February 2010 Archives
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors, faced with an angry public, backed down Friday from further raising monthly passes for seniors, youths and persons with disabilities.
The marathon meeting ended with a partial victory for opponents of the fare increases. Monthly passes for seniors, youths, and persons with disabilities are already set to increase from $15 to $20 on May 1. The board also voted in favor of a 10 percent service reduction and will now require patrons to buy the premium "A" pass to ride cable cars and most express lines.
"These decisions have not been popular among the public," San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Chairman Tom Nolan said.
The room in City Hall was packed with angry patrons, many of them seniors, who blasted the board for its proposed fare increases and service cuts.
Commuters can expect longer wait times as the frequency of buses and rail cars will decrease on many lines, including the M-line, 28, 29, and 17. The board grappled with closing a budget hole of at least $12.1 million for the fiscal year, according to Judson True, an SFMTA spokesperson. Both votes, approving the service cuts and rejecting the fare increases for "vulnerable" groups, were split 4-3.
All of the lines that serve SF State will have changes to their schedules. For instance, every other M-line train coming from downtown during peak hours will turn around at SF State, meaning that commuters going to Ingleside or Balboa Park will have to wait an additional seven minutes. Commuters will have to wait an additional three minutes for the 28 bus during peak hours and it will stop running at midnight, an hour earlier than before.
Riders will also have to use the premium "A" pass--the one riders currently use to access BART within San Francisco-- to ride express line buses and cable cars. The 8X, 8AX, and 8BX lines, however, were exempted.
"When you're in this sort of budget nightmare, you don't wake up right away," True said.
The service cuts could have been avoided, some board members said, if the Transport Workers Union had accepted concessions to their contract. Nolan expressed disappointment that an agreement wasn't reached between the agency and the union.
"None of us likes to vote on increases," board member Bruce Oka said. "However, if TWU does not come through there are no more rocks under which we can find money. As much as I hate to say it we have no choice."
Irwin Lum, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A said it was unfair for the board to blame his union for the current financial situation.
"To blame the union is blatantly wrong," Lum said before the board. "You need to cut wasteful spending."
Walter Scott III, secretary and treasurer of the TWU, told the board they could save money by reducing the salaries of administrators and high paid employees.
"Before you cut services, you need to cut from the top," Scott said. He added, "Leave the senior fare alone!"
Nearly five hours of public comment culminated in a packed room in City Hall with hundreds more watching the meeting in an overflow room. All public testimony was against the changes and it would appear that sympathy was garnered by the board for at least one aspect of the public's outrage: fare increases.
"I'm looking for leadership and I don't see any leadership in this room," City College of San Francisco student Glo Pereira said before the board. "I'm here representing the students because I don't see anyone here, it pisses me off. We're not taking care of our future."
Pereira said she has to take the bus everyday but is frustrated at the lack of reliability.
"It takes me three hours to go three miles," she said.
The board meets again on March 2 to continue Friday's meeting, but also to begin discussions on the $53 million budget deficit projected for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, according to True.
Even before the vote, one patron said that he'd had enough with the transit agency. "I'm putting my 45 year old car back on the street," M.P.R. Howard said. "Do what you want, your agency is no longer worth it anymore."
Howard, a resident of San Francisco for 28 years, said he plans to drive his 1965 Dodge Dart again.
"She may not be pretty, but at least she gets me from point A to point B." he said. When asked how he was going to get home from the meeting, he replied, "I'm going to walk."
Traffic on 19th Avenue was interrupted briefly between Vicente and Ulloa avenues around 10:40 p.m. Feb. 25 when a car collision left an overturned BMW blocking both northbound lanes.
The driver of the flipped car is a student at SF State, as was his passenger, who both said the driver to the rear was at fault and collided with them in an attempt to pass on the left around their right-hand turn on Ulloa Street.
"So, basically speed was involved," San Francisco Police Department officer Robert Chew said, as a tow truck hauled away the smashed BMW. "It's pretty much the typical damage."
The driver, industrial design major Charles Andari, said that the car behind him sped up, swerved to the left, and made contact with a Honda Accord before ricocheting back into the BMW, flipping it over.
"Lucky for us, we only had one injury," Chew said.
Environmental studies major Rachel Breithaupt, the passenger in the BMW, said she would be on her way to the hospital after seeing her friend's car towed away.
"I had a concussion less than a year ago," Breithaupt said. "And I hit my head pretty hard."
Although glass still covered the pavement, northbound traffic on 19th Avenue resumed at 11:25 p.m. after a tow-truck cleared the scene of the overturned vehicle.
Undergrad students expecting to register for the upcoming summer session will pay a $153 increase from the year before, according to SF State Extended Learning.
SF State Extended Learning sent out an email to students on Feb. 17 notifying them that the 2010 summer session will be offering more than 550 classes through the College of Extended Learning.
The email indicated that summer fees for undergraduates would be $279.50 per unit, $838.50 for three units and $1677 for six units. This is compared to a 10 percent increase for six units from Spring 2010.
"The Chancellor's Office made this decision this year without stating why," Director of Extended Learning Jim Bryan said
The Chancellor's website states that fees listed in published schedules or student accounts may need to be increased when public funding is inadequate. California State University has the right to increase or modify any listed fees without notice, even after the initial fee payments. This happened before in July 2009 when the CSU Board voted to increase fees by 15 percent for the upcoming fall semester.
Each unit is broke down into three things: $194.50 is the State University fee, $80 for self-support services that include computer access for online classes, and $5 for local fees that include health services provided on campus, according to Bryan.
SF students are not strangers to fee increases. They have had to shell out more cash consistently over the past years. In 2005 students spent $1,564 for a full-time schedule. Now they pay $2,370.
"It angers me that they would raise the tuition. I put myself through school and can't keep affording all these increases they seem to do every semester. It's ridiculous," sophomore Justin Greene said.
Fee increases could hit financial aid students particularly hard. The financial aid office is limiting funds for the summer session.
Sophomore Annie Battenway is a financial aid student who wants to attend summer school, but doesn't know if she will be one of the limited financial aid students to receive funds to do so.
"It's hard to plan for summer since I've been told I might have a chance of not receiving financial aid. Everything just keeps getting cut back when fees go up," Battenway said.
Although it will be difficult to pay, some students are seeing the increase as a necessary tradeoff to getting their degrees earlier.
Senior Matt Watts who was only able to get two classes this semester will go to any lengths no matter what the price is to take summer session.
"I need summer school to graduate. I'm willing to pay whatever it takes to get it done. This increase won't hold me back from taking summer session at all," Watts said.
This summer's class schedule will be available on March 4.
The 2009-2010 SF State men's and women's basketball teams are both preparing to end another successful season.
The men have recently clinched another CCAA playoff berth for the 3rd season in a row, which hasn't been accomplished since 1984. The women are looking to clench a playoff berth with their last two regular season games against Cal State San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona.
Both teams have also received numerous recognitions for individual as well as team achievements. The men's and women's teams both had ten SF State "Athletes of the Week" selections. The men had five players ranked in the top 30 in nine individual statistical categories. The women had six players ranked in the top 30 in eight individual statistical categories.
As a team, they both achieved national acclaim being ranked in the top 20 in defensive field goal percentage and defensive scoring throughout the season.
The women have seven seniors graduating and the men have two seniors graduating and were honored for their commitment to the SF State basketball program on the "Senior Night" game versus Cal State East Bay February 20th.
For the 2009-2010 season, both teams have much to proud of.
After a two-year hiatus, SF State is hosting its 10th Annual Comedy Night to help raise grants and scholarships for the student athletes.
Put together by SF State Athletic Director Mike Simpson and comedian Ronnie Schell, the two-night event will feature six classic comedians telling old-school jokes on Feb. 26 and 27 at McKenna Theater.
All comedians are performing at the event for free.
"SF State (is) in the low third seat out of twelve schools in providing scholarships to student athletes," Simpson said.
Due to the unstable economy, there is a lack of corporate sponsorship in this year's comedy night. That means a majority of the money made from the event will have to come from ticket sales.
Schell, an SF State alumnus, has been part of a group that arranges benefits for various organizations through comedy. He first met Simpson when he asked for a baseball cap of the school's team. Since then, the two have been working together to help the athletic department raise money.
Because Schell had previously used stand up for benefits, he proposed that Simpson try the same tactic for the athletic department. The first comedy night was in 1998, which featured Jack Riley and Fred Willard.
Legendary comedians are frequently included in the line. Some even come out of retirement just to make a one-time appearance. As a result, all comedy nights are usually sold out by opening night.
"Very few shows have such veterans under one room," Schell said.
Although the event always attract crowds, students remain out of the loop. According to Schell, out of all the sold out shows, only about 25 SF State students have attended. Simpson said that it's quite peculiar that an event on campus to benefit students would get such low support from its constituents.
"It's a shame," Simpson said when talking about the students being apathetic to this group of comedians. "They spoke to worldwide audiences."
Kenny Wardell, the promoter for the event, said he had a hard time selling it to the younger crowd.
"The event had a tremendous response from different media," Wardell said. However, he faced difficulty when marketing the event to media stations with a younger following.
Both Simpson and Schell said that although the comedians for the events may not be familiar to the younger crowd, they made a tremendous impact during their prime. Many comedians, like Tim Conway and Tommy Smothers, who are performing this year, had their own television shows.
Along with Schell Conway and Smothers, this year's lineup will also include performers Rich Little, Will Durst, Ronnie Schell and Steve Rossi. Tickets are available online.
Despite a decrease in the number of reported cases of swine flu in the United States, SF State health officials still believe it's important to spread awareness about flu prevention.
Student health services and School of Nursing hosted a free H1N1 vaccine clinic on Feb. 18 and 23 that was open to all SF State students, faculty and staff in hopes of encouraging everyone to get vaccinated and spread the word, especially during the current flu season.
"We're really trying to encourage people who have not gotten the flu shot (and) want to prevent the risk of getting the flu to come down and get a free vaccine," Health educator Albert Angelo said.
Although many SF State students might not feel an immediate threat of infection, health educator Ingrid Ochoa still hopes the free service will help spread the word to their peers. "That's really how students get to know things," she said, "by hearing other students and hearing other people."
When the vaccine was first released in late 2009, many people lined up around the block to get the shot. Supply was scarce. Now, many people are wondering about the urgency to get vaccinated.
February and March mark the peak of flu season. As of Jan. 15, seven states still reported cases of swine flu, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Shuling Lu, a Chinese major, said she wanted to take advantage of the free vaccination in order to protect herself.
"Taking it right now is appropriate because it's available to the students and staff right now," she said. "I like to take the advantage of taking it as soon as possible."
Members of Peer Educators Advocating Campus Health also helped out at the clinic. PEACH hosts events that help encourage and promote healthy living with regards to sexuality and nutrition among SF State students.
PEACH member April Kaneaster hopes the vaccine will encourage students to protect others as well as themselves. In addition to getting vaccinated, Kaneaster takes precautions such as washing her hands regularly and sneezing into her shirtsleeves.
"It's about keeping the campus healthy," she said. "We try to support just health and that includes everything, including sickness."
People who are recommended to get vaccinated include pregnant women, anyone up to 24 years old, and anyone 25 years or older with chronic medical conditions or a weakened immune system.
Angelo said that it's important for people to know that they shouldn't feel pressure about deciding whether or not to get vaccinated. He explained that the procedure is extremely safe and that people shouldn't be too concerned about the risk of side effects.
"It's a personal choice," he said. "Once you get through the door, we don't lock the door and get you in the room and strap you into a chair. It's something to think about, it's something you have to be comfortable with."
Around 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday night, a black Acura collided into an outbound L Taraval light rail vehicle between 20th and 21st avenues and crashed inside Quickly, a Chinese cafe.
After hitting the side of the Muni vehicle, the car lost control and drove into the storefront. San Francisco firefighters transported three passengers from the vehicle to San Francisco General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries and no one on the Muni vehicle was harmed, according to Judson True, spokesperson for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
At least two men were arrested. Police are still investigating the accident.
Most of the stores surrounding the cafe were restaurants. The owners and customers did not witness the accident, nor did they have any idea how the accident occurred, but the crash was loud enough that it aroused their attention.
Quickly's workers were quite stunned when the accident happened.
"Luckily, people weren't sitting by the door today," one of the workers from Quickly said. "Usually we get a few who like to sit by the window."
At 9:40 p.m., the scene cleared.
A male suspect allegedly tried to sexually assault a woman on 19th Avenue near the Station Café on Saturday, Feb. 20, according to the Department of Public Safety.
The woman, who was not an SF State student, was walking southbound by herself on 19th Avenue at 8:24 p.m. when a man allegedly pulled up her dress and attempted to sexually assault her, University police said. The Station Café was not open at the time.
The victim, whose age was not made available, managed to run away from the assailant and call University police from her cell phone. University police responded to the incident, along with the San Francisco Police Department, which is currently handling the case.
Police initially detained two possible suspects, who were later released after they were determined to be unrelated to the incident.
According to University police reports, the suspect is a 20- to 22-year-old white male, 5 feet 5 inches tall, with light-brown hair and a thin build, who was wearing a black hooded jacket and black pants at the time of the assault. He was last seen traveling by foot southbound on 19th Avenue. According to University police, it is unknown whether SFPD have any leads at this time.
SF State student Jasmin Contos, 18, said she walks about 15 minutes to the front of campus at 19th Avenue to her car after her Monday night class, when the area is generally deserted.
"I get out around 10 p.m., so I'm walking really late at night by myself," she said. "And those are some of the nights where I become a little bit more aware of my surroundings and a little more paranoid about the possibilities of what could go wrong when I'm walking by myself."
Contos said she carries pepper spray in case of an emergency, but otherwise tries not to worry too much about her safety during her nighttime walks across campus. "I feel like if you let yourself be too afraid, then you're kind of making yourself a victim already, even if nothing has happened," she said.
Seven days a week, the University offers a safety escort program --Campus Alliance for a Risk-Free Environment, or C.A.R.E., which provides students with accompaniment to their cars and nearby apartments from sunset until midnight. Students can arrange a C.A.R.E. escort by calling University police at (415) 338-7200. In incidents of sexual assault, students can also call University police or 911.
"Who loves bubbles?" asked Louis Pearl when he stepped on stage which was then followed by a massive tidal wave of small stubby arms that raise in not so perfect unison. "I love bubbles more than you!" Pearl playfully declared towards his audience over the weekend and in fact proved that he does.
"The Amazing Bubble Man, Louis Pearl and The Greatest Bubble Show on Earth" is extending its stay here in the Bay Area until the end of March at The Marsh Theater in the Mission. For over 25 years, Pearl has been taking his grand bubble show on the road. He never seizes to amaze his literally little audience with bubble wonders and jokes that have the majority of his audience, no more than three feet all, roll around, giggling and gasping for air. When many of his wise cracks and bubbles fly over their little heads and even get the parents hysterically laughing, everybody wins.
"In college, me and my friends started up rolling up sheets of paper and blowing bubbles and making movies," Pearl said. "From then, I made different toys like The Bubble Trumpet and eventually started (Tangent Toy Company) which led to the creation of the square bubble and so on."
The square bubble is just one of many creations and inventions Pearl has developed over the years to spice up his routine and keep the thousands upon thousands of children completely transfixed on bubbles. He has toys and gadgets that blow flying saucer bubbles, orbiting planet bubbles, bubbles filled with fog and bubbles that stick together to look like clear centipedes. Basically, Pearl just wants everyone to know he can make a bubble out of anything. That and in his field of world there's a bigger and more important message here: live in the moment.
"You got to be in the present. It's a great lesson from a bubble," Pearl said. "That's what bubbles have taught me. Last week, this innocent kid just walked up on stage and started playing with the bubble toys, so I took his seat."
Other than children potentially having an effect on his shows, Pearl must always be aware of his surroundings.
"In the bubble business, the problem is the solution," Pearl said. "I also have to be aware of where I am. If the air dry or there are hot lamps, the bubbles will pop quickly."
"Environment and bubble solution: As long as those are cool, then I'm fine."
