March 2010 Archives

Muni board declares fiscal emergency

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The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors declared a fiscal emergency for the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years.

The board's vote on March 30 signals the anticipation of more budget difficulties, despite a notice that the agency could expect roughly $67 million in additional funds for the next two years from the state. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed two bills on March 22 related to a gas tax swap that would provide additional funding to the transit agency.

By declaring a fiscal emergency the board has the discretion to raise fares and reduce transit service without conducting environmental reviews.

Transit riders may be able to breathe a sigh of relief, however, as Board Chairman Tom Nolan cited the extra state funding as a way to rescind the plan requiring commuters to use the Premium "A" monthly pass to ride cable cars and most express lines, a provision set to take effect May 1.

"We have a bit of breathing room," Nolan said. "I think it might be a good idea to take these things off the table. My hope is that we are very prudent with the money."

The 10 percent service cuts, that were approved by the board on Feb. 26 and set to take effect May 1, are likely to remain in place as they are factored into the budget for the next two years.

The board will consider reducing work orders, extending parking hours deeper into the evening, charging for parking on Sundays and adding more metered parking spaces to close the budget gap for the next two years, MTA documents show.

The board will also consider proposing ballot measures to raise the sales tax as well as other taxes and to increase vehicle licensing fees, as a means to generate more revenue for the cash-strapped agency.

Irwin Lum, president of Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, repeated many of his points from earlier meetings and urged the board to cut spending in areas that don't affect riders.

"The issue of cuts and service modifications is the wrong way to go," Lum said. "If people expect Muni to be used, it has to be reliable, it has to be affordable."

The anticipated budget shortfall for the next two years was also decreased in size because of the additional funding, according to MTA documents. The projected deficit for the next two years is $54.8 million, down from the $101.7 million projected earlier.

The board met in City Hall to discuss the dire financial situation facing the transit agency and outline possible solutions. A two-year budget must be approved by May 1.

SFMTA CEO Nathaniel Ford expressed optimism towards the additional funds, but warned that "we probably have one more year of really stiff belt tightening."

"We're in a much better situation than our peer systems," Ford said in relation to how other major cities are coping with reductions in funding, but added, "Over the last three years we've lost $180 million."

The public once again showed up in force to voice their frustrations. One man was escorted from the meeting at Nolan's request after he shouted at board members. Nolan also threatened to close the meeting to the public on at least two occasions.

The board meets again on April 6 to continue discussion about the budget deficit and will possibly adopt a budget for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.



Obama signs student loan bill

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President Obama signed a financial aid bill into law that would cut out banks in the lending process for college students.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved what has come to be known as the Student Aid Initiative on March 21. The initiative will free up nearly $68 billion in savings for Pell grants and reform current student loan policies by eliminating fees paid to private banks.

"It's awesome -- they should give us more," said Jonathan Mojarro, a financial services and corporate finance double major currently borrowing $8,000 for tuition. "I believe that at the national level creating a better opportunity for students is great, nowadays it's impossible to pay."

The initiative will raise the maximum Pell grant to a maximum of $5,975 from $5,550 over the next six years, redirect loans to the government rather than banking institutions and capping the loan repayment rate at 10 percent instead of the current 15 percent.

"If you're going to extend (the reimbursement) over the long run through smaller payments, that's better than higher payments," said Jon Weyant who has three private loans, which will cost him nearly $3,000 to $4,000 in interest.

For students that plan to continue their education the bill comes as a relief.

"I have to go to graduate school for respiratory therapy, which will add another two years and my parents won't pay, so (the bill) helps me out because it's going to be hard to find a job after school," said biological chemistry major Gelline Mejia. "It's always nice to know that you don't have to pay more than you have to."

San Franciscans stand up against sit/lie

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Earlier this month, Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier introduced legislation that would prohibit people from sitting or lying on the sidewalk between the hours of 7 in the morning and 11 at night.

Supporters of the sit-lie law, as it is referred to, argue that those who sit on the sidewalk can make it difficult for the elderly and disabled to pass as well as prevent shoppers from entering businesses.

But many San Franciscans worry that it will target those who need the most help, such as the homeless and the poor. There is also concern that the law will make it illegal to use the sidewalk for everyday activities, such as garage sales or lemonade stands.

On Saturday, March 27 people around the city protested the proposed law by hosting events that would be prohibited if it passes. Click the side bar to listen to the whole story.


View Sit/Lie Events in a larger map

This map shows the event locations for the sit/lie protest.

Nicole Ely contributed to this story.

Campus highlights transgender PRIDE

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On March 24, individuals from across the gender spectrum celebrated International Transgender Visibility Day.

On campus, the second annual "Between the Binary" event was held by the PRIDE at SF State Committee, a group working to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community.

The festivities began in the morning with performances by transgender musicians in Malcolm X Plaza and continued with a speaker's panel, moderated by Assistant Professor of Sociology Clare Sears, in Jack Adams Hall. The day's events were co-sponsored by SF State's Counseling and Psychological Services, the Ecumenical House, the Associated Students, Inc. Women's Center and ASI Education and Referral Organization for Sexuality (E.R.O.S.).

"We've all heard these concepts of what it means to be male and what it means to be female," Bita Shooshani, PRIDE committee chair and assistant director of prevention education programs at SF State, said. "What we learned today is there isn't any one person who can represent one community."

This year's panel included a mix of SF State students, alumni and transgender community advocates from organizations including Gender Spectrum, St. James Infirmary and the Instituto Familiar de la Raza. Each shared their personal experiences with gender exploration and identification before taking questions from the audience.

"I can be a confident, masculine woman and that's just fine," Pardis Esmaeili, director of E.R.O.S., said as she addressed the crowd. "It's taken me a long time to be open about my experiences."

Panel member Joel Baum, director of education and training for Gender Spectrum, said his organization works with gender non-conforming children as young as 4 and 5 years old. He shared Gender Spectrum's message to "be yourself, change the world," whether one identifies as "male, female, both or neither."

According to its website, Gender Spectrum provides "education, resources and training to help you create a more gender sensitive and supportive environment for all people, including gender variant and transgender youth."

SF State junior Chantel Roberts said she heard about the panel through her involvement with Creating Empowerment through Alcohol and Substance Abuse Education (CEASE) and Active Minds, a new student organization on campus that increases awareness of mental health issues.

"I guess being heterosexual I had a lot of stereotypes," said Roberts, who added that she found the presentation both interesting and educational.

"My experience with gender is that it has been a journey," SF State master's candidate and panel member Shawn Demmons said.

Demmons, who was born female but identifies as male, discussed the TransClusive survey he developed as part of a research project at SF State. In total, 63 faculty and staff members and 187 students participated in the survey, which sought to asses participants' comfort levels with transgender individuals. Demmons is also studying SF State's policies and practices to determine whether they are inclusive of transgender students. He stated that one of the largest issues in the community currently is the lack of transgender-friendly bathrooms on campus.

During the panel, Demmons said it has been estimated that at any given time, a college campus of 20,000 students might have up to eight students in transition, 60 who are actively questioning their gender and 200 whose appearance transgress gender normative roles.

"It's an issue that isn't discussed enough," he said.

"It's really breaking out of these binaries of either/or. Nobody really fits these little boxes," Shooshani said of the meaning behind "Between the Binary." "I'm very proud of the students I've worked with who shared about their experiences."

Students campaign for ASI

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The deadline to vote for the Associated Students, Inc. election is 12:00 a.m. on March 27, and the candidates are working for votes.

The two slates--the Dream Team and We the People--campaigned all week in front of the Cesar Chavez Student Union, and have been drawing good crowds, according to the candidates. They handed out food and drink, while offering games and information to inform the students about those running for office.

Both slates hold that they will try to bring greater transparency and student representation to the ASI.

"We wanted to come up with a name that would explain our entire slate and we came up with We the People because when we looked around the room we saw a multitude of diversity," said Jeffrey Aigbekaen, who is running for vice president of External Affairs.

Isaac Reed, who works for the ASI Legal Resource Center, created the We the People slate. "I'm an advocate for youths in the community," said Isaac Reed. "That's my job. That's my passion. And I'd love to be an advocate for anybody who needed help regardless of what student organization I am a part of."

Cynthia M. Ashton, presidential candidate for the Dream Team said the more students are involved on campus, the more they will be involved academically.

"When I approach students," Ashton said, "I try to bring awareness about what's going on on campus and letting them know things, like there are 200 student organizations on campus. And I bet you one of those organizations might share the same passion as you do"

The voting is done online. Those intending to cast a vote need to login with an SF State password.

SF State artists show textile masterpieces

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At first glance, Daniella Woolf's artwork hanging against the gallery's white walls looks like a regular painting. But, like many things in life, the piece is not what it seems.

A closer look inside the frame reveals that the illusion of a painting is actually a collection of eucalyptus leaves sewn together in neat rows and embedded within a thin layer of beeswax, a technique known as encaustic painting. The product is a one-of-a-kind piece of art illustrating a unique technique used in textile art.

