March 2008 Archives
For those who find themselves on campus late at night and headed inbound toward the Embarcadero, they will no longer be forced off the metro train at Muni's West Portal station.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency restored full weeknight service to 1 a.m. between the West Portal and Embarcadero stations on its K, T, L and M lines as of Monday, March 24.
Previously, riders would be asked to ride a shuttle bus between the closed stations after 9:00 p.m.
The K, T, L and M shuttle bus service will be discontinued between West Portal and Van Ness stations. The regular Owl bus services will operate on a normal schedule.
Muni limited its service back in January 2006 for the "Metro Subway Overhead Improvement Project," to replace the overhead wires that provide power to the subway cars.
SFMTA also announced that the Twin Peaks tunnel and West Portal station improvement projects will offer "faster, smoother and more reliable service" on the K, T, L and M lines.
Those who would like an escort across campus to the Muni platform at 19th and Holloway avenues should contact the campus Department of Public Safety at 415-338-7200. SF State's Campus Alliance for a Risk-free Environment will arrange for police escorts, but asks that pedestrians allow 10 to 15 minutes for C.A.R.E. to arrive.
In November 2007, undergraduate journalism student James Lee embarked on a rare journey as an embedded journalist with the U.S. Marines. After arriving to his final destination, Iraq, Lee explored and wrote about the collaborative efforts of U.S., Coalition and Iraqi forces, who struggle to bring security to the region.
One key component to that collaboration is the cooperation of Iraqi interpreters. Lee spoke with several interpreters who have been working directly with American forces. Lee also fielded questions from SF State students to U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians.
In this podcast (play bar located on the upper right), you'll hear what Lee learned from the interpreters and you'll hear the answers to the student questions.
Photos on the right are of:
1) Sergeant Alyson Haynes, U.S. Army
2) "Sabre", an Iraqi interpreter*
3) "Charlie", an Iraqi interpreter*
4) "David", an Iraqi interpreter*
5) Captain Christopher Ellis, U.S. Army
6) Specialist Julie Furtado, U.S. Army
*Actual name withheld and faces partially covered for safety.
A run-down of events on Wednesday, Mar. 19, the fifth year anniversary Iraq War from San Francisco and Berkeley:
6:20 P.M. PST- Counter-protests at Civic Center
SF State College of Republicans are at the Civic Center Plaza counter-protesting at the ANSWER Rally. Protesters are rallying right now to march.
Hundreds have arrived at San Francisco City Hall according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
4:30 P.M. PST- Protesters in Berkeley gathered at the Marine Recruitment Center
Protesters gathered in Berkeley on Wednesday to mark the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War
World Can’t Wait, a non-violent organization, gathered in front of the Marine Recruitment Center on Shattuck Avenue, led the rally.
There were no reports of any arrests.
Berkeley Police were positioned in front of the Recruitment Center and did not confront the protesters.
In the afternoon, well-known anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan made a speech across the street from Berkeley High School; urging students to walk out of class and join the march back up to the Recruitment Center.
"Berkeley High is at the center of this," said Don Spark, an activist and organizer for World Can't Wait. "These kids can stop this war."
Once the protesters returned to Recruitment Center, Berkeley Police created a barricade at Shattuck and Addison, and diverted traffic.
Numerous organizers spoke to the crowd, before continuing on with the march around Berkeley.
3:00 P.M. PST- SAW gathers at Malcolm X Plaza and heads to Civic Center
To bring attention to the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, Students Against War (SAW) met in Malcolm X Plaza to prepare for a protest march from the Civic Center to 24th and Mission streets.
While the campus remained fairly quiet throughout the day, protests and rallies were breaking out throughout the downtown area, resulting in several arrests.
SAW had coordinated a demonstration with the city, allowing them to walk the streets without opposition from the police. The march was meant to be peaceful and non-confrontational.
About eight people had shown up in Malcolm X Plaza for the Muni ride downtown with a few more expected to arrive later.
Mihar Bhatt, 30-year-old Statistics major, said the rally was created to bring attention to the ongoing atrocities within the government. “We don’t trust that a new candidate is going to end the war,” said Bhatt.
Once SAW made it to the Civic Center, they marched in the streets, chanting protest slogans and carrying cardboard signs with phrases like “5 Years Too Many” and “Troops Out Now.”
Katrina Yeaw, a 24-year-old graduate student studying History, has been with SAW since its emergence. “All of our demonstrations have been peaceful,” said Yeaw, “We’re going to try and raise people’s spirits.”
In addition to SAW, a couple other student organizations showed up in Malcolm X to join the MUNI trip downtown.
Reverend Nancy Pennekamp from The Edge Campus Ministry was there to represent progressive Christians fighting for justice. The edge was part of today’s Interfaith Peace Vigil at Grace Cathedral.
“We hope to build strength and help the government be proactive,” said Pennekamp.
SAW has become a nationwide organization. Scott Paqette, 22, a political science major, went to a national conference in Wiconson and was surprised to see such large groups and protests in states like Ohio and Iowa.
“It’s good to get the word out because nothing has been moving forward,” said Paquette.
SAW has meetings bi-weekly to plan for upcoming events. Two weeks ago, the group had an Iraqi journalist come speak to the students about the impact of the war in Iraq.
In October, SAW will be attending the Campus Anti-war Network Western Regional Conference at UC Berkeley. The conference will be a round table discussion with other anti-war activists and Iraq war veterans.
SAW meetings are every other Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in Rosa Parks D.
“This march is about continuity,” said Bhatt, “We want people to keep people informed about the ongoing issues.”
2:30 P.M. PST- More than 120 protesters arrested
At least 100 protesters have now been arrested according to The San Francisco Chronicle. A "scuffle" with police occurred with at least two dozen protesters at a "die-In" on Market & New Montgomery. At least two protesters were wrestled down and one officer was knocked down according to The Chronicle.
12:58 P.M. PST- Arrests climb to more than 50
The San Francisco Police Department has arrested more than 50 demonstrators while trying to keep Market Street open, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
12:30 P.M. PST- Protesters stage another "die-in"
At Market and Montgomery streets in San Francisco, another "die-in" has been staged. Several people have laid out in the middle of the intersection and SFPD are moving into the area.
11:20 A.M. PST- Protesters cause traffic delays, more protesters arrested
San Francisco police have arrested at least 27 people at the "die-in" at Market and Kearney Street.
Protesters are shutting down intersections causing major traffic and Muni delays according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
10:45 A.M. PST- Crowds reached to 500 in SF downtown
The crowd reached around 500 on Market Street between Third and Fifth streets, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. They also reported about 30 people staged a "die-in" on Market and Kearney on the Muni tracks.
Protestors have blocked Market and Third Street.
9:45 A.M. PST - Bush gives speech on anniversary of Iraq war
9:30 A.M. PST - Dozens arrested in morning protests
More than a dozen arrests have been made this morning, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Protesters chained themselves at the Federal Reserve Bank building. Protesters in business suits were also arrested at the Chevron building.
Police, protesters clash downtown
“Shame!” roared the crowd of hundreds of people as a line of police officers wearing riot helmets and bearing batons tore through an anti-war banner spanning across Market Street.
“This is what a police state looks like!” came an amplified cry from a megaphone.
A marching band played a solemn funeral dirge from the sidewalk as about 15 people simulated dying, collapsing in the middle of Market Street on the fifth anniversary of the U.S. Invasion into Iraq.
“War kills everyone but corporations,” read a scrawled sign held up by one of the “die-in” protestors.
As about 100 police officers encircled the protesters and lined up around the perimeter of the sidewalk on Market and Kearny streets at 10:30 a.m., the act of civil disobedience disrupted traffic from all directions— cars were redirected to other routes, and a line of Muni buses was backed up through the intersection.
“Sieg Heil!” chanted an angry protester in the direction of the crowd of police as the marching band picked up the tempo, the bass drum pounding and horn section wailing.
Within half an hour, nearly all of the “die-in” protesters were arrested.
The loud congregation looking on from the sidewalk cheered and applauded as each protester was escorted single-file by two police officers, their hands tied behind their backs and their belongings thoroughly searched by the SFPD Bomb Squad in the middle of Market Street.
Vietnam War veterans joined the crowds of protesters and anti-war activists, determined to speak against the morality of war, regardless of country or generation.
“It brings tears to my eyes everyday to see young American men die every day in an unjust war,” said Vietnam war veteran Donald Desimone, 67. “It’s Vietnam repeated all over again, and there is no victory in sight.”
“It’s based on lies…all lies,” he continued. “Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction. It was an illegal invasion and it’s an illegal occupation.”
However, Desimone said that the massive turnout of anti-war action in downtown San Francisco represents the unity and power of the American people.
After witnessing the bloodshed of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam in 1968, another Vietnam War veteran at the protest said that he would never again support war in any form. He was severely beaten during San Francisco Vietnam war protests the same year, he said.
“We haven’t learned a thing [since the Vietnam War],” the veteran said. He requested to not be identified.
On the sidewalk near Market and Second streets, two masked men dressed like President George W. Bush and GOP presidential candidate John McCain lip-synched to the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Anne,” changing the lyrics to “Bomb Iran.”
Meanwhile, the Act Against Torture group marched down Market Street dressed in orange with black hoods over their heads to simulate the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay, with a woman pressing a prop machine gun into their backs.
Masked people dressed as Bush, Cheney, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein followed, enthusiastically giving a “thumbs-up” and smiling behind the line of prisoners while commuters getting off at the Embarcadero Muni stop exchanged confused looks.
The group is intended to promote human rights and draw attention to the Bush administration’s use of torture, which they condemn as highly immoral, said Rebecca Hensler, 39, a member of Act Against Torture and SF State alumna.
“I think we’re coming to a point when people will not be OK with the destruction of our constitution,” she said.
According to the organization, 500 people from 35 countries are being held without charge or the right to a fair trial at the Guantanamo Bay prison.
“Within 50 years, this government is going to be apologizing and paying reparations,” Hensler said. “Why wait until then?”
Anti-war activists target business, banks during demonstrations
The sound of sawing metal and police sirens pierced the early morning silence before the workday began. Many employees in the Financial District would show up late to their desks on March 19, the five-year anniversary of the war in Iraq.
At the main entrances of businesses such as Chevron at the California Center and the Federal Reserve Bank sat a barricade of anti-war activists who had chained themselves to the entry way. Each activist was locked in place by tubed metal boxes around their arms, connecting each other in angry unison. Some were locked onto oil barrels that were decorated with bold, hand-painted messages.
A swarm of helmeted police officers stood between the direct action and cheering supporters on the sidewalk and in the streets. Bicyclists, parade marchers, journalists, curious bystanders, suited employees, chained activists and police officers all were jumbled together within a cramped radius.
“On this day in 2003, the U.S. began Operation Iraqi freedom,” said President George W. Bush to a crowd of military personnel and political allies at the Pentagon Wednesday morning. “Five years into this battle, there is an understandable debate over whether the war was worth fighting, whether the fight is worth winning, and whether we can win it. The answers are clear to me…This is a fight America can and must win.”
The crowds downtown evidently disagreed. An activist carried a sign saying, “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this shit!”
Among the parade marchers were members of Code Pink, Direct Action to Stop the War and people dressed in animal costumes. A woman wearing a homemade pigeon suit who claimed to be from the organization Animals for the Ethical Treatment of People had a sign that read, “Drop Crumbs, not Bombs.”
“As a pigeon I feel that I can get along with my fellow birds,” she said. “It’s people that have the problem with sharing resources.”
Michael Reagan, 27, an SF State graduate student studying history, was the media liaison for DASW. “In five years, over 600,000 Iraqis have died and we have spent $2.8 trillion,” he said. “It’s an abomination that this money goes to fund this blood bath. It could be spent on education at San Francisco State to ease the budget crisis that is going to decimate the university.”
At the Federal Reserve Bank, another DASW activist was screaming as a team of policemen used an electric saw to cut through the tubed metal box.
“When people use lock boxes, it’s so police can’t drill through them,” said Sarah, a DASW activist and UC Davis student who declined to give her last name. “But with their experience with direct action over the years, [the police have] learned how.”
As activists were untangled from the chains and metal tubes, each one was photographed, stripped of their “No War” accessories and escorted to a police van.
“They’ve held this place until 6:50 a.m., so about 50 minutes,” Sarah said. “The purpose of this is not only a symbolic representation, it’s a direct presence to use our bodies to convey a public message. We are using this space as a backdrop, it’s not meant to keep people from going in and out. There are side entrances.”
Patricia Gonzalez, 45, an administrative assistant for the Federal Reserve Bank, was one of a few employees who stayed outside to watch the protest.
“It’s interesting, when employees were coming to work the police told them to go around the back. I’m surprised they didn’t stick around to see what was going on,” said. “Why would I want to go up to my office when I can be here and witness something so important?”
Looming storm clouds and a forecast of rain did not deter thousands of protesters from gathering in Civic Center Plaza Wednesday evening, where the young and old came together to hold an anti-war rally and protest march on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War.
“We’re here today to voice our opinion of the war, and to demand change and respect for our veterans,” said Ian Sharpe, a former soldier who spent a year serving in Iraq and is a member of a veterans group against the war.
“We want to bring this war to the forefront of the national agenda,” he added.
Organizers from the Act Now To Stop War End Racism coalition said they expected thousands of attendees at event, which marked an end to a busy day of similar protests against the war and the current Bush administration in San Francisco.
A number of speakers appeared on a portable stage to rally the growing crowd as the event continued into the evening.
“What could we have done with the $500 billion used for the war,” shouted Tony Gonzalez, a representative of the American Indian Movement, a group that is against the war.
“We are two steps away from a fascist state…we must remain vigilant,” he said to loud applause.
Despite a low turnout early on, a large number of protesters waving Iraqi flags and holding signs denouncing the war eventually gathered near the intersection of Grove and Polk streets.
“Their just screwing things up for other people,” said one frustrated evening commuter as he made his way upstream against the growing river of protesters who had begin their march down Van Ness Avenue and Market Street.
A visibly large contingent of police blocked traffic and insured the gathering stayed non-violent.
Police estimated that about 2,000 people attended the rally and march, and they reported that no arrests were made, calling the event “relatively peaceful.”
During the rally, about fifteen members of the College Republicans from SF State and UC Berkeley gathered to voice their disapproval over the anti-war protest as they waved American flags and held up signs reading “Home of the Free because of the Brave”.
“We want to denounce the radicalism that permeates these events,” said Leigh Wolf, a SF State student and BECA major. “This is not anti-war…this is anti-America.”
“By being here today, we hope to uphold the traditional values of democracy and patriotism that make America great,” he said.
After a brief shouting match with a much louder and larger group of anti-war protesters, police moved the anti-protest group across the street, where they continued to wave American flags and hold up signs in front of City Hall.
‘Moving us over here was a safety issue which I totally understand,” said UC Berkeley student Alexandra Hartline. “We’re here to support our troops and their mission…we love doing this type of activism.”
As the relatively quiet rally evolved into an organized march, a diverse and upbeat crowd chanted, sang, blew horns and beat on drums while cars stopped near blocked intersections and honked their horns in a show of support as the protesters winded their way through downtown San Francisco.
The anti-war march ended at 24th and Mission streets were a vigil was to be held.
Grace Cathedral Episcopal Church, perched atop a wind-swept Nob Hill in downtown San Francisco, proved an ethereal and somber setting for what the church described as "an interfaith vigil for peace and remembrance of all the dead on the 5th anniversary of the War in Iraq."
Approximately 200 to 300 mourners huddled together before the Cathedral's gothic facade on Wednesday evening, softly singing as the names of dead Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers were read aloud.
Click the link on the right to view the multimedia...
Shoes of the civilian dead lined the steps and surrounded the Cathedral, while inside boots of fallen soldiers from California adorned the labyrinth, each one with a tag detailing the soldier's name, rank and hometown. Over 400 pairs of shoes were used for the vigil.
"One of the ways that we can, I think, stand for justice is to stand in solidarity" said Pastor Adam Blons of First Congregational Church in Berkeley, which helped to co-sponsor the vigil.
"I can't be in Iraq," he added, "but I can be here and remember that the pain and destruction of war touches me, as well as—so devastatingly— many other people."
