Tag Archives: clubs

The USF Dons Marching Band will be performing in Las Vegas in March to support the men’s basketball team. (Photo courtesy of Binh Tran-Tu)

Students and Clubs Plan for Something New at the Involvement Fair

Looking for a way to get more involved on campus this semester?  You’re not the only one. The University Center flooded with students of all grade levels and interests, searching for new clubs and organizations to join, last Thursday.  The variety of student organizations spanned all throughout the building, from cultural clubs to academic honor societies, to Greek life and performance-based organizations.

This year, the Arab Student Association made its first appearance as a new club on UC fourth floor, with other cultural groups.

Branden Sun, a sophomore and Publicity Chair for the Hui’ O Hawaii, advertised the group’s annual Luau that will be happening later on in this semester.  “This year will be our 42nd Luau. It is a dinner and a show that is put on by the Hawaii club and its members,” Sun said.  Students who will be attending get to try Hawaiian food and watch cultural performances by other students in the organization.

In addition to the variety of cultural groups, there are also academic honor societies and organizations that are tailored for specific majors.  Some of which include the Pre-Dental Society and the Nursing Student Association.  Tri Gamma, a sorority that services to nursing students.  Senior Emily Trapnell, last year’s new member coordinator said, “Right now, we’re working for our fashion show in May, which will help in [fundraising] for homeless prenatal care.”  Aside from working to help the larger community, the society serves mainly as a support group where members can relieve stress and take a break from their studies.

For the environmentalists on campus, there is a group called the Environmental Justice and Outdoors Club, which is currently working on a Fossil Free campaign to prevent the rise of fossil fuels. While actively being involved in environmental justice, the group also does outdoor activities, such as hiking and a camping trip near the end of the semester.

At the bottom floor of the UC, the performance and media-based groups, and some Greek life organizations thrived in attracting a lot of students.  The USF Dons Marching Band manager, Molly Smith, encouraged passing students to join the band.  “This semester, we have the Vegas trip coming up, where we go to support the basketball team at the [West Coast Conference].” The Marching Band continuously recruit throughout the year, as many organizations do.  So if you want to get involved, contact any club or organization you’re interested in for more information.

This Time, Please Pass the Student Activity Fee Increase

A single vote kept a $20 student activity fee raise from passing nearly one year ago. The fee, which is tacked onto every undergraduate’s tuition bill, sustains a fund that supports a range of activities, organizations, and infrastructure that directly and indirectly enriches student life at USF.

That missed opportunity will return this April 16-19, when undergraduates will again vote whether or not the activity fee—which remains stubbornly at $82, and which last year could have been increased to $102—gets raised. This time, the proposal includes only a $15 increase, to $97. And this year, it needs to pass.

For the past seven years, that pool of SAF cash has stagnated. The growing number of student organizations and accounts who depend on the student activity fee coupled with the rising costs of products, services, and stipend and salary requirements have worsened the already heavy strain on the finite pool. At this point, the only way to make more money available is to increase the number of undergraduates at USF, and that possibility is ruled out because USF and the City have agreed to cap enrollment to its present level.

As the Foghorn wrote a year ago when we advocated the $20 raise, the 21 issues that are printed each year is made possible by the fee, and covers editors’ stipends, pays for software upgrades, and offsets equipment purchases, among other things. So of course, the Foghorn has a vested interest in the outcome of the referendum. We won’t hide that.

But beyond us, the pool of money directly maintains university-supported organizations called funded accounts. The ASUSF Voices troupe, College Players, the Culturally Focused Club Council, the GO Team, USFTV, the Greek Council, ASUSF Senate, the Electoral Governing Board, the Graphics Center, and Los Locos draw the entirety of their funding from the pool of undergraduate activity fees. By each account’s constitution, they can operate only on this money, and cannot fundraise. What’s more, other clubs can access those same funds for events and travel expenses through the Senate-led and student-run Superfund Committee, which reviews clubs’ proposals on an ongoing basis through the academic year.

As it stands, the demand on that $450,000 source of revenue easily outstrips what is available. $15 more per person will far from meet every club and funded account’s requested budgets and allocations, but it’s a promising and urgently needed start.

Anyone who did or plans to: see a play on campus, attend a Fall Fest concert, watch a USFTV production, attend a Senate meeting, watch a film arranged by CAB, join a social Greek organization on campus, become part of a culturally-focused club, vote in a student election, lead a new student orientation, or, naturally, read an edition of the Foghorn—that should cover nearly everybody—owes a vote toward that $15 increase.