At The Marsh located in the heart of the Mission, Pearl has the opportunity to really get to know his audience. Pearl's usual tour has had been perform for schools full of children, but The Marsh allows for intimacy, which Pearl admits is a nice change.
"My bread and butter is doing shows at schools, incorporating science," Pearl said. "But this is much more intimate. This is really special to do a show in a small theater like this."
Like a rock show or a traveling circus act, Pearl never knows if the show is going to run smoothly or if his show itinerary is going to fail. Pearl essentially lives by this unpredictability like a bubbles life span itself.
"Bubbles you know, they pop!" Pearl said. "The other is children, they're unpredictable. When I start a show, I have no idea what's going to happen. Everything has to fail before I can see the limits of the show. In essence, nothing can go wrong.
That wasn't the case Sunday's show, which included a cameo appearance of James Brown dancing and singing, and yes, standing in a bubble. Although it was doubtful that any of the children recognized the Godfather of Soul, the parents certainly did which was a nice touch to an already whacky, bubbly, entertaining afternoon.
"We loved it," said mother Julie Grigoryan. "The bubbles were awesome, creative, and Pearl was very funny."
For some children, this was their very first exposure to the entertainment world.
"My daughter was wrapped up in it until she got tired," said father Allan Ayres of his 2-year-old daughter. "First thing she's been to and she was glued to it."
And for Louis Pearl, he says he'll keep on his doing this forever.
"I thought I'd do it for a couple years and I'm doing it forever," Pearl said. "I'm not really good at anything. I'm just really good at doing bubble shows."
If there's one thing most college students can agree on, it's that textbooks aren't cheap.
To circumvent costly books, some thrifty students seek out less pricey options through online retailers, while others opt to share books among friends or borrow copies from the library. But a small number of students take a more risky, and potentially more costly route, attempting to avoid paying for books altogether by shoplifting from the school's bookstore.
According to University police, there were 12 reported thefts from the SFSU Bookstore last semester, only two of which were by non-students. So far this spring, 11 people, seven of whom are SF State students, have been cited for attempted shoplifting.
"Approximately half of the thefts in the SF State bookstore are committed by students," said a University police officer in an e-mail. Deputy Chief of Police Reggie Parson said the main explanation these students give for stealing is a lack of money.
On Jan. 28, three days after the semester began, a 20-year-old student was cited for petty theft after she was caught trying to steal a textbook from the bookstore. The next day another female student, 18, was also cited after trying to steal two books, worth $120. Just three days later, on Feb. 1, two others, one of whom was a student, were caught stealing books, according to University police crime logs.
Steven Jackson, who has worked as the bookstore's loss control coordinator for two years, said that incidents of theft are higher at the beginning of a semester, when there are more students on campus and more people in need of books. As the semester progresses, those numbers decrease, and thieves focus on other items, like electronics. Over the course of a semester, shoplifters pocket everything from books to baseball hats, ranging in price from $10 to $200 or more.
Jackson said that the store prosecutes nearly all shoplifters, who are caught stealing either over the store's security cameras or after setting off one of the store's alarms.
"Our goal is to be able to prevent thefts 100 percent of the time," he said.
Brian Zimmerman, the store's associate general manager, said that as a non-profit, the bookstore is a self-sufficient business that relies on its sales, as it doesn't receive funding from the State or the CSU system
"We're here to serve the students," he said. "Theft affects our ability to contribute because it hits our bottom-line directly."
Zimmerman said that any surplus the store makes goes back to the campus through programs like the Gator Rewards Club, through which students can earn discounts when they spend money in the store. But losses from theft undercut profits that would otherwise go to such programs, and can ultimately drive up the cost of books.
Last year, the bookstore lost $106,000 to shrinkage, with theft accounting for about two-thirds of that loss, according to general manager Rob Strong.
Jenny Meichtry, 41, who studies special education at SF State, said the bookstore is her primary source for textbooks, and that she isn't happy about the prospect of eventual prices increases from theft. But she said shoplifting students, who are often still in their teens, should potentially be afforded more leniency than those caught in an off-campus setting.
"Obviously they should return it and pay for it," she said. "But I don't know if they should be prosecuted."
Bookstore shoplifters are typically issued misdemeanor citations by University police, and when the total cost of stolen goods reaches $400, they face felony charges and arrest. Beyond that, there are academic repercussions for stealing from on-campus shops.
Depending on the severity of the incident, a student charged with shoplifting on campus could face anything from a slap on the wrist, in the form of an administrative warning, to academic probation and even expulsion.
"Ninety percent of the time the comment you're going to hear after they get caught is, 'I can pay for it,'" Jackson said. "But if they had done that in the first place, it wouldn't be an issue."
San Francisco's newest poet laureate sat on the dimly lit stage with the microphone tilted toward her face reciting her words off the paper before her, and when she stopped, the crowd roared for more.
Diane di Prima, a poet most famous as a key female in the male-dominated "beat" movement, was celebrated at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts Friday night by artists, fans and three of San Francisco's former poet laureates.
Much of di Prima's readings came on the topic of poetry's process and the city of San Francisco. Although she was born in Brooklyn, di Prima has lived in northern California for the past 34 years.
In her "First Draft Poet Laureate Oath of Office," di Prima declared that it is poetry that she serves, "scattering words that need no frequency, no broadband." It is poetry that shows the people of San Francisco in all their beauty, di Prima said. From the homeless to the skateboarder, from the working to the idle, from the Sunset to North Beach, in San Francisco there is "no season that is not season of song."
The crowd erupted in applause and the event suddenly became a game of how long the audience could get di Prima to continue reading.
"How long have I been up here?" di Prima asked. "I said I would only speak for 15 minutes."
"Time and age are nothing but a number!" di Prima fan Edmond Larry yelled while continuing to shake his tambourine, and di Prima continued to read.
Named San Francisco Poet Laureate by Mayor Gavin Newsom last spring, di Prima gave her inaugural address Feb. 2 and is still getting used to the title.
"I can barely begin to wrap my mind around it," di Prima said and added that the swearing-in ceremony was "surreal."
The San Francisco poet laureate program started under Mayor Willie Brown in 1998 and is a pro bono position that comes with the role of poetic ambassador for the city. The three guidelines require delivering an inaugural address covering poetry's status in San Francisco, reading at Litquake, an annual San Francisco literary festival, and working with poetry programs in the city.
The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) has been promoting Latino arts for 33 years, and although di Prima is of Italian descent, MCCLA events coordinator Jason Wallach said Friday night was a great way to bring together the Latino and non-Latino community to sustain an artisitic community here in San Francisco.
"This is really a tip of the hat to di Prima from this part of town," MCCLA events coordinator Jason Wallach said.
Saran Riegel, an intern at Manic D Press, was thrilled she was able to see di Prima read. Riegel said she is such a huge fan of di Prima because of how the Beat poet spoke for female issues in the "beat" movement. As for MCCLA event, Riegel enjoyed di Prima's reflections on the craft of poetry.
"Poetry is in everything," Riegel said. "We just have to see it."
Sonia Slutzki and Barbara Moran had never heard of di Prima or any of the poets before but decided to come check out the show anyways since they live in the neighborhood. They were impressed.
"I never knew San Francisco has such a phenomenal list of poet laureates," said Slutzki, who graduated from SF State last year.
"I will definitely go check her out now," Moran said.
The landscape of SF State housing communities will undergo a change as repairs will begin taking place for trees deemed as hazardous.
An independent professional tree survey found that out of the 468 trees within University Park North, University Park South and core campus housing, 149 require some form of action. This can include trimming and removing unnecessary parts, cabling together split trunks and even taking out some trees altogether.
The removal of two Cypress trees at the corner of the Font Boulevard circle and the driveway between Mary Ward Hall and The Village building A marked the beginning of the process that calls for a good chunk of money and could be prolonged.
Since the trees scored an 11 on a scale of 3-12, with 12 being the most hazardous, the decision to remove them came rather quickly.
"The risk of trees falling on cars and people in general is our biggest concern," said Mike Spence, from the Davey Tree Expert Company, who arrived Friday, Feb. 18 at 8 a.m. to begin the removal.
This isn't the first time Spence has been sent to SF State. He was also a part of the removal of the large Cypress in front of Mary Park Hall that fell last semester during the October 2009 storm.
Dorm resident Ryan Powell, 18, witnessed last semester's incident and doesn't like the idea of trees being removed, but ultimately agrees that safety comes first.
"If it's dangerous, it should happen," Powell said.
To ensure a similar event doesn't occur, the decision to take out the Cypress trees was a priority.
Jim Bolinger, the Acting Director of Facilities and Residential Life at SF State, invests a lot of time and energy into sustainable and environmental efforts. The removal of the Cypress trees was a difficult decision for him to make, considering his goal is to keep a healthy balance between maintaining the beauty of the campus and keeping spending as reasonable as possible.
"I hate taking them out," Bolinger said. "But this is one area I will try to scrape money for because we have to keep planting."
Bolinger foresees a lot more happening to the landscape of the community that ties into SF State's master plan --a summary of the projects and proposals set forth to improve the physical development of the campus through 2020.
Something he calls the "Font Boulevard Project" will successfully fulfill the master plan's idea of connecting the campus to its green surroundings that include Lake Merced, Stern Grove, San Francisco Zoo and several of the golf courses.
Native plants will be placed throughout the medians of the street and the Redwood already in the Font Boulevard circle will be joined by much more vegetation.
Bolinger said that the beauty of a campus has a lot to do with students' overall college experience. "We need to make this as good as possible for you guys."
A part of doing so is also making sure that the areas where trees once stood do not remain empty for long. Bolinger already plans on planting a Redwood in the place of the two Cypress trees, something he deems necessary.
As for the two Cypress trees, they will be recycled at a center in East Bay where they reuse wood for the purpose of making flooring, furniture, etc.
Compared to other libraries in San Francisco, the Haight's Park Branch is small but substantial. Flanked by Victorian apartment buildings on Page Street, the building is tucked away from the bustle of Upper Haight and often surprises residents who have lived in the neighborhood for years but never realized a library was there.
Built in 1909, the branch is one of the oldest in the city. Park Branch is also one in a long
string of renovations that San Francisco libraries have undergone since a bond measure passed in 2001 to spruce up the city's branches.
The $106-million bond measure granted $2.8 million to the Park Branch renovation and although the changes are mostly cosmetic, the building will be closed for a year come Feb. 26.
"The changes will make it a lot easier to work here, and they'll open the library up for our patrons," said the branch manager Cathy Delneo.
While the librarians are excited about the changes being made, some residents are wary and upset that a space they use so often will be closed until next year.
According to Delneo, for some elderly neighbors, a visit to the library is their only weekly excursion. Other families bring their children to story time on the same day every week, or students use the space as a means to escape apartment living and concentrate on their studies.
"Since State's library closed, I do all of my homework here," said SF State student Aja Schmutz, who lives across the street. "I'm bummed it's going to be closed for so long."
Other groups, like the Library Users Association, are downright livid about the closure. Peter Warfield, the executive director of the association, opposes the choice to use
a Bookmobile as an alternate library instead of renting a space. Warfield is a library crusader of sorts; he was the first member to be appointed to the Library Citizens Advisory Committee and has closely followed other branch renovations since the bond program passed.
One main change that Warfield disagrees with is the addition of an employee workspace on the top floor.
"Architecturally, it's a real violation of this temple-like space and you just don't put a workroom in the rotunda of city hall, or in a church, you have workrooms, but you
don't put it in the public open space," Warfield said.
Neighborhoods across the city have seen renovations and closures as a result of the bond measure.
Currently in North Beach a new Mission Branch was added, and other projects have expanded as an unexpected result of the economic crisis because "the bids have been much more numerous and all these contractors are that much more hungry," according to Warfield.
Because of a lack of work, contractors have been more eager to take on the projects for less, leaving the bond program with excess funds, according to Warfield.
These funds, he thinks, should have been used to find spaces to temporarily function as libraries rather than to expand current projects.
"How is it possible that they can find millions for expansion and scope, but they don't have a penny for library service and patrons," Warfield said. "All this crying poor doesn't apply now because they have all these contractors falling over each other begging for the work."
Amid the hustle and bustle of the Tenderloin, where storefronts seem to open and close without notice, a uniquely San Francisco business is attempting to re-make a name for itself. The Power Exchange, an "adult play space" catering to any and all of a patron's sexual fantasies, opened last Thursday, to differing reactions.
The location at 220 Jones St. has been in the adult entertainment industry since the 1950s, serving as both a gay theater and most recently, the Pink Diamonds strip club. Across the street is the Boys and Girls Club, and next door is the San Francisco City Academy, along with various cafes and the Providence Community Church within a few blocks.
In an area with a high concentration of families as well as liquor stores, it seems as though the Power Exchange will be a fitting, if not welcome, addition in the eyes of its neighbors.
"The irrational comments of children being harmed are just that- irrational," said Terrance Alan, owner of the building for over 15 years. "The activity is confined to the interior, and no children allowed." This was his response to the comments from Marie-France Ladine, director at the San Francisco City Academy, made in last week's Chronicle, against the club opening.
"The outside will have nothing else but the appearance of a normal business," said Alan, who has been a friend and business partner of Power Exchange owner Michael Powers for years. "It won't give any indication of the nature of the business."
While Alan and Powers are optimistic about their endeavor, there has been concern from some that it may not be suitable for the neighborhood.
"The overall issue of such clubs is that we have such an abundance of children in such a saturated area," said pastor Eric Gabourel of Providence Community Church, located down the street from the Power Exchange. "It would be more understandable if it was on Broadway or Market, but here there are lots of families that cant afford to live anywhere else."
Gabourel doesn't think it's fair that the sex club is opening in his neighborhood when other areas in the city don't have such businesses.
"I don't see these businesses in Pacific Heights, so I don't think they should be here either," said Gabourel. "But then again, I think there are much bigger issues to protest."
The Power Exchange first began 13 years ago, when owner Michael Powers opened the first location on Otis Street in SoMa. He used the money from that club to open another in Las Vegas, but for the last few years has been trying to find the perfect home for his distinctive club.
He closed the SoMa location a few years ago to harbor all his energy into the Vegas establishment, though Powers' ultimate goal is to "make Power Exchange a household name."
Upon returning to the city, he attempted to open at 44 Gouph street in November 2008, though zoning permits required he close his doors in March of the next year. Until May, he tried to acquire the appropriate permits, but instead found room at 34 Mason, in an old club. Once again, the building was not up to code, and since May of 2009, Powers and his team had been searching for another venue.
Just a few months ago, he ran into Alan, and their conversation led to the Pink Diamonds closing, and that Alan had room for a new club. Alan said he would welcome, the Power Exchange on Jones street.
"Michael is a good community member and has operated a business that doesn't have high impacts on the neighborhood," Alan said. "I wanted someone who had a long history of being in the adult entertainment industry."
Powers, who ran for Mayor of San Francisco in 2007, refers to the club as a "glorified day care center." The club itself is the only in the nation that caters to every sexual persuasion, offering a drug and alcohol-free space for singles and couples to act out their fantasies and fetishes in a safe environment and always with the use of protection.
"I've been in this business for 13 years, and have yet to raise a flag," Powers said. "The police don't even know who I am. Anybody having somebody get shot within 30 feet of a police station has a serious problem with their clientele," he said, referring to the fatal shootings in front of Pink Diamonds late last year.
Since running into each other a few months ago and offering his lease to Powers, Alan has been working to make sure everything runs smoothly.
"All processes are long to ensure guaranteed public safety in a public assembly space, and most concerns are with the safety and structure of the building, especially fire codes," Alan said. "I have been careful in making sure Michael has a lot of experience, and none of the problems that plagued the Pink Diamonds."
Despite the heavy rain, a crowd of eager foodies waited in line outside Noe Valley's neighborhood cookware shop, Cooks Boulevard, to get a taste of ornately dressed and precisely baked cupcakes, as well as to support a local organization.