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has dished out a new law requiring chain restaurants to post the amount of calories in dishes directly on menus next to listed foods, in hopes that city residents will think twice before ordering a side of fries.
The law also requires that San Francisco chain restaurants list the amount of fat, carbohydrates and sodium on menus posted on large signs and boards. Restaurants with 20 or more locations in California, such as McDonald’s, Jamba Juice and Panda Express, are considered chains.
SF State Student Frances Santiago, 19, said she has struggled with her weight since she was a child. The math major said the lack of nutritional information available to her parents led them to believe that a bun, tomato and lettuce made a hamburger healthy.
“I’m bitter towards my mom for feeding my brother and I fast food when we were little,” said Santiago, who gave up fast food her freshman year in high school. “If my parents had known how bad that food was they wouldn’t have given it to me. My mom has even said that now.”
Joan Frank, director of SF State’s Dietetics Program and a registered dietician, said she is in favor of the new law because it puts nutritional information in the hands of the consumer.
“When someone is looking at the menu and they choose the single patty burger over the triple burger with cheese and bacon because of the nutritional information on the menus, then this program will have succeeded,” Frank said of the law, which passed March 11.
District 9 Supervisor Tom Ammiano authored the law in 2007 in order to help San Franciscans become healthier, his staff members said.
“This law helps to target obesity and a lot of health problems tied to nutrition,” said Zachary Tuller, Ammiano’s senior aide.
While Frank agrees with the supervisors’ decision, she said such laws affect the restaurant business.
In-N-Out Burger corporate offices in Orange County did not respond to questions by press time.
“It is controversial. Restaurants are against them because it is more work for them,” Frank said.
Reprinting menus with updated nutritional information will create extra work and cost for chain restaurants, but former restaurant owner Dr. Mehmet Ergul said he thinks the law is necessary.
“It needs to be done because not everyone is knowledgeable about what they’re eating,” said Ergul, assistant professor of hospitality management at SF State.
Ergul, who owned his own fast food, catering and school cafeteria in his native Turkey, teaches a restaurant and catering management class at SF State. He said he conducts research in healthy eating, particularly for children.
“I really believe in this law for the children,” Ergul said.
Both Frank and Ergul agree that the law is not perfect, but that putting nutritional information on menus is a step in the right direction for San Francisco.
“Putting information on menus is controversial, because sometimes you want to know what you’re eating and sometimes you don’t,” Frank said. “But it will help a lot of people and people can also choose to ignore it. It ends up being their choice.”
Frank also pointed out that consumers already can access nutritional information for chain restaurants through brochures or restaurant Web sites.
“The nutritional information available hasn’t stemmed the current tide of obesity,” Frank said. “It’s already available to consumers. In that sense, people have to choose to pick up the brochure and they aren’t using it.”
Nicholas Ng, 25, said he doesn’t eat out a lot, but the law won’t make a difference to him with his fast food favorites like In-N-Out.
“If I’ve had it before and I know it’s good, I’ll probably order it again,” said Ng, a mechanical engineering major. “But I would think the law might discourage people from buying the food or giving their order a second guess.”
As a college lecturer, Frank understands that students still go to fast food restaurants because of their hectic schedules. She suggested they choose things like a small hamburger without fries, fresh fruit, grilled chicken sandwiches or salads with reduced calorie dressings.
“You can still go to a fast food restaurant and make a decent choice,” Frank said.
Kim Rosen-Kulp, an SF State dietetics student, supports the law and said raising a teenager and a small child made her see that early nutrition awareness is important.
“In high school, the big things are frappuccino and fast food,” Rosen-Kulp said, adding that such items are also popular with college students. “The earlier people make those healthy eating choices, the better it is in the long run for health and trying to control weight.”
The current elected president of SF State’s Associated Students, Inc., Isidro Armenta, has been deemed by his colleagues and the administration as ineligible and barred from office.
But Armenta is refusing to step down, and university police were called to the regularly scheduled ASI board meeting for the second week in a row.
“I am the duly elected student body president at San Francisco State University,” said Armenta in a written statement. “Unfortunately, SFSU President Corrigan and Vice President of Student Affairs, J.E. Saffold, have attempted to illegally end my term prematurely.”
At issue is whether Armenta has accrued more units than the 150 allowed under CSU Executive Order 969 to participate in student government.
Armenta contends that only units he earned from SF State should be considered. He wants 14 units from non-SF State classes to be exempt, which would make him eligible to remain student president.
Armenta’s seat is now filled by Claudia Mercado, previously the board’s vice president of internal affairs. As second in command, Mercado was automatically appointed to the office of president when the determination was made that Armenta was ineligible.
Wednesday’s meeting was called to order with both Armenta and Mercado yelling over each other to be heard.
“Ms. VP of Internal Affairs, You are out of order! I am the duly elected president,” Armenta said, raising his voice to be heard.
Mercado successfully motioned to close the public session for an undisclosed reason over Armenta’s objections. The audience was cleared and the board met behind closed doors for several minutes before all members filed out of the room, leaving Armenta in the room alone with two university police officers.
The officers were already in the audience before the meeting began, and one officer had spoken briefly with Armenta before the meeting was called to session.
Ultimately, the meeting was adjourned without addressing any agenda items. Several board members offered their apologies to the audience and expressed frustration toward the disruption.
Chris Oropeza, vice president of university affairs, said that several student groups were in the audience to request funding for letter-writing campaigns and bus transportation to rally against the proposed budget cuts to the California State University system.
“Because of all this,” Oropeza said, "that’s not happening.”
Joicy Serrano, ethnic studies representative for ASI, expressed similar frustrations.
“He’s interrupting a meeting that needs to happen to get student groups their funding,” Serrano said, adding that she felt Armenta’s motives were selfish.
But Armenta said the greater issue is student representation.
“When I started I spoke an oath to represent all students,” he said. “I intend to fulfill it.”
Armenta said he intends to continue attending meetings until his term is up in early May. He attributes the police presence to psychological intimidation.
“They want me to remove myself, but I’m not going to do it,” he said.
Armenta was prepared to be arrested on Wednesday. He said he had emptied his pockets of everything but his identification.
At last week’s ASI board meeting, Armenta attempted to participate as chair, but a university police officer was called to remove him.
“I did leave on my own volition, but I was forced,” he said. He considered the incident “an abuse of authority.”
Armenta received a letter on Feb. 20 from Saffold notifying him that he was no longer eligible to serve in student government as an undergraduate.
Saffold’s letter cited the CSU policy stating that undergraduates who have completed more than 150 units are not allowed to serve in student government.
According to Saffold’s letter, the University Registrar calculates Armenta’s cumulative unit total at 154 units earned and 18 units in progress.
Armenta sent a letter to Corrigan asking that he be exempt from the requirement. Corrigan responded by letter that he did not find any extraordinary circumstances that would allow him to waive the policy for Armenta.
Corrigan said he was “deeply disappointed” that Armenta would not be able to continue his service and called his leadership “impressive.” Ultimately, however, he stressed that he supported the intent of the policy.
“Students who have earned more than 150 credit hours must focus on graduating, rather than serving in student government,” Corrigan wrote.
Armenta was admitted to SF State as a first-time freshman in fall of 2003.
But Armenta said he is being unfairly penalized and some of the units he has accrued should not be counted toward the eligibility requirement.
Specifically, he takes exception to the inclusion of four units of credit from a student leadership seminar at CSU Monterey Bay’s Panetta Institute.
The week-long summer seminar, entitled Education for Leadership in Public Service, is offered by invitation to members of student government.
Those four units could make the difference between Armenta being able to complete his term and being escorted out of student government meetings by campus police.
Armenta had planned to run for president of the ASI Board of Directors again this semester.
Armenta also wants units from community college classes he took in high school to be exempt from his cumulative total.
He said he took the initiative to do the extra work even though it would not count toward his degree in business marketing.
“I didn’t know it would come back to kick me in the behind,” he said.
SF State hosted a teach-in Monday in McKenna Theatre as part of a sweeping, campus-wide movement to address the California State University’s ailing financial situation and gain support for an advocacy group dedicated to protecting the 23-campus, 417,000 student system.
The Budget Fight Back campaign kicked off two weeks ago and has received strong support from each campus it has visited. SF State was the 10th campus to hold the meeting and was attended by about 700 students, faculty and staff members. Every campus in the system is expected to hold a meeting.
The primary goal of the meetings is to gain support for the Alliance for the CSU, an advocacy coalition that will gather to lobby at the state capitol April 21 in a major effort to secure more funding from the state, which is grappling with a $14 billion deficit, and avert another 10 percent fee increase.
“These meetings are to accomplish three things,” said California Faculty Association president Lillian Taiz. “To explain the problem, to talk about how to get the message out and to launch the alliance and discuss how to take action.”
Taiz, an SF State alumna who teaches history at CSU Los Angeles, said it is crucial to gain as much support as possible for the CSU before the budget is finalized this summer. She said it is important to view the CSU as a solution to the state’s budget crisis.
“If people understand the problem, the magnitude of these cuts, they will see that any and everyone will suffer consequences if we can’t fund the CSU,” Taiz said. “This institution changes people’s lives, and we cannot sit around and wait until the last minute to get people to stand up.”
The teach-in panel was made up of SF State President Robert Corrigan, Board of Trustees Chair Roberta Achtenberg, CFA SF State Chapter President Ramon Castellblanch, Academic Senate President Jim Kohn, State Sen. Leland Yee, Associated Students, Inc. President Claudia Mercado and Russell Kilday-Hicks, who is president of the SF State chapter of the CSU employees union.
“As much as we have disagreed in the past, we all agree that the CSU should exist,” Kilday-Hicks said. “What we are talking about is Hoover versus FDR politics here. If we do not invest in education, we will be in a downward spiral forever.”
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a $386 million cut to the CSU system for the 2008-09 academic year, which translates to about $25 million in cuts to SF State alone. The consistent, yearly cuts have ravaged the system since 2003, the state’s last major budget crisis in which the CSU was slashed by more than half a billion dollars. The proposed budget assumes a 10 percent increase in student fees that would bring the fees to $3,048 per year—113 percent higher than they were in 2003.
“Why should CSU faculty, staff and students be asked to bear the brunt of the budget crisis?” Corrigan asked. “It’s unfair... A ten percent fee increase is raising taxes for students.”
According to Achtenberg, the CSU could shut down five of the system’s smallest campuses to absorb such a cost. If spread across the system, the cuts would mean course reductions, increased class sizes and longer times to graduate.
“These cuts will make it more difficult for you to become teachers, nurses, engineers and many other things for the state of California,” Achtenberg said. “These meetings are to bolster our case to the state of California when we go to finalize the budget.”
The cuts would also mean increased workload for faculty and staff and fewer support services including advising, career services and health services.
Castellblanch said the meetings were the first step in taking political action.
“We are an especially important campus in California,” Castellblanch said. “At SF State, we’re special in that we are one of the largest campuses and also have a long history of political action and a lot of minority students.”
ASI President Claudia Mercado, who identified herself as a student, Cal Grant recipient, part-time employee and first generation of college attendee from a family of immigrants, spoke of the large role CSU plays in the state of California.
“Together, our 23 campuses contribute about 89,000 people that lead California,” she said. “We are the backbone of the state’s way of life.”
Since January, concern has significantly increased beyond the initial budget-cut scare. The application deadline was moved up for SF State and most other CSU campuses to stem enrollment, which meant about 10,000 eligible students were not able to apply. The budget does not allow for spending on new students, either. In addition, there have also been drastic cuts to the state’s 72 districts of community colleges, making attending college more difficult for many Californians.
Jim Kohn, the Academic Senate president, said economic growth in California can be directly tied to education, and 83 percent of occupations require a college degree. The three Bay Area CSUs generate $120 million in tax revenue per year, and sustain about 29,000 jobs, according to a study conducted by the CSU.
“When I graduated from SF State in 1968, CSU was in the top five state agencies for state funding,” Kohn said. “Now, we’re in the bottom five. How can California stay on edge? The future of the state is tied to its ability to fund this system.”
Kohn pointed out the misplacement of civic priorities in the state budget by explaining the per capita spending on students versus prison inmates. The state spends about $43,000 per inmate per year to incarcerate, yet only allocates about $8,400 to educate a student at SF State.
According to an analytic study conducted by the CSU, degrees from SF State translate to approximately 13,000 jobs and generate about $53 million in tax revenue. Kohn said for every dollar invested in a college student, the state gets roughly $4 in returns, whereas investing in a prisoner returns nothing.
State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) said the CSU is significant as a means of economic sustainability.
“This society and state is identified by the way we prepare our children,” Yee said. “There is no point in having a government, a legislation or anything else, for that matter, if we are not preparing our children to lead it.”
Yee said the necessary action to strengthen the CSU budget on a long-term scale is to raise taxes, a move that has long been unpopular with Republican voters.
“People against tax increases need to understand this is not about business,” Yee said. “This is about our children, and our future, and answering the question of whether we will have a society in the years to come. We are not going to allow folks to skirt around this with no education and no way to deal with the growing problems in the world.”
It sits there and its dark green glossy leaves sway. White flowers, then berries, will sprout in the coming spring. This San Francisco city dweller, who lives in front of a Noe Valley restaurant on 24th Street, recently turned 27 thanks to a few human friends.
When the city cut funding to urban forestry in the late 1970s, a grassroots organization formed to fill in the gap. On March 7, 1981, the Friends of the Urban Forest planted their first tree, this glossy privet in Noe Valley.
Since the 25-year-old non-profit has only 11 full-time employees, it takes considerable help from volunteers and neighbors. Charlie Starbuck has been there since the beginning and was there again at a planting on March 1 near the University of San Francisco, planting 37 of the 1,500 trees FUF puts in the ground every year.
“It softens up the street,“ Starbuck said. “It’s a noise buffer and it gives you something to look at besides cars.”
Besides the aesthetic value, trees also pay us back. A December 2007 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service shows that San Francisco benefits to the tune of $103 million every year, most of it tied up in added property value.
The Bay Area’s nine counties rake in $5.1 billion each year from the region’s 42 million trees.
“Businesses flourish, people linger and shop longer, apartments and office space rent quicker, tenants stay longer, property value increase, new business and industry is attracted” by trees, the report said.
Yet there aren‘t enough of them. The USDA looked at the impact of a 30 percent population boom from 1984 to 2000 and found that while there was a 17 percent increase in impervious surfaces such as sidewalks and paving, trees increased by only 10 percent.
San Francisco ranks last next to all Bay Area counties in tree cover, with it’s approximately 900,000 trees accounting for a 16.1 percent canopy cover.
A city dweller most of his life, 49-year-old David Elhami recently decided he needed some green in his life. He’s enrolled in horticultural classes at City College of San Francisco with the ultimate goal of creating a small-scale organic urban farm.
As an intern at FUF, Elhami was there on the March 1 planting day, adding green to the urban landscape just around the corner from Cyndi’s Market at 2084 Hayes St. where, 10 years prior, store owner Tony Habash and his brother John had planted a row of 13 trees.
“Without the trees, it’s so barren in this city,” Elhami said. “They bring with them wildlife like birds and honey bees. It’s an important part of our ecosystem.”
In spring, the trees bloom and liven up the concrete sidewalk and provide a balance to a silver chain-link fence that borders the property. Every winter holiday season, Habash hangs lights there, a ritual his parents began when they still owned the convenience store.
What’s not to love in a tree trunk and some green leaves? A lot, according to some.
“They buckle sidewalks,” said Albert Wald, a neighbor who led a planting team for FUF but has heard the common complaints. “Some fruit trees leave a mess and people don’t want to deal with that.”
Tree planting efforts have been slowed in the Sunset and Chinatown because some in the Chinese communities there believe it affects the feng shui. The popular belief system says that having a tree in front of your doorstep could block the pathway of spirits, Wald said.
Years of community greening have taught FUF that new trees must not only fit in holes in the concrete but in the plans of urban dwellers. If residents say a planned tree blocks spirits, FUF will propose to move it a few feet away.
That’s partly why it can take up to a year between the initial planning and planting day.
The non-profit does the bulk of the preliminary work. It talks to landowners about tree species and placements, it gets permits from the city and gets SF Public Works crews to check for gas and electricity lines before cutting a hole in the concrete.
