October 2009 Archives

Facilitating iLearn for large classes

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SF State's learning management system, known as iLearn, has been continuously gaining users since it replaced Blackboard, a commercial product previously hosted by the campus, two years ago.

On Oct. 20, about 15 instructors attended a workshop to become more familiar with the academic site to help them better facilitate large classes.

"The workshop was driven by the questions of the participants," Cyrus Ginwala, Assistant Professor in the School of Music and Dance at SF State and conductor of the workshop, said.

The afternoon showed teachers how to construct and administer exams online, how to utilize the groups feature and gave them an overview of new features added in the latest upgrade.

Some of the new upgrades made this semester were the drag and drop function, so that instructors can move courses and materials around more freely without having to refresh their page. There were also changes added to the built-in grade book.

According to the iLearn Central Web site, iLearn was designed to enhance the learning of students and collaboration. It also allows instructors to customize the site based on the needs of the class and students. Using iLearn allows the sharing of online resources and collecting feedback from students which is necessary in large classes.

Ginwala has used iLearn in all his classes in some form for the last four years. Now teaching MUS 120: Basic Music I: Voice, which is taught live and online, Ginwala uses iLearn to post documents and links of online materials that are relevant to his lectures along with captioned videos of his lectures. He also uses the site to communicate with his class via online forums and e-mails and to post calendars of due dates for assignments and quizzes.

Posting class lectures and materials on iLearn can have both positive and negative effects for students.

Students may be able access lectures and assignments they missed when they were unable to attend class. It can also be a good way to double check something that was not clear in class.

One flaw though, is that students can not immediately ask the instructor a question and receive an immediate response as they do in the classroom.

Sophomore Lauren Spalter, 19, said one benefit of the site is that she can monitor her grades as they are posted online, and that it is a nice reassurance to justify teaching material she heard in class. The environmental science major stated, however, that she still enjoys the traditional method of teaching better.

"I need to be there physically in class to get a better grasp of what's going on," she said.

Unlike Spalter, Marlana Milligan, an 18-year-old freshman and business major, said she liked the traditional method at first because she felt if something were physically put in her hand she was not obligated to check her e-mail, but had a change of heart after realizing if she missed class, she would be able to get access of the lecture materials using iLearn.

"Now I feel it is more efficient because I can get information I missed before the next class meeting," Milligan said.

According to Ginwala, attendance problems are possible because of faculty giving lectures in class and later posting them on iLearn, but warned, "Teachers can require iLearn to track or control the number of times on-site material has been viewed by students in order to monitor them."

As far as technological problems are concerned, Ginwala feels that many of the system problems occur during the beginning or end of the semester, when students are all navigating it at once.

According to iLearn Central, network problems caused the site to slow down or be unresponsive within the fourth day of this semester.

However, Ginwala said that in his years of using the system he had not had any major problems with the site regarding system reliability.

Bay Bridge remains closed, uncertain of reopening

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The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge will continue to be closed after a cable fell apart Tuesday evening on the upper deck of the bridge.

Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney said he doesn't know exactly when the bridge will reopen as they are still placing everything in and testing the new system.

"We're doing everything we can to bring the bridge back into public service in the safest way for our workers and the motoring public," said Ney in e-mail Wednesday afternoon.

Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesman Linton Johnson said in a press conference that ridership increased nearly 50 percent as a result of the bridge's closure. Usually BART would generate about 55,800 riders on a typical Wednesday, but today there were about 83,000 riders said Johnson.

Johnson also said that he is not sure if they will provide overnight service as they are a "big money loser."

"What may be more beneficial...is to provide on-time reliable services during our normal commuting hours," said Johnson.

SF State art student Ally Ottesen said while BART was more crowded than usual, she didn't have a problem finding a seat.

"The worst part was taking the shuttle to school," said Ottesen, who added that because the line of the shuttle was long, decided to pay $10 for a cab to get to school.

The cable on the bridge broke off around 5:30 p.m. near the new S-turn section, where it hit several cars but no injuries were reported according to abc7news.com.

The parts that fell were part of the emergency repair that delayed the bridge from opening during the Labor Day weekend. A tie rod cracked due to fatigue and caused the crossbar and another tie bar to fall from the assembly and onto the deck said Ney.

"We are enhancing the original design to keep vibration from causing fatigue to the tie rods," he added.

For more information on the Bay Bridge go to http://baybridgeinfo.org/

Chinese Challenge: program expects competition

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SF State's college of humanities is preparing to formally launch the new Chinese Flagship Partner Program, the first of its kind in California, with an informational meeting and open application process on Nov. 5

Associate Professor of Chinese studies Charles Egan said the new program will "take a select group of highly motivated students who are willing to put a lot of time into learning language and push them up to the point where they're comfortable working in a professional capacity in a Chinese speaking environment."

The program, funded through the National Security Education Program, will provide participating students, pursuing diverse majors, with monetary support for study abroad, tailored courses, faculty mentors and conversation partners.

"Having the individualized study plans, a mentor, networking and making connections, that's huge - to have something so set, where once you get in you can just ride it through," program coordinator Katie Walsh said.

The program is ironing out some first-year details but, by spring, Egan hopes it will consists of two groups of students. A core group, made up of about 10 intermediate-to-advanced students, will receive the majority of the scholarship support for study abroad.

The other, preparatory group, with as many as 15 students, will receive the same educational assistance and smaller monetary support as they work towards joining the more advanced students.

Entrance to the program is expected to be competitive, by application only and a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher is required.

"We'll be looking for a real range of students," Egan, who also serves as Director of the Flagship program, said. "What we want is there to be multiple entry points. If students know about this and they start preparing early then they can work their way through."

There are currently over 15 students taking prep classes and practicing with conversation partners in hopes of gaining acceptance to the program. Egan recruited Mandarin speakers from the student body and paired them with a prep student.

"The Flagship Preparation courses are designed to stretch the capacities of motivated and dedicated students, to help them quickly increase their language proficiency levels, in order to prepare for application to the core Flagship Program," said prep class lecturer Josephine Tsao.

Last summer, SF State sent freshman Erica Zamora to Indiana University Bloomington for eight weeks of intensive Chinese language study.

"I'm just very thankful to SF State for sending me to Indiana," Zamora, 18, said. "I guess that's the perks of flagship."

After returning from Indiana Egan set her up with a Mandarin conversation partner.

Zamora, an international business major, spoke no Chinese before going to Indiana. Now she can carry on an hour-long conversation with her tutor, Yan Fang He, using very little English and with limited interruptions for clarification.

"When I don't understand something she is saying, she'll write it in pinyin (English characters) and Chinese characters," Zamora said.

The two girls get together twice a week and talk about whatever they want. But Zamora said most conversations are about Chinese culture and how it differs from the US.

The Language Flagship started in 2000 with a few universities trying to create advanced language education programs for post-baccalaureate students. The undergraduate Flagship programs were introduced in 2006.

There are now 23 programs at American universities, 11 overseas and three K-12 programs.

The Language Flagship's Web site says it "seeks to graduate students who will take their place among the next generation of global professionals, commanding a superior level of proficiency in one of many languages critical to U.S. competitiveness and security."

Egan said there is still a lot of planning to do.

"The plan at the moment is to get them accepted and then start in the spring with a content course and a language course," Egan said. "They'll do six units in the flagship in the spring, and then we'll take it from there."


A breakout box, please:


Interested in how the Flagship program works? The open, informational meeting on Nov. 5 will be in HUM 587 at 3:30.


tdc
at
DO - GREAT ARTICLE. MAKES ME WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE NATIONAL SECURITY ANGLE.
MM -- LOVE THIS.

Animal lovers gather for Walk for Farm Animals

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Concerned citizens gathered at the Ferry Park Plaza in San Francisco Oct. 24 to bring awareness to the injustice and cruelty that their animal compatriots face in farms across the United States.

About 100 animal lovers took part in San Francisco's Walk for Farm Animals in an effort to educate and advocate an increased awareness of the "severe and unnecessary suffering that billions of animals raised for food endure everyday," according to the event's press release.

