Caleb Banks, psychology major, attended a screening of "Fruitvale Station," a film about Oscar Grant III, on-campus earlier last week. (Photo courtesy of Shawn Calhoun)

BSU Hosts 5th Annual Black Cultural Dinner, Discusses Racial Profiling

The USF Black Student Union (BSU) held its 5th Annual Black Cultural Dinner last Thursday evening.

The event is put on every year to comemmorate Black History Month, and this year, was dedicate dto making conversation about racial profiling.

Reverand Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant III, the 22-year-old male who was shot and killed by BART police in Oakland in 2009, spoke about the challenges of people of color in the Bay Area, the “Stop and Frisk” law, and the film “Fruitvale Station,” which tells Grant’s story.

(Photo courtesy of USF)

The Cost of a USF Education Will Grow Next Year

USF President the Reverend Stephen A. Privett, S.J. announced a tuition rate increase of 2.9% in an email to the USF community last Wednesday. The USF Board of Trustees approved a yearly tuition rate of $40,996 for full-time undergraduate students.

“USF is working very hard to keep tuition down,” said Provost Jennifer Turpin. “Every year we meet with the Student Senate to discuss tuition and review the next year’s tuition. We’ve had the lowest tuition increases in our history over the past three years.”
The cost of living at USF has also swelled to $4,475 (compared to last year’s $4,170) for a standard double room per semester and $2,185 (compared to last year’s $2,130) for the meal plan.

“It is frustrating,” said Annie Toffoli, a freshman nursing student, “but I hope the extra money goes to improvements in the dorms or to current students for more aid.”

Along with the tuition hike, the Board of Trustees also approved an increase in the amount of financial aid the university awards from its own funds. In the next academic year, USF will grant $69.5 million to eligible students. According to the email that announced the tuition rate increase, it will “help ease the burden of these increases.”
“It seems counterintuitive,” said Emily Meyers, a freshman media studies student. “Why not just keep [the rate] the same?”

Danielle Maingot, a sophomore communication studies and advertising student from the Bahamas, said that the tuition increase is especially frustrating for international students like herself that have to pay full tuition because they aren’t eligible for need-based financial aid.

“For some, it determines if they go home for Christmas or the summer,” Maingot added.

The USF Board of Trustees approved a yearly tuition rate of $40,996 for full-time undergraduate students.

USF graduate Rachel Khoo 14’, an international transfer student, said that even though she valued her Jesuit education, her international status limited access to most scholarships and put more stress on her parents, who were paying full-tuition for her to attend USF. “Coming from Malaysia, USF fees and living costs are incredibly high,” Khoo said.

Nick Wu, a sophomore entrepreneurship and accounting student from China said that he understood the tuition hike because professors need to be paid more to account for the increasing cost of living in San Francisco. “But I think USF should consider providing some scholarships or financial aid to international students because it feels kind of unfair for us that we can’t apply to any scholarships, even if we have really high academic grades.”

In regards to international students’ eligibility for scholarships, Turpin said: “international undergraduates whose sponsors are no longer able to  meet the commitment made on the Certification of Finances may be able eligible to apply for tuition assistance.”

This article was mentioned on SFist // Photo courtesy of USFCA on Flickr

(Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics)

Women’s Basketball: Second Half Struggles Doom Dons Against Pacific, St. Mary’s

USF struck first against Pacific on Saturday, but the Tigers took control early and handed the Dons an 83-65 defeat at the Alex G. Spanos Center in Stockton, Calif. The Dons’ undoing was not turnovers, as it has been in past games, with both the Dons (9-18, 4-12 West Coast Conference) and Tigers scoring 19 points off of 13 turnovers. Instead, the difference came in the rebound battle, which Pacific won 43-32.

Junior Paige Spietz began the scoring with a layup 20 seconds into the game, but the Dons’ narrow lead would be short-lived.  Pacific took a 7-4 lead with 17:40 remaining in the first half and never gave up ground, leading by as much as 20 points during the game. USF kept pace throughout much of the first half but struggled to close the period. After getting as close as 37-30 on a layup from sophomore Zhané Dikes, the Dons allowed Pacific to score the final five points of the half. Despite 50 percent shooting in the second half, the Dons only managed to break the Tiger’s double-digit lead once; sophomore Taylor Proctor’s layup brought the Pacific lead down to nine with 17:24 remaining.  However, the Tigers would respond quickly and often, closing out the game for good.

Junior Taj Winston led the Dons in scoring with 17 points, and Proctor pitched in a double-double, putting up 14 points to go with 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, five Tigers scored in double digits, including a game-high 21 from KiKi Moore.