Woolf, an internationally known encaustic artist, is featured in "Reinvention," an art exhibition being held in the Cesar Chavez Student Center celebrating textile and fiber-based art. These artists are recognized for utilizing traditional and innovative techniques.

Stitched together by an interest in textiles, a large group of people attended the opening reception of the Reinvention exhibition at SF State's Art Gallery this past weekend. Coinciding with the 2010 Reinvention Convention, the exhibition featured textile and fiber-based artworks from the speakers, presenters and workshop leaders of the textile conference.

Reinvention, the theme of the exhibition, describes an artistic life that is in "a constant process of invention and reinvention. Techniques change, new materials emerge, inspiration evolves along the world in which we work. Artists reinvent themselves as they mature or change creative paths. It's an exciting time to be a creative individual and change is in the air," according to the exhibition statement.

According to Molly Cox, the exhibition's curator, the artworks presented in the exhibition vary in methods and styles, but are tied together by the art of stitching. Another running theme linking most of the artworks together is the preservation of the environment.

Contemporary artist Judith Selby Lang, who received an MA in interdisciplinary arts from SF State, knitted together strands of plastic bags to create a colorful, flowing, garment-like art installation, which hung from the gallery's ceiling to the floor.

"The piece is making note of the fact that these plastic bags would be in a landfill if (Lang) hadn't used them for art," Cox said.

Another piece created by Ana Lisa Hedstorm, an internationally known textile artist who utilizes the ancient Japanese art of resist dyeing known as "shibori," used felt made out of plastic bottles to create "The Sea." Dyed by hand, each piece of fabric was sewn and stitched into place to create the wrinkles mimicking the movement of the water.

Taking a more traditional approach to textile art, Bren Ahearn, SF State master of fine arts student, showcased a piece that was cotton cross-stitched on linen fabric. Known for investigating conflicting views on sexuality and masculinity, as well as the socialization of American men to be violent, his untitled piece read, "When I refuse to fight, I am called a pussy."

Using the encaustic technique again, Woolf also created an interactive art installation called "Double Dutch," in which she stitched pieces of paper together and covered the strands in beeswax. Encouraging people to touch and smell the strands, the installation hung from several points on the ceiling, mimicking the shape ropes would take while playing jump rope.

The diverse methods used in the exhibition caught the attention of many art enthusiasts as well as students passing through the Student Center.

"It's pretty cool to see the different techniques the artists used to create their works," psychology major Paula Sason, 23, said. "You don't expect a textile exhibit to be nothing more than just clothing or something, but it's so much more than that."

Co-sponsored by Surface Design Association and Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. and SF State's Art Department of Textiles, the Reinvention Conference is held on opposite ends of the country every two years. Complete with studio tours, museum exhibits and workshops, the conference, hosted this year by SF State, aimed to unite fiber studio artists, textile designers, art quilters, instructors and people interested in the fiber field looking for inspiration.

Workshops included San Francisco art teacher Terry McClain's "Illumination and Illusion," where participants learn how to wire Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) within fiber and paper and how to achieve the illusion of translucence by printing monotypes through gauze.

The Reinvention exhibition will run until April 22 at the Art Gallery located at the Terrace Level of the Student Center.

Domino tournament debuts at SF State

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Don't expect to set in motion long rows of oblong objects successively colliding as if someone nudged over a miniature Stonehenge.

Do expect some resentment at the "boneyard," basic addition and quite possibly $100, if you play the tiles right.

High stakes gambling makes its debut at SF State on March 25, with the Campus Recreation Department's first dominoes tournament.

Taking place in the Cesar Chavez Student Center from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the tournament has a $7 entrance fee and is single-elimination.

"We wanted to move outside the box of what you typically think of as recreation," said Ajani Byrd, the department's director.

According to Byrd, over 1,200 students participated in intramural soccer, volleyball and basketball this semester. These games are meant to encourage fun and competition, but not everyone looking for something to do is a sports nut.

"What happens if you don't participate in these activities? Well here's one of our solutions," Bryd said.

A Chinese invention, early domino sets have been dated around the 12th century.
Players start with seven tiles each and dominoes are played flat on the table, face up. The idea is to match the numbers of a tile with a tile that's already been played.

Each player plays a tile, if they don't have any matching numbers, they take dominoes from the pile, or "boneyard" until a playable tile is drawn.

Players score points by making the ends of tile chains add up to a multiple of five. The first player to 150 points wins.

"The idea for this tournament came from CSU East Bay, which runs a pretty successful dominoes competition," said Ryan Fetzer, intramural and sports club coordinator.
First place is $100, if enough people participate, and space is limited to 48 players.
Getting a new project off the ground is always a daunting task, admits Byrd, "but even if we only have a few people attend it will be a success."

"If there were more events like this [on campus], I'd probably hang out more," said business major, Gabriel Lowe, who says he plans to check out the tournament.
Byrd has been mulling expanding intramural outdoor events, starting with soccer and flag football.

The department is continuing with its one-day tournament idea, holding a dodgeball event in the gym April 15.

"The possibilities are endless really," Fetzer said of new campus recreation activities. "We just need to know what the students want so we can give it to them."

Old jewelry takes a new art form

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You know what they say: a woman's old missing earring is another woman's new and fabulous necklace.

This saying couldn't be any truer for members of SF State's Fashion Network Association.

Armed with more than fifteen pounds of tangled necklaces, unpaired earrings and other unwanted jewelry, FNA members have re-constructed and created new pieces as a part of their Re-Designed Jewelry Show to benefit the Apparel Design and Merchandising's (ADM) annual spring fashion show, Runway 2010: Nouvelle.

"It's amazing to see what designers can do with a bunch of tangled up old jewelry," biology major and self-proclaimed jewelry fanatic Jackie Parrenas, 22, said. "Their imagination is limitless and you can see that through their new designs. Sometimes, it can even be better than the original."

For the past three weeks, FNA members collected jewelry from students and staff members, as well as thrift stores and local boutiques like Y and I and Ver Unica, to manipulate and re-work into modern and avant-garde pieces.

With a mountain of jewelry in front of them, they went to work.

Flexing her design muscles, FNA Events Coordinator and ADM major Kadee Hilliker, 18, created a collection of trendy headbands by adhering single, unpaired earrings to scraps of fabric, feathers and ribbon wrapped around old headbawnds, producing an entirely different look out of recycled material.

Similarly, FNA member and Hospitality Management major Jamie Edwards, 23, fashioned an original three-tiered necklace by attaching a vintage brooch to several strands of a broken pearl necklace creating a lavaliere and adding a few pieces of artisan ribbon to fasten everything together.

"Everyone loves vintage stuff, so it's really cool to see old vintage pieces updated to a more funky, modern standard," ADM major Tiffany Ngo, 20, said. "Re-design is really challenging and it's a great way for designers to come up with really innovative ways to use old jewelry."

The show's theme of re-working old materials to create something new and more modern mirrors the current organizational changes the FNA is going through.

Previously known as the Student Fashion Association, FNA changed their name to better represent the alumni that they work with, as well as the fashion industry they work for, according to FNA's Public Relations Officer Mindy Trisko.

This semester, the organization assumed a new direction with a fresh set of ideas, including the circulation of a brand new e-publication called "Fashion Files," which will feature current fashion trends, style advice, upcoming industry events and even coupons and job postings.

Continuing the theme, ADM's spring fashion show, Nouvelle, which means "new" in French, will feature more than 30 student designers showcasing original collections of 7-8 pieces or up to 3 individual pieces.

The show will also showcase designs created by children aged 6-13 from Wee Scotty, a sewing facility designed to teach children how to design and sew their own clothes.
Runway 2010: Nouvelle will be held on Thursday, April 22 at the Galleria San Francisco Design Center. Tickets can be purchased online at for $15-$25.

Sensei teaches sword enthusiasts

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On a Sunday morning in San Francisco's Excelsior District, a group of seven people gather in storefront ready and eager to learn. These people come from various backgrounds, are of different ages and work in difference jobs. Among them is a teenager, a middle-aged married couple, a doctor, and a Vietnam veteran. However, one shared factor brings them all together. It's their deep interest in Nipponto, or Japanese swords, and one Sunday each month they congregate in this storefront to learn more about the subject from Harunaka Hoshino, or Sensei (teacher) as his students and many of his acquaintances call him.

This group calls themselves the San Francisco Nipponto Society and Hoshino is the president of the organization. Along with the monthly Sunday meetings, Hoshino also teaches Friday evening classes each week on the subject. His teachings cover everything one would need to know to call themself a sword guru. He covers appraising, restoration and care, buying and collecting, safety, Japanese culture and language and even the Samurai diet.

The class is very well organized but informal. Hoshino comes with an established lesson plan for the day but he often veers off into interesting anecdotes and students chime in with questions and comments. However, Hoshino is prepared with diagrams, photos and a laser pointer used to reference the map of Japan that hangs on the wall.