At USF, the tree plantings are seen as just one method of controlling the private school’s overall carbon footprint. The college is one of many schools across the country to monitor its effect on the environment—at SF State “green” student housing and energy-saving methods are all part of the physical master plan—but it is ahead of the curve in many ways, said Glenn Loomis, chair of the college’s sustainability committee.
Solar power collectors were installed on several rooftops to cut energy costs and a “very extensive” recycling program already diverts 67 percent of its waste, he said.
“It’s something that most responsible organizations are looking at, and it’s important because we work with students. We need to set the example,” Loomis said.
But as expenditures rise to combat the release of carbon dioxide or the climate warming trend, school administrators want to know exactly what effect “green” measures have. Loomis said the trees provide a good measuring stick. Every acre of trees creates enough oxygen for 18 people, and USF has 1,000 trees over seven acres.
“Although any single-tree benefit may be small,” the USDA report said, “the sum of benefits is significant when it comes to mitigating the environmental impacts that result from converting natural land cover to built environment.”
With the fifth year anniversary of the Iraq war on March 19, a new generation of war veterans are reaching out for a revolution. The latest club on campus, Our Veterans Club, formed from the concerned and proud few that have come back to the world of education after being in the U.S. Services.
“When I transferred here, I couldn’t believe that there had not been a club established yet,” said Anthony Zamora, 26, a political science major and the club’s first president. The members of the OVC felt it was time there was a veterans presence, he said.
Zamora, who served in the Army, has been working since early last semester to get the OVC club running and putting time into reaching the veterans that attend SF State.
“Right now we have about 15 active members, with a base of a couple hundred veterans on campus that actually know of us, but are unable to make meetings,” said Zamora.
One of the major developments that he and other supporters of the OVC have effected is the new priority registration date for veterans. The priority registration, which will start with summer classes in 2008, allow students who are veterans or members of the armed forces to register for classes on the first day of registration along with athletes and disabled students.
“I think the campus has made a very helpful move because they came together and made a priority registration date for veterans that have a DD-214, not just operation Iraqi freedom vets but veterans as a whole are included.”
Zamora said he thinks this is a great idea considering that the majority of veterans that are going to school are trying to get financial reimbursement from GI bills, which they can’t collect until they are registered in classes.
“Waiting for that has been a hardship on many veterans. I know myself I would not have any money until a few months into the semester.”
Zamora and other members of SF State worked to bring the OVC and all veterans on the SF State campus a welcoming atmosphere by creating a smoother transition to campus life.
“Three different administrative faulty members, Ernst Sorcoase, Sandi Fonsworth and Brain Gallegr, have been advisers and contributed to the OVC just out of their spare time. They have helped a lot,” said Zamora.
Before the OVC, vets received help from what is called the Veterans Corner in the admissions building.
One SF State employee, Sandi Fonsworth, handles all the veterans that apply to SF State
“Sandi is the benefits specialist for the Veterans Corner on campus. She helps to verify that students are veterans,” said Ernst Sorcoase, an undergraduate adviser.
Sorcoase said that priority registration had been discussed for a while and some campuses already provide it for their veterans. He felt it was time that SF State gave their veteran students the same benefits.
Although everyone has their own opinions on the Iraqi war, the veterans on campus want to help others by sharing their firsthand accounts of physically being in Iraq.
Zamora said his political science professor, John St.. Croix, has found veterans a positive presence in classes.
“He was able to relate his experiences as a solider in our class to current events and he had a really critical point of view, something I think was great for other students to hear,” he said.
St. Croix said that he is glad to hear there is a club for veterans because they are in need of a support system. “People who have served our country abroad have a lot of adjusting to do in society alone, add that to either going to school for the first time or going back to school, that’s a tough transition,” said St.. Croix.
Samuel Fitzer, 23, vice president of the OVC, came from the Marine Core and was surprised to hear that around 150 veterans went to SF State. “Most vets I meet don’t talk about going back to school, they talk about getting into the work force,” said Fitzer.
Fitzer said he was amazed that so many vets chose SF State because of San Francisco’s history of anti-war rallies.
“There’s not a lot of warmth or welcome for veterans when you think about SF state,” he said.
The OVC club is trying to change this viewpoint by hosting fundraisers, having outings like bowling and weekly meetings for the members and supporters to speak out on their daily lives and how to improve the school experience for veterans on the SF State campus.
For many, the club is a support system that no other service on campus seems to provide. For Fitzer, the OVC is a way to get the word out to students who don’t understand veterans of the Iraq war.
“We want to show San Francisco State there’s a new voice on campus,” said Fitzer. “Just because we served in the military it doesn’t make us animals, it doesn’t make us machines. We’re human beings just like everyone else.”
Since SF State has only one outlet for veterans to find help, the goal of the OVC is to do all the functions that the Veterans Corner is not providing.
“One of the goals the vets club has is to link other vets with benefits and services,” said Fitzer. “This is what you earned for your time in the service.”
San Francisco State University’s Department of Human Sexuality Studies has combined with the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality and the National Sexuality Resource Center to form the National Centers on Sexuality. The center had its grand opening to celebrate the move to the downtown college College of Extended Learning last Friday, March 14, 2008.
SF State is the only university in the nation with a graduate program for Human Sexuality Studies, focusing primarily on social justice issues.
“There is a lack of Sexuality studies in education,” said Gilbert Herdt, chair of Human Sexuality Studies department at SF State. “Our center is here to contribute to the understanding of different options to human sexuality.”
The center focuses on “advancing sexual literacy to strengthen individual and community well-being.” Each professor focuses on a different issue facing the community, issues they say are under-represented. A SF State student study, under the supervision of principal research investigator and professor Jessica Fields, was aimed on jailed women and HIV education.
This collaborative investigation focused on researchers, educators, and inmates working together to generate knowledge about women, sexuality and incarceration.
“We do this research to improve the quality of life for everyone,” said 22-year-old Christina Monroe, a student intern at the center. “If we do not hear the voices of the suffering how will we understand their needs?”
Although the center has provided the students with a plethora of resources as well as positioning them in an environment that is conducive to their learning environment, some students feel that the center may be be at a disadvatage because they do not have a presense on campus.
“We are dedicated to promoting sexual identity,” said Joy O’Donnell, director of outreach and partnerships. “Currently, sexual education is focused from a biological, abstinence-only perspective and we would like to bridge that gap by providing information from a social justice standpoint.”
Just days before the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, hundreds of people packed the Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco to commemorate both American and Iraqi victims of the war and condemn the continued occupation.
Speakers at the March 16 event included Cindy Sheehan, Code Pink activists, former government officials, an Iraq War veteran and protesters from the Vietnam War era. The event culminated in a peace vigil outside of the Veteran’s Memorial on Van Ness Avenue.
“We are literally bleeding ourselves to death economically and spiritually,” said Ying Lee of the Watada Support Committee. The organization is named for Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned official of the U.S. Army who, due to moral objections, refused orders to deploy to Iraq in 2006.
Podcast produced by Kresta Rae Kaulupali, staff producer
Lee said the current anti-war movement is “scattered, divisive, unformed” and needs to be better organized in order to gain strength to be truly effective.
Nihar Bhatt, 30, of Students Against War, agreed.
“At the base level we need to bring more activists into the movement. There is a lot more anti-war sentiment than what is expressed in the movement as it exists,” he said.
Joe Wheeler of Veterans Against the Iraq War, who served as a surgical assistant in Iraq in 2003, said an impulsive reaction under the pressure of official orders drives American soldiers in Iraq to kill civilians.
“It’s a ‘fight or flight’ response,” he said, recalling the experience of driving into an urban area while being ordered to fire his M16, an order he refused to follow.
“Your body reacts,” Wheeler said. “Your mind doesn’t.”
Daniel Ellsberg recalled similar situations in the Vietnam War in which American soldiers were torn by an intense moral dilemma when ordered to kill innocent civilians.
Ellsberg was an official in the defense and state departments in the 1960s who played a significant role in shifting public opinion regarding the Vietnam War. As a RAND Corporation analyst, he released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971. The documents were a classified analysis of the war commissioned by then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
Bhatt made the point that there is a mutual importance of the anti-war movement and its support of former soldiers speaking out against the war.
“Veterans bring their experiences from the front line,” he said.
Bill Simpich of Iraq Moratorium argued that the $2.8 trillion used to fund the Iraq war is an extreme misuse of the nation’s resources.
“This money needs to be used to fund human needs,” he said.
State Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) agreed, saying that universal health care for Americans “could have been paid for five times over” with the money funneled into the war.
Former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and current independent vice presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez condemned the “imperial” motivations for the war. He emphasized the continuing effort of the war is the result of a failure on many fronts—on the part of the nation’s elected officials, the mass media that has failed to accurately portray the war to the American people and the anti-war movement which is still inadequately mobilized.
Beyond its immense economic and human toll, the war is fundamentally immoral, he argued.
“It was wrong from the very beginning,” Gonzalez said.
In addition, he said that any Democratic politician who initially supported the decision to go to war or backed the Patriot Act would fail a “progressive litmus test” and cannot be trusted.
The participation of young voters in the upcoming election represents hope, and will be the “magic bullet” that could cause a positive new direction for American policy, Migden said.
“That is what we’re going to build on to end the war and set the policy straight,” she said.
The anti-war movement is crucial to countering the possibility of U.S. military aggression expanding throughout the region, said Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com.
“The longer we stay in Iraq, the closer we are to a war with Iran,” he said. “We must act now to prevent that scenario from playing out.”
Both liberal and conservative politicians are to blame for the ongoing occupation, Raimondo said.
“The enemy is in Washington,” he said. “Our choices are few—protest or passivity in the face of evil.”
Sheehan, a congressional candidate for Speaker of the House, concluded the event by reflecting on her personal loss. She told the story of her son who was killed in Sadr City, a mission forced upon him against his will.
“Today I have one dead son,” she said to a silent hall, using a tissue to dry a tear. “When your child is killed in a war, they always say ‘Your child volunteered. Your child was a hero,’” she said. “What makes him a hero if he was ordered to kill innocent Iraqis?”
Sheehan further acknowledged the Americans and Iraqis who lost their lives in the war and the politicians who put them there.
“It’s bullshit that we’re not impeaching,” she said.
A Code Pink member recited the names of deceased Americans and Iraqis through an amplifier while each attendee was given a rose and encouraged to join in a peaceful march to the Veteran’s Memorial.
The crowd marched down Van Ness Avenue, interrupting the flow of traffic and shouting, “Five years too many!” as cars blared their horns and police followed. Nobody was arrested.
When the congregation reached the Veteran’s Memorial, each person placed their flower in the crevices of the building to honor the dead.
“Put your roses down in whatever prayerful or meditative way that you want to,” said Sheehan, who led the march.
An acoustic guitarist joined the crowd, strumming songs against war.
“Where have all the soldiers gone?” he sung. “Gone to graveyards, everyone.”
“You are the new America,” said K.W. Lee, in front of 137 participants and volunteers at SF State’s Seven Hills Conference Room.
The award-winning investigative journalist was the keynote speaker at Challenging the Myth: Uniting Community on March 15.
The event, comprised of different workshops, dealt with the different issues in the Asian American community. The workshops tackled issues like the criminalization of sexually exploited Asian American minors and incarcerated Asian American men and women, to deportation among Southeast Asian Americans.
Lee, the first Asian immigrant to have worked for a mainstream daily, did an investigative piece on Chol Soo Lee that helped proved that he was wrongfully accused after being imprisoned for 25 years.
“The government enforces harsh laws like the ‘3 Strikes You’re Out’ law, which makes it difficult for wrongfully convicted felons to reenter the community,” Chol Soo Lee said.
Both K.W. Lee and Chol Soo Lee were in the event to share their experience.
“They really put themselves out there,” Asian American studies lecturer Loan Dao said of the former incarcerated men and women that spoke that day. “I commend them for their courage for really making themselves vulnerable to the audience and sharing their personal stories.”
Dao said that the silencing of the Asian American issues is one of the biggest problems in the Asian American community, and that the event brought up these issues.
The event started with a panel discussion and question and answer period on the different issues. Participants were then given different one-hour workshops that they could attend.
Mike Kinoshita and Sujung Kim from the SF Public Defenders Office led a workshop regarding reentry challenges for API prisoners coming out of prison. As public defenders, Kinoshita and Kim discussed the difficulties of placing formerly incarcerated community members into programs that best fit their language capacity.
“If you’re constant with [them], you’ll see that they want to learn,” said Peter Kim, coordinator for Streetside Productions and managing director for East Bay Asian Youth Centerworks, which deals with high-risk youths involved with crime. “We challenge youth to dig deep and record issues in their lives.”
Elizabeth Sy of Banteay Srei, an East Oakland-based organization that works with young women and girls aged 14-19 that are at risk or are being sexually exploited, held a workshop where she asked participants to write on a piece of paper if they know anyone who is in the sex work business. The paper was then crumpled and thrown into the middle of the room and then redistributed randomly, to provide anonymity, to the participants to be read.
Around four “yes” answers were produced in a room of about 20 participants. According to Sy, pimps and sex traffickers target young Southeast Asian Americans because they are in high demand in the sex work arena.
“It’s really surprising that there are a lot of cases like this [sex work] in the U.S., because I only hear about this stuff in other countries,” said SF State student Ricialg Paniaqui. Paniaqui participated in the workshop by Banteay Srei.
A special screening of "Sentenced Home," a documentary on Cambodian deportation was presented. Activist and coordinator of “Sentenced Home” Outreach Project, Many Uch, a former street gangster and deportable non-citizen answered questions regarding detention and deportation on local, state and national levels.
SF State health education major, Chantha Tina Sar, 24, hopes to gain a greater grasp on what’s happening with the Southeast Asian communities in terms of incarceration and criminalization of youth.
“I’m considering graduate school,” Sar said. “I desire to work with Southeast Asian immigrants, so this entire conference is very inspiring.”
A power outage at Parkmerced has left 1,293 customers without electricity since 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night, PG&E confirmed.
Power is expected to be restored at 9:51 p.m. to the high rise flats and townhouses, a PG&E representative said. The towers at 310 and 350 Arballo Dr. and 405 Serrano Dr. have been without power.
PG&E is currently working to find the power, but still do not know the root of the problem.
Jack Frohlich, a resident of 310 Arballo Dr., walked to a nearby market with his son Arthur to purchase candles. Frohlich, who lives on the 12th floor, said there were only emergency lights on three of the 12 floors as he traveled down the stairwell to exit the tower.
"How are we supposed to go out," he said. Adding, "that's really dangerous."
Residents on the third floor of the 310 Arballo Dr. tower took advantage of the outage, and held a flashlight dance party and played a rousing game of flashlight tag with a resident in the neighboring tower.
"We taught ourselves [Morse code] tonight," Carli Alman, a 21-year-old exchange from Australia, said. "At least we like to think we [did]."
Alman's roomate, freshman Ali Gold, was finishing her laundry when the power went out.
"It's been in there for two hours," Gold said.
Several protests are planned tomorrow for the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War in San Francisco. Protesters will be at several intersections throughout the day. Drivers may want to avoid the downtown area all day.
-Direct Action to Stop the War will hold a protest starting at Market & Sansome. They will be heading towards Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Post Street and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Golden Gate Avenue. The protest begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends around 5:00 p.m.
-Around noon, San Francisco's MoveOn Council will host a vigil at Market & Powell.
-At 3:45 p.m., the Chinese Progressive Association will gather at Grant Avenue and march to the United Nations Plaza.
-Act Now to Stop the War and End Racism group will hold a rally at Civic Center Plaza at 5 p.m.
-Muni says there might be some delays with throughout the day with bus lines 22, 33, 48, 53.
Sources: SFMTA and San Francisco Chronicle
Over 700 SF State faculty and staff members sat alongside students Monday afternoon in McKenna Theatre to listen as faculty union representatives, state Sen. Leland Yee, Associated Student President Claudia Mercado and SF State President Robert A. Corrigan addressed the proposed budget cuts that the California State University faces.
“The current budget crisis presents a great threat to our future,” said Corrigan as he addressed the standing-room only crowd. “We have an opportunity and the obligation to send a message to our state legislature.”
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a $312.9 million cut to the CSU budget in an effort to cope with an estimated $14 billion deficit in the state budget.
