May 2010 Archives

Students brace for lack of jobs

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As students graduate from SF State, they'll be setting their sights on entering the real world and getting on the path toward finding a "real job."

But, as the nation struggles with high unemployment rates, new graduates will not only be competing with their peers, but with a higher qualified unemployed force.

San Francisco is currently burdened with a 10.3 percent unemployment rate. As numerous companies order massive layoffs and pay reductions, recent college graduates are turning to alternative measures for finding employment such as continuing to work positions already held or promotions based on higher education.

While some students will go on to find jobs in their field of study, kick-starting their career, others will continue working jobs they already have while pursuing a higher degree.

Josh Boado, 25, has just completed his degree in kinesiology and currently works at the utilities commission.

He says he will continue to search for a job related to his major, but is not worried because he hopes to attend UCSF soon to major in Physical Therapy.

David Kharade also came back to school to help advance his chances of a promotion by receiving a Masters in Business Administration.

He works in the IT industry and has a contract he must complete before he is considered for a promotion. Because his company helped finance his education, he feels certain he will be moving up.

According to Alan Fisk, acting director of the Student Career Center, the Spring Career Expo attracts over 100 employers in a "good economy." Although only 64 employers attended this year's expo, it is a slight increase from last year's attendance of 55.

Fisk says employers have expressed their desire to increase hiring. He adds that the slight increase in attendance at the expo is a sign of the economy picking up.

Although students will be competing with an experienced crowd, Fisk says finding a job is all up to the student.

"Students are finding jobs, but it may take them a little longer." He encourages networking,
volunteering and interning at organizations to get started.

Hiu Vo, 25, who just completed a degree in civil engineering, says internships in his field are harder to find compared to two years ago.

He doesn't have a job lined up in his major and says the industry is "still much worse than compared to other fields." Currently he has a job with a bank and will continue working until he lands a job in his field.

On the other hand, Channing Colbert went to a number of networking seminars and was advised to learn as much as possible about her workplace.

For the past five years, she has worked at a restaurant and has been promoted to supervisor.

And with a degree in hospitality management and a minor in business administration, she is hoping her strategy toward getting a higher education will help her move "up the ranks" and that her job recognizes her achievements.

Jessie Delman is being "realistic" about job prospects. She says with a degree in Political Science, she doesn't hope to use it to specifically gain a job related to her subject.

"A bachelor's is a gateway to the next step," she said, although Delman still feels it doesn't guarantee anything. She currently works as a nanny, but hopes to eventually work with a non-profit organization.

She is not worried though, and hopes to start looking for a job as soon as finals and graduationis over. "We'll see what happens."

Genetic testing to personalize treatment

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SF State will host its third annual one-day conference where scientists, educators, and health industry professionals will be able to share their new advancements in medical care.

This year's conference, "Personalized Medicine 3.0-- Targeting Cancer," will be held on May 25 and will focus on the application of genomic data to ensure that each unique patient is receiving the right treatments and preventive measures at the right time.

"There is subtle genetic variation that influence how drugs are metabolized," said Dr. Michael Goldman, professor and chair of the biology department. "If you can figure out what's genetically different, you could do a simple blood DNA test to tell if you're genotype A or B, so if you're A, you get drug A, et cetera."

Considering that some of the best medicines in the world only work for half of the people who take them, genetic variation allows medicine to be tweaked and personalized for each individual.

DNA tests will allow doctors to find out if family members, whose family history, for example, includes diabetes, are at risk and how to help prevent or treat it.

This is called pharmacogenomics-- seeing how likely we are to get a disease and change our lifestyle appropriately.

The conference will concentrate on cancer therapy and how some people respond to drugs for their tumors differently.

"This can let people target cancer therapies a lot better than they do now," Goldman said.

By using pharmacogenomics, researchers can characterize the tumors genetically to see the prognosis and decide whether to treat it or leave it alone. This allows them to do a refined diagnosis.

"Last year one of our panel discussions was concentrated around cancer and it was a good pushing off point," Goldman said. "I think cancer is a big part of medicine and personalized medicine. A lot of companies specialize in cancer therapy so it kind of makes sense."

One general misconception surrounding personalized medicine is that it creates one drug made for one specific individual. According to Goldman, however, it can also be used for people who are genetically similar.

"This is the leading edge of research in the future," Goldman said. "We want our students to think about what they want to do with their careers and meet with the speakers."

In the middle of the last century, researchers recognized that individuals respond to drugs in different ways, but in the last 10-15 years, geneticists became capable of looking at the bigger picture. To do so, drugs are administered, genetic information is read and researchers watch to predict a response in the future.

"We thought of it and recognized its importance," Goldman said. "We have alumni in the industry and academia as well, so why not [have it at SF State]? Our faculty, staff and students can mix with people in the industry."

Speakers for the event include: Biotechnology Correspondent David Ewing Duncan, Genentech Fellow Dr. Napoleone Ferrara and Vice President of Clinical Development at BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Inc. Dr. Jackie Walling.

"I remember having a lunch conversation at the golf course across from SF State with one of the development people at Harding Park. We thought: How can we make science and engineering more productive and how can we promote it?" said Dan Maher, Senior Vice President at BioMarin Pharmaceutical and organizer of Personalized Medicine.

Maher said his solution was to create the annual conference that would highlight and promote the best science all over the world.

"I wanted to take advantage of the networking over the years," he said.

Fiscal Analyst for the College of Science and Engineering and committee organizer Arlene Essex has been doing some work within the biology department for the event.

"At the last two conferences, I found them interesting and exciting," said Essex. "I wanted to help and get the administration and financial side organized."

A big concern on the topic of personalized medicine is that people will rely on companies, such as DNA Direct or Pathway Genomics, to provide them with genetic results, and ignore their doctor's prescriptions. Regardless, there are high hopes that the conference will help raise awareness for both caregivers and patients.

"Past years' outcomes have been excellent. This year we hope to promote the great science going on at SF State," Maher said.

For students interested in attending the conference, please e-mail Cost is $25 for students and $50 for faculty and staff.

