Category Archives: Bay & Beyond

Community colleges will offer 4-year degrees

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It’s that time of year when high school seniors anxiously await their college acceptance letters, praying a fat envelope will soon arrive from the campus of their dreams.

But here in the Golden State, getting into college can be as expensive as it is gratifying. The average cost of a bachelor’s degree at the University of California is $29,200 a year, and $23,261 a year at a California State University. Students looking for cheaper four-year programs now have another option: community college.

Fifteen community college campuses across the state will now offer bachelor’s degrees in fields relating to healthcare, manufacturing and design. Two of those schools are in the Bay Area – Skyline College in San Bruno will offer a program in respiratory therapy, and Foothill College in Los Altos Hills will offer full certification for dental hygiene.

There is, however, one stipulation for the approved schools: they can’t offer the same bachelor’s degrees that are already available at any California State University. Despite this restriction, people are attracted to the low cost of these new programs.

“I think it’s a good idea because it would be cheaper,” says Sara Gharehgoozli, a biochemistry student at the Community College of San Francisco.

But some students associate cheap tuition with a lower-quality education, claiming they would get what they pay for.

“It would be cheaper, but there are not enough resources here,” says Victor Rosales, a 27-year-old business major at CCSF.

As one of California’s three levels of higher education, community colleges have traditionally been where students complete their general education before transferring to a four-year institution or receiving an associate’s degree. The State schools and University of California campuses, however, carry greater prestige that some students, such as Nick Franjenberg, are willing to pay for straight out of high school.

Franjenberg goes to Lick Wildmerding High School, which forced all its students out onto the front lawn Wednesday after receiving a bomb threat. Excited chatter stretched down the street that separates the campus from CCSF, and idle gossip soon turned into absurd rumors about Russian extremists attacking school.

“I heard it was Putin himself,” Franjenberg jokes.

While enjoying the fresh air and staring at the college campus next door, the 17-year-old student says it wouldn’t be the first pick for his upcoming four-year adventure. He says after all the time spent sitting in high school just across the street, community college doesn’t fit his definition of higher education. The reputation of these schools is perhaps the biggest obstacle they must overcome before the public takes their new four-year degrees seriously.

“I guess I would go [to CCSF] if I didn’t get into college,” Franjenberg says.

Exploring the Creative Arts Building

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Exploring different departments on your university campus can lead to some interesting encounters and some fun videos. We were lucky enough to have Miguel Verdugo and David Bookbinder let us record them performing Grand Duo Concertant Op. 48.

Filmed, produced, and edited by Jannelle Garcia, Jayda McClendon, and Olympia Zampathas.

What’s up with Sia’s new music video?

Shia LaBeouf stars in Sia new music video. Photo by Tami Benedict/ Xpress Magazine
Shia LaBeouf stars in Sia’s new music video, “Elastic Heart.”

Most of you have probably already seen Sia’s new controversial music video for “Elastic Heart” featuring Shia LaBeouf and “Dance MomsMaddie Ziegler. If you haven’t seen it, LaBeouf and Ziegler are locked in what looks like a big  bird cage, wearing only nude colored underwear, a unitard for Ziegler, and looking incredibly dirty.

The video has LaBeouf and Ziegler fighting each other at one point and at another, acting enduring toward each other, all while dancing. In the end, Ziegler is trying to free LaBeouf from the cage they were trapped in and can’t succeed.

Some people thought nothing of the video except “Wow, Shia LaBeouf can dance?” but there are others who take things way out of proportion and everyone gets talking. Twitter and Facebook filled up with comments that LaBeouf’s character represented a pedophile. Some even took it a bit farther and said the video was disgusting because, in their eyes, an adult male shouldn’t be dancing with a young girl.

Among all the controversy, Sia came out with responses via her Twitter last night.

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She continued to respond to her fans’ questions, saying that both actors were meant to represent Sia and no one else.

Personally, I enjoyed the video. I have always been a fan of Shia LaBeouf, even in his “crazy state,” and was amazed at how well he danced. I loved watching dance as an art form and a story presented in front of us and I believe that the video is showing this storytelling.

To me, Ziegler represented Sia and maybe LaBeouf could be someone from her past or even represent Sia fighting herself. I guess we will truly never know unless Sia herself decides to tell us.

Here is the video so you can judge for yourself.

Pandit Chitresh Das dies at 70

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Though Pandit Chitresh Das may not be your everyday household name, his name has a worldwide reach. Pt. Das dedicated his entire life to his artform, and legacy, the North Indian Traditional dance style of Kathak. Kathak is one of the six classical dances of India, and the only North Indian style. It is derived from the word “katha” which means to tell a story and is also known as one of the most dynamic theater arts in the world. A solo Kathak dance can last several hours. The dancer, who wears, ghungroos, or five pounds of bells strung around their ankles, responds to the instruments playing during the Kathak with a matching rhythm.

Pt. Das passed away on Sunday, January 4th 2015, from acute aortic dissection at the age of 70. He is survived by his wife, Celine, and his two daughters, Shivaranjani, three and a half, and Saadhvi, one and a half, and his many disciples around the globe. His influence is widespread, with more than 47,000 likes on his dance company’s Facebook page alone.

A Facebook post by Pandit Chitresh Das' wife, Celine Schein, the day her husband passed away.
A Facebook post by Pandit Chitresh Das’ wife, Celine Schein, the day her husband passed away.

His death came as a shock to everyone surrounding him, and many remember the Kathak master as a “legend” and someone truly dedicated to his passion. Here is a photo posted on the dance company’s Facebook page just three days prior.

Pt. Das was born and raised in Calcutta, India, grew up a child prodigy, and a disciple of the great Kathak guru, Pandit Ram Narayan Misra.