On Feb. 21, Cooks Boulevard held a cupcake tasting charity event, "Cupcakes to Celebrate," to support San Francisco Food Bank's mission to alleviate hunger in the city. Taking donations from over 100 cupcake enthusiasts, the shop was able to raise $800 within an hour, the equivalent of $7,200 worth of food, according to Sara Eddison, manager of Cooks Boulevard.
"It's genuinely amazing to see the number of people who care and want to help out," Eddision said. "People like to participate in something they can identify with."
For the past 14 months, Cooks Boulevard has been working with the food bank through its food barrel program by collecting food donations from its customers. Every time a barrel gets filled with nonperishable food items including pastas, boxed juice and canned meat, Cooks Boulevard donates it to the food bank for distribution to families in need. The local shop has filled and donated ten barrels full of food and is currently working on their eleventh barrel.
"It's important to us to be able to give back to the community and this is a good way to do it," Eddison said. "The Food Bank is a great organization that does amazing work, and being a cookware shop, it makes sense that we would partner up with them."
According to The San Francisco Food Bank's official website, one in four children and one in four seniors do not have access to enough food to meet their nutritional needs on a regular basis.
Taking inspiration from the success of their previous cupcake tasting event and a fundraiser collaboration with local bookstore Cover to Cover, Cooks Boulevard decided to combine the two concepts and hold a charity cupcake tasting event and donate all the proceeds to a cause "that matters locally," Eddison said.
Contributing to the cause, Mission Minis, a growing local gem, Moonbabycakes, an organic and vegan bakery, Teeny Cake, a Farmer's Market regular, and Kingdom Cake, a daring new bakery, provided samples to eager guests, including lemon tart, raspberry chocolate and red velvet cupcakes.
A big supporter of local businesses as well, Cooks Boulevard fashioned the event to provide underground bakers with an opportunity to showcase their baking talents and cupcakes to prospective clients.
The opportunity to participate in a charity event to help those in need and simultaneously promoting their bakery is "a perfect match," Chelsea Mead, owner of Kingdom Cake, said. "Networking and charity is a proven success every time, so everybody wins."
"(The event) was a great way to interact with the attendees as well as the other vendors, as we all share a love of cupcakes," Michelle Lane, baker and owner of Teeny Cake, said.
"It's better to shop local, to talk to someone super knowledgeable instead of going to a big department store," Eddison said.
All the cupcake bakers brought something different to the table. According to Eddison, Mission Minis had a huge fan base and was the crowd favorite, while Kingdom Cake attracted people with their incredible display. Teeny Cake wowed the crowd with their specialty red velvet cupcakes, and Moonbabycakes took the cake with their perfectly designed cupcakes.
The next charity event Cooks Boulevard is planning is a field trip to the food bank to help sort and distribute food donations to those in need.
Multiplying like bacteria, the crowd attending the exhibit opening of "SICK" did nothing other than grow bigger and bigger and bigger Saturday evening from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Taking art to a rarely ventured plane, "SICK" focuses on man's vulnerability to illness. Each piece created specifically for the exhibit held at Root Division, portrays some aspect of this notion whether it is infection, treatment, medicine or healing.
"By asking many different artists who work in a variety of media, we felt certain that we would get wide response and interpretation of the theme 'sick,'" Sarah Stolar, one of three exhibit curators, said. "It was also important for all of us that the work in the show to be new (2009-2010) in order to best communicate the current importance and impact health care and illness has on contemporary society," she said.
Guests were immersed within a world of medical art the moment they walked through the little door on 17th Street. Greeting them, stood a hand carved, palm-sized person cast entirely from soap and a bowl of water where patrons were invited to wash their hands.
Although only a few other pieces were quite as hands-on, some works inherently demanded interaction with the audience. A slideshow entitled "Emisis," the medical term for vomiting, projected images of people doing just that, as well as crying and defecating to rid themselves of unwanted agents into a cleverly placed toilet standing against the wall.
"It's not just about how we house things in our body, but it's about how we manifest things in our mind," said Jaren Bonillo, an artist using the concept of the associations between body, mind and home, what she calls, domestic space. "It's a metaphor to get rid of things emotionally, physically and mentally."
Bonillo uses "familiar objects and experiences" and takes them further to push the viewer's interaction and consciousness to a new level.
"It makes you feel things and remember things," Jen Faith said after seeing "Emisis."
Other pieces in the exhibit were more focused on portraying a specific concept or idea, like Kathleen Quillian's animation entitled "Wasteland."
"It's about how our food supply is keeping up with our population but not our health, it's more concerned about cheap products than healthy products," Quillian said. "My animation is showing the farm to table to field."
Throughout the photographs of prescription drugs and installations about mental health and ailments afflicting the common person, the thirteen artists made sure the art was easily approachable.
"I'm not very art educated but this all seems very accessible and I've enjoyed it," Nathan Halverson, one patron said.
Running for three weeks "SICK" gives the student, amateur artist or art connoisseur something new to think about.
The removal of two Cypress trees at the corner of the Font Boulevard circle and the driveway between Mary Ward Hall and The Village building A began on Feb. 19.
In a response to a professional tree survey done for University Housing, the two trees were deemed a hazard, scoring an 11 on a scale from three to 12.
"The risk of trees falling on cars and people in general is our biggest concern," Mike Spence, from the Davey Tree Expert Company, said.
This isn't the first time Spence has been sent to SF State to work on tree removal. He was also a part of the removal of the large Cypress in front of Mary Park Hall that fell during the fall 2009 semester during the storm.
Resident Ryan Powell, 18, witnessed last semester's incident and doesn't like the idea of trees being removed but ultimately agrees that safety comes first.
"If it's dangerous, it should happen," Powell said.
In an effort to ensure a similar event doesn't happen, the decision to take out the Cypress trees was quickly made.
Jim Bolinger, Director of Facilities and Residential Life at SF State, invests a lot of time and energy into sustainable and environmental efforts on campus and is upset that the two trees will no longer be there after the long furlough weekend.
"I hate taking them out," Bolinger said. "But we have to do that for safety."
The space will not be empty for long. Bolinger plans on planting a Redwood in the place of the two trees, something he deems necessary in order to maintain the beauty of the community.
SF State's College of Business is working to satisfy recent environmentally conscious demands by adding courses dedicated to ethical and sustainable business education within its Executive Master of Business Administration program.
The EMBA program, located at the downtown campus, will help produce future employees with a strong business background in sustainability at a time when the green industry is booming.
EMBA Director Aaron Anderson said that the new emphasis is rare and hopes that it will continue to expand and eventually influence other schools to do the same.
"We are looking to lead in this area," Anderson said. "My dream is to have Harvard call us up and ask 'How did you do this?'"
The 16-month program is based on a cohort, a group of students, all following the same track of courses together. It is much different then the traditional EMBA program because students are required to do the same coursework, as well as the additional sustainability courses, in a shorter span of time.
Although four courses define the emphasis, sustainable business curricula will be woven throughout other courses as well. As an accelerated program, its goal is to make students well rounded in three aspects -being profitable, being environmentally friendly and being socially responsible.
"This program will appeal to a broad spectrum of individuals," Anderson said. "It's for people interested in a career shift and interested in new business skills."
Eddie Deleon, 23, is currently a senior at SF State majoring in business management. As the president of the Management Organization for Business Students, he has brought in guest speakers to discuss the role the environment has in business decision making.
"Sustainability is here to stay," Deleon said. "Businesses will be following this new model from now on because it affects everything and everybody."
Deleon has been told by business professionals, advisors and professors about the importance sustainability will be playing in the future, influencing his interest in possibly pursuing the new emphasis.
"I looked at (the program) when we had the graduate fair," Deleon said. "I think it would be nice because that's the new wave we will be seeing everywhere."
Anderson attributes the faculty, which he said is ranked high in sustainability programming, as the driving forces behind the new emphasis.
One of those faculty members, professor of management Murray Silverman, sees the addition of the program as an opportunity to take advantage of consumers' growing interest in environmentally conscious products.
"I don't like to think of it as a trend," Silverman said. "A trend can go away, but this is a shift in the world."
The sustainability emphasis will not begin until January 2011, but it is already being recognized as a great addition to the Master of Business Administration program.
"This was a niche that needed to be filled," Eddie Cox, a 48-year-old recent graduate of the MBA program, said. "SF State can build a brand in sustainability and draw some of the best people in the world to go there."
Although Cox graduated in May 2009, he remains connected to the College of Business through his alumni. With tools like Facebook and various networking events, Cox hopes to inform potential students about the benefits of the program and the new emphasis as well.
"Those of us involved in the association got a lot out of the program and want to give something back," Cox said.
Applications for the sustainable business emphasis will be accepted beginning in August of 2010. Although there is a fair amount of interest in the program, the economy has led to overall poor enrolment rates. The target of 120 students is not expected to be met in 2010, and instead Anderson anticipates 30 or so qualified students to be enrolled.
Students Faculty Staff United, an SF State-based coalition that organizes against cuts to higher education in California, conducted a SF State General Assembly meeting Feb. 17 to discuss the upcoming day of statewide action for public education.
On March 4, rallies, demonstrations and teach-ins will be held throughout California to unite supporters of public education from pre-kindergarten to the university level.
"We're having this meeting to build and broaden the efforts towards March 4," Queer Association Director Spencer Young, 23, said. "This is just the beginning."
Although SFSUnited is not officially recognized by SF State, it is comprised of students and faculty from a wide range of on-campus organizations who combined their efforts after the Business building was occupied in December 2009.
"The only reason we have SFSUnited is because faculty came out that day and it forged an alliance," SFSUnited member Akasha Perez, 20, said.
"There was a lot of frustration that it happened around finals," she said. "But I think it's important to remember that because of that, it generated buzz and a lot of great partnerships were created."
"(We hope) to have the students' voices be heard by the administration and let them know we care about our education," sophomore Amrit Dhaliwal said. "We deserve quality education at a price we can afford, emphasis on the quality."
SFSUnited distributed a list of SF State-specific demands at the assembly which included ending furloughs, reinstating faculty and staff who have been laid off and creating budget transparency within the university.
"We're trying as a group not to alienate certain proposals," Perez said. "You don't have to be militant, you can be here to organize and take minutes. Not everyone is into the yelling, screaming, locking themselves into the Business building thing."
Those who attended the assembly were asked to break into small groups by college where they developed ideas to promote and support the day of action.
Some of the proposals discussed during the assembly were ultimately put to a vote, including whether students should occupy 19th and Holloway and to begin picketing at 8 a.m. on March 4, both of which passed.
"I'm passionate about working with these people because I'm passionate about education," SF State sophomore Victor Garcia said. "I don't believe schools should be excluding people and making it harder for people to better themselves through education."
SFSUnited will hold general assemblies Feb. 23 and March 3 in the Rosa Parks Conference Center from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
McBrayer has been hosting open mic night at The Depot--SF State's free venue for live music and comedy in the student center--for almost three years.
A crowd of 30, mostly students, come in and out freely while more than ten seasoned comedians take the stage. " There is no censorship here which is great, so if you're some crazy man on stage - it doesn't matter - it's SF State," Mc Brayer said. "Comedy is one of those things you can't censor...comedians need rooms like The Depot where they can test out their material."
Every Tuesday night the Depot hosts open mic night from 5 to 7 p.m. next to the school pub. But not just anyone can sign up. "I stick with comedians that I know can handle a room, I let them have as much time as possible but if someone is dying on stage I will take them off," Mc Brayer said.
The recent earthquake in Haiti prompted San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu to propose legislation to revamp the renovation of public buildings in San Francisco.
The legislation is based on a prediction by the U.S. Geological Survey that a magnitude 6.7 earthquake is very likely to strike San Francisco within the next 30 years.
If passed, the bond, worth $412 million, would begin on the improvement and retrofitting of San Francisco Police Departments, Fire Stations, and the Auxiliary Water Supply Systems.
Previous efforts by City Hall and the Board of Supervisors stalled and were put "on the backburner," according to a City Administrator.
Daniel Homsey, director of the San Francisco General Services Agency, said that many of San Francisco's private buildings, including homes and businesses, could not withstand an earthquake and are in need of renovations.
"A lot of San Francisco sits on a liquefaction zone," Homsey said. Liquefaction describes soil that becomes like a liquid when an earthquake occurs. When buildings rest on top of it, they risk serious damage.
"I think a lot of people would be surprised at how vulnerable we are," he said.
Homsey also said that there is money left over from previous renovation efforts in the early nineties. A vote by the public, however, is required to reallocate that money towards new renovations.
Most of SF State's campus is built on soft sediment, as are most of the buildings in San Francisco, according to John Caskey, Associate Professor of Geosciences and earthquake expert at SF State. Many of the liquefaction zones on campus are by Thornton Hall, part of the Gymnasium and the parking garage.
SF State's buildings, however, are inspected yearly to make sure they meet safety standards, according to Marilyn Lanier, associate vice president in the campus' planning department.
"We have to meet the basic CSU earthquake standard," said Lanier. "There is an annual inspection by a seismic engineer."
The HSS building, however, is slated to be demolished and relocated under SF State's master plan, Lanier said.
"It was more costly to renovate than to relocate," said Lanier. "There can be constraints with retrofitting."
"I'm not too worried about State in the case of an earthquake," said Daniel Correia, 23, a senior in the Geology department. He added, "I think of any building, I'd rather be in this building (Thorton Hall). It's pretty solid."'
The original bond measure for the city was reduced from $652 million to the current $412 million and no longer includes retrofitting of the California Forensic Sciences Center. Supervisor Chiu and the Capital Planning Committee decided the newly introduced package will allow for retrofitting of necessary buildings.
When asked about the decision to eliminate funding for the renovation of the California Forensic Sciences Center, David Noyola, aide to President David Chiu, said, "Voters have a limited cost tolerance."
"At this point, the city has more needs than it does resources. On a limited budget, there is a need to focus on what resources can be made available," Chiu said.
The decision was made by focusing on history, where most damage from the Loma Prieta quake was caused by fire. By having a water system supply available and by retrofitting the fire and police departments, the city is likely to respond in a timely fashion.
The bond is up for discussion again on February 23.
The intersection of Sixth and Howard streets looked gloomy as streetlights flickered on and the street was slicked with light mist falling from clouds above. One corner, however, shone with warmth and joy as the art gallery 1AM showcased "The City."
Nearly 150 people gathered to see myriad perspectives of San Francisco from the viewpoints of local artists. The gallery showcased several media ranging from photography, acrylic and textile on canvas to felt tip pen and acrylic ink on paper.
"I like photography and I like that these pieces use the structure of things," said Kendra Rae, referencing a series of screen-prints on Plexiglas that capture the city's industrial areas. "Other people try to capture the beautiful, but this is structured s**t that most people don't even look at."
Richard Nyhagen's Plexiglas pieces give the otherwise drab industrial sectors of San Francisco a vibrant and glossy tone. By implementing bright pastel, like pinks, yellows and blues, he transforms dismal to delightful.
"I try to pay attention to the detail to try and evoke what goes through the artist's mind," Vanessa Bottger said, looking at a collection of mixed media pieces by David Fullarton. "They have some very interesting quotes. Kind of sarcastic and satirical --a very urban style."
Fullarton uses a mix and match element to construct his mixed media pieces on canvas. Constructed primarily of clippings from his sketchbooks, he uses strings of words piecing together poetic sentences with a bite.
Photographer Oliver Fader captured the stings of the city in four portraits ornamenting the walls. "Cold Stare" titled one image of a San Francisco police officer glaring, presumably at Fader, as another officer makes an arrest. "For this show I primarily shot things characteristic of the city," the SF State graduate said. "The cop photo is a role reversal."
Naming each picture after a neighborhood or city site, Amos Goldbaum's highly detailed drawings do not directly show the city rather they whimsically represent it.
"I look for pictures I want to draw --I like more obscure kinds of stuff," Goldbaum said. The more obscure and intricately drawn include: a man and an elephant whose every wrinkle is accounted for; a Victorian-era family depicting the regal yet bored stare; and the Ferry Building with every angle inherent to its 1980s image.
