May 2008 Archives

Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, took the stage at Jack Adams Hall on the morning of May 2.

Goldtooth was the keynote speaker for the closing day of SF State’s Fifth Annual Human Rights Summit.

He also serves on the board of Honor the Earth and the Minnesota State Advisory Board for the Minnesota Science Museum.

In this speech, Goldtooth discusses the global climate crisis and relates it to the issues of environmental justice and racism.

To listen to the podcast, click the play button on the right...

CSU fees skyrocketing

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State lawmakers took measures to bring more money into the financially embattled California public higher education system Wednesday, voting to raise student fees and proposing a new plan for the state budget, according to state press releases.

Fees will increase by 10 percent for next semester’s California State University students, raising the cost of a full-time undergraduate semester at SF State to $1,881, according to a CSU press release. The fees will bring in an additional $110 million to the CSU. Of the additional $110 million, $36 million will be given to financial aid students to cover the fee increase.

Gov. Schwarzenegger’s revised budget proposal would bring in another $97.6 million. Together, the efforts would reduce the still-massive CSU cuts to $288 million.

“Today we are in a better position than yesterday,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed in a press release.

A 7.4 percent fee increase for the University of California system is also being considered today, according to the UC press office.

Officials have said that the fee increases could be eliminated if the state budget proves to be more favorable to education.

The CSU trustees voted 15-3 in favor of the fee hike, with dissenting votes from trustees Melinda Guzman, Lt. Governor John Garamendi and the student trustee, Jennifer Reimer.

A participant and speaker in the Sacramento student rally last month, Garamendi joined many who have said that the California higher education system provides the skilled workers that ultimately boost the state’s economy.

“Without these fee dollars, SF State would be forced to reduce the class schedule even further, make other cuts to the academic program, and even turn away qualified students,” said President Robert A. Corrigan, who regretted the increased fees and commended the efforts to protest the diminished budget.

State Sen. Leland Yee, who spoke earlier this semester at SF State’s teach-in about the budget, voiced his opposition to the fee increase to the [X]press.

“CSU students are already burdened to the brink,” Yee said.

A drawn-out debate between Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature has led to a later-than-usual finalization of the year’s budget, forcing planners in state education to predict the impact of the cuts themselves.

“Although the state has not yet adopted next year’s budget, the CSU is increasing fees now in order to provide students enrolled for the fall a reasonable amount of time to plan their finances,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed.

Many of the efforts to address the budget have been collaborative, including the rally of students, administration, staff and faculty scheduled for this Tuesday at City Hall.

“It’s an outgrowth of the tremendous success of the April 21 rally in Sacramento,” said Lisbet Sunshine, director of Government Relations. “We’re just looking for ways to amplify that message.”

Coalition files suit to curb prison spending

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A coalition of more than 40 organizations united to fight California prison expansion filed a lawsuit May 6 to prevent an assembly bill that allows at least $12 billion toward prison construction—money, they say, that could be used to fund education.

Californians United for a Responsible Budget filed the lawsuit at Sacramento Superior Court against a number of state officials, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, to stop implementation of last year’s Assembly Bill 900. The bill authorized $7.4 billion in bonding authority to build space for nearly 42,000 new prison beds.

“This is the single biggest prison expansion in the nation, and, likely, the world,” said Brett Greenbaum, an SF State urban studies major and member of CURB. “And they are saying that, in spite of so many crucial things being cut, like education and Medi-Cal, this massive construction can go on.”

This is the second suit filed against AB 900, which is touted as the “Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Act of 2007.” The Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety’s lawsuit was shut down last year. CURB members said the bill constitutes an illegal bypass of voters’ constitutional right to vote on debt, and an illegal waste of scarce government resources.

“This lawsuit is a little different than last year’s because it emphasizes the waste spending in AB 900,” said Thomas Nolan, the attorney who filed the suit. “We’ve laid off 15,000 to 20,000 teachers. We can’t afford to educate our state, but we can find a way to build more prisons.”

CURB’s lawsuit is challenging the constitutionality of using lease-revenue financing for prison construction. Such financing is typically used to fund construction of structures that will generate revenue, such as bridges, convention centers and university classrooms. It does not require public approval.
“Using lease-revenue bonds to do this is a way for the government to borrow money to fund construction of infrastructure without voter consent,” Greenbaum said.

The coalition also released a report by economist Adam Werner, which explains in detail the financial and social implications of AB 900. According to Werner, the use of lease-revenue bonds to finance these facilities is “irrational from a purely economic perspective, given the cost differential between using lease-revenue and general obligation bonds.”

Werner calculated the costs to total an additional $2 billion in interest payments, and the total cost to taxpayers of borrowing $7.4 billion at $12 billion. He believed the decision to use lease-revenue financing to fund the bill was made to bypass voter approval.

He said using lease-revenue bonds to build prisons employs “sleight of hand financing that deprives voters a say on significant public policy and fiscal issues, costs taxpayers significantly more than general obligation bonds and, in this situation in particular will dramatically impact our state budget for generations to come with prison spending set to surpass higher education spending as a result of AB 900.”

“This shows us that they didn’t want to have to ask voters because, given the choice to do things like laying off teachers and funding prison expansion, most voters would say no,” Nolan said.

California accounts for 12 percent of the nation’s population and has the highest incarceration rates in the nation. As of Wednesday, the California Department of Corrections reported a population of nearly 170,000 inmates. In 2006, the United States saw its biggest increase in the number of people in prison, with California responsible for 20 percent of those inmates. The state has built 23 new prisons in 23 years.

Meanwhile, the governor has proposed to cut over $1 billion to higher education.

Nolan said public opinion has been solidly opposed to prison expansion in recent years, especially as the state grapples with an estimated $20 billion budget deficit and has proposed across the board cuts to every social service in California. Despite cuts to services such as public education, prison spending has increased. Between 1977 and 1999, total state and local expenditures on corrections increased by 946 percent, about 2.5 times the rate of increase of spending on all levels of education (360 percent), according to the Justice Policy Institute. In 2007-08, prison spending in California topped $10 billion, a 9 percent increase over the previous year.

Referencing the state of New York, which has watched its prison population decline in recent years following the adoption of more rehabilitation and reentry programs, Greenbaum said he hoped the lawsuit would bring the need for California prison reform—not construction—to the forefront of public discussion.

“We’re doing this for two reasons,” said Greenbaum, who is not listed as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “One, we want to stop the construction, but we also want to educate the general public that there are ways to stop the prison population from rising. There is a lot of horrible legislation that goes through out there under the guise of clever names, and this is another one of those.”

Junior colleges saved by $70 million donation

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The California Community College system announced its receipt of a $70 million donation from the San Francisco-based Bernard Osher Foundation on May 7. The largest gift ever given to the public, two-year higher education institution will fund scholarships for students in the CCC system.

“We are overjoyed about this historic and unprecedented gift to the California Community Colleges,” said CCC Chancellor Diane Woodruff at a press conference. “The Osher scholarships will provide much-needed financial support to many of our students who may not otherwise be able to complete their studies.”

The gift, called the Osher Initiative, includes two separate monetary commitments. The first $50 million will establish annual private scholarships of $1,000. The community college system will get $25 million immediately to fund an endowment managed by the Foundation for California Community Colleges. The remaining $25 million will be contributed to the FCCC on a two-to-one match. The FCCC, CCC System Office and the state’s community colleges will join to raise a matching $50 million over a three-year period, according to the CCC System Office Web site. The resulting $100 million endowment will serve as a permanent fund for annual student scholarships.

“We have been long-time supporters of wonderful institutions like SF State and other higher education institutions,” said Mary Bitterman, president of the Bernard Osher Foundation. “But in the last number of years, we have really seen that the 2.6 million students seeking education at community colleges need support. We really feel that this institution is worthy of philanthropy.”

The donation will be especially helpful at a time of severe budget deficits estimated at $20 billion. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed cuts of about $483 million from the 109-campus, 2.6 million-student system, which has an annual operating budget of $6.7 billion.

The Osher Initiative will be used strictly for scholarships to low-income students and cannot be applied to the budget. According to the CCC System Office, the CCC enrolls the state’s lowest-income students. Full-time students have an annual income of $16,223 and 25 percent of those students earn less than $5,544 per year.

“I am pleased to announce this historic gift by the Bernard Osher Foundation that will help thousands of our state’s community college students succeed each year,” Schwarzenegger said at a press conference on May 7. “I know firsthand the incredible value of community colleges from my time at Santa Monica College. They serve a vital role in preparing our workforce, and this gift will provide innumerable benefits to our state’s economy and diverse communities.”

The Osher Initiative will also provide an additional $20 million in scholarships specifically for students transferring to the California State University and University of California systems.

A total of $1 million per year will go to 11 CSU campuses while four of them—Fullerton, Northridge, San Diego and San Jose—will receive $1.25 million due to the large number of community college transfer students enrolled at these campuses, according to the CSU Web site.

Community colleges serve as a gateway to California’s four-year universities. Nearly half the students enrolled at SF State were transfer students. Approximately 60 percent of CSU students transfer from a state community college, and the endowment will provide $2,500 individual scholarships for hundreds of students to be used for tuition, books or living expenses.

Bitterman estimated 1,250 students will receive Osher scholarships by fall 2009. If the FCCC achieves its goal of matching two-to-one donations as planned, 5,000 students will receive scholarships by 2011, Bitterman said.

Community colleges are also the leading provider of job training and career technical education. About 80 percent of California’s firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians are credentialed at community colleges, and 70 percent of nurses in the state received part of their education from community colleges.

“These funds are tremendously valuable to us,” said CSU public affairs specialist Teresa Ruiz. “The scholarships will really help those who have shown their commitment to education at community colleges succeed at CSU.”

Bitterman said community colleges are often overlooked when donations are given. Most people donate to their alma mater or private four-year universities.

“Our hope is our gift will put community colleges into bolder relief,” she said. “We hope it will show more people that the most diverse and least advantaged group of students in the state is important to help succeed.”

Avian terror plagues SF State students

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In the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock film, “The Birds,” protagonist Melanie Daniels found herself in the center of hell at The Tides Restaurant in Bodega Bay, Calif. Outside, there were man-eating seagulls and crows acute with anticipation. Inside there were suspicious townspeople, dangerously unaware of the winged assassins that watched from above.

“It’s the end of the world!” a barfly exclaimed.

The restaurant’s bird expert, Mrs. Bundy, calmly disagreed.

“Birds are not aggressive creatures, Miss,” Bundy said. “They bring beauty into the world. It is mankind, rather, who insists upon making it difficult for life to exist on this planet.”