The annual event is sponsored by Farm Sanctuary, a farm animal protection organization, and takes place in more than 65 other cities throughout the U.S. and in Canada.

"We're here to raise awareness about farm animals and let people know how animals are treated," said Karine Brighten, event planner for the walk. "We're doing this walk so people can see us and think about it. We're the voices for the animals."

Franny Campbell visited Farm Sanctuary in Orland, Calif. two years ago and believes the walk is for a really good cause.

"It's the best illustration of how the industry treats animals," said Campbell, a 22-year-old Mills College student, of the sanctuary.

Farm Sanctuary "helped" Campbell go from vegetarian to vegan and she attended the walk in an effort to educate and aware others of the cruelty animals in farms go through.

Ulka Agarwal recently turned vegan and visited the sanctuary two months ago.

"I'm walking for more inspiration to stay active in the cause for farm animals and meet other people active in the cause," said the 34-year-old psychiatrist.

The event took place on a sunny day with author and journalist Christopher Cook and animal law attorney and Animal Legal Defense Fund co-founder Joyce Tischler speaking before citizens began to march.

Cook encouraged people to consider the entire system that underlies the mistreatment of farm animals and ultimately blames it on the capitalist system.

The walkers held signs and passed out informational pamphlets to people along Market Street as they made their way to Union Square and back to the Ferry Park Plaza.

CARWC continues to fight rec center issue

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Passionate students voiced oppositions to the proposed Recreation and Wellness Center during a town hall meeting Oct. 22 and went largely unanswered by members of the Associated Students, Inc.

The Coalition Against the Recreation and Wellness Center held a town hall meeting in Jack Adams Hall in the Cesar Chavez Student Center, to inform students of the situation regarding ASI's approach to getting the project approved. However, very few students attended.

"I know it seems like the turnout here isn't that great, a lot of people have things to do," said dietetics major Jasmine Vassar, 23. "But in being passive and un-active, you are contributing to the building of the rec. center."

During the discussions, members of CARWC explained that in their opinion, the rec. center represents more than just a building, but indicative of the death of democracy on SF State's campus.

"If students vote that they want this thing, cool, I will accept the students' voice," said CARWC member Sam Brown-Vasquez. "But when students are denied the opportunity to vote on the decision making on this campus it illustrates the fundamental flaws with the way democracy is handled."

The few students that spoke that were uninvolved with either CARWC or ASI, brought to the microphone some very strong arguments, most against the rec. center.

Enoch Tuaumu, 22-year-old history major, brought tears to the eyes of some with his statements on the indiscretion shown by ASI in this matter and the way it will reflect upon the students as a student body in the future.

"I question the ASI in their priorities," Tuaumu said. "Who is this rec. center for? Most students don't have time to come here and drink juice and live it up and do Pilates and yoga. We work. And the higher the fees are the more we have to work."

Other students, however, argued in support of the rec. center saying it will provide a safe place for students to exercise on campus.

ASI members Travis Northup and Philip Fabian were briefly in attendance, but did not comment on any of the statements made by CARWC members or other students.

SF remembers '89 to prepare for the next quake

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San Franciscans gathered at the Marina Green on Saturday to remember the Loma Prieta earthquake on the 20th Anniversary of the disaster and to get ready for when the next big earthquake strikes.

The event was called the Big Rumble and was part of a weeklong series of events meant to prepare San Francisco residents for natural disasters. Some people came to enjoy the live music and visit the vendor's booths but most came to participate in the free emergency training drills conducted by the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT).

NERT is a San Francisco Fire Department program that was formed after the Loma Prieta earthquake. They train everyday citizens how to properly assist professional rescue personnel when a serious disaster occurs.

"After a serious catastrophic disaster NERT members are taught to take care of themselves, to check on their family members and their immediate neighbors, and then go to their neighborhood NERT staging area," said Edie Schaffer, the NERT coordinator chair. "The staging area is where NERTs gather and send out their field teams to do damage assessment and search and rescue in moderately damaged buildings."

The San Francisco Fire Department and NERT suggests all San Francisco residents have disaster supply kits in their home, workplace and car. The kits should include:


  • One gallon of water for each person the kit serves. There should be enough water to last 3 to 5 days.

  • A 3 to 5 day food supply. The food should be easy to store, require little or no cooking, and have a shelf live of a year or more.

  • A warm and comfortable change of clothes, stored in an area where it can remain dry and clean.

  • A stock of safety supplies including a flashlight, candles and matches, a portable radio with extra batteries, duct tape, a small tool kit and a fire extinguisher.

  • General supplies including plastic bags, cash, pencil and paper, maps, extra keys, ID cards, emergency contact information and insurance information.

  • A first aid kit with medications, bandages, extra eyeglasses and a list of area doctors.

The Loma Prieta Earthquake struck in the early evening on Oct. 17, 1989. It caused 63 deaths, 3,757 injuries, and almost $10 billion in property damage, according to the Big Rumble organizers.

The Marina/Cow Hollow neighborhood suffered severe damage in the earthquake. Many buildings collapsed and a large fire destroyed homes on the corner of Divisadero and Beach Streets, according to Joesph Alioto, the event captain.

Alioto recalls being at the famed 1989 World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's when the earthquake struck. He said it took him hours to even leave the parking lot at Candlestick Park before he returned home to the Marina to find his house on fire.

"You had residents stepping up to the plate, pulling these five inch hoses and helping out the firefighters," he said. "It was really something amazing to see."

San Francisco residents can learn more about how to be prepared for natural disasters from the Department of Emergency Management or 72hours.org.

Podcast featuring short stories about where people were during the '89 Earthquake produced by Lindsey Leake and Maria Umanzor. Contact them at lleake@sfsu.edu and mumanzor@sfsu.edu.

Students get tastes worth

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In a time of classes being cut, small funds and struggling programs, at least one SF State department is thinking outside the box in regards to keeping their own program alive, and they didn't need any on-board life jackets.

Aboard the lavish San Francisco Belle at Pier 3 on Embarcadero, SF State's Hospitality and Tourism Management students and faculty served nearly 500 hundred people as they wined, dined and enjoyed delicious samples of the Bay Area's finest food and beverage at this year's 13th annual Taste of the Bay fundraiser Wednesday night.

With the gracious donated services and treats of 18 wineries and 21 restaurants, Taste of the Bay was an event to prevent any cuts or negative impact within the HTM department.

"This is going to save our classes and help us with scholarships," said MTM student Holly Haber, 21.

Restaurants included Anchor & Hope, Lark Creek Steak, Macarthur Park and Berkeley's very own bar Triple Rock Brewery. The night also included raffle drawings, silent auctions and the soothing sounds of a young jazz trio.

For the last three years, Taste of the Bay has been held at San Francisco's Yacht Club, but decided to make a change this time around which evidently helped in the event's benefit.

"Compared to our event last time, it's a lot better than last year," said Olivia Penn, 22, event chair and HTM student. "There's a much a higher quality of food and the night's been amazing."

Part of the evening's event was also to save SF State's on campus restaurant, the Vista Room, from going out of business.

The evening's turnout was a pleasant surprise for everyone that came out to help the cause.

"I didn't know it was going to be this big," said student and first time volunteer Saraly LaCayo, 23. "Other programs don't have events like this, so it's really nice that it's helping us out."

Focus on Rec. Center as petitions circulate

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The ongoing Recreation and Wellness Center process is facing more hurdles as volunteers canvass with petitions and a hard-to-plan town hall meeting finally goes ahead.

ASI board member Emily Switzer, 20, had planned an informational town hall meeting, with a debate on the issue today. Unable to secure a nonpartisan, well-informed moderator and her plans fell through.

"Hosting a town hall meeting was important to me, because I feel that it is my job as a student representative to listen to the opinions and concerns of the students I represent," Switzer said.

According to Switzer there was apprehension among ASI members about how constructive the meeting would be.

ASI president Natalie Franklin has always maintained the association is doing its best to remain open to comment and keep students informed, but at the Oct. 14 ASI meeting she said she would definitely not attend a town hall meeting because she doesn't see the need for it.