According to Corrigan, SF State is anticipated to fall $25 million short in its annual budget.
“This is a horrible budget year,” said Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association. “If California residents understand what they’re going to lose, then I believe they’ll step up and support the CSU.”
Corrigan spoke to several reporters outside the Creative Arts building prior to the event, where he addressed the issue of students and faculty members suffering the most from the proposed cuts.
“The government says no tax increases, but the students fee increase is a tax increase for all students,” he said.
To cope with the budget crisis, student fees are predicted to increase 10 percent, he said, adding that cutting the budget of California’s largest university system would have dire consequences for the state economy.
“Our state’s future depends on CSU funding,” Corrigan said.
Each campus in the CSU system is scheduled a “budget teach-in” event, similar to the one that was held at McKenna Theatre on Monday.
“People have been extraordinarily receptive,” said Taiz. “Students, more than anybody, know that fees have doubled, classes have been cut and those that remain are overloaded.”
Sitting in a group near the front of the theater, the New Front Coalition, a student activist group, sported orange arm bands and engaged in sporadic chants of "Students first! Support the students!” as they presented a document encouraging administrators to allocate funding for a student trip to Sacramento to lobby state legislators.
A commitment to fund a student trip to Sacramento was not signed by administrators onstage, citing that financial commitments must be worked through a “democratic process.”
“The CFA is looking forward to working with students,” said Ramon Castellblanch, president of the CFA Chapter at SF State. “But we must vote at an executive board meeting…we have to get any funding approved by the board.”
Jessica Aguilar, a member of the New Front Coalition who attended the event, expressed her frustration over the lack of support by faculty leaders.
“It's easy to say they support our cause,” she said after the event. “But for us to be successful they actually need to do something to support us."
California state Sen. Leland Yee encouraged students to take action to prevent the proposed cuts to the CSU budget.
“Throughout history, it has been young people like you who have stood up for what is right,” he said. “It is time to stand against the cuts and the next generation getting anything less than they deserve.”
A question posed to the onstage panel brought up budget cuts within the College of Ethnic Studies. Kenneth Montero, the dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, came to the front of the theater to address the crowd.
“All colleges are taking their fair share of cuts, but as a smaller college at SF State, budget cutbacks are more apparent within the College of Ethnic Studies,” he said. “It’s not accurate to say the cuts to ethnic studies are disproportional.”
Mercado, the current ASI president, also addressed the crowd and cited her personal experience as a symbol of what the CSU means to the state.
“I have worked two jobs throughout college to keep my parents' dream of raising educated children alive,” she said. “The proposed budget cuts would ruin the dream that is California.”
“Change” was the word of the hour at the Associated Students, Inc. debate at Malcolm X Plaza on March 17.
ASI launched its election week by giving the candidates the public space to discuss the budget, on-campus events and why students should vote in their favor. The debate was met with applause from former ASI officers, but little response from the scattered crowd of students.
“Musical chairs is not change,” said presidential candidate Anthony “Muscle Up” Zamora of opponent Natalie Nicole Franklin. He was referring to the shuffling of ASI officers from one position to another rather than electing an outside person.
She said her experience on the ASI Board of Directors as the junior representative and vice chair of the finance and internal affairs committee proved her level of commitment.
Franklin encouraged students to be more involved on campus because it is “essential to fully obtaining the college experience.” If she were elected, her goal would be to organize a free concert on campus that would feature established musicians.
The presidential candidates were divided in their beliefs of where the ASI money flow should go.
“You want to spend a lot of time and money on this concert,” said Zamora. “This is where ASI has gone wrong; not using money to green the campus. Concerts should be left to the student organizations.”
Zamora’s argument was that ASI spends too much time and money on trivial matters. He proposed three pertinent topics: an audit of ASI budgetary spending, improving student-to-student communication and environmental sustainability on campus.
Franklin rebutted, claiming that ASI’s purpose is to give students what they want.
“If I were to walk up to 50 students and ask them if they’d like to see a concert [on campus] I doubt that all or any of them would say no,” she said. She went on to say that ASI is already greening the campus by having an organic farmers market every Thursday.
Aside from Franklin and Zamora, other candidates included Raul Amaya and Obiamaka Eke who argued their merit for VP of Internal Affairs. Extra time allotted for candidates Kenneth Ma (VP of External Affairs), Gordo and Graham Litchman (Senior Representative) to give brief statements.
There were 11 additional candidates (not including the unofficial “write-in” candidates) who did not make an appearance on stage, including Gray Lange, the third candidate running for president.
Of 15 students surveyed at Malcolm X Plaza at the time, 12 said they were not paying attention to the debate.
“I didn’t even know it was happening,” said Kristen Torres, 18, a fashion design major. “There wasn’t much publicity.”
Torres was selling baked goods at the Lambda Theta Alpha table adjacent to the stage with two other sorority sisters.
“We’re undergrad freshman and live on campus,” said Yesenia Martinez, 18, an international business major. “So it’s a surprise we didn’t know.”
The lack of attendance could be attributed to timeliness. During the time of the debate, President Robert A. Corrigan held a town hall meeting about the budget cuts in McKenna Theatre.
But Graham Litchman, an ASI Senior Representative candidate, said that timeliness was not the only factor. Instead, the problem arose from the student body’s apathy toward ASI elections—an observation that has proven true in the past with low voter turnout.
“Historically, no one has voted,” Litchman said. “Last year less than 2,000 [students] voted, and there are roughly 30,000 on campus.”
Litchman admitted there should have been more marketing for the debate.
“It’s sad only four people spoke today and that our students are largely disconnected,” he said. “They don’t know that students in ASI can actually make a difference.”
Students who cannot make it to the voting booths on campus can vote online.
Thirty-five years ago, Korean immigrant Chol Soo Lee was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 21 for a murder he did not commit. While jailed, he killed an inmate, claiming self defense and was then sentenced to death.
He spent nearly ten years in prison, four of those on death row, before one of the first Asian American movements organized to successfully fight for his exoneration. Now, Lee wants an apology from the city of San Francisco for his false incarceration.
On March 14, in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Seven Hills Conference Center on campus, Chol Soo Lee, California State Assemblyman Warren Furutani, reporter K.W. Lee and several other speakers revisited the 1970s movement that led to his acquittal.
The event, titled “Remembering a Movement: The Free Chol Soo Lee Movement 25 Years Later,” was moderated by associate professor of Asian American Studies, Grace Yoo.
Topics in the two-part event ranged from racism, inadequacies in the criminal justice system, the need for ethnic studies and civil rights advocacy, and the role SF State students played in mobilizing the Pan Asian American movement to Free Chol Soo Lee.
Asian students of different ethnicities united in a said unprecedented show of support for a man wrongly convicted by the courts.
“Everybody got involved. It was just the thing to do,” said Mike Suzuki, head of the Los Angeles Public Defenders Office, of the movement. “We rallied behind one man. We all heard and believed [he was innocent] because of the stories by K.W. Lee. I looked just like Chol Soo back then so it could have been me.”
K.W. Lee, one of the first Asian reporters to cover the Civil Rights Movement, investigated Chol Sol’s case for six months, writing over 120 stories that disclosed evidence of his innocence. His published findings led to the formation of the Chol Soo Lee Defense Committee, a grassroots organization of students, lawyers, church members and ordinary people that raised more than $40 million for Lee’s defense and eventual bail.
Many of the speakers were once students involved in the movement, prompted to organize by a series of articles written by then-Sacramento Union reporter K.W. Lee.
Oakland School Board President, David Kakishiba was 19 when he got involved with the defense committee. “My thing was I wanted to be a revolutionary,” he said.
Several Asian Studies classes were required to attend the symposium, including Asian-American studies Professor Doug Kim’s two courses.
“I think the implications it has for us as a minority and Asians is very important and also as many people said, ‘If you don’t know you’re history, you don’t have a sense of identity,” Kim said, explaining why he made attendance mandatory for his students. “More importantly, if you don’t know about past injustices, you don’t recognize them when they’re reenacted.”
Lee spoke about an African American man currently incarcerated for 28 years also for a crime he did not commit.
Speakers stressed that if it could happen to Lee, it could happen to anyone.
“This is not an Asian issue. It’s not a Korean issue. It’s a human issue,” K.W. Lee said in a video shown of the case.
In 1973, Lee was found guilty of the first-degree murder of Yip Yee Tak, a gang member gunned down during the day in front of hundreds of witnesses while waiting for a light to change in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Six white tourists described the killer as an Asian male, 5’7 to 5’10, 145 to 160 pounds. Three pointed to the 5’2, 120 pound Lee in a line-up.
“Their testimony conflicted,” former San Francisco Superior Court judge Susan Lew said. “ ‘He had a mustache, he didn’t have a mustache’ - Basically they were just looking for an Asian male and Chol Soo being an immigrant was caught up in this net.”
A gun went off in Lee’s Chinatown apartment the night before the killing, prompting his initial arrest. Ballistic tests later wrongly cited this weapon as the one used in the murder.
But there were other discrepancies in the Chinatown murder investigation that led to Lee’s wrongful incarceration.
“Years later we found out that the prosecutor wrongly withheld explicatory evidence, evidence that would have shown that Chol Soo was not responsible for the crime because there was another eye witness [Steven Morris] who showed that” Lee was not there, Lew said during the panel’s question-and-answer period.
There were 16 unsolved, gang-related murders in Chinatown at the time, placing tremendous political pressure on then-mayor Joseph Alioto to find the killer, speakers said.
Chol Soo Lee, who could barely spell or speak English, and who had a criminal record—was on probation for attempted theft when he was arrested for murder - was an easy target for police, speakers said.
“If you’re in the legal system and you can’t afford a good attorney, then you’re probably not going to get good justice,” Furutani said.
While incarcerated at the Deuel Vocational Institute, Lee killed white supremacist, Morrison Needham, claiming self-defense. For this offense, he was sentenced to death.
If not for the mobilization of countless Asian Americans, he would have been executed as an innocent man, Lew said. “It took this entire community of people to free an innocent man from death row.”
Assimilating back into society did not come easy to Lee, however. He turned to drugs as an escape from being institutionalized for so long, he said. “Perhaps my life could have been different, much more positive, but eventually I found myself,” said Lee, who’s been sober now for 14 years.
Now 55, Lee is currently recording his memoirs which will include an account of his experience in the criminal justice system. “I feel the will to come back into the community. I want to live in a society where we can inspire and grow and fight against all injustices in humanity,” he said.
Lee said he is currently seeking a re-examination of his case. “I do not seek any money but … I’m still seeking an apology for that murder I did not commit 35 years ago in San Francisco.”
“You wanna pie me now?” 21-year old Phi Sigma Sigma member Kaitlin Martinez asked one of her friends.
Along the lawn near Malcolm X Plaza, the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority was celebrating Pi Day its own way, namely with a game of pie-throwing that was aptly christened “Pie a Phi.”
Pi Day, celebrated for the first time by physicist Larry Shaw at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988, is an international holiday during which math aficionados and others around the world celebrate pi--Greek letter “π” and symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi Day is celebrated every March 14th due to pi being roughly equal to 3.14.
A Phi sister was standing behind a wooden plate with only one hole, just big enough to allow her to stick out her head, wearing a ski mask, as a volunteer threw a pie at her to celebrate Pi Day.
A small crowd gathered around the stand, clapping, cheering and laughing whenever a Phi was hit in the face with one of the whipped cream pies. “It would be a lot more hefty if it was a real pie!” Martinez said with a laugh.
But more than just a game, for the sorority it is a good way to have fun while serving a good cause. All the proceeds for the sales of the pies ($2 each) will go to the National Kidney Foundation.
On the other side of campus, in the elevator lobby on the ninth floor of Thornton Hall, the Mathematistas, a group of women pursuing master’s degrees in mathematics at SF State, were also celebrating Pi Day. But this time without pie-throwing and the pies are the real deal, too: apple, cherry and a cheesecake.
Founded in the fall of 2007 by 29-year-old Amanda Ruiz, who is herself working on a master’s in math, the Mathematistas decided at the last minute to organize this get-together.
The occasion is a chance for them to not only celebrate Pi Day, a “big nerd day” according to 24-year-old Mathematista Jupei Hsiao, but also to sell their t-shirts and display their work in the form of three big posters, all of which were shown at the sectional meeting of the Mathematics Association of America.
All proceeds for the sales of t-shirts will go into bringing speakers to the mathematics department to give students tips that will help them in their future careers.
For the Mathematistas and students that stoped by, grabbing a slice of pie on their way back from or to a class, Pi Day was mostly a good reason to hang out, have fun, discuss mathematics and take a well deserved break from classes.
Mathematista Jennifer Lopez, 22, author of one of the posters that is on display on one of the lobby walls, was pleased to see students interested in Pi Day.
Especially since the Mathematistas also have, on the table next to their pies, a “Got a Stupid Math Question?” box, where students can anonymously drop a question. The Mathematistas will then answer these queries during one of their seminars, the next taking place after Spring Break. One of the goals of the association is to share resources and help each other through the mathematics program.
Plate in hand, eating a slice of pie, was 20-year-old physics major Russell Lego, who came to enjoy pie and celebrate pi.
“I love both” he said with a smile. “We can take time out from our busy life, get together and celebrate something that we all use,” he explained.
Mathematistas treasurer Kristen Freeman, 23, was glad to see that a lot of schools are slowly getting into celebrating Pi Day. To her, math is a pretty dry subject, so Pi Day was a good way to help get kids interested in it, she said.
Managing to grab one of the last slices of pie, 39-year-old math major Arash Farahmand was on hand to celebrate mathematics as well. The sweatshirt that he wore sums up the whole event pretty well: “Mathematics is as easy as Pi,” it read. Judging by the unanimously contented smiles, math seems as good as pie, too.
For more info about Pi Day visit Pi Day’s official Web site.
Larry Lessig, a professor of law at Stanford University, announced that he would not run for congress because while he was relatively unknown, Jackie Speier’s approval ratings were higher than of either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
Another opponent, Mike Maloney, wrote on his Web site, “I feel very strongly that we should call off the special election of April 8 to replace the late Tom Lantos, and concede the seat to the princess Ms. Jackie Speier.”
If her opponents’ predictions are right, Jackie Speier will become SF State’s next representative in Congress. After all, she’s running for the 12th congressional district, an area that stretches from San Francisco’s Sunset district to Redwood City and encompasses SF State.
Assistant professor of Political Science, Graeme Boushey, said, “The reason we should care about the type of person who represents us is that this person will be in a position to direct government spending towards the district, and to benefit the residents of this district.”
“And obviously, the type of person you elect to office be they liberal or conservative will have different priorities with the type of projects that they support and what they ask the federal government to include in terms of spending to the district,” Boushey said.
Boushey added that whoever wins the special election would have less power to secure funding for the district than the late Tom Lantos did because he or she will not have his seniority.
Students got a chance to find out about Jackie Speier and about her political views on March 12, when she made a campaign stop at our campus.
So who is Jackie Speier?
The short answer is that Karen Jacqueline (Jackie) Speier, 57, is a politician with a degree in law. Between 1980 and 1986, she was a supervisor and then chair of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. She worked on the state assembly for nine years (1987-1996), and she was a state senator for eight more years (1998-1996).
The long answer is that Speier was born in San Francisco, to a truck driver and a seamstress. After studying at UC Davis and at UC Hastings College of Law, she worked as a legal counsel for Congressman Leo Ryan, who represented the 11th Congressional district.
In 1978, an event occurred that prompted Speier to go into a career of public service.
Speier and Ryan had flown out to Guyana in South America to investigate what was going on in a religious commune called Jonestown. During their stay, they learned that people were being kept against their will and that they wanted to leave.
While transporting truckloads of people from Jonestown to an airport, Leo Ryan and Speier were shot. Ryan was killed. Speier was shot five times.
Speier had to wait twenty hours before she got medical help.
“I was twenty-eight years old and I thought of my God this is it,” Speier recalled.
“I told myself that if I survived I would never take another day for granted, that I would live every day as fully as possible, and that I would dedicate my life to public service.”
She flew back to America and spent two months in a hospital, getting surgeries.
Shortly thereafter, Speier ran for congressman’s Ryan’s seat. She lost, but did not give up.