Das at age nine in traditional Muslim costume.  Photo credit: Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandam School of Dance
Das at age nine in traditional Muslim costume. Photo credit: Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandam School of Kathak
Pandit Das at age nine performing with the  great tabla master Pandit Samta Prasad.  Seated in front is Chitreshji’s Guru,  Pandit Ram Narayan Misra. Photo by Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandom School of Kathak.
Pandit Das at age nine performing with the
great tabla master Pandit Samta Prasad.
Seated in front is Chitreshji’s Guru,
Pandit Ram Narayan Misra. Photo by Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandom School of Kathak.

In 1970, Pt. Das moved to the United States on fellowship. He continued to perform in a multitude of performances in the States and India. By 1980, he founded the Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandam School of Kathak. Though the company is based in San Francisco, it is now known as one of the world’s foremost Indian classical dance companies and now has branches in Boston, Toronto, and India.

Pandit Das on the cover of the Junior Statesman. The story highlighted Pandit Das' performance for Uday Shankarji and told of his preparing to come to the U.S. Photo by Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandom School of Kathak.
Pandit Das on the cover of the Junior Statesman. The story highlighted Pandit Das’ performance for Uday Shankarji and told of his preparing to come to the U.S. Photo by Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandom School of Kathak.

The Chitresh Das Dance Company’s mission is to produce exemplary traditional, innovative, and collaborative works of North Indian classical Kathak dance, increase awareness of Kathak dance, and train future generations and build local, national, and international community support for the Kathak tradition.

In 2010, Upaj: Improvise, a documentary produced by lifelong disciple of his, Antara Bhardwaj, tells the story of how Pandit Chitresh Das and, grammy winning tap-dancer, Jason Samuel Smith, met and began collaborating to create their world-touring performance, India Jazz Suites.

Pt. Das said he wanted to dance with Jason Samuel Smith on his 70th birthday in November and he did. That was his last public performance.

“Life and death are the only reality. You come alone, you go alone. Only thing to do in between is practice and do whatever you do with love.” – Pt. Chitresh Das

To learn more about Kathak, check out the Chitresh Das Dance Company’s website. To see more videos of Chitresh Das, click here.

I don’t think I’m mistaken when I say that it was Pt. Das’ goal to have the legacy of Kathak to be passed on for many generations to come has been a success; he’s touched the lives of so many, his goal was not in vain. May the Kathak guru rest in peace. He will be greatly missed.

A memorial service for the Kathak master will be held on Friday, January 9th at Mount Tamalpais Mortuary and Cemetery (2500 5th Avenue, San Rafael CA 94901). The Chitresh Das Dance Company and Chhandam School of Kathak website asks attendees to leave time for parking.

Schedule:

9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: Viewing – Chapel

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Service (outdoors)

On fetishes and fantasies—working at Fantasy Makers

Photos and interview by Helen Tinna

Fantasy Makers is an East Bay adult playhouse that brings one’s fetishes and fantasies to life. Photojournalist Helen Tinna interviews Patience Morgan, a professional dominatrix at Fantasy Makers. Morgan talks about what it means to be a professional dominatrix and explains how she likes it.

 

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  • Friday, February 21, 2014, After a hard spanking session with one of her regular clients, Ruby inspects her bruised backside in the mirror. Ruby works out of the Fantasy Makers fetish playhouse as a performance artist.
  • Thursday, December 4, 2014, A rubber fist hides beneath a pile of "Large Dildi" in a drawer back stage at Fantasy Makers, a fetish playhouse based out of the Easy Bay.
  • Thursday, December 4, 2014, Panties and heels line the walls of the "Big Girls Closet", a collection of dress-up clothes for male clients who want to come and dress as women.
  • Thursday, December 4, 2014, A drawer of well organized spanking implements in the back room of Fantasy Makers features such items as a rubber chicken, a flip-flop on a stick, book spines and a heavy cutting board.
  • Monday, November 24, 2014, A Fantasy Maker fills out her client card after a session, where she gives a brief description of how things went, and perhaps some fun ideas for next time.
  • Thursday, December 4, 2014, Fake breast inserts line the walls of the "Big Girls Closet," a collection of dress-up clothes for male clients who want to come and dress as women.
  • Thursday, December 4, 2014, Whips, floggers, brushes, clamps and soft mitts line the inside of the prop closet in one of the Fantasy Makers session rooms.
  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014, Patience (Left ) smokes a cigarette and chats with one of her regulars, Bacchus, on the back deck at Fantasy Makers.
  • Thursday, December, 4 2014, Costumes hang from lockers in the dressing room of Fantasy Makers, a fetish playhouse based in Easy Bay.
  • Monday, November 24, 2014, Fantasy Maker, Aslan sorts through a drawer of stockings to get ready for her next scene. She was asked to dress in school girl attire, and takes her time deciding on the details of her costume.
  • Friday, February 21st 2014, Ruby braces herself against the bed as she gets spanked with a heavy rubber paddle, at the Fantasy Makers fetish playhouse where she works. This session with on of her regular clients is legal, and does not include any actual sex.
  • November 26, 2014, Mistress Patience Morgan answers the client phone at Fantasy Makers, a fetish playhouse in the East Bay. Clients are required to call and describe what it is that they want to do in their session prior to arriving. They are then matched with one of the women on staff, based on which ladies are working, and which would be most interested in that particular scene.
  • February 16, 2014 Ruby Morgan gets ready in the backstage bathroom at Fantasy Makers, a fetish playhouse based out of the East Bay. A drying rack of recently washed dildos and whips can be seen behind her. For her sessions, Ruby usually likes to wear nightgown, or some kind of slip, with thigh highs and a garter.
  • November 24, 2014, Resident den mother, Lorrett, helps a Fantasy Maker attach her garter. She is in the process of getting dressed up as a school girl. She says that although today's outfit is reletively risqué, clients will often request realistic, unflattering uniforms, complete with large grandmotherly panties. "I always put the underwear on the front" she said, explaining that this way, you don't have to take off the garter to get undressed.
  • November 24, 2014, Lorrett (right), gives a tour to Alice, a newcomer to Fantasy Makers. Here, Lorrett breaks down a chart listing the preferences of the women who work at the playhouse. On the left, a name is listed, and on top, are some of the more common scene requests. The corresponding dots that intersect the columns of names and fetish activities indicate each lady's comfort level with the each named scene theme. For instance, a red dot beneath "Adult Baby" means that this particular Fantasy Maker does not want anything to do with clients who want to dress in diapers and prevent to be infants. If however, she put a yellow dot, that would demonstrate that she might participate in a scene like this under the right circumstances. Yellow dots often come with notes specifying these conditions. The most popular condition for doing an adult baby scene? "No Poop."
  • Monday, November 24, 2014 Clem applies eyeliner before a scene in the back dressing room of Fantasy Makers, a fetish playhouse in the East Bay.
  • Friday, February 21, 2014, After binding, whipping, pinching and scratching one of her regular clients, Ruby gives him a hug, to reconnect before switching the the part of the scene where she will submit to him. Ruby works out of the Fantasy Makers fetish playhouse as a performance artist.
  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014, Ruby (left) kisses her daughter Patience a kiss at the Fantasy Makers fetish playhouse in the east bay. Patience was working on her needlepoint stitching between sessions, when her mother, who also works there, stopped in to say hello.

