Category Archives: Bay & Beyond

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.

Hannah Brown headshot (1)
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?

FreetheNipple1

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.”

FreetheNipple9

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.”

Fleetwood Mac delivers an unforgettable show at Oracle Arena

The view of the Fleetwood Mac concert from the upper level seating at Oakland's Oracle Area.
The view of the Fleetwood Mac concert from the upper level seating at Oakland’s Oracle Area.

Harmony and sentiment filled the Oracle Arena as the recently reunited Fleetwood Mac took the stage Wednesday night. With Christine McVie back behind the keyboard with her low,melodic voice, this On With The Show Tour marks the first time she has appeared on stage with the band since their 1998 The Dance Tour.

Kicking off with “The Chain,” Fleetwood Mac quickly brought the crowd—almost exclusively partiers of the ’70s and ’80s with a few younger generation fans sprinkled in—to a world separated from the storm and gloom outside, filled instead with collective nostalgia and free-spirited roars.

Doused in wicked-looking layers of black, Stevie Nicks began the ongoing theme of emotional, and at moments cheesy, commentary about the band’s history and excitement towards McVie’s return. All of the bandmates, also including Lindsey Buckingham on guitar, John McVie on bass and Mick Fleetwood on drums, took their turns throughout the night to commemorate the group’s ability to prevail through the good and the bad, Christine referring to her “long lost family.”

Nicks, who spent the most mic time talking about the past, at one point spoke about starting out in San Francisco, going to the Velvet Underground where huge names such as Janis Joplin got their stage outfits, knowing one day she would be able to shop there too, which segued into “Gypsy,” featuring lyrics about the shop. She also dedicated her song “Landslide” to her first boyfriend whom she dated while attending Atherton High School.

Fleetwood Mac at performs at Oracle Arena for their On With The Show Tour.
Fleetwood Mac at performs at Oracle Arena for their On With The Show Tour.

Each and every song was belted out by the audience, with a noticeably loud reaction to “Go Your Own Way,” with Buckingham’s and Nick’s beautiful harmonizing behind McVie’s lead. Even from the very last row in the arena fans got the experience they paid for, each part and band member sounding even better than on the recorded versions blasting in the car on the way there.

The choice of stage background had some room for curiosity, changing each song between moving images of raindrops, windmills and at one point of people stuck in a storm. It could be argued a psychedelic-esque feel was intended, but it ended up being more weird and distracting, especially since the majority of the crowd has long since ended their experimental days.

The band played a near two and a half hour set with little breaks in between. As anticipated the crowd barely had to cry out for a number of encores, the highlight of them featuring Fleetwood’s impressive drum solo complemented by his cackling laughs and indiscernible chants.

Fleetwood Mac’s songs are as good as they were when first produced, and without a doubt, will outlive everyone in attendance. Although the band has gone through a range of members, these five bring out the best of it all. The talent and bond between them will hopefully be gracing stages across the world for many years to come.

The Bay Area can look forward to another visit from the legendary band, scheduled again at the Oracle Arena on April 7th of next year, where audiences will hopefully hear songs from their newest album set to be released in 2015.

Greeks call to cancel how MTV sees “Growing up Greek”

Just when society thought that they had been freed from the grasp that was “Jersey Shore,” MTV has come up with its newest, and possibly more offensive, sequel “Growing up Greek.”

As someone who is half Greek, when I first saw the title of the new show, I would lie if I said I was not more than a little bit excited. My brother had sent the link to the video in a text message with an accompanying “Whyyyyyyy.”  Now, I did not think it could be THAT bad, but I clearly was not prepared for what was in store.

Here is the trailer:

 

..

Okay, so was anyone else a little bit embarrassed for the people in this video even watching them? Now, imagine that, just by your ancestry being associated with them.

Yeah.

Take that in.

Because MTV chose to name the show “Growing up Greek,” it is generalizing an entire culture/ethnicity, and as you can guess, I am not the only one offended by this trailer. A petition on Change.org is calling for MTV to either cancel the show, change the name, or accurately portray Greek culture.

