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The Summer of Love: How San Francisco is Recognizing the Iconic Movement

Visitors peer in on colorful artifacts and psychedelic motifs, some stop to take selfies in a light show room where multi-colored waves splash against the walls, and some are dressed in their own throwback clothes, wearing colorful dresses and sky-high platforms. The “Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion and Rock & Roll” exhibit at the De Young museum brings the past to the present with its display of the era’s most memorable works of art, music, fashion, and everything else in between.

Fifty years ago hundreds of thousands of flower children gathered in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to listen to music, hang out, and spread the love, providing the rest of America with a glimpse into an alternative way of living. A half century later, American society is still dealing with the aftermath of the ideas, art forms, clothing, and music that emerged from that momentous 1967 summer in San Francisco. San Francisco is preparing to celebrate the anniversary of an event that shaped the city’s identity and left a lasting impact on pop culture.

“There was no one Summer of Love experience,” says Colleen Terry, curator of the non-textile pieces for the “Summer of Love Experience” exhibit on display through August 20. “I think that’s something I certainly experienced in my research is that people living a block apart from one another could have had very different experiences here in San Francisco in 1967.”

While the circumstances of the Summer of Love were the start of a new way of thinking for the rest of the country, the counterculture’s Summer of Love was actually the end of what had started as a movement in the mid 1960s.

The start of the countercultural movement began with Ken Kesey’s and the Merry Pranksters’ “Acid Tests”, or parties where guests were encouraged to use LSD and expore the drug’s psychedelic effects. Then in January 1967, the intellectual and radical political activists of Berkeley combined with the social and cultural experimenters of the Haight-Ashbury for the Human Be-In to join forces against the war in Vietnam and to experiment with drugs and new forms of philosophy, art, and music.

This occasion gained national media attention and young people to flocked to San Francisco, this migration culminated in the what we now know as the Summer of Love. Terry hopes that the DeYoung’s exhibit will highlight the extent of the counterculture movement in San Francisco during that time period.

“I think what a lot of people know is sex, drugs, and rock and roll and I think this show actually shows that there is a lot more to it especially in an aesthetic dimension that has really permeated our popular culture even today.”

One of these aesthetic elements was the explosion of color and bell bottoms in the clothing that accompanied the movement.

“There were certain things that just kept coming up,” says Jill D’alessandro, textile curator for the exhibit. “Victoriana, old timey dress, native american dress, the interest in the Pacific Rim, in Asian cultures. There’s also psychedelia and the swirling motifs in prints, handwork, and denim.”

Denim played a large part in many of the styles from this time period and that may have been due to Levis’ close relationship to the city and its residents mentions D’alessandro. “Levi’s had their finger on the pulse of the counterculture,” says D’alessandro, “and actually was like a nurturing parent to the counterculture, looking at what they wanted and providing it for them and making sure to keep their jeans at a low price.”

One person whose clothes are featured in the exhibit are Wavy Gravy’s, an entertainer, comedian, and official clown of the Grateful Dead. Gravy was a prominent figure in the counterculture, or as he calls it “the under the counter culture.” He joined the Merry Pranksters in the Acid Tests and later drove around the country in a painted school bus.

“The seats were all taken out and along the sides were benches that opened up at night into double beds with the storage under the bench so it was like just living in a sailboat,” Gravy remembers. “You had to knock down everything you had to a very minimal amount of stuff and it was very synchronicity building.”

They used the attention they began receiving to highlight issues important to the subculture like Animal and environmental rights.

“We traveled on a bus that was taken on a freighter to Sweden for the United Nations conference on human environment where we actually turned the bus into a whale and drove into downtown Stockholm during rush hour and got the UN to pass the resolution against the killing and hunting of the grey whale,” remarks Gravy.

The counterculture movement that spurred the Summer of Love was also known for it’s political activism and the birth of many social movements such as the environmental movement, the women’s movement, and the anti-war movement. One social issue that has a complex relationship with the counterculture movement is the gay rights movement.

“We think of the gay movement as a political movement, but really it was always a social and cultural movement,” says curator of the “Lavender Tinted Glasses: A Groovy Gay Look at the Summer of Love” exhibit Joey Cain.

The exhibit is a “look at the LGB folks who were significant in the summer of love in 1967 and I look at Allen Ginsberg, the poet, and the underground, avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger, Janis Joplin, and someone who most people don’t know astrologer, philosopher Gavin Arthur,” says Cain. “I give a little bit of history about their background and what their involvement was in 1967 and I look a little bit also at how what was happening then influenced the homophile community that existed at the time.”

While the summer of love is associated with “free love”, the movement wasn’t as accepting as it might seem at first glance.

“The Summer of Love stuff tended to have very old gender role ideas. The women were to make babies and take care of the home and be nurturing and the men were to be out there fighting on the barricades. While there were a lot of gay people around in it, it was not something that people really talked about,” Cain explains.

He does acknowledge, though, that the summer of love did have a significant impact on the LGBT community’s sense of self.

“Where it influenced the LGBT community heavily was there was a great emphasis placed on personal authenticity that instead of being who your parents want you to be, who your teachers want you to be, who the society in general wants you to be, you need to understand who you are and be that person,” Cain says. “That was a huge part of what was being promoted and talked about and encouraged in the summer of love. And that has always been the bottom line of coming out.”

Personal authenticity, sexual freedom, and drug use were factors that influenced the LGBT community as Cain mentions with a laugh, “It’s really hard to stay in the closet while you’re on LSD.”

Cain points out that what many remember as a summer of kindness and sharing also included many struggles with the police.

“If not every weekend, every other weekend, the police would come in and there would be mini riots here in the Haight with the police trying to clear people out and trying to control them,” Cain says. “Imagine a hundred thousand refugees flooding into a neighborhood, mostly made up of people between the ages of 13-23 who couldn’t take care of themselves. It was a disaster zone and part of the thing that destroyed it was media exploitation around what was going on in the neighborhood. It had this double edged effect in that it took the ideas that were being worked on here and sent them out across the country. But it also made everybody want to run away from home and come to San Francisco.”

At the time, much of the mainstream media framed the movement as a “cute” social movement, instead of examining the very real issues that young people were talking and protesting about.

“It wasn’t just peace and love. There were attempts to address really deep seated social issues like racism, poverty, class inequality. That gets glossed over in the tie dye and beads concept of the summer of love,” Cain explains.

One commemorative celebration this summer hoping to examine these issues is an Academic Conference on the Summer of Love that will take place this July from NorthWestern University. The conference will feature talks and panels from professors around the Bay Area, including Peter Richardson and Steve Savage from SF State, to present their research about the Summer of Love.

“I’m doing the conference for students today to figure out what the right kind of framework is to understand those events fifty years ago, so that the meaning of them is powerful to young people today,” says NorthWestern University Professor and head of the Summer of Love Academic Conference Planning Committee.

The conference is free for any grad students attending a university in the Bay Area. The conference will feature information about the role of cyberculture in the counterculture movement, women’s roles, the Black Panther Party, drugs, and “social theorists whose work on critiques of American Society provided young people with a framework for critiquing American society and looking for an alternative to it,” says Lewis.

While there were many counter cultural movements taking place around the world that year, “they especially converged in San Francisco because it was a more open kind of society and had a long tradition of welcoming offbeat people to it being a beautiful place to live for artists, musicians, and poets,” explains Lewis, who also mentions that San Francisco’s original founding was during the Gold Rush of 1849.