Dealing with studies and stress

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At finals time, SF State students divide into two groups: those who can handle stress and those who let stress handle them.

School related stress affects students most when the amount of work they face causes them to sacrifice those activities which give their lives balance, said Aja Bazin, a 22-year-old SF State senior.

"That loss of balance starts to tackle your emotional and mental feelings and that's when you start to crumble," Bazin said.

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with stress, said Albert Angelo, a SF State health educator.

"A lot of times what students are struggling with is a lot of change," Angelo said. "And a lot of students are on their own in terms of having to deal with it."

According to Angelo, some common unhealthy ways students cope with stress are eating fatty foods, smoking, taking drugs (especially marijuana) and drinking. All-night cram sessions and energy drinks have long been a common route students take when facing last minute pressure.

"Last week, I had an essay that was due that I waited until completely the night before and they gave it to us two months ago," said Alexandra Alvarez. Alvarez, 20, said she used SparkNotes, while taking a three hour nap in the middle of the night to finally finish.

"Just stupid, coffee and waking up early," Alvarez said.

Many SF State students have trouble finding a quiet place to study where they live. Alvarez said she chooses to study outside her house where there are less distractions.

"Roommates and TV.... I just need to close everything off and be somewhere where I'm just focused on one thing," she said.

Taking breaks, exercising and talking with friends or in counseling are healthy ways students can cope with stress, according to Angelo.

Guillermo Turcios, 20, works at SF State's tutoring center and has developed healthy ways to deal with the stress of being an English Literature major with a lot of assigned reading.

"If I have a class I'm not doing that good in, I'll emphasize that more than my other classes," said Turcios, who said he helps students prioritize their workload at the tutoring center. "You've got to practice what you preach," he laughed.

Angelo, 47, has been a counselor at SF State for 17 years. At school, he guides students through health promotion workshops and individually counsels those facing stress. Angelo's workshops draw on average between 50 to 70 students, depending on how many attend for extra credit in their classes.

The Counseling Center and the Holistic Health Center are the two main student resources for stress reduction assistance at SF State.

"I think a big part of coping with stress is having a supporting community that is warm and open and can accept you, whether you're stressed or not," said Katie Herron, a volunteer at the Holistic Health Center. "One that is there to support you physically and emotionally, and we've got that here."

The Holistic Health Center offers massages by donation every Tuesday from 12:30 to 2 p.m. On average, five volunteers provide visitors 10-20 minute massages, according to Herron.

"Being a student is a very stressful occupation," Herron said. "And the Holistic Health Center, for the most part, welcomes a nice escape from that."

Campuses to honor WWII detainees

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After 68 years, Japanese American students who were forced out of postsecondary schools during World War II, incarcerated and put into wartime camps will finally get a chance to receive closure.

Along with five other CSU's , SF State's 109th Commencement this Saturday, will honor the former SF State Japanese American students who will receive their honorary degrees in response to Assembly Bill 37, that was created by Assembly Member Warren Furutani (55th District) and approved by the Governor in October of last year.

"No other legislator had ever offered a bill to recognize the students, and because Furutani's family was in the interment, he decided it would be a good idea to recognize the students," said Teresa Ono, advancement services manager at SF State.

Assembly Bill 37 was created ,so that public postsecondary education systems in California would award degrees to each of the students, whether they were living or deceased , who were forced out postsecondary schools because of federal Executive Order 9066 (EO 9066) put into place by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942.

E.O. 9066 authorized military authorities to exclude "any and all persons of Japanese ancestry" from designated areas for national defense, according to the California Nisei College Diploma Project.

The CNCDP was a project of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center for Northern California which started out coordinating the statewide outreach for Assembly Bill 781; the Nisei High School Diploma Project back in 2004, and had been working on Assembly Bill 37 since it was first introduced last year and signed by the Governor in Oct of last year, according to Paul Osaki, executive director of JCCCNC.

Although this is the first time that SF State will be issuing honorary diplomas for the students, it is not the first time that the school has acknowledged them.

According to Ono, the school held a ceremony for the 19 students, in which they issued them a frame certificate that honored them as alum, and in 2002 the Garden of Remembrance, located in the courtyard between Burk Hall and the Fine Arts buildings, was dedicated to them as well.

"I'm proud of SF State because we were the first school back in 1998 to honor the students' alumni certificates," said Ono.

Because of the event given to those students back in 1998, Ono said that finding the students and their loved ones was not a difficult task because of list they had retrieved previously, but she wished that this project could have been done sooner due to many of the students being deceased.

"I am very happy that we found four of the students who are still living, and as of now three families will be attending Saturday's event to receive the diploma for their loved one," said Ono.

Unfortunately, many of the students have died, and on the eight of them who could possibly be alive, transcripts were found, but still none of them could be located.

Maelani Acfelle, a 21-year old junior at SF State, said that her grandmother who is Guamanian and is in her 70's, grew up during in the WWII era and was placed in concentration camps by the Japanese military, and said she did not have fond memories.

"For me its bitter sweet because of what happened to my people, but I feel everybody has a right to education, and that it's great that we can honor them," said the Hospitality Management major.

Acfelle also said that she wish they could have been honored much sooner so that those students effected, who are now deceased could have experienced this acknowledgment for themselves.

Three of the students who were found will be attending a private ceremony on campus Friday May 21, as a special accommodation because they are elderly and cannot sit under the conditions of Saturday's events, Ono mentioned.

The other three families will receive the awards at Saturday's ceremony, where they will be placed in a special seating area in front of the stage, and will walk on stage to receive the diplomas.

So that it would be convenient as possible for the students, the other CSU's where the students could attend the ceremonies are CSU Fresno (May15-19), SCU Dominguez Hills (May 21), San Jose State and California Polytechnic State Universities, and San Luis Obispo (June 12).

Ono said that the honoring of the students will continue to proceed over time until they are for sure that they have honored all 19 students.

Osaki said getting a college education was part of the American dream for many of the Japanese Americans.