Still, the cramped urban storefront is as much a mini museum as it is a classroom. Swords of various shape and length are displayed around the storefront. Looking at them is a reminder of how far back Japanese and Asian history as a whole goes. Many of the swords are more than 600 years old.

On one table six different swords are displayed for sale. They range in price from $950 to $6,500.

Like many collectables, knowledge of what you have can mean money. Understanding the value of an item allows the collector to know when to buy and sell and when to pass on a transaction. Knowledgeable collectors are able to buy an item on the cheap from a nieve seller, and then turn around and sell it at a high price. Though the SFNS members are always looking for a good deal, passion seems to be their motivation to learn, more than the opportunity to cash in. In fact, Hoshino and many students wear t-shirts that read, "SFNS: I buy & restore Japanese Swords. I appraise & RESPECT Japanese Sword too!"

Losing money on a sword purchase is much easier than making money. Hoshino stresses the importance of research before making a purchase. "I suggest people study before they buy," he says. "I have saved a lot of people money but sometimes they have already bought a sword when they come to me and it is too late."

Hoshino tells the class the story of a wealthy American businessman he knew who traveled to China and purchased two 40 inch Tachi (curved swords) for $15,000 each. When the man brought the swords to Hoshino, he learned they were not constructed using Japanese swordsmith techniques and the blades were not made from Tama-hagane -- an iron-bearing sand mined in Japan and crucial material in the production of authentic Japanese blades. When asked what was the true value of the swords, Hoshino responds, "About $29.95."

The SFNS website claims that more than 60 percent of the information taught in their classes has never been to exposed to people outside Japan. Hoshino says a person needs to have some understanding of the Japanese language before they can understand Japanese swords.

This importance comes into play when seeking books or other literature on Japanese swords. There are about 11,000 books on the subject written in Japanese but only a few dozen written in English, according to Hoshino. He owns most the English books but many of the pages are marked with red pen, where Hoshino found incorrect information or an inaccurate translations or spellings of Japanese words.

Knowing the Japanese language is even more important when it comes times to appraise a sword. The inscription can provide a wealth of information about the sword but only if it can be read and comprehended. "I am the ichiban [number one] sword appraiser in the U.S. since I can read 99 percent of inscriptions at first glance without using any reference book or text," Hoshino says.

Hoshino was born in Tokyo, Japan but came to the United States in August 1971 as a young adult. He began learning martial arts in the late 1950's and today is a seventh degree black belt in Ken-jitsu and a sixth degree black belt in Karate. The storefront where the SFNS meets is also Hoshino's Dojo, or martial arts school.

The knowledge Hoshino has obtained about Japanese swords has been passed down from teacher to student for generations in Japan. Hoshino studied under Bunzou Yamaguchi, who founded the Minami-Kanuchi Toukoudan, or the Southern Japan Swordsmith Group. Yamaguchi learned from Rin Kobayashi, the former head of the Hon-Kanuchi Toukou-dan, the main swordsmith organization in the Tokyo area. Yamaguchi passed away in 1987, at the age of 73, after undergoing the Yaki-ire process, or fasting prior to constructing a sword.

Hoshino estimates that he owns about 750 swords that are here in the United States. However, back in Japan there is a warehouse containing about 15,000 swords that belong to Hoshino and his Sensai (Yamaguchi). Hoshino is currently working with the Japanese government to negotiate a safe way to ship many of the most unique swords here to San Francisco.

The SFNS was formed in the summer of 1980 by Hoshino, who estimates that about a 1,000 people have been members since that time. Hoshino says there are currently about 30 or 40 members from the Bay Area who pay the $175 annual fee to officially be in the society. Another 850 people from around the United States and 200 from Japan are also members, most of whom pay the membership fee in exchange for Hoshino's teachings.

Hoshino and SFNS members participate in many sword related and Japanese culture events around the Bay Area. They will march in next month's Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival parade. In May, Hoshino will give free sword appraisals at the Crossroads of the West Gunshow at the Cow Palace in Daly City.

Hoshino says his dream is to own a large dojo and an small sword shop and museum here in San Francisco. He points out that such a business would bring tourism revenue to The City, while expanding knowledge of Japanese culture.

"I would like to die as a museum curator," he says. "Right now, my swords are collecting dust but if I open a museum they will be collecting admission fees."

SF State celebrates Persian New Year

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The sounds of traditional Iranian music could be heard in the halls of the Humanities building March 23 in celebration of Norooz, the Persian New Year.

Norooz is a traditional ancient festival that celebrates the start of the Iranian New Year, which falls on March 21. Norooz is officially registered by the United Nations as an International Day and by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as "The Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity." It marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar.

Iranian students and those interested in other cultures came to learn about Persian culture, its history, the music and the current political standing it has with the United States.

The event began with a lecture by Mitra Ara, the founding director of Persian studies at SF State. She spoke about the history of Norooz and how it's believed to date back nearly 3,000 years. The word Norooz translates into "new day." In ancient times, Iranians believed that spirits of their deceased families and friends came to visit their descendants and their homes on this day.

The event was put on by I-House: Education in Action, foreign languages and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies.

"Students more than ever want to have their own identity," Ara said. "Simply having an Iranian student group isn't enough--we represent Afghanistan, Armenia, Uzbekistan."

Norooz is celebrated by people in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and in many other parts of the world.

"We see the Persian cultural aspects first hand," Ara said. "It's all about introducing the community, SF State, to the culture and language."

According to Ara, the Chancellor's office wants to enhance Iranian studies and put aside money for it.

"There's much to be done," Ara said. "I couldn't do any of this without the help of my students."

After the lecture, a movie was shown titled "Iran, Seven Faces of a Civilization," showing the history of Iran and its many contributions to the world such as the first wheel, toys, the development of writing and the dome.

I-House and another group called the Iranian Culture Club, which is now the Iranian Student Organization, has been active at SF State for three years, offering lectures and courses each semester.

"We are trying to find people who will be here and take over the group," 23-year-old group president Shiela Rahimian said. Rahimian will be graduating soon.

"It sounded like an interesting thing," Soraya Okeda, 18, international studies major, said. "I wanted to learn about the Iranian culture. I'm part Iranian so I've been exposed to it but I don't know much. It was an educational experience coming here."

President Obama's recent speech, which addressed Iranians and wished them a happy new year, was also shown at the event. Obama made it clear that there are many differences between Iran and the United States but that he is "prepared to move forward" and "hopeful for the future of Iranians."

"It's a good idea to expose students to Obama's speech," Elisabetta Nelsen, chair of the department of foreign languages, said. "I'm pleased. I really appreciate it and the fact that she (Ara) put on the documentary on Iran--putting it in relation to western civilization. It's useful and very respectful of a tradition."

Swerving van collides with parked motorcycles

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At approximately 3 p.m. March 23, a van going down 19th Avenue collided into four motorcycles parked near the Health and Human Services building as the driver avoided a veering car.

"I was in the right lane, and there was a white Honda Civic that came up from behind and was going to hit me, so I veered right and hit the motorcycles," said Ben Seicler, the van's driver. "I don't know what the insurance is going to do because I didn't get hit, and I feel bad that I f***ed those people's stuff up."

One of the four motorcycles was severely damaged, costing $2,000 to $3,000 in repairs, said its owner Nick Shabazian, an SF State business student.

"I'm pissed because it's a vintage bike from the 1970s, and there's only one guy who can work on it, so I don't know if the insurance is going to cover it," Shabazian said.

The other bikes suffered damages such as leaking gas tanks and cracked handlebars, said Officer Mora of the Department of Public Safety.

"Damages are easily over $1,000," said Mora.

Both Shabazian's bike and Siecler's van were towed from the scene around 4 p.m.

New Chinese program brings overseas opportunities

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This summer, students looking to enhance their Chinese language ability will have an opportunity to improve and receive free trips abroad for immersion and advanced-level training.

The Chinese department on campus has received a federal government grant to start a Chinese-English, English-Chinese translation certificate program that will allow students to study abroad.

The program pays for all expenses including airfare, accommodation and tuition.

"The all-expense-paid (program) is a good idea because this will capture more students who are considering studying abroad for a translation or interpretation major," Cantonese speaker Amanda Wong, 20, said. "I might consider going because not only does it help me further my knowledge and skills in interpreting, but it is also helps those who are having a hard time learning Chinese or English."

Students with an advanced-level proficiency in Chinese and English are eligible to apply.
They are required to take a proficiency test in both languages to get in the program. According to Chris Wen-Chao Li, an associate professor of Chinese, the first summer will be in Taiwan and the second summer "will depend on the status of our negotiations.
If negotiations with China are successful, the cohort will go to China. If not, they will return to Taiwan for advanced courses."

Li added that currently, there is great demand for translators and interpreters in Asia, but it is harder to work exclusively in translation or interpretation in the United States.
Translation and interpretation are skills that come in useful in a number of other professions, such as education, media and business.