Forty-five years later and 63 miles south of Bodega Bay, the freshmen at SF State do not share Mrs. Bundy’s opinion. It is the birds, they say, who insist on making it difficult for students to inhabit the dorms.

On any given day during the spring, a walk around the heavy foliage at Mary Ward and Mary Park Halls could result in an unpleasant encounter with a Brewer’s Blackbird. Although the bird is only 8 to 10 inches long, its heightened level of aggression during nesting season has proven that size doesn’t matter.

“It was really weird,” said Jason Roberts, 21, a political science major. He reflected on bird attacks from the past. “You would feel this fluttering behind your ear and turn around and there’d be this bird beating your head.”

Roberts, now a junior, revisited the outdoors common area of his freshman dorm at Mary Park Hall. He walked under the shadow of an adjacent tree toward State Drive and felt a little piece of nostalgia swoop past him—a narrow miss by an angry assailant.

“It’s more of an annoyance than a terror,” Roberts said. “Like someone hiding behind a door and jumping out at you.”

A poll of students around the residence halls found that four out of 20 had been harassed by a bird on campus.

“I think they attack people quite often,” said Ravinder Sehgal, 41, an assistant professor in biology at SF State who has taught ornithology, the study of birds. “But they don’t go for the eyes. They go for your head and hair to try and scare you off. As soon as summer is over and the birds have fledged and left the nest, they won’t do that. Right now eggs are hatching so they’re trying to protect them.”

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Brewer’s Blackbird “nests in compact colonies, numbering from a few pairs to more than one hundred. In the colony, a female—sometimes aided by a male—defends a small area directly around her nest site.” The male is black and glossy with pale yellow or white eyes, while the female is dark brown, not as glossy, and with black eyes.

“They are a West Coast bird, locally from here, and the ones in the Bay Area live here year-round,” Sehgal said. “There’s probably a colony next to the dormitories. The birds lay their eggs in very local areas, in an urban environment. They live here and feed on the scraps of food all over campus.”

When Sehgal said “food,” he meant berries, seeds, French fries—not human heads. Their aggressive nature is meant to scare, not to kill.

“It’s exhausting, but that’s their natural instinct of keeping predators away,” he said. “But they choose to lay their eggs there and know that people are around. They’re more afraid of bigger birds, rats, mice and especially cats.”

Ironically, the Brewer’s Blackbird is more aggressive in nature than the species of birds used in Hitchcock’s film.

“Seagulls are not particularly aggressive, nor are crows,” Sehgal said. “Hitchcock was a watchful filmmaker; he could’ve chosen a bunny and it would have been scary.”

In order to create a sense of real fear within his audience, Hitchcock had to find the perfect balance between authentic and grotesque for his main characters, the birds. The 1960s special effects he used, now considered archaic, have not become obsolete to everyone. The Darkroom Theatre, a small-scale Mission space, recently hosted the theatrical version of “The Birds.” Director Michelle Talgarow, 38, and producer/actor Sean Owens, 39, were surprised to find that students at their alma mater, SF State, were living in the world they created for the stage.

“The birds are hazing the freshmen!” Owens said.

In comparison to the film, they used both an updated version of special effects—projection of digital images—and an intentionally downgraded version of props. The “bird-on-a-stick” prop was one of the comical devices used during the play.

In the theatrical version, Owens played Mrs. Bundy, the bird expert who doubted Melanie Daniels’ killer-birds proclamation. Bundy explained there were flaws in her statement because different species of birds would never flock together and attack.

“Why, if that happened, we wouldn’t have a chance,” Mrs. Bundy said. “How could we possibly hope to fight them?”

Jim Steele, director of the Sierra Nevada Field Campus and lecturer for the biology department, said the concept is real.

“A number of birds do mobbing,” Steele said. “If there is a hawk that’s five times their size circling around their nest, a bunch of them will go out and start pecking it on the head. Sometimes the Brewer’s [Blackbirds] will join in with the Red-winged Blackbirds and go after hawks.”

While blackbirds don’t make a sound when they attack, they’ll chatter to get other birds to join in. The sound is described as “a harsh, gurgling ‘schl-r-r-up’” by the CLO.

“When a bird is in trouble and makes noise, other birds get excited and come closer to watch,” Steele said.

“It’s like a middle school fight, they want to see who’s getting beat up, watch and then leave.”

As far as human-blackbird conflicts go on campus, Steele said all you have to do is turn to look at the bird and it will cease its charge.

“Give it the stink eye,” he said. “We should give [freshmen] a picture of ‘the stink eye’ as part of their welcome kit. They can keep it on hand when walking outside the dorms.”

Alumnus pleads guilty to 10 counts in fraud case

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In an international case of violin crime, an SF State alumnus will be facing up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines after pleading guilty Monday to a scheme that cheated collectors out of valuable violins and bows over a span of four years.

A federal grand jury in San Francisco had previously indicted Joseph Tang, 28, on charges of mail and wire fraud in connection with the sale and consignment of fine violins, violas and bows, according to a Department of Justice press release.

Joseph Hokai Tang graduated from SF State in 2002 with a master’s degree in music. The events that led to his incarceration began as early as April 2002 and continued until 2006, according to the indictment.

The plea agreement signed on May 5 included two counts of wire fraud and eight counts of mail fraud. The prosecution is the result of a two-and-a-half-year investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, according to the DOJ.

“Specifically, I made up a scheme to sell fine violins and instrument bows, in which I falsely misrepresented the condition and/or authenticity of the items in order to sell them,” Tang’s signed plea agreement read. “Furthermore, I also received violins and bows pursuant to consignment agreements, knowing that I would not return the money, violins, and bows to their owners as I had promised.”

This scheme included at least 10 victims—one as far away as Germany—and losses of almost $400,000, a cost he may have to pay back in restitution as outlined in his maximum penalties. Tang is a Canadian citizen and could face deportation.

Tang is now awaiting sentencing. Public defender Eric Hairston, part of Tang’s defense team, declined to comment on the case, except to say that Tang probably will not be deported.

Feed your head: SF State reading recommendations

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If you’ve spent the year reading textbooks, case studies and reports, summer break can be a great time to catch up on some personal reading. [X]press asked around campus for literary picks to strike a chord with the diverse student body.

Philip Schultz is a poet and SF State alumnus. His fifth volume of poetry, “Failure,” won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Schultz recommends: “The Sun Also Rises,” by Ernest Hemingway.

“I remember graduating from SFSU in 1967 and going directly to Europe.
The heyday of the ‘60s, the Vietnam War raging, graduate school looming, I wanted, needed very much, to escape for a few months.

The book I kept reading and rereading is Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises.’ Hemingway’s first novel served as a guide to Europe, a resource book on various cultures and cuisines, and an emotional tour of another generation trying to cope with the aftermath of war and the lingering malaise it causes.

I loved the light touch of his characters, their fascination with pleasure and sexual intrigue, their enormous self-involvement.

The novel also made me want to write. I loved its simple, straightforward sentences and musical phrasing, the strong emotional undercurrent flowing just beneath the surface. I can’t think of a book about another time that still represents our time, that hits the mark quite the way this one does.”

Barbara A. Holzman is an SF State professor of geography and environmental studies. Holzman will lecture on biogeography and environmental problems and solutions at SF State in the fall.

She will also conduct a graduate seminar in environmental management.
Holzman recommends: “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” and “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” both by Michael Pollan.

“[These books are] easy and fun to read, and incredibly informative about food and our ‘corn lifestyle.’
[They] will change the way you think about what you eat.”

Chris Mays is an SF State associate librarian and card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union. Mays is a research specialist in California studies, human sexuality, psychology and other disciplines.

Mays recommends: “Cannabis and Meditation: An Explorer’s Guide,” by Simon Jackson.

“If you were one of the 18,847 Californians with a medical marijuana card, I would recommend this book on exploring your consciousness through meditation to develop your experience of altered states. The book is a little tricky to get—you have to buy it from the author—but it’s a very nice introduction to some healthy mental skills from several traditions that also help at school, on the job, and with your relationships.”
Mays also recommends: “Night Watch,” by Sergei Lukyanenko.

“The first of four novels that form a really moving, funny, gritty, unforgettable Russian urban fairytale. Magic, witches, vampires, curses, love affairs, moral conundra, and lots of edge-of-your-seat excitement. Made into two great movies so far, but the books are a little different and even more satisfying. I’ve been really sad to finish each one, and that doesn’t happen every day.”

Ramon Castellblanch is an SF State assistant professor of health education and president of the SF State chapter of the California Faculty Association. Castellblanch will lecture on the organization and function of health services and conduct a graduate seminar on public health policy in the fall.

Castellblanch recommends: “Pirates of the Caribbean,” by Tariq Ali.
“One book I’m planning [on] reading this summer is ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ by Tariq Ali. It describes the Bolivarian tide in Latin America, i.e., the rise of leaders such as Hugo Chavez who are no longer toeing the line of the U.S. It is an indication of how much of the 21st Century might go, not only in Latin America, but all around the world. The U.S. may have to get by with a lot less exploitation of Asian, African and Latin
American nations and the relatively cheap goods it has brought us, such as gasoline.

Since most SF State students should plan on living through much of the 21st Century, they’ll have a better sense of what’s in store if they better understand the rising movements in places like Venezuela. Also, the book may provide some pointers on how to effectively fight for economic justice.”

Student ejected for videotaping Chavez board meeting

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SF State student Brian Gallagher is a bit frustrated these days, although it’s not the workload associated with finals or the looming budget cuts that are bothering him.

The focal point of his concern is a certain student governing board at SF State, the history and political science major said.

After being told to leave a public meeting put on by the Cesar Chavez Student Center Governing Board, the self-described “student-activist” has voiced his concern over what he called the “inability to allow students to participate in issues that may concern them” by the SCGB.

A letter sent to the student chairperson of the SCGB, Maria Liliana Cortes, informing her of his intent to videotape the proceedings of an April 24 meeting went largely ignored, said Gallagher, who wrote and sent the letter.

Subsequently, University Police were called to the Student Center by the SCGB to remove Gallagher, who was videotaping the proceeding as promised.

Gallagher called the incident “humiliating” and “alarming,” and he believes his rights as a student were violated.

The purpose of the Student Center Governing Board is to provide guidance for management tasked with day-to-day operations of the Student Center, according to Derek J. Aitken, the associate director for Governmental and Community Relations at SF State.

The SCGB is comprised of students and members of the SF State administration.

Gallagher’s 500-word letter cites what he perceives to be his legal right to record the meetings for public benefit.