"I hope that this project helps to educate students today about what happened 68 years ago, I hope that it makes them better appreciate their college education and that they will use this knowledge to ensure that it never happens again," he said.

CSU to receive additional funding next year

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger released his May Revision of the 2010-2011 state budget on May 14, which proposes $305 million be restored to the California State University system and an additional $60.6 million be allocated to support enrollment growth, according to an email from SF State President Robert Corrigan.

Corrigan estimates SF State will receive $18.5 million in the restoration funding, as well as $3.6 million for enrollment growth.

The $305 million portion of the budget restores funding cut to the CSU system under the 2009-2010 budget. Corrigan wrote that the higher level of funding will allow the CSU system to serve 21,000 more students than it can under the current budget.

The $60.6 million will allow 8,000 more students to enroll system-wide.

"I truly believe that the broad-based and consistent budget advocacy from campuses like ours, led by the Education Budget Advocacy Committee, has been instrumental in demonstrating to the governor that an investment in higher education is an investment in California's future," Corrigan wrote in the email.

Suspended student gets support

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Protesters marched into the Administration building at around 1 p.m. today and tried to hand a petition to University Vice President A. Lee Blitch, in support of Halston Chapman, the only Business building occupier to refuse to sign the sanction agreement with the University.

Over 800 students signed the petition.

"I was punished for asking to be heard," Chapman said during the press conference. "I violated the same so-called rules as the occupiers. My punishment was harsher only because I asked for my democratic rights."

Following the protest, Joseph D. Greenwell, acting associate vice president for student affairs, agreed to meet with Halston Chapman at 4 p.m. today.

The occupiers and supporters held a press conference before the march between the Business and Administration buildings to address the University's disciplinary action against Chapman.

"It just became more and more clear to me that these people that work in this building have no idea what they're doing," said Napaquetzalli Martinez, one of the occupiers who signed the agreement.

Philosophy Professor Ann Robertson and representatives from Local 2 Union and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice joined the occupiers and spoke out during the press conference.

"The students are entirely prepared to accept responsibility for any damages they might have accidently inflicted on the building," Robertson said. "But we in CFA believed that the administration should equally take responsibility for the errors it has committed and now do the right thing."

SF State alum looks back on Black Friday

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Fifty years ago at the foot of inside San Francisco City Hall's stairs, 64 students were arrested and hosed down by high-pressure fire hoses for protesting hearings held by the House Un-American Activities Committee.

At noon today, some of those original protesters, including SF State alumni Becky Jenkins, stood once again on that unforgettable platform not to protest but celebrate the 50th anniversary of these Anti-HUAC demonstrations, infamously known as Black Friday.

Irving Wesley Hall, an arrestee from the protest in 1960 and a contender of Congressmen William F. Buckley, faced the crowd below and admitted that he once thought that Black Friday was forgotten. But with some encouragement and Hall decided to officially put on the memorial.

"In many ways, we were accidental victims of history," he said.

Jenkins, the ceremony's first official speaker, delivered an emotional background as a Red Diaper baby and of her family's discrimination as being a part of the Communist Party. On the verge of tears, Jenkins spoke of her personal experience as an SF State student protester that memorable day and the long lasting impact it has had on her life.

"The demonstration of 1960 represented light after dark," Jenkins said to the crowd. "It represented the Sixties as opposed to the Fifties. I was surrounded by many who were not Red Diaper babies, but who were filled with righteous indignation without doubt that the righteousness and justice of their cause will be rewarded. Besides the 14 irreplaceable friendships, it changed my life and my view about what was possible."

Black Friday changed the fate of the HUAC. The committee never travelled out of Washington again to hold hearings and was eventually abolished in 1975. The event also marked what is arguably the first mass demonstration of the 1960's.

For many in attendance, the Black Friday demonstrations mirror current protests over the California budget crisis.

Fellow guest speaker Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers, recently finished a 48-day march from Bakersfield to Sacramento to protest the crisis in California.

"We're still fighting," Hittelman reiterated to the crowd. "Our main objective is to fight for the California dream, but first, to bring back education to the high level it once was."

Many of those attending found the commemoration and speeches inspiring and far from reliving an old painful memory.

"I thought it was really nice to see progressive activists that were heavily involved and to see them do such meaningful things with their lives," audience member Vicky Degoff said.

Twice during the ceremony, singer songwriter Nancy Schimmel, daughter of Malvina Reynolds, led the audience with protest songs, "Billy Boy" and "We Shall Not Be Moved." Afterwards, Schimmel admitted that the current budget crisis will only ignite a similar movement.

"As usual, the police overreact and don't realize they're re-energizing a new generation of activists," Schimmel said. "They don't seem to learn. "

Although the current wave of SF State protests are following the footsteps of their brave predecessors and alumni, Jenkins advised activist students to continue voicing their dissent.

"The situation is desperate," Jenkins said, "and the objective is to be creative."

Supervisors hear arguments on sit/lie

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee took up the proposed sit/lie law on May 10, but ultimately postponed voting on it.

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier introduced the legislation in March. Like most advocates of the law, she said sit/lie is needed to respond to the aggressive behavior that occurs on the sidewalks in certain areas of the city, such as the Haight and Tenderloin.

"What we're really talking about here is civility on our sidewalks," she said. "This movement started in the Haight-Ashbury district, an area once synonymous with peace and love, this quarter is now a hotspot for street bullies, pit bulls and drug abuse."

Sit/lie would make it illegal to sit or lie on the sidewalk between 7 in the morning and 11 at night. It would not apply to standing or leaning and could only be enforced on public sidewalks.

Nicolas King, a spokesperson for Mayor Gavin Newsom, said Newsom supports this law because it is a much-needed tool for law enforcement.

"The behavior we are trying to deter is not covered under current law," he said.

However, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said San Francisco already has over 30 laws on the books that could be used to clear idle people from sidewalks.

Supervisor Chris Daly went as far as to call the proposed law "stupid." He challenged the Budget and Finance Committee to allocate more funding to homeless services when the next budget is drafted.