"The project will never die -- this is a fact," Franklin said. "The project will just be on pause until the next board decides to go to petition again."

"Whether people choose to believe it or not, this will eventually happen at SFSU. Change is inevitable, and change is what we need right now. So if this doesn't happen today, trust it will happen eventually. I don't see the college growing without it."

The Coalition Against the Rec. Center is going ahead with the meeting today from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Jack Adams Hall.

"We wanted to invite the ASI to participate in a debate but it appears that they won't be coming for fear of being 'attacked,'" said coalition member Sam Brown-Vasquez, 21, an environmental studies and Spanish senior.

ASI meetings, both public and private, have been interrupted by students protesting the recreation center and the Student Fee Advisory Committee's decision to continue with a petition instead of a student vote.

Petitioning started Oct. 12 and needs approval from 20 percent of the student population, roughly 6,000 signatures, for the project to move forward. It will continue through Nov. 6.

As of Oct. 19, 48 petitions, each with space for 100 signatures, were circulating campus; only one full of signatures has been completed.

The town hall meeting, which Switzer originally wanted as an ASI event, was not supported by many of the ASI board members and Switzer was organizing the event as an individual, not as a representative of ASI. Switzer's original plans were to address controversial issues such as the debate.

ASI graduate representative Frankie Griffen said in the that he was opposed to the idea of a debate because ASI has already voted in favor of the recreation center. He said Switzer would "need to do it as a private student, not under the ASI banner."

"We have comment boards at our open houses, we have e-mail addresses on the Rec and Wellness Web site, we have public comment at the meetings," Franklin said. "An opinion can always be stated and will always be heard, that's an advantage of the petition."

ASI has planned events, like a rock climbing wall, to promote the center while petitions are being circulated.

The idea of the recreation center has been around for at least two years but opposition to the project has been gaining momentum throughout the last year.

Experts talk GITMO at SF State

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Scholars and legal experts gathered at SF State on Oct. 12 to discuss the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay and the base's strained relationship with Cuba and the world.

Abdiel Oñate, Latin American area studies program director, and Katherine Gordy, assistant professor in the political science department, organized the event. The aim of the conference was to shed more light on the history and current issues facing Guantánamo Bay's U.S. Naval base.

"I wanted to have people who knew the history on not just the U.S. side of Guantánamo but also on the surrounding area," Gordy explained.

Gordy said her main concerns are the torture of prisoners and their detention in this location. Gordy wanted the symposium to focus on the base's history and raise awareness of what she says is the illegal detention of the people there.

The speakers in attendance studied Guantánamo in ways ranging from the history and legal issues about the holding of the prisoners, to the documentation of firsthand accounts from people who have been detained there.

Gordy was disappointed that only 12 people showed up. "I thought more people would come," said Gordy. "It's not just about Cuba. It's about the abuse of executive power."

"I went because I had read an article by Jana Lipman and some of the legal motions written by Stephen Truitt, and because I am opposed to the existence of the base," said Ben Grimshaw, 24, a graduate student enrolled in the educational specialist credential program.

Jana K. Lipman, assistant professor at Tulane University who wrote a book on the history of Guantánamo, started off the conference with a presentation on the history of the city of Guantánamo, Cuba and the hardships experienced by Cuban men and women who have worked in the U.S. Naval base. Lipman said when most people hear the word Guantánamo they associate the word with the U.S. Naval base in the bay, and not the city itself.

On Feb. 1, 1964, Lipman said that the U.S. Coast Guard spotted four Cuban fishing boats 70 miles from Key West, Florida. Florida officials jailed the fisherman, impounded the boats, and in retaliation the Cuban government shut off the water supply to the U.S. Naval base in Guantánamo Bay.

As a result, President Lyndon Johnson decided the base would be self sufficient and thousands of Cuban workers who crossed the Cuban border daily to work at the base were fired without receiving the pension money they had been saving for years. Some of the workers chose to be exiled from Cuba in order to maintain their steady jobs at the base, thus, never seeing their families again.

"It was especially interesting that the Cuban workers in the base had already been forced to address issues of which nation's laws were applicable," Grimshaw said. "I was convinced by her argument that the workers on the base maintain an interesting and implicitly critical relationship to both the U.S. and Cuba."

Lipman described the United States' establishment of a naval base in Guantánamo Bay after they intervened in Cuba's fight for independence from Spain. In 1898, Spain surrendered all claims on Cuba to the U.S., not to the Cuban National Army. The United States then did not allow Cuba's independence until they accepted the Platt Amendment, allowing the U.S. to intervene in Cuban affairs, and the indefinite lease of the naval base in Guantánamo Bay.

"The fact that it is on Cuban territory and they have no say in what happens makes it easy for the U.S. to do almost whatever they want," Gordy said.

Almerindo Ojeda, the director of UC Davis' Center for the Study of Human Rights gave a presentation on torture at Guantánamo's naval base. He works on the Guantánamo Testimonials project, which documents various forms of abuse prisoners suffer.

Ojeda discussed the nine forms of abuse of prisoners talked about in testimonies. The forms of abuse are: physical, sexual, medical, legal, psychological, age-related, religious, national and verbal. The abuse he discussed has been inflicted upon prisoners as young as 13.

"I am appalled to learn firsthand the depth of depravity our government has chosen to do to these people," said Sam Thoron, 70, who attended the symposium with his wife. "It is absolutely contrary to what any sane human being would conform with."

There are currently 240 detainees being held at Guantánamo Bay, according to the New York Times. After President Barack Obama took office in January, he made plans close the prison in Guantánamo Bay by January 2010. However, there are legal difficulties in deciding what to do with the prisoners.

Stephen Truitt, a lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights who has represented Guantánamo prisoners and has visited the naval base 14 times, said the symposium went well. "The topics were different but led in a logical succession to the endpoint: torture in the interest of national security," he said.

Truitt said there is no record for the prisoners to be held at Guantánamo Bay's detention center and Habeas Corpus is needed to get them a trial in order to challenge the basis of their imprisonment. According to UC Davis' Center for the Study of Human Rights, 779 prisoners are known to have been detained at the base at some point.

UC Davis' Guantánamo Testimonials Project gathers testimonies of prisoner abuse in Guantánamo. These testimonies have been made on behalf of the prisoners, the Red Cross, U.S. Marine Sergeant Heather N. Cerveny, interrogators, a CIA asset, military and other physicians, military guards, military lawyers and defense lawyers, the Department of Justice, Foreign Affairs officials and others.


According to Truitt, the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which state that torture is prohibited if one falls in the hands of the enemy.

"I was brought up to believe that you don't lock people up without trial or any hearing to challenge the basis of their imprisonment," Truitt said.

Professors find funky fungi

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Seven new glow-in-the-dark species of mushroom have been discovered by an SF State biology professor and his colleagues, upping his findings to nearly a quarter of all known luminescent fungi.

"We found some that were so bright you could read a book by them," said Prof. Dennis Desjardin, 59, who was able to identify the fungi with the help of colleagues from Puerto Rico, Brazil and Japan, and funding from the National Science Foundation.

Some of them were discovered by Desjardin himself, while others were found by colleagues who sent their mushrooms to the professor for identification. Of seven identified, four were previously undiscovered and three were known fungi that had not been known to glow before. There are now 16 different fungi lineages with known luminescent species.

"It raises more questions that are not yet answered about their evolution," said Desjardin, who is working off two different hypotheses for how this occurred. One idea is that glowing has evolved in fungi 16 different times. However, the one that Desjardin is looking most closely at is the theory that luminescence evolved once and was gradually lost by many species. He aims to look into this question more in a future paper.

"Dennis is an excellent mentor -- one of the best mycologists and teachers," said Brian Perry, co-author of the article describing the new findings, who found one of the newly discovered species in Malaysia. He worked with Desjardin as a graduate student and later as a post-doctorate researcher, and is currently an assistant professor of biology at the University of Hawaii in Hilo.

"Each of the organisms Dr. Desjardin describes is part of the tightly interconnected web that ensures the stability and resilience of our environment," said Michael Goldman, chair of the biology department, in an e-mail.