“San Francisco had this unique quality of lots of new people coming there, lots of people trying to find a way to live together, and lots of them pursuing a dream. That’s built into the DNA of the city,” Lewis says.

For Boots Hughston, his dream is to honor the original summer of love by throwing a commemoration festival this summer, featuring many of the same speakers and musicians that were present at the first one. Hughston attended the original summer of love as a teenager.

“It was like everybody woke up all at the same time,” he says of the celebration.

Hughston has put on other commemorative anniversaries for the Summer of Love, but has had trouble getting permits for this anniversary occasion.

“At fifty years, we’re passing it on, this is our last hurrah. We’re all in our 60s, 70s, 80s. There won’t be many of us around for the next 10 year anniversary. We’re passing it on whether we like it or not,” Hughston says.

He was denied a permit for his original plan of having the event in Golden Gate Park in June or July by the San Francisco Parks and Rec Department. Despite the negative response of the city, Hughston is continuing to apply for a September or October event.

“I hope it doesn’t go back to the same hassle we just had that’s what I’m worried about it. So I took myself out of it I didn’t apply for this permit I took myself out of the loop and I passed on to Sunshine Powers. She’s applying for the permits now. So we’re pretty much ready to rock,” he said.

Hughston has been frustrated by the amount of money required now to put on an event in the city. He mentions that when he was young, it was only $150 for a permit, but now to put on a large affair, costs will total around $450,000-$500,000.

“It’s almost impossible for a young person to go out there and try to do a large free event,” Hughston sighs, “The summer of love 50th anniversary is free. The reason why it’s free is because we want anybody to be able to come. Anybody who can come whoever wants to come.”

It was also very important for Hughston that the celebration take place where it all started: Golden Gate Park.

“It started here, it needs to be represented here. It’s a humanity movement too. It’s not a money movement or about egos or anything, it’s basically a spiritual movement that started right here in San Francisco,” Hughston says.

Parks and Rec official Joey Kahn worries that the event’s big scale might be a danger to all those attending, “As the agency responsible for stewarding and permitting San Francisco’s parks, it is our responsibility to ensure that events are safe for the public to attend. That means making sure there is an adequate emergency/medical plan, proper infrastructure to support the number of people expected, adequate transportation and public safety staff, including Police and Park Rangers on-site to respond to an emergency. While it is not sexy, it is incredibly important that all these elements be in place. Without them, the results can be catastrophic.The multiple city agencies involved in signing off on this permit agree that, as a result of Mr. Hughston’s repeated misrepresentations, he could not be entrusted to ensure public safety and limit damage to the park. Despite our many attempts to work collaboratively with Mr. Hughston, and the multiple chances he was given to rectify the situation, he continued to falsify his responses.”

Hughston continues to claim that he completed everything required of him and in a timely manner. Though Hughston’s dreamt up event might not come true, some San Francisco organizations are already helping to commemorate the anniversary with the combination of Sunday Streets and It’s Your District to create a themed Summer of Love for Sunday Street events this summer.

“We want to celebrate what is special in each neighborhood and remind people why they love San Francisco,” says Liz De Nola, the director of operations for It’s Your District, which promotes non profits in San Francisco. “We want to highlight the values that emerged from the summer of love. To us, that means community building and creativity and so at each event we have lots of music, we have art, we we have giant puppets and stilt walking, and lots of entertainment for the whole family.”

Executive director for It’s Your District, Yves-Langston Barthaurd, wants to showcase the great organizations and groups working in various San Francisco neighborhoods, “A lot of these organizations that we feature are in the neighborhood and a lot of people don’t realize that they’re there,” she says.

Barthaurd also thinks that this nod back to the original summer of love couldn’t be more timely.

“This year, we’re seeing more people out on the streets and protesting and wanting their rights and their voices to be heard than in years past, basically since 1967,” Barthaurd says. “We’re in another era where people feel like their voices aren’t being heard and that they need to get out on the streets and really push the narrative into the direction that they want to see.”

Michele Rebelle, sixty-three, was a teenager back when she attended the original summer of love.

“Back then, we were all politically motivated. I have burned my bra marching down Market Street pushing a fucking baby carriage to make sure that my daughters and my grand daughters have reproductive rights,” she says passionately with tears streaming down her eyes. “Everything that we fought for then we have to re-fight for again and we’re fucking old. We need our kids and our kid’s kids and all these little motherfuckers out here to step up, not by violence, but by words and thoughts and action.”

Free, 25, is homeless by choice and made the journey to San Francisco from Illinois in hopes of reaching the acceptance he heard was prevalent here.

“I came here from a small farm town that was super racist and bigoted,” he says. “I’m part of the LGBT community and it’s way more accepting out here. When I became homeless I found my way to the Haight and the hippie guys really took care of me and showed me the ways.”

The legacy of Haight Street as a gathering of hippies, still attracts many people, including the homeless.

“I think that the homeless situation and the drug situation that we’re seeing in San Francisco is worse than I’ve ever seen it for the decade that I’ve lived here,” says Malaika Clarke, the art director and sales rep for the costume store P-Kok on Haight Street. “Something that I think the city really needs to do before they summer comes is have more public restrooms for the general public and for the homeless population that lives here,” she says.

Clarke has always felt connected to the counterculture movement that took place here in 1967, even though she was not part of it.

“I feel like 1967 really laid a stamp on Haight Street and kind of set this ripple out through the universe of what the hippie movement was,” she says. “I kind of feel the ghosts of Haight Street a lot.”

For Clarke, keeping the spirit of community alive is a great way to honor the movement, “Here at P-kok we’re trying to support local artists I have a lot of my paintings in here and I’m going to be doing a series for the Summer of Love. We’re going to be throwing different events, hopefully making some music videos, we have different street artists who are going to be painting on the front of our window display and our shop and we’re also going to be involved with some of the other vendors on the block just doing street parties and stuff,” she says.

Right before the interview with Clarke, a large fight between two men broke out in front of the store. The men appeared to be on drugs or mentally unstable. Many people stood watching and filming on their phones, until it eventually ended and the men went their separate ways. This instance only solidified Clarke’s passion for protecting her community.

“We just heard a huge fight happening out on the street and I found myself starting to videotape it and I then I said well what am I doing, I’m going to go try to break it up,” Clarke says. “And I didn’t even have anybody to watch the store, I just asked a stranger to watch the store for me. I mean we all have to take initiative and responsibility each and every one of us to be a part of the community. I think that what happens when you get so many people who are coming through the city and not staying or a techie who maybe will be here for like a year and doesn’t really get invested, you don’t get that community. So I would say wherever you go, be invested and help out. It’s up to each and every one of us to deeply look inside ourselves and ask how can we be the love.”

For Heritage: A Cultural Struggle in Chinatown

Mrs. Yu (left) and Mr. Yu (right), who both refused to provide first names because of privacy concerns, sit on a twin-sized mattress inside of their Chinatown SRO. San Francisco’s Chinatown has experienced a 60% increase in average rent costs from 2013 to now according to Norman Fong, Executive Director of Chinatown Community Development Center. Photo by Joel Angel Juárez


By Ashley Goldsmith

Culture For Sale: San Francisco’s Chinatown, one of the last neighborhoods to be touched by gentrification, is at risk of losing the identity it has so strongly protected.