MELA Event Highlights Social Justice Issues

SOA Watch representative Tammy Nguyen speaks with her cohort during the MELA Event. Photo by Annie Steimel/Foghorn

The Indian Student Organization threw their third annual event, MELA: A Celebration of Social Justice, on Friday, March 5. The  event was organized in collaboration with eight other student clubs and organizations. The night was complete with performances by the Hawaiian Ensemble and music by junior Ravi Amarawansa Jr. who played the plucked- stringed sitar, an instrument used in Hindustani classical music. The event was a tribute to recognize all the different social justice issues that USF clubs and organizations stand behind to bring awareness. It was also a representation to show that the USF community has the power to come together and acknowledge social injustices, according to ISO member Shelley Saini.

“MELA in the Indian culture is supposed to be like a carnival,” she said, “where people just listen to music, listen to speakers. It’s like a replica of that and it’s a very strong thing in our culture.”

The nine clubs and organizations represented their own social justice issues, illustrated by poster boards lining the back wall of McLaren. This year ISO decided to bring awareness about the law passed in India last year that criminalizes homosexuality. Other clubs, like Not For Sale, focused on their fight against modern-day slavery and human trafficking, a large movement that works closely alongside other branches of the nation-wide Not For Sale Campaign.

A few tables down the School of the Americas Watch, a club that actively works to close the highly controversial School of the Americas, brought awareness on the coup d’état in Honduras. The issue they presented was in correlation with their “Future of Honduras” event on March 9, a presentation and lecture by Andres Conteris. Conteris was one of the last American journalists in Honduras during the coup, and came to speak “on how the media plays into what’s going on social justice wise and all over America and all over the world,” said SOA Watch member and freshman Marissa Howser.

ISO invited Dr. James Taylor, USF politics professor, to give the key note speech. Professor Taylor had also spoken at the MELA event two years prior. “I was driving across the Bay Bridge trying to get here and I was thinking—this is amazing, because I can’t wait to get here and meet the young people who are spending their Friday night doing this rather than being at the bar,” he said.

“It’s really impressive with all of you,” he said to the nine clubs present. “You give us hope, and I think that the world can be a better place, and it has a great potential to be a better place.”

In his address, Professor Taylor talked about the 1960s Black Panther movement in Oakland, and how it was a group of young people who were committed to serving their community, just like the USF student clubs and organizations. Professor Taylor said that Huey P. Newton, a founder the movement, came up with a political philosophy 30 years ago called Revolutionary Intercommunalism. Because of the strong forces of capitalism expanding globally at a fast rate, Newton assured that ordinary people must come together from the ground up to respond to capitalism’s devastating effects on people, such as the increase in poverty. “The boundaries of nations would be eliminated and the world becomes a kind of community where people will need to respond intercommunally in order to respond to capitalism,” Professor Taylor said.

“I’m really proud of you and thankful that you are committed and are serious about this work. I don’t imagine that you’re playing around with it, or are you?” Professor Taylor joked. “I can hear, ‘Hell no! We’re not playing around!”

Freshman Marissa Kerum of AIESEC, an international student organization that promotes cultural understanding and global peace by sending students abroad, said “It definitely made me feel not special persay but kind of like we’re doing something right while everyone else is going out and partying and kind of having fun. I feel like I’m very passionate about it… so it’s definitely empowering.” AIESEC helps students through their entire process of going abroad, including finding the “perfect” internship or immersing students in the new country. “The reason why we’re here today is we’re focusing on Africa and HIV Aids awareness and education. We’re giving students the opportunity to go to Africa on an internship and educate pretty much everyone about HIV awareness because it is such a big problem,” Kerum said. Being a part of AIESEC, Kerum said that she really feels she’s making a difference, by giving others the opportunity of a lifetime to study abroad and helping them along the way.

Professor James Taylor, right, gave the keynote speech and spoke with students afterward. Photo by Annie Steimel/Foghorn

Professor Taylor said that students are now rising up all over the United States. He mentioned Bill Clinton’s visit to UC Berkeley two weeks before, and Clinton’s talk about how the world is hurting and students need to be committed to communalism. “Those were his words, and I was like ‘Wow, Bill Clinton used the word communalism!” Thereafter, the fastest growing minor at Cal became Global Poverty and Practice, with 350 students in its first semester.  Professor Taylor hopes USF catches on to do the same thing. “They have 350 students already doing much of the kind of work that students over here [at USF] are already doing. I really hope we can put a minor like that here at USF.”