The following year, she ran to be the supervisor of San Mateo County and won.
Six years later, she took a loan against her home in order to run for state assembly. She won by less than 400 votes.
Ten years later, in 1996 when her term in office was nearing its end, she ran for state senate. Then she got pregnant. Since her pregnancy was considered high risk, she withdrew her bid for statewide office. Two weeks later, her husband was killed in an automobile accident.
Remembering that time, Speier said, “So all of a sudden then, I was a single parent, a widow, I was pregnant with our second child, and I was termed out of the state legislature, and had a life experience, that frankly wouldn’t recommend.”
For the next two years, she worked at Electronic Arts as the vice president of a department called the Governmental and Community Affairs.
In 1998, she ran for state senate, won, and served for eight years. In 2006, she ran for lieutenant governor, but lost.
Now, 30 years after Speier ran for congress the first time, she is doing it again.
So that is who Speier is as a person, but what about her politics?
Speier is a democrat.
When it comes to education, Speier said that higher education should be free, but since that was not possible now, she wanted to expand need-based aid.
“I think what we need to do is look at more grant problems, expanding what we call the Cal-Grant program, so it’s not just a loan — it’s actually a grant for qualified students,” Speier said.
Speier said that she is running for congress because she wants stop the war on Iraq, create universal health care, increase consumer protection, and protect the environment.
On the topic of war, Speier said, “I believe we need someone representing this district who is going to go to Washington DC and be someone who votes for ending the war in Iraq now. Not in two years, not in a hundred years, but right now, and bring our men and women home immediately — in a responsible fashion, but immediately.”
She also said that she wanted to make sure that returning veterans had access to health care, which included mental health benefits.
When a student asked her to explain how troop withdrawal can be both immediate and responsible, she replied, “When you say immediate you think of plane-loads of people leaving on the same hour at the same day, and it physically can’t happen. People discuss how many weeks, how many months. I think they will come out in waves.”
Speier believes it will take time and resources to exit Iraq properly.
“It’s not a simple process. I’ve been told that if you look at the equipment there right now, there’s a hundred billion dollars worth of repairs to be made to that very equipment before you can even bring it home, so that’s what I mean. I don’t think you can just abandon and leave it. There are assets that are very important.”
Another student asked her if she would give more money to the military.
Speier said, “For the men and women that are there, I want them to be safe while they’re there, but I want them to start coming home. So will I vote on all expenditures? No. Will I vote on a measured expenditure for what they are doing right now as they start to come home and a reduced amount over the next eighteen months- yes.”
On the home front, Speier wanted to reform health care by creating a single payer system similar to Medicare or Medicaid.
“Now some people say ‘single payer system - I don’t know’. But think about it. A single payer system is alive, and well, and tested in America. There’s a single payer system in Medicare and a single payer system in Medicaid. And by the way, those two systems have an administrative cost of 3 to 5 percent. Do you know what the administrative costs are on health plans? About 25 percent. So for every premium dollar, 25 cents is not going to health care, it’s going to the administration of the system, the system that tries to deny you healthcare- a bureaucrat who tells you can’t have this procedure, even though your doctor has ordered it, even thought the person who is denying it, isn’t authorized or a medical professional. So that’s one of the things I want to see fixed.”
Speier said her third reason for running was to continue to work on consumer protection.
Senators Speier and John Burton spearheaded SB1. Essentially, this bill requires banks and other financial institutions in California to obtain their customers’ permission before sharing or selling their financial information. In 2003, Gov. Gray Davis signed the bill into law; however, it might still face some opposition on the federal level.
Speier said her fourth goal was to make the “Environmental Protection Agency protect the planet rather than the polluter.” This was a critique of EPA’s recent ruling against California’s bid to set its own fuel emissions standards.
Regarding the corrections department, Speier said she wanted prisoners with drug problems to be able go to rehab.
After the event, students took pictures with Speier. One student asked her to sign a campaign poster, which she did.
Mary Watts, 20, a political science major said, “[Jackie Speier] seems like a real person who is different than a lot of candidates. I felt like she was answering very honestly in how she really feels, whether we agreed with it or not, most of which I did, so I guess that was good.”
Hali Richardson bit into a slice of a bright orange mandarin in front of the Twin Girls Farms citrus stall at the Associated Student's Inc.'s first ever all-organic farmer's market Thursday morning.
"It's really good," said Richardson. 20, as she stood in front of four vendors selling potatoes, vegetable greens and citrus fruits organically grown from farms in Northern California.
The market, located in between the Humanities building and Cafe Rosso will continue every Thursday from 11 a.m to 3 p.m until the end of the semester.
Richardson, an undeclared student, said it was an easy walk from the Village apartments where she lives on campus.
"It's easier for me just to walk right over. It's nice to have more stuff here," Richardson said, explaining that she used to have to ride her bicycle or rely on her brother to take her to Trader Joe's or other grocery stores.
Elizabeth Catalan of the Catalan Family Farms woke up at 5 a.m to drive two-and-a-half hours from Hollister to set up her vegetable stall SF State.
"There's a lot of people here," said Catalan, who also helps to plant, grow, pick and harvest the produce on her family's farm. "We will come back."
Krupa Kothari, freshman representative for ASI arrived before the market began to support the event as a board member. She bought some butter lettuce and planned to buy oranges before heading to work later in the day.
"I think it's a great success. I was a little worried because it was dreary looking, but the sun's out and students are coming out of classes and realizing there's fresh produce for them," said Kothari, 19, a marketing major .
JoAnna Sablan, 24, said she was happy to come to the market since she usually goes to farmer's markets in Redwood City. The biology major plans to sauté the leeks, kale and cabbage she purchased together for a healthy dish.
"It's awesome. I definitely plan to come back," Sablan said.
Sablan said she wished the market offered more items. ASI officials said they plan to expand and hope to bring in an organic bread vendor.
"It would be nice to see more produce,” said Sablan. "But I found everything I wanted. It's a good start."
Process of how the market was created
Strawberries, potatoes and citrus fruits freshly grown from local fields will come to SF State Thursday at Associated Students Inc.’s first ever All-Organic Farmer’s Market.
The college can select fresh produce such as green garlic, kale, chard and tree fruits from four local Northern California vendors from 11 a.m to 3 p.m at the walkway located between the Humanities building and Cafe Rosso.
“Everyone needs to eat and we need more healthy food options on campus,” said Jeremy Nicoloff, the 31-year-old ASI graduate student representative who came up with the idea for the market over a year ago last May.
For the time being, the market will assemble every Thursday until the end of the semester, but Nicoloff said his goal is to make it a regular ASI-sponsored event.
The first 100 students to buy at least $3 of produce today at the market will receive a free canvas bag touting the ASI/SFSU farmer’s market logo. Nine hundred more canvas bags will be given away to students voting in ASI elections.
SF State student Neely Shamam, 22, welcomes the healthy options the farmer’s market will provide.
“I see a lot of grease and sour cream on campus and the vegetables aren’t fresh,” said Shamam, a cinema major. “I would go for sure.”
To ensure the market’s future success, Nicoloff wanted it to be as profitable for vendors as it is convenient and low cost for students.
While vendors are often charged a fee to set up stalls at other markets, the student union waived all fees for its event. That decision, Nicoloff said, “will leverage prices down as much as possible and will allow them to lower their product prices for students.”
Vendors also have exclusive rights to what they sell, which means that only one vendor can sell one product. The student union felt it was important to foster a non-competitive environment not only among vendors at the farmer’s market, but with permanent vendors as well, meaning that vendors cannot sell foods already being sold on campus.
“The more successful vendors are, the more they want to stay. I want it to be successful for them here as it is at the Ferry Building,” Nicoloff said.
Sepee Cigarchi, 20, visits a Pleasanton farmer’s market on the weekend. She said she wished that fresh produce was available when she lived at SF State.
“It’s good for people who live on campus or close by, because when I used to live here, getting to a grocery store was hard,” said Cigarchi, a psychology major. “If I had an option of getting fresh fruit from the farmer’s market, or getting a salad from the salad bar in the student center I would get the fruit.”
Nicoloff said he hopes to bring in an organic bread vendor, in addition to more produce vendors. He said that there will never be music at the market because of its proximity to classrooms.
Aside from the benefits the market brings to the SF State community, the environment also benefits from the market in a number of ways, Nicoloff said. It cuts down on fuel consumption because products are brought in locally and students don’t have to drive to get produce. The market also lessens the amount of waste because vendors don’t have to package their products.
“It’s a way for ASI to promote green living and promote health on campus as well as community building,” he said.
More than 50,000 SF State students and faculty members have received fraudulent e-mails as part of a scam in which recipients are asked to respond with personal information to e-mails appearing to be from university administrators.
A mass e-mail sent on March 3, titled “UPGRADE YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNT,” was sent to “undisclosed recipients” from “firstname.lastname@example.org. Then on March 7, another e-mail was sent with the subject as “Accounts Review,” this time from “email@example.com.” Both e-mails asked recipients for personal information, including student identification numbers, passwords, date of birth and country or territory. The March 3rd e-mail, which had a reply-to address as firstname.lastname@example.org, began:
“Dear Sfsu.edu Email Account Owner....”
Although the e-mails sent had “sfsu.edu” domains, a specific source of the messages could not be identified.
Along with a message warning students of the threat posed by the scam, a cautionary e-mail has been sent to all students by the SF State division of information technology encouraging recipients to send questionable e-mails to email@example.com.
Beyond issuing a warning, the division had no further comment on the specific source. The computer science department was briefed on the scam.
“We know they came from compromised accounts on the Yahoo European domains,” said Mig Hoffman, information security officer for SF State.
But a search of the Internet protocol number turned up an e-mail address issued by a technology company based in Nigeria. A person who answered the phone number listed with the address did not comment on the suspect e-mails.
A representative from Afrinic, the database provider for the alleged source of the e-mails, confirmed that scams originating out of public databases are common.
Hoffman said the attacks that have targeted the school have been appearing in waves, with new subject lines and messages appearing in each new set of e-mails.
“Many of the e-mails were harvested off social networking sites and public Web sites where staff, faculty or students may post or otherwise display their e-mail for personal or professional reasons,” she said. “Conservatively, we can probably say about 50,000 [SF State e-mail addresses] were or are targets based upon the information we have.”
The number of students and faculty who responded to the e-mails could not be determined, but several students on campus expressed their concern over them.
“Oh great,” said one student, a pre-nursing major, who asked not to be identified because she responded to the e-mail with personal information. “I had no idea those e-mails were part of a scam....they just looked so real because they were addressed from SF State.”
Another pre-nursing student, Jenelt Sarette, knew from previous experience that the e-mail asking for personal information was fraudulent.
“Why would they ask for personal information like that?” she said. “I’ve received so many similar e-mails, that I just assumed it was fake.”
“I initially considered responding because the e-mail looked legit,” said Jason Mitchell, an international relations major, as he brought up the e-mail in question on his iPhone.
“It’s definitely unsettling to see e-mails asking for personal information appearing in my e-mail box that I reserve for school,” he added.
The recent Internet scam that has targeted SF State is one of several that have appeared in the in-boxes of university students and employees across the nation.
Hoffman said communities with a large online activity, such as universities and major corporations, are prime targets for Internet hackers — such as the current “phishing” scam that has targeted SF State — wishing to obtain the personal information of others.
“Phishing” is a computer hacking technique used to obtain confidential and sensitive information through the Internet by posing as a trustworthy and recognizable source.
“It has been hitting academic centers recently very hard because of their large population using social networking tools that in turn offer perpetrators easy information so that they can target subjects en masse,” Hoffman said.
“Currently the majority of these attacks are coming from abroad,” Hoffman said. “Although it is not necessarily true that the hackers physically reside in or are necessarily from those countries.”
The Federal Trade Commission advises Internet users to never send personal or financial information through e-mail and to update anti-virus and anti-spyware software regularly.
The fraudulent e-mails come as SF State is in the process of improving its Web template and re-designing the university Web site.
A sample of the fraudulent email can be viewed at http://www.sfsu.edu/%7Edoit/phishing/.
Low voter turnout usually dogs student government elections at SF State, but it’s a shortage of candidates that may define next week’s election.
Half of all class and college representative seats are vacant, meaning that no candidates are running for those eight seats.
“Those seats are vacant— that’s just the way it is,” said Horace Montgomery, acting as Associated Students Inc.’s direct supervisor of the election commissioner. He said the ballots have been finalized and created.
At this point, vacancies could be filled by write-in candidates. In the event that no eligible write-ins surface, the seats would be filled by appointment of the ASI governing board or left vacant.
It is not uncommon for seats to have vacancies, Montgomery said. But he’s never known there to be so many for a given election.
“During the last election, five people were running for [College of] Science and Engineering representative,” Montgomery said. “This year we have one.”
Of the 16 official candidates in next week’s election, eight are running unopposed.
“I’m really taken aback that there’s so little participation,” said Chris Oropeza, ASI vice president of university affairs. “If Associated Students is claiming that they represent the student body, they can’t really do it with a quorum of six.”
Oropeza ends his term this semester, but he will draft what he called a “transition letter” to incoming board members and will strongly recommend appointees be found for vacant seats as soon as possible.
He is particularly concerned that graduate and senior class representative positions are vacant. In the past, Oropeza said, these seats have been especially valuable to the board because older students tend to bring a broader experience to the table.
Election organizers hope to address low voter turnout with a Web-based voting system, newly implemented for next week’s election. Students will have all-hour access to vote during the week of March 17 through 21 at https://eballot3.votenet.com/sfsu.
But solving the problem of low candidate participation might be more complex. Oropeza noted that the current board lost some authority because members didn’t show up for regular meetings with SF State President Robert A. Corrigan.
He stressed the importance of new board members not making the same mistake.
“It’s about having some accountability,” Oropeza said. “If you sign up for this, you have to represent.”
SF State students pay $42 a semester in fees to support student government.
ASI’s operating budget for 2007-08 was over $3 million. In part, that money funds student organizations, scholarships, administration of the student health plan and numerous programs, projects and resource centers.
A performance by Israeli reggae group Hatikvah 6 set the tone for a bake sale benefitting SF State’s new Jewish sorority in Malcolm X Plaza on Monday.
Since October, the founders of the Lambda Chi Mu sorority have been holding socials with the nationally recognized Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi and sisterhood events with its eight members. They officially became a Greek organization in February.
Dona Standel, the sorority’s vice president and one of its original founders, said this recognition is an important step for the small Jewish community on campus.
“It’s influential,” the 20-year-old said. “It acts as an outlet [and gives students] another way to be proud of their background.”
It has already been “quite a semester” for the university’s Jewish students, sorority president Gabrielle Yedid said. Just two weeks ago, it was announced that the Jewish studies program received a $3.75 million grant to become a full department.
“This gives Jewish studies a bigger name and more recognition on campus,” Standel said.
To create the name Lambda Chi Mu, the founders extracted the consonant sounds from the Hebrew word “L’chiam,” meaning “to life.” According to Standel, the name represents the Jewish values upon which the sorority was founded, including family, friendship, sisterhood, leadership, empowerment, and acceptance.
In the spirit of acceptance, the sorority welcomes non-Jewish pledges too.
“The Judaism [aspect] of the sorority is only a flavor, it’s not a basis,” Standel said. “There are important Jewish values that are important to life, so why not celebrate it?”
Several of the girls met through Hillel, a Jewish center off Holloway Avenue and a “home away from home” for Jewish college students. The center provided the sorority with its initial funding and keeps them involved within the Jewish community through volunteer projects and co-sponsored events.
Laura Beth David, an SF State freshman and member of Lambda Chi Mu, is a legacy of the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority at USC through her mother.
“My mom always talked about how much fun [the sorority] was,” said David, who was in charge of planning the first rush week last month. “She still keeps in touch with her sorority sisters.”
In many ways, Lambda Chi Mu is just like a typical sorority; they plan sisterhood events, pay dues, volunteer around the community and hold weekly chapter meetings at the Hillel house. They’re also involved in philanthropy through Shalom Bayit, a nonprofit Jewish women’s organization working to stop domestic violence in the Bay Area.
However, as the founding class of a local organization, the sorority is free from the constrict of national guidelines and is able to build a foundation based on input from all members.