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In less than a week, the petition has gained more than five thousand five hundred supporters. As soon as I saw that there was a petition, you know I signed it.

“Because if you’re going to do a show in Greeks, do it right. These are a bunch of idiots who are making up fake drama to be like the Jersey Shore crew. real Greek Americans don’t even remotely act like that… Who the hell throws plates???” Marietta Frangiskatos listed as her reason for signing the petition.

All I could think when I saw the trailer was where are their yiayias (grandmothers), and that I know mine would not approve of the implied playing multiple women, breaking plates for no reason, causing huge fights in public, getting kicked out of establishments, or getting arrested.

The Change.org petition has also filed a notice of discrimination to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that makes some fair points, including that if it were a show focusing in on any other ethnicity, it would not last.

“I am sure that MTV would never consider to air a show titled “Growing up Black” , “Growing up Jewish”, “Growing up Iraqi” , then how would “Growing up Greek” be considered? The outrage we have as a community, as an ethnic minority stems from our deep rooted notion of pride,” states the complaint.

It also mentions how even though Greeks were depicted in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” a lot of consideration was put into the making of the film and depicting the community accurately, and now, certain stereotypes created by the film stuck because it was done right.

A comment from someone with possibly the most Greek name of all time, Xristos Paparatamirtixotzidopoulakis, who says he is from Crete, Greece pretty much sums it up – “This show is disgraceful for the Hellenians, their civillication and their culture. MTV has NO right to show a fake image of our society.”

If you are looking to feel embarrassed for an entire culture, “Growing up Greek” is set to air tonight at 11 p.m. central time on MTV.

 

An open letter to Facebook Analysts, re: Ferguson

Wednesday, November 26, Bay area residents gather in Oakland to protest the decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a policeman who shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old black boy in Ferguson Missouri on August 9. Here, demonstrators march through the streets of Downtown Oakland, chanting "Hands up, don't shoot" in unison. (Helen Tinna/ Golden Gate Xpress)
Wednesday, November 26, Bay area residents gather in Oakland to protest the decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a policeman who shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old black boy in Ferguson Missouri on August 9. Here, demonstrators march through the streets of Downtown Oakland, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot” in unison. (Helen Tinna/ Golden Gate Xpress)

America the free, the beautiful, the progressive.

Unless you happen to be a young black man, then you are automatically a thief. Or a rapist. Or a murderer, and general delinquent who smokes weed, and therefore deserves to die.

Now, that is a strong statement. However, over the course of the past five years, America’s melting pot has reached the point of boiling over, as, time and time again, minorities are murdered in the streets, their killers going free by and large, and profiting as well.

Welcome to post-racial America, where guilty until proven innocent is the new normal, and minor crimes such as theft deserve an on-the-spot death sentence.

The same excuses are trotted out like show ponies, by media outlets and Facebook analysts with degrees in armchair investigation alike. “If this was a black cop shooting an unarmed white male, what do you think would happen then?”  Surely not the same level of media coverage, but this precise incident has happened, with the cop being acquitted of all charges. This cop did not get a fat deal offered to him by a news outlet for an exclusive interview. There are no kick-starters being funded in support of his acts. This particular murder is in equal parts a profiling issue and police state issue, in which cops are granted a level of nigh-immunity for their actions. This is definitely a problem, this also is not the most pressing incident at hand.

The problem at hand is the fact that these killings are happening in higher frequency in minority neighborhoods, and, in the case of Ferguson, the straw that broke the camel’s back. Mike Brown, whether or not he committed that robbery, did not deserve to be gunned down , nor did his body deserve to lie in the street for four hours, a half-assed attempt at blocking the crime scene erected around him.