“The public agenda [to be discussed] lists items regarding the Department of Public Safety and costs associated with services provided by the DPS...I believe this item is of crucial interest [for students] who feel that such a fee is unwarranted and unsubstantiated,” he said in the letter, which was addressed to Cortes.

Cortes, who initially requested that Gallagher stop videotaping the meeting, did not return repeated phone calls and e-mails requesting comment, and transcripts of the April 24 meeting and its agenda were not made available as of press time.

Aitken supported the board’s decision to call police once Gallagher refused to turn off his video camera.

Aitken said in an e-mail that he supports the Student Center management’s interpretation of open meeting laws and their actions on April 24.

The SCGB Web site states that all meetings “are open to the public and will comply with the Open Meeting Act.”

The most widely used open meeting laws used by government organizations are the Gloria Romero Open Meetings Act of 2000 and the more recent Bagley-Keene Act of 2004.

The Bagley-Keene Act specifically states the right of attendees to record public meeting proceedings, so long as they do not create a nuisance. While the provisions of the Gloria Romero Act regarding videotaping public meetings remain ambiguous, Gallagher said, the board purposely chooses to restrict public access to the laws of which they adhere to.

Despite requests made by [X]press, certain bylaws that the SCGB adheres to regarding public access to their meetings were not provided by board members.

“They leave the rules of these meetings purposely vague and ambiguous,” Gallagher said. “[Is] an organization that is intended to serve students supposed to call the police on them once they show interest in school-related issues?”

Sharef Al Najjar, who serves on the SCGB as a community relations member, acknowledged Gallagher’s grievances.

“There are some board members who are uncomfortable with him videotaping because of how the videotape will be used...although I didn’t find him to be a nuisance at all,” he said in a telephone interview.

Gallagher, who is calling for a formal public apology from the SCGB and the SF State administration over the way he was treated, has called the board’s overall approach toward the incident on April 24 as “arbitrary and heavy-handed.”

“It seems as though the SCGB is not willing to pay attention to matters involving seems like they don’t want to listen to me or anyone else,” he said.

Members of the board did not answer requests for comment.

Unreported car break-ins weaken crime statistics

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Four car break-ins on May 8 along Winston Drive were never reported to the Department of Public Safety, excluding them from official statistics and putting into question the amount of crime in the area.

Police said they went to the scene of the incidents and will focus more attention on that area of campus near University Park North, which already received fliers in March from the department warning of a spike in vehicle theft.

The cars—a white Hyundai Accent, a white Acura Legend, a green Toyota Rav4 and a gray Honda Accord—were parked on the campus side of Winston Drive between Lake Merced Boulevard and Buckingham Way. Each had shattered passenger windows and open glove compartments, and some personal items were scattered on the street.

The incidents came a week after [X]press reported that SF State had fewer auto burglaries and vehicle thefts this year than the same time last year, but the figures reflected only reported crimes.

Unreported crimes are not uncommon at SF State. "They happen all the time," said Patrick Wasley, deputy chief of university police. Police were notified of the four cars along Winston Drive that morning, but did not hear from any of the car's owners. "We're not going to take a report without a victim" because if someone does not tell police about the incident, there may not be enough information about what happened to investigate, he said.

"Because of the nature and location" of the incidents, police will respond with increased presence and more directed patrols in the UPN area, Wasley said. The impression police got from the scene, though, was that "that was an isolated deal. It was boom, boom, boom, boom. There's really nothing left to go on," he said.

The San Francisco Police Department's crime map lists one reported instance of petty theft of property on Winston Drive for May 8, the day [X]press learned of the four break-ins.

It is possible that one or more other reports could show up on the map later if the reports were made online, said Officer Scott Briggs of the Taraval police station, because sometimes "we don't get that information until a week later." Though he did not have specific statistics readily available, he said, "you guys are having a major problem with auto boosting out there."

Reporting crimes to campus police or the SFPD is important because "even the smallest crime goes into the crime map" and police could respond to a rash of incidents by allocating more resources to a given area, Briggs said. Conversely, if several incidents occur but only some get reported, "it might not be seen as a high priority," he said.

Wasley agreed. "We count the incidents that get reported to us. Two incidents, to me, is a coincidence. Three is a trend,"he said.

"We can't do something about something we don't know about. If you're a victim of a crime, call us," Wasley said.

People can file a report to campus police by calling 415-338-7200 or visiting the department office on North State Drive, between Winston and Lake Merced.

List of precautions students can take to avoid vehicle theft from Campus Police Bulletin to Buckingham Way residents, dated March 5:

*Park your vehicle in a well lit area
*Lock all doors
*Roll up and lock all windows
*Activate car alarm if you have one
*If you see a suspicious person or situation, call the police immediately
*Remove high-dollar items from vehicle (CD players, purses, wallets, MP3 players, backpacks, luggage, etc.)

Staff writer Doug Morino contributed to this article.

Environmental justice focus of rights summit

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The problem of climate change calls for more action than merely changing light bulbs, said Tom Goldtooth, a keynote speaker for the fifth annual Human Rights Summit at SF State on May 2.

“Where does your power come from when you turn on the light switch?” Goldtooth asked. “People need to reevaluate their relationship to the sacredness of mother Earth. Americans have not yet confronted our energy addiction…We’re not making the changes that we need to do.”

The theme of this year’s summit, organized by students and faculty from the anthropology department and the American Indian studies department, was “Privileged Destruction: Examining Environmental Justice.”

From April 30 through May 2, the Cesar Chavez Student Center was buzzing with passionate articulation through panels, speeches and performances to spotlight the thematic issues.

At the “Disposable People” panel, discussant Phil Klasky, a lecturer for the American Indian studies program at SF State, highlighted the connection between environmental destruction and human rights.

“I work a lot with tribes who are treated as disposable people because they are targeted to become repositories for the toxic waste that the dominant society has produced,” Klasky said. “The concept of environmental justice is that the minority and poor are targeted and continue to experience institutionalized racism...You won’t find toxic waste dumps in Beverly Hills or the financial district downtown because they’re rich communities that won’t allow it.”

Minority communities suffer disproportionately from hazardous waste because they represent the path of least resistance by corporations and the government, he said.

The topic of toxic waste was one of many interlinked environmental issues the student panelists presented and discussed. Philip Hoover, 22, an anthropology major, presented a self-researched and written piece on the documentary, “FEMA’s Toxic Trailers: Classism and Racism in the Aftermath of Katrina.”

“I was originally going to do a piece on the Bhopal incident in India, but it was too distant so I focused on Katrina and the toxic trailers.”

Hoover described how the 12,000 trailers the Federal Emergency Management Agency distributed to Hurricane Katrina refugees contained dangerously high levels of formaldehyde. He said FEMA’s carelessness for distributing trailers with cancer-causing toxins was a form of structural violence, and that, due to the failure of government oversight, low-income and minority families have been further victimized. His presentation concluded with a call to action.

“You might have no time, you could be very busy, but the very least you can do is go online and sign petitions,” he said. “The best we can do is unite in numbers to fight for a common cause.”

Seven of the eight panels at the summit were presented by students enrolled in a class called Anthropology and Human Rights, taught by professor Mariana Ferreira.

Nathan Embretson, 27, an anthropology major, was part of the summit’s fundraising committee. He said the summit was almost entirely student-run and student-organized, with the exception of organization from Ferreira.

“We read about general human rights to get an idea [in class], and then we start[ed] digging into modern problems,” Embretson said. “There were lots of passionate papers and we were encouraged to write that way. When you start looking at how people are affected with environmental problems it’s enraging.”

The summit was supported by multi-disciplinary speakers, moderators, and performers. The co-sponsors included numerous student groups and university divisions.

Among them were Students for Critical Anthropology, Institute for Community and Civic Engagement, Public Research Institute, the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, the anthropology department, the environmental studies program, the College of Extended Learning, the College of Ethnic Studies, the American Indian studies department and the College of Humanities.

“The other side [of the summit] is that we incorporated artistic movement and expression to show these issues,” Embretson said. “Art has a way of cutting to the core issue in the way that academics can’t. It gives you the freedom to explore the gray areas that are oftentimes difficult to show in a paper. It’s a different way of communicating that is more powerful.”

On May 2, Jack Adams Hall hosted performances in a wide variety of media. There was a play called “IRONHAWK on Death Row,” dance routines, spoken word, short story readings, music, and even a fashion parade.

“The turnout for the panels was really good,” Embretson said. “It’s hard to get people on campus on a Friday because there are hardly any classes anymore. We had a crowd throughout the day in Jack Adams of around 30-40 people.”

The poetry and short story segment of the performance day was moderated by Philip Hoover. Among the poets he presented were Camille Dungy, Michael Warr and Maxine Chernoff—Hoover’s mother.

“That was cool, because I’ve been to so many of her poetry readings and watched from the audience,” Hoover said. “Her and the other poets’ readings were very relevant to our topic.”

For the capstone piece of the performance day, a Bay Area group called Trash Mash-Up exhibited a colorful display of “maskostumes” made out of non-recyclable trash. They drew inspiration for the creations from world folklore. One such costume was a lion made of plastic bags, Styrofoam packing material, soy milk cartons, bottle caps and plastic table cloths.

“One conference at SF State had enough plastic tablecloths to supply a year’s worth of costumes for them,” said Jack Mohr, 20, an anthropology major and audience member.

Mohr said he enjoyed the performances because he liked to see the issues presented through music and dance instead of papers and lectures.

“It was fun,” Mohr said. “As an anthropology student, we talk about a lot of issues but don’t get to act on them. The conference itself was a way for students to act. It’s something I wanted to go see because it was a chance for anthropology students to act and interact with the community instead of the classroom.”
After three days of activity, the event culminated with a fundraising party for next year’s summit at CELLspace, an artist collective in San Francisco’s Mission District.

“I’m very proud that SFSU has a human rights summit every year,” Klasky said. “It’s an opportunity not only to educate students and the public about these important issues, but provides a forum for students to present their research on issues that are important to them. I was very impressed by the scholarship that students presented as well as the passion they exhibited about these important issues. As an academic institution, it’s important that we provide students with research skills and opportunities to pursue issues
that are important to our society.”

Next year’s summit will focus on health discrepancies, health care as a human right and access to health care—who gets it and who doesn’t.

Staff writer Adam Loraine contributed to this story.

Conflict subdued at Israeli rally

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More than 150 people gathered at the quad Thursday to participate in the celebration of Israeli Independence Day.

Members of the Jewish organization, Hillel, and the Israel Coalition planned the event with the intent of keeping a celebratory theme—and to stay away from politics.

Two bands played including Eggroll, an Israeli rock band, and another group named Invisible Arms. Around 30-40 people showed up to support a Palestinian counter-demonstration, which was held as a silent protest with participants wearing white masks, holding signs and Palestinian flags.