Professor Taylor encouraged students to continue their work even if they are not able to complete it in their lifetime. “I think it’s arrogant for any of us to think that we have to fix the problems that we’re fighting for in our lifetime,” he said. “Whether it’s through Latin America, whether it’s in Africa, whether it’s in India…every bit of contribution you make, other people will come along behind you and continue to knock down these boundaries, knock down these walls and continue to humanize people.”

According to Professor Taylor, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s greatest speech was called “The Time to Embrace Silence Beyond Vietnam,” given on April 4, 1967—exactly one year before his death. King’s message was that the U.S. must become more committed to people. With all the evils of militarism, racism, and economic exploitation, the country still has the potential to be liberators.

“The only thing Martin Luther King talked about that’s really relevant to the way the world is today, we knocked out all the bad news and we still have some major challenges,” Professor Taylor said.  In the speech, King talks about the exploitation taking over the country. “Capital has taken over the soul of the human being. Our Supreme Court is out of its mind, I mean the U.S. Supreme Court has made a ruling that a corporation is a human being, and we don’t even take care of the human beings among us, but we’ll take care of our corporations, this is sickening! And im glad that each one of you are committed and fighting…I hope that you continue to fight and I hope that you continue to make a difference in the lives of people.”

Finally, Professor Taylor brought up President Barack Obama. “I’m sure you are all excited about Obama like everybody else, but Obama’s not gonna transform this world. It’s gotta come from the people, it’s gotta come from the bottom up,” he said. “Now if you’re doing it, don’t think about one day I’m going to be. No, you’re doing it right now!”

Andrea Powell, sophomore and Not For Sale club member, said that she agrees with Professor Taylor. “People always say ‘Well, I’m gonna go do something when I have my degree, when I graduate.’  And it’s, ‘No! You can do it now.’ I think at USF we have an advantage over other universities because we certainly have opportunities for people to get involved.”

Professor Taylor encouraged everyone as student leaders to continue fighting, helping, and serving. “Keep on trying to make a difference so that other people can have as good as the life that you have been afforded in this great country.”

The nine participating student organizations were AIESEC, the Culturally-Focused Clubs Council (CFCC), Delta Zeta Sorority, the Indian Student Organization, Invisible Children, Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc., the Muslim Student Association, the Not For Sale Club, and SOA Watch.

U.C. Reconstruction Causes Tension

Recent discussions of renovations for the University Center have sparked much controversy and frustration among students, especially those who are heavily involved on campus.  The past month has held numerous conversations and presentations by university employees such as Margaret Higgins, Mike London, JJ Thorp, Christina Sanchez, and architects from Sasaki Associates.  In my quest for accurate information on the topic, I have come to several flaws in their reasoning, and perhaps questions that could be addressed.

First, considering that we are in an economic recession, and the school has referenced numerous times the “financial uncertainty” we face, I can’t help but wonder how they plan to completely renovate Harney Science Center, the bottom floors of Phelan, AND the first, fourth and fifth (and possibly third) floors of UC (none of which they have secured all the funding for), especially since the school constructed Outtahere Café next to Crossroads this past summer and are already planning something new in its place. An accurate demonstration of efficiency? Hardly. From an outside perspective, it seems as though the school may be biting off more than it can chew, especially considering how the renovations of Kalmanovitz Hall were drawn out for so many years.

Secondly, while the idea of a Barnes-and-Noble-like atmosphere being created out of Crossroads and the University Bookstore is a novel concept, it hardly seems practical. Not only does the bookstore typically close around 7 p.m. while Crossroads is meant to be a late night place for students to hang out, but what student really wants to hang out in a place that marks the prices of their textbooks up a solid 50 percent? Plans also potentially involve restructuring Parina lounge and removing the computer lab, which is interesting, considering that it is probably the single most used lab on campus, outside of the library.