Take into consideration one of the more recent incidents – the Tamir Rice shooting. Reports of a twelve-year-old playing with a pistol in a gazebo were phoned in to the Cleveland Police Department. The caller stated that he believed the gun was a fake one in the call to 911. That much can be agreed on by the general public. From there, facts deviate into “they said” versus video evidence. The gun in question was in fact a pellet gun, sans orange toy indicator cap.  Police reports versus surveillance video paint two different tales: testimony from the cop claims that he did not follow orders to put his hands up.

Two seconds. That is the approximate amount of time between the cop car coming to a stop and the police firing on him. Then there is the three minutes and forty-nine seconds between the call for help and first-aid being administered. Did those almost four minutes have that much of an impact on his survival? It may have. That is not stopping public reaction, however. How can you justify the murder of a twelve-year-old because his father has previous convictions for domestic abuse? You cannot, full-stop. Tell that to the news sites that are trotting out this story, however, dragging his name through the mud.

There is also Eric Garner and Oscar Grant, if you want to check out a couple of the more high-profile cases over the past few years. Michael Brown is not an isolated case, a one-off.

The trending hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter is another sticky topic and it has been hijacked to push a number of agendas. Looking at you, Matt Walsh and your incredibly shitty opinion piece on outlawing abortions to preserve black lives. This is not an opportunity to piggyback on a larger cause to push your own questionable agendas. We know that black-on-black crime is a problem, thanks for the reminder. It needs work, but what it does not need is commentary from the cheap seats. Abortion is a whole other ball game, but we will not even delve into pro-life versus pro-choice, with a healthy dose of bootstrapping and not wanting to help contribute to the upbringing and care of a child whose life you forced to happen by not allowing an abortion.

The counter-hashtag/trending topic “All Lives Matter” is another issue in which people attempt to hijack a conversation that needs to be held. Yes, all lives matter, and no one is disputing that, but now the issue at hand is that minority lives are being severely undervalued in comparison to non-minorities. The same people championing this counter-hashtag are undoubtedly the same ones who take offense to being told “Happy Holidays,” rather than “Merry Christmas.” No one is valuing one above another, this is the focus that needs to be addressed because it is most prevalent.

Stop trying to make everything directly relevant to yourself.

Fact of the matter is that the Michael Brown shooting was not one isolated event. This is one shooting in a long line of many, both law enforcement and otherwise. No case is ever black and white, or black versus white, in these cases. Some go punished, many more do not. Protests are being labelled as riots, because this is what the news outlets pick up on—not the quiet protests, but the disruptive, destructive elements that are a small part of a whole. No, not every protestor is out there breaking windows and looting stores. This level of protest creates an unsafe environment and an intense level of civil unrest, no one is lauding this. What the ultimate goal is to bring attention to these occurrences in a time where we have supposedly progressed past our bigotry and racism because there’s “equality” in the world.

If your Black Friday shopping is disrupted by BART being blocked, imagine how Thanksgiving must have felt for the Brown family—their whole lives have been disrupted while Darren Wilson walks away. These minor breaks in your routine are not hurting you, save for causing annoyances. What is hurting is the public sentiment of anti-protestors, the pro-Wilson supporters. The fact that Brown’s mother never married his father, and that his grandma raised him means that dysfunctional minority family units are the issue to these people. The lack of family values creates thieves. Because, you know, criminals are never spawned when born in wedlock.

You may not like how people are reacting to this incident, and the resulting court decision. However, by opening your mouth, and regurgitating quotes from off-brand “news” sites such as “Right News Daily,” or “Conservative Now,” you are not helping the issue. Nor are you helping with blanket statements such as calling protestors “uneducated, welfare-grubbing idiots” and scoffing that they need “real jobs.” Stop undervaluing the problems of others because they do not apply to you, nor do they fall in line with your own social/political agenda.

You are justified to your opinion and free to voice them, but you need to not freak out and throw out shitty infographics that boil down to a lot of stupid text over a photo as your “checkmate, protestors” offensive to being questioned. While you are at it, stop side-stepping around the valid questions posed to you, and patting yourself on the back when you manage to turn the debate inward, to black-on-black crime, or questioning why Obama is not promoting healthy family ideals in minority families. Pretty sure we all know what the reaction would be if Obama started a campaign to encourage family togetherness in minorities.