“No one was there telling us ‘if you’re trying to be Greek, this is what you should do,’” said secretary Leah Shapiro, 22.
In order to become a recognized sorority, the girls had to plan various inter-Greek socials, philanthropy events and sisterhood activities and present a photo slideshow to the SF State Fraternity Sorority Council along with a letter detailing their chapter’s commitment to the Greek community on campus. According to Standel, their proposal received an almost unanimous vote of approval from the FSC.
“The process was very competitive,” Standel said, “but we’re a unique organization.”
“These girls are taking a courageous step, starting from scratch,” said Jason Sitomer, 21, an SF State student and member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, whose chapter at SF State was founded in 2000.
Lambda Chi Mu held their first rush, a three-day event to recruit new members, during the last week of February. Each night featured a different theme—spa night, a Chinese dinner, and a Spice Girls-themed party in which the members got to know the prospective pledges. Of the 12 girls who participated, eight accepted their bids to join the sorority.
According to Yedid, rush turned out even better than she’d expected. “I was ecstatic,” Yedid, 20, said. Each night, “We were able to meet the girls and connect with them on different levels.”
The new girls will participate in a new member pledge period for at least the next two weeks.
Clutched to every bolted-down chunk of campus property, locked-up bicycles have become a familiar sight at SF State.
Sure, it violates state law and risks a $55 fine, according to SF State Parking and Traffic. But students like senior Carleigh Rochon said they don't have time to seek out a rack or check their bike into the Bike Barn, the supervised parking service.
"It takes too long," said the rushed psychology major after locking her bike to a lamp post. "There are a couple of bike rules that I break. They can enforce it...but they don't."
Next semester, however, students can use one of the 100 secure bicycle racks planned for installation around campus -- the first part of a long-term plan to improve the appeal of bike commuting at SF State. Project members will decide on specific rack locations later this month, said Jason Porth, associate director of community relations.
Currently, 81 outdoor bicycle racks exist at SF State -- one space for every 370 students, according to a 2007 study by student bike activist Adam Greenfield and school enrollment data.
A $12,000 grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District will pay for the additional 100 racks, Porth said.
"Plenty of secure bicycle parking can really encourage people to ride bikes," said David Takemoto-Weerts, bicycle program coordinator at bike-friendly UC Davis. "It's a relatively easy and inexpensive thing to improve."
While the campus's Bike Barn offers free, secure bike parking under the gym during school hours, "fast, quick racks" around campus can address the needs of students in a rush, said Rachel Kraai of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
Many riders break the rule and lock up to the abundant railings at SF State, but the resulting bicycle clutter can cause building access problems for the disabled, Kraai said.
Riding bicycles through SF State is also illegal -- last semester, 24 riders received tickets for riding on campus or improperly locking their bikes, said university spokeswoman Ellen Griffin.
Through meetings of the so-called "Bicycle Working Group," an unofficial gathering of SF State police, cyclists, school and transit officials, Porth and other members concluded that the "U-rack" style would be the most bike-friendly choice. The upside-down "U" provides two points of contact at which to lock a frame, Porth said.
Racks like the "wavy" type emphasize form over function, appearing beautiful but providing only one point of contact for locking bikes, Takemoto-Weerts said.
"All you see are the bikes anyway," Takemoto-Weerts said of more utilitarian racks.
Also a member of the Bicycle Working Group, BECA graduate student Adam Greenfield worked last February on a petition that helped bring the new racks to SF State. Greenfield said it was important to study where cyclists locked up, regardless of racks, and build the new racks there.
"It seemed, to me, pretty clear where the bikes needed to go," he said. "Let's facilitate that."
Bicycle commuting in San Francisco has become more popular in recent years, with 5 percent of city residents saying they use a bicycle as their primary transportation, according to a 2007 research poll made available through the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Those rates tend to be higher on college campuses, said Kraai of the Coalition.
"College campuses are traditional bastions of bicycle culture," said Kraai, who has worked on SF State cycling issues since 2006.
As SF State increases its residential population, planners expect students to take short campus trips by bicycle, further increasing the need for bike parking, Porth said.
Other plans include the construction of a cross-campus bike path in the next two years and a bicycle repair facility in the new Behavioral and Social Sciences building in seven to eight years, according to Porth and the campus's long-term Master Plan.
"For a campus so committed to social justice, we view [improvements to cycling] as an imperative," Porth said.
A brand new marquee was lit on Wednesday night at the Castro Theatre with the help of the restoration company Neon Lights.
The crew and the Nasser family who own the theater waited anxiously to see the newly improved lights that glow at night in the Castro.
At 7:03 p.m., cheers and applause resound as color shines from the six story. Some in the crowd call out, “C-A-S-T-R-O,” then yelled out, “CASTRO!”
The restoration of the Castro Theatre marquee happened because of the recent autobiographical film production about former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, which is set to conclude filming in the following weeks.
“I am happy with how beautiful it turned [out],” said Paul Scofield, the supervisor of the restoration painting. “It meant a lot to me to work on it because it is a[n] icon of the city.”
The Nasser Brothers, who were theater enterprisers, built the Castro Theatre in 1922. It was not until July of 2001 when the Nasser Family once again took operation of the famous San Francisco landmark. The Castro Theatre is host to many film festivals throughout the year and seats about 1,500 people.
“Being apart of the gay community, I have loved this theater,” said Shawna Peterson, 40, neon light bender and personnel to the restoration. “I feel like I have put my handy work […] that goes beyond the name of the theater.”
Bill Logen, the Castro Theatre producer and coordinator said the theater was looking “shabby.”
“It was an opportunity we could not pass up.” In addition, Logen said with money given to the restoration from both the film company and the Nasser, the restoration costs were $85,000.
Libby Cahill who works with Neon Works helped shape the neon lights for the Castro Theater marquee. She said that many of the people involved in restoring the sign were thrilled in working to restore a historical and significant landmark in the country.
Cahill’s cousin, Beth Bellizzi, also contracted for the restoration removed the former layers of the marquee until the original patterns were found and said of the experience was similar to, “unveiling archaeology.”
“I hope the people of San Francisco continue to understand the importance of the grand movie theater and keeps the tradition going,” Scofield.
After losing a cat during the holidays in 2007, Theresa Jear decided to take her other feline, Sasha, to the San Francisco Animal Care and Control to get implanted with a microchip.
“I can’t bear to lose another cat,” she said. “My cats are my children.”
The identification microchips, which are about the size of a grain of rice, are a helpful way of identifying a pet if they get lost, according to Friends of San Francisco Animal Care and Control.
When a pet is found by the SFACC, employees run a scanner over the pet to look up the identification, said SFACC president Jane Tobin.
“We scan the pet to look up the identification that is inside the microchip and call up the owner to let them know their pet is here,” she said.
Owners register their pets’ ID online in case the pet runs away to a different town. If a pet is not from San Francisco, the SFACC can look up the animal’s owners on national databases from online sites including petlink.com, said Tobin.
There are a few safety precautions that go with microchipping a pet. “The chip can fall out if it is not injected into the pet properly,” Tobin said.
“And some pets can be allergic to the chip, but other than that — there’s no harm in microchip IDs.”
If a natural disaster hit San Francisco, it would be easier to find pets if they were microchipped, according to Deb Campbell, outreach coordinator for SFACC.
“I’ve noticed more people getting their pets microchipped since Katrina hit New Orleans,” Campbell said. “A lot of people lost their pets after it happened and many people never saw their pets again.”
According to Hurricane Katrina Relief, over 600,000 pets were lost due to the natural disaster.
“I am sure most pet owners do not want their pets to be killed if an earthquake struck San Francisco,” Campbell said.
Microchipping pets has been around for nearly a decade, veterinarian John Steinon said as he was injecting a microchip, but he has noticed more people bringing in their pets into clinics to get it done.
“Microchip technology for pets isn’t new but the trend is growing these days,” Steinon said.
SFACC put together a free microchipping event on Feb. 10, during which more than 65 animals were implanted with chips. After UCLA student Jennifer Chan took her new puppy, Skyler, to get microchipped, she was pleased to find how quick the procedure was.
“It was so fast!” Chan said, “Skyler didn’t even notice she was getting the shot done.”
If pets could get microchipping done, Chan wondered if humans would get microchipped in the future.
“It would be kind of cool to see humans get these microchip IDS on their necks,” said Chan.
“Just kidding, that would be creepy.”
A power outage took place today at 12:10 p.m. affecting the Parkmerced apartments surrounding SF State, PG&E confirmed.
Power returned to the area around 2:40 p.m.
Parkmerced officials at the time said they were unaware of the exact extent of that outage but that it is widespread and assessed the situation.
Rose Tamayo, 20, a Parkmerced resident and SF State student said she was getting ready for her first day as a volunteer at Laguna Honda Hospital.
"I was going to fix my hair with a straightening iron, but since the power is out I couldn't do that," Tamayo, a kinesiology major said as she walked quickly on Holloway Avenue towards the Muni.
Nearly four years ago, SF State’s Queer Alliance petitioned for unisex bathrooms, and the student center governing board is planning to finally incorporate them into the Cesar Chavez Student Center this year.
Last August, the student board explored the possibilities of hosting the "gender-neutral" bathrooms after a former board member, Amrah Salomon-Johnson, picked up on the concern more than a year ago.
“I know that she had friends within the transgender community,” said Guy Dalpe, who has been managing director of the student governing board since 1990.
“The issue got a really good response. The board was very interested with what the possibilities were,” he said.
Several years ago the Queer Alliance petitioned for unisex bathrooms and managed to have one installed in almost every building on campus. Vi Le, a former Queer Alliance member who has served as vice president, treasurer and secretary of the student group, described the value of the restrooms for the student body.
“It’s important because sometimes we get strange looks,” Le said. “I look like a female, and I get strange looks in the guys' bathroom. You don’t want to feel like that, and you just want to hold it for the rest of the day.”
The unisex restrooms can be used by anyone. The bathrooms are single stalled, with a sign showing male and female symbols, and are equipped with a lock on the door to ensure more privacy.
Brennan Byrnes, a freshman, described using similar bathrooms for the first time at a Whole Foods in Walnut Creek. Byrnes said the experience opened his eyes.
“I thought it was cool,” said Byrnes. “It allows women with babies to use the bathroom with more frequency.”
Byrnes also said the unisex bathrooms have never been an issue for him and wondered why society has men’s and women’s bathrooms to begin with.
Students hoping to use the restrooms in the lower conference level of the student center will be mildly affected if renovations are launched when they are planned — sometime later this year.
“We’ll try to do it during an intersession like a June, July, August period,” Dalpe said. “We’ll probably take one of the restrooms out of service, leave the other one in service while we do one, and then flip them.”
According to Dalpe, renovations in the student center are off to a slow start.
“We were in the middle of other major projects we were trying to complete, like the west plaza,” he said.
Of the locations considered, the architectural firm looked at the terrace level, the lower conference level, and the plaza in the student center.
After much scrutiny, the architect decided the lower conference level was the best location for the bathrooms because it had the most available space and was the most cost effective, Dalpe said. The existing restrooms will receive a makeover, too.
“We’re renovating the restrooms anyway so we’re going to incorporate gender-neutral restrooms,” Dalpe said.
To view a map regarding the locations of the unisex bathrooms online, take a look at SF State’s interactive map at http://www.sfsu.edu/~sfsumap/.
An Iraq war veteran and an Iraqi journalist spoke in opposition to the war at a Campus Antiwar Network event today. The meeting drew about 60 people concerned about the war, including activists from UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley.
After serving in Baghdad from 2003 to 2004, 25-year-old Michael Blake decided to file “conscientious objector” status. “What this means," he said, "is that you no longer believe that war is a reasonable means to an end, and that organized violence from beings to other human beings is not a sensible way to solve problems."
Blake has since joined Iraq Veterans Against the War, deciding to travel across America to actively speak out against the war.
IVAW advocates withdrawal of occupying forces in Iraq, reparations to Iraq and full benefits, adequate health care (including mental health) and other support for returning servicemen and women, according to the group, which currently consists of about 700 veterans.
Blake said that American occupation of Iraq is strategic for American military domination of the region. “We are using Iraq to project power throughout the Middle East,” he said.
Although he believes that American troop withdrawal is the most logical course of action at this point, he does not see it as a likely possibility in the future. He foresees that American forces will only intensify their efforts and “expand to encompass other oil-rich countries in the region.”
The war goes against the best interest of both Iraqi and American people, Blake said, and in actuality only benefiting a very select group of corporate “war profiteers.”
“These guys are getting filthy stinking rich off this war while everyone else is suffering. From their perspective, the war is going very well,” he said.
Blake, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, explained that the trauma of war has severe psychological tolls on soldiers. “It starts to screw with your sense of reality after a while,” he said, adding that veterans often resort to suicide. He expressed that there should be better facilities and programs for taking care of veterans once they return home to America. The Veteran’s Affairs program is very inadequate, he said, and returning home and facing the challenges of adjusting to daily life is when soldiers need the most support.
“The ultimate irony is that they say 'support the troops'…but [they do] not support the veterans,” he said.
In addition to being underfunded, he said, the VA has a process too complex for returning soldiers who are still in shock from the intensity of war. “These guys aren’t really in any condition to go through an intricate web of paperwork,” he said.
Salam Talib, an Iraqi journalist who spoke at the event, said Iraqi civilians must endure daily violence under military occupation.
He said that there is a huge communication barrier between the American military and the Iraqi population, because there is no common language and there are very few translators. This contributes to senseless brutality and violence that goes against the interest of the Iraqi people, he said.
Talib has lived in Baghdad for about 17 years and has written about the war in The Nation, Common Dreams and Antiwar.com. He has also spoken on free speech radio and helped protect journalists in Iraq and works with non-profit organizations to help disabled Iraqi civilians.
Blake agreed that excessive use of violence is often accepted as standard procedure against the Iraqi civilians. "The killing of innocent civilians is policy," he said. "It's unit policy and it's Army policy. It's not official policy, but it's what's happens on the ground everyday. It's what unit commanders individually encourage."
The systematic dehumanization of the Iraqi people taught to American soldiers is the main cause of these horrible atrocities, Blake said. “What they breathe into is that Iraqis are not people,” he said. “When you dehumanize them, you can do whatever you want to them.”
Talib condemned the manner in which innocent Iraqi citizens are deprived of their rights, harshly interrogated and imprisoned by the American military. “The Americans have expanded the prisons and jailed people on an arbitrary basis,” Talib said.
“There are over 50,000 people in jail. They have no right to a trial, and no right to have someone visit,” Talib said.
Blake said that his talks are often met with a range of reactions, depending on where he is speaking. He said that sometimes his talks “piss people off,” especially if his criticisms of the war do not correspond to their own beliefs.
Nihar Bhatt, 30, of the nationwide Students Against War organization, said that said that it is important to have an open discussion about the reality of the Iraq war, which is almost always misrepresented by American media.
“The anti-war movement helps,” agreed Blake, “but it is not nearly strong enough on any campus,” he said.
Blake agreed that the American public is both misled and underinformed about the war. “There is so much information and lies [about the war],” Blake said.
Anti-war movements are important because they give veterans like Blake support and an opportunity for their voices to be heard, he said. “Veterans are not going to step out on their own without an anti-war movement,” said Bhatt.
About 80 students against the fee hikes rallied support for their cause to fully fund the California State University system and roll back student fees, holding an afternoon event in the quad to inform others about the continuing budget cuts to the CSU.
One of the several lecturers in danger of losing his job, Larry Salomon of the ethnic studies department, said one-third of the courses in the fall could be cut. “This is a crisis time. There is an emergency,” Salomon said.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a $312.9 million cut in January to the CSU budget that had been approved by the CSU Board of Trustees. For the next year, the cuts would deny enrollment for some 10,000 students and deny $36 million in mandatory costs including employee health benefits, and compensation agreements for CSU faculty and staff, according to the CSU press release on the decision.
“The money can be found,” said Deborah A. Gerson, a lecturer in the department of social science and labor studies. Students at the rally walked around the quad twice and headed toward the Administration building chanting “No cuts, no fees.”
The rally was organized after the grim news of the cuts, and in February, students began meetings to discuss the California budget crisis, the CSU budget cuts and the resulting effects on the SF State campus.