On Thursday, the Dons took on the St. Mary’s Gaels in Moraga, Calif. After playing a very highly contested first half and trailing by only two points at halftime, the Gaels took control in the second half to win 83-64. St. Mary’s held the Dons to 25.8 percent shooting (8-31) in the second half,  and capitalized on 15 total second-chance points for the game. Another key to the Gaels’ win was the disparity at the free throw line. Their 27 made free throws on 30 attempts, including a perfect 17-17 in the second half, was decidedly better than a 4-6 overall night at the charity stripe for the Dons.

The lead traded hands a total of 11 times in the first half, but zero times in a second half in which the Gaels outscored the Dons 38-21.  The only category where the Dons held an advantage was fast break points, in which the Dons held a 10-2 advantage throughout the game. Aside from that the statistics tell the story of two halves, as the Dons’ second half woes—such as 50% first half to 25% second half in shooting—kept a declining effort from the Gaels from affecting the outcome.

Dikes led the Dons in points and rebounds with 17 and seven, respectively.  Winston also contributed 16 points on an efficient 7-10 shooting to go with three rebounds and two steals.

The Dons return home to play Pepperdine—a team they defeated 77-61 on Jan. 4 of this year—at War Memorial Gym on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7:00 p.m.  The game is the second-to-last game of the regular season before the beginning of the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas.

Greg Johnson, co-owner of Marcus Books, shakes hands with Mayor Ed Lee at City Hall. (Photo by Hamis Al Sharif)

A Story Ending? Historic San Francisco Bookstore May Face Closure

In 1960, Black history was made when Julian and Raye Richardson opened the bookstore known today as Marcus Books. Proudly proclaimed as “the oldest Black bookstore in the nation,” Marcus Books has been at its present location, in a three-story Victorian on Fillmore St. (between Sutter St. and Post St.), since 1981.

For more than 50 years Marcus Books has served as a cornerstone to showcase the great literary achievement of African-American writers. The store gained its fame by hosting African-American authors, poets, and musicians, such as Oprah Winfrey, Malcolm X, Earth Wind & Fire, Dave Chapelle, Toni Morrison, and Queen Latifah. The Richardsons created a place where people could learn about and enjoy Afrocentric culture, history, politics and literature.
But last year, as a result of a predatory loan and eventual bankruptcy, the family was forced to sell the Fillmore property, which, in addition to housing the store, was also home to three generations of the family. After months of organizing and negotiating by Marcus Books supporters, the real estate developers who bought the property agreed to give the Richardsons until the end of February to raise $3 million — twice what they paid for the property — to buy it back.

As of publication time, the fate of the landmark cultural institution was in doubt, though whether or not Marcus Books raised enough money to buy the property back should be determined by early next week.

A pair of Dons, Denise Sullivan, class of 1983, and Tiye Sheppard, a junior media studies major, worked for several months with a core group committed to saving the Fillmore treasure. Sullivan helped with organizing and getting the word out about Marcus Books, and Sheppard, a film studies minor, shot a history of the store and public appeal videos.

In response to the fate of Marcus Books, Sheppard, who attended a meeting with store owners and financers on Monday, said, “no answer that can be released but I can say that things look very promising.”

According to Sheppard, a settlement agreement must be met by the end of this week. “Votes will be casted tomorrow, [Tuesday Feb. 25], from a financial source that can assure a positive fate for Marcus Books. Unfortunately, since it’s a vote, we don’t know for sure what will happen, but things are looking good according to our sources,” she said.

Sullivan, a music journalist and historian, got involved with Marcus Books when her fourth book, “Keep on Pushing: Black Power Music from Blues to Hip Hop,” came out in 2011. Even though Sullivan had relationships with other bookstores, she said, “It was Marcus Books, black-owned and specializing in Black history, that embraced me as an author more than any of the other bookstores or outlets I had previously dealt with. So when I heard they were in trouble, I felt that the least I could do was to be on their side.”

Sheppard is a native San Franciscan and has seen the city go through many changes and gentrification. She got involved with saving Marcus Books when Sullivan reached out to the Media Studies department for help. As an African-American woman, Sheppard believes protecting Marcus Books will benefit younger generations.
“The African-American population is dwindling by the day,” Sheppard said. “It would really be unfortunate to no longer have a positive representation of black business owners. If we want little kids, particularly kids of color, to grow up and have an inspiration, they should [think], ‘Oh, I don’t have to be that guy standing on the corner; I can be that guy reading that book in that bookstore.’”