"Each different form of life can also provide unanticipated metabolic processes that can mean new drugs or new and sustainable sources of energy," he added.

The fungi were discovered in Belize, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia and Puerto Rico.

To find these species the field researchers, including Desjardin, would follow a guide into the rain forest they wanted to explore. The group would camp until it was dark and their eyes adjusted to the lack of light. When they did, they would go through the forest looking for anything that was glowing.

"We would turn on our headlamps, check what was glowing and if it was fungi we'd put it into our plastic collecting bin. Then we'd turn off the headlamps and stumble on," Desjardin said.

In January 2009, Thomas Jenkinson accompanied Perry and Desjardin to the Micronesian island of Pohnpei to study luminescent mushrooms. The 26-year-old has been at SF State since 2007 working toward a graduate degree in ecology and systematic biology. He came to the University to work with Desjardin.

"I read a lot of the cool things Dennis was doing while I was a research tech at the University of Minnesota," Jenkinson said. He was invited to come with the two after speaking with Desjardin about doing more fieldwork. Desjardin was able to get extra funding for the research through a colleague in New York.

"There are always more luminescent fungi in the tropics and on this island there were a ton. It was awesome," Jenkinson said.

Desjardin and his colleagues' findings can be found online in Mycologia, a leading scientific journal on fungi. It will appear in print in the March/April 2010 issue. Articles are archived at their Web site: http://www.mycologia.org/

Business professor awarded for case study work

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In between teaching classes at SF State and while pregnant with her
second child, SF State professor Sally Baack dedicated her time to researching a legal
case that would become a tool for students taking her strategic management or
international business negotiations classes, as well as for business schools
around the globe.

Baack, an associate professor in the business department at SF State, will
receive the Curtis E. Tate Jr. award at the North American Case Research
Association's annual conference in Santa Cruz for her work, last year, in business research.

"The award recognizes the quality of the work and, for me, taking the time to do
the work and knowing that it is valued gives incentive to do research in the
future," said Baack. NACRA is a group of over 500 teachers, case writers and
researchers interested in publishing cases about large company practices.

Baack's paper, "Unauthorized Disclosure: Hewlett Packard's Secret Surveillance
of Directors and Journalists," presents the ethical responsibilities faced by
Hewlett Packard's board of directors and the company's practices in
surveillance. HP was experiencing an internal leak of confidential information
to the media, so the company hired investigators to find the source of the leak
but ended up with a lawsuit after using illegal methods to obtain information.

"Professor Baack is a highly respected teacher and case writer," said Prof.
Murray Silverman, management department chair and also a NACRA award recipient.
"SFSU College of Business faculty are recognized for their applied research, and
case writing is an important contribution to faculty and students."

Baack recalls reading through countless hours of congressional hearing documents
in order to uncover the use of a method called pretexting, which acquires the
identities of others by illegally accessing telephone records. Ultimately the
case study will display these practices to business students as a way of drawing
the lines of ethics in business.

"One of the classes I took with her featured a different Bay Area executive each
week, which provided absolutely phenomenal connections and networking on her
part," said Eric Quanstrom, a former student of Baack's and now vice president
of marketing and strategy at Sorenson Media. "The best part was the
no-holds-barred questions that Sally encouraged -- in both her own and the
students' preparation each week. Hands down, this was the best MBA class I took
at SFSU."

Baack is currently taking a break from teaching and researching while she spends
time at home raising her 3-month-old daughter.

"Sally was a phenomenal instructor -- extremely well-prepared, knowledgeable and
able to go the extra mile to make all lessons 'real world' meaningful,"
Quanstrom said. "And Sally loves to laugh. Her enthusiasm for all that she does
is pretty infectious."

Flood fills up Van Ness station

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Monday night's presumed on and off light showers turned into heavy rain during rush hour, flooding Van Ness municipal station from the backed up drainage on the streets above, according to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's spokesperson.

"With the large amount of rain all at once like a flash flood, the drainage wasn't working and the water flooded into the station, down the stairs and into the actual station," said SFMTA spokeswoman Kristen Holland.

Muni riders were stuck on their trains as the Muni operators tried to direct the cars past Van Ness and onto the next stations.

"Van Ness is still closed and blocked off and trains will pass the station until we clean it up, the clean up is presumed to be within the next hour or two," Holland said.

Frequent commuter Sean Hall, a boxing instructor, rode the M line to work and encountered this unexpected delay, causing him to miss an hour of work.

"I was on the M train for 35 minutes stuck at Forest Hill station and the driver was saying that "were having hold ups due to the rain," Hall said.

Muni riders all suffered from the delay in their own personal way.

"I was shopping at the mall and had to take the Muni back to State today," said SF State junior Ariana Razzato. "It took me 2 hours, I'm freaken pissed off."

Riders are hoping that this issue is solved by tomorrow before the morning rush hour.

"I have work at 6 a.m. and I don't want to ride the Muni for another hour and 15 minutes when it usually takes me 45 minutes," Hall said.

Muni will be working until the problem is cleared up completely with hopes that this problem never occurs again Holland said.

"I've worked for Muni for four and a half years and I have not seen or heard of this kind of thing ever happening, this flooding was not from the tunnels but from the streets," Holland said.

An eco-friendly... sex machine?

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The dildo. God's gift for the lonesome. Nowadays, dildos can be created out of anything. Silicone rubber and cyberskin are traditional materials while jelly and steel become some of the unorthodox materials to think of. But with so many variations to stick into any of your orifices, sex toys are now venturing into the environmental phase. Yes, that's right. Your dildo can now be eco-friendly.

...

Martin Cooper, An SF State grad in the sculpture department at San Francisco State University, has taken the next step in eco-friendly sex projects by building a water-powered sex machine called "The Mean Green Fucking Machine #1." Cooper conceived the idea after his kink.com model friend showed him pictures of sex machines and water bondage. "Green culture is huge," said Cooper. "Why not combine them?"

According to Martin Cooper's Artist Statement, "Cars, homes, businesses, even laundry detergent are marketed to us as green, so why not a fucking machine?...And what could be more luxurious and self indulgent than a machine conceived and built for the sole purpose of sexual gratification?"

After spending 20-30 hours a week in Spring 2009, he submitted his piece to the Leo D. Stillwell Exhibition and was displayed for the Martin Wong Show at the sculpture terrace in the SF State Fine Arts building. "I've thought about hiring a model, but it's in the public area and we don't want to get arrested," said Martin. "As of now, it's still virginal."

...

This is a story from the new Green Issue of our [X]press Magazine. For the full story, check out our magazine stories online.

Local bakers 'clash' in cupcake competition

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SF Food Wars hosted the Mini Cupcake Clash on Oct. 18 at Stable Café on Folsom Street as an opportunity for amateur and seasoned bakers, cooking fiends and sugar-friendly residents alike to not only compete for the honorable title of SF Food War Champion, but share their talent and creativity with like-minded cupcake-connoisseurs.

"I love eating and making cupcakes equally," said competitor and passionate home baker Sharon O'Malley, 26. "I'm ready to feed the masses, and I can't wait to see the competition."

The gloomy San Francisco weather didn't dampen the spirits of the roughly 170 attendees, who, for an admission fee of $10, had a choice of unique cupcakes baked by 22 different teams, with proceeds going towards the San Francisco Food Bank.

Tables with the delicious treats lined the backyard of the Stable Café, each filled with colorful creations more impressive than the last. Ranging from moist, dry and fluffy, sweet to savory and traditional to outrageous, the bakers tended to every mouth's desire.

"There are two unexpected things at this competition," said Marcia Gagliardi, a food writer for tablehopper.com. "I'm impressed with the variety of vegan entries and how much people played with savory cupcakes."

One of the more surprising entries was the "Tossed Salad (Dressing)" cupcake by local San Francisco team Yahtzee Bitchcakes. Consisting of olive oil and topped with a light-brown, creamy Balsamic vinegar frosting, the cupcake was an interesting mix of sweet and sour.