BREAKING: Sony authorizes Christmas release of The Interview

Contributed by: Tami Benedict

Sony has just announced that the controversial comedy “The Interview” will premier in specific locations on Christmas Day. “We have never given up on releasing ‘The Interview’ and we’re excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day,” Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony said in a statement. “At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.

So far, Alamo’s Dallas Theatre, Alamo’s Drafthouse in DC, and Atlanta’s Plaza Theatre have announced that they will screen it. “The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn’t give up! The Interview will be shown at theaters willing to play it on Xmas day!” tweeted actor and director of the film, Seth Rogen.

Speculations are circling that this may have all just been a huge publicity stunt – but really, what are the chances of this much effort going into theaters not agreeing to show your multi-million dollar film.

BBC just tweeted that Sony is “proud to have stood up” to those trying to “suppress free speech” confirming the release of The Interview on Christmas Day. They also added that a White House spokesman said that President Obama “applauds” Sony’s decision.

This story is still developing. More will be added as it progresses.

Where to ice skate this holiday season

Ice skating is fun for all ages. Photo by Ivan Walsh on Creative Commons.
Ice skating is fun for all ages. Photo by Ivan Walsh on Creative Commons.

One of my favorite things to do during the winter is ice skating. Since Northern California doesn’t get very cold and we never get snow, I always have to wait until right around the holidays for the rinks to open up. I decided to compile a list of some of the best local ice rinks around so you can go get your figure skating on.

Dell’Osso Family Farms: This rink is located right off of Mossdale Road in Lathrop. You can see it from the freeway because, in addition to the ice rink, Dell’Osso has an amazing drive-thru light show and snow tubing. This local favorite is only $14 for skates and unlimited ice skating. About every three hours or so, you need to leave the ice rink so they can clean it but that only takes about twenty minutes and then you can be back at it. If you’re not one for ice skating but your friends want to go, they have a fire pit area where you can buy s’more supplies and hot cocoa and enjoy yourself as your friends skate.

Embarcadro Center: Embarcardo Center has the largest outdoor ice rink in San Francisco. Skating is $14 and you’re allowed to skate for an hour and a half. For this rink, you need to purchase tickets online, which has an additional fee attached to it. The rink is open until January 4th and even offers private lessons to those who aren’t naturally graceful.

Downtown Sacramento: If you’ve ever been to the malls in downtown Sacramento, then you know that they always have a holiday ice rink to accompany you while you do some holiday shopping. Their skating sessions last one hour and forty-five minutes and cost $8 for skating and $2 for renting ice skates. What I like about this rink is they offer supplies for little kids to make it easier for them to skate and not get hurt, so it is extremely family friendly. The rink is open until January 19th, the only issue you may have is parking since it can get crazy during holiday time.

Downtown Walnut Creek: Walnut Creek is a great place to go shopping, get some good food, and now in their downtown they have an ice rink. Walnut Creek on Ice is open until January 11th and cost $11 on weekdays and $15 on weekends. Make sure to check their times online – their open skate time is a little different than the others listed above. If you decide that you like this rink a lot you can even get a frequent skater pass online which allows you to have ten visits for $99, making it worth it to some of the die hards out there.

I hope you check these rinks out and have fun while doing it. Some advice from a novice skater to other newbies is tie you skaters tight around your ankles, don’t hunch over, and if you’re going to fall, just go with it since you will get hurt worse if you try to prevent it. Have fun and happy holidays!

The Interview – a breakdown of the shakedown

So, assuming that you’re not totally disconnected from the media, you’ve probably heard that a certain movie that was supposed to premiere on Christmas Day is not going to be shown in theaters because of terrorist threats – and if you haven’t heard the news, that sentence might sound a little crazy to you.

And, trust me, you’re not alone on that one. It is something that you’d assume was in the plot of some sort of action filled thriller or off-beat romantic comedy, but nope – this is real life.

The movie sparking this wild round of controversy and threats is the comedy “The Interview,” starring James Franco and Seth Rogen. Rogen was also a co-writer and director of the comedy. The plot focuses on a talk show host and a producer of a television show who manage to schedule an interview with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, and are then recruited by the CIA to assassinate him.