[dropcap size=”50px”]A[/dropcap] three-story building on Stockton Street with a weather-damaged and crumbling brick facade sat above a dim sum shop, nestled between a travel agency and a Chinese-language high school. A short trek up a precarious staircase littered with board games, plastic buckets and cleaning tools led to a small 8-by-10 room with one bunk bed. The scent of rotten food from a communal kitchen filled the air. It was so cramped there was only enough space for Ms. Kuang and a translator to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. When Kuang attempted to move around, white plastic bags that read “THANK YOU” in red letters – filled with a variety of Asian condiments – fell to the floor. She explained in Cantonese that three of her oldest sons lived here, while she stayed in the next room over with her husband and youngest son.

Kuang told the translator that her family has been living in this single-room-occupancy hotel since 1999, which has allowed them to pay a below-market rate for two units at $500 each. This is the only place they have lived in San Francisco because their limited English skills have prevented them from finding better jobs with higher wages. Kuang cares for seniors in the community while her husband works in construction or as a handyman, but she said that his work is not steady. She explained that other rooms in the building rent for $700 to $900 each. After noticing an increase of evictions, Kuang is extremely cautious about upsetting her landlord for fear of losing the deal she has now and was unwilling to give her first name.

Single room occupancy hotels, also known as SROs, are multiple-tenant buildings with rooms that house one or more residents. According to Kitty Fong, project coordinator at the SRO Families United Collaborative, there are more than 100 SRO buildings that house over 450 families in Chinatown. Typically these rooms are cramped living spaces and can be as small as 7-by-10 feet. Tenants are living in close quarters as though they are in a dormitory, sharing bathrooms and a kitchen with other residents on each floor. For low-income and immigrant families, these spaces are the only way to assimilate into the community.

“They’re the only option for new immigrants,” Fong said. “Without these buildings, they couldn’t even come to San Francisco anymore. Without family support and a community that they are familiar with, it would be even more difficult for these families to create a better life for themselves here.”

Recently, community organizers have brought attention to the neighborhood because some landlords are renting vacant units to individual occupants, some of whom are high-salaried newcomers, rather than families.

“As much as those who make a six-figure salary deserve to choose where they want to stay, these families and these workers also deserve to choose where they want to live,” said Joyce Lam, senior community organizer at the Chinese Progressive Association, a social justice organization seeking to improve tenant and worker rights. “The city has a moral responsibility to ensure that these SRO families get to stay here if they choose to.”

Since its inception in 1948, San Francisco’s Chinatown has become the largest of its kind in the United States. The neighborhood and its affordable SRO units have been a landing place for immigrant families who need time to assimilate into American life. Because of this, SRO buildings are one of the main reasons why Chinatown has been preserved and untouched by gentrification for so long.

Community activist Wilma Pang said the “blessing of our ancestor’s commitment to the community” is what has helped to save the neighborhood from losing its identity. She explained that older generations of immigrant families bought buildings and were committed to maintaining the community by renting to other Chinese families at reasonable rates; allowing the Chinese to preserve their culture in that corner of the city.

People walk past an SRO building on the corner of Clay and Joice streets in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Some units in the building are being rented out for $1000 and up according to Norman Fong, executive director of Chinatown Community Development Center. Photo by Joel Angel Juárez

Between November 2014 and January 2015 the SRO Families United Collaborative conducted a census of SRO families. The collaborative is made up of five community-based organizations, including the Chinatown Community Development Center and the Chinese Progressive Association, which works closely with families living in Chinatown SROs. These organizations had not studied the community in this way since 2001 and the results that were released in October showed significant changes in the population. Over the past 15 years, the number of families living in residential hotels in San Francisco has increased by 55 percent, reaching a total of over 450 families in Chinatown alone. During the nine months since the study was completed, the average rental price for an SRO in the neighborhood increased from $700 to $900 per month.

At the census release event, organizers who worked on the study agreed that one of the most surprising statistics they found was that nearly 90 percent of SRO residents who were considered to be the “head of household” were employed.  Their ideas of SRO residents living in these conditions because they weren’t working was incorrect. Instead, many were working full-time, mostly in restaurants or in construction, yet over 80 percent cited insufficient income as the main reason for not moving out.

A survey of Chinatown restaurant workers released in 2010 by the Chinese Progressive Association showed that half of the workers received less than minimum wage.


The effort to protect Chinatown SROs is not a new phenomenon. The International Hotel, an SRO on Kearny Street, was demolished in 1981 in an effort to expand the Financial District into the Chinatown area. Although they lost the fight for the hotel, many residents came together to “safeguard the affordability of the community for seniors and to help maintain Chinatown as a gateway for immigrant families by forming community rights groups and fighting for stricter zoning laws,” according to Malcolm Yeung. Yeung is the deputy director of the Chinatown Community Development Center, a non-profit organization that has been fighting for affordable housing and tenants rights in Chinatown since 1977.

Last spring, the development center helped organize a protest for residents of a 32-unit SRO building at 2 Emery Lane after many had received eviction notices. Their new landlords, Emery Vallejo LLC, cited practices like hanging laundry in windows or Chinese New Year decorations on doors as a violation of lease agreements. The company eventually backed off and rescinded their notices, though a deal between the landlords and tenants was never reached in writing.

The Vallejo Emery Apartments, located at 2 Emery Lane, was a target of gentrification in March 2015 after the landlord presented eviction notices to 24 families living in the 32-unit building. The landlord withdrew the eviction notices that same month. Photo by Joel Angel Juárez

“The Emery Lane evictions were an interesting case because no deal was ever signed,” said Norman Fong, executive director of the development center. “Enough people organized and protested against this blatant attack against low-income families, so it was clear that the company’s motives were purely financial.”

According to annual reports by the San Francisco Rent Board, “breach of rental agreement” is the leading cause of evictions in the city. The rationale behind breaching a rental agreement is fairly arbitrary because landlords set the standard for what qualifies as a violation of the lease. This leaves renters in a vulnerable spot. With evictions being served more frequently, many community leaders are afraid that an increase in residents who are not Chinese could do more than just change the demographics of the neighborhood. Though landlords are just beginning to turn these buildings into what Norman Fong refers to as “tech dorms,” the neighborhood appears to be one of the last in San Francisco to experience gentrification.

Lam added that while the movement of those who are not Chinese into the neighborhood is an issue for many residents, the media has intensified the struggles between the two groups.

“In the context of this conversation it’s important to understand that this is not about saying that these young tech workers don’t have a place in the city,” Lam said. “This fight is not saying ‘you have no place in Chinatown,’ but what it does say is ‘let’s figure out how you can stay in Chinatown without displacing Chinese immigrants and families’ and I truly believe that is possible.”

The neighborhood offers supportive services for monolingual, Chinese-speaking residents like doctors, legal advice and housing education. A thriving Chinatown allows for new immigrants who are seeking the American dream to have a more comfortable introduction to the United States. Despite the current gentrification and housing crisis in the neighborhood, many immigrants from China have not been deterred.


While conducting the census, Raúl Fernández-Berriozábal, senior coordinator of the SRO Families United Collaborative, remembered speaking to many families who were shocked by the conditions they were destined to live in upon arrival. As an immigrant himself, Fernández-Berriozábal shared the sentiment of these families when he recalled his decision to move to the U.S. from Mexico.

Raúl Fernández-Berriozábal of the SRO Families United Collaborative speaks during the SRO Families United Collaborative 2014 Census Report Release in San Francisco. Photo by Joel Angel Juárez

“Something that I kept hearing during interviews with families from China was that so many people see America as the place for opportunity,” Fernández-Berriozábal said. “They told us ‘you know I had a career and a house in China. I would never expect to live in a place like this SRO if I were back home.’”