"I tried an olive flavored ice cream once, and that made me think about how olives are technically a fruit and lend themselves to sweetness," said Jane Davis, 27, an event planner who thought of the unique recipe.

Oakland resident, Carolynn Webb's Spiced Mocha Vegan cupcakes were also in high demand among the sugar-hungry crowd.

"It's such a fun event, and it makes me feel good," said the pre-school teacher, who won second place at San Francisco's first Food War in August for macaroni and cheese dishes. "There's a lot of hard work that goes into the preparation, and it's good to know that the money is going to a good cause."

ASI meeting falls through, projects continue

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While the recreation and wellness center has captured the bulk of ASI's attention, board members are hard at work on other projects to improve the SF State experience.

ASI Sophomore Representative and Lobby Corps chair Travis Northup, 19, put months of extensive research into effect on Tuesday Oct. 20 at State of the Student, a recruitment event for the newly formed lobby corps.

Lobby Corps is a product of the California State Student Association. Over the summer an ASI representative, from each of the 23 CSU campuses, was chosen to chair their school's lobby corps.

"The idea behind lobby corps is that we can take an informed, professional and really impacting approach to our problems," Northup said. "We are directing it in the right place, which is the state government."

The focus of lobby corps is to address the budget cuts made to the California State University system. Northup hopes to take the future lobby corps team of 10 students to Sacramento and inform state policymakers of the wants and needs of California's students.

"In the state Senate we need to let them know that we represent 450,000 voters," Northup said.
For the State of the Student event, Northup planned a presentation on California's political and budgetary past, how the state came to be in the current situation and the potential for the future.

He would like to give students all the information they need to become "forces to be reckoned with" and focus their frustration and complaints in the right direction.

"This is something I came into because I'm upset, just like other students," Northup said.
Fellow ASI board member and technology officer Emily Switzer, 20, is working with CSU Academic Technologies Services to increase the usage of open source educational material, like electronic textbooks.

"There are a wide range of free supplemental materials available online which students
and professors alike could use to enhance the quality of their courses," Switzer said. "My goal is to promote awareness of the resources which exist that students and faculty may not be aware of."

Switzer is working on a series of informational workshops about the electronic materials available, such as e-portfolios, orgsync, MERLOT, and the digital library research databases.

Also in the works is a proposal from ASI's green committee to transition the teacher evaluation process from paper questionnaires and Scantrons to an electronic platform. This project is in the very early stages.

The green committee, a subgroup within ASI focused on campus environmental issues, will be looking at the benefits of consumption reduction in eliminating the use of paper evaluations versus the difficulty of ensuring response with a new system.

"The main concerns being heard about implementing this are actually...response rates," ASI College of Creative Arts Representative Rick De La Torre said. "Usually, when a new system is implemented, there is a decline in responses due to transitioning time. Because evaluations help decided the hiring/firing of teachers, it is important that there is no drop in numbers."

For more information about ASI projects visit http://asi.sfsu.edu

Veterans gather to reflect '68 strike

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Veterans of SF State's historic 1968 strike came to speak at Alumni Day Saturday morning about the impact the protest had on the university. The veterans also opened up about their views on the now-diverse campus and how the strike continues to impact their lives 40 years later.

"The strike has impacted me in every way," said strike veteran Connell Persico. "It's taught me to be more open-minded."

Veterans remain shocked at how much the university has changed from the time they were students.

"Today there are many more students of color," said Jason Ferreira, strike veteran and professor assistant in race and resistance studies. "It's amazing. We've transformed an entire institution."

On Nov. 6, 1968, SF State's Black Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front led a historic strike, protesting for a College of Ethnic Studies and the reinstatement of George Murray, a graduate student who was suspended several days prior for his association with the Black Panther Party. After five months of angry protests, nearly 2,000 arrests, and dozens of faculty members fired, the campus reopened and established The College of Ethnic Studies in March 1969.

Out of the thousands of protesters that participated in what soon became the longest student strike in American history, nearly 15 of them attended the event.

During the panel in the Richard Oaks Multicultural Center at the Cesar Chavez Center, the veterans viewed a video that highlighted the main points of the strike and then sat around a table and discussed their hopes for the future of SF State.

"Students need to take their lives into their own hands because their future is basically being pulled out from under them," said Ferreira.

"The veterans are great because they don't simply talk about their struggles, sacrifices and accomplishments, but they remain inspirational to students who look for ways to find their own voice," said Larry Salomon, a lecturer in the College of Ethnic Studies.

Some veterans shared their opinions about the budget cuts and what they suggest current students do to stand up for their education.

"Students shouldn't always believe what they read," said Persico. "No matter what people say, there are always solutions. They should join with their faculty and propose longer-term solutions and find new ways of forming education."

Many have noted the profound impact the strikers have had on the university.

"The strikers thought that education should be relevant to who they are," said Robert Collins, assistant professor in American Indian Studies. "Because of them, we have the ability to recognize injustice and turn it into discussion. If the College of Ethnic Studies disappeared, it would be a horrible disadvantage for the students."

And some veterans were adamant about what can be done to end cuts on education.

"Students and faculty need to work together," said strike veteran and international relations professor Margaret Leahy. "Things will only change it we work together to change them."

Legislative officials show support in budget cut rally

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Legislators, along with more than 150 people, rallied Thursday afternoon on the steps of San Francisco City Hall to support higher education and ask candidates running for governor to add budget cut issues to their agenda.

Organizations including the California Faculty Association and Students for Quality Education joined with educators and supporters from across the city to bring media attention to Mayor Gavin Newsom's support, while calling attention to other gubernatorial candidates that aren't speaking up.

"We want to get out a public statement about Newsom and at the same time pressure Jerry Brown and other candidates for governor," said Ramon Castellblanch, president of the CFA chapter at SF State and a key organizer.

Representatives from Newsom's office said that the mayor was scheduled to be out today but that representatives would be at the rally to pass out his statement, "Let's Get Our Priorities Straight" and to speak to the crowd on his behalf.

"He is completely against budget cuts," said LaGina Phillips, a volunteer for Newsom for California. "And he wants everyone to know his stance."

Other government officials participated in speaking to the crowd on the importance of voting for officials and to educate on issues that were contributing to California State University budget cuts.

"I am so proud to stand here with you in the fight," District 11 Supervisor John Avalos told the crowd.

Avalos asked for a show of hands as to who has resorted to student loans as a way to get through college and spoke of his own experiences as a student and the importance of taking a stand.

"I think coming out and showing my support is a way to get the state interested, at the very least, in doing something about the deficit, which in turn will do something for the CSU budget cuts," said Heather Nugen, 21, a senior at SF State.

Students from SF State along with faculty and other educators held signs asking for change, while they listened to advice and encouragement about what to do next.

"You're not just the future -- you are the present and we need to take care of you," said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.

WWII internees honored by SF State

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The California State University board of trustees has unanimously voted to grant honorary bachelor's degrees to former CSU students of Japanese American ancestry forced to relocate to internment camps during World War II.

Nineteen SF State students were unable to complete their bachelor's degrees when they were sent to internment camps.

The first honorary degree was presented to Vivian Uwate Nelson, daughter of Aiko Nishi Uwate. Uwate was an SF State student sent to Gila River Relocation Camp in Arizona.

"I was so, so sad that my mother wasn't the one to receive it. It broke my heart so much," Nelson said. "She was just the greatest person ever, she would have been so excited to receive this award, she was very modest."

California Assemblyman Warren T. Furutami, author of the bill, addressed the board of trustees the morning of the vote, Sept. 23. He introduced the bill last December.

"AB 37 is an opportunity for our state to honor Americans of Japanese descent who suffered a significant injustice," Furutami said in a statement released from his office. "This legislation reflects our state's commitment to correcting this unfinished business for a waning population of deserving students."

The bill requires the CSU, University of California and California Community College systems "to confer an honorary degree upon each person, living or deceased, who was forced to leave his or her postsecondary studies as a result of federal Executive Order 9066."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law on Oct. 10.

Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942, removed 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes and sent them to camps throughout the country "as a security precaution against sabotage and espionage."