So, how’d we go from a comedy on a topic that’s not completely foreign to the big screens, assassination of a dictator, real or fictional, (Team America, anyone?) to terrorist threats and cancellation of said movie?

Hopefully, this timeline helps break down some of the key events that have happened so far.

June 24th 2014 – North Korea’s Central News Agency, the only media organization allowed in the country, condemned the film and promised “merciless” retaliation if the film was released. A North Korea spokesman was cited by the state KCNA news agency as saying: “Making and releasing a movie on a plot to hurt our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated,” according to BBC.

November 24th – the first in a series of Sony hacks happens. Social security numbers, company passwords, and upcoming movies are all released by the hackers of a group who call themselves the GoP or the Guardians of Peace. Employees and their families are threatened through emails sent by the hackers.

December 17th – eight days before the planned-premiere of the film, Sony, the company producing “The Interview,” is hacked again. This time, emails cite 9/11 type attacks of theaters that show the film.

December 18th – After the four main theater chains in the nation make statements refusing to show the film, Sony cancels the Christmas Day premiere.

December 19th – The FBI states that they have enough information to confirm that North Korea was behind the threats. “For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks,” the FBI, according to NPR.

President Obama disagrees with Sony’s decision to cancel its December 25th release, calling it a mistake and stating that they should have talked with him first. “We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” the president said in his year-end news conference.

Sony stands by their call saying that they wouldn’t have pulled the film if so many theaters hadn’t refused to show it and that they fully support the First Amendment. They have been pulling advertisements and trailers for it off of YouTube and other sites, but state that their intention is to still have it distributed.

Obama discusses adding North Korea back to the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, which it was removed from in 2008 by the Bush administration during nuclear negotiations.

December 22ndThe Verge reports that the Internet thinks that “The Interview” is the perfect movie. It has been rated 9.9/10 stars on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) with over 22,000 reviews.

North Korea refers to the hack as a “righteous deed” but claims not to be responsible for it.

And that is all the news so far.

Sony hasn’t announced a date for the release or platform it will be distributed on yet, but has stated it is their intention to get the film out there. If the world will actually ever see it, who knows.

Sisters by blood or letters?

Written by Farnoush Amiri & Olympia Zampathas

Illustration by Lorisa Salvatin
Illustration by Lorisa Salvatin

More than sixteen thousand undergraduate women are involved in sorority hazing annually, but when asked, it is obvious that there is more percolating behind Greek letters than the thoughts of sisterhood and bonding; hazing is like the taboo topic of the college world, and SF State is not excluded from this taboo.

With the controversy surrounding the issue of sorority hazing also comes the inevitable “code of silence,” which studies have shown, 46 percent of females in Greek organizations swear by. But since 1970 there has been one hazing-related death in a U.S. college or university each year – with North American countries having the highest rate of hazing on college campuses than any other developed country in the world, with about 40 percent of the three hundred twenty-five thousand female participants aware and turning a blind-eye to the hazing in their organizations.

The institution of Greek life has been around since the country’s birth more than two hundred years ago; 1928 was the first year that SF State had its first sign of Greek life and, as of today, has thirty active chapters on campus. “Greek organizations serve to enhance the college experience at SF State. Greek life provides a supportive community in which students can explore, grow, and learn new leadership skills, academic discipline, event planning, financial proficiency, professional aptitude and social networking skill,” according to SF State’s definition.

The most common methods of hazing reported are excessive alcohol consumption, public humiliation and isolation, sleep deprivation and numerous forms of sexual and lewd acts, often involving the opposite sex.

“Sometimes, something as simple as making a member wear a pin or participate in a scavenger hunt can be considered hazing,” shares Brian Stuart, associate dean of students at SF State.

Nine out of ten victims are often unaware of the things they are being subjected to can be considered a form of hazing.

“I remember hearing from someone who’d rushed a local that her pledge class had to carry heavy shampoo bottles around because they were ‘flaky,’” says Kate Fraser of the SF State chapter of Phi Sigma Sigma.

After varsity athletes, sororities make up 73 percent of those subjected to hazing in universities. In 25 percent of all hazing activities, students have said that both faculty, advisors, and alumni have been present or aware of the rituals.

“I am not aware of any reports or concerns of hazing within [SF State] sororities within the past four years,” says Dean of Students at SF State, Mary Ann Begley. “But I also don’t think either one of us have our heads in the sand that things probably do happen and are not reported.”

About 37 percent of females in sororities do not tell anyone about what they are being subject to in the fear of getting their fellow sisters and chapter advisors in trouble. And 46 percent of them believe that the most important thing is to keep the code of silence.

Most sororities, both national and local, have strict and transparent no-tolerance policies on hazing rituals but even with those restrictions national headlines about the cases that are reported seem to be growing.

“I feel like it still happens because [Greek organizations] are set into traditions that need to be gotten rid of. I wish I could say hazing never happens but without people coming forward you never know,” says Devika Sonmati Kumarie Botejue of Phi Sigma Sigma.

In a study, girls that took part in a sorority are more likely to have body image issues and dysfunctional eating behaviors than their peers. They were also found to be more likely to abuse prescription medication than students who are not involved in Greek life due to the high standards of appearance placed on them.

When asked why they joined a sorority or fraternity, 65 percent of Greek life members believe that the primary goal of the hazing rituals are to bond the members, according to a study done by InsideHazing.com. That may be the intention of all, certainly most, chapters of Greek life, but that is not always the result. The tradition of having an initiation process to join these clubs is something that could be fun and games, but, in other cases, can cause psychological and physical harm.