“We had planned to use a bigger area of the quad instead of just the area in front of the stage,” said Dona Standel, 20, a junior majoring in communications and a member of Hillel. “When we heard that there was going to be a Palestinian presence, we decided to limit ourselves to the stage area.”

Both groups said they expected the day to remain peaceful and neither wanted to engage in political dialogue during the two-hour long event. The peaceful tone of Thursday’s rally was a sharp departure from the past, when Jewish organizations and pro-Palestinian groups often engaged in heated, contentious confrontations stemming from the palpable tensions between two countries, and the United States’ continued support of Israel. The pro-Palestinian group, General Union of Palestinian Students, organized the demonstration and wanted to send out its message, but keep it peaceful.

“We want to keep it low-key and go out with signs and masks,” said Ramsey El-Qare, 27, a senior majoring in political science. “We’re wearing the masks as a symbol of [the Israelis] denying our existence.”

The Jewish organization, Hillel, which is not officially affiliated with Israel, advertised the event to most of the pro-Israeli community in San Francisco. The group, together with the Israel Coalition and other participants, wore blue t-shirts with the word peace in English, Arabic and Hebrew, printed in white on the front. Around the stage hung Israeli flags and the area was decorated in Israeli colors.

Most of the people participating in the Palestinian counter demonstration wore hattas, a shawl with a fence-looking pattern, which has become a cultural symbol for Palestinians, and waved Palestinian flags. Though the event was peaceful, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians boasted strong opinions at the event.

“Most important is human rights for everyone,” said Hassan Aburish, 22, a senior majoring in international relations and a participant in the Palestinian demonstration. “[The Israelis’] freedoms come to the expense of Palestinian human rights.”

Overall, both groups respected each other’s presence on the quad during the event. Onlooker Daniel Barreiro, 22, a major in cinema studies, noted the respectful atmosphere. He came out to watch the event as the fire alarm went off inside the Cesar Chavez Student Center.

“You have to give respect for people to live in peace,” he said.

Still, the conflict is currently affecting students, according to GUPS member Brian Gallagher, 25, a double major in political science and history. He said GUPS only has two official members because many pro-Palestinian students are afraid to openly join organization in fear of being identified.

The issue is infected for pro-Israeli students as well.

“I’ve been a part of political dialogues with pro-Palestinians in the past,” said Dona Standel. “But I’m not anymore because it’s such a sensitive subject that I become too emotional to do it.”

May Day rally coupled with budget woes

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In a May Day rally that touched base at SF State, Dolores Park and City Hall, three Muni trains’ worth of students left campus last Thursday to voice opposition to the budget cuts expected to hit the California State University system.

The 600-strong student contingent doubled the size of a group already forming at Dolores Park, adding their voices to the concerns of others who gathered during the unofficial workers’ holiday. In the rally and the 90-minute march to City Hall, groups also called for immigration reform and an end to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The noon walkout also included an unplanned half-hour blockade of 19th Avenue and a short march around the campus before leaving for the park, participants said.

With the solidification of groups like Fight the Fees and the New Front Coalition, he walkout is the most recent example of growing activism and collaboration among students to oppose Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget. While state legislators are still debating the final decision, many officials expect there to be drastic cuts to funding for SF State and other schools in California’s higher education system.

“At the CSU, we’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars in the richest country and the richest state,” said 24-year-old Fight the Fees activist Alex Mejia, from the truck bed that served as the speakers’ stage.

Most of the day’s orators spoke in both Spanish and English, making connections between the rise in immigration crackdowns in the U.S. and the worsening situation in Iraq.

“Creating multi-racial alliances is extremely important,” Mejia said, describing how the student fee movements at SF State are networking with other causes like immigration reform.

Students at the rally generally agreed that the risk of higher fees, lower class availability and the firing of popular faculty were their primary concerns.

“It isn’t like we have money to just throw away,” said Misha Cornelius, 18, who said her family has a comfortable financial background. For students like her, with family incomes that are even a notch too high for financial aid, the impact of higher fees can be even more severe.

After a series of speakers at Dolores Park, the sound of drums attracted the 1,000-strong mass toward their 19th Street sendoff in the Mission District. Protesters began flourishing their instruments, noisemakers, signs and voices, and the block of participants found a place among their respective contingents and between the walls of police that would follow them to City Hall.

For SF State, a large sign reading “Stop Fees & Cuts. Student Workers Unite” was the rallying point, and

“No borders, no walls—education is free for all” became the chant that carried the march into its first steps.

“No cuts, no fees—education should be free” was another chant, recalling the belief of many in the demonstration that California public higher education should be entirely cost-free.

The two-mile trek blocked two lanes of traffic as it moved through the Mission District, with police and some participants working to keep the group from crossing over into the other lanes.

“I’m surprised—there’s a lot of people here,” said Cecily Alfar, 16, who was in a furniture store with her mother but stepped out to watch the march. Alfar had heard about the rally at school and said she thought some of her friends might be in the group.

Lita Blanc, a 20-year teaching veteran at George R. Moscone Elementary School, said she supported the efforts at SF State. A long-time participant in progressive demonstrations, Blanc said that her biggest concern was the well-being of students who are going to school as undocumented immigrants.

Passing under the Central Freeway, participants let out an even greater cacophony of noise, an echo of cheers and drums that reverberated far beyond the overpass. Minutes later, they had arrived.

It was a festive scene at City Hall, with a performance from a Spanish-language ska band, and speeches from Clarence Thomas of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

Upon arrival, SF State students picked a spot on the grass to rest.

“It kept momentum, which is really important for a rally,” said Bryan Tin, 22-year-old environmental studies major.

“This is the first step,” Mejia said. “One walk-out is not going to solve our budget crisis.”

Spot new editor Jerold Chinn contributed to this report.

Students join longshoremen to voice dissent on May Day

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Anti-war protesters joined longshoremen in a May Day shutdown of West Coast ports. Meeting at the Union Hall May 1, they marched to the Embarcadero in support of the workers’ rights movement and to voice opposition to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hundreds rallied in support of the planned shutdown and marched to Justin Herman Plaza, where dozens of guest speakers addressed the crowd.

The protest was planned by the West Coast port union members as a collaborated event in light of May Day—International Workers’ Day—to voice dissent by shutting down all West Coast ports for the early half of the day, said Craig Merrilees, communications director for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The ILWU represents 25,000 workers from San Diego to Seattle.

May Day is traditionally designated to celebrate the achievements of the international labor movement and has grown to encompass a wide spectrum of causes affecting the working class, including immigrant rights, access to public education and medicine, and global military conflicts. Numerous movements reflected such diversity throughout the city last Thursday.

Nearly 200 SF State students conducted a walk-out the same day in opposition to possible fee hikes brought on by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed state budget, and in light of May Day to show support for the various working class movements. However, the students continued their rally via Muni to Dolores Park, separate from the Longshoremen’s event.

Nonetheless, allusions to each other’s cause were frequent among individuals at both events.

“The schools that are most vulnerable are being starved,” said Betty Olson-Jones, president of the Oakland Education Association, referring to planned budget cuts to education. “The budget cuts make immigrants and the poor suffer the most.”

Steve Zeltzer, an SF State alumnus and media organizer for labor support groups, likened the current activism to the historic student strikes in 1968 at SF State, which spawned the College of Ethnic Studies by drawing attention to minorities’ struggles in the educational system.

“This union was supportive of the strike in 1968. I was a library worker during the strike and I worked at the ports during that time,” said Steve Zeltzer, who participated in the strikes on campus.

“These principles, these ideals people were fighting for 40 years ago, are needed today.”

Actor Danny Glover, also an SF State alumnus, spoke at the event and voiced his support on stage for the protest and later commented on his role in the strikes at SF State.

“I was one of the leaders of the strike,” said Glover, explaining how he spent time in jail and organized people for the movement.

“We’re talking about 40 years ago, and that’s how my life has been up till today.”

“It would be good to have the students come down,” said Juan Edwards, a protest supporter at the Longshoreman rally.

“It’s going to pave the way for their future to take this stand. This is the best time for them to do their thing.”

Also among speakers at the Longshoremen’s event was anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who announced that she would soon be a grandmother.

In praising the event’s turnout, she said, “If we keep being militant like this, maybe my grandson Jonah won’t have to be part of a bullshit war.”

Stafford loan limits may rise

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House and Senate legislators attempted to avert a deepening loan crisis last week by passing a bill allowing the federal government to buy up student loans from cash-strapped lenders.

For several weeks, analysts speculated that the student loan sector would be the next casualty of the struggling credit industry. Anxiety was further fueled by announcements from lenders that they would no longer be offering the federally guaranteed loans.

“It seemed like lenders were making a fortune on student loans,” said Barbara Hubler, SF State’s director of financial aid. “I’ve understood that, in the past, student loans were nearly as lucrative as credit cards for lenders.”

But regulatory changes and recent shifts in financial markets made it harder to resell and profit on student loans.

However, Hubler sees SF State students as insulated from private student loan problems because the campus participates in a direct lending program.

SF State students apply directly to the government for federal Stafford loans through the financial aid office without involving an outside lender.

“President [Robert A.] Corrigan was a strong supporter of direct loans from the beginning,” she said. “He wanted us to be one of the first campuses to offer them.”

SF State has been a direct lending school since 1994.

But the new legislation will affect SF State students because it raises maximums for student borrowing on Stafford loans.

In the past, undergraduates were limited to $23,000 in aggregate borrowing as a dependent, or $46,000 as an independent student. Under the new bill, those limits would be raised to $31,000 and $57,500, respectively.

Jane Glickman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education, said President George W. Bush supports the legislation and is expected to sign it into law in a matter of days.

The bill stipulates that the raised borrowing threshold would go into effect for new loans on or after July 1, 2008.

Hubler hopes the change would significantly reduce the need for SF State students to seek private student loans.

About 50 percent of SF State students receive some form of financial aid, Hubler said, but only about 300 current students applied for private student loans.

For students who do need to find a private student loan, Hubler predicts a rough road.

“Students who don’t have a co-borrower for their loan or have poor credit should not expect to be eligible for a private student loan,” she said.

No one—not even continuing borrowers—should expect to skate through the loan process, she said.

“Don’t wait until August,” Hubler warned, to start applying for loans.

“Students who are a little risky are going to be refused,” she said. “And if they’re having difficulty finding a private loan because of their own financial situation, we’re not going to be able to do much to help them.”

During her 27 years coordinating financial aid on campus, Hubler has seen a distinct shift in students’ borrowing needs.