"The City" is build-up to a future event that hopes to raise funds to preserve "Defenestration," a work of art that covers the entire side of the building opposite the gallery's location. It features tables and chairs crawling out of windows, and other pieces of furniture walking on the façade.
"I wanted to bring different elements of the city that can relate to 'Defenestration,' but more importantly that look back on the city and look forward to what's coming," Roman Cesario, artist and exhibit curator, said.
"The City" will be showing until February 27.
SF State's creative arts department poured out their hearts Friday, Feb. 12 as students and guests were treated and serenaded on this Valentine's Day weekend with a free faculty recital in Knuth Hall.
Teachers from the department performed songs by 20th century female French composers centered around none other than the theme of love.
"They were doing 20th century French music with a Valentine's Day theme," said Jeremy Flanagan, 27, a graduate student in music at SF State. "It was very light hearted and very sweet. I came because I like the teachers."
The recital, titled "Love Letters from France," was a collection of pieces composed by Lili Boulanger and Germaine Tailleferre. The show began with an impressive display of piano virtuosity thanks to professors Inara Morgenstern and Victoria Neve. Morgenstern and Neve performed Boulanger's "D'un Matin De Printemps" in unison and the dueling pianos acted like conflicted lovers striving for harmony and balance for which they clearly let the notes do the talking. Students certainly enjoyed the music, and found the aspect of seeing their teachers perform a little more than amusing.
"It was a good concert because they're our teachers and they're divas," said Natalie Buck-Bauer, 19, music and voice major.
Associate Professor Alissa Deeter then accompanied Morgenstern on stage to sing other pieces by Boulanger and Francis Jammes. Deeter's delicate and beautiful vibrato reverberated around the small concert hall and shed a glimmer of romantic hope on the audience with a smile that seemed to remind the audience that not all love songs are limited to sadness. Each song fluctuated in and out of soft singing that suddenly escalated into loud boisterous bursts of emotional proclamations.
"The songs were pretty short and simple," Jameelah Taylor said.
Near the end of the recital, Professor Sara Ganz shared the stage with Morgenstern and did something differently before diving into her performance of Tailleferre. Ganz gave the audience a simple captivating history of the songs and didn't dare to sugar coat the heart of their meaning, in English of course.
"These are her flirtations with feminism," said Ganz. "(Tailleferre) strikes out for the female having an enjoyable life." Ganz then glanced over at Morgenstern who clearly amused by her candid and direct explanation. "Is that what you wanted me to say?" asked Ganz.
Morgenstern responded, "Exactly."
Wearing a vibrant red shirt and red lipstick, Ganz performed her pieces with enriched animation. She seemed to place herself in the story and sang each piece with emotionally driven billowing conviction that didn't hide behind anything.
"They're very naughty songs, very naughty," Ganz acknowledged. "And I tried to show it."
A joyful ruckus of conversation and laughter filled the halls of the Ferry Building on Friday Feb. 12 for the seventh annual Food From The Heart.
Those looking to make their hearts go pitter-pat could try chocolate covered with strawberries, cones filled with sliced meats, three-cheese fondue, pork sausages and a variety of Napa Valley wines.
"Everything's delicious," Kerstin Bandner, a patron, said. "I'm having a great time and the money is going for a good benefit."
The event, annually hosted by the Ferry Building, brought together the building's vendors, local farmers and the Napa Valley Vintners to help raise funds for Slow Food, a worldwide movement aiming to unite food, community and environment.
"The concept of Slow Food is based on three principles: good, clean and fair," said Vera Ciammetti, Slow Food's volunteer coordinator. "Good food from healthy plants and animals; clean for the body and for land; and fair to the workers, the farmers, the producers and the consumers."
For only $2 per ticket, patrons could get a taste of what each purveyor had to offer, be it wine, food or sweets.
The profits raised by Food From The Heart would be used to send two farmers to Terra Madre, a four-day event in Torino, Italy where they can share ideas on common practices about farming.
"Once there, all the farmers can talk and help each other," said Lorenzo Scarpone, Slow Food's San Francisco Chapter Governor. "Our association is not just about eating well, it's about the small farmer and making sure he survives."
Many vendors present at the event understood the importance of survival. "I think it's important and great to preserve the traditions and as many things of farming as possible," said Jerome Chery, a winemaker at the event.
"We just wanted to try all the food," Tyler Ford said. "It's our first time here and we're very impressed."
Whether they were aware of Food From The Heart's mission, the guests seemed to agree on one thing.
"It's so fun. Such a good idea. Regardless of the cause, it's a great opportunity to have all these vendors in one hallway," said Emily Bergen, enjoying the event with a few friends. "It's just something different and great to do on a Friday night."
Slow Food San Francisco will be screening FRESH, a film that honors those who are redesigning the food industry, Feb. 26 at the Presidio Sports Basement.
When it comes to sex, humans and plants are very similar, according to San Francisco's Exploratorium.
On Feb. 4, the science museum hosted "Exploratorium After Dark," a 21 and over event that offered patrons a tantalizing glimpse into the shared sexual patterns of different plant and animal species.
Exhibits included a condom fashion show, bull testicle dissection, sea urchin reproduction and a smorgasbord of sperm samples.
Many people were there for different reasons. Some people just wanted to socialize, while long time educators were there to teach and learn. Lauren Smith was there for both.
"I'm an educator," Smith said. "There's a lot of stuff concerning marine life so I thought I could learn something new. And they have alcohol!"
Exhibits ran every 15-20 minutes throughout the Exploratorium. There was also a hands on vibrator deconstruction and reconstruction hosted by a former "Lazarium" instructor.
"I think it's really cool to see the adults take things apart, touch things, just being really into it," JD said.
The event brought all kinds of people from different backgrounds together to talk about what's usually a sensitive topic. Sexual evolution was the theme of the night and everyone there sought to learn new things about evolution and reproduction.
With two sold-out shows on Thursday and Friday nights, the crowd was in a laughing uproar as the comedians made fun of themselves and the audience about life as an Arab in America.
"The Arab community has a great sense of humor," Dean Obeidallah, the host of the tour, said. "In our world, we really like to make fun of ourselves."
The comedians hope to debunk Arab stereotypes and promote positive awareness through laughter, according to Obeidallah.
"It's almost like watching the Discovery Channel, only it's funnier," Obeidallah said.
Obeidallah has been working in comedy for many years, and he has organized different Arab comedy festivals in New York. Through the festivals, he met Aron Kader. He and Kadar were involved with the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour in 2007, which focused on political satires as they tried to lighten the tension that was building among Middle Easterners. The tour attracted much media attention and was aired as a Comedy Central special.
As the goals progressed from political to awareness, the Arabs Gone Wild Comedy Tour became less about politics, as the Obama administration took over office and the Middle East was no longer the top concern. The tour became more about showcasing Arab comedians and proving that they too can be part of the entertainment industry.
"You got Black comedians, Hispanic comedians and Asian comedians," Kader said. "But there is not a group of Arab comedians."
But being an Arab comedian means a different kind of act. And it is an act yet to be perfected.
The comedians have to worry about the different range of age in the audience. Many ethnic jokes were intended for an older audience, while pop culture references are meant for the younger crowd.
Ramiz and Rami Mogannam, both in their 30s, enjoyed the first night of the tour. However, they realized that the most popular routines dealt with specific race and culture issues. Political and economic topics fell flat.
"The comedians did lose the crowd for a little bit," Ramiz Mogannam said. "They had to go back to jokes about families to get the crowd back."
With the support of Arab-American organizations, both shows in San Francisco were sold out. At the current stage, the tour only performed in Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles. Both Obeidallah and Kader hope that the tour will draw enough crowds to add more dates not only in United States, but also to perform overseas to Arabian nations.
People of all ages piled into Justin Herman Plaza on Sunday to celebrate Valentine's Day by joining in the Great San Francisco Pillow Fight. The battle began as the Ferry Building clock chimed at 6 p.m. and left the plaza and nearby streets covered in inches of soft, downy love.
Sororities and fraternities from SF State's Greek community raised a record amount during their annual "Mr. Alpha Phi" competition for cardiac care research.
Alpha Phi International Fraternity kicked off the fourth annual, three-day event in Malcolm X Plaza on Feb. 9. Together with Pi Kappa Phi, Phi Kappa Tau, and Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternities they raised money for the Alpha Phi Foundation.
"People are surprised to hear that heart disease is the number one killer of women, because they only hear about breast cancer," Nathalie Galvez, director of Philanthropy, said.
"This is a good opportunity for us to spread awareness of it," the 19-year-old said.
Mr. Alpha Phi was an idea that the sisters of Alpha Phi chose out of many others brought back to the chapter from a regional meeting by their executive board.
For the event, each fraternity nominated someone to represent their chapter along with a photo. Heart-healthy baked goods were sold, with each customer choosing which fraternity they wanted to support with their purchase.
This year's total donation received was the largest amount ever for the event at SF State with more than $900 raised. Last year's contributions were over $600 less than that, according to Galvez.
The fraternity with the most donations received a pancake breakfast from the sorority sisters for helping the Alpha Phi Foundation.
Phi Kappa Tau raised the most money this year, a second occurrence for the fraternity, with over $400.
"We try to participate in many sorority and Greek life events, and we are actually a sponsor for Love Fest," Allan Chan, a member of Phi Kappa Tau for the past three years, said.
Two new items added to the list this year were heart-healthy cookies and cocoa-nutmeg sinckerdoodles. Both were a big hit with customers, but Galvez felt that this year's high fundraising numbers came down to the boys.
"They all wanted to win, and donated a lot to make sure it happened for their fraternity," said Galvez.
For 81-year-old Chuck Hatchett, psychology major at SF State, coming up with a fun and engaging idea to raise awareness for matters like cardiac care research was an excellent idea.
Although he has not experienced heart disease, Hatchcett has had various serious health issues in the past including prostate cancer, and said that he supported anything that was health worthy.
"I didn't realize what bucket I dropped my donation into, but all that matters is that it went in for a good cause," Hatchcett said.
It may be time to start looking for a new grassy field for dog walking, playing sports or just lounging in Mission Dolores Park as sections of the park will close for renovations.
The park was listed in Proposition A, the Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond, which passed Feb. 5, 2008 with 71 percent of the vote. The bond's Neighborhood Park Repair and Renovation Program selected Mission Dolores Park as one of the 20 parks and playgrounds in the city most in need of renovation.
The actual construction of the rehabilitative project at Mission Dolores Park is scheduled to take 16 months from Dec. 2011 to April 2013 and cost an estimated $11,700,000, according to calculations by the Recreation and Parks Department. That could be a long 16 months for businesses that rely on the park crowd for customers.
Now the park is scheduled to close for over a year and a half for a makeover, and residents of the area are not happy about it.
"I would prefer they don't do it at all," former SF State student August Zumwalt said. "I don't think it's terribly dilapidated. It's a very bad decision," he said, explaining that Mission Dolores Park is a cultural center for people in the area.
"I'll have to go to Haight Street, to Golden Gate Park now," Zumwalt said. And going to Golden Gate Park is not something he's looking forward to. "[Mission Dolores Park] is a lot better," he said. "There are no drug dealers, gangs or cops."
The disappointment may be premature, however. Mary Hobson, the project manager from the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, explained that the renovation will be completed in two phases so parts of the park will remain open during the renovation.
First, the playground will be renovated, and it will remain open during the second phase of the project, which includes renovations to all of the park outside the playground area. The design for this second phase has yet to determined, Hobson said.
At this point the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department has goals it wants to accomplish but no concrete plan. The department's current vague description consists of repairing and renovating the courts, field, and clubhouse; restoring the roads and pathways; upgrading the subsurface infrastructure, irrigation and lighting; improving accessibility, and reconditioning the park landscape. How this will be done and what the final product will look like is still to be determined.
There is a possibility that the project will be done in three segments so that part of the park will remain open while work is taking place on a third of it, Hobson said.
"There won't be any major overhauls," the project manager said. "It's basically a rehabilitation of the park."
"Our business is really weather dependent," said Anna Walker, a manager at Dolores Park Cafe, which is across the street from the park. "When it's a sunny day and the park is full, there's a line out the front door.
"See, if it was sunny today, it would be packed in here," she said, pointing over the sparse crowd to the drizzle falling outside. "[The renovation] won't kill business, but it will hurt."
For those unhappy with the plan, there will be community meetings taking place beginning this June where opinions can be voiced.
Feb. 11 marked a popular day for student activities- the homecoming rally, the iPod kiss contest and the Rock Out/Walk Out event. But the simultaneous events drew attention away from some others.
Many of the student organizations were in the dark about everything taking place. The quad was packed with walk-out participants protesting the budget cuts, athletes showing their Gator pride, and onlookers who may or may not have had any idea what was taking place.
Around noon, students began gathering, and music played loudly in the quad. From the grassy area between Malcolm X Plaza and the Business building came music from a different source. A group of students, armed with a large speaker on wheels, began to dance and chant.
The SF State chapter of the International Socialist Organization was primarily responsible for what they called the Rock Out/Walk Out, an event promoted on Facebook as a day to "dance our worries away and live at a university where we make the rules for a day, and realize the possibilities of a student-worker run university." The focus of the demonstration was to protest of budget cuts and fee hikes.
"I think it will be effective in the way they want it to be, and the students who feel strongly and in the same way will respond," said music major Nicholas Hamlin, 19.
They pushed the speaker throughout the quad, dancing as they went. Gradually other students began to join.
"It's been a really active day on campus. Very collegiate," University Spokesperson Ellen Griffin said while watching the festivities.
As the dancers pushed the speaker around campus, the homecoming rally began to get underway. The men's basketball and wrestling teams were introduced first, followed by the SFSU Capoeira group, a Brazilian form of dance fighting that involves music, acrobatics and combat. The Capoeristas, as they are called, are a small 14-member group, who perform at events like Homecoming in order to "show SFSU what they are all about," the club President Marco Morales said.
While the homecoming rally was in full swing, the protest dancers took a break from breaking it down.
"I think it would have been more effective if we knew about it. It wasn't advertised enough. But if I wasn't in my sorority, I would probably be there with them," 23-year-old Yael Tygien said.
"It's still the beginning," said participant Emily Caruso, 19. "It was difficult to orient students to our cause, and I would have liked to see more personal conversations with other students, especially the student body and other organizations," she said.
"Our main goal is more cohesion and more debates- but we have a lot of convincing to do."
And it was only the beginning. After 12:30, the protestors came back to the plaza, this time armed with a mega phone and signs stating their cause. One large banner read "Shut it down like '68," in reference to the SF State riots that closed the campus, due in large part to the same budget cuts the CSU system is facing today.
"I don't think anything is effective, but something is always better than nothing," Camilo Bolds, 26, said about the protest.
As they marched through the quad, other student contestants began to line up for the "iPod Kiss" competition, sponsored by the SFSU Bookstore. Couples lined up in two lines facing one another, ready to adhere their lips to an iPod case, and hope they could smooch it for the longest time.
Amidst the commotion of the couples, 22-year-old Forest Stone was busy campaigning for Homecoming King, dressed in a long, thick brown fur coat and tie-dye shirt. "I didn't even know we had a homecoming king," he said.
"I've been able to meet a lot of people and convince them to vote for me. I don't want to beat anyone else, but I would like to graciously come out ahead, " said Stone. The king and queen will be revealed Friday evening at the men's and women's basketball games.
Following the iPod competition, both the homecoming rally and protest march slowly came to a halt, as the crowd in Malcolm X began dispersing.
"It was a pretty good turnout, and the students seemed really happy," said SF State spirit coordinator Jamil Sheared.
"Next time, I would like to pull more students in, especially ones that are not directly involved with the Greek and athletic programs, and that don't feel like part of the group," Sheared said.
"We planned an action, and I did the best I could," Caruso said about the protest. "It would have been nice to have more knowledge of other student events though."
Paper hearts were aflutter in Malcolm X Plaza Feb. 11 as SF State's PRIDE Committee joined with other groups on campus to host Honoring Our Right to Love, an event centered around Valentine's Day and the ongoing issue of same-sex marriage.