Business administration major Hue La said this program will be beneficial to students because it will give them a great opportunity and experience to explore a new environment and rewarding career.

"If I had the chance, I would take advantage of this opportunity because it will be a very valuable experience to put on my resume and a perfect opportunity for me to develop international communication skills," La said.

The program is open to all students regardless of major.

Faculty and students rally at Capitol

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Correction: 100 SF State students boarded the bus to Sacramento this morning, according to Philip Fabian, vice president for the Associated Students, Inc.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--

Approximately 15,000 students and faculty united in front of the state Capitol to protest fee increases and budget cuts.

Buses, provided by the Associated Students, Inc. and the California Faculty Association, left the campus at 7 a.m. with 39 students and nine faculty members. This rally, which follows the statewide Day of Action for education on March 4, focuses on higher education in particular. The goal is to show legislators the importance of all public colleges--from University of California to California State University to Community College.


Video: raw footage from the rally in Sacramento

"They [politicians] need to know we're really concerned," Olivia Jiminez, psychology major, said. Jiminez, who also interns with Project Connect for ASI, wants people to know there is a need to organize.

Many students want to keep the education crisis in the foreground and encourage legislators to act. Nadia Conrad, a 25-year-old political science major, said there is money in California but the priorities remain skewed.

Conrad is part of a student political theater production that includes four large puppets, the "Draculator," who represents the government sucking the money out of schools, a skeleton student, who died before being able to graduate and the "Weeping Woman," who cries for current education crisis.

The production is the brainchild of Carlos Baron, theater arts professor. Baron previewed the production at SF State, for the March 4 rally, and created the idea for the show because he believes the use of "agitation-propaganda" helps in inciting a response.

Deborah Gerson, lecturer for the department of labor studies, feels there is an urgent need to fight for education. "A promise has been made to California, and that promise needs to be fulfilled."

ECO Students prepare for Earth Day

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Members of the Environmentally Concerned Organization of Students (ECO Students) hosted a green-themed bake sale in the quad March 17 that raised nearly $100 for their upcoming Earth Day celebration.

Club members, dressed in their St. Patrick's Day best, asked passersby to contribute whatever they could in exchange for sweet treats ranging from chocolate chip cookies to apple pie.

"A lot of people seem more interested in the club than the baked goods," ECO Students member Ashley Malyszka said.

Members also used the bake sale as an opportunity to gather pledges in support of the SEED Fund, a proposed $5 fee increase that would raise $125,000 annually for student sponsored sustainability projects and events. Although they recognize that fee increases are less then popular at a time when budget cuts are rampant, members are quick to emphasize that the money generated by the fund would be accessible to all SF State students.

"There's just a lot of people who are wary of increased student fees," Malyszka, a senior majoring in environmental studies, said. "It takes a lot of convincing. This is their money, it's available to them."

ECO Students, a chapter of the California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSSC), works to promote environmentally sustainable projects both on and off campus. Their accomplishments include the installation of compost and recycling bins at Café Rosso and in the Cesar Chavez Student Center, as well as three new bins in the Business building. They also recently revitalized a garden located behind Mary Park Hall.

"Six weeks ago it was a rat hole," Adam Hofbauer, a graduate student in the creative writing department, said. "Now it's awesome."

Members hope to gain support for their cause through the Green Gators listserv, an online forum where SF State students can discuss sustainability issues, projects and events such as their upcoming forum on e-waste in developing countries.

"A lot of people don't even know we exist," Malyszka said. "As busy as we are, it's kind of weird to know we haven't reached everyone yet."

ECO Students members, who say they'd like to see more bike parking available on campus, will host Bike to School day on April 22, also known as Earth Day. Students who ride their bikes to school and park on the quad will have access to free food and bike repairs, as well as live music.

"It's become a very multifaceted group," senior and ECO Students Administrative Coordinator Allison Schentrup said. "I got involved because I felt isolated from other people who are willing to take action. There's only so much a person in a building sitting far away can do."

Babes of Bikedance

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Agent Chaos balances in a handstand on a padded milk crate attached to the rear of a tricycle. She opens and closes her legs to the beat, fully exposing her teal pantyhose and black fish nets while leaning on the back of the tricycle driver for support.

Wearing a turquoise t-shirt and fedora hat with black pants and suspenders, Agent DoubleOO transports Chaos through an ensemble of other color-coordinated ladies dancing to electro-rock music in a room packed with cheering people.

Some shimmy in their short skirts, sliding rubber bike tubes across their buns like feather boas, while others spin dowels attached to bike wheels that look like parasols with matching "scraper" tape on the spokes. Chaos dismounts from the tricycle and
almost falls, but catches herself, flips her brown curls out of her bedroom eyes, and smiles coyly at the crowd as though the sequence went exactly as planned.

This all-girl collective of bike-inspired dancers, known as The Bay Area Derailleurs, performs at warehouse parties, fairs, and bicycle-related events. "We're a drill team that's obsessed with bikes," says Derailleurs co- founder Eliza "Agent Chaos" Strack who, at 28, still has the energy, elasticity, and enthusiasm of a 10-year-old gymnast.

The Derailleurs are part of a worldwide, do-it-yourself performance movement called 'bikedance'. Every troupe differs in performance style, but their general mission is the same: to have fun, promote cycling, and empower people to love their bodies and try new things.

Read the complete story from [X]press Magazine.

Gallery hopes to restore landmark

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Don't look now, but isn't that a green couch, a television set and a bed falling out of that building's windows?

Armed with imagination and a sense of drama, San Francisco-based artist Brian Goggin created "Defenestration," a public art installation that coupled the rundown Hugo Hotel on 6th and Howard streets with unwanted furniture, creating one of the city's most talked-about buildings and art pieces. Originally a 6-month-long installation, "Defenestration," a word which means to literally throw a thing or a person out of a window, has weathered the elements for many years.

On March 5, 1:AM Gallery in SOMA hosted Operation Restore Defenestration, an exhibit opening and fundraiser event to help renovate and improve the legendary building. Hundreds of supporters attended in hopes of raising money to beautify and revamp the installation, which celebrated its 13th anniversary this March.

"It is the single most pleasure I have received from public art in San Francisco because it's so whimsical and humorous," San Francisco native Lydia Lower said. "Every time I stop at the light at Howard and 6th Streets, I think, ''Defenestration'. It's still there.'"

The Hugo Hotel, which was previously occupied by survivors of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake before being deemed structurally unfit for occupancy, began its transformation in 1996. With the help of 100 volunteers, a $3,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and $3,000 from his own pocket, Goggin completed his mission to turn a rundown building into an eclectic piece of art.

According to Goggin, it took six months to complete the furniture pieces they needed for the piece before they could be strategically placed outside the hotel for onlookers to admire. The first piece, which was a chest of drawers, was axed off by the San Francisco Fire Department when a woman claimed that the chest was about to fall on her.

Goggin and his team of volunteers, which includes local visual and performing artist Steven Raspa, are looking to raise enough money to restore the furniture and appliances hanging off the Hugo Hotel to their original state, including working lamps that will illuminate the building at night.

"When 'Defenestration' debuted, it was an outpouring of imagination," Raspa said. "It gives locals and visitors a sense of what San Francisco is about. San Francisco is a place where imagination thrives and a place where art lives. We need to support that and keep it going."

"Public art in San Francisco is very important because public art is the only art that is truly accessible to everyone in San Francisco," Mike Farrah, director of San Francisco's Office of Community Services and senior advisor to Mayor Gavin Newsom, said. "People who come to visit San Francisco, they know a little bit more about us, who we are as a people and who we stand for."

While some people, like Doug Diboll, a former San Francisco cab driver, agree that "Defenestration" is a great work of art, they believe the building needs to serve a greater purpose.

"'Defenestration' has outlived its usefulness in my opinion," Diboll, who used to point out the building to his fares, said. "This site needs to be reused for housing for the same people who were displaced in the Loma Prieta earthquake way back in 1989."

The Hugo Hotel will eventually meet its demise as the building has been acquired by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency as of October 2009 to be rebuilt as new housing within the next two years, according to Jeremy Sugerman, Goggin's legal adviser. The hotel is a key element of the SFRA's efforts to improve the South of Market Redevelopment project area.

Lower, who attended the unveiling of "Defenestration" 13 years ago, said she is surprised that the building has stood up for so long, but knows all good things --including this famous art piece-- must come to an end. In the meantime, she is in favor of continuing the restoration of the art piece for people to enjoy.

"There is no money for public housing right now," she said. "Why not make (the building) something that people can appreciate?"

1:AM Gallery will host the Operation Restore Defenestration exhibit, which includes a set of restored coffee tables straight from the building, until April 2.

Budget cuts force student actors to self-promote

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Most people correlate budget cuts to furlough days, fewer sections and higher tuition, but students in the creative arts department, like those involved in SF State's "Fringe Festival," see it as less money available for sets, lights, costumes and publicity.

