information to go ahead and we felt we had enough evidence to file those cases,” Katague said of Revilleza’s cooperation.

Tato, 26, who was recruited by childhood friend Revilleza, was sentenced to one year in county jail last week after he accepted a deal from prosecutors as well. Erick Martinez and Ronald Nixon, both employees in the Admissions Office, have also been charged as ringleaders.

The scheme surfaced in January 2006 when a DVC instructor noticed that Martinez’s name kept reappearing on his class roster despite his several attempts to drop Martinez from his class. The instructor contacted college officials when his student’s grade reappeared as an A. From there, the plot widened to include more than 400 grade changes between 2000 and 2006.

Before the discovery was made, more than 90 workers throughout the three college district had access to the system Datatel, where student’s grades are entered. The district has since reduced that number dramatically, allowing only around 10 workers in the district to have top-tier access to the system, DVC officials have said.

The Pleasant Hill campus, which is part of the Contra Costa Community College District, has somewhere around 20,000 students a semester and is the second largest community college feeder school to SF State. According to the California Postsecondary Education Commission’s report on transfer pathways, DVC send 334 students to SF State after the 2006 spring semester and accounted for 8 percent of the university’s total number of transfer students. City College of San Francisco is the largest feeder school to SF State, according to CPEC.

Students named in the new complaint transferred to four-year schools around the state, including Cal State East Bay, UC San Diego, UC Riverside and UCLA.

Sewage spill in student center

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Shortly before noon today the Cesar Chavez Student Center suffered a sewage leak, shutting down food vendors and restricting access to water, a school official said. Raw sewage leaked onto the floor surrounding the restrooms on one of the lower levels, where students were walking and eating lunch.

The problem originated in the main sewer pump system behind the kitchens in the lower level of the Center and affected two restrooms on the conference level and the immediate enclosed area, said Paul Herrera, Human Resources manager for the Student Center.

“We caught it at a low level before it affected the main level where everybody is walking through,” Herrera said.

After Herrera was made aware of the situation, an in house operation staff started the cleanup process, in addition to an immediate shut off of water.

“There are people in the restrooms, both the mens and the womens, cleaning up and there’s more downstairs then we have our building engineer who’s looking into what caused the backup,” he said.

It is unknown when water will be turned on but may stay off until Monday, Herrera said.

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