You may not be part of the “problem” as it is. You may say you are “color-blind” and claim that “facts are facts,” behind your phone screen, sharing articles you barely skimmed just to look as if you are aware of current events, but you definitely are not helping in moving toward resolution.

*This is an editorial piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the publication.

Caught in the crossfire of Ferguson Protests

On New Year’s Day in 2009, twenty-two-year-old Oscar Grant was shot and killed by a BART police officer at Fruitvale station. On February 26, 2012, just shy of his seventeenth birthday, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida. On Aug. 6, eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer.

These occurrences took place in different cities across the US, but they all shared one too many similarities. Those killed, were unarmed Black men and their shooters were White males.

In Grant’s case, BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two years in county jail. In Martin’s case, Neighborhood Watch George Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and shortly proved not guilty. After a grand jury hearing to determine whether a crime was committed in Brown’s shooting, the jury agreed not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.

Following each case, both peaceful and violent protests erupted when the demonstrators demanded justice for those killed. The movement #BlackLivesMatter sparked after Zimmerman’s 2012 acquittal as a call to action against racism.

According to a study done by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, in 2012 at least three-hundred-thirteen African Americans were killed by police officers, security guards, or self-appointed vigilantes. The study highlighted the militarization and brutality coming from law enforcement against black people.

On Nov. 24, when the announcement of Ferguson’s twelve-member grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Wilson made headline news across media platforms, nationwide protests flared.

I happened to be stuck in the unexpected crossfire in two different cities last week, in Downtown Los Angeles, while I was visiting my family for Thanksgiving, and in Oakland, on my way home from the airport.

Last Tuesday, I took a trip downtown to my favorite museum, The California Science Center, which I always make an effort to visit on nearly every trip home. Little did I know that a short distance away in Leimert Park, protesters began marching down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in my direction shouting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

la protest

Later that evening, protestors would downpour on the 101-freeway, blocking traffic in both directions, and lead demonstrations in various areas across the city. That day, nearly two hundred people would be arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department, according to Chief Charlie Beck. Arrests were made on multiple violations of disturbing the peace, one assault on a police officer and a handful of curfew violations.

Peaceful protests, vandalism, looting, and rioting began within moments of the announcement to not indict Wilson and this ongoing series of protests show no signs of ending anytime soon even after his resignation from the force. Each day, an impactful protest is highlighted in lieu of justice for Brown.

On Friday Nov. 28 my plane landed in the Oakland International Airport at 10:40 a.m. I quickly picked up my bags from the baggage claim carousel and jetted to the new AirBart service that takes you from the airport to the Oakland Coliseum BART Station. I ran from the drop off point to a BART train headed to San Francisco. I did not run fast enough and missed it. As I waited at the station an announcement came through the speakers that said, “…delays system wide due to civil unrest at West Oakland Station.”

I along with the rest of the holiday travelers with confused looks on our faces boarded the next BART train, unknowing of what was actually going on. The train conductor made it clear that he didn’t know what was going on either and that we would have to get off at Lake Merritt Station.

In the meantime I opened up my Twitter feed and was shocked by what I found. At approximately 10:45 a.m., five minutes after I landed, demonstrators dressed in shirts that read #BlackLivesMatter chained themselves to BART trains at West Oakland Station. BART service was halted to and from San Francisco.

bart shut down

 

Their purpose was to interrupt black Friday commerce, specifically to say that Black lives matter in wake of the court decision in Ferguson, according to an interview with Protester Mollie Costello by NBC.

As I waited outside of Lake Merritt Station with an overstuffed suitcase in hand, sun baring down on my shoulders and my phone with eight percent battery life, I debated whether to pay for a $50 Lyft ride home. My other option was to try my luck at hopping on a bus, in a part of town I am unfamiliar with, and a phone that would die in the next fifteen minutes.