This annual festival features eight one-act plays--all in one show--written and acted by students. Although it is known as being a "low-tech" production, its lack of budget this year has led to no publicity when in years past it had the traditional posters and fliers around campus.

"We are depending primarily on word-of-mouth," Holly McKay said. McKay is the 25-year-old stage manager and director of two of the plays. "As actors and writers we have to self-promote. That's part of the job."

Due to lack of funding, "Fringe" has been on the theater arts department's financial chopping block before.

"It was actually cancelled in the fall due to budget cuts," said Nick Pappas, who is pursuing a master's degree in playwrighting and is the director of "Fringe." "We thought it was bullshit that they would cancel it, so we brought it back in the spring."

Pappas said that he and Professor Roy Conboy, head of the playwrighting program at SF State, took it upon themselves to sneak under the radar in order to make the show work for all of the students that use it as an outlet for acting and writing.

Other productions, like the current season's "Juliet," are feeling the financial constraints as well. "Juliet" features six women and one man all playing the role of Juliet in Shakespeare's tragic love story. The New York Times recently reported on how the show's costumes and roles had to be scaled down in order to compensate for the lack of money.

And things are worse for smaller productions, like "Fringe."

With the creative arts department hurting all around, "Fringe Festival" has had no luck getting any funding for publicity, leaving many students in the dark about the upcoming shows.

Costello, 21, is a theatre major who agrees with Pappas that their production has been greatly overlooked.

"I feel like although it's on a lower scale and we don't have a budget to work with, it is that much harder to get our messages across," he said. "And there are a lot of great messages."

In efforts to get more people to the show, Costello has made fliers of his own and a Facebook page highlighting all of the plays beginning March 15.

Even without money problems, publicizing can still be difficult on campus considering flyers are not allowed in Cesar Chavez, according to Travis Northup, a sophomore representative for Associated Students, Inc.

"Online is the best way to go," he said.

Since most students may not know about the Facebook page, the actors, writers and directors of "Fringe" are still hoping people hear about their production through the grapevine.

Leah Navarret, 19-year-old graphic design major, is unaware of "Fringe" and most productions held on campus.

"I would consider going if I saw more posters and stuff," she said. "Ever since the budget cuts you don't see publicity about anything and you only hear about stuff through word-of-mouth."

SF State student reflects on Haiti

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Two months ago today, Haiti was devastated by a 7-magnitude earthquake that left hundreds of thousands dead and many more displaced. Unlike the recent earthquake in Chile, this natural disaster hit a country that was not as prepared for the possibility of such an event. Haiti continues to struggle with providing for the survivors.

SF State student and photojournalist Michael Mullady visited Haiti four days after the quake. Below, he tells about his experience documenting the disaster.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti--

Haiti has been like nothing I've ever experienced before. The things I've witnessed, I hope all you reading this, will never have to go through. It's a horrific tragedy. When I first arrived, bodies lined the streets and the smell of death pierced the air. I immediately did what I came to do and began documenting my surroundings. It's challenging, but I believe most photojournalists have to put up a shield when doing this kind of work. You become numb to what you're seeing. It's crazy to think about light and composition when your shooting dead bodies or being shot at in crossfire, but that's the reality of what we do. What I've witnessed will be sure to haunt me. My work takes a huge emotional toll on me and that's something I think most people don't understand.

Day-to-day life in Haiti was a logistical nightmare. Getting anything done was extremely difficult. Often times where I photographed was random, I toured the city via motorcycle and stopped at a location I felt I wanted to document.


[X]press: How did you end up in Haiti?
Michael Mullady: I was planning my trip to South America. I had been saving my earnings from freelancing and was financially ready to leave the country to work on more serious projects. I subletted my room in San Francisco January 1st and was basically killing time till until my flight date mid-month. When the earthquake happened in Haiti, naturally as a photojournalist my first instinct was to go there. I was a little hesitant but the more I talked with mentors and friends, I decided to go. The timing was right for me; mentally, physically and financially. I had nothing holding me back so I went for it, with the clothes on my back, my camera and a few camping supplies (food, tent, water purification system, etc.) Within 24 hours of my decision, I went from my living room to the the tarmac at the Port-au-Prince airport.


[X]: Looking back, have your feelings changed about any of the photographs?
MM: No. The process of decompressing has only begun. I think within the next few months, I will be able to fully understand the situation and look at the images. When I look back at my work, there is always the possibility that my feelings might change, but with most work it's unpredictable. In the immediate sense, my feeling towards the images I was capturing was changing rapidly as I worked. At times, scenes were very graphic and many images I captured will never see anything but my hard drive. I took the pictures but changed my feelings towards showing the images. I believe while death was a harsh reality of Haiti's situation, it can be shown in a dignified and subtle way.


[X]: Can you give us any thoughts about that were the atmosphere like with the amount of media attention the disaster received?
MM:Media from all over the world were on the ground. At times it was a bit overwhelming. But with the caliber of the earthquake's destruction, it seems natural that every media outlet would have correspondents on the ground. There was no main concentration of journalists in one place while working, so it seemed like due to the caliber of the situation there were numerous stories that needed to get out. On the other hand it was surreal to see many of the photographers I admire working in field.


[X]: Did you experience any moments of fear?
MM: In general, I felt incredibly safe in Haiti. Many of the seasoned journalists who had experience in Haiti also mentioned that it was the safest they had ever felt in Haiti. I did however experience moments of fear. Covering the looting which was happening downtown was very difficult to do. It was a particularly chaotic situation. The energy level was extremely high and the people were desperate. The police were firing at the people. They are corrupt. I can still hear the sound of gunshots ringing in my mind. There was no real safe place to be. It was a very new situation for me to be working in. One I have never experienced or could have ever been prepared for. The process of making images during that time was very instinctual. I believe overcoming our fears is vital to our progression as journalists. The motorcycle rides ripping through traffic were more fun than fear, but without a helmet you just have to cross your fingers.


[X]: Did you witness any moments of hope or relief?
MM: Few are far in between. From the time I entered Haiti and the time I departed, I had seen a significant change. I did witness aid supplies getting passed out but it was few and far in between. I visited many of the tent cities that sprawled up around the city; some had food distribution systems intact and were supplying people with basic goods (rice, beans, water, etc.)I believe it is going to take months upon years to fill the needs of the nation.


Read another SF State student's account of the Chile's earthquake on Feb. 27.

SF State student tells of Chile's quake

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At 6:39 a.m. this morning, Chile experienced the strongest aftershock from the 8.8-magnitude earthquake on Feb. 27, according to the United States Geographic Society. The aftershock had a magnitude of 6.9. SF State student McKenzie Muscat was in Santiago when the first quake hit Chile. Below is her first hand account of her experience.

SANTIAGO, Chile--

While I was relaxing with a glass of wine and dancing to the sounds of the guitar that a friend picked up and began to play, Santiago, Chile experienced the sixth largest earthquake in history. Suddenly, all of the lights went out and the whole house began to sway from side to side, causing everything to fall from the walls, shelves and tables. It took a second to register what was going on, but once someone yelled "Temblor! Fuerte el temblor... vamos afuera!" the panic began. The shaking was so strong that it was difficult to get one's footing to move to a doorway, hallway or somewhere safe. After our group of friends made it outside of the pitch-black house, I was talking with someone as he was trying to call home and check on his parents. Within a second of him taking the phone out of his pocket, someone ran by, grabbed the cell phone out of his hand and continued running. The rest of the group was attempting to call their families and friends but reception was basically nonexistent: the lack of communication made everyone a little nervous.

Taxis were impossible to flag down so about a half hour after the earth started shaking, I joined the sea of people walking through the streets to check on the state of my apartment. Streetlights were shattered, the ground was full of rubble, windows were broken and the sound of sirens was nonstop. Everyone was expecting a long night cuddled up in blankets outside of their homes in case another earthquake were to follow. While walking through the city the following day, the experience of the earthquake was more apparent in the attitudes of the people and the chaos in the air rather than the damage that had been done to buildings. Every business was closed. ATM machines were out of money. There was no telephone and no internet reception. The news was full of images of where the earthquake hit the hardest, Concepción, a town about 200 miles south of Chile's capital. In Santiago, we are becoming accustomed to the strong aftershocks that occur frequently though we have not become accustomed to the horrifying images of damage done from the earthquake and tsunamis that continue to overwhelm the coast of Chile.

Though this is a very hard time for everyone in Chile, the spirit of the capital city is stronger than ever. I receive numerous Facebook messages and emails daily that strive to organize groups of volunteers to help out down south, collect clothing and supplies, or generate new ideas to keep the efforts to help ongoing. Thousands of homes have been destroyed and hundreds of people have died. Chileans have a long road ahead of them but are more than enthusiastic to come together and rebuild the country to be stronger and prouder than before.

Dave Eggers speaks at SF State

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Dave Eggers, author and publisher of the experimental publication San Francisco Panorama, will discuss the future of newspapers with others from the print industry at SF State tonight.