In 1998, on the 10th anniversary of the passing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, SF State held a commencement recognizing the 19 students who were forced to abandon their studies and live in camps under U.S. government orders. The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 provided a congressional apology, to individuals who were interned and created a public education fund to finance efforts to inform the public about the internment.

Of the 19, George Magotaka Hirose and Helen Nitta Hori of San Francisco, Sue Yusa of Oakland, and Aiko Nishi Uwate of Los Angeles attended the commencement ceremony. Seven had died by this time, four were unable to attend and the four had not been located.

"I had just been accepted in the choral group called the 'Treble Clefs,'" Yusa told the campus newspaper in 1998.

"I had to tell everyone that I wouldn't be able to come to rehearsals anymore because I had to leave school and go to the camp."

Hori remembered her last piano lesson at SF State. She cried on her professor's shoulder when it was over.

"He said he was sorry he couldn't do anything," she said.

The Garden of Remembrance, the memorial honoring those 19 former SF State students, was dedicated four years after the commencement in 2002. Located between Burk Hall and the Fine Arts building, the garden was designed by San Francisco-based artist Ruth Asawa, who was sent to an internment camp as a 16-year-old.

"It provides a reminder of a historical wrong, specifically one of racial injustice that should not be repeated with any other group," said Prof. Ben Kobashigawa, who teaches a course on the history of Japanese Americans in the United States. "It is a valuable teaching tool regarding the state of race relations now, compared to the past."

Though pleased to have received the award, Nelson believes there is more that can be done to make further amends.

"Continue the education of what happened during the war," she said. "It should be a mandatory history lesson. So many things went wrong, it's really too late to punish those responsible for taking away civil liberties, and why (Japanese Americans) were singled out in the first place. There were other countries involved in the war."

The CSU public affairs Web site says nearly 250 Americans of Japanese descent were attending CSUs when they were forcibly relocated to internment camps.

The public is invited to help identify individuals who qualify for the honorary degree by calling (562) 951-4723, or e-mailing Nisei@calstate.edu.

Organizations join forces to protest on City Hall

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Campus organizations from colleges across the city are joining together to gather on the steps of City Hall at noon on Oct. 15 to call attention to the mayor's office the fact that higher education was not a topic in the gubernatorial campaign.

The "Take a Stand" rally is the last event planned for this week's political days of action, October 14 and 15 that tried to bring further attention to this year's budget cuts to higher education across California.

"We expect upwards of 500 students, faculty and staff," said Brigitte Davila of the raza studies department, who is helping organize the event.

Participants of the rally include SF State's California Faculty Association chapter, Students for Quality Education, City College of San Francisco, Education Budget Advocacy Committee-SFSU and the California State University Employees Union-SFSU.

"The plan is to go to Gavin Newsom, who is the Democratic candidate for governor along with Jerry Brown, and demand that public higher education become a topic of the gubernatorial campaign," said Ramon Castellblanch CFA President for SF State.

Organization leaders from the CFA and SQE have been posting fliers about the rally in hallways across SF State. They held meetings about the rally in hopes of gathering enough support from students and faculty to bring the issues of education to the election agenda.

"They have positions on health care, on prisons, on roads, but they did not even have public higher education on the list of things they are asking these candidates about," Castellblanch said, after reading a list of gubernatorial issues in the San Francisco Chronicle last month.

The furlough days and budget cuts for this year have already been implemented, but these groups are demanding leaders, particularly those in the race for Governor, be ready with a plan of how they are going to prevent further cuts in the coming years

"We also want him to support AB656, a bill that will tax oil extraction in the state of California. The bill is asking for a 9.9 percent tax and the revenue created would go towards public higher education," said literature and raza studies major Samantha Adame of the SQE. California is the only state that does not enforce a severance tax, a state tax on natural resources, on the oil and gas that is extracted from its land and water.

On Oct. 14, the CFA raised awareness of the rally by installing an "Art and Activism" exhibit in Malcolm X Plaza. The exhibit displayed contributions from SF State professors, including music by Prof. Jose Cuellar, and from the library department, Jeff Rosen's photography capturing labor and education.

"It is a part of the SF State Fair Arts Festival and focuses on the creative protest against the budget cuts to higher education," Davila said.

CFA leader Ramon Castellblanch met with other chapter presidents early last month to discuss preparations for these events, including the creation of a communal Web site that will provide a space for different groups to get on the same page and have an idea of how to get involved.

For more information or to get involved contact SFSU.SQE@gmail.com or http://www.TakeaStand4PublicEd.org.

Senate discusses university's budget

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The SF State Academic Senate met with members of faculty, administration and students in a town hall meeting Oct. 13 to discuss the uncertain future of the university and possible approaches to closing the gap in funding.

The Seven Hills Dining Center hummed with debate as concerned faculty and students bounced ideas off the Academic Senate and other major administrative players about reducing spending and how to best organize against further cuts.

The meeting touched heavily on short- versus long-term planning with regards to cutting programs, and stressed the sensitivity of this process.

"Before we talk about what areas we can afford to cut, maybe we should talk about what areas we can't afford to cut." said assistant physics and astronomy professor Chris McCarthy.

One plan of action that was brought up suggested putting pressure on gubernatorial candidates, starting with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, to acknowledge the crisis facing higher education in California.

Ramon Castellblanch, president of the California Faculty Association SF State chapter, pointed out that if voters demand that Newsom take a stance on the issue, other candidates would be forced to follow suit out of political pressure.

"The entire drama of what happens to our institution will be mainly played out under whoever is the next governor," Castellblanch said.

The town hall also discussed the impact students can have on the decisions of legislature if their energies are effectively combined with CSU employees and focused in the right direction. Associate Director of Government Relations Derek Aiken added that legislators have the most sympathy for students.

"An organized student group of 400,000 -- that's a lot of votes," Aiken said. "That's a lot more than any faculty, staff or administration group could get together."

Raza studies professor and Academic Senator Bridget Davila expressed sympathy for the student body, which has been accused by some of remaining uninvolved and indifferent during this crisis.

"Students are organizing, but my students, at least, are barely hanging on," Davila said. "They've been hit with this huge increase, and they can't get the classes they need. They're trying to take as many classes they can to just get out of here."

Update-Wind storm hacks down campus trees

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Trees have fallen throughout various parts of the SF State campus due to the first storm of the region's rainy season.

Around 2:30 p.m., trees appeared to have fallen on the east side of the main quad, near the business building. A second tree possibly may be uprooted as a result of the strong winds. Maintenance personnel are currently working to prevent the second tree from uprooting. There is a reported risk of the tree falling close to other buildings in the area.

Additional trees near Mary Park and Mary Ward halls were also reported as being knocked over and blocking main parts of the campus walkway. Students reportedly witnessed a Chartwells employee being taken down by the tree.

"I was sitting in my bed and heard it crack, then I looked out my window and it fell and knocked the Chartwells worker over," said freshman and Mary Ward dorm resident Alexa Amore, 17. "And then he just got up and left. It was like an outer body experience, I was scared."

Jeff Birnbaum, 18, a freshman and Mary Ward resident, also saw the tree falling. "I saw it fall right into the day care center, I saw it from my dorm room," he said. "I didn't see the man get hit but from what I heard...he is one of the lunch people working here."

Birnbaum attempted to check out the scene and tried to take the elevator from his sixth floor dorm room when the elevator "suddenly stopped around the fifth floor," he said.

Birnbaum hit the emergency button and spoke to a dispatcher when the elevator started moving again. The elevator "kept stopping and moving" until he reached the bottom. When the doors opened, an officer and four Resident Assistant's were there. Birnbaum estimated the whole process took about two minutes.

The tree initially cracked once, then the entire tree split into an L shape, half of it falling into the Children Campus, according to Scott Davis, a senior and witness to the scene.

Resident Assistants are directing residents coming from up campus to go around the Mary Ward building along Font Boulevard or to go through the Mary Ward building in order to reach Mary Park.

[X]press is investigating further. Further updates will be posted to this entry. If you have any further information, please contact the [X]press newsroom at 415-338-2525.