“Up until a few years ago, outside private loans were unheard of,” she said.

But higher fees and longer times to graduation have forced students to borrow more heavily to finance their degrees.

SF State student Chris Albon said he will reach the current $46,000 federal borrowing maximum before he graduates next spring.

Albon said he could benefit from the new limits but previous limits were impetus to finish his degree as soon as possible.

“I want to get out of school and into the work world,” he said, adding that next spring will mark his sixth year in college.

But Albon’s debt load has affected more than his graduation timeline.

He changed his degree goal from journalism to geography.The option of a job in land-use planning made him more comfortable about his ability to make enough in salary to pay back his college loans.

Budgeting money isn’t his strong suit, but he said he is well-informed about loan repayment options.

Long in advance of graduation, Albon is weighing his options about deferrals, consolidation, avoiding penalties and minimizing interest payments.

“They’re so lenient,” he said. “I think you’d have to be an idiot to default on a federal loan.”

The California Faculty Association released a report April 30 as part of a last-ditch effort to put into perspective the overall impact of higher education in the state and save the California State University system from proposed budget cuts.

The report was commissioned by the CFA and released to the media during the union’s Capitol Lobby Days and was prepared by Tim Gage, Matt Newman and Trisha McMahon of the Blue Sky Consulting Group. It takes 21 in-depth studies of higher education and applies them to the CSU system, focusing on the fiscal impact of higher education on California.

“This report is kind of our last message to send out to students who we won’t have as much opportunity to reach because of the semester ending,” said CFA spokesman Brian Ferguson. “It’s also a comprehensive look at what we have been saying for the past few months and what we are trying to get done by the May 15 revise.”

Key findings of the report equated to immediate concern for the state of California during the current budget crisis year in which the CSU is slated to lose $386 million in funding. Investing in higher education is described as sustainable because the impact of universities on regional economic development is large, tax revenues increases with more college-educated people, and more college-educated people means fewer people on public assistance.

The report is the final installment in a series of efforts this semester to garner support for the CSU and secure funding. Its release coincides with the “Gov., can you hear us now?” campaign, which concludes Thursday, and has been deemed a success thus far by the Alliance for the CSU. As of Friday, the alliance counted 1,000 calls, 8,500 faxes and 700 letters to the governor denouncing cuts to the CSU. This prompted the governor’s district office to stop taking calls and turn off fax machines.

“Public higher education is important to Californians,” stated Gage in the report. “Nine in 10 college-going Californians choose colleges in the state and 85 percent choose public colleges and universities.”

“Demographic and economic trends clearly argue for increasing, rather than decreasing, the available supply of college-educated workers…the state faces a looming shortage of skilled, college-educated workers,” the report said.

The Public Policy Institute of California found that 76 percent of Californians think the public university systems are “very important” to the state’s economic viability. It also found that by 2020, 39 percent of jobs will need college-educated workers, but only 33 percent of the state’s working age population will hold bachelor’s degrees.

Gage and the report’s co-authors estimated the CSU would have to deny access to more than 18,000 students over the next two years, effectively taking no new students at all, before its enrollment is fully funded. The university already denied access to 11,000 students in fall 2007.

In response to the report, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s press secretary Aaron McLear wrote on the Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert blog that the governor has put millions into higher education since taking office in 2003.

The CFA countered by reminding reporters that although the governor has made small increases to the CSU budget over the last few years, when adjusting for inflation, the system’s budget in 2006-07 was still less than the 2001-2002 budget by more than $300 million. During 2006-2007, CSU had an increase in enrollment of 44,000 students, an 11 percent increase.

Non-apparent disabilities pose challenges to access

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In spring 2007, Rachel Bierach’s plan was to finish a bachelor’s degree in music from SF State.

When she collapsed from an acute asthma attack and landed in the hospital for three days, that plan started to derail.

“I’ve been through good and bad times with asthma symptoms, but it had never been this bad,” said Bierach, 21, who has lived with asthma since she was a toddler.

She tried to resume her schedule but couldn’t be on campus without shortness of breath and dizziness.

“It was totally out of control,” she said. “None of the medications worked.”

Further complicating the situation was the trigger for her attacks—Bierach was pregnant.

Her health, the health of her baby and the degree she had worked for years to earn became looming uncertainties.

She knew she had to put her health first, and that meant staying away from places that exacerbated her condition.

She went home, e-mailed her professors, and hoped for the best.

Students with health problems like Bierach’s are not uncommon at SF State. More than 800 people are currently registered with SF State’s Disability Programs and Resource Center.

The DPRC exists to ensure students with disabilities have equal access to education.

People tend to think of equal access in terms of wheelchair ramps, parking spaces, sign language interpreters or Braille study materials.

While all those things are covered through the DPRC, those aren’t the needs of most clients.

“About 75 percent of students registered have a non-apparent disability,” said Deidre Defreese, the program’s associate director.

Just as the term implies, such disabilities have symptoms that can be subtle or invisible to untrained eyes.

Many of these health problems fall into what the DPRC calls “systemic disabilities,” affecting the body’s respiratory, immune, nervous or circulatory systems.

Conditions with symptoms that are difficult to see can be difficult for others to understand, Defreese said. And lack of understanding can cause significant barriers to educational access for students with non-apparent disabilities.

Sometimes faculty will refuse to make accommodations because they don’t understand the student’s limitations, she explained.

“It’s not until we have a conversation about a student’s specific needs,” she said. “That they realize ‘Oh, there is another way I could do this.’”

Another way might be giving a student longer to take a test, being more flexible with deadlines or leniency for making up work after absences.

Defreese said part of her responsibility is to communicate students’ needs without compromising their right to medical confidentiality.

“Faculty don’t have a right to know what your medical condition is,” Defreese said. “But they do need to know that accommodations are for a disability and not just a personal preference.”

If severe health problems keep a student from completing course work even with accommodations, Defreese said, the DPRC can step in to control the damage to the student’s academic record.

“It might mean asking for an incomplete or assisting with a late withdrawal,” she said.

Although the registrar’s late withdrawal form asks students to detail their health problem, Defreese strongly counsels students against filling this section out.

“Who knows who’s going to read that file?” Defreese asked.

The DPRC is able to confirm a medical condition with doctors and give the registrar non-specific documentation that the late withdrawal is valid.

A policy requiring all class syllabi to include contact information for the DPRC was passed by SF State’s Academic Senate in late 2007.

While this change encourages Defreese, she said it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that faculty fully understand their responsibilities.

According to written instruction packets the DPRC provides to educators, that responsibility is relatively simple.

Faculty and staff should be available to discuss potential accommodations with a student and in appropriate cases, agree to specific methods of dealing with missed classes, assignments or exams.

The student’s obligation is to actively communicate with their professor to make them aware of problems and negotiate deadlines and schedules to make up work.

Some of the DPRC clients only need temporary help with note-taking or reading because of an injury.

Spring break or a particularly good snow season always adds a handful of people to the register, Defreese said.

“Or if the X Games have been in town,” she added, laughing.

But if a post-vacation parade of plastered appendages and the foibles of youth amuse her, the reality of the situation puts her back on point.

“People don’t always understand what it means to lose the use of your dominant hand,” she said. “It can completely ruin your ability to take a test.”

Defreese said she can’t help everybody. A student may wait too long to address a problem, or a certain class may require a heightened level of participation and can’t be adapted.

But her goal is to start a dialogue between students and teachers.

Not all people who deal with chronic health conditions like diabetes, AIDS, asthma, or seizure disorders think of themselves as disabled, she explained.

When faculty see a student struggling or missing classes, Defreese said, they may not feel comfortable asking a student about their health, but some know they can call the DPRC and ask them to intervene.

The difference between a student getting by or dropping out can depend entirely on communication, she said.

“I’ve learned to have the conversation first. You never know what people are willing to do until you ask,” she said. “People surprise you.”

In many instances, she said, students and teachers are able to work things out on their own.

“I see plenty of cases where faculty are accommodating students without ever involving us,” she said.

That was exactly what Rachel Bierach’s professors did for her when her asthma became debilitating and threatened her graduation plan.

She arranged to finish her degree on independent study.

“My professors were so supportive,” Bierach said, but added that it’s important to establish a good relationship before something goes wrong.

“If they already trust you, it’s going to make it much easier when you need help,” she said.

Bierach’s asthma stabilized after her daughter was born. A year later, she is back at SF State working toward a master’s degree in music.

Although she credits her professors’ support for her ability to graduate on time, she hasn’t always enjoyed the same understanding from other students.

“People smoke on campus, and it’s a big deal when you have asthma,” she said.

She’s given up asking people not to smoke near her, as they tend to ignore the request.

But she said if she thought they might listen, she would tell them this: “You don’t know it, but you’re making me sick.”

BSU commemorates Malcolm X

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The Black Student Union hosted an event at the Cesar Chavez Student Center to commemorate the life and achievements of black liberation activist Malcolm X. Members of the Nation of Islam and the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party joined the BSU celebration of Malcolm X and his legacy on May 7 on SF State’s Malcolm X Plaza.

“We’re here to clear up misconceptions a lot of people don’t know about Malcolm; they know one narrow view: that he was a racist,” said Coby Obiesie, 20, majoring in accounting and black studies. “Malcolm X spoke for the liberation of all human beings.”

Through Malcolm X’s speeches and words, speakers at the celebration connected his actions and philosophies to the liberation struggle of black, Palestinian, Latino, Chicano and Native American people.

According to Aimee Barnes, program development officer of the Richard Oakes Multicultural Center, the Student Center has hosted the celebration of Malcolm X for 14 years. This year was a little different because the students and their organizations were more involved in organizing the event and providing the student voice that needs to be there, Barnes said.

Following the opening celebration, SF State alumni held an open forum panel discussion to discuss Malcolm X’s legacy and philosophy, and to reiterate their side of what happened to the original mural that was supposed to be placed in 1994 where the current one hangs in the Malcolm X Plaza.

“The mural that was done for SF State in 1994 caused a controversy amongst those who seek to limit expression, particularly that of the oppressed,” said Senay Referone, the artist of the original mural.

The event was also held to celebrate the formal naming of the plaza and the mural that adorns the Student Center along with the Cesar Chavez mural.

“This school prides itself in promoting social justice issues. We want to make sure we commemorate key figures so that the torch continues to burn for future generations,” said Sam Brown, chair of the community relations committee for the Student Center.

Due to a production error in the print version of [X]press, a photo caption stated "The Black Student Union event commemorated the lie and achievements of Malcolm X. It should have read "The life and achievements of Malcolm X." [X]press regrets the error.

Guests gather for international flavor

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A grant of $600 started something special at SF State’s Vista Room.