Of the fifty states in the U.S., forty-four of them have anti-hazing laws after detrimental events in their universities Greek life occurred or became national news. Some universities have banished and derecognized chapters that have abused their power through hazing. SF State disbanded its chapter of Lambda Phi Epsilon in June 2013 after Peter Tran, an eighteen-year-old member was killed after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol (a form of hazing) at a chapter party.

In October 2014, Dartmouth College’s newspaper published a front-page story titled “Abolish the Greek System” and stated, “No, Greek Life is not the root of all the College’s problems or of broader societal ills. But as a system, it amplifies student’s worst behavior. It facilitates binge drinking and sexual assault. It perpetuates unequal, gendered power dynamics and institutionalizes arbitrary exclusivity. It divides students – the system as a whole separates freshmen from upperclass, men from women. Membership draws lines among friends.”

Another statistic is of members of Greek life who have had positive and empowering experiences through their organization.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand what we stand for and why we are in a sorority,” explains Kumarie Botejue. “A lot of people tell me that I don’t seem like I should be in a sorority because I like to study and don’t go to parties all the time. They think that sorority girls are like in the movies, that we party all the time and don’t go to classes. It’s a really big misconception because in [my] sorority education comes first.”

So, if we have a large group of young adults wanting to find a way to bond with others and are willing to endure whatever it may take to create these bonds, it is easy to see that this leads to problems.

“Rushing an organization is all in good fun. If it stops being fun, something is going wrong. If the hazing is stemming from the execuive board of the organization, it should be reported. We all benefit from keeping each other safe,” says Natalie Weizman of Lambda Chi Mu.

So why does it still happen? People all seem to agree that it is awful, outdated, and illegal and can usually identify the more extreme versions of the “tradition,” but the trend stuck – when sororities on campus and those affiliated with Greek life were asked if they had any personal experiences with hazing, responses ceased.

Stories of girls pledging sororities on campus as extreme as being forced to strip, sit on tables while naked, and have members of their brother fraternity write what they believes is wrong with the girls’ bodies on their skin with markers may haunt some. It is a problem that is not being discussed and flies just under the radar enough that no one pays enough attention to it until something goes wrong.

All it takes is one voice, one person to speak up. If someone who knows this is happening steps forward, maybe the reality of what hazing really is beyond tradition, the effects of what it can do to participants would be brought to light, and lives might actually be saved in more ways than one.

There are many resources on campus available to students. If you or someone you know has had experiences with hazing, counseling and services are held in the Student Services building, the Safe Place, and the Women’s Center.

If you have an experience or story that you would like to share with Xpress and get out to a larger audience, feel free to email us at xpressmagsfsu@gmail.com.

 

Money on wheels

Hazelle Arcega takes an order through the window of The Yolk food truck in Vallejo. (Sara Gobets/ Xpress Magazine)
Hazelle Arcega takes an order through the window of The Yolk food truck in Vallejo. (Sara Gobets/ Xpress Magazine)

Food trucks are quickly evolving into an economic engine

Nonet Arcega’s day begins at seven in the morning. The slicing of food on a chopping board can be heard from his kitchen. A variety of chopped meats and vegetables fill Arcega’s countertop, creating an abundance of color.

Even though his day job does not start for another four hours, the preparation for it begins bright and early. Once finished, Arcega loads the prepped ingredients into his mobile business and is ready to serve his customers.

Since mid-May of this year, Arcega, along with his family, have started running a food truck called The Yolk. Their food truck service travels around Vallejo, California and serves unique Filipino-style breakfasts.

Pork sisig tacos and longanisa kimchi fried rice are two of the main dishes that are included on the truck’s menu. These two dishes are typically known as “silog.” According to Señor Sisig owner, Evan Kidera, silog is best defined as “a Filipino breakfast dish that includes meat or some other protein with garlic rice, fried egg, and a wedge of tomato and vinegar.”

As lunch comes around, customers of all ages come to enjoy the food that Arcega and his family provide.

“We love to cook and we love breakfast,” says Jhing Arcega, wife and business partner of Nonet. “We just want to be different, not so much to follow the trend.”

The Yolk owner Nonet Arcega (left), daughter and employee Hazelle Arcega (center), and employee Joelle Hilario (right) pose out front of their food truck in Vallejo. (Sara Gobets/ Xpress Magazine)
The Yolk owner Nonet Arcega (left), daughter and employee Hazelle Arcega (center), and employee Joelle Hilario (right) pose out front of their food truck in Vallejo. (Sara Gobets/ Xpress Magazine)

While their business is on the right track, it was certainly difficult to begin. Some food trucks today are born out of a chef’s desire to deliver exceptional street food or simply take a test drive in the industry.

Established restaurants have also started their own food trucks in order to expand their catering business. For example, Gott’s Roadside, a popular gourmet burger restaurant in the Bay Area, offers a red-and-white food truck that specializes in catering services for a variety of events.

The food truck industry experienced an evolvement just as the economy began to sink. According to an article in the Huffington Post, “Restaurateurs who were hesitant to drop serious cash on launching a restaurant turned to mobile trucks as a less expensive way to sell food in a down economy.”

Although the food truck industry is in a constant boom, starting out in the business is not easy. Many factors, such as health and parking permits, need to be taken into consideration before deciding when opening day is. Running a food truck also includes other expenses, like the average monthly food cost. These are aspects that street food lovers probably do not take into consideration when they purchase their delicious meals.

What truly matters to the food truck owners is seeing their customers enjoy the unique food that cannot be found in restaurants. The modern-day food truck is a combination of traditional, cultural cuisines with gourmet restaurant ingredients. Even though the growth of the food truck phenomenon has started even before the modern-day food truck, it is still continuing to grow.

While starting a food truck may seem easier than starting a restaurant, it is still quite the journey to undertake. The food truck industry is costly and the process of starting in it can be lengthy.