Thirdly, in the images shown by the architects at the ASUSF Senate Fall Summit, Thorp and Sanchez, the fourth and fifth floors of UC, which are mostly intended to be a “student center,” will be around 60 percent USF staff space, and a mere 40 percent student space. Not to mention that they intend the student space to be mostly conference rooms that can be rented out by the 150+ USF clubs and orgs. This especially poses a problem for groups such as ASUSF Voices, USFtv, and the Foghorn (all of which will be displaced by the Phelan renovations) who require constant access to their expensive equipment as well as work or rehearsal space. Administrators of the project have thus far been unable to guarantee offices for these organizations (or any organizations for that matter, even those that already hold office space), 24/7 access to the newly renovated space, or much of anything for that matter.

Students have provided in-depth and comprehensive questions to those in charge of these projects, and have been rewarded by blatant dismissal of or lack of a concrete answer to their concerns. Thorp and Sanchez clearly expressed their desire to make UC a place that will be helpful to students in the future, and exuded a strong impression that what the students say now doesn’t matter all that much, because after all, we will all graduate in a couple years won’t we? They are the people who will work here for the next decade or more and their facilities are responsible for drawing new students to the school. We’re just the students, what do we matter?

Anxiety runs high in this time of economic crisis, when groups that have been on campus for decades face expulsion from their offices for the sake of “shared space.”

Campus Renovations Need Student Input

USF will soon undergo a major reconstruction plan that will revitalize the University Center and the Phelan Residence Hall. Many of the offices in Phelan Hall will be relocated into the UC (including the Office of Residence Life, the bookstore, and offices for student groups College Players, USFtv and the Foghorn) and many offices in the UC (such as Student Leadership and Engagement and more club offices) will move to other floors.

The Foghorn staff appreciates that the USF administration values the student experience, and devotes funds to improving our buildings to make them not only more useful but also more aesthetically pleasing. However, we have concerns about how the space will be allotted, and, selfishly, are worried about the office space that will be given to us and fellow funded accounts.

One concern in particular is that we would no longer have our own offices. We cannot speak for everyone, but in our office we conduct meetings, hold interviews for stories, write articles, work with writers, edit stories, and lay out the paper for each coming week. We work late hours and use our space all the time.

The suggestion to share offices with other clubs is not workable. If we had to ask permission to use the office for a meeting, to reserve a computer at a certain time, or had to close the office at a certain time, the paper would suffer.

The Foghorn is not the only group affected by this move. It would not be fair to other organizations that have also been accustomed to their own office space to share with another organization. Just as the Foghorn would suffer so would the other organizations’ work.

Chris Begley, the Executive Producer of USFtv, said that the move for USFtv “would be ridiculous.” Begley stated, “Our office would have to be moved in the summer. And who would move it? It would probably have to be Alex [Platt, a fellow USFtv producer] and I. I would have to be forced to stay here during the summer to handle the situation.”

Another one of Begley’s main concerns is security. Begley said administrators have proposed lockers for the group’s expensive equipment, including thousands of dollars worth of cameras and editing equipment. Begley is worried about the equipment being stolen or damaged without having the group’s office to store it in.

Having new and improved facilities for student groups would be a positive change, if implemented properly.

We at the Foghorn try to represent the students of USF, and have brainstormed how we would blueprint the UC. The UC is a space that is supposed to serve students, so who better than students to determine how it should be used? Our floor by floor plan is as follows:

The bottom floor of the UC should contain Outtahere, Crossroads, and the bookstore. This is the plan that has been set forth by the architects, and we support it. We believe that having the café and bookstore near each other would improve business and give USF a better area for students to socialize and eat.

On the second floor, we support the architects’ plan to leave it largely unchanged. The cafeteria takes up most of the space, and we appreciate the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Student Resource Center being centrally located.

The third floor is where USFtv, the Foghorn, and other student organizations that need visibility should be moved. Being visible to the student body is imperative for these organizations to have consistent members and recognition. Offices that are currently on the third floor but do not require frequent interaction with students, such as the McCarthy Center and Events Scheduling, could be moved to the fourth or fifth floor. Being in a less central location would not impede those groups from fulfilling their missions.

On the fourth and fifth floors, services for students should be located. International Student and Scholar Services, the Learning and Writing Center, the Language Centers, Health Promotion Services, and other services for students should be on the fourth floor. Organizations like Student Leadership and Engagement, the McCarthy Center, Events Scheduling, and other organizations that offer services to students should be located.

We support renovating Phelan Hall and the University Center, and making our campus a more  beautiful and functional place. However, we ask that the committee listen to and consider our requests.