That was all it took to inspire assistant professor Mehmet Ergul and his students in the Restaurant and Catering Management course to launch into the first international dinner. The Office of International Affairs granted Ergul the funds to kick-start an around-the-world experience hitting on popular and hidden cuisine.

“Food has a universal element. It brings everyone together,” Ergul said.

Friday night’s dinner brought department chairs and professors into the same fourth floor restaurant as friends and family of SF State students who were all willing to shell out $25 dollars for an eclectic meal, a good view and a three-string band.

“I loved it. I love this place,” said Jason Harris-Boundy, an assistant professor of management. “I think the food is consistently great.”

A seven-student committee met weekly to discuss the menu, decorations and logistics—possibly the only students on campus at seven in the morning. It may seem risky for Ergul to give the class freedom to choose recipes, menus and decorations but the committee is made mostly of seniors who, like Amanda Bolach, aren’t strangers to responsibility. Bolach, 21, works for the Westin St. Francis and her fellow classmates can boast similar internships, jobs and, they hope, careers.

“It really helps nurture someone who’s interested,” said Jansen Oblena, 22, a hospitality management major. Oblena was the lone committee member focusing on restaurant management, explaining his eagerness to escape the dining room for the kitchen.

Nearly every continent was represented during the three-course meal, with Greek Tzatziski, Bruschetta, Vietnamese spring rolls and southeast Asian-inspired papaya salad starting off the dinner. Other than drinks, gleeful guests only had to make one (tough) choice: Indian curry chicken, Seafood mixed grill with Chinese vegetables or Italian roasted pepper lasagna.

How does all of this food go together?

“It’s unique. It all complemented each other,” Matthew Dumaguit, 21, said. His friends agreed, including SF State biology major, Chris Melchor whose girlfriend was serving. Although he hadn’t eaten at the Vista Room before, Melchor complimented the chef on the good seafood, excellent bruschetta and rich desserts.

Ergul and the Vista Room’s head chef, Honan, advised the committee on the menu and recipes, largely taken from the student’s personal and family favorites. French mousse au chocolat, Filopino Halo Halo and Australian cookies rounded out the affair.

Most of the Restaurant and Catering Management students showed up to help with food preparation, serve the hungry diners and wash the dishes before they were given leave to enjoy their own samplings. More than just providing dinner to the guests, every student had hands-on experience with making an event happen, said department chair Janet Simms.

“This is fabulous experience,” Harris-Boundy said. “That’s what I try to teach in my classes. Planning and execution in a real situation.”

This includes when restaurant problems arise and the staff has to solve them without making it evident to the guests, Honan said.

“Its enriching, it’s good knowledge to have,” said Christina Tang, 26, a senior in hospitality management.

“All my students were wonderful. I’m really proud of them,” Ergul said. He added that he hopes to make this a regular event—but you’ll have to wait until next spring.

News at a glance: Double fine zone bill passes Senate

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The bill to double traffic fines along 19th Avenue through Park Presidio is one step closer to becoming law.

On May 1, the California Senate voted 21-13 to approve SB 1419, written by state Sen. Leland Yee. “It is simply unacceptable that we continue to lose innocent lives, including children and elders, because of this high speed avenue in our residential area,” Yee said in a press release.

New fines could range from $137.50 (speeding over the limit of 15 mph) to $2,750 (driving causing great bodily injury).

SB 1419 now heads to the California Assembly before heading to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk.

Graduate student locates the stars in the sky

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The stars are among us.

SF State graduate Michelle Krok is not talking about celebrities, but the stars in the sky.

Krok hosted a show called “What’s in the sky tonight? A matter of perspective: what does the night sky look like from the Equator? From South America? How can you use the stars to determine your location?” in Thornton Hall on May 2.

Projecting the night sky as it’s seen above San Francisco, Krok pointed out the Big Dipper and taught the small audience of students who attended how to locate Polaris, or the North Star, using the well-known constellation.

“Polaris sits 38 degrees above the horizon, [which is] the same latitude as San Francisco,” Krok said. The star always remains stationary while the others in our galaxy move clockwise in a 24-hour cycle.

“The closest star to us is four light-years away,” said Krok, who said she hopes to become an introductory astronomy course lecturer.

To better see the stars, she suggests getting out of the city and heading to Yosemite, or someplace equally dark and open.

Sherry Roces, a nursing major who attended Krok’s presentation, said she was generally interested in astronomy and understood much of the information presented.

“I don’t really stargaze,” the San Francisco native said. “But I will now.”

New English graduation requirements in the works

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After deciding last fall to discontinue the Junior English Proficiency Essay Test, or JEPET, the Academic Senate has begun to develop criteria for a new set of English graduation requirements.

The University Committee on Written English Proficiency (CWEP) is in charge of establishing the new set of Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) that will be put into place starting with the freshman class of Fall 2008.

The new proposed requirements would require students to take an upper division English course designed for their specific major instead of taking the more general English 414 and JEPET that is now required.

CWEP held a writing colloquium late January to begin the process of replacing previous graduation requirements. Over 80 faculty members from nearly 50 departments on campus attended the meeting. The colloquium brought up several key points that the new requirements should follow, such as class sizes, types of assignments and the number of units each course should be worth.

Among these new criteria, the committee felt that the class sizes should not exceed 20 students, and would actually prefer that number be decreased to 15 students. CWEP stated in its proposal that “at least 60 percent of the grade in GWAR courses is based on written assignments that are evaluated for both content and quality of writing.”

During an Academic Senate meeting two weeks ago, Arabic studies professor Mohammad Salama expressed his frustration with the English classes currently offered.

“When our students graduate from this school, they aren’t taken seriously because they cannot write,” he said.

The proposal mentions that the GWAR courses will be a “key upper-division introduction to the major,” but with English 214 classes being cut, it is unknown how students will be able to take this class within the anticipated timeframe.

Marissa Blodnik, an international relations major who has already completed the JEPET, said, “It was a waste of time and a lot of people don’t pass it.”

She said she would rather take a grammar workshop or writing classes instead of the JEPET if the university felt its students weren’t at the ideal upper-division English level.

“I think it’s good that there are requirements, but a class would be more helpful than a test,” she said.

At least five professors, including Patricia Irvine, an associate professor in the College of Education, said they would like to rid SF State of the JEPET and its companion, English 414, because they feel the current graduating students are not meeting the standards set by other California State Universities, University of California and universities nationwide.

Once the new requirements are in place they will not affect any students until fall 2010 when the fall 2008 freshmen have reached upper-division standing. During those years, CWEP would tweak any issues that might arise so when 2010 arrives these courses will be in place for students.

“It’s going to be really important if we adopt this that all the little loopholes are worked out,” lecturer Josh Levine of the Music Department said.

While most of the faculty feels this change is essential to SF State student’s education, University Provost and President of Academic Affairs John Gemello said the university currently does not have the resources for such an academic overhaul.

“I believe this program will be a substantial improvement,” Gemello said. “But I hope that we won’t vote on this until we can figure out the necessary resources.”

Monique Marchand, a 21-year-old business administration major, who is scheduled to take the JEPET next month, thinks the test is a good idea so you can test out of English 414, but isn’t sure if a test is the best long-term solution.

“I don’t understand if the test is really working or if it’s just a scam from the university to get more money from the students,” she said.

CWEP recognizes the CSU’s budget is constantly in flux. And some professors have said SF State does not have the funds necessary to find teachers with these skills or to train them to teach English specifically to each major.

“In most places an existing course will be modified to a central course for the major and they could be easily adapted,” said Dr. Bob Cherny, history professor and former Academic Senate Chair.

“It’s always up to the administration to find the resources,” he said.

Not all students are excited for replacement of the JEPET.

Christina Russo, a 21-year-old psychology major, said, “ The JEPET only took an hour. Why would you want to take a whole class instead?”

Smoke causes alarm at University Park North

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Half a dozen University Park North residents voluntarily evacuated their apartments this morning when smoke could be seen and smelled coming from 145 Buckingham Way.

Fire alarms blared after firefighters were summoned to the SF State-owned complex around 5:20 a.m. but few residents left their apartments, according to firefighters on the scene.

Residents were able to return to their apartments at 5:40 a.m. after firefighters determined some burnt food on the second floor of the complex set off the smoke alarm, according to the firefighters.

The complex is a three-story, 12 unit building.

State college coalition continues lobbying efforts

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The three branches of California’s public higher education system made a joint visit to the Capitol building April 28 to urge legislators to resist budget cuts totaling $1 billion to higher education.

Leaders and members of the California Community College, California State University and University of California systems attended the annual legislation day. CSU Chancellor Charles Reed briefed representatives from each of the 23 campuses before a series of meetings with delegates from their district.

“This unprecedented collaboration among our three institutions underscores the severity of the proposed cuts and their potentially devastating effects on the people of this state, now and for years to come,” Reed said in a statement.

Student groups, faculty and staff unions, and alumni from SF State represented viewpoints from all levels of the university during meetings with legislators including State Sen. Leland Yee and Assembly members Fiona Ma and Mark Leno, all San Francisco Democrats. SF State President Robert Corrigan was not in attendance.

“Every single office we went to made a huge impact,” said Lisbet Sunshine, director of government relations for SF State. “We have direct relations with all of the delegates from San Francisco and San Mateo.”

The legislation days have been the next step in a series of attempts to urge Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to protect education funding when the May 15 revised budget is released. The CSU held town hall meetings at each campus for weeks leading up to the April 21 “March for Higher Education” in Sacramento, which had more than 2,000 students, faculty and staff members in attendance.

For the past few months, the three college systems have joined together in a statewide effort to put pressure on the governor and policymakers to seek alternate methods of funding while the state grapples with an estimated $20 billion budget deficit.

Currently, campuses are also conducting mass e-mails, faxes and calls to the governor’s office in what is known as the “Gov., Can You Hear Us Now?” campaign.

“We can’t look at this from the perspective of one campus,” said Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association. “A lot of CSU campuses are in Republican districts, where it is going to be tougher to reach an agreement. The more we continue, the better chance we have of reaching these policymakers.”

“Having all these lobby days, one right after another, is important,” Taiz said. “In the wake of all our actions, this demonstrates a drumbeat. Repetition makes an impact.”

Democratic legislators have urged a tax increase, which Republicans have flatly rejected.

“From our perspective, the SF State and greater CSU lobbying has been a lot of preaching to the choir,” said Adam Keigwin, spokesperson for Yee. “The last thing we want to see cut is education.”

A recent study commissioned by the Campaign for College Opportunity analyzed the cumulative impact of the proposed budget cuts on the three public higher education systems and the citizens of California.

