All posts by Danielle Parenteau

I am a senior at San Francisco State University majoring in print & online Journalism with a minor in philosophy & religion. I was a reporter, copy editor, sports editor, online editor, and editor in chief for the Cypress Chronicle, the student media organization at Cypress College. I have interned at the SF Bay Guardian and Pacific Media Workers Guild and freelanced for the Bay Area Reporter. My favorite hobbies are reading books and watching sports, especially baseball and hockey. I am a diehard Los Angeles Kings fan.

SF State Student to Play Basketball for Manny Pacquiao

Robbie Herndon, a basketball player for Manny Pacquiao’s team, stands in SF State’s gymnasium Tuesday Feb, 3. Photo by Hyunha Kim

SF State student Robbie Herndon is unofficially set to play for the team in the Philippines Basketball Association that is coached by boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. The shooting guard, who majors in criminal justice, intends to sign with Pacquiao’s team after he graduates in about a year.

After seeing Herdon play in a San Francisco tournament and finding out he is half-Filipino, one of Pacquiao’s friends and business associates invited Herndon to play in front of the boxer in Los Angeles. Herndon was grateful for the opportunity.

“I just want to give a shoutout to Jason Aniel for setting this up for me and making this happen,” he says. “It was fun, I played well. It just felt right.”

Though he felt good about it, Herndon tried not to get ahead of himself.

“I didn’t get my hopes all the way up because I know how it is, but I got excited,” he admits.

His Filipino heritage gives him an advantage over others who might hope to play basketball in the Philippines but are not from the island nation.

“Me being Filipino makes me a citizen,” Herndon points out. “Each team only gets one import, so it’s really competitive, but I’m not considered an import.”

Herndon relishes the chance to continue playing the game he calls his passion.

“I’m just glad it’s not over,” he notes.

He started playing when he was around five years old. From a young age, he has been inspired by Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, his favorite player and fellow shooting guard. He came to SF State on a basketball scholarship but stopped playing after two years because he felt it was not the right fit.

Herndon could have played in the Philippines after high school but decided not to because he “wanted to experience college.” Also, he wants to get his degree before he leaves so he will have a solid foundation to return to and “so I don’t have to go back to school when I come back,” he explains.

He acknowledges that living in a foreign country straight out of high school would have been hard on him. Now, he looks forward to seeing the world and relatives he has yet to meet. Herndon values family, especially his grandmother.

“I love my grandma … She’s my inspiration,” he says with a smile.

He appreciates how she took care of him when he was a child and his working parents were too busy. Herndon’s grandmother was very happy to learn he would be playing for the boxing star.

“She’s a hardcore Pacquiao fan and was thrilled when she found out I met him and was going to play for him.”

Herndon would like to play basketball in the U.S but knows he likely will not.

“It’d be awesome to play professionally here in the States, but, realistically, it’s probably not going to happen,” he realizes. When he is done playing, he hopes to become an investigator or a firefighter.

Once Herdon starts playing for Pacquiao, those who are interested can keep up with him on Instagram by following ootyconrad.

Photo by Hyunha Kim
Photo by Hyunha Kim

Giants’ World Series Trophy Tour to Stop at SF State

The three SF Giants trophy will be at SF State. Photo from the Giants Twitter
The three SF Giants trophy will be at SF State. Photo from the Giants Twitter

The trophies commemorating the San Francisco Giants’ World Series victories in 2010, 2012, and 2014 will visit SF State on Wednesday as part of an ongoing tour.

The Giants spent more than fifty seasons without winning Major League Baseball’s top prize after moving to San Francisco from New York in 1958. They finally brought a championship to San Francisco by beating the Texas Rangers four games to one in 2010. The team followed this up with a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers two years later. Last year, the Giants won the World Series, this time in seven games over the Kansas City Royals. Between San Francisco and New York, the Giants have won eight titles.

The World Series trophy is the only piece of championship hardware in the four major American professional sports leagues not named for a specific individual. Its official name, The Commissioner’s Trophy, sets it apart from the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup, the National Basketball Association’s Larry O’Brien Trophy, and the National Football League’s Vince Lombardi Trophy. Tiffany & Co. builds a new trophy for each year’s top baseball team.

The San Francisco Giants World Championship Trophy Tour began on January 7th and will run through Opening Day at AT&T Park on April 13th. Most of the tour takes place in California, extending as far south as San Luis Obispo, though it will also make stops in Nevada, Oregon, and even New York.