"That document [the budget] is the essence of what our values are here in San Francisco because you put your money where your mouth is," he said. "We've had a radical shift from funding health and human services to funding law enforcement, under the current administration."

Opponents of sit/lie argue that the law will not lead to any major changes on city sidewalks. King acknowledged this but said it is still needed.

"Despite protests and media attention, pro and con, this is a limited tool. It's not supposed to fix everything."

However, Daly didn't buy that it would have any effect.

"You say it's not a fix all," he said. "It's not a fix anything."

UPAC moves for merging of colleges

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Note to readers: When this article was published in the 15th issue of the Golden Gate [X]press newspaper on May 12, 2010 Katherine General, field representative for the California Faculty Association, was incorrectly attributed. The quote was on behalf of the entire CFA board, not just General. The [X]press staff apologies for this mistake.

A recent proposal drafted by the University Planning Advisory Council is calling for the elimination of two colleges, leaving departments to be shuffled around and faculty wondering if they will still have jobs.

In the proposal, UPAC advised that cutting administrative salaries could save the University upwards of $1 million by reorganizing colleges with fewer deans and staff.

"I don't know if it will save enough money with all the organizational and structural chaos it will create," said James Martel, chair of the political science department.

"I think we need to stand in solidarity with our staff, we can't let them absorb all of the losses."

In the UPAC draft, there is no direct mention of any specific job losses that will occur when the colleges and departments are combined, which worries faculty and staff.

"All sorts of concerns are raised -will we lose jobs? Will departments be shuffled around and then disappear? Will deans be replaced?" asked Chris Bettinger, a professor in the psychology department.

"We all have worries about losing our jobs. The staff is worried they're on the chopping block."

The goal of the draft proposal was to get input from the campus and use the ideas to come up with ways to save SF State money in the harsh economic climate the University is currently suffering in.

A similar draft was created a couple of years ago, though it never took affect.

"UPAC wants to spur discussion, I just think they're going about it the wrong way," Bettinger said.

"I'm surprised they're going down the same road as last time."

With an $18 million budget, the University is trying to think of creative ways to save money without cutting more classes and raising fees.

Most of the input that was received by the Council called for administrative restructuring, which includes reviewing both salaries and job positions. Another faculty worry lies in the proposed organization of the colleges themselves, and if the departments will work well together.

"It's helpful for behavioral and social sciences to exist as a college --it's a hybrid of different disciplines," Martel said.

"It's what makes us who we are, and it saddens me to have us broken up like that."
If the proposal goes as planned, the political science department will become part of the new College of Liberal Arts along with international relations and sociology.

But he said other departments, like urban studies and public administration, need to be together instead of being moved to the College of Health, Education and Human Services, as the draft states.

"The changes to the College of Science and Engineering under the tentative proposal is that the geosciences department and the environmental studies program would come to the College of Science and Engineering," said Sheldon Axler, dean of the college of science and engineering. "Right now it's too early for comments, because the UPAC has not even made a recommendation yet to the president and provost."

While the UPAC urges faculty and staff to give their input on how to make the restructuring work in the best way for the most people, many faculty are feeling left out of the decision-making process.

"The CFA (California Faculty Association) believes that faculty should be a central part of the decision making process and not merely the recipients of change," said Katherine General, field representative for the CFA. The CFA is a group that advocates for faculty rights in the CSU system.

"We understand UPAC was doing the job it was mandated, but budgetary constraints do not justify failing to incorporate the full and meaningful participation of faculty in shared governance."

For now, UPAC is looking at the restructuring as a way to curb long-term costs while also saving over $1 million each year after initial costs are accounted for during the first year the program is implemented.

"The short-term costs may not total the savings, which start now," said UPAC chair Shawn Whelan.

The short-term costs include new signs and letterheads for example, but after the first year "the costs would be absorbed," according to Whelan.

A meeting was held by the Academic Senate in the Seven Hills Conference Center May 11 to discuss the UPAC proposal, as well as other policies. The group discussed the "restructuring documents" while also addressing the "discontinuance policy," which looks at which academic programs should be cut if the budget calls for such action.

"My concern is that this is the beginning of a statewide battle to try to downsize and reconfigure the CSU (California State University) system," said Jerald Shapiro, professor in the school of social work and member of the Academic Senate.

"It seems to be heading in a corporate approach to higher education and that presents real problems for a social justice institution such as SF State."

In the next year, the Governor has proposed a $305 million boost in funding to the CSU and University of California systems, though the University is still preparing for a 10 percent fee hike for students.

It is up to UPAC and other organizations to find different ways to cut costs while passing down the least financial damage on students and University faculty and staff alike.

"There is no magic solution that won't hurt anybody," Bettinger said. "UPAC has to make a hard decision.

Green tech may fuel studies

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All Pacific Gas and Electric Company customers can expect to see some extra cents tacked onto their monthly statement in the near future, all of it money that will be used to fund PG&E fuel cell projects at two California State Universities.

One of those schools is SF State,where in 6-12 months two fuel cell plants will be up and running on the north side of campus as part of a $20.3 million project with all costs covered by PG&E customers through "nominal" rate increases, company spokesperson Kory Raftery said. Although PG&E will own and operate the plants, "most, if not all" of the power generated by the plants will be used on the SF State campus, he said.

A natural gas fuel cell plant takes hydrogen out of the gas without burning, and in a small container a chemical process takes place with an oxidant, which produces water, heat and electricity.

The project, proposed by PG&E in early 2009, was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission on April 8 of this year despite opposition because of cost and questionable educational benefits.

-Energy Enlightenment-
Both the school and the energy company tout the educational opportunities the presence of the fuel cell plants will provide, but it's unclear what exactly those opportunities are.

The CPUC decided that ratepayers should not have to pick up the tab for PG&E's plans to "install an educational kiosk at each campus, coordinate signage and educational material, help develop class curriculum, host tours of the facilities, and facilitate educational and community outreach."

Raftery would not say if PG&E plans to proceed with the fuel cell promotional campaign, but said that the company "will do whatever (it) can to help."