Since the SRO Families United Collaborative began, the group has only seen 40 families make the transition from an SRO into an affordable housing unit over the course of 15 years. This is not just in Chinatown, but in all of San Francisco. Nearly half of these families moved this year because the development center advocated for a specific amount of apartments in a new building on Broadway and Sansome Streets to be subsidized as affordable housing units. Over half of the census participants claimed that they have been on a housing waiting list for more than three years.

“How San Francisco deals with this housing crisis and maintenance of affordable and public housing, will likely impact how other cities manage their affordable housing,” Norman Fong said. “People are watching. Flavor and diversity is the heart and soul of San Francisco. We must preserve this so that this city does not belong only to rich people.”

The Plastic In Our Bay and the Scientists Expelling It

Rebecca Sutton, senior scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, holds up a vial of microplastics collected from the San Pablo Bay. Photo by David Henry

By Jordan Lalata

[dropcap size=”50px”]K[/dropcap]aty Reid, a 25-year-old freelance production assistant, turned the knob to let the water run warm for a relaxing shower after a long day of work.

She stepped inside the tub and began to rinse her body. With her face wet and pores open from the steam, she squeezed her go-to facial cleanser on the tip of her fingers, rubbed it all over her face in a circular motion and left it on for the duration of her shower, all in part of her beauty regimen.

“It has a nice lather and smell to it, similar to a face mask,” Reid said.

One of its active ingredients, charcoal, works like a magnet to draw out blackheads. The product suggests it will unclog pores and smooth skin, which it does with the help of exfoliating microbeads.

Microbeads are round, brightly colored plastic particles found in facial cleansers and toothpastes. According to the Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay, the particles are found in 10 percent of personal care products. With a size of less than one millimeter in diameter, microbeads have been banned in California from all cosmetic products as they affect aquatic habitats and contribute to plastic pollution. The program found 3.9 million microplastics present in the Bay.

“I am upset at myself for using a product with microbeads in it,” Reid said. “The cleanser had some positive effects on my skin, but I am not comfortable with the ingredients environmental impact.”

Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB-888, a statewide ban on the sale of consumer products containing plastic microbeads in October. Set to go into effect in 2020, both the ban and the city of San Francisco are in conjunction to eliminate plastic waste.

The monitoring program funded Rebecca Sutton, a senior scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, to lead a study in Fall 2014.

“There is a lot of monitoring of contaminants like polychlorinated biphenyls and mercury, but I do work on the emerging contaminants,” Sutton said. “Microplastics fall into that category.”

A collaboration among other scientists and organizations found that microplastics are widespread in the San Francisco Bay and have higher levels than similar bodies of water, such as Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. According to the Estuary Institute, San Francisco Bay has 1,310,000 microplastics per km squared, compared to 390,000 microplastics per km squared in Chesapeake Bay and 118,000 microplastics per km squared in the Great Lakes.

The institute’s research shows a daily average of 490,000 particles of microplastics are discharged from eight wastewater treatment plants in the Bay Area. Of that total, 17 percent is comprised of microbeads.

According to the Society for Conservation Biology, California’s state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plants cannot feasibly filter out microplastics because of their small size and buoyancy.

Wastewater is treated at a peninsula plant. Photo by David Henry

Microplastics include fiber from synthetic clothing, styrofoam cups and other large items fragmented by photodegradation, a process of breaking down material by light.

Sutton, with the San Francisco Baykeeper, a nonprofit organization committed to stopping pollution, conducted sample tests from a boat at the Central and South Bay by deploying a data-collecting device called a manta trawl.

Named after its resemblance to the manta ray, the device’s aluminum buoyant wings and mesh bag tail skims the water, trapping any particles five millimetres or smaller in the empennage.

Sutton’s contaminants were sent to Sherri Mason, a professor and researcher at the State University of New York, for sample research.

Mason rinsed the samples and categorized the particles by a wet peroxide oxidation process that removed natural organic material and left behind synthetic plastics, which she then placed in a microscope and carefully counted the miniscule pieces using tiny tweezers, in what Sutton calls a very time consuming process.

The results not only indicated that the most dominant form of microplastic pollution are fragments that may be derived from microbeads, but 52 other types of microplastics were also found in nine small prey fish.

Microplastics in sample vials rest on a table in the lab at the San Francisco Estuary Institute in Richmond. The microplastics were collected from the San Pablo Bay using a Manta Trawl. The vial on the left contains microplastics from a dissected fish. Photo by David Henry

“Wildlife mistake them for food and purposefully ingest them, which causes physical blockage in their bodies,” Sutton said.

According to 5 Gyres Institute, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the absence of plastics in the world’s oceans, microplastics are most commonly made of polyethylene and polypropylene. Neutrogena’s Deep Clean Gentle Scrub is estimated to contain 7,450 polyethylene microbeads in one product.

Sutton said plastic’s chemical nature can absorb persistent organic chemicals, like polychlorinated biphenyls which, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, have been known to cause cancer.

San Francisco joined the state’s coalition to ban microbeads to further the plastic reduction effort, much like it did for single-use plastic bags. After implementing bans on plastic bags in 2007 and 2012, the city saw a 34 percent reduction in plastic bag debris, according to Eben Schwartz, an outreach manager at California Coastal Commission.

“Trash in our environment happens despite our best efforts,” Schwartz said. “The best thing we can do is to not create trash in the first place so that it never has the opportunity to become marine debris.”

The San Francisco Department of the Environment is the lead agency of the Zero Waste Program, which aims to complete its goal by 2020. Guillermo Rodriguez, a policy and communication director at the department hopes plastic reduction becomes a cultural change.

“Part of our zero waste strategy is to make San Franciscans comply with our laws by changing their behavior,” Rodriguez said. “We take every excuse off the table to get people to do the right thing and since the ordinances, we’ve seen significant compliance.”

Garnier, the cosmetic brand of the French cosmetics and beauty company L’Oréal, echoed environmentalists concerns over microbeads by deciding to eliminate the plastic pollutants in its scrubs by 2017. According to the company’s plan for sustainable development, they are looking for natural alternatives to replace microbeads.

“I would have not bought it if the word microbeads was labeled on the packaging,” Reid said, who used Garnier’s Clean + Blackhead Eliminating Scrub for Oily Skin. “But I think it is a great step for them to ban it from their products.”

Through the Cracks in the Groove

Photo by James Chan

By Lupita Uribe

[dropcap size=”50px”]W[/dropcap]hen you hear the words “record label,” San Francisco is not the first city that comes to mind –possibly because the commercial record labels are located in the southern region of our golden state. Though San Francisco has never been a mecca for the commercial music industry, according to Jon Bendich a former touring musician, commercial songwriter and current assistant professor at SF State’s Music and Recording Industry program, in the early 2000s the Bay Area was the highest producing region of independent labels.

The Bay Area has inspired and played an important role in past music movements; from its renowned jazz scene in the Fillmore District, to the 924 Gilman punk scene, to being the home of prominent psychedelic rock musicians such as The Grateful Dead. Unlike Los Angeles, the scene is stripped of bright lights, fake tans and auto-tuned musicians, which, while appealing to some, doesn’t exactly scream “showbiz.” Regardless of that, nestled in overpriced rented spaces or functioning straight out of homes, there are independent Bay Area record labels establishing themselves and maintaining business.