All three trophies will be at SF State on February Four from 9:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. in Jack Adams Hall. People will not be allowed to line up before 9:00 a.m. Each person may take one photo. Those in a group may either take separate pictures or one all together. A Giants representative may cut off the line early to ensure the trophies are able to leave on time and being in line during the scheduled time does not guarantee a chance to get a photo of them.

Gators hockey driven by passion despite struggles

The Gators at hockey practice. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)
The Gators at hockey practice. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

The SF State Gators ice hockey team was born out of a passion for the sport. As one of the school’s twelve club sports, it was organized last year by students who wanted to play so much they created a team themselves.

The team plays Division Three hockey as one of five teams in the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association. San Jose State University and Stanford are among the other schools in the association. Last season, the Gators had no coaches but are now coached by ex-players. All but two of the players were born in California with one born in Illinois and one in Guatemala. The Gators have gotten off to a poor start this season, as they have lost their first five games and saw two players fall to serious injuries in the first three.

 

Get to know some of the players:

 

 

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Andrew Duenes. (ALL PHOTOS By Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

Andrew Duenes, a mechanical engineering major, is an alternate captain and the team president. He plays on the wing for the Gators. He got interested in hockey as a small child. “I started watching hockey at a young age,” he writes in an email interview. “Both of my parents watch hockey all the time.” He started playing roller hockey when he was five.

The Gators voted for club officers for the first time this year, electing Duenes president. “My job is basically to look over the club and make final decisions,” he writes. He knows he can rely on the other officers. “I trust my other officers to do their job, making this year pretty easy for myself,” he writes. “I couldn’t do much without my other officers.”

Duenes was born in Northridge, California but grew up in West Hills, California. His favorite team in the National Hockey League is the Los Angeles Kings. He describes himself as “a HUGE Kings fan.” He grew up watching them and hoping to play for them one day. He tries to attend at least one Kings game each year and wants to see them face the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center, the Sharks’ home arena, and at the outdoor game that will be held at Levi’s Stadium February 21, 2015. He especially wants to go because he missed the outdoor game the Kings hosted at Dodger Stadium earlier this year. His favorite NHL player is L.A. goaltender Jonathan Quick. “He is the best goaltender in the league,” Duenes writes. “Watching him play is awesome, with all of the ridiculous saves he makes.” As a spectator, he loves hockey’s fast pace and the skill the players demonstrate. “All of the moves the players can do and the shots they can make is crazy,” he writes.

He believes more people would enjoy hockey if they took the time to actually watch it. “Go to a game, it will change your perspective,” he writes in reference to those who are uninterested in hockey. “Give it a chance, it’s an amazing sport.”

***

Matthew Gold, who majors in history, is the Gators’ vice president and plays left or right wing, “depending on what the coaches need at the time,” he writes in an email interview. He has enjoyed hockey for basically as long as he can remember. He was born in 1993, the year Anaheim, California got an NHL team, then named the Mighty Ducks. His father, whom Gold describes as “a huge hockey fan all of his life,” became an avid fan of the new club. Gold, who was born and raised in Upland, California, also is a fan of the team now named the Anaheim Ducks.

Gold got away from the sport for a while until a friend took him to game during his junior year of high school, “and I fell in love again,” he writes. That game also prompted his interest in playing hockey. He starting out on roller skates until late in his freshman year when he discovered SF State had a team. Then, he writes, “I put on ice skates and began actively working to start playing ice hockey.”

He loves hockey’s speed and constant action. “There’s never a dull moment in hockey,” he writes. His favorite aspect of the game is the camaraderie seen even among opponents. “And the best part is after all the hitting and chirping, for the most part, teams can put everything aside and shake hands at the end of the game,” he writes. “There’s a brotherhood in hockey that you won’t find in any other sport.”

He encourages those who say they do not like hockey without having watched the sport to give it a chance before passing judgment. “Don’t knock it til you try it,” he writes.

Gold appreciates how well the team gets along. “This team is one of the tightest I’ve ever played on,” he writes. “I’ve never had so much fun playing hockey.”

***

BERNIS_MG_7210
Corey Bemis

Corey Bemis, a freshman who majors in history, is a forward. He has played hockey competitively since he was thirteen. He started out playing roller hockey and only made the switch to ice hockey this season. He admits it is a change, but he was able to make the transition easily. “It was pretty smooth,” he says. The biggest adjustment for him was the difference in skating style, but he reached the same speed on the ice that he was accustomed to off it “after two or three practices,” Bemis says.