He was not sure if PG&E, as the owner and operator of the plants, will allow students to tinker with them for learning purposes. Robert E. Hutson, vice president of the SF State Facilities and Services Enterprises Department, which is in charge of the project implementation, said the department could not comment until after May 22 because it is currently "completely involved with preparing the campus for commencement."

The Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA), which opposed the project, had serious doubts about any educational benefits, saying it's "highly unlikely" that a fuel cell plant "under service contract and warrantee will tolerate any adjustment or reconfiguration for classroom purposes." That would leave students staring at a large box, an activity the DRA finds lacking in academic value.

"There is nothing that a student can learn from repeated visits to a fuel cell, any more than students could learn from viewing a power line," the DRA argued in opposition to the project.

One of the departments that the presence of the fuel cells is supposed to advance is engineering, but director of the department Wenshen Pong said he was unaware of the project. PG&E spokesperson Raftery said that President Corrigan's office has been "very supportive."

-Cost and Cleanliness-
"Fuel cells are more expensive than cleaner energy like wind and solar," said Marcel Hawiger, attorney for the Utility Reform Network. "If ratepayer money is being used, do something cleaner that doesn't release carbon dioxide and contribute to global warming."   While fuel cell plants emit less greenhouse gases than conventional power plants, how much less they release depends on waste heat can be captured and used.

Raftery said fuel cells can be cleaner with biogas, but none is available on the SF State campus.

The average cost of energy in California is seven cents per kilowatt-hour (a 100-watt light bulb switched on for 10 hours uses one kWh of electricity) and 10 cents per kWh is the benchmark set for renewable energy; fuel cells produce energy at roughly 30 cents per kWh, according to the CPUC's authorization of the project.

-Market Forces-
Although fuel cell energy costs more than that produced by renewable and other conventional energy technology, the CPUC felt that the plants on two college campuses will help "advance the market" of fuel cells.

Although fuel cells have been around since the 1960s, PG&E argued that students who become familiar with these fuel cells through their coursework will make investments in the technology in the future, thereby transforming the fuel cell market, according to CPUC documents.

The Utility Reform Network contended that rather than transforming the market, the projects are the equivalent to a ratepayer subsidy for the fuel cell industry.

One of the companies whose fuel cell plant will be on SF State's campus is Bloom Energy, which had its coming out party in February revealing big-name customers like eBay, Google, FedEx, and Walmart (although they receive a 50 percent discount in the form of tax breaks and subsidies). The event opened with a short speech from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said, "When people think of clean energy they should think not just of solar, geothermal, hydro, or wind, but also of Bloom Energy."

SF State's buildings could crumble

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San Francisco has been hit by two major earthquakes and is likely to face another in coming years, yet many buildings in the city still lack the retrofit necessary to resist a major temblor.

According to an article published by California Watch, several universities in the state are home to a majority of seismically unsound buildings.

At the top of the list is the University of California, Berkeley with more than 70 buildings that are deemed high-risk.

Yet some of SF State's own buildings are on this list, including the parking garage labeled as Lot 20 and the Humanities building.

The five-story structure is one of the busiest on campus, housing over 15 different departments, each with its own faculty, staff, and students.

"A lot of my classes are in this building," 21-year-old English major April Mara Cristal said.

"I guess since earthquakes are a reality in California and I've never heard this before it makes me very concerned, but I don't really care until something actually happens. It's always that 'what if' that scares people."

Geoscientists predict that an earthquake will hit the Bay Area in the foreseeable future.

"According to the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) there is a 62 percent probability that there will be an earthquake within the next 30 years somewhere in the Bay Area," said Ray Pestrong, a professor of geology in the geosciences department. "There are many fault lines in the area, we don't know which one, but it could be on any of them."

After the 1989 Loma Prieta quake SF State was left largely unaffected but Verducci Hall, a dorm building on campus that provided 763 beds, was heavily damaged.

It was deemed structurally unsound and remained closed until its demolishment in 1996.

"There has been retrofit to a number of buildings on campus and you can see which ones: Hensill Hall, (Ethnic Studies and) Psychology and Administration," said Pestrong.

Although not every building on campus is retrofit, most comply with building standards.

"In general the campus structures are built accordingly to code and previsions and atop stable soil," said Mutlu Ozer, a lecturer of mechanical and civil engineering.

Reassuring as this is, some students prefer to keep a nonchalant attitude.

"I don't really think about it, I mean if it's going to happen there's no stopping it --not every building you go in can be safe," Jeremy Hahn, a 24-year-old history major, said.

Major remodel of The Villas Parkmerced proposed

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The Planning Commission discussed an ambitious 20 year, $1.2 billion remodel of The Villas Parkmerced on May 6, which would essentially triple the number of homes in the area, reroute Muni lines and add a multitude of shops and amenities the neighborhood has been lacking for years.

"We want to make it a full San Francisco neighborhood with it's own heart," Craig Hartman, partner in process of design said. "It's extremely ambitious in social and environmental goals."

The M-line would be rerouted towards The Villas Parkmerced and include two new stops that would replace the 19th Avenue and Holloway Avenue stop, which is currently the primary stop for the SF State campus.

"We want to offer a safe place to get on for students and residents," Hartman said. "We're working very closely with Muni."

Despite the location improvements, some students disagree with the plan, arguing that the money could be put to better use.

"This city is in debt as it is," SF State student Matisse Tolin said. "Should we really be spending money on this? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Public transit is practically at rock bottom, we should be spending money on that."

SF State student Danny Christianberry lived in The Villas Parkmerced last year and opposes the plan.

"The only people who live there are old people and students and they don't get along. The problem might escalate if you expand the area," he said.

The Villas Parkmerced currently owns and leases 1,683 apartments in the 11 towers and 1,538 two-story townhouse apartments. The plan would keep the towers standing but demolish the townhouse apartments. Another 7,200 units would be built, including ones that could be purchased. Currently, all units are for rent.

If the units come down, residents will have to be moved into new housing in the same complex.