Panorama, a 320-page publication with a newspaper, magazine and book review section, includes work by several prominent writers, reporting on topics varying from NASCAR to home foreclosures to the Bay Bridge.

Released in December 2009 by McSweeney's, the publishing house founded by Eggers, Panorama sought to assert print's importance in an increasingly internet-driven news business.

The newspaper, fully printed in color and with its newspaper measuring 15 inches by 22 inches, was "huge and luxurious," allowing designers to creatively realize the format's potential, according to McSweeney's press release.

Phil Bronstein, editor-at-large of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Panorama contributing editor Oscar Villalon will join Eggers to talk about why they believe the publication could be a model for the future of the newspaper industry in McKenna Theater at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. The event is co-sponsored by the SF State Journalism Department and City Arts & Lectures.

Come back to view our twitter stream of the event.

Thumbnail photo of San Francisco Panorama taken by Steve Rhodes.

March 4 rally falls flat, SF State students say

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The events on campus March 4, intended to send a message of fiscal responsibility to the state, left students ambivalent about the message it was sending.

"It was a little successful," Tyese Welch, a sophomore anthropology student said. "It got the point out that people don't have classes, but I don't know if it helped to protest on a day that some teachers furloughed."

Freshman environmental studies student, Joycelyn Tran found the protests to be distracting. "In a way it was ridiculous because they're taking time from students to protest the budget cuts," she said, referencing the protestors pulling a fire alarm in the creative arts building.

A picket line held at 19th and Holloway avenues by the California Faculty Association was accompanied by many of the student university groups, which disagreed on the appropriate means of protesting. Groups such as the Black Student Union, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanalo de Aztlàn and Improving Dreams Equity Access and Success left the sidewalk at the top of campus to intentionally block traffic on 19th Avenue and were re-directed back to the curb by the Department of Public Safety and the San Francisco Police Department.

"In a way it's cool because they're fighting for us," said Fernando Padilla, a senior visual communications student who could attend the protests because budget cuts prevented him from getting a Thursday class. "But as long as they're responsible for their actions."

As the protestors moved towards Malcom X Plaza, one student climbed on top of the business building's awning and unfurled a banner proclaiming the building as the Oscar Grant memorial hall. Budget protestors paused temporarily and cheered for the unrelated cause before heading onwards to a teach-in that had been relocated without their knowledge.

Students shared their travails openly at the plaza as a replacement to the teach-in that never came. Shortly after, the group of nearly 150 protestors picked-up according to schedule and headed towards City Hall to show their disagreements with past and present educational financing.

"It was the first time for me to protest budget cuts and it was fun to see everyone so unified; at one point they said there were 4,000 people," Miranda Cohen, freshman international business student, said. "I hope politicians in Sacramento realize we're serious and know we want change, I hope they can do something."

People rally to take back education

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Thousands filled the square in front of City Hall March 4 to demonstrate they'd had enough with cuts to the state's education system.

Students, teachers, parents and their children joined with activists and labor unions to demonstrate. Similar rallies took place at Sacramento and Los Angeles. In San Francisco, organizers estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 were in attendance.

The rally came in the wake of the San Francisco Unified School District's approval to send more than 900 pink slips to employees city-wide. However, not all employees who received pink slips are losing their jobs. For many, the rally represented the beginning of a burgeoning movement to take back education.

"There's a real energy here that we haven't seen in a long time," said Marc Lispi, a teacher at Berkeley City College who is part of an organization called AgainstCuts.org.

According to Lipsi, it's important that students and faculty come together to fight the education crisis. "The idea is that they're not alone, they're organized. They're coming together," he said. "It has to be a social movement, otherwise we lose."

Students and teachers from all over the Bay Area spoke at the event, but it was clear that politicians were not welcome. Although Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi were in the crowd, the organizers did not allow them to take the stage and speak, according to United Educators of San Francisco President Dennis Kelly.

"I think the next step will be electorally," said Kelly. "The message has to go to them that we are serious."



Protesters on March 4 headed to Civic Center to rally against statewide educational budget cuts. Video shot and produced by Kelly Mahan.

Many children had their first taste of activism at the rally. Children led chants of "What do we want? Education! When do we want it? Now!" in front of the Civic Center's steps. Perched on their parents shoulders, many held handmade signs saying "We are Your Future" while their parents carried signs asking why more money was spent per prisoner than per student in California.

"We had to provide something that anyone can come to," said Lipsi, adding that 5 p.m. was the perfect time for the rally because schools were out and teachers were off work

Before the rally started, a high school marching band fueled the energy of those assembling. Kelly, the speaker for the event, introduced all of the schools in attendance, from local high schools to Bay Area universities. People from each high school were grouped together and jumped wildly when the name of their school was called.

The announcement that 4,000 people had arrived from the Mission inspired a frenzy of applause as the crowd looked south to see a mass of people that stretched down blocks coming to join the rally. Thousands of parents, teachers and families made the march to show solidarity.

"I'm overwhelmed," SF State student Megan Newton-Gill said. The 22-year-old liberal studies major said she couldn't believe how many people showed up to support education, but voiced skepticism that the passion would last.

"People get really excited about coming to rallies and holding up signs," she said. "I just hope it goes further."

Toward the end of the rally, the parents and children returned home but many high school and college students stayed and danced to popular songs that were modified with protest lyrics.

Picketers disagree on methods

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An estimated crowd of nearly 150 people spilled into the streets at 19th and Holloway avenues, blocking the intersection for approximately 10 minutes while the California Faculty Association held a peaceful informational picket line on the sidewalk.

The CFA organized picket line began at 10 a.m. and drew a variety of faculty, staff and student groups, including members of the California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) and the Academic Professionals of California.

At around 11:20 a.m., a large group of protesters, armed with signs, banners and drums, marched from the Caesar Chavez Student Center to the site of the picket line, where they entered the crosswalk at 19th Avenue, blocking traffic.

Officers from the Department of Public Safety and the San Francisco Police Department, some carrying riot gear, quickly cleared people from the crosswalk and ordered them to return to the sidewalks.

CFA organizers, who had issued a statement of non-violent, peaceful protest for the event, urged the group to clear the street. A CFA representative said the group who marched into traffic was not a part of the organized picket line.

"Students are angry and upset," said Sheila Tully, vice president of the executive board for the SF State CFA and an SF State lecturer. "They're exercising their free speech rights, but what I've told some of them is that when they do things like (block the street) the tactic becomes the news story and you lose the message."

Some students who spilled into the crosswalk on 19th Avenue identified themselves as members of various organizations, including the Black Student Union, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanalo de Aztlàn (MECha) and Improving Dreams Equity Access and Success (IDEAS), but declined to give their names. They weaved between cars waving banners and signs calling for an end to budget cuts.

A number of students involved in the CFA picket line said they were wary of the methods others have used to voice their frustration with the cuts.

"I'm happy to see the teachers get involved, but I'm worried about the aggression level," said Jen Torrence, 20, a political science major. "I don't want to see anyone get hurt."

Organizers of the picket line designated specific individuals, such as 19-year-old freshman, Jordan Royales, to monitor the crowd for evidence of violence.

"I think there are more civil ways to approach it," Royales said in regards to graffiti allegedly left by student protesters on the student center around 12:30 a.m.

Members of the CFA, CSUEU and numerous students marched in a circle stretching from the corner of Holloway Avenue to the HSS building with picket signs that read, "Bail out students not banks," "Lecturers pay is not equal to a living wage," and "Fund education not war." Picketers chanted slogans such as, "They say furlough, we say hell no!" As well as "Whose university? Our university!"

Students Faculty Staff United (SFSUnited) stood by holding a banner, which read "Shut it Down like '68" referring to the organization's call for students and faculty to strike.

Philip M. Klasky, a member of the SF State CFA Executive Board and an American Indian studies lecturer, estimated the crowd to be between 250 to 300 people.

Not all students on campus, however, were interested in supporting the various forms of protest on campus. Jonathan Smallwood, 25, a liberal studies major was leaving campus when the picket line began and would not be participating in any of the days events.

"Instead of protesting the negatives they should get involved," Smallwood said. "Get into committees that can work at ways to try and change the problems instead of trying to bash the government all the time."

The informational picket line was only the first of a series of events planned for the day by the CFA, which will culminate in a rally at the Civic Center in downtown San Francisco.

"We wanted to express to the public on 19th Avenue that these budget cuts are unacceptable," said Ann Robertson, a lecturer in the philosophy department and an executive board member for the CFA who was among the group of picketers.

"Forty thousands students were shut out of the CSU system this past year, 30 percent of faculty and staff have been laid off and furloughed and class size is much too big," Robertson said over the honks of passing cars and trucks. "We want to tell the politicians that funding education is one of the most important things that have to be implemented, because giving people a quality education is the best way to stimulate the economy."

At 12:15 p.m., a crowd of students from the theatre arts department, led by a tuba player and papier-måché puppets, marched up Holloway Avenue to meet with the picket line. The group then proceeded toward Malcolm X Plaza, where political theater and spoken word were set to begin at 12:30 p.m..