The Cupertino native is a lifelong Sharks fan. “I’ve always been obsessed with hockey,” Bemis says. “I’ve been going to Sharks games since I was eighteen months old.” His favorite NHL players are Tommy Wingels and Tomas Hertl of the Sharks. “He’s a fun player to watch,” he says of Wingels. He dislikes but respects the rival Kings. “It really goes to show the Kings’ strength,” Bemis says of L.A.’s historic comeback victory against the Sharks in the first round of the 2014 playoffs in which the Kings became the fourth team to win a seven-game series after losing the first three contests.

“I’d say it’s a growing sport,” he says of hockey in California. People “really should give it a chance.”

 

***

 

 

Paul Klein, a computer science major, plays right wing. He grew up in a family of hockey players and has been involved with the sport from a young age. “I started playing hockey a long time ago,” he says. Klein is from Laguna Niguel, California and is a fan of the Ducks. He played hockey at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, one of the first high schools in the state with a hockey team. He played the sport in the first year a team hit the ice at both JSerra and SF State. He first got involved with the Gators after seeing Andrew Duenes, now the club president, sitting at a table the team set up and wearing a Kings jersey. He thinks the presence of a hockey team at SF State is a sign of the move “toward making it a more athletic school.”

Klein talks about his team’s passion for the sport. “We really do care about the sport of hockey,” he says. He encourages people who are interested in finding out more about the Gators to stop by their table, which is out on the quad every so often, or to visit their Facebook page.

***

MURNANE_MG_7219
Ryan Murnane

 

 

Ryan Murnane, a history major in his third semester at SF State, is a defenseman and alternate captain for the Gators. He was introduced to the sport by his father and started out playing pond hockey when he was about ten. He loves that it is “one of the fastest sports there is, always going,” he says. He was born in Wheeling, Illinois but grew up more in and around Sacramento.

His favorite NHL team is the Detroit Red Wings, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks. He will also root for “anyone who plays against the [Boston] Bruins.” He has a particular distaste for that team because he thinks they play dirty. His favorite player of all-time is Steve Yzerman, a Hall of Famer who played for Detroit. Among active players, he says, “I really like the way Steven Stamkos plays.” Stamkos plays for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I think it’s the greatest sport,” Murnane says. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

 

 

 

***

Michael Parra, a criminal justice major in his fifth semester at SF State, plays on the wing– “left preferably”–for the school’s ice hockey club. He started out in the sport by playing street hockey with his brothers in front of their house in San Bruno when he was about six years old. Now twenty-six, he is the oldest member of the team, which he calls “a pretty young group.” The average age of the players is nineteen. He feels a sense of responsibility to the rest of the team because of his age and because of his varied experiences, having both played and coached, been captain, and dealt with injuries. “I want to provide a sense of leadership to the younger guys,” he says. He has played in two international tournaments, one in Canada and one in Florida. “It was actually pretty cool … being able to play in a serious but fun environment,” Parra says.

His favorite team and player in the National Hockey League are his hometown San Jose Sharks and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, respectively. He feels hockey “has grown a lot” in California but more so in the southern part of the state. “As the years have gone on, the sport has really progressed, especially in So Cal,” he says. He admits a begrudging respect for the Sharks’ Southern California rivals, the  Kings and the Ducks. “I can’t really stand So Cal sports teams, but I admire their business practices in Anaheim as well as LA,” he says. “They’re doing the right thing off the ice.” He adds that the Kings’ goalie, Jonathan Quick, can be “the best player in the world” when he is at the top of his game.

He thinks more people would enjoy the game if they would only give it a chance. “It’s unfortunate that in the Bay Area, it doesn’t get as much respect as football or baseball, and I think that’s because people don’t understand it,” Parra says. “If people had someone explain it to them…it only takes a couple games to get hooked.”

Parra truly loves the game. “Hockey—I live and breathe it,” he says.

***

Casey Ticsay is a sophomore BECA major in her first season with the Gators. She was exposed to hockey early on. “My family is a hockey family,” she explains. Her father and uncles played the sport. “I’m glad I thought to grow up with it because now it’s my life,” she says. She started playing hockey when she was eleven. “I’ve always played on boys’ teams,” she says, because there were not enough girls to field a separate team. She did briefly play for an all-girls travel team as a kid, but she prefers to be on male teams because it is what she is used to and because she likes the “more aggressive” style of play. She feels her gender has never put her at a disadvantage or made other players look down on her. “I liked how they didn’t treat me any differently,” she says of the boys and men she has played with and against throughout her time in hockey. In fact, she believes skating with the guys has helped her. “It made me a lot tougher and stronger,” says the five-foot-two defenseman.