Partially because I am cheap, I decided to wait with the hundreds of stressed out commuters and give them a listening ear. Some complained of being late to work or meeting up with friends, others worried of missing Black Friday sales.

Two hours later the announcement was made that trains were resuming and the look of worry melted off of people’s faces. As the large mass of people stood waiting downstairs for the train to approach, fourteen people in handcuffs chanting, “Black lives matter,” being led by police made their way up the station stairs.

That is when it hit me. The week before while watching Jon Stewart’s film Rosewater that showed footage of the citizen’s revolt against the Iranian government, I thought to myself, “Why can’t anything like that ever happen here?” Where a group of people standing up together and fighting for something powerful and in turn creating awareness towards something meaningful. Right before my eyes, it was happening. A tear fell from my eyes as I witnessed fourteen individuals in handcuffs walk past me, chanting and still showing signs of hope. They were fighting for the justice of one man, a man they did not know, for the betterment of an entire race and nation.

lake merrit vid

good

In that moment, I remembered those from earlier in the day complaining of their ruined Black Friday plans and the negligent anger and stress they felt. That sense of anger, fear, and confusion was only a fraction compared to the families, friends, and community members who witnessed someone they loved be killed by someone whose job is to protect them.

ruined bf

haha ruined

Later that evening, demonstrators broke down police barricades to protest on San Francisco’s Union Square during Macy’s tree lighting ceremony. The protest quickly escalated into a violent one; police were verbally harassed, windows were broken, stores were looted and shoppers were locked inside stores. The San Francisco Police Department announced that there were seventy-nine arrests that night. A total of five cops were wounded during the protest when passersby threw rocks and bottles, according to police chief Greg Suhr.

After watching countless of videos of the protest that night, I noticed the hate that they had against the policemen. Protestors shouted in their faces, spit in their direction and went as far as throwing things at them. Putting all cops in one category and treating them like they are all the same. This beat down on law enforcement contradicts their message to end stereotypes and racial profiling.

Just like not every cop is the same and not every person is the same, not every protest is the same. Tuesday, hundreds of protesters around the county participated in a walk out in support of Ferguson. They walked out of jobs and schools at 12:01 p.m. central time, the same time Brown was shot last month.

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Will these righteous acts make a difference? Perhaps it is too early to tell, but the nationwide gatherings are inspiring and are bringing people from all walks of life together to fight for a purpose.

Lammily, the most prepubescent doll you’ve ever seen

The Lammily doll. Photo from Lammily.com courtesy of Nickolay Lamm.
The Lammily doll. Photo from Lammily.com courtesy of Nickolay Lamm.

Finally, there is a doll available to consumers that will display the exact proportions of a 19-year-old girl, according to CDC data. What a concept, having girls play with and look up to something realistic rather than something unattainable.

In just eight months, visual artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm has raised $501,384 to get the doll out to the public. The Barbie-look-alike called Lammily is now available online just in time for the holiday season.

The doll is shorter and thicker than the real Barbie, has a shorter neck, smaller breasts, and feet that are not constantly resting in invisible high heels. She has little to no makeup on and more mobile limbs to make her seem more like a real person.

Lamm’s hope is that this doll will “promote the beauty of reality.” He explained in his blog earlier this summer that we all have different bodies and that we should not aspire to an idealized standard. Having one doll does not accomplish that fully, but he intends to have dolls of various ethnic backgrounds and healthy body shapes.

Lammily is striving to take the good from its competitors and combine all those things into one doll. It will have the customization of an American girl doll, the pricing of a Barbie doll, and the empowerment of a GoldieBlox toy.

The Lammily doll comes with a variety of stickers that mimic things such as acne, bruises, cellulite, tattoos, stitches, freckles, and stretch marks. Photo from Lammily.com courtesy of Nickolay Lamm.
The Lammily doll comes with a variety of stickers: acne, bruises, cellulite, tattoos, stitches, freckles, and stretch marks. Photo from Lammily.com courtesy of Nickolay Lamm.