As the group passed the Business building, a number of students who were gathered at the entrance watched as a girl climbed onto the front awning and unfurled a banner reading: "Oscar Grant Memorial Hall - Todos Somos," along with a portrait of Grant.

A girl declared, "This is the Oscar Grant Memorial Hall, ya'll, this is not the Business building anymore," over a bullhorn, which brought cheers from the crowd gathered in front of the building. An organizer for the unveiling, who asked not to be named, said the action was a follow-up to the symbolic gesture made by Business building occupiers last December.

Despite the brief interruption caused by the unveiling, the picketers proceeded to pack into Malcolm X Plaza for a planned rally and teach-in.

Russell Kilday-Hicks, vice president for representation of the CSUEU brought his 9-year-old son with him to the picket line, pulling him out of school for the day.

"It's more important than him being in school. This is a part of his education," said Kilday-Hicks, a SF State alumnus himself.

"This is a long fight," Kilday-Hicks said. "It isn't about March 4, it's about March 5. What are we going to do tomorrow?"

SF State's day of action

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Early this morning, SF State students, faculty and staff picketed on 19th and Holloway avenues in protest of the recent budget cuts to higher education.

At 11:20 a.m., a large crowd of people flooded onto 19th Avenue for approximately 10 minutes to voice their dissent about the education crisis.

Later in the day, protesters marched around campus with a stereo, carrying signs and dancing through school buildings. Click play to watch a video of the dancers going through SF State's Fine Arts Building.

Protesters traveled from SF State to 24th and Mission streets to continue their rally, eventually marching up to Civic Center.

Once the march ended at Civic Center, speakers from schools and unions spoke out against educational budget cuts.

Students kick off March 4 early

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Chronology of Protest Party
9:30 p.m.: approximately 30 people gathered in Malcolm X Plaza and began a party in protest of budget cuts

10:00 p.m.: partygoers made their way through Cesar Chavez Student Center, past the Ethnic Studies building and toward the Humanities building

10:08 p.m.: participants moved into buildings B and C in the Village at Centennial Square, located on campus, to gather more students

10:17 p.m.: they attempted to enter the Towers at Centennial Square, but were unsuccessful

10:31 p.m.: people danced through traffic on Lake Merced Boulevard

11:20 p.m.: the group grew to approximately 200 people

12:15 a.m.: participants attempted to storm and barricade Burk Hall

12:23 a.m.: others climbed onto the roof of the student union and danced, graffiti appeared and a pair of students introduced firecrackers to the party

1:50 a.m.: the demonstration ended

In the early morning hours of March 4 people attending a party to gear up for protests later in the day stormed Burk Hall in what appeared to be an attempted takeover of the building.

At 12:15 a.m., some partygoers broke off from the larger group of students moving around campus to set up barricades in Burk Hall. They were removed within minutes as the protesters lost interest and moved on toward the Cesar Chavez Student Center.

The dance party, which stared around 9:30 p.m. on March 3, was organized by students to encourage participation in statewide rallies in support of public education, which has been hard hit by state budget cuts.

The party travelled as far as Lake Merced Boulevard and gathered crowds ranging from 30 to 200 participants.

"I could hear it on the fourth floor in Thornton Hall," senior Chantelle Icaza said as she walked through Malcolm X Plaza, where the party started, on her way home from class.

After moving through on-campus housing and around Lake Merced Boulevard, the party stopped between Burk Hall and the student center as participants went from walking to dancing. A number of students stripped off their shirts before climbing onto the student center to get more dancing space.

"I was set back an entire year of study because of the budget cuts," marine biology student Mike Ebelher, 21, said as he took a break from dancing.

Meanwhile, one person was spotted spray painting "This is the life" across three panels above Jessie's Hot House and Carmelina La Petite. The slogan was also spotted on the walkway between the student center and Burk Hall and on the Fine Arts building.

An individual was taken away in relation to the graffiti, although it is currently unknown whether he is being charged with vandalism or not.

Firecrackers were also set off during the party, with a small bottle rocket sent into the crowd by two men near stairs above the student center. Partygoers were unfazed by the distraction.

However, not everyone thought the demonstration was beneficial to students.

"It's counterproductive," Jewel Bucahanan-Boone, 18, said. "Why would you have a pre-protest for a protest that's going to happen tomorrow and disrupt people's studying in the first place, for the classes they can barely get into in the first place."

Other onlookers echoed the sentiment as well while adding that the party had lost its vision.

"While I'd like to support citizens' freedom of speech, this has turned into a glorified party doing more hard to our school's image than demonstrate our solidarity against budget cuts," communications major Winston Parsons said.

"I don't think it's going to accomplish anything," business major Frank Kermani said.

At 1:50 a.m. the dancing stopped as swiftly as it began. In a matter of minutes, the few remaining supporters and the sound system supporting them rolled off into the night with a little help from a small group of students.

Statewide preparation begins

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On March 4, protests in support of public education from the kindergarten to graduate levels are expected to rock the state with SF State students, staff and faculty making up one of the 23 California State Universities participating in the action.

According to the California Faculty Association, more than 800 students and faculty members met at University of California Berkeley from all over California last fall. Together they chose March 4 as a unified day of action for this semester.

"I think the protest will be more proactive then reactive," said Nick Occhipinti, a member of Students Faculty Staff United who has helped by distributing fliers in Malcolm X Plaza to promote the event.

"I feel the government has a lot of fixing to do," said the political science graduate student.

On campus there will be a "political theater and spoken word" performance in Malcolm X Plaza to support the march. Many organizations on campus are also voicing their support for the rally.

"We have struggled with solidarity and low participation recently, but this march is a great example of how solidarity unites the community towards a common cause," Jasmine Neri, president of the Pacific Islander Club, said.

According to Neri, some of the group's members will be participating in events individually, although nothing has been coordinated for the Pacific Islander Club to participate.

In the CSU system, all 23 campuses have shown signs of participation. Marches, rallies, walkouts and other regional actions will be taking place all over California.

Senior Julie Bonham, 21, will be attending a rally on campus at California State University Long Beach, where she attends classes.

"I don't know of a student who isn't getting involved in the rally. Our school is also taking buses to Long Beach Wilson High School to rally there," Bonham said. "I wish we lived in Sacramento so we could rally at the capitol."

Many CSU campuses have also highlighted regional events around universities such as CSU Northridge, which will be part of a march in the San Fernando Valley region and the rally in San Francisco at Civic Center.

CSU East Bay, Sonoma State and CSU Monterey are doing campus walkouts to get their students involved.

"I have decided to join the majority of my rugby team and drive to Sacramento to rally," said San Jose State University senior Garvey Shupe. "I think it will make a better impact to be there instead of at San Jose City Hall."

Gov. Schwarzenegger's office in Los Angeles will be experiencing some action from CSU Fullerton as they march by as well.

Meanwhile, students, faculty and staff at CSU San Marcos are planning a "teach-in" to educate students about the budget.

"We're having classrooms open for students to sit-in while they are taught about what is going on with our funds," Don Barrett, an organizer for March 4 at CSU San Marcos, said.

Organizers plan to have 500 silhouettes placed on campus with fact sheets on the budget as well.

San Diego State is hosting a "Vent at the Tent" event that will include video testimonials from students and staff that have been personally affected from the cuts. They will also have a "scoreboard" showing the loss of students, teachers and classes at SDSU due to budget cuts.

"It should make a huge impact on everyone who sees it," Nikki Stivers, a senior at SDSU, said. "It's about time we make an impact, this has been going on long enough."

Sacramento State University will be hosting the most critical event on March 4 --the rally on the steps of the State Capitol. Chico State University and the California Maritime Academy are planning on joining Sacramento State for this event.

Chico State students will be busing to the rally at the State Capitol.

"Tons of people are really excited for this. It's a field trip with a purpose," Chico State senior Cody Allen said.


State prepares for higher education rally

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A statewide strike is set to begin on March 4 with participants from Los Angeles to the steps of the state capitol. The statewide Day of Action will address the cuts made to public education in California.

The Sacramento State Capitol rally is set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the north steps of the capitol.

"Working to protect and increase academic achievement for all students has always been a priority for the Governor and in the face of a $20 billion deficit, his budget proposal fully funds education at the same levels as last year," spokesperson Mike Naple said. " He supports the students' right to engage in peaceful demonstrations and voice their opinions on issues that are important to them."

Teachers, students, parents, and concerned citizens are going to participate in the various strikes and walkouts around California.

"It's commendable and hopefully drives home this message: that we can no longer cut education," Adam Keigwin, Chief of Staff of Senator Leland Yee said. "I suspect people will be very passionate about their position. Being passionate and vocal is helpful--Senator Yee commends those that do it that way."

Five UC students were arrested on March 1 at the state capitol during a protest relating to the education cuts.