She is from Granada Hills, California and has long loved the Kings. I’ve been a “huge fan of the Los Angeles Kings since I was a kid,” Ticsay says. “I’ve been going to games literally since I was a baby because of my dad.” One of her favorite players is L.A. defenseman Drew Doughty, though she says, “I love everyone on the team.” She is also a fan of some of the greats from the past. My dad “always talked about the older players [such as] Bobby Orr, Stan Mikita. I like them,” she says.

Ticsay loves hockey and was grateful for the opportunity to keep playing in college. She says she was really glad when she found out SF State has a team because she had played a lot in Southern California and “would have missed it” if she had to stop. She speaks passionately about the sport. “I think it’s exciting,” Ticsay says. “I think hockey’s an amazing sport. I could talk about it all day.”

How to Prepare Gourmet, Healthy Meals on a College Budget

Eating healthy does not have to mean sacrificing flavor or paying a lot of money. Healthy meals can be flavorful and extremely cheap to prepare, as low as less than a few dollars.

Good eating habits regularly fall victim to college students’ lack of time and money. It seems easier and cheaper to grab fast food than to prepare a healthy home-cooked meal. Meals can be prepared, however, that are nutritious and tasty but do not take much money.

Learning a few tricks is vital to cheap and easy healthy cooking. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans can be put together in infinite combinations. Vinegars, herbs, and spices boost flavor without adding fat or sodium. Feel free to experiment to keep things interesting. Trader Joe’s sells bottles of herbs and spices for very low prices.

Shop around for the best selection and prices until you figure which stores best suit your needs. More importantly, though, understand what you are paying for. The prices for fruits and vegetables might look high but keep in mind those are often prices per pound and not unit costs. Produce often does not weigh much and a little can go a long way. You are also likely better off buying your fruits and vegetables at small produce markets or some farmers’ markets than larger chain stores like Safeway or Whole Foods.

When it comes to buying quality produce at low prices, downtown San Francisco offers some great options. The Heart of the City Farmers’ Market is held year-round at UN Plaza on Wednesdays from seven a.m. to five-thirty p.m. and Sundays from seven a.m. to five p.m. Many vendors offer reasonable prices and will discount them as the day goes on, often peddling bags jammed full of produce for a dollar. Golden Veggie Market at the corner of California and Polk streets and California Produce on Polk Street near Geary Street are also good bets. The Mission boasts low-priced fruits and vegetables as well.

Healthy meals can be deceptively simple to prepare. An assortment of vegetables, fruits, and/or proteins such as beans, tofu, or tempeh can be cooked together in a single skillet. Plus, sautéing vegetables allows them to retain more of their natural flavors and nutrients than other methods like boiling or microwaving do.

If you would like to try cooking this way but do not know where to begin, mix and match ingredients out of this list of suggestions to get started:

Vegetables – Greens (e.g., kale, collard, or chard), potato (e.g., red, Yukon gold, purple, or white), sweet potato/yam, turnip, parsnip, broccoli, carrot, mushroom, Brussels sprouts, onion, bell/chili pepper, zucchini or other squash, etc.

Fruits – Apple, berries, pear, grapes, etc.

Grains – Rice (e.g., brown, white, or wild), quinoa, whole-grain pasta, barley, farro, etc.

Proteins – Beans (e.g., fava, black, or pinto), tofu, tempeh, seitan, eggs, etc.

Seasonings – Fresh or dried herbs (e.g., basil, mint, dill, rosemary, oregano, thyme), cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, pepper, etc.

Vinegars – Balsamic, apple cider, white wine, red wine, rice, etc.

  • Asian Stir Fry
  • GE
  • Main Ingredients: Eggplant, Green Olives, Tomato, Zucchini. ( Danielle Parenteau/Xpress Magazine)
  • Main Ingredients: Brussels Sprouts, Kidney Beans, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Orange Bell Pepper (Danielle Parenteau/ Xpress Magazine)
  • Main Ingredients: Green Beans, Broccoli, Baby Box Choy, Orange Bell Pepper, Mushrooms, Japanese Yam. (Danielle Parenteau/ Xpress Magazine)
  • Main Ingredients: Rainbow Chard, Cranberries, Parsnip, Japanese Yam, Mandarin Oranges. (Danielle Parenteau/ Xpress Magazine)
  • Main Ingredients: Greens, Sweet Potato, Mixed (frozen) Berries. (Danielle Parenteau/ Xpress Magazine)
  • Main Ingredients: Kale, Asian Pear, Feta Cheese. (Danielle Parenteau/ Xpress Magazine)

Attempts to Call Students to Climate Action Fall Short

Hundreds packed McKenna Theater earlier this month for the final day of Climate Action Week at SF State, drawn in by famed climate change activist Bill McKibben. However, many left after his speech when people were asked to join discussion groups, each led by a different environmental advocacy organization.