San Francisco has historically seen labels come and go with some more short lived than others. One notorious Bay Area record label, 415 Records, was a short-lived independent label that released fundamental records in the genres of new wave and post-punk. Record labels such as Prank Records, 1-2-3-4 GO! Records and Fat Wreck Records found themselves in staff changes and eventually, direction changes where some steered toward more digital music and focusing primarily on distribution. Similarly the evolution of 415 Records was guaranteed to happen; it was just a matter of what form the label would take. In this case, the label was sold in 1989 after an 11-year run, and founding members of 415 Records went on to other independent and mainstream levels of the industry.

The amount of record stores that were open throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s catering to music that ranged from punk to traditional Latin music, were clear indicators of the emergence of labels and the need to distribute. Although mail order was one of the bigger points of access for people to listen to their favorite artists from specific labels like 1-2-3-4 GO! Records opened stores to distribute titles within their label, such as Shannon and the Clams and Nobunny. However, other storefronts, such as the very popular and unique Discolandia, were central hubs for everything Latin, and connected the Mission District community to a variety of artists on local and international labels up until its closing in 2011.

Although San Francisco hasn’t always had a strong label structure for licensing – compared to other major label markets such as New York or LA – it has always had a strong core foundation in creation, production, distribution and performance of music, according to SF State’s Music and Recording Industry Program Director Robert Collins.

Robert W. Collins shows a sound board used to teach classes in SF State’s College of Extended Learning Tuesday Oct 27. Photo by James Chan

Collins, who spent many years working in the music industry, started off as a music fan simply looking over friends’ contracts with labels. He began working at record labels in his early ‘20s and later went on to be the general manager of underground hip-hop label Ground Control Records. He also managed legendary local rap group Zion I, who have toured the world.

While touring, Collins also noted how San Francisco differed from other markets with its plethora of niche markets like Latin jazz, punk and underground hip-hop. He credits the Bay Area for instilling an “independent hustle” characteristic in local music moguls that carried into other aspects of the industry.

“As you started to move around, and you started to tour, that’s where you would move that independent hustle,” Collins said in reference to how the independent labels and artists had a stronger sense of urgency to make their money without the backing of a major label.

There has also been a shift in the way record labels are established and functioning now, which affects the San Francisco Bay Area. Bendich notes that it is much easier to be a label now. Digitizing music distribution has cut the costs of what is necessary to be a label, making it much more accessible, according to Bendich. He believes modern day record labels cut down on their costs and overhead fees.

[pullquote align=”right”]“You don’t have to have a warehouse to store records, because you don’t have physical records anymore –you’re distributing them digitally.” – Jon Bendich[/pullquote]

“You don’t have to have office space because you don’t have to have a staff to do everything, you can do it all on your computer,” Bendich said. “You don’t have to have a warehouse to store records, because you don’t have physical records anymore –you’re distributing them digitally.”

The absence of physical records also cuts down costs with regards to having a distributor. There is no longer a middle man to get your records sold, therefore you make a more direct profit. In the absence, the record label still acts as the bridge between artists and platforms of digital distribution such as iTunes and Spotify, as well as tying other loose ends and doubling up as an overarching artist manager.

The industry’s new accessibility allows a variety of people to establish their own record label, and not all labels are aiming to hit fame.

Cubby Control Records is based out of San Francisco and was established not for glory, but for hobby. Owner Brian Weaver works as a librarian at the San Francisco Public Library, and established the label as a medium to bring together his previous works and continue having a creative outlet.

“When I was younger I had ideas, or ambitions, that I (was) going to make it big at some point,” Weaver said. “At a certain point I came to realize ‘I’m not making money with this, I probably won’t make any money with this’ so I had to think about a career and stability.”

Weaver has performed in several bands and had a key role in Cubby, a collective of artists and musicians based out of San Francisco, but he does not question his decision to pursue a career as a librarian. He credits his job at the library for allowing his pursuit of his hobby.

“Having a full time job inhibits my ability to work on the label and to make music as much as I would like to,” Weaver said.

With independent labels being at the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area music scene, whether it is as a medium of self expression, desire to create, or desire to make profits, it is expected that niche markets will continue to influence those labels and keep them surviving.

The city’s flooding hotspots prepare for El Niño

Stable Cafe’s cafe manager, Francisco Garcia, shows how high the water level was during last year’s Pineapple Express Storm. Photo by Katie Lewellyn

By Carlos Mendoza

Francisco Garcia couldn’t sleep. All he had on his mind was the rain and the feeling that his place of work was going to flood again. He left early in the morning from the East Bay to the Stable Café located at 17th and Folsom Street in the Mission District. While on his way, Garcia received a text saying “don’t rush we are already flooded.” Reality struck the café for the fifth time.

After a tormenting four days of rain, the city of San Francisco accumulated nearly four inches of water from the Pineapple Express storm last December. Both residential and commercial flooding was inescapable, especially low-lying areas of San Francisco, leaving behind property damage.

One of the areas the city has problems maintaining is east of S. Van Ness Avenue and between 17th and 18th Streets where Mission Creek flows. The restaurant Garcia works at sits directly in the middle of that disaster zone. After the major storm hit in 2014, the Stable Café was engulfed with both stormwater and sewage. The mess rose up to three feet, leaving the café in a nasty swamp, according to Garcia.

“We want the city to pay attention to our neighborhood,” Garcia said. “I want the city to replace the pipes in the street.”

Garcia said everything in the café had to be replaced. From the refrigerators to the walk-in freezer the damage cost them close to three months of business. The city helped pay for the damages in an effort to bring the Stable Café and other nearby buildings back to life.

“It’s not satisfying because they just help us to be back to where we were before,” Garcia said. “We lost customers and we lost business. We start from zero every time.”

17th and Folsom Streets intersect where Laguna Dolores sits. The lagoon is now paved over, but the area still remains one of the lowest lying parts of the city and is prone to flooding. Map provided by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Produced by Carlos Mendoza and Drake Newkirk.

In the past five floods the Stable Café has experienced, none of them have occurred during an El Niño season. Garcia worries that rain during El Niño could bring even more damage than previous storms.

“Right now we are scared,” Garcia said. “We cannot sleep, and we are thinking ‘oh shit it is raining.’”

John Monteverdi, a professor in the Department of Earth and Climate Sciences at San Francisco State University, explained that this El Niño is on track to be record-breaking. Some of the heaviest El Niño years were 1982 and 1983 where the city accumulated 38 inches of rain and 1997 and 1998, which saw 47 inches of rain. This year, El Niño is predicted to give San Francisco 30 to 35 inches of rain, but could surpass those predictions. On average the city only sees 23 inches of rain per year.

The San Francisco storm and sewer system is not well equipped to handle copious amounts of water such as with last year’s Pineapple Express storm or the upcoming El Niño season, according to Jean Marie Walsh, the Communications Manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

“No system is perfect and no system can handle all storms,” Walsh said. “That’s what makes it challenging when we have heavy rains. You can only build a system so big. At some point that system reaches capacity, and there is no more room in the pipes and in the system.”

The majority of San Francisco relies on 25,000 storm drains and catch basins according to the SFPUC, a network that Walsh calls the “combine system.”

Drains located in the newer areas of San Francisco direct storm water out to the ocean and the bay. Catch basins provide the same service, but escort the water to the main sewer pipes beneath the street, and into transport storage boxes.

These giant boxes lie beneath the Embarcadero and the Great Highway where their main purpose is to hold storm-water before it is treated.