The Kickstarter for the doll raised well over its $95,000 goal. Lamm used the extra money on nicer packaging and even created stickers to accessorize and personalize the Lammily doll.

Lammily’s stickers are not your traditional Barbie accessories. There are no rainbows, money, jewelry, or anything fancy like that. Instead, the stickers mimic things such as acne, bruises, cellulite, tattoos, stitches, freckles, stretch marks, moles, and much more.

When the traditional Barbie was released, in 1959, the doll represented a woman that was not of that time. A woman who had her own house, her own car, her own belongings. Barbie revolutionized the ideals that young women could strive for. With Barbie by their side, they could be independent, bold, and beautiful. The only problem was that society took Barbie’s look and lifestyle so literally that the doll was constructed with impossible measurements.

This new “Barbie” is redefining beauty standards for many young girls. The hope is that they will no longer look into the mirror to see acne on their face and be ashamed. Instead, they may say, “Oh, Lammily has those bumps on her face so it must be normal!”

A second grade class in Pittsburgh, PA. was filmed while reacting to the new doll and asked questions about it. Overall, the students were in approval of the doll and tried to articulate the fact that it was more realistic than the Barbie doll they were also shown. The YouTube video was filmed and put together by Lammily creator so watch with a grain of salt but the students’ reactions seem genuine enough for me.

Lammily is available online only and priced at $25.00. The stickers will be available in January for $5.99. With the holidays coming up, Lammily will make a splash in consumerism.

Fatal shooting at Florida State University leaves 3 wounded

Update: The gunman has been identified as Myron May, who fired a semiautomatic .380 caliber handgun, which he reloaded at least once

At 12:30 a.m. a Florida State alumnus and attorney walked into the Florida State library, which was reportedly packed with three hundred students prepping for end-of-semester exams, and opened fire. The gunman left three people wounded before police shot and killed him.

Police were able to stop the gunman after he was confronted outside of the library and ordered him to drop his weapon. He refused and fired a shot at the officers, which led to police firing back, Tallahassee Police spokesman Dave Northway says.

The Washington Post reported that one wounded student could be seen crying out that he had been shot while clutching a bloody leg.

One person is in critical condition and another reported in good condition, while the other victim was released.

Police and FSU officials told the Associated Press that this was an “isolated incident” but have not released many details about the shooter or possible why the shooting happened and how he was able to get onto campus.

FSU sent out an alert after the shooting began, it read: “*FSU ALERT!* Dangerous Situation! Main Campus-Tallahassee, seek shelter immediately, away from doors and windows.”

At 4:15 a.m. an all-clear was given to the school, although classes were canceled for the remainder of Thursday while police continued to interview and investigate the situation.

Pictures and videos of the shooting now appear online, with students screaming, crying, and hiding in fear of the shooter.

Since the Sandy Hook shooting, there have been over seventy-four school shootings.

Bill Cosby Stays Silent About 15 Rape Allegations

Bill Cosby is being accused of multiple accounts of rape and has nothing to say to us about it. The man who has spent decades building up one of the nation’s most proper and morally sound celebrity reputations, is staying silent, leaving all of us to wonder how we could have missed this.

When I first read Bill Cosby’s name in the same sentence as “serial rapist,” I instantly doubted the article. I flashed back to being ten years old, waiting to hear what darling thing Rudy Huxtable would say next to her dad, Cliff. Doctor Huxtable just so happened to be the best dad in the world, right?

Falling asleep to Nick at Night’s reruns of The Cosby Show was not unusual when I was younger. Already so adored by my family from its original airing, just like the beloved Mr. Rogers, he was one of the staples of both my childhood and so many others. The values of family and being a respectable person travelled far past the ending of the show. For years, the following generations have latched on to the same love and upright feeling that emanated from Cosby.