In his first appearance here, McKibben speaks about efforts to protect the environment globally and at SF State. He calls the university’s student-led move toward divestment, “one of the high points in this global campaign.” SF State is the first public school and the first university in the world to engage in fossil fuel divestment, in which entities refuse to invest in oil companies.

The understanding of climate change has grown over time. Twenty-five years ago, McKibben says, we knew about global warming, but we had no idea how bad it would get or how fast it would spread. We still have trouble comprehending what a profound impact an apparently small temperature increase can have. A one-degree change may not seem like much, “but measured in [certain] ways, it’s an immense amount,” McKibben says. The world may be headed for even greater temperature gains. “For me, the scary part is were just at the beginning of this process…” he explains, adding that scientists predict a four to five degree jump over the next century. With the devastating effects a one-degree rise in temperature has had, it is scary to imagine the sort of havoc four or five degree more could wreak.

Demonstrations are held worldwide to take a stand against what McKibben describes as “the first truly global problem we’ve faced.” He shows photos of people in a wide variety of locales such as Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Wheaton, Illinois, China, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Bhutan, Washington, D.C., the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, Somalia, Brazil, Vietnam, Italy, and San Francisco. McKibben reports that people from “every country in the world except North Korea” have demonstrated on behalf of 350.org, which encourages grassroots climate activism. In some of the photos, people stand together to write out “350.” In Yemen, the zero is composed of women in black burqas. These efforts to raise awareness about climate change bridge deep schisms. At the Dead Sea, Jordanians form the three, Palestinians, the five, and Israelis, the zero. Some pictures depict a humorous take on the potential consequences of climate change like the one that shows people sitting in a makeshift living room on a beach because of the rising sea levels that threaten to wipe out some low-lying coastal areas.

McKibben proclaims that current college students “will be in the prime of your lives” as the worst outcomes of climate change begin to be felt. He closes to lengthy applause before most of the crowd streams out of the exits.

After McKibben’s speech, representatives from the following five environmentally-minded organizations each describe his or her group’s mission: Fossil Free SFSU, the Green Initiative Fund, 350 Bay Area, Idle No More, and the Citizens Climate Lobby. The idea was to people have spend a session with one group of their choice and then join a second session with another, but only one session is held because so many had left.

Idle No More, an indigenous activism organization, believes in connecting with people and respecting the Earth. “Mother Earth does not negotiate,” declares group leader Pennie Opal Plant. “We can pray, we can ask, we can tell her how sorry we are, but her system is her system.”

The more people who join the movement against climate change, the better. “What we really need is billions of people in the streets,” insists Plant. Unfortunately, this event did not prompt much growth. Jason Schwartz, an environmental studies major and one of the leaders of Fossil Free SFSU, admits the weak response from students is “disappointing.” He indicates a small stack of clipboards clasping mostly empty sign-up sheets, saying he had anticipated recruiting many new members out of the hundreds in attendance. Instead, “we got three,” he groans. Still, he hopes to see more people becoming active on campus even if they are not focused on the environment. “I would really like to organize students around whatever they want to work on,” Schwartz says. “I would like to see students feel like they have a voice.”

Are you overly attached to technology?

Passengers on the 28 Muni inbound. (Olympia Zampathas/ Xpress Magazine)
Passengers on the 28 Muni inbound. (Olympia Zampathas/ Xpress Magazine)

The next time you are sitting in a classroom or stuck on an overcrowded Muni vehicle, silently cursing it for threatening to make you late to class yet again, take a look around. How many people are staring at a laptop or, more likely, a smartphone? Chances are, it will be several of them. Technology use is pervasive among college students, and that can have its pluses and minuses.

Many students utilize technology to do their schoolwork—to access documents provided by teachers, to do research, to write papers, and so on. To most, the right technological device is essential to getting work done. Eighty-five percent of students surveyed for the 2012 EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology rated a laptop as very or extremely important to academic success, making it the highest ranking device. Only 37 percent rated a smartphone the same. Three out of four college students say they could not study without technology, according to this infographic released by OnlineEducation.net in 2011. That tidbit might be best taken with a grain of salt because a site dedicated to online-only colleges would probably be inclined to pump up technology’s importance, but there is no denying the valuable role technology often plays when doing your homework. After all, when used properly, the Internet can provide a wealth of information much faster than it could be accessed by any other method.