San Francisco has 1,000 miles of sewer pipes beneath the city, but even with all this underneath, it is still not enough to hold the amount of water substantial downpour can bring. These storm drains and catch basins can get clogged up with leaves and debris, which leads to residential and commercial flooding, especially in low-lying areas of the city.

Walsh explained that 17th Street and Folsom Street is a major flooding zone in the city and provides a significant challenge during heavy rain seasons.

Aside from that area, there are additional pockets of San Francisco that are low-lying and are at a risk of flooding. “Challenge areas” include spots in the Sunset, and Bayview Districts. In an attempt to prevent flooding, SFPUC crews clean out the drains and catch basins prior to predicted storms.

Walsh described the crews as crucial, especially during the rainy seasons and in the months leading up to them. The crews are on stand-by and some even work late night shifts.

The SFPUC developed a “hydraulic analysis” where engineers developed a sophisticated model that tests the topography, soil and sewers of the low-lying areas of San Francisco. They do this to potentially predict what will happen during a storm, according to Walsh.

Walsh explained that residents need to understand what area of San Francisco they are moving into.

“Know your risk,” Walsh said. “A lot of people move into a neighborhood, it’s dry sunny beautiful weather, and they have no clue that their property is located over a historic creek, and when we get heavy rains they might flood.”

David Campos didn’t realize flooding plagued District 9 until he became its supervisor. Campos acknowledges flooding in the Mission District specifically along 17th and Folsom Streets, but he does not see any viable solutions.

“Until I became supervisor, I didn’t really know that this was an issue,” Campos said. “Because it is the lowest point in the city, it’s extremely expensive to fix. Even if you spend billions of dollars on it, there might still be flooding.”

Currently the city reimburses residents and business owners affected by floods, which Campos said may be the best solution. Between claims and cleanup, the Pineapple Express storm cost the city several million dollars, according to Walsh.

“It might be cheaper for the city to continue to pay that on a yearly basis than to be able to find the billions of dollars that is needed,” Campos said.

A short-term solution was presented to the board that would have cost the city $200 million, a price they did not feel was worth for a fix that might not even work. The SFPUC does not have the funding to work on a long-term study that could find a permanent solution, according to Campos.

While the city attempts to come up with a more permanent solution, Thomas Lackey, the owner of the Stable Café, is fed up with the perpetual delays. He wants to see a system that doesn’t put his restaurant out of business after every big storm.

“It would be worth it for them to bite the bullet and fix the problem,” Lackey said.

SF State expands ethnic studies department

The Arab and Muslim Ethnicity and Diasporas Initiative minor, offered by SF State’s Department of Ethnic Studies, is one of the first minors in Arab and Muslim Studies anywhere in the world.

The Department of Ethnic Studies at SF State has a long tradition of breaking barriers. From its inception in the fall of 1969, the department has provided an eye-opening education to people who are willing to have an open mind. Fast-forward to 2015, and the department is once again paving the way for not only the university, but the Arab and Muslim community.

In recent years, there has been little to no classes at SF State when it came to the Arab and Muslim community. One could minor in various other ethnicities, yet no curriculum pertaining to the Muslim and Arab communities counted for credit. For example, the Ethnic Studies Department has minors for Africana studies, American Indian studies, Asian American studies, Latina/o studies, and Race and Resistance Studies (RRS). However, RRS has courses such as Arab American identity that covers topics like post-colonialism processes, critical theory, and perception versus reality. With a recent stroke of luck, the department has now introduced an Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED) minor, for students interested in expanding their knowledge about these communities.

“When we mean community we don’t mean Arabs and Muslim, we talk about the community of justice. For us it’s all the people that aspire for justice. Justice is at the center of our program, that is going back to the spirit of ‘68. We are exactly exemplifying that in 2015,” says Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, Ph.D., a senior scholar and an AMED associate professor.

A lengthy student strike erupted on SF State’s campus, which led to the development of an important event in the history of the U.S. in the ‘60s. The strike was led by the Black Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front, and they demanded an Ethnic Studies program, as well as an end to the Vietnam War.

This became a major news event for weeks in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. At one point, University President S.I. Hayakawa famously pulled the wires out of the speakers on top of a van at a student rally. During the course of the strike, large numbers of police occupied the campus and over 700 people were arrested on various protest-related charges.

“Even today in a globally focused world, many institutions of higher education have not expanded their curricula to include the histories, philosophies, sciences and arts of a greater range of the world’s intellectual traditions,” says Kenneth Monteiro, the dean of the College of Ethnic Studies.

AMED is now one of the first minors in Arab and Muslim Studies anywhere in the world. The department takes pride in its rootedness and commitment to diverse communities among whom people belong and from whose textured lives, experiences and trials and tribulations are drawn to enrich material for research, writing, teaching, and academic progress.

SF State offered a variation of Arab and Muslim studies classes in the past where students were able to take classes for college credit when minoring in Race and Resistance Studies. The new AMED minor will allow students to easily fulfill both graduation requirements while learning about social justice in other racial backgrounds.

In addition to the minor there will also be an Edward Said Scholarship for graduate and undergraduate students minoring in AMED. The support from Dr. Said’s family and a generous donation from SF State alumnus Allam El Qadah, the scholarship will recognize students who exhibit exemplary academic qualifications and a strong commitment to serving their community.

“What AMED is about is Arab communities and Muslim communities and also accounting for non-Arab, Arab-majority, non-Muslim and Muslim-majority. We don’t just focus on Muslims,” says Dr. Abdulhadi.

The biggest news came when Dr. Abdulhadi was able to confirm that there had been an establishment Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between SF State and An-Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine. This is SF State’s first MOU with an academic institution anywhere in the Arab and Muslim world.

An-Najah National University is a vibrant hub of learning that nourishes science, knowledge and understanding. An-Najah offers undergraduate instruction in the fields of medicine, engineering, humanities, social sciences and the natural sciences, as well as numerous courses of graduate study in the humanities and the social sciences. Since it was chartered as a full-fledged university in 1977, An-Najah has promoted the acquisition of modern knowledge whilst remaining committed to the transmission and preservation of Palestinian history, heritage and culture. Today, as the largest university in Palestine, An-Najah educates over 20,000 students and is home to 13 facilities, offering numerous undergraduate and graduate specializations.

“It was significant for us to get back on track, reaffirm the commitment to the program and the overwhelming support of the senate was really a good sign that we were back on the right path,” says President of SF State Leslie Wong.

AMED was formed to advance the study of Arab and Muslim communities at home and in the diasporas. AMED is focused within a justice-centered perspective, which is crucial with any sort of Arab and Muslim community, committed to reciprocating a very strong collaboration between SF State and non-university communities. No other place on SF State’s campus is as evident as the in the Cesar Chavez building, where a Palestinian Cultural mural is honoring the late Edward Said. This initiative was a collective effort that was brought up by SF State students.

Minoring in AMED will enable students to do as follows: share the knowledge that is produced with multiple publics, create a better understanding of Arab and Muslim experiences and concerns in North America, promote a culture of justice, dignity, tolerance and peace, and finally, deepen a sense of fairness, ethics and solidarity among and between communities.

“We take pride in developing majors and minors that are relevant to the world and the Race and Resistance minor is significant because it goes along well with other minors,” says Wong.

Looking at what SF State has accomplished it’s not hard to see there’s a proven track record for change. This minor is just the beginning of a new chapter for Arab and Muslim communities and as more time passes more changes will take effect for more justice.