"Any existing resident who lives in a building slated for replacement will be given the same level, if not better amenities," Seth Mallen of Parkmerced Investments said. "Their rent will remain the same."

However, Martha Dryer, a resident of The Villas Parkmerced, does not want to have to go through the trouble of moving.

"I've lived in Parkmerced for four years now," Martha, 55, said. "I know this project will be better in the long run but I doubt I'll even be there by the time it's completed. I'm worried about having to move out of my place."

Parkmerced Investments has already spent nearly $125 million in "quality of life" upgrades and said the project will create about 1,500 jobs.

SFPD uses Facebook for community alerts, info

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Crime Blotter

In your face

A 20-year-old SF State student living in the Centennial Village apartments was cited for battery after she allegedly punched her roommate shortly after midnight May 5, according to University police.

Deputy Chief of Police Reggie Parson said the victim was punched in the face multiple times when an argument broke out between the two roommates. The student did not require medical treatment. Her roommate was cited and released.

Late-night biker

University police conducted a bicycle stop May 7 and arrested a 52-year-old male rider for possession of a hypodermic needle and methamphetamine and for felony violation of parole, according to Parson. He would not give details on the suspect's parole violation.

Police initially stopped the man for riding at night without a front bike light, which Parson said is against the law. The suspect, who was pulled over at 2:57 a.m. near 19th Avenue and Eucalyptus Drive, was taken to San Francisco County Jail.

Seeing red

An SF State student was pepper sprayed in the face following a "road rage"-related incident on the 400 block of Winston Drive May 5, according to University police reports. The suspect --described as a white or Latino male in his twenties driving a blue, older-model BMW-- sprayed the male student around 4:30 p.m. and left in an unknown direction, Parson said.

Parson could not elaborate on the altercation that led up to the incident but said police contacted the victim in the University's Health Center, where he was being treated for burning pain in his eyes. The case is closed pending further leads.

-- Compiled by Cassie Harwood

Police officers can usually be seen driving patrol cars, riding bikes, walking beats or even riding horses. But now, officers from the San Francisco Police Department can also be found updating their department's Facebook and Twitter pages.

The SFPD Media Relations office entered into the world of social networking in February, creating Facebook and Twitter profiles for the department to disseminate information to the online community about crimes, town hall meetings and other issues. Users who "follow" or "friend" the profiles can leave comments for officers and get updates sent directly to their accounts.

"Everyone has access to YouTube and Facebook and Twitter, and everybody texts and all that stuff," said SFPD spokesman Officer Albie Esparza. "So I think it's a good way for our department to kind of open up to the younger crowd that is more computer-savvy."

As of May 7, the department had 1,946 Facebook fans and 1,904 Twitter followers. The SFPD YouTube channel, used to share videos of press conferences and other footage, had 45,870 video views.

The SFPD isn't the only law enforcement agency to use online networks. Departments in Philadelphia, Houston and Chicago each have a Facebook or Twitter account. Even the FBI has joined in.

"A lot of people log on to Facebook a lot more than they would log on to our department's website, so it's great," Esparza said. As a police spokesman, Esparza has started promoting the websites during televised press statements.

"For example, if I gave an interview regarding an incident of a bank robbery I would say, 'If anyone has any information, they can give us a call at our confidential tip line or they can send us a comment via Facebook or Twitter.' It is an additional tool that we have in case anyone wants to talk to the police directly."

Officer Samson Chan, SFPD spokesman, is one of a handful of Media Relations officers who update and monitor the department's social networking pages. He said the Facebook page receives the most views and comments, some of which officers address directly.

"Recently we put up a crime bulletin about a serial bank robber who was putting a knife up to people's necks while robbing the banks," Chan said. "We put that up there so people know what's going on, and if they have any information they can contact us."

Since that posting, a suspect in the robberies has been taken into custody. A follow-up about the arrest was met with dozens of comments, mostly congratulatory. One user wrote, "Awesome catch!!" another, "They don't catch the smart ones."

Chan said no crimes have yet been solved through tips made over Facebook.

"To get a tip, that would be very nice," he said. "I would say that would make it very rewarding. But even without getting a tip, I think it's still worthwhile because we're letting the public know what's going on in the city."

Emily Holtz, a 27-year-old business major , said she wasn't aware of SFPD's move to social networking but that after hearing about it, she probably wouldn't use it as a resource. Holtz only uses Facebook to keep in touch with friends. "And I'm not friends with the police department. No offense."

Holtz, who lived in San Francisco but recently moved to Emeryville, checks crime statistics when moving to a new neighborhood. She has used SFPD's official website for such information in the past, "but that's sort of it," she said. "I guess I'm not really too engaged in what's going on either here or there."

Rex Swindlehurst, a 23-year-old psychology major at SF State who has worked for the Santa Barbara Police Department, said he thinks that law enforcement agencies' participation in online communities could be a positive move.

"If it's for public relations and for tips, then it's fine," he said. "I feel that any connection with the public that a police department has is usually a beneficial one, but if it's more of a Big Brother, '1984'-type status, then it's definitely not a good thing."

Chan said that while he can't speak to whether or not police investigators use social networking for law enforcement, the Media Relations office uses such sites explicitly to share information, not to monitor peoples' online activity.

"We do absolutely no investigation of any of our fans," he said, chuckling. "I think your average Joe would think about that too, but this fan page is managed by our Media Relations unit and our job is just to get information out to the public."

Council proposes to eliminate two colleges

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The number of colleges that SF State is divided into could be reduced from eight to six if a proposal by the University Planning Advisory Council is approved.

Still in the preliminary phases, the proposal is written to reconfigure and combine colleges in an effort to save over a million dollars and reduce the expanding budget deficit, according to the UPAC.

"We're thinking of a long-term vision on how to come to grips with budget shortfalls," UPAC Chair Shawn Whelan said.

Despite Governor Schwarzenegger's proposition to restore $305 billion to the University of California and California State University systems, budget shortfalls still plague the University. With an annual budget looming around $18 million, the UPAC asked for campus submissions on how to best curb soaring costs. They received 94 proposals with over 100 different ideas, and 20 percent asked to look at administrative structure.