Higher education representatives believe the report will play an important role in securing funding.

According to the report, the cumulative impact of California’s declining investment in higher education would “diminish opportunities for students and hinder the state’s ability to enroll and graduate the number of students necessary to meet the ever-growing need for an education workforce.”

The CSU has a $13.6 billion total annual spending impact statewide and generates more than $760 million in local and state tax revenue. According to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, if 1 percent more Californians earned a bachelor’s degree, the state’s economy would grow to $20 billion, state and local tax revenues would increase by $1.2 billion per year, and 174,000 new jobs would be created.

Sunshine said that although Bay Area legislators are generally “on our side already,” campuses from parts of California under Republican delegates face the real challenge.

“We are blessed in San Francisco to have legislators who are already convinced that this is what we need to do,” Sunshine said. “They get it. We’re not going into hostile offices at all.”

Taiz said the response from legislators has been positive, although the critical person to reach is the governor.

“I think people are listening to us,” Taiz said. “And we need to bear in mind that we are not imprisoned by the May 15 deadline to change things.”

If the proposed cuts go through, the CSU will lose $312.9 million in funding. Last year’s cuts have already forced the 23-campus system to deny enrollment to as many as 10,000 qualified students for the fall 2008 semester, and an increase in student fees is likely. At SF State, President Corrigan has estimated that as much as $25 million could be lost from its budget.

“The CSU has a huge net benefit to the state,” said Keigwin of Yee’s office. “The budget problem is unfortunate, but the governor’s proposal only hurts. There are other places we can get rid of waste spending, and right now, the ball is really in his court.”

According to CSU spokesperson Claudia Keith, the system graduates about 90,000 students into the state’s workforce every year. It supports more than 200,000 jobs in the state, including 60 percent of the state’s teachers. And it awards more than half of the college degrees in agriculture—California’s largest industry—every year.

“Our public higher education system is the envy of the nation,” Taiz said. “In troubled economic times, why would you throw away this asset? What kind of sense does that make?”

Today, SF State. Tomorrow, the world.

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Two hundred and eighty-six SF State students—the most in the university’s history—will be recognized for their acceptance into a study abroad program at today’s Certification Ceremony in McKenna Theatre, according to the latest numbers provided by the Office of International Programs.

Among the honorees is 19-year-old Tabitha Russell, who said she has dreamed about studying abroad since she was 15. She will leave North America for the first time to spend two semesters in the Netherlands and Denmark.

Anthony Morin, 20, will apply several years’ worth of French classes to his studies in Paris, where he’ll also teach English as a second language to elementary and high school students.

Renee Naomi Lancet, 21, hopes to return from Santiago, Chile, fluent in three languages: English, Japanese and Spanish.

“Ninety-five percent [of these students] are going abroad for a year,” said Noah Kuchins, the international exchange programs adviser and an SF State study abroad alumnus.

The university is second in the nation in terms of sending students abroad on bilateral exchange programs and makes up over 25 percent of the students in CSU international programs, according to the OIP.

For some students, such as Veronica Benjamin, this moment of recognition has been a long time coming.

While visiting her brother on a study abroad program in the Netherlands in 2005, Benjamin was envious of how much fun he was having with his new international friends, she said.

“He could go visit them and have a house to stay at in almost every European country,” the international relations major said. “I wanted to do the exact same.”

She has been accepted at the University of Pavia in Italy through the SF State bilateral exchange program.
The family aspect had a big impact on Donovan Walker’s decision to go abroad as well.

“My brother studied in South Africa and [he] made me feel like I was not taking advantage of my college career if I didn’t study abroad,” said the 21-year-old, who is headed to Querétaro, Mexico, through the yearlong CSU program.

Their timing couldn’t be better. With the possible California educational budget cuts causing students to fret about slimmer offerings next fall, those going abroad can load up on classes that could be impacted at SF State. Benjamin’s schedule is full with courses in international relations, European history and politics so that she can complete a European area studies minor abroad.

“I wouldn’t have been able to take all these classes at once here at [SF State],” she said.

Other countries also offer students a new crop of classes and unique programs. As a humanities major hoping to become a nurse, Melissa Vargas will spend her year at the University of Amsterdam broadening her multicultural knowledge—something she feels is important in the nursing field. Her schedule consists of courses in sexuality, Netherlands political policy, intercultural communications and the Dutch language.

“To really understand a culture, it is important to know their language and I really want to [immerse] myself completely in Dutch culture,” said Vargas, who has met several Dutch students on exchange at SF State through International Education Exchange Council activities.

Four journalism majors are getting ready to complete the yearlong Europe in the World program. They’ll spend the fall semester in Utrecht, the Netherlands, concentrating on European politics, economics, history and journalism philosophy, while the Danish School of Journalism in Århus, Denmark, will sharpen their interview skills and send them reporting all over Europe in the spring.

“I’m positive it will be life-changing,” Sarah Chase, 21, said. “I hope it will give me a leg up competition-wise, but also help me grow as a writer in my own ways.”

Seven SF State students will spend five weeks at the University of Seoul in South Korea this summer, taking advantage of a program available only to those who have already completed terms abroad. S

Sundeep Dosanjh, an SF State BECA major, is planning to take a media studies course and a Korean language course with the hope that he’ll be able to relate to his interview subjects better.

“Traveling abroad is a great way to understand different traditions [you may not] see in California,” said the 24-year-old, who traveled to more than 19 countries while studying in Sweden.

Besides missing their friends and family while abroad, some students expressed particular aspects of San Francisco—many cuisine-related—that will hold a special place in their memory.

“[I’ll miss] Pancho Villa Taqueria, [but] I will not miss the fog,” said Netherlands-bound Russell.

“[I will also miss] the burritos in the [Cesar Chavez] Student Center—the Mexican food in Paris is terrible,” said Aimee Armstrong, a psychology and French double major who plans to spend two years studying in Aix-en-Provence and Paris.

“The commitment to study abroad and internationalization is truly incredible at SF State,” said David Wick, coordinator of study abroad programs. “The students selected this term can be very proud to be part of the continuation of that tradition.”

Students at the ceremony will be divided up by region: the Americas, Africa, the Pacific Rim and Europe. Among the friends and family in the audience, the OIP has invited SF State faculty, administration and staff members, the 86 department chairs, eight college deans, and diplomats from each country.

In the time between traveling the ancient roads of Europe and a walking tour of the Serengeti plains, adventure writer and SF State alumnus Tim Cahill stopped by the university yesterday to talk about his unexpected pursuit of “literate” writing about the outdoors.

One of the early pioneers of Outside magazine, Cahill shared his advice for budding journalists, including that accuracy is paramount in even the descriptive and first-person writing of “New Journalism.”

“I draw the line absolutely at the truth. You cannot step over that line,” Cahill said, “Reality, in and of itself, will make a story for you.”

A former writer for Rolling Stone, Cahill became involved when the magazine decided to launch Outside in 1977.

“I was one of the only people at Rolling Stone magazine that liked to go outside,” Cahill quipped.
At the time, writing about the outdoors was limited to stories of heroic men fighting various deadly animals, Cahill said. With Outside, he hoped to overcome the notion that all outdoors people were “knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers.”

Years later, after adventures that included falling screaming through the jungle into a pack of frightened gorillas, Cahill said that one can only really know what they’ve prepared all their lives for when they get there.
Before journalism, Cahill was studying for a master’s degree in creative writing at SF State with the intention of writing fiction. Before that, the now acclaimed reporter studied history and law.

It was a favor, a write-up to accompany a friend’s lithographic bird illustration, that made it into the San Francisco Examiner and gave Cahill his first taste of reporting.

Cahill knew nothing about birds, but he had spent time playing dead in a Mount Tamalpais field and observing the scavenging turkey vultures that gathered overhead. His friend agreed to draw the birds and Cahill went to work.

“Write what you know,” Cahill advised.

After making only $700 in two years of writing fiction, Cahill found himself needing a job and had the Examiner knocking on his door.

He found a niche in colorful, personal stories like a second-by-second narritive of an Olympic swimmer’s winning sprint, and he soon began to realize what all his education had prepared him for.

Cahill encouraged writers to visit “Flowbee,” a place “where you hook into the universal consciousness,” as they write.

“Somehow, the connections that you didn’t know exist occur to you when you’re in that state,” he said.
But most importantly, “keep writing.”

Student activists walk out for working class

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Expect marching, chanting and a lot more open seats in class today as the Fight the Fees Campaign at SF State is walking out to protest potential fee increases in light of the city-wide May Day labor movement.

The group has been planning for a student walkout since early this semester. Efforts to raise awareness have included public rallies to build momentum to carry through to the fall semester, when fee protests are likely to continue, said Liset Mendoza, 19, a creative writing major participating in the walkout and the Fight the Fees Campaign.

May 1, celebrated as International Workers Day around the world, coincides with the spirit of the Fight the Fees Campaign, organizers said.

“The importance of demonstrating on May 1st is two-fold,” said Drew Van, a 22-year-old sociology major and campaign organizer. “One, leaving work and class behind and taking to the streets visually shows student solidarity with the working class as a whole.”

“Secondly,” he added, “it is an opportunity to seize a day of historical importance—which was created by average people standing up for their rights—and to stand up against the face of a system which is threatening to take $20-plus billion away from California’s neediest sections of society, including an already underfunded and undervalued education system.”

The Fight the Fees group rallied in early March and held a teach-in and a rally in the quad that led to a loud but peaceful march to the Administration building, as students chanted, “No cuts, no fees.”

The campaign has since held meetings regularly and gained support from staff and faculty members on and off campus. The group held a teach-in last week in preparation for today’s walkout, with guest speakers from City College of San Francisco, Galileo High School, SF State non-faculty staff, CSU Employees Union representative Russell Kilday-Hicks and Larry Salomon, a lecturer in the College of Ethnic Studies.

“We do the behind-the-scenes work,” Kilday-Hicks said at the teach-in. “It’s a sad fact that the longer you work here, the farther you fall behind.”

“On behalf of non-faculty staff,” said Kilday-Hicks in conclusion, “we literally feel your pain.”

The walkout is part of a series of campus events addressing the possible state budget cuts that stem from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposition in January to cut $312.9 million from the CSU.

On April 30, the governor raised the stakes, saying the ballooning budget deficit could reach as much as $20 billion, up from the $14 billion that lawmakers had initially projected in April. The deficit has prompted Schwarzenegger to call for across-the-board cuts, including cuts to education, prisons and health services.

“For far too long we have remained in the closet, talking about how upset we are with the politicians, the environmental destruction, the violence, the dismal education system,” Van said. “This is a day to turn our frustrations into action.”