Dick’s, emoji balls, and Ellen Degeneres

Some SF State students await with their designed Emoji balls to be seen on the Ellen DeGeneres show at Dicks Sporting Goods in Daly City on Monday, May 11. Photo by Angelica Williams/Xpress 2015)


Twitter erupted with love for Ellen Degeneres this weekend when her account sent out a post seeming to say she’d be visiting our foggy little campus on Monday.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 6.26.20 PM

Even though the superstar was never confirmed to be coming to the campus, or even the area herself, the attention didn’t stop and the energy didn’t pop.

At 1 p.m., the account sent out a tweet finally announcing that the location of the shooting and instructions to bring balls with their favorite emojis drawn onto them. By 1:30 p.m., the parking lot at Dick’s Sporting Goods was starting to pile high.

“It makes sense why they’re here,” says Karrie Le, who found out about the taping from her friend and current SF State student, Marcos Zambrano. “This Dick’s is one of the biggest Dick’s there is.”

Abby Comphel 20, designs her ball with her Emoji to be seen on the Ellen DeGeneres show at Dicks Sporting Goods on Monday, May 11. Photo by Angelica Williams/Xpress 2015
Abby Comphel 20, designs her ball with her Emoji to be seen on the Ellen DeGeneres show at Dicks Sporting Goods on Monday, May 11. Photo by Angelica Williams/Xpress 2015

You could easily overhear that people didn’t expect for her to be there, but the excitement did not cease. The hashtag #SFSUonEllen had more than 100 posts in less than a few hours. But some still felt misled.


Overhearing things like, “Totally worth missing my finals review. Class of 2015!” and “Ellen, I just got hit by a car, can I be on the show? I’ll show you the bruises” you could tell how real the thirst for Ellen was.

As Ellen’s infamous associates, Jeannie and Ian from the Ellen Show started announcing to the crowd exactly what the emoji balls were for. Before the talk show assistants could even get through the introduction, the crowd’s cheers and shouts echoed high over any amount of sound he could make through his microphone.

(L to R) Gabrielle Guerrero 20 journalism major, Sara Frnacisco 18 Biology major and Joceyln Tham 19 BECA major design their tennis ball to be seen on the Ellen DeGeneres show at Dicks Sporting Goods in Daly City on Monday, May 11. Photo by Angelica Williams/Xpress
(L to R) Gabrielle Guerrero 20 journalism major, Sara Frnacisco 18 Biology major and Joceyln Tham 19 BECA major design their tennis ball to be seen on the Ellen DeGeneres show at Dicks Sporting Goods in Daly City on Monday, May 11. Photo by Angelica Williams/Xpress

Even Ian announcing that the group who had already been there for an hour would be waiting another two hours until the filming didn’t deter the crowd of Ellen fans. One screaming woman even had a shirt that read “this moment is worth all of my student debt.”

When asked if it mattered that the talk show host herself wasn’t going to be there City College of San Francisco student Tiffany Cheung, who dressed up as the Pixar lamp said “I’m willing to be here to be on it.”

And that was the general consensus – the chance to be on the show and live stream to Ellen was worth standing out in front of the sporting goods store. Once 4 p.m. came around, a handful of people who had the best emoji balls were then chosen to run around the store, via streamed orders given by Ellen, and complete given tasks.

For the four competitors that won Dick’s Sporting Goods gift cards between $500 and $5,000, the contest was pretty cool. For those who got to hang out in the foggy weather, draw faces on balls, and be on television, the filming was also pretty cool.

Overall, it was a pretty cool day.

Thanks, Ellen. Even though we were all catfished, we still love you.

What’s Cheaper? On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Housing

Illustration by Alex Montero and infographics by infogr.am

Over the last three years, annual on-campus housing costs at SF State have increased by roughly $2,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Curently, SF State’s website lists on-campus and off-campus housing prices as equivalent. However, according to Philippe Cumia, director of SF State student housing program, SF State’s housing office does not have access to off-campus housing prices.

SF_State_OnCampus_Housing_Price_Increase_Over_TimeClick here for interactivity on graph


Data shows that splitting a single-bedroom apartment in neighborhoods surrounding campus can be substantially cheaper than on-campus living.

So how much more does it cost to live on campus in comparison to surrounding neighborhoods such as, the Outer Sunset District, Ingleside and the Outer Richmond?

Keep in mind the following numbers are based off estimates of 2014 median rents from two different data sweeping programs and are not meant to reflect exact figures.


Sharing a double occupancy room on campus with 19 meals a week included, on average, costs $13,835 for a full, nine-month academic year, which consists of eight installment payments. This number is an average of the annual costs for Mary Park, Mary Ward, the Towers and the Village for the 2014/15 academic year.


Off-Campus One-Bedroom Apartment with Shared Room


Click here for interactivity on graph


In comparison, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Outer Sunset District is roughly $1,725, according to data provided by Priceonomics from 2014.

Split in half and multiplied by nine (to account for sharing a room for a roughly nine-month academic year) the annual cost for living in the Outer Sunset is $7,762.

Estimating that a student spends $300 a month on food, that number rises to $10,462—roughly $3,000 less than on-campus for an academic year.

Here’s the same formula applied to other surrounding neighborhoods

Ingleside: roughly $1,000 cheaper annually.

Outer Richmond: just over $2,000 cheaper annually.

Bayview: just under $5,000 cheaper annually.

Inner Sunset: about $1,500 cheaper annually.


Off-Campus Two-Bedroom Apartment with Two Shared Rooms


Annual_OnCampus_Housing_Costs_Compared_to_Splitting_a_Room_in_a_TwoBedroom_Apartment_Click here for interactivity on graph 


For instance, if four roommates were to split a two-bedroom apartment in the Outer Sunset District for the nine-month academic year (again, including the $300 a month food stipend) the estimated annual cost would be $8,550. That’s over $5,000 cheaper than on-campus housing for a year.

For other districts the numbers vary, but are consistently lower.

Outer Richmond: roughly $4,500 cheaper.

Inner Sunset: just over $4,000 cheaper.

Per Month

Put in different terms, the average monthly on-campus installment payment is $1,529.

With a $300 food stipend, a student would spend roughly $350 less a month to live in the Outer Sunset, where the median monthly rent for a one bedroom is estimated at $1,725.


What’s up with Bae?

Photo courtesy of karljonsson via Flickr

New trend words are a continual cycle, with no real questions about how they became popular, and what they actually mean. In the 90’s there was “da bomb,” “as if,” and “whatever!” By the early 2000’s people were saying “crunk,” “skrill,” and “flossy.”

Since around mid-2014 to early 2015, three stand out words have been on the lips of 2015’s younger generation: “bae,” “basic,” and “on fleek.”

Bae, used as a term of affection and endearment towards a significant other, is an acronym for “before anyone else”. Because of the word’s wide popularity among couples, bae was one of the runner-ups for 2014’s word of the year, losing to “vape”. Artist Pharell Williams even dedicated a song to it titled, “Come Get It Bae,” featured on his 2014 album “Girl.”

The origin of “On Fleek” began on a Vine video by Vine character Peaches Monroe. In the video Monroe uses “on fleek” as an equivalent to the phrase “on point,” when talking about her eyebrows. The video currently has 627.9K likes, 496.2K Revines and 55.8K comments. On Instagram 1,381 posts have the hashtag “onfleek,” and on Vine 8,974 videos.

As for the term “basic” there is no specific moment or person who is responsible for coining the now trending word.  Used to describe a woman in specific, who follows trends and has no personal sense of style or identity, “basic” carries a negative connotation. Our culture has decided what makes someone basic, through articles, memes, and opinions thrown out on social media.