"At the minimum, it could save at least $1 million, and up to $2 million, in administrative salaries," Whelan said. "If we can save $1.5 million in cuts that wouldn't come from classes, we should think about it."

The reconfiguration aims to consolidate colleges, leading to more collaboration within the colleges and departments that work well together, according to the UPAC.

The plan would move some departments to new colleges --like Jewish studies to the college of ethnic and cultural studies. The college of behavioral and social sciences would be cut, and departments such as international relations and political science become part of the college of liberal arts.

The most populous new college would be health, education and human services that would encompass departments from public administration to nursing and urban studies to criminal justice.

In its infancy, the plan has shown no signs of proving if eight colleges would be better than six or if departments would be satisfied with their placement in a certain college.

Despite the added revenue, many faculty members wonder if it is worth restructuring the colleges. Whelan said a minor concern is the increased workload on a fewer number of deans.

Unlike universities like San Jose State University, which has had to cut professor positions, or Humboldt State, which has had to discontinue programs, the SF State is trying something different.

"We don't want to have to go to extremes but be as prepared as possible to deal with budget shortfalls," Whelan said.

More information now available.

Students shed light on Mexican drug cartels

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For the second year, Students for Sensible Drug Policy at SF State, along with 20 other chapters at various universities, focused on serious matters affecting those connected with Mexico in and outside the country.

The SSDP set up under a large tent in front of Malcolm X Plaza yesterday in order to raise awareness and emphasize the rising death toll of people in Mexico caused by drug cartels.

The organization collected about 1,000 signatures for the petition against drug prohibition. SSDP Associate Director Jonathan Perri believes that one way to end drug cartel violence was having the U.S. legalize marijuana on a federal level, and have it taxed and regulated as we do with alcohol. In over a course of one year, Perri and others have collected about 10,000 signatures for their cause.

"We chose to do this on Cinco de Mayo because many college students take this holiday as a reason for partying and drinking," Perri said, "and we just want to do the opposite and draw attention to drug use and drug prohibition."

Along the grass area behind the tent, passersby glanced at 180 small Mexican flags representing a total of 18,000 people who have been killed in drug cartel-related violence since 2008. According to Perri the cartels and their impact aren't being talked about as much as they should be, another reason for holding the event.

As 33-year-old Brenda Chavez, custodian at SF State, took a moment to view the various flags; she was somewhat surprised to see that people were actually drawing attention to the matter.

Although Chavez has been a resident of San Francisco for about 20 years, she said she is originally from Mexico City.

"This has been going on for a while, and I think that most of the people who have been killed had some involvement with the cartel, and only are killing amongst themselves for the most part," said Chavez.

Chavez felt that the reason nothing was being done about the cartels was because many people involved had some affiliation with the government.

"Some people involved, when taken in if caught, have background checks done showing that they used to be police officers, in the Mexican army, or other involvement with the government," she said.

A few signs were also placed around the tent displaying names of people that were killed in these cases along with their ages. Some included names of teenagers and young adults.

Perri stressed that this is was a important matter for students to get involved with because many students and young adults are being targeted in Mexico for drug cartels.

"I feel we as students can make a change because we are the future, and once people in power are no longer in power, we have the opportunity to come in and make changes," Perri said.

For Adriana Delano, junior and interior design major at SF State, the issue hit home.

The 20-year-old talked about how she became more aware of all the violence happening in Mexico after the topic hit close to home.

"My cousin, who is the same age as I am, was visiting some of our relatives in Mexico for a wedding and got his throat slit while in a liquor store, because they thought he was a part of one of their drug rivals," Delano said. "Fortunately he lived."

Delano also mentioned that what SSDP was doing was a good idea and that it shouldn't be taken lightly.

In over the next year, the SSDP expects to see change in the issue because they are going to form SSDP chapters in Mexican universities, as well as Latin American countries.

Prisoners find freedom with baseball

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It's a sunny day along the water in Marin County, seagulls fly high overhead while fans cheer and the sound of a bat hitting a baseball signals the start of a new season.

San Quentin State Prison is the oldest prison in California, clocking in at 152 years-old. It houses the only death row in California and all executions must be performed there.

This is not exactly the setting one would imagine for an opening day baseball celebration but the baseball team has been a part of San Quentin's history off and on since the early 1900s.

The San Quentin Giants opened their season against the Bay Area Oaks, a mixed mens league of volunteers. The baseball program doesn't cost the state or the facility anything, according to Warden Vincent Cullen, who tossed out the first pitch on opening day.

The coaches and umps are volunteers and the uniforms are donated by the San Francisco Giants. The team underwent a name change in 2000 when Mike Murphy, the SF Giants' equipment manager, donated uniforms and equipment to the roster of inmates.

The visiting teams come from amateur leagues around the Bay Area making it one of the only programs of its kind in the country. Inmates involved in the various sports programs at San Quentin are given the unique opportunity to have somewhat regular contact with the outside world through a team of more than 300 volunteers.

"It's a morale booster to these guys to know that people aren't afraid of coming in and dealing with a big bad scary inmate or anything like that. They see them as they are, as people," Lt. Samuel Robinson, San Quentin's public information officer, said.

The game aids in rehabilitation for the inmates who feel that the world has given up on them. It also serves as an outlet for prisoners to break away from the racial divides that plague prison yards across the country.

"Whether it's on the tennis court or the baseball field, those same racial dynamics don't play out,"Robinson said. "They are, in a sense, neutral ground."

Twelve of the 18 inmates on the team are serving life sentences, a sentence made easier with a break in prisons' monotonous daily routine and a chance to cheer for something.

Sunday skaters enjoy music in the park

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On a sunny Sunday afternoon, David Miles Jr. pushes two sport strollers through Golden Gate Park. As he arrives at a small piece of land alongside John F Kennedy Drive and 6th Avenue, there are already a few skateboarders and skaters already practicing.