PRIDE members partnered with on-campus prevention education programs including Creating Empowerment through Alcohol and Substance Abuse Education (CEASE), Education and Referral Organization for Sexuality (EROS), and the SAFE Place.
The event, which was originally set to take place onstage in the Plaza and feature queer justice speakers, was forced to relocate to a table in the quad to make way for the homecoming rally.
"Until last week we were under the impression we had the stage," PRIDE committee member and SF State student Piper Rystrom said.
In light of the last minute move, PRIDE's members restructured the event by inviting students and staff to stop by their purple tent, known as the Lavender Lounge, and decorate paper hearts with messages of love and equality. A video camera was also set up to provide a forum for those who wished to share their thoughts on Proposition 8.
According to PRIDE staff representative David Rourke, the recorded messages will be sent to the judges charged with deciding the fate of the controversial piece of legislation.
"I think a lot of people felt that their views weren't represented in that vote," Bita Shooshani, PRIDE committee chair and assistant director of prevention education programs at SF State, said of Proposition 8.
According to its website, PRIDE, founded in the fall of 2008, seeks to make SF State "a safe and welcoming community for people of all sexualities and gender identities."
"I think we wanted to make sure just because we were in San Francisco we didn't take supportive rights and an inclusive community for granted," Rourke said. "We try to get out a few times during the semester, definitely at the beginning so people know we exist."
"We're trying to really develop a network on campus," Shooshani said. "We might continue to film beyond this day."
SF State student and SAFE Place volunteer Alyssa Linares, who contributed to the day's festivities by creating a banner and cutting out paper hearts, said she believes faculty support is essential for furthering PRIDE's cause.
"Our voices can only go so far," said Linares. "The faculty makes us stronger."
"I think it's really great," Michael Ritter, a faculty counselor in psychological services, who stopped by the lounge to contribute a paper heart of his own, said. "I wanted to put a voice to what I believe."
Love was in the air -- or rather, iPods were.
Over 40 pairs of couples flocked to Malcom X Plaza after the homecoming rally for the "Kiss An iPod" contest. Couples had to stand at least three feet away from each other while pressing an iPod between each other's lips. The last three pairs whose iPod stay put the longest took home a variation of iPod products.
Marketing Director of the SF State Bookstore and planner of the iKiss event Husam Erciyes said that it has become a competition with the rest of the CSU campuses. Cal State Fullerton, where the iKiss idea came from, and Chico State University are two of the competing schools. Fresno State University holds the current record for the longest "iKiss" with six hours. SF State's record last year was six minutes and 49 seconds.
"This is the third time we've done this event and in the past, we'd have people come in our office to ask us when the next iKiss will be," Erciyes said. "The past events have been a good success, when we had over 20 couples who participated."
Led by Erciyes, the clock started at approximately 1:20 p.m. After two minutes had passed, a couple dropped the first iPod. At the nine minute mark, 20 couples were already out of the game.
After 15 minutes of leg shaking, saliva drooling, and face scrunching, Erciyes announced a change of rules. While still standing in front of each other, each person had to place their hands behind their backs.
The final rule applied eliminated a majority of the couples: each person had to lift his or her right leg. Collective moans and groans erupted from both the crowd and the participants as numerous couples collapsed and caught the iPods before they fell to the ground.
The third to last pair to fall through was friends Alisa Peña and Taylor Sutherland.
"My girlfriends bailed on me last minute, but my homie Taylor was available," Peña said. "We were really determined to win this, especially since my iPod broke."
The pair received two iPod Classics.
Ariel Fournier and BoWaverly Cross were in second place. They took home two iPod Nanos.
"We jokingly practiced with his phone last night," Fournier said. "But it was different [at the actual event] because we didn't know about the rules."
They experimented on methods that could possibly work for them, like using lip balm in order for the iPod to stick to their lips longer.
"We didn't really pucker our lips and we just kept them relaxed," Cross said. "We made eye contact and a lot of focusing."
The couple whose iPod stayed put between their lips the longest, for 25 minutes and 29 seconds, a new record for the iKiss event, was Laura Mendes and Abraldo Perez.
"[The competition] was down to two couples and the other couple standing was right next to us," Perez said. "I kept thinking: I can see them; I can see what I can do; I can do this!"
The couple each won an iPod Touch.
"We had a pretty good crowd and good participation," Erciyes said. "I had fun and everybody had fun. We always had positive feedback on iKiss."
The construction on the Cesar Chavez Student Center might not be completed by its extended finishing date of March this year, according to university officials.
"The main focus of the project was to repair the roof, because rainwater was leaking through making the space unavailable for students," John Doctor, assistant director of facilities and maintenance, said.
The construction on the student center's north pyramid amphitheater was to be completed in the fall 2009 semester, but other extensive damage to the concrete seats, upper stage, parapet walls and guardrails were found and put a damper on the process.
Although the building is about 80 percent done, leaving only fire protection and interior renovation to be completed, Doctor said he now feels the installation of fire protection could impact the scheduled finishing date of March.
According to Doctor, the project has not interfered with any other construction on campus.
Once the project is completed, the aging waterproof membrane will be have been replaced, and an expanded computer lab will be included beneath the structure. There will also be expanded study areas available to students, an important add-on with the main library still closed due to construction.
For 21-year-old senior Jonaya Brazil, having an extra computer lab and study spaces is a must. There are not enough labs around campus to accommodate students, which causes overcrowding in various areas around campus.
"It's a university. They should be able to provide adequate study areas and computer labs to accommodate those who don't own computers or need emergency printing and Internet," the biology major said.
Other students such as Derek Lee, a junior broadcast and electronic communications arts major, do not have a hard time finding a place to study around campus.
"I usually study with groups, and there are usually a few empty classrooms in the HSS building where we can study," 21-year-old Lee said.
The $1.9 million spent for this project is funded through capital planning, and not from the pockets of students, according to Doctor.
Though the construction is not affecting the budgets of students, Brazil feels that some of the money given to capital planning should be set aside for other academic things such as adding more classes, or repairing and updating all science labs.
"It took me two years to get into an Intro-to-Biology class, and, because it is a prerequisite, I was unable to take any of my major classes," Brazil said.
On the other hand Lee said he is okay with capital planning.
"In order to get more money for the school, we have to divide the money and spend some on infrastructure," Lee said.
This coming fall, students at SF State could potentially see more classes and instructors in their respective departments due to added funds coming in from the California State University.
The CSU will allocate $50.9 million in one-time funds to all 23 CSU campuses for additional classes and student support services for the fall 2010 semester. This will allow the CSU to add approximately 8,100 additional course sections and retain additional lecturers.
Approximately $3 million is allocated specifically for SF State, according to CSU media relations specialist Erik Fallis.
Fallis added that "these university funds are available thanks to an additional $76.5 million one-time federal allocation that has helped CSU meet its payroll." The CSU will use money from state support and student fee revenues previously set aside for payroll in order to provide the additional course sections. However, these funds are one-time only and are on a limited-term basis to avoid ongoing spending.
SF State senior Leslie Galang said she plans to take as many classes as she can in the fall.
"I am a business major, so it's hard for me to pick a nice class for me to settle in. I'll take whichever classes are available, even if the professors aren't that good out of desperation to graduate," the 28-year-old said.
Hospitality management major Krizia Mendoza, 21, pointed out that it's better late than never. "A lot of us wish this happened sooner. If this took place last year, I'd probably be graduating this semester," Mendoza said.
But her main concern is that even with this addition, it might still be difficult for students to get their classes. "Just think of all the build-up of students waiting for those classes over the past couple of years. There would probably be so many of us who are going to try and get into these classes," said Mendoza.
Last year, the CSU provided $25.6 million to campuses systemwide to add approximately 4,000 classes for the spring 2010 semester. CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said in a press release that they waited for Gov. Schwarzenegger to announce his proposal budget for 2010-2011 so that they could release the remaining funds.
"The CSU has a strong starting point in what we know will be a long and uncertain budget process, and we want to provide students with as many courses as possible," Reed said. "Hopefully, this will help to alleviate some of the shortages in classes, and students will be able to make faster progress toward their degree."
Two weeks ago, the CSU introduced the graduation initiative which promises to raise graduation rates by 8 percent by year 2016. Adding course sections and student support programs are steps to reaching this goal.
California Faculty Association president and history professor at CSU Los Angeles Lilian Taiz said in a CFA newsletter that she applauds Reed for releasing funds to the CSU.
"We look forward to working with the Chancellor and campus presidents to ensure that every penny of this funding is used for classes and vital student services because that's the best graduation initiative we could ever have," Taiz said.
This afternoon, a group of around 30 students gathered, blasted music and danced near Malcolm X Plaza to protest budget cuts and bring amiable attention to the ongoing demonstrations against fee increases and cut classes.
The demonstration lasted about an hour and a half, and eventually made its away all around campus. Those who took part in the protest followed the lead of a two speaker sound system which gradually made its way all around campus and constantly played an upbeat playlist of music including Animal Collective, Run DMC, and Girl Talk.
"This is about the budget cuts," said freshman protester Jack Wranovics, 18. "This is to call attention to ourselves by dancing."
This demonstration comes in the wake of several statewide protests and sit-ins on California State University and University of California campuses in protest of furlough days, class availability and pay cuts. And on Jan. 28, 2010, SF State President Corrigan announced another 10 percent fee increase for the fall '10 semester.
"Can you guys afford a 10 percent increase?" Kendall Nevarez shouted as the sound system blared music and people danced. "This is our way of saying 'funk the cuts,'" she said.
As the protest made its way around different locations on campus, a banner and signs were used to declare their message: "SFSU UNITED: Shut It Down Like '68."
Chants of, "They say cut backs, we say f**k that!" and "Whose university? Our university!" led by protest organizer Carolina Hicks soon followed.
Hicks, 18, made it known that this demonstration is for more than cut classes.
"This is a group of people who organized to protest against the newly proposed recreation center, the 10 percent free increase and it's proving we can party whenever, wherever."
Once the dancing protest made its way through the freshman dorms, signs were then pulled out and handed out amongst the protesters.
Environmental studies major Adam Aloni, 25, held one that read, "Education Is A Right."
"This is one step closer to a successful protest on March 4th," Aloni said. "This is one of many things people do to build a stronger protest to get our education back."
Many onlookers gazed at the unique protest with amusement including 29-year-old Bert Hebbert, an economics major.
"I think it's a great kind of protest," Hebbert said. "It shows you don't have to sit and yell at a rally and that you can have fun."
Amidst threats of thunderstorms and rain, the Festival of Flowers was held in Chinatown to begin the celebration of the upcoming Year of the Tiger over the weekend.
The Festival of Flowers is the prelude to the beginning of a two-week celebration culminating with the start of the new lunar year on February 14th.
Known as a period of reflection, family unity and hopes for prosperity, the festival flooded Grant Street with an array of colorful vendors with products ranging with various plants, flowers and fruits which all symbolize the beginning of a new cycle.
Among the classic cherry blossoms and oranges sold at this time of year, people buy pinwheels, lion heads and drums to fend off the bad luck of the previous year, vendor Julianne Zhu said.
Visitors to the festival were greeted by offers of free wishes by the volunteers of the Purple Lotus Temple, of San Bruno, who had set up a Buddhist shrine. People of all ages, creeds, and races were welcomed to make a wish for the New Year.
The same organization was responsible for a food drive for low-income families. According to coordinator Tech Tan, 500 people received free rice.
"We hope for a better year for everybody. I know that a lot people did not have a job; so we hope people have a peaceful year and don't need to worry about their home and finance and just be happy to be here," Tan said.
The New Year's Parade, organized by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, will be on February 27th at Union Square.
The Rules Committee tabled the proposed 52-hour workweek for firefighters after lack of majority vote between Supervisor Eric Mar and Supervisor David Campos. Supervisor John Avalos proposed the measure to increase work hours from 48.7 hours per week as part of their plan to help with the $522 million deficit next year.
The proposal has not been welcomed with a lot of support. John Hanley, president of the Firefighters Union, said the firefighters are being singled out to solve the budget crisis and will be working more hours for less pay. In the past, firefighters have voluntarily given back two percent of their salary in 2009 and four percent in 2008.
"The [fire] department gives back more when the city is hurting than any other department," Hanley said.
At this point, Mindy Talmadge, Public Information Officer for the San Francisco Fire Department feels the decision was "a smart thing to do" She says, "All it takes is one big fire." According to Talmadge, aside from the workload of one fire, firefighters have to deal with the room its contents, pull ceilings and walls down and then overhaul and shovel everything up. They then have to clean up after the fire while risking exposure to toxic fumes and gases.
The San Francisco Fire Department is one of the busiest on the West Coast, receiving an average of 25.27 runs per hour. According to a report put together by members of the San Francisco Firefighter's Union, the national average is 3.52 runs per hour. Other Bay Area cities such as Berkeley receive 1.38 runs per hour and Oakland an average of 6.4 calls per hour. With the merge between the Department of Public Health and the Fire Department, and the increase in population, San Francisco saw a huge rise in the number of calls per hour. In 1996, the numbers of calls recorded were 36,731. In 2008, that number was 104,000.
"San Francisco is a West Coast city, but operates as an East Coast city," Hanley said.
According to Monique Zmuda, Deputy Controller for the City and County of San Francisco, the calculations show a savings of an estimated $7 million a month on the salaries of firefighters. The City will save money by paying the firefighters straight pay instead of overtime pay. This was also done because most of the calls are based on medical needs and not fire related.
"The Fire Department is most likely to get there before the ambulance," according to Lt. Al Pedruco of Lot 19 by Stonestown Mall, who added that ambulances were phased out of firehouses last year. According to Talmadge, ambulances do not operate out of the firehouses but are still part of the Fire Department personnel.
If the charter amendment were passed, the City would not see any savings until June 2012, when the contract of the firefighters expires. Until then, they would continue to work a 48.7 hour work week with overtime pay.
According to Supervisor Avalos' aide Raquel Redondiez, the measure is still a priority for the Supervisor, but will have to continue discussions to decide if this measure will be presented before the board again in June
The California State University system announced a graduation initiative at a Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 27 aimed at raising the system's graduation rates and encouraging underrepresented students to graduate from college.
The initiative is meant to increase the CSU's 46 percent six-year graduation rate to 54 percent in all 23 campuses by 2016. It also plans to cut in half the gap in degree attainment of minority and low-income students.
"The goal of this initiative is to not only increase the number of students who complete their degree, but to also help those from traditionally underrepresented communities who may need additional support to finish," CSU Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Jeri Echeverria said in a press release. "After all, that is the end goal - a college degree."
In an interview with CSU's Voices and Views blog, she added that there are approximately 460,000 graduate and undergraduate students in the CSU system, but not all of them finish their degrees and graduate. "A college education will do much more for you than get you a job. It will get you a life. It really does prepare you for lifelong learning. It's worth doing."
She added that the initiative will encourage people to get an education and graduate through outreach programs. "The CSU is known nationally to have fine outreach programs to bring students who have traditionally not been in college to our campuses," Echeverria said. "We want to be even more successul in graduating them then we have in the past."
Among the plans to increase graduation rates include mandating an earlier declaration of majors, decreasing the required number of general education classes, curtailing student withdrawals from classes, increased uses of online learning and technology and block registration for freshmen.
In addition, the press release states that these plans also include early start and summer bridge programs designed to prepare students for college-level work before they enter the system as freshmen. Degree audits and early warning advising along with online road maps to graduation and other student support services will help ensure students take the correct courses and appropriate number of credits.
Erik Fallis, a spokesperson for CSU, said that each CSU campus is different therefore individual campuses will have different plans to meet the needs of their students.
"There is room for discussion on a number of possible steps to facilitate student graduation," he said. "This does not change the educational focus of the CSU on high-quality, accessible degree programs. Many students will potentially benefit from better advising or other elements of a campus plan."
Industrial arts major Ryan Nunez said he thinks the initiative is a great idea in theory, but is reminded of affirmative action for the workforce because it is dedicated to help minorities and underrepresented students graduate on time. "Where was the help when I needed it? I had to work twice as hard to get where I am and I had the same 'underrepresented' background as the people this initiative is aiming to help," the 32-year-old said. "I did not have a problem registering for classes [this semester] however, it is hard to get classes because of underfunding."