With these three trending words on the loose, what do SF State students think of them? Are any of these words keepers and worthy to put down in the book of eternal slang, like “cool, or are these words temporary glitches in time. Watch the video below to see if SF State students vote yay, nay, or bae.

Gators pledge support for discounted transit passes

A new campaign has surfaced to help support commuting students who attend SF State, the purpose of the campaign is to make transit accessible and affordable. SF State is known widely as a commuter campus, with only about 10 percent of its students living on campus.

With BART announcing a $.10 to $.15 cent increase next year and many SF State students taking Muni to campus, the “GatorPass” has gained support fast, currently having over 500+ pledges and being shared frequently across Twitter, even being re-tweeted by SF State’s President Leslie Wong. The GatorPass would be paid for by student fees and other funding.

Supporters of the campaign include San Francisco District 8 Supervisor Scott Weiner, BART Director Nicholas Josefowitz, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, SFSU President Les Wong, the San Francisco Transit Riders Union, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

Many took to Twitter to show their support of the GatorPass:

Reactions to GatorPass on Twitter.

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Mother and 5-Year-Old Daughter struck in front of City Sports

Photo by Katie Lewellyn / Xpress Magazine


An elderly woman struck a mother and daughter in front of City Sports at the Stonestown Galleria on Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco on March 18, 2015. Photo by: Katie Lewellyn/ Xpress Magazine

Story by Tami Benedict, Cat Uy, Martin Bustamante, and Olympia Zampathas

A mother and her 5-year-old daughter were struck by a vehicle outside of City Sports at the Stonestown Galleria Mall a little after noon on Wednesday.

Captain Curtis Lum of the SFPD Taraval division said both mother and daughter are in critical condition and were taken to SF General Hospital by ambulance.

An elderly woman struck a mother and daughter in front of City Sports at the Stonestown Galleria on Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco on March 18, 2015. Photo by: Katie Lewellyn/ Xpress Magzine
An elderly woman struck a mother and daughter in front of City Sports at the Stonestown Galleria on Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco on March 18, 2015 (Katie Lewellyn / XPRESS).

“The daughter is in more serious condition than the mother,” Lum said.

The scene at City Sports at Stonestown Galleria.
The scene at City Sports at Stonestown Galleria.

The driver of the vehicle was an elderly woman who reportedly stopped at the stop sign before striking the mother and child.

Cornelius Jones, who was on his break and works at a nearby Trader Joe’s,  said he witnessed the accident.

“An elderly woman stopped at the stop sign and didn’t notice the mother and young girl,” Jones said. “Basically, the young girl was run over and underneath the car.”

The elderly woman was initially taken away in an ambulance and seemed to need medical attention, but later left the ambulance to speak with investigators.

An elderly woman struck a mother and daughter in front of City Sports at the Stonestown Galleria on Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco on March 18, 2015. Photo by Katie Lewellyn/ Xpress Magazine
An elderly woman struck a mother and daughter in front of City Sports at the Stonestown Galleria on Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco on March 18, 2015. Photo by Katie Lewellyn/ Xpress Magazine

When investigators arrived they questioned the elderly woman, before examining the car. In the middle of the street was a broken blue headband that police presumed was from the child that was hit.

The girl's plastic headband shattered at the scene of the accident. Photo by Katie Lewellyn/Xpress Magazine
The girl’s plastic headband shattered at the scene of the accident. Photo by Katie Lewellyn/Xpress Magazine
SFPD inspecting the headband at the scene. Photo by Katie Lewellyn/Xpress Magazine
SFPD inspecting the headband at the scene. Photo by Katie Lewellyn/Xpress Magazine

At the end of the investigation, the elderly woman was able to leave, get into her car, and drive away by herself.


‘93 ‘Til Infinity touches a new generation

Students and faculty alike were buzzing as they gathered in the small lobby area in front of Francis Coppola theatre last month for a private screening of the documentary “’93 ‘Til Infinity: Celebrating 20 Years of Souls of Mischief.”

For some of the students, the iconic song “’93 ‘Til Infinity” was released before they were old enough to speak, let alone rap along to the lyrics. However, the song is as important to youth culture and Hip Hop as it was over 20 years ago.

The legendary rap group, Souls of Mischief, formed in 1991 in Oakland, California. The group is composed of four emcees, A-plus, Opio, Phesto Dee and Tajai. They are also part of a larger collective called Hieroglyphics.

The film, made by long-time friend of the group Shomari Smith, chronicles the group’s early years as well as follows them along the way to their energetic performance at the 2011 Rock The Bells music festival.

Smith knew that the “be yourself” message that made the group so revolutionary was one that wasn’t just relevant in the early nineties, but one that applies to every generation.

“One of the things I really like to stress is that year in ’93 was the era where I was in college. It was sort of a coming of age time for me, so I wanted to share it with those people who are going through that time in their life,” Smith said.

The college years are definitely seen as a time of change and growth for most. For many it is also the first time in their lives that they start feeling like they can express themselves and truly be who they are meant to be. The film’s core message makes a college campus a great place for sharing the triumphs of four guys who were coming of age, so to speak, in the same way that many of the students at SF State are.

“You have a group of guys who did something that wasn’t done for their time. They released music and had a lyrical style that was not heard yet and was monumental because it spawned the emcees that came after them. They spawned the Eminems and they spawned the Kanyes and the Pharrells and these different guys who watched them and saw them so they took something either from their personal style or their lyrical style or just something that overall touched them and they took the next step,” Smith said.

A lot of the students in attendance were particularly excited to see the members of their favorite group sitting alongside them in the audience. For Tajai, A-plus and Phesto, who were all in attendance, this was their first time seeing some of the final edits to the film since its first SF State airing last spring in the Africana Studies, Hip Hop Workshop class taught by long time friends of the group Hip Hop historian Davey D and the “DEF professor” Dr. Dawn-Elissa Fischer.

The group member’s respective faces expressed a gamut of emotion in the 30 or so minutes after the film as students and others in attendance, praised, critiqued and asked questions. Students were seemingly in awe as Tajai and A-plus expressed how amazing it is that Shomari was there to document these moments and took time to tell their story.

“I think [the movie], it’s awesome ’cause you don’t remember everything you did, especially the things you’ve tried to shut away in your mind ’cause you’ve tried to forget them. So it’s great. It’s a great experience seeing the final product. You don’t realize you’re making history while you’re making it. It’s like a good thing to do a retrospective of it,” group member Tajai Massey said.

The group members also shed some light on their philosophies on life and it’s easy to see why students can relate.

“I think we’re all students and we’re all trying to elevate and increase our mind power and Hieroglyphics kind of represents that style of Hip Hop or that style or lifestyle where we’re constantly trying to push ourselves to the limit. I think that we’re all in the same boat,” Massey said. “We just happened to make records that came out already.”

The group’s longevity, combined with their insights on music and life, make it easy to see why so many different people from so many walks of life can identify with them.

“They’ve been in the game for the longest, you know, so they have a lot of wisdom and all that to provide to the new artists and I’ve been listening to it and I was born in ’93,” sophomore Edgar Campachaña said.

As surreal as it is for the students, it was equally as awe-inspiring for the artists.

“Like A-plus said, we were just kids making music, and then we’re celebrating it 20 years later. Like, that’s crazy at that age. You haven’t even been alive 20 years, so how can you picture 20 years into the future,” Phesto said. “To really just process it, it’s a little difficult, but we’re grateful, very grateful.”