Technology use can also be a major hindrance to students, however. All the quality information the Internet can provide is useless if it is lost among page after page of outdated, misleading, or just plain wrong “information” turned up by your favorite search engine. The Web is also, of course, full of time-wasters. Fall into the black hole of Facebook or BuzzFeed, and the hours you had meant to spend working on a research paper have vanished.

Research continues to shed light on the harmful effects on people who rely too heavily on technology, particularly college students. A survey of five hundred and thirty-six undergraduate students found that as their use of technology increased, their anxiety levels went up and their academic performance, as measured by GPA, went down according to the 2013 article, “The relationship between cell phone use, academic performance, anxiety, and Satisfaction with Life in college students,” published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior last year. In a study published in the same journal in August, one hundred and sixty-three American college students were required to spend set stretches of time without using their smartphones. Half of the group were made to surrender their phones for the duration of the study; the rest were allowed to keep them but had to turn them off and put them away. The researchers found that those who self-identified as moderate or heavy users of technology “felt significantly more anxious over time.”

A new term has been coined to describe the problematic attachment many have to technology: “Nomophobia” is the strong and irrational fear of being apart from your phone. The website Nomophobia.com offers a test titled “Are you a nomophobe?”

Technology plays a significant role in most students’ lives. Sometimes it is an asset as it helps you find information and get your work done faster. Using it too much, though, can prevent you from accomplishing anything and have harmful psychological effects. Go ahead and use your favorite devices for work and play, just try to not get too attached.

SF voters asked whether to raise minimum wage to $15

An initiative to raise the San Francisco minimum wage to fifteen dollars per hour by 2018 and eventually make it dependent on inflation will be put to city voters during the November 4th election.

The measure, which appears on the ballot as Proposition J, asks voters: “Shall the City gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by July 1, 2018 with further increases based on inflation?” If it passes, the city’s minimum wage would go to twelve dollars and twenty-five cents an hour beginning May 1 next year and thirteen dollars starting July 1, 2016 before reaching $15 as of July 1, 2018. It would be tied to inflation starting in 2016. San Francisco’s hourly minimum wage stands at $10.74 and is set to rise to $11.03 next year if the measure does not pass.

The initiative, which was introduced by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee last month, came on the heels of another proposal to lift the city’s minimum wage to $15. The Minimum Wage Act of 2014 was crafted by a contingent of labor unions and community activists known collectively as the Campaign for a Fair Economy. It would have accelerated the minimum wage more quickly, hiking it to $13 an hour in 2015 and raising it one dollar per hour each year for the following two years. Businesses with more than 100 employees would have been required to pay at least $13 per hour by the end of this calendar year and $15 an hour by 2016.

The Service Employees International Union, San Francisco Rising and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment were among those who supported the act, but it was negatively received by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Lee attempted to work with groups that represent workers’ rights and business interests to draw up a proposal that would appease both sides, resulting in the initiative that will be on the ballot.

“We consider it a great victory that through our bold initiative and unified coalition of groups representing working class San Franciscans and allies, we were able convince the Mayor, all members of the Board of Supervisors, business groups and other employers to support a consensus measure based on the original CFE proposal that will be the strongest minimum wage measure in the nation,” says the June 12th Fight for $15! update from the campaign.

The SEIU worked with Lee to try to get the minimum wage boosted to help give local workers a “better quality of life economically,” says union member Gregory Richardson. He does not think the proposal goes far enough. “$15 an hour in San Francisco doesn’t really cut the cake,” says Richardson. He does believe it would “help [people] have a better financial situation” and be able to stay in San Francisco.

Speculation swirled that there could be two minimum wage increase proposals placed before voters in the same election, but the Minimum Wage Act was removed from consideration after the mayor introduced the second initiative.

Students may be disproportionately affected by any minimum wage laws. People under the age of twenty-five make up about one-fifth of workers paid by the hour but account for almost half of the workforce that receives the federal minimum wage or less, according to “Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2013,” a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in March. Students who want to benefit from San Francisco’s higher minimum wage should not work on campus as SF State is a state institution and, thus, only required to pay the California hourly minimum wage, which hit nine dollars July and will climb to ten dollars by the start of 2016.

Some believe concentrating on the minimum wage is somewhat misguided because that approach fails to look at the underlying problems. Progressives tend to focus on wages but need to examine inequality of power, said Jamie Way of Make Change at Walmart at the Beyond Livable Wage panel at Netroots Nation in Detroit this month. “The wages are a symptom of a huge imbalance,” said panel moderator Brian Young. Erica Smiley of Jobs with Justice thinks raising the minimum wage is a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough. “Just passing a living wage … good, but it doesn’t give workers power,” she said at the panel. Smiley added that the goal should be to “not just increase wages in the short-term but to build worker power in the long-term.”