Those dorky sweaters and that wide-eyed smirk portrayed a good man with a big heart, and Cosby sure as hell knew how to milk that. To hear now that allegations have been circulating for years makes my heart sink. Feelings of betrayal and disgust come up, but mostly regretted ignorance to this concern that has somehow coasted under the radar to most of us for so long.

As of Tuesday, when eighties’ supermodel Janet Dickinson joined in as yet another accuser, fifteen women have detailed stories of being sexually assaulted by America’s dad. Fifteen separate stories, all with the same theme of being given a drink and pills, coming to undressed, Cosby on top of them, confused, and in pain.

The only response from the comedian has come from his attorney, which stated that Cosby refused to dignify “decade-old, discredited claims.” Well Mr. Cosby, if you think this is just going to go away again, you are very wrong.

The seventy-seven year old just shook his head in silence when questioned about the allegations during an interview with National Public Radio and has not reached out to the public personally to make a statement. It has guilty written all over it.

To retrace our steps, Cosby’s first alleged assault took place all the way back in 1969. The most recent claim is said to have taken place in 2002, which is at least thirty years of dispersed, horrifying behavior.

In 2005, Andrea Constand filed a lawsuit claiming that Cosby assaulted her back in 2002 at his home in Pennsylvania. With this, eleven other women came forward as witnesses with similar accusations toward him. The comedian was able to settle with Constand out of court and none of the witnesses ever had to testify. It did, however, lead two of the women, Barbara Bowman and Beth Ferrier, to bring their stories to light.

With the accusations out there, Tamera Green, a California lawyer, decided to also speak up in 2005 about her claims that Cosby assaulted her back in the 1970s. And yet another accuser, Joan Tarshis, a music industry publicist and journalist, published her purported assault in explicit detail last Saturday in Hollywood Elsewhere.

Tuesday, Dickinson felt an obligation to go public with her story of assault as well, said to have taken place 1982 in Lake Tahoe. Maybe she felt a well-known face coming forward could help propel action against Cosby? Maybe she is lying, hoping for renewed attention from the media? The public has landed on both sides.

Twitter has served as a sample of the range of feelings surrounding the rape allegations. Understandably, many people refuse to accept that their sweet Cliff Huxtable could do any harm to anyone. Others have been quick to determine that his whole career is a lie and he is a terrible man who has had too much power.

And sadly, the situation has also prompted a plethora of “funny” memes and rape jokes, which inevitably downplay the seriousness of what actually is a horribly disturbing history of a celebrity able to get away with sexual assault because of his level of fame and power and the façade of who he really is.

It makes me sad to hear these women’s stories, like somehow it makes my childhood a lie. If the man who laughed with young children on Kids Say the Darndest Things was also the man who tricked and raped women, how am I supposed to believe anything? How could we all follow this man with admiring eyes, so unaware for so long – letting things like his standup routine about drugging his date go unnoticed after the first round of accusations?

Bill Cosby needs to say something, do something. There is no way the world can ever look at him the same way no matter what the results of this come to be.

Fifteen women.

It is unfortunate that these women did not say something sooner, and they were never able to get Cosby to court when they did. But at least it is out there, and people are actually taking these women seriously now. Why many like myself were blind to such accusations comes down to him being who he is and that persona never being questioned.

It would be nice to take these women’s allegations and throw them under the rug as heresy, but I just cannot do that. Maybe, just maybe if he came forward right away and did something about “false claims” I would still be weighing out the facts, but he did not do that. As much as I wish I could go home and watch The Cosby Show with nostalgia and happiness once more, that will not happen.

Bill Cosby is almost eighty years old, and at some point his depravity, if real, needs to be revealed. Now is that time, and now is when his walls are finally crumbling to the renewed confidence of women who for too long were silenced by fear and ignored by a lack of support against deceitful sweaters and smiles.

It was an impressive run, Mr. Cosby, but it looks like your ridicule of sagging pants and profanity have been dismembered by the claims of far worse crimes.

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.”