Supporters are expected to walk out of classrooms at noon and rally at Malcolm X Plaza. The congregation is planning to ride Muni and gather at Dolores Park, where it will begin a march to Civic Center.

“The goal is to show everyone there is a strong student unity on campus,” Mendoza said. “One of the important things is to show the power of student unity.”

Man arrested after allegedly flashing a student

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University police arrested a 36-year-old man claiming to be an SF State student for indecent exposure on April 23 in the J. Paul Leonard Library.

According to police, the suspect, identified as Diarras Dwayne Manuel, Jr. of San Francisco, was witnessed walking through aisles of books on the third floor around noon before allegedly unzipping his pants and exposing himself to a female student who was studying at a table near the southeast corner of the floor.

Another female student who happened to witness the incident told police that the suspect appeared to be masturbating, although it was uncertain which hand he was using. The victim, according to the police report, also confirmed this information.

Indecent exposure incidents on campus—and in particular the library—aren’t unheard of, said SF State spokeswoman Ellen Griffin.

“This academic year the University Police have investigated six incidents. Of the four that occurred on campus, three occurred in the library,” Griffin said.

The police report said that immediately after the incident took place, the victim notified library staff, which then called the University Police Department.

Police identified a man matching the description given by the victim near the scene of the reported incident.

A witness also positively identified Manuel, who was identified prior to questioning of the victim. When questioned, Manuel allegedly claimed to be a student and then gave a false name and birth date to the officer.

Police noted that the pants of the suspect in question were unzipped.

Upon searching Manuel, police discovered a DMV registration card and a credit card with the suspect’s legal name.

Police also discovered that the suspect had a prior conviction of indecent exposure along with a court order prohibiting him from being near the Parkmerced apartment complex.

Manuel was arrested and charged with two felony counts of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor charge of providing false identification to an officer, and disobeying a court order, also a misdemeanor.

Indecent exposure is classified as a sex crime in California and multiple convictions carry a penalty of up to five years in prison. Suspects convicted of indecent exposure laws must also register as sex offenders in a national database.

New bins arrive by campus eateries, encourage recycling

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The Cesar Chavez Student Center expanded its food waste composting program last month to the West Plaza in its quest to reduce its garbage by up to 85 percent.

The expansion, which the [X]press reported would occur on March 10, was delayed when its main student volunteer took time off for personal reasons, said Edina Bajrakteravic, retail service manager.

As the center does not have any full time staff for projects like these, its implementation relies currently on volunteers like Suzanne McNulty and other members of ECO Students, SF State’s group of environmentally conscious students, Bajrakteravic said.

But after McNulty returned last week, three trios of bins—one each for recyclables, compostables and garbage, mirroring San Francisco’s curbside collection system—appeared April 8 alongside the outside area’s restaurants.

Though a few logistical concerns remain—removing the bins from the previous system and weighing down the new ones with sandbags to keep their contents from blowing in the wind—Bajrakteravic said the changes were exciting and that students should “expect great things soon.”

ECO Students will send members to the West Plaza bins to help students learn the new collection system and use it properly during lunch hours.

And if the response to the group’s first station inside the center by Café 101 is any indication, the expansion “will be a flying success,” McNulty said. “Sounds like a lot of people are anxious to participate, and they’re glad that now there’s an opportunity.”

ECO Students plans to set aside what collects in the West Plaza bins for two weeks and check it to see how well students follow the system, McNulty said. If successful, up to 85 percent of what used to be thrown away by restaurant customers could be either recycled or composted, according to a waste study ECO Students conducted in 2006.

Collecting the whole 85 percent, however, would require replacing all the center cafeteria’s trash cans with three-bin stations like those now in place. Accomplishing that, along with introducing more compostable plastic foodware, will be the group’s next goal, said McNulty.

ECO Students will meet with the center’s governing board and update them on their progress this month, about two years after the group initially proposed a three-step plan to reduce the center’s waste. Though the project is taking longer to complete than the proposal envisioned, “things popping up is a normal part of the process. The progress that’s been made has been incredible,” McNulty said.

Police presence linked to auto break-in decline

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When an SF State professor stepped out of his University Park North apartment one morning to see the broken window of his car, he had no idea that it would soon become a familiar sight.

“I just didn’t think it would happen again,” said the professor, who wished to remain anonymous. “I had no idea that having my car broken into would be a reoccurring problem.”

The SF State professor has been a resident in the University Park North apartment complex for four years and said his car has been broken into five times.

This past March, University Police distributed a flier notifying residents of an increase in auto thefts around the Buckingham Way area, where University Park North is located.

The flier acknowledged an outbreak of auto thefts, and stated that police have determined the majority of the thefts occurred during late evening hours.

According to the police department, it is common practice to notify residents of recent crime trends via flier postings.

“We believe that the crime reduction is attributed to the education and awareness that the campus community is receiving from our police department,” said Deputy Chief Patrick Wasley.

Incidents involving car thefts and break-ins are not new to SF State. In 2006 there were 50 reported incidents of vehicle thefts, according to the 2007 campus security report.

Last year there were 39 more auto burglary and vehicle theft incidents than in 2006, and at the time police attributed the rise to the acquisition of the University Park North.

“There was a huge increase in auto burglaries in the area (during that time), and University Park North was especially hit hard,” said Wasley.

After the initial spike in break-ins, three suspects were arrested; since then, auto-burglaries in the University Park North and surrounding areas have subsided, Wasley said.

The 697-unit Stonestown apartment complex on Buckingham Way was purchased for $134 million by SF State in 2005 and renamed University Park North. As of the fall 2007 semester, students, faculty and SF State alumni occupied 45 percent of the units at University Park North, according to Jo Volkert, associate vice president of enrollment for the university.

After the acquisition of the property by SF State, residents reported that nighttime security guards were never seen again and replaced with occasional police patrols.

Because of this, said the professor, longtime residents initially perceived the University Park North management as being uncaring and unresponsive to the issue of auto thefts.

Auto break-ins have seemed to subside in recent months, he was quick to add, and the community has noticed a police presence around the area.

“I, along with most residents I have spoken to, appreciate what the university police have [done] to curb these incidents,” he said.

So far this semester there have been 16 reported auto burglaries and 13 reported vehicle thefts, a lower number than this time last year.

The University Police Department does not see SF State students as potential suspects.

“We believe that most of the people that are breaking into vehicles are from off campus and have no affiliation with [the school],” Wasley said.

Residents and visitors who park around the Buckingham Way area are cautioned to not leave anything of value in their parked cars.

“People who find themselves victimized by auto burglars are those who tend to leave high-value items in plain view,” Wasley said.

Policy pushes long-time seniors to graduate

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SF State and California State University administrators are trying to nudge a small group of seniors out of the nest.

“We don’t want to just throw them out,” said Jo Volkert, associate vice president of enrollment planning and management at SF State. “We want them to graduate.”

Undergraduates with more than 155 units at the beginning of the spring semester who had not applied for graduation received e-mails. These 260 students were warned that they needed to meet with advisors and file an approved graduation plan, or their registration for fall would be denied.

Although 260 students may sound like a small number, Volkert said, they represent a larger problem.

The 260 students have top registration priority. If they sign up for an average of three classes, that’s 780 class seats that are closed to students who might need them to graduate in a more timely manner.

“What we have here is a precious commodity: a seat in a class,” Volkert said. “Our job is to allocate those seats in a fair way.”

The two-stage registration process now used at SF State was instituted last fall, in part, to give students with lower registration priority a better chance at getting pivotal classes.

Since the first round of registration is restricted to eight units, students with high cumulative unit counts can’t hoard a full schedule of classes before lower priority students get a shot.

The change is just one of many as CSU and SF State administrators begin to keep a closer watch on students who take longer, more circuitous routes to graduation.

Most baccalaureate degrees at SF State can be earned with 120 units. The most recent data, collected in 2005, showed the average SF State student graduating with between 139 and 141 units.

Unnecessary units can add up when students change majors or when classes transferred from another school don’t satisfy the same requirements at SF State.

CSU’s academic affairs is currently working on the Lower Division Transfer Pattern Project. The project gives guidance to community college counselors and students on how to optimize their coursework to dovetail into the CSU’s graduation requirements.

In other words, the project intends to keep students from wasting time on junior college classes that won’t count toward their degree goal.

Here at SF State, policies are changing to keep students from wasting their time, as well as the time of teachers.

Last month, SF State’s Academic Senate passed a new policy that will discourage students from withdrawing from classes and repeating classes multiple times.

According to a statement by the Academic Policies Committee, “the new course-repeat policy is intended to balance unfettered and equitable access to SF State resources. It will also promote careful planning of academic schedules, facilitate student advising at pivotal academic points, and increase enrollment opportunities for all students.”

The new policy will allow only a single repeat of a class, even if the previous grade assigned was a “W.”

Ray Trautman is an SF State professor of chemistry and biochemistry and the chair of the Academic Senate’s policies committee.

There are many reasons a student might need to withdraw from a class, Trautman said, and it is sometimes the smart decision to do so.

But what Trautman calls “a vicious cycle” plagues some students, particularly in science labs and some business courses.

The cycle begins when students can’t get into the lower level classes they need. Then they get desperate and try to take more advanced classes out of sequence. Several weeks into the semester—when they realize they are over their heads—they withdraw.

“That’s when we cry,” Trautman said. Because six weeks into the semester, he said, there are open seats in the lab.

“And for every single lab class,” he said, “there were students we had to turn away.”

The essence of the policy is to encourage advising at pivotal academic moments.

“If you haven’t passed after two attempts,” Trautman said, “that’s a pivotal academic moment.”

Former president of Associated Students, Inc., Isidro Armenta, agrees that the key is more academic advising.

Armenta lost his seat as ASI president in March because of a policy prohibiting undergraduates with more than 150 units from holding office in student government.

He doesn’t feel the new policies are unfair, but said that limiting students’ ability to repeat classes won’t fix the true problem.

“I think it’s time for a reality check,” he said. “The truth is that SF State does not offer the necessary courses for every student to graduate in a timely manner.”

Armenta points to what he calls the “silent reality” of scores of students who try to add classes on the first day of class but are turned away without being counted by the university.

He also notes that minimum unit requirements for financial aid can force students to take classes that don’t count toward their degree.

Armenta will become the first college graduate in his family in May. It has taken him five years to complete his degree.

“I have never occupied a seat in a course for the sake of taking up a seat,” he said.

“The Academic Senate has spent enough time crafting policies that create the illusion of greater class availability,” Armenta said. “It is now time to focus on policies and recommendations that will actually increase the total number of course offerings required for graduation.”

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