Reporter Brittany Lyles and photographer Thomas Levinson contributed to this story.

'Harvey Milk Day' signed into law

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Harvey Milk is now not only part of California's history, but a part of its law. Today, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to honor the slain gay activist with a statewide holiday that will fall on his birthday, May 22.

"Harvey Milk Day" will not be a formal state holiday, but schools will be encouraged to teach their students about Milk.

The bill, written by State Sen. Mark Leno, was a source of contentious debate between equal rights groups and conservative family councils.

After vetoing a similar bill last year, and recently implying that he would veto all of the bills on his desk if the legislature did not agree on a water bill, Schwarzenegger surprised many with his decision to honor Milk.

"Honestly, I didn't expect it to pass," said Autumn Barr, 21, president of SF State's Queer Association. "I didn't suspect support at all so I'm really excited and surprised."

To celebrate, Barr said she would "throw back a beer tonight in his name" and send out a notice celebrating the victory to members of QA.

Other SF State students are wary of how a day honoring a man who symbolized the gay civil rights movement 30 years ago translates to the present.

While addressing Milk's impact on the history of gay rights, 22-year-old Nathan Mertz who describes himself as "not the traditional gay man," questioned the relevance of the new law to current gay issues.

"I think Harvey Milk Day will bring more attention to him, but not to the gay community," Mertz said.

Other students think the new law is significant in some ways, but empty in others.

"It's more of a token than anything," said 24-year-old Drew Van. "What does it really mean to have a day? Milk was a great man...but there's still a lot of homophobic practices and racism."

Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California 1977. After serving on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors for only 11 months, Milk, along with then Mayor George Moscone, were assassinated by fellow board member Dan White on Nov. 27, 1978.

For full coverage click here.

Oil tax proposed to fund higher education

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The majority leader for the California State Assembly kicked off his tour of eight California State University schools Oct. 12 to promote a bill that could solve California's public higher education budget crisis.

Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, kicked off his "Fair Share for Fair Tuition" tour at Cal State East Bay in support of his bill, AB 656, which would increase tax oil companies 10 percent for oil and gas extraction.

"The oil doesn't belong to the oil companies, it belongs to the people of the state - and if you're going to take it, you're going to pay," Torrico told the crowd, which consisted of about 200 people, in front of the university's administration building, Warren Hall.

The bill would create the California Higher Education Fund in which 60 percent of the money garnered from the tax would be given to the California State University system. Thirty percent will be given to the University of California system and 10 percent to California Community Colleges.

Torrico first introduced the bill to the Assembly in February 2009. The bill has passed the Assembly Higher Education Committee and will be going through the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee in January 2010.

As a former student at the UC Hastings College of Law, Torrico highlighted the need for concrete action to fund California's higher education schools. His goal over the next 100 days will be to get 100,000 supporters to present to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"Everyone says education is the top priority, but no one meets it with action, even in Sacramento," Torrico said.

In Texas, the second highest producer of oil in the United States, the University of Texas and Texas A&M University systems both benefit from money made through oil. In Alaska, where most of the country's oil is produced, there is a 25 percent tax on oil and natural gas severance that goes to the state.

Ben Helms, an engineering and Spanish student at SF State, had heard of the taxes in Alaska. Comparing the situation there with the one in California, Helms believes that the tax isn't currently in place in the state because of greed.

"It's a great idea for funding, but someone won't make 10 percent of what they did last year, so it hasn't been approved," Helms said.

Kelsey Painter, junior, who had never heard of the bill, agreed with him.

"It's not realistic - it just sounds too good to be true but I don't think it will pass," Painter said.

Obama's win meets with different reactions

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President Obama's win of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize has created mixed reactions in the SF State community.

The announcement came early Friday morning from the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in a press conference in Oslo.

"It is early to award President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, since we have not yet seen the outcome of his foreign policy effort," said Philip Dreyfus, associate professor of history.

Dreyfus also said that he understands the committee's motivation, as Obama is seen as a "breath of fresh air after the contentious unilateralism of the Bush years."

Dreyfus's colleague, professor Robert Cherny, also agrees. Cherny, who was in Germany this past semester as a lecturer, said people were excited about what Obama has done to change the world's perspective of the United States.

"Giving President Obama this award is a way to honor, celebrate and reinforce a new direction," said history professor Paul K. Longmore in an e-mail Friday afternoon.

But business student Abdul Alshehri said he was shocked at the news and believes Obama has done nothing to deserve it.

"President Obama has given lots of promises so far but nothing is done yet," Alshehri said.

International business student Eduardo Cañedo agrees.

"He's been president for such a short time," Canedo said. "Such an important prize should be given to someone who has done a lot."

Obama will be awarded the prize in Oslo on Dec. 10 and will donate the prize money of $1.4 million to charity according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in an article by The Associated Press.

Obama is the third sitting U.S. president, fourth overall, to receive the award according to a CNN report.

President Theodore Roosevelt received the award in 1906, President Wilson in 1919 and President Carter in 2002.

Oktoberfest celebrates 10 years in SF

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The German community in San Francisco celebrated 10 years of Oktoberfest, a three-day festival held at at Pier 48 to honor the German culture.

Hundreds of people attended "Oktoberfest by the Bay" from Friday Oct. 2 to Sunday Oct. 4, some of them wearing traditional German clothing, ready to dance, eat and of course, drink beer.

With around 199 years of history, this festival started first as a small celebration in Munich that was part of a marriage celebration and has become one of the largest festivals in the world.

"People can expect an experience very much similar to the one in Munich," said Robert Maggiora, member of the Chico Bavarian Band at the 2009 Oktoberfest in San Francisco.

The Oktoberfest in Munich has become known around the world, and places like San Francisco are not left behind. The crowd drinks and dances to a mix of tradional and modern music.

"I love it because it's not about a bunch of underage people getting wasted. It's an actual community environment," said 24-year-old Dena as she was drinking a beer along with two friends. "If you want your family to have a good time and hear good music this is the place to go."

For the last several years, Oktoberfest was celebrated in Fort Mason, but as Jennifer Moak from the Golden Gate Bavarian Club said, the new "venue is much more attractive" at Pier 48. "There's public transportation, there's more parking and for those reasons I think it's a good change," she added.

The crowd sang along to most of the songs played by the band as they danced, drank and ate German food.Festival goers could also buy German clothing and souvenirs.

The United German American Society puts on the event every year in San Francisco. Admission tickets ranged from $30 to $35.

Love was not free

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This year's annual LoveFest parade had a new name and a new price tag.

LovEvolution, as it was called this year, managed to trance about 100,000 people looking for a good party, an unofficial report says.

The LovEvolution organization decided to charge $10 per person at the gates that surrounded the Civic Center. All the gates were flooded with thousands of people ready to pay for five hours of dancing and fun.

The price to get into this year's party did not deter people from coming to the festival and is nothing compared to prices at other similar events, said Julian Reyes, a promoter of Miami's Ultra Music Festival.

"I think it's just fine,"attendee Danielle Hope said. "San Francisco is expensive and we should pay for being able to use this space."

Some people though, were not entirely happy with the new fee.

"It sucks!" attendee Adrian said, who dressed up as a spartan for the party.

For more information of this year's festival please visitLovEvolution

Students find fault with dining center

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It's hard for students to find a nice, affordable place on campus to get a healthy meal, and while SF State's dining center provides programs for just that, some students who dine there say it's simply not worth it.

City Eats Dining Center is owned and operated by Chartwells, a food provider for schools nationwide. From the looks of the Chartwells Web site and the testimony from local employees, the food options at the dining center are healthy, innovative and offer local ingredients. But some of the students who dine there say the contrary.

"First of all, people call it 's****y eats,'" said freshman Kady Moore, 18, an English major required to carry a meal plan card. "I was talking to my friend last night because I was frustrated that all I got was a roll and a brownie because everything else was so gross."

SF State University Housing requires all students who live in the dorms without kitchens to carry a Chartwells meal plan with at least ten meals a week. Two hundred meals a semester costs $1,400 and provides students with about two meals a day.

