All posts by Michelle Doyle

Get ‘Er Done – Tricks of the Trade for Getting Through the End of the Semester

Study materials

Are you prepared for finals season? (Photo by Jesse Gill on Instagram)

Feeling, stressed, overworked, and/or drained? You’re not alone, and students and faculty have some helpful tips for utilizing USF’s resources (and your own) to make that light at the end of the tunnel seem a little less far away.

Whether you’re worrying about registration, graduation, changing your major, or just falling behind, this is your inside guide to getting on track.

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All’s Fair in Love and Coffee? Find out at University Ministry’s Fair Trade Coffee Break

Ask any college student what their trick is for getting through a morning class or pulling one of those end-of-the-semester all-nighters, and coffee will most likely be the answer. But while many students can tell you the ins and outs of their coffee shop orders — a skinny, double-shot, whip cream, milk alternative latte, anyone? — how many can tell you about where their coffee actually came from?

The University Ministry is hosting a weekly Fair Trade Coffee Break every Tuesday in April for students to get the chance to enjoy free Fair Trade coffee and chocolate and to gain some insight into how our coffee gets into our cups each morning. The coffee breaks feature conversations about Fair Trade and other coffee-related aspects, like child slavery, sustainability, and advocacy.

Fair Trade is a social movement (and now coffee label) that is dedicated to (and indicative of) trade in which fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries.

Resident Minister Ashley Artmann, who came up with the idea for USF’s Fair Trade Coffee Breaks explained: “[The farmers are] the lowest people on the totem pole [in the coffee industry] so Fair Trade makes sure that they get paid more fairly and that there are better labor practices in the industry.”

One way that Fair Trade works is by encouraging manufacturers to buy directly from farmers, instead of from a middleman who profits off farmers.

For Artmann, promoting Fair Trade on campus is a simple and engaging way of raising awareness amongst USF students about the origin of their coffee. “I think that Fair Trade is one of the easiest ways to help support the [coffee] industry because it’s so easy to find, so there’s really no excuse not to,” she said. “I drink a lot of coffee,” said Artmann, who said she likes “knowing that the goods and services I purchase are not only not hurting people, but also actually helping people.”

Katie Dechantz, program manager at the University Ministry, agrees with Artmann’s thinking. “[The Fair Trade Coffee Break] is a great event because the coffee draws people in and there’s great information,” she said.

While Fair Trade Coffee is a cause worth promoting, sophomore International Studies Major Miranda Calderon explained another view of the system. “It’s great to showcase the Fair Trade system,” said Calderon, “[but] Fair Trade isn’t the most perfect system [just] because it’s better than the regular system.”

Calderon, who participated in the Esther Madriz University Scholars’ trip to Nicaragua to study the practice of Fair Trade coffee farming first hand, explained that, while cutting the middle man out may leave more profit in coffee exchange, that money often goes to the coffee farm owner, and not necessarily the farmers themselves. “I would still recommend buying Fair Trade coffee, so that Fair Trade gets the recognition it needs,” said Calderon.

So how can we know if our coffee is Fair Trade?

There are two labels to look out for when buying coffee at the grocery store, Fair Trade International and Fair Trade USA.

“San Francisco is home to a lot of small roasting coffee companies who use Direct Trade, an alternate to Fair Trade where the people doing the roasting work directly with the farmers,” added Artmann.

University Ministry hopes to spark a conversation amongst USF coffee drinkers. “Coffee is just the gateway to the important information,” said Dechantz.


Catch the next Fair Trade Coffee Break Tuesday April 22 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in the University Ministry Romero Room located in lower Phelan. Don’t forget to BYOM (bring your own mug).

(Photo by Matt Miller)

Human Rights Film Festival Sheds Light on Abductions

Staff writer Michelle Doyle visits Human Rights Film Festival to report on “Rosario” film

    Rosario Ibarra was in her forties when her son, Jesus Ibarra, a medical student, was abducted by the Mexican government after joining a guerilla group to fight for the dispossessed in 1975. This is the event that Ibarra says “gave birth” to her political career in Mexico.

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USF to Close All Dorms in 2015

In Light of San Francisco’s Housing Crisis, USF Pushes Student Off-Campus

    Social justice was taken to a new level this past week when Father Privett announced plans to close USF dorms in the name of equality. With the housing shortage on campus at an all time high, many students are unable to secure campus housing, creating an issue of inequality amongst most first year and second year students.

Original plans were to build new dorms, but to keep with USF’s social justice mission and loss of parking spaces, Privett decided that closing all current dorms would be the most practical decision.

Students can now happily avoid the university’s housing shortage, by immersing themselves in the city’s full-fledged affordable housing crisis.

“We used to say change the world from here, but we want to encourage students to change the world from other places too,” said Privett, who has issued Student Senate the task of changing the schools tagline to “change the world from here .. and elsewhere.”

“We don’t want to imply that USF is the only place students can change the world from,” Privett said. “You can change the world from an apartment in the Tenderloin or city project housing. Closing the dorms and thereby forcing students to find alternative living will open them up to this possibility and help keep with USF’s commitment to equality for all… or I guess, in this case, for none,” he continued.

“This is a true exercise in social justice in a modern city,” said USF center for globalization worker Rachel Forent. “Students will no longer feel disconnected from the issues that are often at the forefront of class discussion like gentrification and rising rent costs, because they’ll be experiencing them first hand,” said Forent. “It is also an excellent way for freshman especially to explore the city.”

Sophomore criminal justice major Craigs Listworth agrees that forcing students to live outside campus will help build “street smarts,” but is curious as to why students still have to pay the $4,475 plus rate each semester for dorms.

Sarah Notsorry from One Stop Financial Services said the nearly $5,000 fee cannot be cut because doing so would “bring tuition cost down.”

Students needn’t worry about their former buildings and memories being torn down or re-utilized; utilities has already found ways to maximize space. “The former dorm halls will most likely be used for storage,” said USF head of campus utilities Mark Stawpit.

“[The dorm room closure] is more than just a functional way to maximize the use of three large buildings, but also a way for students to burst out of the USF bubble,” said Privett, who believes students should look at this as an opportunity to learn the realities of living in a city. “How often do USF students look for housing in the Tenderloin or outer Mission?”

At press time, university representatives were seen moving bean bags and hookah pipes into the residence halls.

DISCLAIMER: This piece was printed as part of The Foghorn’s April Fool’s Day issue on April 1st, 2014. This article is intended to be satirical.