Not everyone on the panel felt highlighting wages is problematic. “I think focusing our movement on wages” puts it on track, says Saket Soni of the National Guestworkers Alliance. He also called San Francisco’s proposed minimum wage initiative and retail worker bill of rights a “great model” for workers’ rights across the nation.

We Have an Ethnic Studies Center?

Nikko Martinez (center), the secretary of the Ethnic Studies Student Resource & Empowerment Center, hangs out with the center's interns Wednesday Oct. 7. The interns (left to right) are Elisa Wong, Elisa Wong, Efraim Sinambela, Nureldin Maslu and Jiayan Fung. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)
Nikko Martinez (center), the secretary of the Ethnic Studies Student Resource & Empowerment Center, hangs out with the center’s interns Wednesday Oct. 7. The interns (left to right) are Elisa Wong, Elisa Wong, Efraim Sinambela, Nureldin Maslu and Jiayan Fung.
(Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

The Ethnic Studies Student Resource and Empowerment Center bustles with chatter. A handful of student interns, packed into the small office, talk and laugh amongst themselves. One of the interns sits at the room’s lone computer, which is planted on the room’s only desk. The walls exhibit art of ethnic pride, a portrait of Cesar Chavez is one of the most prominent. One wall holds rows of brochures for campus services. More brochures, pamphlets, and fliers for services, upcoming events, scholarships, and job openings fill a table just outside the door. A whiteboard perched on an easel on the opposite side displays job and scholarship search websites. The only thing that is missing are the students the center exists to serve.

The center was established about five years ago because SF State wanted to create a student resource center that would be open to all students campus-wide. The university asked Phil Klasky, a lecturer in the American Indian Studies department, to coordinate the group because of his past experiences as a social worker and reputation as a student-oriented teacher. He says his background as a social worker taught him “to see the person behind the problem.” The purpose of the center is to guide students to services provided on campus and to give them the tools to help themselves. “I think self-empowerment is at least as important to [academic success] as understanding the material,” declares Klasky. He wants students to “understand there are services they paid for on campus.” He knows not all students have outside support.

Relatively few students seem to know the center exists. “No one knows who the hell ESSO is or where the center is … and, ugh, our name [is too long],” complains Maura Villanueva, a Spanish and Latino Studies double-major in her second semester interning at the center. ESSO is the Ethnic Studies Student Organization formed by a few interns about two-and-a-half years ago as an official Associated Students, Incorporated (ASI) organization. It is one of a handful of ethnic studies student organizations in the country. Klasky adds that one of the center’s biggest challenges is “getting the word out and getting students to actually take advantage” of what it and the school has to offer.

The center’s low profile may be driven by its location and youth. Unlike most student organizations at SF State, it is not based in the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Rather, it can be found in Room 110B in the Ethnic Studies and Psychology building. It also has not had the time to develop the kind of history and reputation many other groups on campus enjoy. “I feel we don’t have as strong a presence as other student organizations,” says Nico Martinez, environmental studies major and the organization’s secretary.

It may also be hampered by low funds. It has an annual operational budget of five-hundred dollars and up to five-hundred additional dollars for events. “It can go like this,” says Villanueva, snapping her fingers. Jake Velazquez, an anthropology and American Indian Studies double-major and the initial president of the student organization, believes the center’s presence will grow as it strengthens its foundation. “As we grow a bigger base of skilled interns, I think we’ll be able to reach a bigger audience,” he says.

Helpful literature line the walls of the Ethnic Studies Student Resource & Empowerment Center Wednesday Oct. 8. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)
Helpful literature line the walls of the Ethnic Studies Student Resource & Empowerment Center Wednesday Oct. 8. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

During the month of October, the center will offer several workshops and get involved with events coordinated by better-known organizations in the hopes that it will start reaching more students. Two planned workshops intend to help students apply for scholarships and prepare for graduate school. Klasky encourages students to attend graduate school because he believes it allows them to “engage more in their interests in a more profound way.” The center’s interns have been tasked with coming up with more potential workshops. Environmental justice is a key topic at a recent meeting of the Ethnic Studies Student Organization. The interns share their thoughts on the movie Disruption, which was assigned viewing. They talk about some of the factors influencing climate change and climate racism, which looks at who gets the brunt of the consequences. Their homework assignment for the next meeting is to come up with a few steps people can take to address environmental issues as well as possible solutions.