For the past several years the store has been run by Karen Johnson, one of the Richardsons’ daughters, her husband Greg, and their daughter named Tamiko. Julian Richardson died in 2000, while Raye Richardson, 93, had been living with the Johnsons above the store.
Sheppard and Sullivan were with the Johnsons and other key supporters on February 13 when Mayor Ed Lee signed paperwork designating 1712-1716 Fillmore Street a historic city landmark. The Victorian building has two claims to that status: long before it was a bookstore, it was a famous jazz club called Jimbo’s Bop City.

Sullivan noted that Julian Davis, the Johnsons’ lawyer, and Grace Martinez, a community organizer for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, steered the committee that rose up to fight for Marcus Books. San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen and Supervisor London Breed also pushed to keep Marcus Books where it is.

“It was a community response,” Sullivan said. “The store never asked anything of us. People came forward and wanted to see it preserved. And another thing that I feel is worth reiterating is that the store is not having bad business. It was matters of the physical property and the sale that put the business in jeopardy.”

Another native San Franciscan, actor Danny Glover (“The Color Purple” and “Predator 2”), helped Marcus Books with their “Keep It Lit” grassroots campaign — a campaign to raise a million dollars in 30 days, from Jan. 20 to Feb. 20. If Marcus Books is saved, the campaign will continue, said Sheppard. “The work is not done; we’ve just gotten started. Donations will go towards compensating for borrowed funds from community lenders,” she said.

A big part of the reason Marcus Books inspires such devotion is to due to the legacy of founders Julian and Raye Richardson.
The Richardsons established the Malcolm X school, dedicated to strengthening the education of  San Francisco youth, and Julian Richardson, who ran Success Printing Company, printed issues of San Francisco State University’s student newspaper “The Organ,” after the SFSU board refused to publish it due to the student strike of 1968. As a result of that student strike, Raye Richardson became one of the founders of SFSU’s ethnic studies program. Last fall the store held a “legacy celebration,” and former poet laureate of San Francisco Devorah Major credited Raye Richardson with being the first person to help her realize she was a writer.

“I knew that the store had a rightful place in literary history, American history and San Francisco history,” Sullivan said. “As a native San Franciscan, I am concerned about the cultural welfare of this city, all of its citizens, and the African American culture in general.”

Marcus Books supporters worked with, an organization dedicated to strengthening African American political voices nationwide, to create a petition that drew more than 14,000 signatures in support of the store.

Westside Community Services (WCS), a community-based organization dedicated to restoring San Francisco communities, along with The San Francisco Community Land Trust (SFCLT), which strives to provide strategies for stabilizing lower-income communities in San Francisco, offered to buy the Fillmore property back in order for Marcus Books to keep operating on the site. The SFCLT was approached by the Marcus Books campaign committee to help plan a way to buy the property back.

WCS put up a $1.65 million loan, leaving SFCLT to raise an additional $1 million. One of the methods they used was “crowd-investing,” encouraging contributions from private individual investors. Tracy Parent, organizational director of SFCLT, believes helping Marcus Bookstore is the perfect example of their mission.

“Resident members and general members have a vote in the Land Trust to ensure the assets continue to serve the community,” Parent said. “This is a form of shared ownership and stewardship of community assets. Our primary mission is to create permanently affordable housing for low and moderate-income people, and this historic building has two large flats upstairs that can be preserved as permanently affordable family-size apartments, with three and four bedrooms, which are very hard to find in San Francisco.”

Sheppard concluded: “I got involved with Marcus Books because my mother bought a book from the store that she later used to pick my name. When I heard it was in trouble, I wanted to help because the store closing would be so detrimental to San Francisco’s culture. We already have large waves of gentrification impacting the city’s landscape so the threat of losing another historical business was the last straw for me. I think students, especially those from outside of the state, should find this important because the city that houses our university is experiencing a sort of class war right now. It’s easy to be disconnected from this as a non-native, but ultimately, we all live in San Francisco and it impacts us in one way or another.”

To donate to the Keep It Lit grassroots campaign, visit:

The “smoking garden” between Gillson and Phelan Hall is one of two designated smoking areas on campus — but not for long, if students vote yes on banning ‘bacco. (Photo by Nicholas Welsh)

USF May Ban Tobacco

ASUSF Senate met last Tuesday to discuss a proposition that aims to enforce a campus wide tobacco ban. If the proposition passes, students will see it on the ballot for ASUSF Spring Elections on April 14, and will be able to vote for themselves whether or not they want a 100% tobacco free campus.

At the time of publication, Senate had not yet voted on the propisition. Two-thirds of Senate must approve the proposition for it to pass.