According to Food Truck Empire, a food truck can cost about $50,000. At this price, the owner may have bought a used food truck that has been remodeled to fit a new focus.

“We saw our food truck on Craigslist. It was actually a famous truck in Sacramento,” says Nonet Arcega. “It was called, OMG Burger. We bought it for about $16,000.”

This, of course, does not include the cost of outfitting the truck. Priceconomics states that customizing a food truck can cost between $20,000 to $100,000. This includes the outer design and possible new appliances, such as burners and a refrigerator.

Licensing and permits also constitute a major part of the expenses. The required licenses include a business license and food and health certifications.

For the Arcegas, acquiring health certification was not difficult because the previous owner of their truck already acquired the necessary paperwork.

“The truck had a license before,” says Arcega. “When we had applied for the Vallejo licensing, it was almost ready. Only minor fixing had to be done.”

Certain cities and counties oversee different licenses so that food trucks can travel to different areas to serve customers. For example, a truck that is usually located in Berkeley would need to be cleared by the city of San Jose in order to serve food there.

Overall, certification and licensing expenses can cost between $2,000 to $4,000 per year depending on the percentage that the truck operates during the year as well as coverage plans.

In order to create and provide quality service, food truck owners legally have the option to prepare their food in a commissary. Commissaries are kitchens that are leased to food truck owners. These kitchens provide the necessary space for food chefs to park and restock their trucks with items that they need.

Once all immediate groundwork is finished, the food truck is ready for business. After customers have ordered their meals, the preparation begins.

“On a regular basis, it’s all cooking,” says Arcega as he describes what happens once an order is placed. “There is usually two or three people inside the truck. I do most of the cooking and the other two do the prep, garnishing, and take orders.”

The cost of running a food truck compared to a restaurant is quite moderate. For Arcega, labor costs are not much of an issue as majority of the workers of The Yolk consist of his children. Arcega states that since he and his wife pay for their school tuition and car payments, their children in return work for the truck. However, if an individual who is not a part of their family works, he or she would be paid $8 per hour.

According to Mobile Cuisine, “labor costs vary with the type of food service operation.” In general, if a food truck sells higher quality food, then the business will have “higher food and labor percentages than a typical taco truck.”

For The Yolk, Arcega spends about $300 per week on food since labor is not an important factor. Acquiring food is not difficult for the owner as he is able to purchase food wherever he parks the food truck. Local grocery stores happen to be conveniently close to the usual spots where he parks.

Parking is also a component that must be taken into account for the food truck business. It is an aspect that is important because it is where much of the business occurs. Food truck operators typically must contact property management officials to gain permission to operate. Positioning the truck in a place where customer attraction is high, such as a plaza where businessmen go to have lunch, is good practice.

Social media is another important factor to the food truck business. It is one of the primary ways for vendors to break into the food business. By food trucks utilizing various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, the word about their business can easily be spread.

Food vendors use these platforms to tell their loyal customers where their truck is going to be located and their hours of operation.

Arcega states that while 75 percent of their marketing is through word of mouth, it is social media that gives their truck an extra boost in business.

Social outreach helps promote “brand loyalty” as well as help the culture of street food flourish. With the usage of social media, customers can easily share their food truck experiences as well as give a description of how delicious the food provided on the menu is. By doing this, loyal customers are providing new customers a share of their knowledge on good street food.

As the food truck industry keeps expanding, finding customers to benefit infrastructure is quite easy.

Off the Grid, which is highly popular to many Bay Area natives, gives food truck owners the opportunity to have easier access to loads of hungry customers. On the organization’s website, it states that it offers “thirty-five weekly public markets throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Food vendors offer a variety of foods, from Asian to Mexican cuisines, apply to this  organization so that they can serve attendees of the event. Some food trucks even offer “fusion” food, which is a blend of two different types of food.

One popular food truck, Señor Sisig, serves Filipino-Mexican style dishes. Food on their menu includes the sisig taco and the “señor” sisig burrito. Both dishes combine the meat from pig’s shoulder and the usual ingredients found in tacos and burritos.

After questioning several customers about why they choose to sometimes purchase meals at food trucks rather than restaurants, most say that the variety and quality of food is what draws their attention.

“You don’t find sisig nachos at a typical Filipino restaurant,” says twenty-two-year-old, Erwin Macalalad. “Some trucks offer food that give a different take on cultural dishes. I sometimes crave for food outside the norm.”

The variety of foods listed on food truck menus tend to change, unlike restaurants. Pricing for full meals normally ranges between $8 to $10, because of the convenience of these mobile vendors. The fact that food trucks offer fancy food at nearly the same price of food at a restaurant is what attracts customers; the bringing together of communities through shared cuisines is what keeps the street food culture growing.

The cost of creating a food truck is lower than ever as compared to big-named restaurants. Mobile food vendors also have the advantage of changing their menus if customer feedback of certain meals is not up to par. These two aspects contribute to the reason why street food vendorsThe unique food that these mobile businesses offer is extremely convenient. Within a couple minutes, an affordable, delicious meal is ready. Hungry customers are satisfied with their fusion-style meal that may not be found in restaurants.

It is highly apparent that the industry is successful as of now, but who is to say that it will be in the future? Perhaps heavier law regulations and food permits will be put into action such as it is for liquor stores and restaurants. No one will ever know.

Infographic created by Catherine Uy using Piktochart.
Infographic created by Catherine Uy using Piktochart.

Land of the Free, Home of the $1 Trillion Student Debt

First generation student Shadan pays a small fee for her university education in hopes of becoming a family counselor. Shadan and her twin sister had always dreamed of moving to the U.S. but after an immense drop in German tuition rates, the 26-year-olds are staying put. “Post-secondary education should be a human right, not a privilege.”