On the other hand, Kinesiology major Rico Jones thinks otherwise. Like most, he had a hard time finding the classes he preferred taking since most classes were full.
"They are cutting classes and making us pay more for less," the 20-year-old said. "Initially, I was anticipating graduating in four years, but since I couldn't find many of the classes I needed and couldn't take 15 or more units every semester, I'll need an extra year, so I think it's great that CSU is attempting to assist students in obtaining their college degree."
SF State's voice department took on the difficult task of performing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera, "Cosi Fan Tutte," despite a severe budget cut in the College of Creative Arts, leaving no money for the traditional full scale opera this spring semester.
Determined to still put on a show, the cast, which consisted of approximately ten lead roles, 10 chorus members and 15 orchestra members, rehearsed on their own, provided their own costumes, created their set, and rehearsed on their own time.
"We have the talent, and we want people to know that even without money, we can still put on an opera," voice major Joshua Bled, 22, said.
With California as a state facing a significant financial crisis, it was no surprise that the budget cuts would trickle down to the voice department.
"When we found out that there was no budget to put on a full scale opera, I was crushed," Bled said. "Seniority plays a big role in it. I haven't had a chance to play lead until this semester."
"It then became about the cast putting together a show despite the odds," he said.
The department, which suffered budget cuts in the early 90s, has since been successfully rejuvenated in the early 2000s. Stage director and voice faculty advisor Alissa Deeter, who did not want to see the current voice program devolve, continued to direct the production with a guerilla-style mentality.
"The term 'guerilla' refers to an unconventional production that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big budget," Deeter said. "The students got an intimate look at how theater can be produced on essentially no budget."
"After I came to the realization that we weren't going to get any [funding] for this production, I became very skeptical," voice major Kayleigh Loe, 23, said. "We were going to be doing this production very minimalist, and I was worried it would not do the opera justice."
Deeter found it empowering to see students accept the challenges inherent in a no-budget opera and succeed. "Never underestimate the potential and commitment of students and staff," she said. "The beauty of the art form can be realized in numerous ways, and if one can keep his or her mind open to the possibilities, there always a way."
Relying mainly on Facebook and word-of-mouth advertising, the show opened with a big bang, bringing in several hundred people during last week's opening weekend, according to Bled.
Set in high school, "Cosi Fan Tutte," which translates into "women are like that," explores women's infidelity and how if they had the opportunity, they would cheat on their men. The story centers on two sisters and their football-player boyfriends. With the help of Ron Alfonoso, the sisters' teachers, the men decide to play a prank on their women and disguise themselves as foreign exchange students, trying to woo each other's women.
"Cosi Fan Tutte" will be playing at the Knuth Hall from Feb. 12 to 14. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
San Francisco's recent storm has continued to erode the cliffs by Sloat Boulevard, causing parts of the Great Highway to cave onto the beach and blocking parts of the sandy stretch to the public.
Crumbling roads, however, aren't why Mayor Gavin Newsom recently declared the situation an emergency. The Department of Public Works and Newsom are more concerned with what lies beneath: a sewer tunnel through which half of the City's wastewater flows.
The $2.6 million decision to place rocks along the beach, which are supposed to keep the cliffs from eroding, comes from fears that the tunnel might become exposed and dump sewage into the sea.
However, surfers who treasure Ocean Beach as one of California's prime surf spots are worried not only about the continued erosion, but also about the city's plans to fix it. Local surf advocacy groups fear that the rocks will make the beach unwalkable, change the surf and only provide a temporary solution to a long-term problem.
"So far, the infrastructure (tunnel) has been getting all the protection, and the beach is getting smaller," said Bob McLaughlin, who is on the Sloat Erosion Committee for Surfrider San Francisco. "It won't be long before that beach is underwater and the City is faced with putting more and more rock on the beach."
McLaughlin and others advocate for committing to a long-term solution now and possibly rerouting or moving the tunnel.
Environmental advocates showed up to the Board of Supervisors meeting on Feb. 2 to ask the supervisors to consider a long-term solution and avoid placing hard structures on the beach. A string of public comments centered around alternatives to the rock structure, like sandbags, and commitments to the future.
"San Francisco and California are global leaders in coastal management," Josh Berry, Environmental Director at Save the Waves, said to the supervisors. "Please make a decision that shows we will commit to a solution."
San Francisco has spent money on short-term bandages rather than serious solutions in the past, according to activists.
"We have been in the same place before three times in the past 15 years. Literally, in the exact same place," said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who was the most vocal about the necessity to permanently fix the problem.
But "solutions will not move forward until it goes before regulatory boards," he said, calling the commitment to the future a "blind faith" move on the part of the public.
The Department of Public Works is still planning on placing rock structures on the beach, saying that sandbags are not an option in part because they are not biodegradable. However, the rocks are only going to cover the most critical areas instead of the 900-foot stretch that was originally planned.
"I would characterize it as a partial victory, and now we have caught the attention of the stakeholders and the public for the need to create a long-term solution," McLaughin said.
How universities spend money has become a major topic of concern for students, faculty, staff, and taxpayers within the state of California due to the recent budget crisis.
Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) is attempting to bring a greater sense of transparency and accountability to California's public institutions of higher education with Senate Bill 330 and Senate Bill 650.
On Jan 28 the California State Senate approved Sen. Yee's bills, which were vetoed last year by Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger. Sen. Yee was motivated to modify the bills and push for their passage by recent evidence of fraud found within the University of California and California State University systems.
"Twenty percent of the CSU budget is operated by auxiliary organizations, out of the public view," said Adam Keigwin, Chief of Staff for Sen. Yee. "Regardless of what the auxiliary organization does, it should be made public."
The percent of the budget controlled by auxiliary organizations totals over a billion dollars, some of it coming from fees paid by students.
Senate Bill 330 would make the financial information of auxiliary organizations at the UCs and CSUs available by request to anyone through the California Public Records Act. There are five auxiliary organizations currently at SF State, including the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), the San Francisco State University Student Center, and the SF State Foundation.
The importance of opening the books of auxiliary organizations, according to Keigwin, is to hold universities accountable for how they are managing money.
"Students have a lot invested in the auxiliaries," John Travis, Chair of the California Faculty Association's (CFA) Political Action and Legislation Committee, said.
According to Travis, the CFA, who is co-sponsoring SB330, is concerned with how auxiliary organizations spend and manage money they receive, as this money could be loaned back to the university to cover budget issues.
"Money comes into a big pot. When you can put more money into the pot you have more options," Travis said.
Gov. Schwarzenneger vetoed SB330 last year because he felt revealing the activities or identities of private donors might hinder their future support. Keigwin disagrees and feels the bill will give donors a sense of trust in auxiliary organizations.
"Donors are saying they are not going to continue support, as they don't know how money is being spent," Keigwin said.
However, Sen. Yee altered the bill this year making the disclosure of anonymous donors exempt unless they receive something valued at over $500 in exchange for their services or gift.
Opponents of SB330, which include the CSU and SF State President Robert A. Corrigan, don't see Sen. Yee's modification as a solution and are concerned with how the disclosure of donors will affect the University.
Lee Blitch, Vice President for University Advancement at SF State, is concerned that hindering donations to the University will hurt students.
"This is especially concerning to SF State, where the vast majority of our endowments, 75 percent, are specifically for student scholarships," said Blitch.
The CSU opposes SB330 although they are "committed to maintaining transparency and accountability for all auxiliaries," Erik Fallis, CSU spokesperson, said.
According to Fallis, the bill will end up costing universities money by having to process requests for information and will not provide the public with any information that is not already available.
"The bill's real impact will be to redirect limited resources at a time when our university is receiving less state funding," Fallis said.
Eloise McQuown, SF State librarian and member of the CFA's Political Action and Legislation Committee, said he is primarily concerned with the SF State Foundation as many are in the dark about what it is doing.
"When we don't know what is going on it is pretty hard to determine if there is a problem," McQuown said. "And if there isn't, why is there such opposition [to the bill]?"
The SF State Foundation handles donations given to the University, investing the money in various ways. According to Blitch, who also serves as the SF State Foundation President, the Foundation's investments are managed by "a contracted investment management firm," with a portfolio consisting of "equities, fixed income, alternate strategies, and cash."
Per the Foundation's Endowment Policy, the payout rate for endowments is four percent.
"Distribution payouts are transferred to the endowment account's corresponding spending account for either scholarships or campus programs according to the donor's intent when the endowment was established," said Blitch.
However, 71 of the Foundation's 114 permanent endowments are currently underwater, meaning the overall balance is less than the total of all donations originally made to the endowment, due to investment losses.
"Unfortunately, poor economic and market conditions nationwide had an unfavorable impact on endowments this past fiscal year," said Blitch. "San Francisco State fared better than most endowments of our size ... SF State lost 12.15 percent, while ...endowments of similar size lost an average of 18.5 percent."
The CSU also opposes SB650, which would provide university employees at both the UC and CSU the same legal protections as other state employees when they report waste, fraud, and abuse within the university.
"All CSU employees are already fully protected for whistleblower complaints," said Ellen Griffin, Director of University Communications at San Francisco State.
The bill also would enable employees to seek damages in court if the University has reached or failed to reach a decision within an established time frame. The CSU says this could end up costing universities.
"This law would only create incentives for these matters to go to court, with an estimated cost per case of $50,000," said Fallis.
Keigwin disagrees and says SB650 will ensure employees hold universities accountable.
"I can tell you right now employees at the UC and CSU don't feel protected to report waste, abuse and fraud, so they often don't," Keigwin said.
Both bills still need approval by the governor before they become law and are expected to hit the governor's desk in the spring.
The sound of glasses touching amidst smiling faces and proclamations of "Cheers!" started off San Francisco's 2nd Annual Beer Week on the right note Jan. 5, at the Brewers Guild Opening Night Gala at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
About 30 Bay Area brewers carted their wares under one roof to start off the 10-day celebration of ambers, porters, hefeweizens, stouts, lagers, ales, pilsners, and everything between and beyond.
"This is as San Francisco as you can get," said Rich Higgins, President of the San Francisco Brewers Guild.
It is an area indeed known for some great microbrews. From the eternally local Beach Chalet brewery to nationally distributed Anchor Steam, this event had hops for everyone. And it's just the tip of the iceberg.
"The opening gala just scratches the surface of Beer Week," Higgins said. Events are planned for more than a week at different venues around the Bay, culminating in a closing party at the Trumer Pils brewery in Berkeley.
In the meantime, event goers can follow Beer Week via Twitter or Facebook, and, in true San Francisco style, there is an iPhone application available so attendees can share their experiences or find the best event suited for them.
"The beer community is simply an amazingly supportive network," said Jim Woods, founder and president of Mate Veza, a naturally caffeinated beer. "When an industry can post almost double-digit growth every year, there's plenty to go around. Everyone in the industry has such a love for their product and is willing to help each other out."
Woods' point was evident to see - and taste. The San Francisco Brewers Guild, a group of six city-based brewers bottled their combined beer knowledge and love and named it Imperial Common.
Speakeasy, the company responsible for beers such as "Prohibition," produced the lager for the event since they "have the biggest facility," explained Anthony Raggio, operations and logistics coordinator for Speakeasy, and SF State business management alumnus.
Aged in whiskey barrels, Imperial Common is San Francisco to the core - a unity of different people with different tastes. Fermented at San Francisco's ambient temperature, the lager might represent a shift in beer ideology, as it's pushing an alcohol volume past 10 percent. Most domestic beers have an alcohol volume of roughly four percent by volume. Anything more, and the beverage is considered a malt liquor.
"The current trend is high alcohol...and that's fine by me," said Patrick Spalding, who was at the gala as an investor looking to open a craft beer store. "Even the Über makers are excited to be here."
"People have come from all over the world to see how the Bay Area makes beer," said Dave Barrow, brewer for the Beach Chalet Brewery, who obtained his masters from SF State in the broadcast and electronic communication arts department.
And people come to the Bay Area to make beer, like Trumer Pils.
"Like all great things in the Bay Area, we started locally," said David Lagueux, one of the brewers at Trumer Pils. "Trumer had a long history as a mid-size family brewer in Austria." After a 400-year history of providing Europe with beer, the company opened its second brewery ever in Berkeley.
"For beer brewing, the most important ingredient is water. And Berkeley has nearly identical water sediment-wise to Salzburg, Austria, where Trumer was started in 1601," said Lagueux.
While Trumer gained success making a traditional beer, younger companies in attendance were trying to increase their foothold in the boutique beer business, like Mate Veza.
"I just sort of stumbled on the idea," said Woods. "I was sitting around one day drinking mate, followed it up with a beer and I thought 'man, these would go great together.'"
Experimental brewing with mate began, and as the hops were toned down, the tastes married. "Mate is unique in that it is one of six plants in the world with natural caffeine," said Woods.
This resulted in a totally organic product, a very chic commodity in these changing times. Mate Veza started roughly three years ago and is already distributed at Whole Foods and BevMo.
"This is a special time for beer," said Woods. "Like jazz in the Fillmore in the 1960's."
Beer Week ends Feb. 14.
San Francisco's condensed Tenderloin district may have a plethora of small liquor stores and a Walgreen's every few blocks, but when residents need to buy basic necessities or items in bulk, they are at a loss.
In the last few weeks, the Bayview Merchants Association has inked a contract to get a larger store, Fresh and Easy, a UK-based supermarket chain, to open in the area. For the Bayview District, this gives residents more access to staple food items and fresh produce.
Across the city in the Tenderloin however, the spirit of small "mom and pop" markets is alive and well, but the benefit that once gave residents years ago is dwindling. The Tenderloin has the highest concentration of off-license markets in the city. These small markets, while numerous and stocked with some basics, give shoppers fewer choices and often at inflated prices.
"The prices are definitely higher, and there is a smaller inventory. For folks who live on just a few dollars a day (after rent), $1 or 50 cents makes a big difference," said Steven Woo, citing reports from the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC).
For years, the North of Market Community Benefit District (NOM-CBD) has been approaching larger chain retailers such as Safeway, Trader Joe's and Grocery Outlet, urging them to open a location in the area.
According to Hilliard, studies show that millions of dollars are going from the Tenderloin neighborhood to other areas of the city, just in supermarket revenues. This is money that the area needs for more community projects, and is desperately lacking.
However, not one has taken the bait. Most have cited the high level of crime as a main deterrent in their reasoning.
"The crime here is much more perceived than reality," said Dina Hilliard. Hilliard, a decade-long resident of the Tenderloin and associate district manager of the NOM-CBD, also thinks spatial issues and the economic environment are determining factors.
"We tell vendors the neighborhood has 35,000-65,000 residents in a one mile radius, giving them quite the customer base. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough, which is quite disappointing," Hilliard said.
Aside from the issue of crime, the idea of opening a new location in a known low-income area may not be appealing to investors and storeowners, said Woo, community organizer for the TNDC.
"They know it is a low-income area, and wonder if it will be profitable," Woo said. "Corporations are more interested in profit."
"Because it is a community without a strong voice because of its socio-economic status, stores get away with a lot more. It's hard to speak truth to power," said Ben Kaufman, outreach coordinator for the Bayview Merchants Association. The BMA is also working to improve conditions in their neighborhood supermarkets that will benefit their residents.
As for the Tenderloin, the TNDC has chosen a parking lot at the corner of Eddy and Taylor, across from their offices, as the location for a supermarket.
The 14,000 square foot space is reserved for building a ground floor supermarket, with condos above, Woo said. The project would add affordable housing, as well as a supermarket that is nearby.
As for now, the project has been put on hold, mostly for budget reasons, but also because of a continued lack of interest in investing in the area. While waiting for the green light, the TNDC and other community outreach groups are doing everything they can to give residents what they need.
The TNDC has launched a food justice campaign, focusing on the importance of sustainable growing and cooking practices.
"We are in the planning stages of creating a community garden, as well as educating people about a food system that prioritizes feeding people, not corporate profits," Woo said. While he would like to see more shopping options for residents, he believes that stores should want to invest in the area, and if they don't like it, they can go somewhere else.