Miles Jr. parks the two strollers in the middle of what would become a dance floor. He plugs in two stereo speakers laying in the sport strollers into his iPod and starts playing. Miles Jr. Calls this the Porto-Party. He is joined by his friends Laura Sunday and Richard Humphrey.

More skaters roll in and dance to the music. Everything from Marvin Gaye's "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" to Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" is played through the Porto-Party. Roller skaters and bikers make laps around the rectangular piece patch, while a few skaters take the center and practice roller skate hip hop.

Laura Sunday, a dance instructor, takes the time to teach a few beginners some basic steps to a routine she put together.

As people relax and socialize on the small grassy hill next to the concrete dance floor, children and adults continue to make laps and have a good time.

Students act out indigenous people's strife

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A class of anthropology students never knew that when they signed up for a class on dying cultures that they would be asked to act.

As part of SF State's 7th annual Human Rights Summit, Assistant Professor Mariana Ferreira's "Endangered Cultures" class took to the stage to illustrate the plight of indigenous people.

The summit, entitled "Survival Rx: Knowledge for Health Equity," focuses on health care, indigenous peoples' rights, education, women's rights, human rights education and protection of the environment.

In addition to educating her students in a unique way, Ferreira doubles as committee chairperson and co-founder of the summit itself.

"The purpose of this summit is to raise awareness around human rights issues, at SF State, in this country and internationally," Ferreira said.

Students wrote and performed eight one-act plays based on real world scenarios, using the book "Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples' Resistance to Globalization" as inspiration.

'These are stories of life and death," said theater director Jiwon Chong. "We as a people are a luxury ocean liner propped up by an ocean of suffering and at some point, we must delve into that ocean."

The messages in the short plays were clear- corporations or governments refuse to try to understand indigenous peoples and insist they assimilate the values and culture of the modernized world.

The plays featured villainous corporate heads rivaling the peaceful, earth loving indigenous peoples. The whole performance played out almost like the hit sci-fi movie "Avatar," sans machine guns or giant blue aliens.

Students used self-made props and costumes, and seemed to enjoy the expanded experience of the stage as opposed to the classroom.

"I know that if I had just written a paper on this, I would have forgotten it by next week," said Katelyn Leaird, who played a tree in her performance. "I'm pretty sure I'll remember this whole play thing for the rest of my life."

The summit is being held May 4 through 7 in the Cesar Chavez Student Center and features films and panel discussions.

SF State teacher mixes math and music

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In the year 2378, the world will be completely overcome with global catastrophe and climate change. Life is scarce, yet there's one unlikely place on Earth where the fight for survival is ongoing: Antarctica.

Under these cruel circumstances, women have been cryogenically frozen to preserve and protect their reproductive organs due to the extra saturation of gamma radiation. It's up to one man, Erik, to run climate simulations to find habitable locations on Earth and save mankind. The story may be fiction, but his name just happens to be the same as the creator.

This isn't an early synopsis of James Cameron's next record-breaking feature film full of social commentary, but a musical and theatrical conception written by SF State graduate teaching associate Eric Miranda, who is most likely more notable around campus for teaching than making science fiction concept albums. Yet behind his thick black-framed sun glasses and fervent affection for mathematics, Miranda is also the hand on the synthesizer for electronic duo Pistols Will Air. Their latest project, "Antarctica," aims to intertwine film, music and mathematics in an original way for the electronic music world.

"The past two years, our time's been really taken over by a project I conceived. It started off with 45 minutes of music that was thematically ice-driven," Miranda said. "I thought about it when I listened to it, and I felt that I was in the Arctic. I ended up writing a 45-minute synthesizer opera."

Resisting conventional instruments like a guitar or piano to compose his pieces, Miranda usually takes the more technological road with complex synthesizers and computer programs. The rehearsal process obviously becomes a little trickier than your typical rock band, but once a progression or melody is set, it's up to him and band mate Brodie Giles to add any final touches. Creativity is a grueling process, but Miranda is certainly excited to premiere the long-time project this June in Berlin.

"Rehearsal is me at home with analog synthesizers and I have a mini face into my computer," Miranda said. "If I set out to write a song, I'll start off a chord progression or a beat, and then I'll put the beat on. I'll email it to Brodie and he'll send it back to me and we'll play off each other. A lot of the writing process is our rehearsal."

Pistols Will Air started in 2006 and -like any band or group- is very much a time-consuming creative responsibility. But Miranda has proven that balancing his two passions of music and mathematics is a definitive reality, even if that means teaching at Skyline College, finishing up his master's thesis and applying at University of California, Berkeley for a doctorate.

"They are parallel processes," Miranda said. "I never considered being a musician and if that fails being a teacher. I was always very passionate about music and very passionate about mathematics. Throughout my life, it's been a running parallel."

Since 2004, Miranda has been teaching remedial math courses including algebra and calculus at SF State, where he has earned the respectful attention of his students for turning math into an interest rather than a nuisance. Those who sat down with the intention of rolling their eyes or yawning at every little tedious math refresher, developed a new found appreciation for numbers.

"I left the class with a different outlook on a subject that had previously left a poor taste in my mouth," junior Russell Salerno, 21, said. "This had to do with the love and enthusiasm that he applied towards his teaching method."

Students previously unaware of Miranda's artistic side find his musical venture fascinating and believe it rightfully challenges any preconceived notions of professors being one-trick ponies.

"Learning that he invested a lot of his time to making music and making films, I was pleasantly surprised," third-year student, Samantha DeSurra, 21, said. "It made him seem more well-rounded and not as detached from the world (as I've thought about most of my previous math professors)."

The relationship between math and music has long been considered legitimate and undeniably connected. Musicians have often been said to have a more natural affinity to mathematical systems. The same goes for Miranda, who simply believes that distinguishing his two passions aren't all that much different, but one in the same.

"I really believe in the processes and neurons in my mind that are affected by a mathematical thought are almost identical to that same exact path as when I listen to music," Miranda said. "When I engage in math, I can't be drunk. But when I engage in music, the drunker the better sometimes."

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