Following the decision by Schwarzenegger, the Stop the Fees group argued at a teach-in that imbalanced taxation and compromised priorities have brought California’s higher public education system into its current dilemma of the privatization of education, said Ed J.R. Arimboanga, one of the teach-in speakers and organizers.
Arimboanga is also an SF State student who participated in the April 26 walkouts in 2007 against the fee increases. “People see that something needs to be done,” he said.
The sentiment behind the organization is aimed at the CSU’s cuts in the schools and the financial impact of the Iraq war on the federal budget.
The Stop the Fees group is developing their effort alongside the New Coalition Front in support of their concern for the fate of the ethnic studies department, which plans to bear a heavy burden of the budget cuts. Subsequently, the 40th anniversary of the 1968 strikes that led to the development of the ethnic studies department received its fair share of allusions in the discussions regarding action.
Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the College Opportunity and Affordability Act, aimed at helping to address these continuing issues students face. The Senate passed a similar bill and consolidations of the two await President George W. Bush, who released statements in opposition of the bill. If it is signed into law, future students may receive the needed support. However, for now the issue remains.
Staff writer Sarah Morris contributed to this report.
The Supreme Court of California heard final oral arguments of the constitutionality of San Francisco’s same-sex marriages on March 4, culminating four years of divisive legal battles in the trial and appellate courts.
The city of San Francisco, along with 23 couples and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, are challenging California law in four lawsuits after 4,000 same-sex marriages granted at San Francisco City Hall were nullified. The plaintiffs collectively asked the court to decide: “Does California’s ban on same-sex marriage violate the state constitution by denying equal protection of the laws on the basis of sexual orientation?”
“Yes,” said San Francisco Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart. She headlined the four plaintiffs in the opening argument, which included attorneys Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Michael Maroko, and Waukeen McCoy. Stewart compared the terminology of domestic partnerships as opposed to marriage to the Brown v. Board of Education era—public schools as opposed to colored person schools.
“Words matter, names matter,” Stewart said. “Changing the word ‘marriage’ [for same-sex couples] is like that. Using the term ‘domestic partnership’ is not equal to marriage.”
Stewart used the precedent of Perez v. Sharp, a 1948 case brought to the California Supreme Court to decide upon the constitutionality of banning interracial marriages. The court ruled in favor of interracial marriage claiming that a ban would violate the Fourteenth Amendment.
The defendants, who included the state of California, disagreed with using Perez v. Sharp as precedent, claiming it was a case based on eradicating racial discrimination and white supremacy. Plus, the institution of marriage as being between a man and a woman remained the same, the defense argued.
“The definition of marriage has proved itself through time,” said Deputy Attorney General Christopher Krueger, representing the state. “This decision should be made through the legislative process so the people can decide.”
Justice Joyce Kennard told Krueger that parts of the definition of marriage—which used to include incest, polygamy and the ownership of women—had significantly changed over time. She also told Krueger the question of same-sex marriage had been proposed on the ballot in California twice, in 2005 and 2007. In both instances, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed bills in favor of same-sex marriage, arguing that the courts should decide the issue and citing Proposition 22, the 2000 measure that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.
“What is your argument?” she asked. “To put it through again?”
The justices levied a slew of difficult questions at Kruger, with Justice Marvin Baxter asking him if he believed in the statute of “separate but equal.” Justice Carlos Moreno weighed in, asking if he was suggesting California’s Constitution had less power than federal law. And Justice Kathyrn Werdagar wondered to Kruger if there was a “constitutional recognition” where marriage was explicitly defined as between a man and a woman. Kruger replied “no” to each question.
The defense also included attorneys Kenneth C. Mennemeier, who represented Gov. Schwarzenegger, Glen Lavy of the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Mathew D. Staver of the Campaign for California Families. They argued that domestic partnerships offered the necessary legal rights for same-sex couples and that Proposition 22 speaks for itself.
The court has 90 days to deliberate and issue a verdict. Both parties said they’re optimistic about the outcome.
The auditorium downstairs from the courtroom contained a packed audience of same-sex couples, journalists, interested parties and those who filed amicus briefs in support of same-sex marriage. A circus of protestors, supporters, plaintiffs and defendants commingled at the courtroom’s entrance at McAllister and Hyde streets. Some supporters brought wedding bouquets and heart-shaped stickers, a sharp contrast to their opposition who bore bold face signs that read “Homosexuality is Sin,” “Re-criminalize Sodomy” and “Gay = Pervert.” A red van decorated with cardboard cutouts of the cross, the American flag and anti-same-sex sentiments drove in circles around the courthouse block. By mid-day, proponents of same-sex marriage elbowed their way into the crowd with signs that read “Stop Using Jesus to Promote Hatred.”
“Remember what Jesus said about homosexuality?” asked Rev. Lindi Ramsden, executive director of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry from Sacramento.
“Oh yea, nothing!” replied Attorney Eric Alan Isaacson. “The symbolism of the statute denying two same-sex people the ability to marry is like saying some people’s love is less than others, that some people’s love is unsanctified.”
Ramsden and Isaacson represented two of the 400 amicus briefs that were filed by legal groups and religious and civil rights organizations. They discussed the underlying issue of the defense’s religious convictions that same-sex marriage is unholy.
“We are quite frankly saddened to see the Catholic Church here saying ‘no, no, no,” Ramsden said. “If you look at Spain, a nation that’s almost completely Catholic, [same-sex marriage] is allowed. Other countries have realized it’ll do no good to deny citizens of their rights.”
Ramsden, a lesbian, has performed marriage ceremonies in her church since becoming a reverend.
“I’ve been signing marriage licenses for 20 years, yet I can’t sign my own,” she said. “What’s the point of having the right to marriage if you can’t marry the person you love?”
SF State student and Queer Alliance member Ayana Walker, 19, said another issue facing the gay community is the portrayal of homosexuality in the media.
“It’s like homophobia is the new racism,” Walker said. “Like we’re subhuman.”
Walker, along with two other Queer Alliance members, Amber Rivard, 20, and Vanessa Gioso, 19, agreed that with young people, it’s also an issue of education.
“Some people feel like they’re not ready for it yet,” Gioso said. “And education is part of it. Homophobia is based on an irrational fear, and irrational fear comes from a lack of knowledge and understanding. If people were educated about it, it wouldn’t be as common.”
SF State faculty and lecturers are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst in response to proposed budget cuts to the California State University system.
Just before the start of the spring 2008 semester, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a $312.9 million reduction in the CSU system’s budget in response to a $14 billion statewide budget deficit.
The proposed cuts will result in denied admissions to 10,000 prospective students statewide as well as reduced health benefits and compensation for CSU faculty and staff, according to a press release issued by the CSU office of public affairs.
“We recognize this is a difficult budget year, but these cuts will impact student access to the California State University because we will not be able to admit all the students who are qualified,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed in a statement.
The CSU budget for the next academic year will not be finalized by the state legislature until sometime this summer, but SF State’s department deans and faculty chairs are scrambling to prepare for the fall semester if Schwarzenegger’s proposal becomes reality.
As e-mails circulate to non-tenured instructors warning that their jobs cannot be guaranteed for the fall and faculty meetings focus on decreased class sections and increased workload for professors, some have characterized the situation as “grim.”
If Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget is approved, SF State could see 10 to 30 percent reductions in class offerings and slashed funding for lecturers.
Frustrations are already high among students who have been burdened with a 9 percent fee increase since the beginning of the academic year. In addition to threats of more fee hikes, students now face the possibility of finding their graduation goals further away than planned if required classes are cut.
But the CSU system is not a new target for offsetting statewide financial problems and many see the current crisis as part of a continuing political trend.
“There’s been an attitude of ‘let’s cut taxes’ without consideration of what that means,” said Carlos Davidson, SF State’s program director for environmental studies. “The people of California have to understand that if we want access to higher education, we have to start paying taxes to support it. That’s what makes public education possible.”
Financial situations vary significantly by department, but there is little indication that any area would escape impact. Some of the largest departments with the most students could be hardest hit.
“We created a bare bones schedule for fall ’08,” said Kathleen Mosier, chair of SF State’s psychology department. “We will have very limited lecturer funding and so our course offerings will be severely curtailed unless additional money is allocated.”
With approximately 1,650 students, psychology is SF State’s second largest major.
Mosier foresees potential cuts of 25 to 30 sections from the psychology department’s class schedule and has warned all part-time lecturers that there is no guarantee they will have jobs in the department when fall comes.
But making it through the fall semester is just the first hurdle.
“I’m thinking about the long-term picture,” Mosier said. “If the student population stays the same size and our resources are not restored and increased, it will have very damaging effects.”
She said she sees the root of the problem as lack of political will.
“The state legislature doesn’t seem to understand the consequences of cutting educational funding so severely,” Mosier said. “Each campus will limp along with minimal resources and none of us will be able to do the high quality teaching we want to do.”
Kathy Skillicorn has been lecturing in the broadcast and electronic communication arts department at SF State for the last four years.
She has been told by her department chair that while everything possible will be done to save her job and the jobs of other non-tenured staff, there are no guarantees that the department will be able to employ her in the fall.
“Lecturers are the lowest on the totem pole, and that means we’re the first to go,” she said. “That’s just the way it is.”
While she admits she would have preferred better news, she said the level of candor and openness in communications between administration and staff has made a hard situation easier to accept and gives her an opportunity to formulate a “plan B.”
For Skillicorn, that could include looking for a position at a junior college, returning to her previous work in social research or even switching sides of the lectern and going back to school for a doctoral degree.
The current situation serves to underscore what she has known all along—lecturing holds little job security.
“It’s not sustainable,” she said. “It’s very hard to live on a lecturer’s salary. But given that, it’s a great job. It’s just not something you get to do without supplemental income.”
Still, Skillicorn would prefer to remain at SF State. She said she hopes for the best for herself, her colleagues and her students, but sees the proposed budget cuts as a bad sign.
“It’s a disservice to students,” she said. “It’s a disservice across the board. And sadly, it’s an indication that education isn’t valued.”
The president of SF State’s chapter of the California Faculty Association, Ramón Castellblanch, stresses that the budget numbers the university is reacting to are tentative.
“There is no definite number as to what our budget will be next year. And what that number is will depend in some part on how we at San Francisco State get active in the state political process,” said Castellblanch, also an assistant professor of health education at SF State.
The CFA is organizing an event to educate the community about the importance of CSUs and lobby for funding. That is scheduled to take place on March 17 from noon to 2 p.m. in McKenna Theatre.
SF State President Robert A. Corrigan, state Sen. Leland Yee and others will be speaking.
Castellblanch said the faculty union and President Corrigan have been working closely together to form a strategy to fight the budget cuts. He noted that this is a complete reversal from last year when tensions between Corrigan and the union ran high during the threat of a faculty strike.
He described the budget process as “a dance” where funding is taken away, then various programs and institutions compete to get portions of their budget restored.
Castellblanch said that in his political experience, the 10 to 20 percent who lobby legislature most actively get some level of funding back while the other 80 percent “get clobbered.”
“We don’t have to just passively accept these cuts,” he said. “We can still protect the CSU and the vital role it plays in California.”
SF State students don’t have to look far for help this income tax season. In fact, they don’t even have to leave campus. A visit to the H and J trailers behind Hensill Hall puts students in touch with volunteers who will prepare income tax statements in about an hour.
And the best part is, for low income individuals, tax help is completely free.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance is a nationwide program sponsored by the IRS. Beta Alpha Psi, the student accounting and finance organization at SF State, with help from the Accounting Student Organization and other certified volunteers, will run the program six days a week until April 15, the income tax filing deadline.
“Filling your taxes is just like doing your homework. You shouldn’t wait until the last minute,” said Donald Tai, VITA site co-manager and Beta Alpha Psi member. “The earlier you do it, the sooner you get the refund and the money.”
Financial aid requirements and upcoming midterms are reasons students should not wait to file their income taxes and use the VITA program, said Tai, 25, a double major in accounting and information systems. He explained that students need their tax return information before early March if they want financial aid for the 2008-2009 school year.
Tai also said filing taxes early gives people extra time should they actually have to pay the government.
“Plus, if you owe money, you have more days to come up with money to pay the IRS,” he said.
There are a few, reasonable expectations for those who seek help. Only California residents ma-king less than $38,000 the last tax year qualify for the program, VITA officials said. Taxpayers must also bring a valid photo ID, social security card, gather any W-2, 1099 or 1098T forms that employers gave them. In order to get refunds back as soon as possible, student are encouraged to bring their bank routing information for direct deposit. Legal U.S. residents should bring their Individual Tax Information Number cards and those of their family members as well.
SF State VITA coordinator Amy Tien, 23, said that not enough SF State students take advantage of the program.
“VITA is underutilized,” said Tien, a Beta Alpha Psi member. “A lot of students don’t even know the program exists.”
Both Tien and Tai said they want to assure taxpayers that VITA volunteers are well qualified and trained to IRS standards.
“To give anyone unsure of whe-ther to come here or not, last year, we did over 800 tax returns,” Tai said.
SF State VITA has 200 certified tax volunteers ready to help file income taxes, Tien said. She explained that volunteers completed four days of intense training in January and had to pass a test at the end of training to become certified VITA volunteers.
“In training, everything that volunteers need to know is taught,” Tien said, adding the majority of VITA volunteers are SFSU accounting and finance students.
Clay Tun, VIT
A site co-manager, said returns are processed on computers using e-file, and that the VITA process takes four steps: determining if a person qualifies for the program, interviewing the taxpayer about basic tax information, inputting the information into income tax return software and printing out and reviewing copies with the taxpayer. Both the taxpayer and volunteer sign the return and a copy is given to the taxpayer for their records, the accounting major said.
The whole process, VITA officials said, is strictly confiden-tial and that taxpayers can expect their refund in two to three weeks.
Other helpful income and tax information to bring include total tuition fees and expenses, total expenses paid for child care, landlord information and last year’s income tax return. SF State VITA volunteers cannot accept donations and do not file income tax extensions, deal with rental income or help married couples filing separately.
“Even if people have to wait during their process, when they see their refund, they always smile and thank us,” 23-year-old Tun, an ASO member, said.
VITA SF offices are open from 1 to 7 p.m, Monday through Friday and 12 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays until April 15. It will be open during Spring Break. For more information, call (415) 338-3655 or visit the VITA SF Web site
Frustrated with rock-bottom voter turnouts, the student union is asking the SF State administration for a $5,000 campaign fund to distribute among candidates.
The proposed ASI Elections Finance Fund is similar to San Francisco’s election fund, and would give a percentage of the money to qualified candidates for campaign expenses such as creating flyers and posters. The percentage would be proportional to the amount of community support demonstrated through the collection of student signatures.
“This would promote and encourage the democratic process here at San Francisco State,” ASI President Isidro J. Armenta, the board member behind the proposal. “It will give everyone an incentive to participate in the elections.”
Armenta said the bill aims to increase voter turnout and the number of candidates running for ASI positions. While the ASI budget request has been sent to the school’s Administration and Finance Committee for approval it has not been reviewed yet, said Christopher Bomar, executive assistant to Leroy M. Morishita, Vice President of Administration and Finance.
“As far as I know, it hasn’t been taken up by the finance committee,” said Bomar.
Natalie Franklin, ASI Co-Chair of Finance said she doesn’t agree with the possibility of ASI funding student campaigns—even though she herself is running for ASI president in the March 2008 election.
“I personally think it is unethical for the organization running an election to finance a candidate’s campaign.
“When I ran, I used my own money for campaigning and therefore I worked harder because my own money was at risk,” she said.
Armenta said he hopes that the campaign fund would increase the diversity of the ASI board by encouraging more students to run, and would also generate more publicity for elections, thereby increasing voter turnout through the subsidization of campaign materials such as flyers and posters.
“It would address everyone’s frustration about low voter turnout,” Armenta said. During the March 2007 ASI election, only 6 percent of the school’s student body voted, according to a figure given by Internal Affairs to [X]press last semester.
Franklin disagrees, saying it’s already easy enough for students to find out about the election.
“In the past, voter booths have been everywhere. If a booth is right next to a classroom, I highly doubt more campaign posters are going to make students run to the polls,” she said.