The Chartwells Corporation promotes a program called Balanced Choices, which is meant to offer foods that balance protein, vegetables and starch. Balanced Choices offers meals in vegetarian, vegan and international cuisine.

"Balanced Choices provides food choices outside of the pizza, pasta and burritos that students are typically eating," said Edward Vicedo, from Chartwells at SF State.

But when first-year student Amanda Ulricksen, 19, passed by the Balanced Choices station on a recent Thursday afternoon, she complained, "It's always pasta. Always."

Along with complaints of the food selection, some students say it is hard to schedule eating at the dining center around their class schedules because meals are only offered at certain times. If a student visits the dining center between meals, the options are limited to light meals like the salad bar, cereal, parfait station and bagels.

"Sometimes they have good salads, but there is always a lot of the same stuff," Sydney Bliss, 18, a first-year kinesiology major, said.

Although Chartwells has it critics, the corporation has implemented positive policies in the center such as buying only fair trade coffees and using local products when available.

The company also offers a "Submit a Recipe" tab on their Web site. Students who aren't finding what they like to eat can request "meals like mom makes."

For more information on meal plans, visit http://www.dineoncampus.com.

Hospitality dept. tries hybrid class design

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The hospitality and tourism management department is testing a new hybrid class format in order to accommodate more students during the budget crisis.

The new class supports the operation of the Vista Room, a little-known gourmet restaurant on campus.

The new format has made space for 35 additional students, implementing an online video lecture system using the CourseStream platform created by SF State's academic technology department.

The platform has given Hospitality and Management chair Prof. Janet Sim a rare opportunity in a time of budget cuts: to increase her capacity in a high-demand class from 115 students to 150.

"This has come in very handy this semester," she said. "Now we can see the real benefit of this."

Sim is now using CourseStream to teach her three-unit "Foods, Production and Service" course, which is part lecture and part lab work.

"I have turned the class into a hybrid-type class," Sim said. "I record and post a lecture ahead of time then they have to take a quiz."

The three hours a week required for lab time are completed in either the Vista Room kitchen and dining room, or the Miele cooking lab.

"This is the lab part," HTM major Jennifer Bowler, 20, said after finishing an afternoon of serving in the Vista Room.

"The lecture part is all online so she could fit more people into the class."

The Vista Room, located on the fourth floor of Burk Hall, serves three-course, gourmet California cuisine for $15, Monday through Friday. Tickets must be purchased in advance in Burk Hall 329 or Business 306. Weekly menus can be found on the HTM Web site.

Just down the hall from the Vista Room is the Miele cooking lab, which is equipped with all the necessities of a restaurant kitchen. Students in the lab class practice cooking techniques during independent study time.

In order to save and trade resources, the course has always been cross-listed between three departments: hospitality and tourism management, dietetics and food management, and consumer and family studies.

The three departments saw their share of overcrowded classrooms at the beginning of the semester, just like many other SF State departments.

"There were like, 80 people trying to get in on the first day," HTM student Shae Avilla, 20, said.

According to the academic technology Web site, "CourseStream is a class lecture capture service that enhances the online learning experience for students in participating courses."
University is currently using the CourseStream program in five other courses: principles of marketing, food, wine and culture in California, introduction to information systems and globalization.

Detailing college's history, future

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SF State is home to an academic conference Oct. 7 - 10 commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first established College of Ethnic Studies in the nation.

The conference, "Ethnic Studies 40 Years Later: Race, Resistance and Relevance," focuses on the founding of the College of Ethnic Studies at SF State and its evolution over the past 40 years. It includes three days of presentations and performances by over 130 participants from seven countries and 35 universities.

"Right now, the black studies program is not doing enough work in the community," said Terry Collins, a former Black Panther Party member who began attending SF State in the fall of 1967 and had a hand in organizing the strike that eventually led to the college's creation. "All students won't be students eventually," he said.

"They have to be committed to the people. If a person doesn't know their history, then you'll never be able to do anything," Collins said.

American Indian studies Prof. Robert Keith Collins, no relation to Terry Collins, helped coordinate the conference and will be discussing his paper addressing people of both African and Native American descent. He said he wishes to see an interdisciplinary dialogue and a large student turnout.

"It's really important for people to see what it means to be a member of this educational community," Collins said. "Students don't understand what it means to be the only campus with a College of Ethnic Studies."

"The conference isn't limiting itself to the traditional format of conference panels," said Katynka Z. Martínez, assistant professor in the raza studies department. "Instead, it is offering round-table discussions, workshops, performances and film screenings with Q&A sessions."

The College of Ethnic Studies was formed as a result of a nearly five-month-long strike led by SF State's Black Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front.

Jason Ferreira, professor in race and resistance studies, said the creation of the College of Ethnic Studies changed SF State's campus, along with other campuses across the nation, and revolutionized higher education.

"People of color on this campus and most places were invisible and not part of the collegiate experience," Ferreira said. "We are the only College of Ethnic Studies in the nation and the world. That speaks to the power the students in 1968 and 1969 had."

While other universities have since implemented ethnic studies programs and departments, such as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Ethnic Studies, SF State's college was the first in the nation.

According to Ferreira, years of organizing at SF State went into raising consciousness for this movement, and in the spring of 1968 the University hired a sociologist, Nathan Hare, to develop the first black studies program in the country.

The University did not follow through with plans for the program and the BSU, realizing their issues were not being dealt with, called for a strike that November.

According to Ferreira, the BSU put forth 10 demands that proposed changes in the University curriculum and admissions to better empower people of color. Days after the strike began, another ethnic activist group, the Third World Liberation Front, added five more demands to that list. As a result, other strikes rippled across the nation, some campuses protesting in solidarity with the students of SF State.

The students won after a struggle that included police brutality and mass student arrests. The strikers' demands were met and the strike ended in March of 1969. The College of Ethnic Studies opened the following semester.

The departments created within this College were: raza studies, black studies (now Africana studies), Asian American studies and American Indian studies.

Over time, Arab and Muslim ethnicities and diasporas have been included in the department of ethnic studies, which is also proposing a critical race and resistance studies program.

Conference organizer Raphael Allen said panels will include oral histories, discussions on topics ranging from the history that pushed the college into existence, the future of the field of ethnic studies and the application of ethnic studies to the non-academic world.

Allen was very impressed by the effort faculty from the College of Ethnic Studies devoted to the conference.

"I noticed how energetically faculty got involved, considering how rigorously they work," Allen said. "They did more work than I've ever seen a conference committee do in the 12 years I've been doing this."

Silent protest over rec center issue

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Members of the Coalition Against the Recreation and Wellness Center held a silent protest Wednesday afternoon during a meeting between President Robert Corrigan and Associated Students Inc.

Sixteen CARWC members entered the meeting on the fifth floor of the Administration building and stood silently against the wall to increase visibility for the CARWC, according to organizer senior Sam Brown-Vasquez.

Some held signs with messages for ASI such as "Schools not pools." Some wore duct tape over their mouths to signify their lack of voice in the issue.

"Our presence here was not meant to attack ASI but to show them that students do have a voice and we want to be heard," said 21-year-old CARWC member Henry York. "That's what our silence signified."

On Aug. 26, the Student Fee Advisory Committee voted unanimously to use an alternative method for approving the proposed recreation center that will not involve allowing students to vote. This move may increase student fees as much as $160 per semester.

"We want to let the president and ASI know we're disappointed in the way they've been handling the process of increasing our fees," Brown-Vasquez said.

The meeting went along as planned, as CARWC members stood silently holding their signs until it ended.

After the meeting, ASI members debated the rec. center issue with CARWC members in the building lobby after they rode the elevators down together.

"I like to hear stuff like this because I do hear from the other side's people who do want the rec. center," said ASI Sophomore Representative Travis Northup of the conversation in the lobby.

CARWC members were happy with the result and said they felt that it was handled professionally.

Krystale Triggs, a 24-year-old anthropology major, said she hopes the display gathered some attention.

"It's a step," Triggs said. "Another little baby step."

Read more about the issue of the rec. center

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