But it's continually the residents who have to go somewhere else, with transportation as a key factor in determining where residents shop. Because certain items are only available in larger stores, residents must take taxis and long bus rides to buy products, just another burden on their wallet.
On top of it all, one key issue is the lack of access to affordable, fresh produce. Woo cites this as a key element of neighborhood development, and one that he considers "a major public health issue."
"It's a niche market that nobody seems to want to fill yet," Kaufman said regarding the accessibility to fresh, quality fruits and vegetables.
Much like the TNDC, the BMA has joined with community groups open to working with existing stores to carry more produce, and "creating a store that fits everyone's needs," Kaufman said.
Cigarette smokers may need to be more cautious of where they are lighting up as a citywide smoking ban moves to a vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Although the ban would prohibit smoking in a number of situations, the planned change that is garnering the most opposition is the banning of smoking at all bars, including outdoor patios or courtyards.
At places like Zeitgeist, a bar at 199 Valencia St., smoking would no longer be allowed in the large courtyard, or the bar would face fines by the Department of Public Health.
"We have an indoor bar with no smoking, outside deck with no smoking and a beer garden area where we do allow smoking," Zeitgeist owner Klaus Burmeister said. "So there is a choice that every patron can make."
However, for some that decision is not much of a choice. Bob Planthold, who had polio as a child and now suffers from a "low breathing capacity," still suffers from people smoking even when it's taking place in a courtyard.
"Where typically are the bathrooms in a restaurant?" Planthold asked. "At the back so when you go to use the bathroom to wash your hands, you're next to the open-air smoking area."
The bill, sponsored by Supervisors Eric Mar and John Avalos, would also prohibit smoking in common areas of multi-unit housing, tourist lodging facilities, outdoor dining areas, tobacco shops, service waiting areas, bingo games, areas outside entrances, exits and operable windows and vents of all buildings, farmers markets and vehicles owned by the city and county of San Francisco.
Brian Spiers, owner of the Castro bar Lucky 13 and the Richmond-located Bitter End, agreed with the majority of the smoking ban, but argued that the legislation is too broad.
"At the Lucky 13 we have a little back patio area not near bathrooms or anybody who is frequenting the bar," Spiers said. "You do not have to walk to that back patio unless you want to have a cigarette or be near someone who is smoking. It is a freedom of choice."
Lin-Shao Chin, a legislative aide for Supervisor Mar, explained that common ground is still being sought with business owners before the final legislation is introduced on Feb. 22.
The other changes to the San Francisco health code, like banning smoking in common areas of housing and areas outside entrances, exits and windows, will be enforced much the same way as SF State's smoking ban.
"It's more a community effort of self-enforcement," Chin said. "Businesses will be required to put up signs reading 'there's no smoking here.'"
Suki Wen, a SF State senior business marketing major, welcomes the legislation. She works part-time at Quickley, a coffee shop in Chinatown and said she is often forced to breathe the smoke of people congregated outside smoking.
"So, we as the workers inside were becoming second-hand smokers," Wen said. Supervisor Mar said the legislation will "protect everyone but mostly the most vulnerable residents from toxic, second-hand smoke."
Director of Public Health Mitchell H. Katz and John Maa, a surgeon at the UCSF Medical Center verified Mar's statement.
"Countries that have been successful in decreasing the amount of smoking in public have actually seen major reductions in mortality among nonsmokers," Katz said.
"Additionally, heart attack rates fall in cities that enable smoking bans and the decline continues over time," Maa added, who is also a member of the American Heart Association Board of Directors.
Nobody at the Feb. 1 Land Use and Economic Development Committee meeting was debating the negative health effects of smoking and second-hand smoke. Dissension came on the issue of freedom of choice.
In one of the more brazen attempts to steal a bike on SF State campus, a woman was arrested Feb. 2 after taking a student's bike by threatening him with a knife.
The attempted theft occurred around 5:35 p.m. at the corner of Font Boulevard and Arballo Drive, according to the Department of Public Safety.
The 23-year-old male student, whose name was not released by University police, was travelling on Arballo Drive when a woman approached him with a knife and then took his bike.
"The victim, as with most victims in robbery cases, was shaken," said Deputy Chief of Police Reggie Parson in an e-mail.
After the robbery, the student called 911 from his cell phone and followed the suspect as he contacted the San Francisco Police Department.
The call was later dispatched to University police, who took a report.
According to Parson, the suspect, Pamela Quan, 26, was arrested for robbery and taken to San Francisco County Jail, where SFPD is handling the case.
The Feb. 2 robbery is one of four reported campus bike thefts this semester, although it is the only incident that has resulted in a direct arrest and a returned bicycle.
The other three bikes were stolen after being locked up on campus, according to the University police crime-and-arrest log.
Bike thefts have become an increasing problem on SF State's campus.
Last semester, approximately 32 bikes were reported stolen, up from 21 in Spring 2009. Comparatively, six bike thefts were reported in Spring 2008, and that number doubled in the fall.
"I guess it's exponential," said biology major Richard Craven, whose bike was taken from a rack in front of the library annex last semester. "I think whoever is doing it - I don't know if it's one guy or a group of people - but I think they just get so comfortable and feel invincible, like they can't get caught," he said.
Craven filed a report with University police, whose office sits next to the library annex on North State Drive - but couldn't provide a serial number, which can sometimes be used to identify stolen bicycles. His bike was never recovered.
Craven guessed that his bike, which was worth $1,500, was either resold or broken down for parts that were then sold individually. He said the lock he used to secure it was a thin, inexpensive cable that was easily clipped.
"It was an unbelievably sh***y bike lock," he said. "So, it was kind of my own fault for thinking it would be safe in front of the annex, but nope."
He said he now parks his bike in the school's Bike Barn, located under the gym, where an attendant watches over bikes during daytime hours at no charge.
The secured parking area has had just one reported theft: On Nov. 19, 2009, a lock that secured the entrance gate was clipped and a single bicycle was stolen. Parson said there have been no such incidents since, and that changes are being considered to increase security at the site, although he didn't elaborate on those plans.
Parson said that the Bike Barn is more secure than unattended bike racks, and that the majority of thefts occur along streets that run parallel to campus buildings - like Holloway and 19th avenues and Font Boulevard - where thieves can use nearby public transportation for an easy escape. Bikes are occasionally recovered, but some are resold over the Internet, Parson said.
Jason Porth, associate director of community relations for the University, and representative of the school's Bike Working Group - which works to encourage bicycling to campus - said a 2008 University survey estimated that 5.5 percent of people commuted to the school by bicycle. He said that number has potentially increased with the recent addition of over 400 bike parking spots and a new bike path.
Bicycling is a primary form of transportation for geography major Sam Jones, who bikes to campus about three times a week. Although he's never had issues with theft at SF State, he has had three bikes stolen in San Francisco, including one from the City College campus a year and a half ago. As he secured his bike by U-Lock to a rack outside the HSS building, he said, "It's to the point where I now revert to riding a bicycle that I got for free on Craigslist."
Living in a "green" atmosphere had been an option for SF State students since 2007, but very few seem to know that option exists.
In March 2007, SF State became home of the first "green" college student housing unit, organized by Jim Bolinger, associate director of residential property management. The Towers Residents' Environmental Organization began as a themed living community in the Towers at Centennial Square.
The housing units in TREO are made eco-friendly with their equipped energy-efficient and sustainable appliances, low-toxic paint, carpet and furniture made from highly recycled materials, eco-friendly personal care products and efficient lighting.
Bolinger also organized HERO --Housing Eco-Friendly Residents Organization-- that is open to all student residents to promote greener living across campus. They also formed a community garden behind Mary Park Lounge.
The garden is equipped with cabbage, radishes, strawberries, garden flowers and an assortment of kitchen herbs.
"I have been at SF State for four years now and have never heard of any of this," BECA major Angela Garcia, 22, said. "If I would have known of this I would have taken advantage of it."
These programs are designed for students who are interested in learning more about environmentally responsible lifestyles.
"This is just a fraction of what we can do for a society at large," Bolinger said. "We're teaching residents a lifestyle that they can take with them when they leave and bring to their own families and communities."
TREO is a way to prove that you can live a modern, affordable, and comfortable lifestyle while reducing ecological impact.
San Francisco is a city that promotes a green lifestyle, and it is an excellent opportunity that students have to participate with helping out.
"I think flyers should be posted around the campus promoting what SF State has to offer, or something posted on the school website so more people would know about it," freshman Brian Moore, 19, said. "I plan on checking it all out now."
The TREO is located at Centennial Square and the community garden is behind Mary Park lounge. For more information on how to live a "greener" life contact Jim Bolinger at email@example.com.
Adults aged 30 and over are utilizing blogging and social networking more than teens and young adults, according to a new survey published on Feb. 3, 2010.
The report is part of a series done by the Pew Research Center that focuses its work on the attitude and behavioral patterns of adults ages 18-29. The study found that in 2006, 28 percent of teen internet users said they blogged. Today that number is down to 14 percent. But as the number of teen bloggers goes down, blogging amongst adult internet users has steadily increased. According to the surveys, one in ten adults contribute to or maintain a personal blog or an online journal.
"Emo people are on Twitter and Tumblr, people who need to get things off their mind," Shipman said. "I still am trying to figure out what a blog is...my friends have them and follow them but I don't see the point."
In December 2007, 24 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds online reported that they blogged, while only seven percent of those 30 or older said the same. Since then, an older crowd is beginning to get a larger footing in the online community.
Michael Gibbons, 67, mainly uses the internet in conjunction with his classes at SF State. He purchased a MacBook Pro laptop for the first time in June along with wireless internet service. "I don't know anyone using Facebook but I've had a MySpace account for about a year and I'm considering getting a blog," Gibbons said, "I love to write and I feel a blog would be a great way to express myself."
Jake Isaac, 19, noticed a big change in the demographic using social media. "About 60 percent of my family is on Facebook now, including my parents, aunts and uncles. It is an annoying problem," Isaac said.
Facebook is the most popular social network for adults who maintain online profiles, garnering 73 percent of that demographic, according to the survey.
Age aside, not everyone is ready to put his or her lives online. Michael Celaya, a 23 -year-old cinema major, doesn't have a Facebook account and has no plans on signing up for one.
"I just want to see how long I can get away with not having Facebook, it is kind of a challenge for myself," Celaya said. "Facebook is not something I need."
Waste monitors from SF Environment were posted at several trash bins inside the Cesar Chavez Student Center for the past two weeks as part of the city's initiative to bring down its garbage output to zero by 2020.
The main task of the monitors was to educate students on how to dispose of their waste with an emphasis on mostly composting and recycling rather than heading to the trash bin by default.
Waste monitor Olivia Bagadiong said her help has been warmly received by the students and staff frequenting the various eateries in the cafeteria. She estimated that out of every 10 people she has encountered, eight students are more than obliged to receive a tip or two on how to dispose.
"Sometimes I scare people a lot," Bagadiong said. She wore a gray vest made from recycled materials, the staple of any SF Environment employee. "But I'm enjoying my job."
Bagadiong, who had the black bins covered with old newspapers, was quick to her feet every time students approached with waste, catching most off guard. The monitors are new evidence of a campaign to push mandatory recycling throughout the city. However not all students were pleased with the monitors' presence.
"I think it's a bit silly, people are pretty cognizant but maybe I'm being naïve," graduate student Doug Weihnacht said. Weihnacht is in favor of green methods of waste disposal, but "you can't impose, it has to be a voluntary thing."
Whether students will continue to separate their waste once the monitors are gone is to be seen, but according to the employees in charge of keeping the student center clean, SF Environment has done its job.
"I think it's a good thing they have been here, knowing how to separate your trash is a must," Gold Coast Grill employee Ricardo Murguía said. "I learned from them that food waste goes in the green one, in the black one goes soft plastic, and in the blue one goes bottles."
José Zapata, an employee of Café 101, was more than pleased to see the monitors. "I think they have been effective, they work well," he said. "You see how these kids leave the tables, imagine how they leave the bins."
Both men said they will continue to dispose the waste of the cafeteria as indicated by SF Environment.
A bill aimed at creating revenue for higher education in California was abruptly halted and revised by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations before reaching the Senate on Jan. 28.
AB 656, written by Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont), originally proposed the imposition of a 9.9 percent severance tax on California's oil and natural gas, as well as the creation of the California Higher Education Fund and the California Higher Education Endowment Corporation. All of the revenue raised from the tax was to go directly into the fund and be administered by the corporation to the state's three higher education systems in an effort to alleviate the current budget crisis.
According to a fact sheet produced by Torrico's office, California is the only oil producing state without such a tax.
"AB 656 will raise up to $2 billion per year, year after year, for higher education in California," Torrico said. "Even Sarah Palin in Alaska does not give away the oil for free. She imposed a 25 percent extraction fee."
The bill required a two-thirds vote for passage, a goal that proved unattainable without the support of Assembly Republicans.
In an effort to see AB 656 reach the Senate, Torrico agreed to amend the bill to require the State Board of Equalization to report on or before Nov. 1 of each year the estimated amount of revenue a severance tax would raise for the fund. The tax was also increased to 12.5 percent in order to provide more money for community colleges without affecting the amount received by the California State University and University of California systems.
"The bill's alive," said Ramón Castellblanch, assistant professor of Health Education at SF State and president of the local chapter of the California Faculty Association. "With the amendments, it got out of Appropriations."
AB 656 is currently awaiting committee assignment in the Senate. It is unclear how long the reporting requirement will remain in place.
"The thing will be to see what committee assignment it gets and contact that committee chair," Castellblanch said, referring to what supporters should do if they wish to see the fund succeed. "The more letters the better. As soon as it gets moved to committee, folks should jump on it."
The California Faculty Association, California Federation of Teachers, California State Student Association, California Teachers Association and the Service Employees International Union support the bill.
"It seems like a no brainer to me," SF State English lecturer David Gill said. "You have a limited, finite resource that you're giving oil companies to sell back to us. It blows my mind that there could be any resistance. Whose interests are served by not doing this? What do they stand to gain if it's defeated?"
Thus far, resistance has come from organizations including the California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber), California Independent Petroleum Association and Western State Petroleum Association.
In a letter to Kevin de Leon, chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations,
CalChamber expressed their opposition to "an oil severance tax proposal that will penalize California companies and consumers."
According to Mike Taylor, communications director for the San Francisco Young Republicans, his organization believes a severance tax would increase gas prices and make it more expensive to drive a car in the state of California.
"California's unemployment rate is over 12 percent, much higher than the national average," said Taylor in a statement on behalf of the SFYR. "Families are struggling, and an oil severance tax will raise gas prices right when we can least afford it."
"The bill specifically prohibits oil companies from passing the extraction fee to consumers in the form of higher prices," said Torrico referring to a provision within the bill that would require the Board of Equalization to monitor any potential spike in gas prices. "Asking oil companies to pay their fair share is the least they can do. All of the oil companies have seen multi-billion profits in the last two years."
Despite talk of potential tax and fuel cost increases, AB 656 supporters like Gill believe the fund is a cause worth fighting for.
"We ought to be using finite resources to support renewable resources," said Gill. "Educated students are a revenue stream as well."
With the cost of higher education increasing, some students are turning to online sources to buy their textbooks. But this might hurt them rather than help them, SFSU Bookstore officials said.
When students buy textbooks at the SFSU Bookstore, they are helping the University receive more funds for department programs. The SFSU Bookstore operates as an independent non-profit bookstore and donates its money back to the SF State.
"Anything made here at the bookstore goes back to the campus," Textbook Manager Wendy Johnson said.
In addition to this, the SFSU bookstore does a buy back program at the end of each semester. This program allows students to sell their SFSU bought textbooks back to the bookstore for a percentage of what they originally paid. These old books are then restocked at a cheaper price.
Last year the bookstore gave back $1 million to students. The bookstore could easily give back twice that amount if more students used the buy back program, Johnson said.