The ASI Co-Chair of Finance said the fund is not a smart line item for ASI’s budget that already has certain constraints and restrictions. Instead, she suggested that the way to increase voter turnout and awareness in the student union is to use funds for events, student clubs and programs, not flyers.
Armenta acknowledged that the proposal is a modest one.
“$5,000 is not enough, but it’s a start,” he said. The fund, if approved by the university, would not go into effect until the 2009 ASI elections.
The entire 2008-2009 ASI budget is currently under development, said Armenta, and the election finance fund is one of five requests he submitted for review to the university finance committee.
“The fund is in its ideation phase. This is a general outline, but without financing we can’t go ahead and institutionalize this program,” Armenta said.
After settling the College Republicans’ lawsuit against SF State on Tuesday, the California State University will clarify the word “civil” in its Student Conduct Code and exempt its violation’s prior potential as grounds for discipline.
The lawsuit stemmed from an incident in 2006 when subsequently, the College Republicans faced consequences for violating the school’s student civil conduct code after complaints were filed against them for stomping on a flag with the name Allah. Charges were later dropped, but the suit continued.
“We are happy that the entire CSU system changed the code,” said Trent Downes, College Republicans president.
“I believe it’s going to protect all students in the future.”
About once a week, Jerica Montez has to make an unwanted appointment with a BART station agent—when she’s trying to exit the fare gate and her ticket is rejected with a stern “See Agent.”
The 19-year-old SF State interior design student can’t seem to avoid it, nor can many commuters. Each day, BART officials receive an average of 250 complaints for demagnetized fare tickets, and now they are doing something about it.
The transit agency’s board recently approved a contract to print the next five years’ supply of fare tickets with a higher grade magnetic strip that should drastically reduce the common problem and help the Bay Area’s largest transit system keep up with other major U.S. cities.
“New York, Chicago, Philly and Boston transits have them,” said Brian Hallman, senior vice president of sales with contract winner Electronic Data Magnetics.
Many SF State students rely on BART and the school’s free shuttle service, which departs from the Daly City station, to get them to classes. Commuters should notice improvements by this fall, said agency spokesman Linton Johnson.
“It’s all about having as few headaches as possible,” he said. “A happy customer is priceless. Riding the BART should be relaxing and we are trying to make it as stress-free as possible.”
High coercivity magnetic strips—the kind used on most credit cards—will be less prone to being erased as the low coercivity ones used on current tickets. Users have found that they can be damaged with a simple contact to a magnetic clasp on a purse or when pinned against an MP3 player or cell phone in a pocket.
“At least once a week it happens,” Montez said. “My wallet has a magnet on it—you think I would learn, but I don’t.”
“It used to happen to me all the time, and then I stopped putting [the ticket] in my pocket with my cell phone,” said Oliver Scotting, 23, a graduate student in biology at SF State.
While Scotting figured out the cause of his ticket being demagnetized, for some riders a demagnetized ticket remains an awkward surprise.
“I don’t even know how it happened,” said Virak Yin, 26, grad student at SF State, who was surprised last Thursday when his ticket was rejected by the gate machine for the first time. “They were cool about it, took it and fixed it.”
The $3.7 million ticket contract was approved on Feb. 14 but implementations to convert the current ticket machines to ones that can read and write on the new magnetic strips will take more time. “It takes more energy to write to and erase,” Hallman said.
A victory in the Texas primary has established Arizona Sen. John McCain as the Republican nominee for president, CNN reports.
CNN has also projected that New York Sen. Hillary Clinton will win the Texas primary, stalling Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's momentum in the race to secure the democratic nomination for president.
Clinton has also won primaries in Rhode Island and Ohio, receiving nearly 60 percent of the vote in each state.
Clinton’s victories in Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas put her back in the democratic primary race, said SF State political science rofessor David Tabb.
“It’s obvious she has gained momentum and new life,” he said. “She now has an edge going into the Pennsylvania primary.”
Despite Clinton victories in three crucial states, Obama is expected to retain a lead in delegate counts.
With chants of “Yes she will” echoing in the background, Clinton addressed supporters in Columbus, Ohio.
“For everyone who has stumbled but has stood right back up and for everyone who has worked hard and never given up…this one is for you,” she said, her voice hoarse from campaigning. “You know what they say - “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation”. Well this nation is coming back and so is this campaign."
"No candidate in recent history, democratic or republican, has won the presidency without winning this primary,” she added, alluding to the importance of her victory in the key battleground state.
Clinton vowed to continue her campaign to seek the democratic nomination with promises of universal health care, economic stabilization, energy interdependence, increased diplomacy and ending the war in Iraq.
“Americans don’t need more promises, they deserve solutions,” she said.
She also congratulated McCain, saying “I look forward to a spirited debate.”
McCain, whose nomination comes 12 months after he was written off as a GOP candidate, addressed supporters at a campaign rally in Dallas.
“I want to thank all my former rivals and their supporters for their steadfast dedication to make America safe and proud," he said. "I am very grateful for the broad support that you have given our campaign.”
With signs reading "1191" serving as the backdrop- a reference to the number of delegates needed to secure the republication candidacy, McCain acknowledged the new race he entered by winning the GOP nomination for president.
“The contest begins tonight. We will fight to make certain we have a government that is as capable, wise and decent as the great people we serve,” he said.
Obama and McCain have been declared the winners in the Vermont primary.
McCain has also won in Ohio, where he received 60 percent of the vote.
“I have much respect for John McCain,” said democrat Meredith Hobbs, a creative writing major. “He’s a man of honor with a history of bi-partisan ship in congress.”
President George W. Bush is predicted to endorse McCain as his replacement at the White House tomorrow, CNN reports.
Thanking friends, family, staff members and voters for their continued support, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee conceded the nomination to McCain earlier this evening.
“It’s now important that we turn our attention to uniting the Republican party,” he said to supporters in Texas.
“I fought the good fight, I finished the race," Huckabee added, a quote he attributed to the Apostle Paul. "I would rather lose the election than lose the principles that got me into politics in the first place.” His remarks to supporters were greeted with loud applause.
Obama spoke to supporters in San Antonio, shortly after Clinton gave a victory speech in Ohio.
“We are in the middle of a very close race here,” he said. “I want to congratulate her for a hard fought race in Rhode Island and Ohio.”
“We are on our way to winning this nomination,” he added. “If we can give young people a reason to vote and the young at heart a reason to believe again then we can write a new chapter in the American story.”
Like Clinton, Obama extended his congratulations to McCain and offered supporters a glimpse of the campaign ahead should he win the democratic nomination.
“In this election we will offer two very different visions of the America we see in the 21st century,” Obama said. “In this campaign [McCain] has fallen in line with the very same policies that have ill served America.”
There are Web sites that rate college professors on their teaching style or good looks, but a new site gets down to the most crucial of measures—grades. TheCampusBuddy.com enables students to find out how generously A’s are awarded (or not) in every class before they enroll.
“It takes the mystery out,” said the Web site's creator Mike Moradi, 23, adding that the grade distribution “lets you know where you stand.”
Launched in mid-February, the student-run site includes grade breakdown of every class and major and a rating system for professors in all eight UC schools, 18 of the 23 CSUs and 18 community colleges around the state. Included in this list are SF State as well as City College of San Francisco and Diablo Valley College, SF State’s two main feeder schools who together sent 781 students to SF State in 2007, according to the Office of University and Budget Planning.
According to the site, the average GPA of SF State students is a 3.1 and 69 percent of students here receive at least a B in their classes. These findings are based on 20,623 total grades analyzed by the site, but the data differs significantly by department; nursing students, for example, earn an average GPA of 3.69 and 95 percent of marine sciences students achieve at least a B average, according to the site.
Users can also generate reviews about their professors through personal reflections and a five-star rating system once they have completed the course. One feature even allows students to choose a combination of five courses, professors or departments and see how their grade distributions compare to one another.
Moradi and co-creator Brandon Sos, 22, former roommates and UCLA alumni, assembled a team of 10 students to spend nearly two years compiling the site’s information from school records and officials. At press time, more than 13 million grades from 44 universities had been incorporated.
Noting that there are other professor rating Web sites available to students, Moradi insisted theCampusBuddy is unparalleled.
“The feedback is more objective and more valuable,” Moradi said, adding that the reviews “give a comprehensive look at each professor.”
Unlike other universities around the state, SF State doesn’t have its own official professor rating site. To create a class schedule, some students rely on feedback posted on sites such as RateMyProfessors.com, which doesn’t include a grade breakdown or statistics from SF State specifically.
Sarah Brunskill, 22, has consulted RateMyProfessors.com before every registration period to figure out which professors received positive reviews and those whose classes she should avoid.
“[The results] determine my schedule,” said the psychology major, who had heard of theCampusBuddy.com and likes that it sounds more school-specific.
Even professors have given theCampusBuddy.com positive feedback. A recent e-mail sent by a professor at CSU Sacramento said the Web site was “very interesting” and “helpful for students as well as professors.”
However, not all students take these ratings into consideration when choosing their classes for the following semester. Amy Huckabay, an SF State communications major, doesn’t pay much attention to how well a professor is rated during registration.
“I hate night classes, so I look at timing, not professors,” Huckabay, 20, said of her schedule, which includes a three-hour class on Friday mornings. “You can’t really be picky.”
Cynthia Chang, a holistic health instructor at SF State, also doesn’t look up her ratings.
“My teaching style chances every semester, even with the same classes,” Chang said.
Moradi said they plan to continue improving theCampusBuddy.com and adding more schools around California with the hope that it’ll become the go-to site for students.
“[Students] deserve feedback that’ll affect [their] academic lives,” he said.
Nearly $4 million was awarded to SF State by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund last week to hire an endowed chair for Jewish studies.
"As conflicts in the Middle East continue, it is vitally important to provide students with a deeper and more fully understanding of Israel,” said Richard N. Goldman, president and founder of the fund. “The purpose of this professorship is to accomplish this goal.”
The endowed chair will be the largest permanent position for Israel Studies in the CSU system. There are a total of 10 in the United States and four more overseas.
The fund has sponsored another endowed chair at SF State, professor Marc Dollinger, who specializes in Jewish studies and social responsibility.
“An endowment chair is when a philanthropist from the community makes a donation to a university to create a professorship,” Dollinger said. “It’s a way for the community and university to link and grow together.”
The $3.75 million will be split into two categories: $3,255,000 for the endowed chairs’ salary and $495,000 to eventually make Jewish studies a full-fledged department.
There will be a faculty search committee with five members, consisting of three Jewish studies professors, one humanities professor and one professor appointed by President Robert Corrigan. The committee will advertise the position in academic journals, have a variety of interviews, and decide upon a candidate in time to start the Fall 2009 semester.
“This is an enormous step forward for Jewish studies at SF State,” said Fred Astren, director of the program. “It will allow new conversations to begin on campus about the Middle East. There’s so much potential.”
Astren was one of the many professors who put together the Middle Eastern and Islamic studies minor that started in Fall 2007.
“The intent is to keep the Israel Studies separate,” said Amy Lyons, executive director of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund. “I think when Israel is put in with the Middle East, it can get lost in the mix. By having it by itself it can maintain its own identity.”
Lyons said the Goldman family has an interest in Jewish studies and has been a long-time supporter of the state of Israel.
“Israel Studies is a legitimate field,” Lyons said. “There are other types of country studies and ethnic studies on campus, this will add to it.”
Iconic political and social activist Angela Y. Davis addressed a near-capacity crowd in SF State’s Jack Adams Hall on March 1.
The speech opened “California Prison Culture: art, issues, and dialogue,” a day-long conference of workshops and visual and performance art billed by the event’s organizers as a means to encourage dialogue on how incarceration affects California’s population.
Davis cited Pew Report findings released Feb. 28 that stated one out of every 100 adults in the United States is in prison.
“We now know that there’s something like 2.3 million people behind bars [in America], and here in California there are over 170,000 prisoners in facilities that are designed to hold 100,000 prisoners,” she said.
Davis said that building more prisons in California has led only to more overcrowding. The problem lies, she said, in the upwards of $8.75 billion California spends to support the prisons already in operation.
“It draws resources away from education and housing and health care, and all the services that might prevent people from being incarcerated in the first place,” she explained.
Davis, who said she had been involved in the anti-prison movement for most of her life, began and ended her keynote speech to standing ovations.
“I’m in awe of her presence. She’s almost godlike,” said Johnny Richardson, 28, a graduate student of education at SF State. He said he has heard Davis speak several times and described Saturday’s speech as “empowering” and Davis herself as “a woman of impeccable integrity.”
Davis, who is currently a professor of feminist studies and history of consciousness at UC Santa Cruz, became a public figure in September 1969 when University Regents at UCLA fired her from her position as a philosophy professor because of her membership in the Communist Party.
Less than a year later, Davis became internationally known when authorities suspected her of involvement in a conspiracy to take a Marin County Superior Court judge hostage to secure release for three prisoners known as the Soledad Brothers from California’s Soledad Prison.
The kidnapping attempt, for which Davis was not present, led to a shoot out in front of the Marin County courthouse resulting in the deaths of the judge, his kidnapper and two freed inmates. Davis was accused of supplying the guns used in the hostage attempt.
Police pursued Davis for several weeks as one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitives and she was ultimately arrested and charged with kidnapping, murder and criminal conspiracy.
Davis was held in prison for over a year leading up to the trial that eventually cleared her name. She capitalized on her celebrity and public support during and after the trial to raise awareness of the racial and social inequalities she sees as inherent in the American justice system.
In her writings, Davis distances herself from the prison reform movement, saying that to focus solely on the goal of making prison conditions more palatable takes attention away from the more important idea of “decarceration,” or bringing “as many imprisoned women and men as possible back into what prisoners call ‘the free world.’” Davis notes decriminalizing drug use and the sex trade as means to this end.
Davis urged her listeners to consider abolition of the prison system by considering a justice system that isn’t based on exile.
“Can we imagine a justice that doesn’t assume that one mistake should ruin an entire lifetime? Can we imagine a justice that calls for accountability and compensation by the persons who do harm and patience and perhaps forgiveness by the persons to whom harm is done?” she asked. “Can we imagine a justice that helps us move forward toward a society free of racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental violence and war?”
The symposium came near the end of a year-long series of art, lectures and programs, and was a collaborative presentation by Intersection for the Arts, SF State’s International Center for the Arts, Associated Students Inc., the criminal justice studies department and the Poetry Center.
Andrea Parra, 22, is a psychology major at SF State and is involved with California Prison Focus, an organization she describes as “investigating and exposing human rights abuses against prisoners.”
Parra wore a white tee-shirt with the words “No More Prisons,” hand-written in black marker. She waited after the speech in a crowd of several dozen people who wanted to greet and pose for pictures with Davis. Para had her copy of Davis’s 2003 book “Are Prisons Obsolete?” signed by the author.
Parra said she was moved by the speech and that the anti-prison movement held a personal connection for her ever since her uncle served seven years in Pelican Bay State Prison, a super-maximum security prison in Northern California.
“It was extremely inspirational,” she said. “It makes me want to keep fighting.”
The Golden Gate [X]press took home several top awards at the Associated Collegiate Press National College Newspaper Convention this weekend, including first place in the Best of Show Newspaper Web Site contest.
The event, held in San Francisco this year from Feb. 28 to March 2, provided college newspaper staff writers, editors and advisors from across the nation with workshops and a look at other college newspapers.
Other top awards came from the California College of Media Association, where several [X]press staff members won top awards in the weekly college newspaper categories.
Sports writer David Agrell won first place in the Best Sports Story contest, with his article about SF State's athletic recruiting process.
[X]press magazine placed second in the General Magazine Excellence contest for its democracy issue.
The [X]press dominated the photography awards, sweeping the News Photo contest. Multimedia photo editor Stephen Lam won first place, while last semester's newspaper photo editor Steven Simonetti and current staff photographer Eric Lawson placed second and third, respectively. Lawson also took third place for the Feature Photo contest. In the same category, magazine photography editor Darlene Bouchard took home second place. Newspaper photo editor Scott Fong placed second in the Sports Action Photo contest.
For newspaper design, [X]press took home a second place finish for a news design page by Curtis Steudeman.
The [X]press newspaper placed seventh in the Best of Show Newspaper Award in the four-year university weekly tabloid category.