Student debt is now the second highest form of consumer debt in America behind homeowner mortgages, with more than 7 million students attending both public and private universities in the United States borrowing money.

Over 15 percent of those American student borrowers default on their federal student loans within the first three years after entering the repayment period. And since 1978, the cost of a post-secondary education in the United States has risen 1,120 percent, according the U.S. Census.

The average price tag for tuition and fees at public colleges and universities in the United States were close to $8,400 in 2013-2014 for students studying in their home state and nearly $19,100 for those paying out-of-state tuition.

For private universities the bill runs up to nearly $30,500 annually. This is a 28 percent national inflation rate since 2008 for public, 4-year universities. The state with the highest tuition inflation rate is Arizona, where fees have raised an average of $4,493/per student.

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Hannah Brown: student from the U.K. on an exchange program at SF State.

The country with the second largest student debt rate is the United Kingdom, with close to a million students who have borrowed an average of $10,200 each during the 2012-2013 school year.

One crucial difference between the U.K. and U.S. student debt issue is that about 98 percent of student borrowers in Great Britain are meeting their payment obligations. Those obligations are made easier through the U.K.’s repayment program, which automatically deducts monthly from British students debt and they are not required to pay back until they are earning an annual salary of £21,000 or $33,700.

“Everyone who goes to university [in the United Kingdom] is eligible for a loan and non-repayable grant to pay tuition fees,” says Wales native Hannah Brown, who is currently on an exchange program at SF State from London.

U.S. Rep. Tom Petri of Wisconsin explained in his statement last April that the U.S. Government should take a page from Great Britain’s response to their student debt crisis. “It’s pretty simple if you think about it,” Petri said. “When students graduate from college, traditionally they will make less. And then as they progress in their professional career they’ll earn more. The repayment schedule should follow this trend so that borrowers pay less early on and more as they earn more.”

Recently the United Kingdom capped the tuition fees for four-year institutions at £9,000, or $14,521, which no student is obligated to pay upfront.

Another thing that sets the U.K. apart from the U.S. when it comes to their approach to the global issue of student debt is debt forgiveness. “If my student loan isn’t repaid in full after approximately 30 years, the debt is forgiven,” shares Brown.

The closest country with a developed post-secondary education that mirrors America is Canada. One in eight Canadian families have an average median value of $10,000 in student debt. As of 2012, Canada has a total of $28.3 billion in outstanding student debt, which still pales in comparison with the U.S. figures.

Canadian student studying at University of Toronto.
Rojin Kalantari: Canadian student studying at University of Toronto.

According to the Statistics Canada Survey of Financial Security that was released in the beginning of this year, Canadian student debt grew almost 50 percent in the past 15 years and 24.4 percent from 2005 to 2012. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives foresee the costs of post-secondary school education — including tuition and compulsory fees — to rise to its peak by the 2016-2017 school year. Ontario has the highest fees with an average of $8,403 and Newfoundland at the lowest with $2,886 in tuition annually.

Ontario, Canada native and student Rojin Kalantari pays $3,020/per term at University of Toronto. “I am so happy that we have the OSAP [Ontario Student Assistant Program,] which gives students 30 percent off tuition fees if they apply before the beginning of the semester,” says the Biology major.

Argentina, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden have been some countries that have strayed away from education costs like America and Canada by providing free tuition to its citizens. Even with their respective governments providing their tuition, students in Sweden still have a student debt close to 22 billion krona or $3.5 billion to cover fees and living expenses at their university. According to annual reports in those countries, roughly two-thirds of those funds were loans.

Germany is another major European country that has decided to gradually abolish the concept of tuition after an outpour of student concern five years ago,  “When I started studying psychology in 2009, I had to pay €700/per semester but that was the time that students began protesting that studying shouldn’t just be a privilege for the wealthy — the protests were successful and beginning in 2011, [German students] only had to pay €200-300 a semester,” explains German student Shadan about the process of her semester tuition rate falling to more than half its price.

With all of the diverse repayment and loan forgiveness programs in the developed countries around the globe, the nation with the largest student debt issue has now begun to think of the future of post-secondary education costs in the United States. In June of 2014, President Obama announced an alternative repayment program that will cap monthly payments for certain federal loans at 10 percent of the discretionary income. The program, which will be available beginning in December 2015, will allow more than 5 million borrowers to qualify.

What is more obscene, violence or a female nipple?

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Before an American child turns eighteen, they see over two hundred thousand acts of violence and forty-thousand murders on TV but not one female nipple. So what is more obscene?

You would think, even hope, that the answer would be more discernible, but the truth is that it is not. Now, people are trying to answer this question with the Free the Nipple campaign. Free the Nipple is aiming to achieve equality and empower women all over the world. It all started with a film, ‘Free the Nipple’, directed by director, actress, producer, and activist Lina Esco. Inspired by true events, it follows groups of topless young women around New York City to protest censorship of women, which started this powerful dialogue that sparked a viral campaign. Now, #freethenipple is a popular hashtag amongst the social media world and is even grabbing the attention of female celebrities like Liv Tyler, Rihanna, Lena Dunham, and more. The campaign went even further this year when the IRS granted it its 501c3, charity status, allowing the donations made to GoTopless to be 100% tax deductible.

“I’m trying to start a conversation really,” says Esco in an interview with Huffpost Live. “Because it’s an equality issue. If men can be topless, women should be able to be topless. I can’t even go to the beach without a top on… that’s really where it all begins.”

But it is unclear what this campaign really represents in the minds of those retweeting, re-posting, and re-hashtagging it. Do people really understand the intention of the campaign when they come across those words or is it merely just this notion that women want to be topless for the sake of being topless?

Miley Cyrus is another of the many celebrities in support of the campaign and sharing it through social media. “It’s not about getting your titties out. It’s about equality,” Cyrus says.