But with more and more students buying or obtaining their textbooks from uloop.com and half.com, textbook sales have decreased from last year already. And with fewer textbooks sold there are fewer books for the students to sell back.
"There has definitely been a decline in textbook sales because of the economy and online options," said Husam Erciyes, director of marketing for the bookstore. The exact percentage of decline is unknown, because it is too early in the year to measure.
Publishers, not University officials, determine the price of textbooks. Still many students complain that textbooks at the SFSU Bookstore are too expensive, and would rather buy them online where they can find them up to 75 percent cheaper. Uloop.com, rentbooks.info, half.com and amazon.com are only some of the means by which students are purchasing or renting their textbooks.
SF State student Aurore Etienne says she only buys her lab manuals at the bookstore while she buys the rest of textbooks from sites like these. "This [the bookstore] is a last resort," says Etienne.
Although there are many sources that offer inexpensive alternatives, some students stick to the campus bookstore for what they need.
"I usually buy here [at the bookstore]," says Guillermo Turcios, English literature major. "Usually I don't wait for online because they take too long to arrive."
As the student fees increase and personal budgets become tighter, many students who shop at the bookstore flock to the used books first. But with less and less students buying and then selling back textbooks, used books are becoming scarcer.
"The best way students can help keep prices down," Johnson said, "is by participating in student buy back."
A prospective SF State student, who was arrested by university police last July for allegedly making criminal threats against an admissions office employee, has filed a lawsuit against SF State, the California State University, university police and individuals within each entity.
San Francisco resident Reginald Jean-Baptiste, 41, filed a lawsuit in San Francisco County Superior Court on Jan. 25 to recoup legal fees he incurred following his July 29, 2009 arrest and for emotional, physical and psychological injuries he said he sustained from the incident.
"I kind of knew all along that there really was no evidence and no probable cause," Jean-Baptiste said of the arrest. "As soon as I was cleared of all the charges I knew that I would be suing them."
According to court papers Jean-Baptiste filed, the initial dispute - which happened the day before his arrest - resulted from negligence within the CSU system, whereby a miscommunication occurred over his college application.
In the papers, Jean-Baptiste, a Haitian-American, alleged that his arrest and subsequent charges were prompted by discrimination by officers within the University police department. Ellen Griffin, director of university communications for SF State, said in an e-mail that it is the school's policy not to comment on pending litigation.
Jean-Baptiste was arrested at his Daly City bike shop on July 29 on two felony charges of making criminal threats toward a school official, according to a university police report. Attorney Steven Costa, who represented Jean-Baptiste in San Francisco County, said bail was set at $55,000 in San Mateo County and later at $9,000 in San Francisco County.
Jean-Baptiste said the lawsuit, which seeks reparations in excess of $25,000, would account for the costs of two attorneys he hired to represent him in both San Mateo and San Francisco counties, where he faced felony and misdemeanor charges that were later dropped. It would also compensate for wages he lost during the three days he spent in San Mateo County Jail before he could post bail.
An employee in the school's admissions office, who asked not to be identified, said Jean-Baptiste called the office on July 28, 2009 regarding his spring 2010 application. The employee said he declined to give identifying information needed to access his records in the school's computer system. He then grew agitated, according to the admissions employee, and began yelling and cursing over the phone.
Jean-Baptiste, who said he completed prerequisite classes at both City College and the College of Extended Learning before applying to SF State, explained that he submitted an application in early 2009 for the spring 2010 semester through the CSUMentor Web site. When he checked his application status in July, he found that, due to budget cuts, the school was not accepting new students for the spring semester.
Jean-Baptiste said he called the admissions office to see if he might still be either admitted or receive a refund for his $55 application fee. He said he never made threats against the admissions employee, and that the employee threatened to delete his application file.
According to the police report, the admissions employee, fearing for her safety, filed a complaint with university police the following day. Jean-Baptiste was identified by an online search of his phone number, and police were later able to locate his photograph and the address of his business.
"I'm confident that I'm doing the right thing," Jean-Baptiste said of the lawsuit. "I'm confident that they did the absolute wrong thing consistently, insistently and repeatedly."
The freeze put on incoming SF students has left on-campus housing rooms vacant.
An email was sent out to all students on Jan. 26 informing them that there was a move-in special for new housing applicants for spring 2010.
"At this moment we are about 90 percent full which is lower than in past spring semesters," Associate Director for University Housing Philippe Cumia, said.
The move-in special for new housing applicants is running from Jan. 26 until April 30, and any student who applies will get their $55 housing application free credited to their next fee schedule payment.
On-campus housing is usually less crowded in spring semesters compared to the fall. The population in the dorms depends on the University's enrollment for that semester.
Kevin Walczak, a freshman who lives in Mary Park Hall, has seen quite a few changes this semester when it comes to students taking advantage of the open rooms available.
"At least four new people have moved in on my floor alone," Walczak said, "Within a few days they were all settled in."
According to Cumia, extra room this semester "is in part due to the Chancellor's Office's request that the University not accept any admission applications this spring semester."
The fewer number of students in the dorms has led to a calm atmosphere in on-campus housing. According to Walczak, the vibe is different from when he moved into Mark Park last fall.
On-campus housing gives students benfits that others who live off-campus cannot achieve such as saving money on transportation to and from school, food plans, and the opportunity of meeting new people.
"We are encouraging students to move on campus because it is a more valuable experience than living off-campus," Cumia said.
A lot of students typically wait on a long waitlist to get accepted in to one of the dorms that house two to a room.
"This semester there was no waiting list. In fall 2009, we had a waiting list of about 400, of which more than half got housing spaces," Cumia said.
Katrina Thompson, a sophomore in Mary Park Hall on an all-girls floor, noticed a change as well this semester.
"There were a lot of roommate changes for people on my floor. My floor is full now, which means more new people to get to know," Thompson said.
"We're provided with everything here. It's so much fun living on campus," Walczak said.
Sophomore Kate Bocchicchio lives in Parkmerced with five other girls in a 2-bedroom, 2-bath townhouse.
"I was on the waiting list for the dorms in fall and couldn't get in so I signed a nine month lease with Parkmerced that I can't get out of. I wish I could have taken this opportunity to live on campus now that they have room," Bocchicchio said.
Although the move-in special is attracting some students Cumia said they would probably not fill all the rooms by the end of this semester.
SF State environmental justice students are doing their part in raising money and awareness for the recently grief stricken country of Haiti through an elaborate assignment specifically designed after the earthquake struck last month.
Professor Raquel Pinderhughes of the department of urban studies and planning at SF State revised her syllabus after the earthquake in order to allow her students to gain an understanding of how environmental injustices occur.
"More people died then they should have," said Pinderhughes. "Because the quality of people's homes [in Haiti] is so poor and not appropriately designed, more people were hurt than necessary."
Pinderhughes' course focuses on the way people throughout history have not been equally protected from harm because of institutional racism on land and place, often resulting in poorly structured countries. With her assignment, she hopes that her students understand how the situation in Haiti was put into place over time to become the disaster it was.
In order for the students to learn about the long history of Haiti, the classroom will be split up into eleven groups, each focusing on different historical periods. These groups will report their assessments of the social inequalities, environmental conditions and injustices of their specific timeframe to the class.
"We are looking at something that has meaning and is contemporary when we talk about the earthquake," said Pinderhughes. "But we are also looking at the past."
The class has agreed to work on a collaborative fundraising effort along with the assignment. Plans are still up in the air, but the overall consensus is that the students want to help financially as well, whether it is through a baked goods sale or a dance party.
Shamar Theus, a 20-year-old environmental studies and sociology major at SF State, is Pinderhughes' teacher assistant who also helped develop the Haiti assignment. Theus, whose father is Haitian, jumped on the opportunity to assist with the assignment because of his desire to expand even his own understanding of his family history.
"This should go beyond responding to financial needs," Theus said. "This is about intellectually raising people's awareness just as much as raising money."
His interest in Haiti runs deep, and he ultimately hopes that this project will inform people about the history of the country that they may not have known otherwise.
Jennifer Furlong, a student in Pinderhughes' class, also has ties to Haiti. After visiting for two weeks in 2006 and assisting a friend that was working on a sustainable agriculture project for an orphanage, she quickly gained a different appreciation for the country she said most U.S. citizens know little about.
"People from the U.S. often make the mistake of traveling under [charitable] conditions thinking that they're going to do a lot of good in developing nations by their mere presence," Furlong said. "The truth is that I ended up taking a lot more than I was able to give."
Furlong is hoping that the class assignment will successfully bond fundraising efforts with direct action aimed at increasing awareness.
"The fact that most of us can't identify Haiti on a map is a problem that began long before the recent earthquake," Furlong said. "Education and awareness of our imprint on countries like Haiti will have longer-lasting effects."
Remember when you and your friends would make and exchange mix tapes and CDs? The San Francisco Mixtape Society has re-created the experience in a bigger scale, and with strangers.
The society held their first mix tape exchange event Jan. 30 in the Make-out Room located in the Mission. Over 100 people gathered with their mix CDs, tapes or USB sticks to exchange among each other.
Founded by two music enthusiasts, Annie Lin and John Verrochi, the event was organized in a fashion not only for people to exchange music, but also to socialize among people with the same common ground.
"This is about putting face time into it," Verrochi said. "People can just discover new music on the Internet, but something like this brings people together to share music and make new friends."
Both Verrochi and Lin belong to a mix tape society while they lived in Brooklyn. When they moved to San Francisco, they realized that there wasn't a mix tape society. They figured the people in the city would benefit from such a thing, so they took it upon themselves to start one.
Their idea wasn't just about strangers exchanging mix music in a bar. It was a social event that allowed people to gather under a common ground: music.
Lucianne Walkowicz always liked the idea of swapping mix tapes between friends. She was intrigued when she found out something like this was going on.
"I haven't received a mix tape in a long time," Walkowicz said. "The great thing about mix tapes is that you don't have to rely on radio to discover new music."
The tracks that people put on their mix tapes were not at random either. The event had a theme and the people made the mixes accordingly. The theme was city versus town, and people put whatever comes to mind that reminded them of a city or town. Some people were even creative enough to make their own album cover.
The exchange process was almost like a white elephant gift exchange. All the people participating received a number upon entering the event. They would individually raffle to see whom they would swap their music with. At the end, the person with the best mix that fit the theme wins a prize.
Eban Green was an IT technician by day, but in his spare time was working as a producer and a promoter. He thought this event was a great networking idea.
"With a price of a beer, you could have a new experience," Green said.
Lin was glad to see that the first event was a success and not "just all my friends showing up for it."
The society is hoping to keep things going and hope to have another event in two months with a new theme.
Imagine walking into a nightclub, the music is playing loudly and the dance floor is packed. In front of you is Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street. To the right is Catwoman dancing with Ichabod Crane. To your left is Edward Scissorhands trying desperately to hold his martini in between his shiny and sharp fingers. This is no ordinary club and you are not in Alice's Wonderland anymore.
Hosted by San Francisco-based company Swing Goth, Wonderland: A Tim Burton Ball is what happens when swing dance meets goth sprinkled with a dash of blues, rock-a-billy and steampunk served over a stylish nightclub. The result is surely a magical night to remember.
Wonderland aims to unite people with shared love for the acclaimed director Tim Burton, elaborate costumes and dance, and encourages them to form relationships based on synchronized body movements.
"[My goal is] to make it okay to dance with each other again, to teach people how to connect and interact in a way that isn't verbal, to listen to each other," said Swing Goth founder Brian Gardner, who believes that dancing should be a connection between partners, not just "grinding up against each other. I teach my lessons so that the footwork is largely unimportant. What is important is moving with your partner to the music and having fun."
While it may seem that swing dance is a thing of the past, Swing Goth's recent events have proved that swing dance is coming back with a vengeance. Last year's Bowie Ball catered to 320 dancers alone, and this month's Wonderland Ball is expected to sell out.
Local favorite Vagabondage and world-premiere steampunk band Abney Park will be playing a live set. To keep the energy flowing, DJ Skip, Shatter and MzSamantha will be playing upbeat swing, polka, and folk music that's sure to keep everybody's feet moving.
"It's an amazing feeling to be able to connect to people on a different level, even if it's just dancing," said Jennifer Lee, who attended last year's Bowie Ball and is planning on attending Wonderland dressed as Violet Beauregarde from Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." "I'm really looking forward to seeing everybody get down in their favorite Tim Burton characters. I just hope no one dresses up as Edward Scissorhands!"
Taking inspirations from Sleepy Hollow, Beetlejuice, Big Fish, PeeWee's Big Adventure, Sweeney Todd and Nightmare Before Christmas, Wonderland is pulling out all the stops to ensure dancers feel like they're in a different world, according to Art Director Astra Kim. Dancers can expect hanging garlands of flowers, chess pieces, playing cards and even scenes from Burton's past movies projected on the walls.
Wonderland will be held at San Francisco's DNA Lounge on Friday, Feb. 5. Tickets are $16 in advance, $18 in costume, and $20 otherwise. All ages are welcome. Dancers can arrive early to take polka and swing dance lessons an hour before the event for an additional $5.
There are no longer security guards watching over the Business building since the takeover last semester. Security has returned to normal and plans to stay that way.
Student protesters occupied the building on Dec. 9, 2009 in protest of budget cuts to higher education. The San Francisco Police Department and University police took it back by early morning of Dec. 10, 2009. That morning security went into high alert as students returned to classes.
"There were cops in every other room asking everyone questions, it was hectic," John Yaeger, 25, business major said.
Now that a new semester has started security has returned to normal.
"I haven't seen a cop since the day after the takeover," Yaeger said.
The Dean's office for the College of Business feels there is no need for extra security now. They feel the security did what they could during the takeover and would do their best if a similar event were to take place again.
"Protests occur with some regularity on campus, and both University police and staff in Student Affairs regularly observe to ensure safety is maintained and laws are upheld," University Spokesperson Ellen Griffin said.
When and if illegal actions occur on campus, University police will respond in a manner that is safe for the University property and the University community.
"The nature of any responses will be specific to the situation and cannot be predicted in advance," Griffin said.
Students who attend classes in the Business building seem to agree with the decision about not adding any additional security in or around the building.
"There is no need for extra security now. It would probably cost more money for the University anyways, which our budget can't permit," Quinn Smyrni, 19, said, "I feel just as safe as I used to."
Senior Matt Watts feels that it's best to keep everything the way it was before: low-key.
"Why would we need more security? It would attract too much unnecessary attention to the department," Watts said.
Just because there is no added security Griffin wants to remind students "the observation and monitoring of protests will continue in the spring semester."
Sf State students and graduates recently received two awards for a film that documented four women from different backgrounds living with HIV.
The film, known as "One Sister at a Time: Positive Women's Stories," was awarded with best online short feature at the Cinema City International Film Festival and received best documentary at the International Student Film Festival Hollywood.
"Getting the award is very cool because these projects are exciting and stressful, and there were certain points when I wondered if I'd have a film," Deborah Craig, the film's architect, said. "I was most happy to have felt that I have a film to be proud of."
The project involved three SF State graduates and two students, all from different departments: Craig, a graduate in health education; Brett Hickman and Ryan Hildebrant, cinema department graduates; Véronica Deliz, in her third year studying cinema; and geography student Allison Haagensen.
"I think it gives a fantastic sense of accomplishment," Deliz said about receiving the award. "You really feel satisfaction knowing that we got a message through. It is also great acknowledgment for the people in the film."
"I really wanted to emphasize that it's not only one category of women that get it, but it's everyone. I wanted to say this could be you. It's not just somebody else because you don't look like that," said Craig.
The film is a product of the University course "Documentary for Health and Justice," which aims to create films for community that can be useful in raising awareness. Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Disease, an Oakland based organization, also collaborated in creating the film alongside the students providing both resources and contacts.
"It's a film about four women and a film about organization and a film about how women can support one another," Craig said.
Because the film was a documentary, the students could not make use of a storyboard or anticipate what they would find. The students shot over 100 hours of raw footage and found within it "some powerful and telling stories," Hickman said.
"We went out to make that film with a purpose," Hickman said, "and we accomplished it."