The center lives on students helping students. “It floats my boat to see students helping each other out,” Klasky said with a big grin. “I really love that we’re a community of motivated and passionate people … helping other people,” says President Monica Sandoval, a senior accounting major who has interned in the center for three years. She continues, “I really like that it’s student-run, so we’ve had the opportunity to develop it.”

The interns help more than just others on campus but those in need off campus as well. Last semester, Sandoval organized a march for women who have been physically or sexually abused. She describes the experience as “really hard for me on a personal level” and says others in the center helped her through that difficult time. “I couldn’t have done it without the support from the friends I’ve made here,” she says.

The center is open until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. During the day, though, the center has irregular hours. Sometimes it is full of people, at others, a lone intern may be studying quietly. At other times still, the center’s door is shut and locked when it is supposed to be open. At that recent meeting, Klasky reminded the interns that they need to adhere to the office hours they signed up for. Students in need of a helping hand might want to consider stopping by when the center is open. Odds are if it does not have what you need, it will know who does.

Remembering 9/11

Photo courtesy of AJ Montpetit
Photo courtesy of AJ Montpetit

Certain moments in history are so monumental that most people will never forget where they were when it happened or when they heard the news. For this generation, 9/11 is that moment.

I am sure I will always remember how I found out about 9/11. I had just recently started the fifth grade at Carr Elementary School in Torrance, Calif., and was nine days shy of my tenth birthday. Sometimes, my mom would turn on the news while I was getting ready for school, but she had not on that day. I walked to school that morning with no idea how the world had changed while I was sleeping. Once we were all in our seats, my teacher, Lauri Beard, told the class what had happened. The air grew heavy as a hush fell over the room. There was no sound but her voice.

I cannot repeat verbatim what she said to us, but the way she told us has always stuck with me. She did not try to sugarcoat things or pretend nothing was wrong just because we were children. She also did not try to scare us with talk of terrorists or warn us that we were under attack. She spoke to us straightforward, calmly, but with gravity. I cannot begin to imagine what she must have been feeling that morning, but I am sure having to tell a room full of mostly ten-year-olds something so horrible was no easy task. Whenever I think back to that awful day, I want to thank her for the way she handled such a difficult situation and the respect she gave us.

I can recall two ways in which my school attempted to convey the enormity of this tragedy to us students, and how they still resonate with me. When Miss Beard broke the news to my class, she told us that there had been enough people in the Twin Towers for them to qualify for their own ZIP code. On one of the following days, a row of easels was set up, each bearing a sheet of newspaper, covered with nothing but columns of names—thousands in all—of the dead and missing. I never would have imagined that mere text could have such a strong visual impact.

At the time, one of my best friends, Huda El-Haj, and her family happened to be Muslim. I remember her telling me about her father, who worked for the U.S. Postal Service, experiencing discrimination after 9/11. Years later, the Muslim Student Association at my community college, Cypress College, hosted Purple Hijab Day to raise awareness about domestic violence. They encouraged female students to don the hijab for a day to support the cause. I wore one of the lavender headscarves they were giving out and got dirty looks from at least a couple people. I was not personally hurt by this, but I could not help but feel for those women who wear the hijab every day as an expression of their faith and are subject to the prejudice I received that day or much worse.

In the thirteen years since 9/11, I have developed an ever-deepening desire to understand the world as best I can. Among other things, I want to have at least a modest comprehension of global politics. That is why I chose to mark the anniversary by attending the Thirteenth Annual Jules Tygiel Memorial Forum on Post-9/11 World Affairs, held on the 13th anniversary at SF State.

The assembled panel spoke on a number of political topics, centered around the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, politics in India, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and U.S. foreign policy. I found the whole discussion fascinating, but the discourse on the Middle East was what I found to be most fitting given the date. Fred Astern, a professor of Jewish studies, pointed out that we cannot yet know how the current state of world affairs will look when framed in a greater historical context. He elicited laughter from the packed room when he said, “the French Revolution—we don’t know how that’s going to turn out.” He also encouraged a shift from the predominant western view of the conflict in the Middle East that “emphasizes European colonialism and imperialism.”

The moderator, history professor Maziar Behrooz, explained some of the similarities and differences between Wahhabism, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Salafism, which are all derived from Islam. I found his description of the Muslim Brotherhood most interesting; Behrooz called it a “reformed” Islam and said that it encourages followers to be Muslim while accepting the likes of modern technology and reason.

Andrei P. Tsygankov, professor of political science and international relations, offered a bit of advice. “The world is changing fundamentally,” he said. “We need to come up with a better definition of what is the world we live in.”

 That will not be easy to do, and it will be even harder to come to something enough people can agree on. Still, Tsygankov is right – the world is not at all the place it was thirteen years ago.