Sam Rosen is a student at SF State majoring in photography. His instagram receives a few controversial discussions about his #freethenipple photos.

“In my photography, I show nude women occasionally and I’m tired of people getting offended by a little ol’ nipple,” says Rosen. “I think the Free the Nipple campaign is about the policing of women’s bodies and the standard society has set for women that says their breasts are sexual, inappropriate, and vulgar. While men are allowed to walk around in public and post photos to social media with their nipples visible without it being an issue when they are essentially the same body part. Women’s breasts aren’t sexual organs.”

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Even though social media can be a platform for campaigns like Free the Nipple to be shared and go viral, in that same way, social media can be the campaign’s very challenger. While the hashtag #freethenipple is used frequently on Instagram for people to learn about the campaign, this is exactly how Instagram filters content that is against their community guidelines and takes it down with the message, “We removed your post because it doesn’t follow our Community Guidelines. Please read our Community Guidelines to learn what kind of posts are allowed and how you can help keep Instagram safe.”

In other words, to keep Instagram “safe” women need to either be fully clothed or edit the photo to cover up the areola and nipple part of their boobs.

Comedian Chelsea Handler recently fell victim to Instagram’s policy when she posted a racy photo of herself on her Instagram page mocking Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has a photo on his Russian version of Tinder dating profile riding a horse topless. Authentic to the original, Handler was also on horseback completely topless. She shows no more than Putin and no less. Days later, Instagram took the photo down and, in return gave, her their “Community Guidelines” message.

Handler responded to Instagram taking down her photo by re-posting the photo and calling out Instagram’s policy via Twitter by writing, “If Instagram takes this down again, you’re saying Vladimir Putin has more 1st amendment rights than me. Talk to your bosses.”

No surprise, the photo was taken down again.

Handler then posted a snapshot of the message that Instagram sent her when they took it down and captioned it, “If a man posts a photo of his nipples, it’s ok, but not a woman? Are we in 1825?”

While Handler received a lot of support on her Instagram page about the double standards women face when it comes to toplesness and censorship, there were also people that disagreed with her protest.

On a daily gossip blog called “What Would Tyler Durden Do,” which covers big stories of the day in entertainment, celebrity, and media culture, the site responded to Handler’s Instagram feud by saying, “Chelsea Handler is a mediocre comedian, but she’s smart enough to know the First Amendment doesn’t apply to private social media services. Instagram and Facebook can censor whatever the hell they want for whatever reason they want.”

Clearly, we are a nation divided of varying views in censorship.

Esco also mentions that part of her inspiration for the film started when Phoenix Feeley, a friend of hers, was arrested on a beach in New Jersey (a state where it is legal for women to be topless) for sunbathing without a top on. She then went on a hunger strike for nine days while in jail, protesting the reason for her arrest.

I am sure that Feeley’s story would be very confusing to Australians, since in Australia being a topless woman on the beach is not rare at all.

I mean, it wasn’t until 1936 that men in America started showing up to the beach topless. Until then, they wore a very questionable one-piece unitard. That was 80 years ago. But now, of course, it’s not only socially acceptable for a man’s bathing suit to solely be swim shorts, but even on a hot day in the city men can be found shirtless.

Fastforward 56 years to 1992 when it became legal for women to show their bare chests as well- in some states. Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Michigan, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington D.C. currently have ambiguous state laws on women being topless in public. Utah, Indiana, and Tennessee have no tolerance laws.

Although the remaining 31 states that are not mentioned have “top freedom” in effect, some cities in those states have passed unconstitutional ordinances that annul the state’s top free statute. Additionally, even in a state where being topless in public is legal, if somebody complains to the police that it’s indecent exposure, you can get arrested and fined.

Esco’s Free the Nipple film started this whole conversation. The movie was set in New York City, a state that set the precedent in 1992 making it legal for women to be topless in public. However, that does not stop cops from charging topless women anyway. The film also illustrates the cops using excessive force when the women resist being clothed.

Another inspiration for this film came from her best friend, who at 5 months old got kicked out of church with her mother, because her mother was breastfeeding her.

This issue sparks even more dialogue because it is a criminal act for a woman to be topless while breastfeeding in five of those intolerant top freedom states. That is where we are in 2014 – women have to fight for the right to feed their baby in public.

Bare skin through the ages has been a constant struggle for acceptable interpretation. If history is any indication, our country has a long tradition of correcting draconian laws to better fit our modern times.

That is what this campaign is really shooting to accomplish: influencing legislation that will abolish these unequal societal standards.

Another theme that the film addresses is the hypocritical contradictions of our media-dominated society. It questions censorship by the Federal Communications Committee and the Motion Picture Association of America, which regulates all television shows and movies in the United States, and their decisions in what is acceptable versus what is not. Esco asks the FCC to explain the ethical and legal decisions for why it is okay for a child to watch violence on cable television, but when Janet Jackson’s nipple accidentally slips out during her Super Bowl performance, the FCC fines CBS for $550,000.

Esco also aims to understand why when the campaign started, Facebook and Instagram banned the photos of topless women quicker than people could start liking them. But when public beheadings from Saudi Arabia are posted, they remain. What exactly is the rationale here?

Free the Nipple is not about wanting to expose bare chests because women are sexual beings who want to be naked. In fact, it is the exact opposite. It is aiming to give females a basic right – the right to be topless on a beach and the right to breastfeed their baby in public. This is a basic right that American women never really had. The female body is not to be criminalized or sexualized, nor should it be dictated by legislation drafted by males.

It is time to start questioning the policies of censorship. Women should feel empowered by their bodies, not ashamed. Like Chelsea Handler said in her photo, “Anything a man can do, a woman has the right to do better.”