ASUSF Senate President John Chibnall, senior, and Student of Color Representative Jennifer Echeagaray, sophomore, presented Resolution 13-14-04, entitled “ASUSF Should Approve a Ban of Tobacco at the University of San Francisco,” to Senate members last week.

The resolution states: “Because USF is not smoke or tobacco free, some members of the Association have expressed concern for their health and environment,” and “some students feel that allowing tobacco on our campus is contrary to the Jesuit mission of the University of San Francisco.”

Kamal Harb, director of USF Health Promotion Services (HPS), said HPS “supports the students’ referendum to have USF become [a] 100% tabacco free campus, and join over 1,182 college or university campuses in the U.S. that have adopted 100% tabacco free campus policies.”

Currently, there are two designated smoking areas, the ‘smoking garden’ on main campus and one on Lone Mountain. No official punishment is given for students found smoking in undesignated areas on main campus, but USF does have ‘fresh air marshalls’ who circulate campus and remind smokers to use the designated areas.
Echeagaray said it was increasing USF student concern about on-campus tobacco use that pushed senate to create a referendum. “In order to address this concern, Senate created a referendum that would have the student body vote on whether or not they would support a tobacco ban at USF,” wrote Echeagaray, in an email.

Journalism for Global Crisis

All of us are aware that climate change is happening, but what steps can we take to truly help prevent and reverse its damage?

This is the question visiting professor Robert Hackett of Simon Fraser University in Canada came to help students answer when he came to USF on Wednesday February 19.

In his discussion on the role of Journalism in Global Crisis, Hackett gave an innovative and thought-provoking lecture to a room full of media studies students and professors, and his ideas about the role of media in a global climate crisis reach far beyond journalism.
“Imagine a large boat — the biggest in the world — is going full speed into an iceberg,” said Hackett. “Everyone can see it happening and there aren’t enough lifeboats to save everyone. The ship’s captains decided to power full speed ahead without the consent of the passengers.”

This Titanic metaphor is how Hackett began to explain the current state of our climate crisis to the audience. The reality, he says, is that we are all on that ship moving in full force into the iceberg — or into environmental destruction — with not enough people aware of what they can do to slow it down.

“If the captain isn’t listening, then maybe we need alternative public spheres,” he said.

Hackett argues that a more climate focused journalism will create better areas of discussion among the public, as both the media and public can come together to get the attention of world governments, call for action, and declare a state of emergency on our climate.
“We need to ask ourselves, what kind of restrictions [do] governments [and] democracies need to put into place now to protect future generations,” said Hackett, pointing to Ecuador as an example, which became the first country in the world to give nature legal and enforceable rights in 2008, as seen in Article 71-74 of the Constitution of Ecuador.

According to Hackett, this question needs to be in the forefront of the media: “Journalism is about how to make democracy work and informing the public about the nature of the situation and motivating public engagement,” he said.

Hackett supports the idea of “crisis discipline” journalism, which he describes as the responsibility of journalists and the media to focus on urgent matters to collectively gain the attention of the public and government.

This frame of journalism goes beyond informing the public, with the goal of producing more problem-solution oriented news to outline the steps we can all take to help reduce climate damage: “Focusing on ethical obligations will help society respond to environmental signals and make the decision process transparent.”

Hackett also discussed current remedies that he believes are not doing our climate any favors or miracles: “We need to question ‘green marketing.’ We cannot consume our way out of this problem,” he said, referring to the idea behind “technological utopianism,” the thought that technology will simply find a way to fix global warming, as another hopeful factor that is hurting the path toward climate justice.

Hackett also suggested the media abandon old ways of representing problems: “We need to avoid comparisons; saying environmental issues in China are worse than in the U.S. isn’t going to solve anything.”

Media and Gender Studies Professor Barker-Plummer found Hackett’s ideas relevant and informative. “If we take seriously the environmental crisis, he is right that we need a new, more engaged journalism to really inform and activate people around it,” she said.
Junior media studies major Brittney Montag appreciated Hackett’s international perspective. “It was interesting to hear from a professor from, not only another school, but another country,” Montag said, “He definitely got me thinking about where the journalism field may be headed,” she continued.

The information is out there about the effects of climate change, what Hackett is saying is that we need more access to solutions. So what are the first steps? For journalists, Hackett suggested using resources available like (Society for Environmental Journalists) to learn more about the environment and to learn more about solution-oriented journalism. He believes that it is in the hands of the media to communicate this issue to the public in the most efficient and informative way possible, who in turn can create alternate public spheres to discuss and start local movements to combat climate change. “The media needs to suggest urgency, ways to help the situation, and offer solutions.”