"However, when it comes to cuts, let me make one point very clear: Our state, our economy and our future is so dependent on education that, as far as I'm concerned, we must protect education," Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said in his January 8 budget speech. "For K-14, my budget fully funds the Proposition 98 guarantee, which is $50 billion. It also maintains the same level of funding for schools next year as we had this year. For higher education, my budget is funding a $225 million increase. It is my hope that with this funding level we can avoid any further fee increases."

On January 6, the Governor "submitted draft legislative language to Legislative Counsel, taking the first step to asking the legislature to reshape California's priorities and ensure the University of California and California State University systems are always funded at higher levels than prisons," according to the Governor's State of the State proposal.

To reach the Governor's goal, the amendment will require the state to begin shifting all taxpayer money deducted from the costs of operating state prisons to the budget to operate higher education beginning in the 2011-12 fiscal year, culminating with the final deadline to implement the initiative in fiscal year 2014-15. Under the proposal, the amount to shift to higher education will be determined by computing the difference between the current year's general fund budget and the prior year's general fund budget for the state prison system, according to the Governor's proposed constitutional amendment, as part of his 2010 State of the State Address.

The Governor's 2010-2011 budget proposal includes: Increasing flexibility to ensure California's students have the most effective teachers, giving school districts 60 days to determine staffing after the budget is adopted or amended, giving power back to local governing boards to ensure high-quality educators are teaching California's students, and eliminating regulations giving laid off teachers first priority for substitute assignments and that these substitutes be paid at rate received before they were laid off.

A $66 million cut was made to the CSU alone last year.

Students slice into forgotten art

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On a rainy Sunday afternoon in the hills overlooking San Francisco's Mission district, seven men gathered to try their hands at the "lost art of butchery."

Patiently tucked away in the rear dining hall of Avedano's Meats, the men kindly introduced themselves as they waited for the arrival of their instructor, making their intentions clear.

"I'm here to learn how to cut up meat," said San Francisco resident and prospective butcher Bradley Harger. "My ambition is to go hunt a pig and be able to take care of it."

Harger, like many of his fellow students, was introduced to this course through his friends and family.

"My wife turned me onto it as a Christmas present," Harger explained, "but it always been something I've wanted to try."

Butchery For Adults, as the course is described on the market's website, is a four-hour crash course in carving taught by 26-year-old head butcher and the owner of Avedano's Meat, Tia Harrison.

"I've been teaching this class for about a year and a half," Harrison said, "and I like to see my students walk away with a better understanding of what they're eating."

Though the class offers only a brief glimpse into the world of a professional butcher, it is certainly not for those with weak stomachs.

The course focuses on the preparation and processing of suckling pig and a fully-grown lamb. The students are given a formidable introduction to the basic tools and are given the opportunity to butcher the animals into their respective cuts of meat.

"There's been a resurgence in people wanting to get closer to their food," Harrison said. "I think this class gives people a chance to feel like they're a part of the process that goes into it, something I think we've lost in the in super market age."

Each student who participates in Harrison's class typically walks away with $100 worth of pork and lamb.

"It's a great experience to be able to go home with meat you prepared yourself," said student butcher Eric Boeing, "I've cut up chicken and duck at home before but I'm looking forward to a bigger challenge next time."

Muni riders and drivers unite to protest cuts

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Patrons and employees of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency collided Monday evening as they marched down Market Street to protest fare increases and service cuts.

The protest was planned two weeks ago when the SFMTA board was discussing possible fare increases and service cuts to close a $12.1 million budget deficit, according to the group's organizer Jared Roussel. The demonstration comes in the wake of a 10 percent service cut voted on by the board on Feb. 26. In that same meeting, the board had to back down from approving fare increases for seniors, youths and persons with disabilities due to public outcry.

The demonstration was organized by a transit rider's group, called March Against Muni, to voice their frustration over route cuts, fare increases, overcrowding on buses and light rail vehicles and delays. Beginning at the Powell Street cable car turnaround, hundreds of people gathered with signs and continued down Market Street all the way to City Hall. They also briefly stopped outside of the SFMTA building on Van Ness and Market streets to protest.

"We're not going to pay more money for less service, it's just not going to happen!" Roussel shouted into a megaphone outside of Powell station near the trolley cars. Roussel said he hopes people will ride the transit system as little as possible during the month of March and called for a boycott.

People on the sidewalk displayed large signs resembling SFMTA's monthly pass altered with the group's message. Some of the signs read "Rude Drivers," or "Overcrowded Buses."

Along with the riders, members of the Transport Workers Union also joined in. They chanted "Stop attacking labor!" in response to the signs that alleged some drivers were less than friendly.

Irwin Lum, president of the TWU repeated the message he had for the SFMTA board when he spoke at their meeting on Feb. 26: it's not the union's fault that there is a deficit and that he tried to work with the agency.

"It's easy to play the blame game," Lum said. "We were willing to come sit at the table."

The blending of two groups protesting the SFMTA's recent decisions created some confusion on the steps of City Hall as leaders from both groups, armed with megaphones, shouted messages that for the most part agreed, but at times seemed to attack one another.

"We feel like we're being disrespected," Roussel said of his and others' experiences with bus drivers and railway operators. Roussel's comment drew boos from many of the union members present who then began to shout, "Stop blaming the operators!"

"We think that the unions have started to milk some overtime pay," Roussel said after the protest had ended. Despite this, he added that he was happy the union showed up to voice its concerns.

Larry Williamson, 46, moved back to San Francisco six months ago and has been frustrated because fares have increased. He believes some drivers need to be held accountable. "I mean I agree with a lot of what they're saying, but a lot of the drivers are rude and they say that it's not their fault," he said

Hedy Griffin, who drives the 22 line and the "dreaded" 14, feels sympathy for people who have bad experiences with drivers. "There are bad apples in every bunch," Griffin replied. "So I understand. I do believe this is a wake-up call for all of us."

The SFMTA board meets again Mar. 2 to reconvene the meeting from Feb. 26, but also to discuss the severe budget deficit facing the system for the next fiscal year.

SF State to give high school students college credit

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The San Francisco Board of Education unanimously voted in favor of implementing ethnic studies curriculum in public high schools on Feb. 23.

The resolution was approved as a pilot program for one year and 250 high school students will be able to receive six units of college credit from SF State for their participation. Students will take classes in their high schools as part of the regular curriculum.

SF State's ethnic studies department collaborated closely with the San Francisco Unified School District, according to dean of ethnic studies Kenneth Monteiro.
Monteiro said that Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, a professor of Asian American studies, worked closely with the school district to design the curriculum as a part of her professional development.

SF State's contribution to the program is valued at more than $450,000. The University, however, will not be giving any money to the school district. The figure, instead, comes from the equivalent value of units that high school students will receive, advisement from the college of ethnic studies and support from students in the department.

Both SF State and the school district face severe budget cuts, and while the school district will be spending more money to implement the program, the University will not be bearing any of the costs.

"I didn't realize the value either," Monteiro said. "They took the value of everything that went into the project and gave it a dollar value. We're doing something that we do anyway, and that's teaching."

Monteiro said that SF State will not be paying any money toward the implementation of the program. Instead, the dollar amount related to the University's contributions is based on the value of the work that university faculty and students will be doing as a part of their regular work.

The school district's cost to implement the program is $222,000, despite news that the district is facing a $113 million budget shortfall.

Even before the final vote took place, it was evident that passage was likely because every board member expressed strong support for the pilot program.

"This is just a catalyst," Commissioner Kim-Shree Maufas said. "I'm just grateful that we are beginning that catalyst."

Maufas co-sponsored the resolution with Board President Jane Kim and Commissioner Sandra Lee Fewer. The resolution cites the 40th Anniversary of the creation of the ethnic studies program at SF State and the importance of students learning about their culture.

Superintendent Carlos Garcia voiced his support for the program, but had a sober assessment of the financial situation the school district faces.

"Yes we're supporting this, but we're cutting some," Garcia said. "We're just beginning this long road of devastation. Keep in mind there's a lot of peoples' lives who are going to be affected."

The mood was not dampened by Garcia's allusion to the budget woes, however, as the resolution's supporters --teachers, students and board members alike-- voiced strong support and said that they hoped this program will spread to other school districts.

"This is really difficult because from a fiscal standpoint, we need to be responsible, but from an academic standpoint we need to be responsible as well," Vice President Hydra Mendoza said during the board's discussion, but added, "I think ethnic studies is very responsible."

Loud applause erupted from the audience when the final vote was tallied and chants of "Si se puede," could be heard throughout the room. Public comment, all of which was in support of the program, lasted more than an hour before the board voted on the resolution.

"Three years ago, there was a storm on the horizon," said high school teacher Kyle Beckham during public comment. "We are not going to let our students drown, we are not going to cut them loose." Beckham, 29, teaches 10th through 12th grade at Downtown High school.

Board President Jane Kim told a story before closing the board's comment and commencing the vote.

"I was actually the first person to enroll as an Asian American studies major," Kim said. "I attribute where I am today because of 16 years ago."

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