Student Event Attendance Fluctuates

Attendance at a University of San Francisco lecture or other academic event can vary greatly depending on the topic, speaker, venue and advertising efforts. With classes, exams, homework and all of the excitement that the city of San Francisco has to offer, it is difficult for event organizers to compete for student attention and time and get them to attend a discussion on campus. But overwhelming student presence at certain events suggests that student interest must be gauged to draw students away from academic responsibilities and the lure of San Francisco to participate in an academic discussion.

Professor Ronald Sundstrom, philosophy professor and chair of the African American studies minor, said that most event organizers are very concerned with student interest, but he also said that a university and its academic discussions “create a forum for intellectual exchange. The classroom shouldn’t be the only place for intellectual exchange.” Bringing together members of the public and students from USF generates interest in a topic and fosters the growth of ideas. Universities are traditionally spaces for public and community intellectual growth as well. Thus, not all events on campus are geared specifically toward students.

One organization on campus that supports intellectual exchange is the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good. There are approximately three to four academic talks held every week at USF. Maureen Beckman, assistant director of the McCarthy Center, said that most of the programs at the McCarthy Center are academics-based. In addition to facilitating student exchanges in the state and national capitals and providing students with internships, the Center works closely with the Politics Society, a student club that focuses on political and civic issues. Beckman said, “We’ve always held election night and election watches. For every presidential debate, we do something. We also hosted a mayoral series where we had different mayors come and speak on campus.” The 2007 mayoral series, the subject of which was sustainable development, included current San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. Beckman said of the talks,

“People loved them. Of course, whenever our mayor [Gavin Newsom] shows up, the whole place gets filled. But some of the other mayors, we were surprised they got such big turnouts.” She credited student interest in sustainable development with the popularity of the talks. She said, “They were interested in sustainable development, basically. I think that kind of topic is very prevalent in USF’s culture, you know, helping others and how do you help people sustain a lifestyle and sustain their level of economic status.” Laura Plantholt, a junior media studies major, attended Mayor Gavin Newsom’s talk for a journalism class. Plantholt is the managing editor of the Foghorn, the student newspaper on campus, works part-time at Gillson Hall and has an internship with XLR8R magazine. Even if attendance wasn’t mandatory, Plantholt said she would have gone anyway. She said, “When things are a big enough deal, it will make me drop my other obligations or responsibilities.”

The Joan and Ralph Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought is another entity on campus that holds several discussions a semester and hosts guest speakers. Its purpose is to “promote the Catholic social thought of the Catholic intellectual tradition,” said associate director Julia Dowd. They were influential in getting “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson selected as the required reading for first semester freshmen and they were also responsible for inviting the author and humanitarian to come to campus to speak. Dowd said, “We were involved in the very beginning, saying he was a high profile person that we really wanted to get here, all the way to the day of, making sure everything went smoothly and coordinating all aspects of his visit.” Mortenson received an honorary doctorate degree from the School of Nursing and spoke to a large audience comprised of members of the public and USF students. The McLaren Complex was full to capacity as were Crossroads Café, Parina Lounge and Cowell Room 113, other areas on campus that broadcasted Mortenson’s speech. The popularity of “Three Cups of Tea”, which was a New York Times bestseller, and the external advertising effort contributed to an exodus of off-campus attendees. Dowd said, “We were surprised at how many members of the public came to that event and they really ended up taking most of the space before most of the students were able to get there.”

The Lane Center sponsored three other events this semester. Dowd said that they invited a Jesuit priest from Boston to speak about patriotism and religious identity, a speaker from Mexico who spoke about feminist appraisal of the solidarity movement in Chiapas, Mexico, and a panel with two USF professors on the war in Iraq.. Lane Center events typically draw a crowd of about one hundred people, Dowd said however, “We get a lot of members of the public. I would say the majority are members of the public. We get students when they are required to come to class.”

Most events are advertised through professors and students learn about campus events in their classes, but aside from the incentive of extra credit or mandatory attendance required by a professor, many students attend events based on their existing interests, not on what they are currently learning about in class. Ivana Rosas, a junior international studies major, French minor and president of AIESEC (Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales) prefers attending academic lectures in the humanities. She said, “Knowledge is power and the more I’m informed, the more I know a little bit about everything, the more I am going to be able to write a better paper or make better connections with things that are going on in class and things that are going on in the real world.” With the exception of students who love to learn like Rosas, Beckman said “If it’s not something they’re [students] interested in, it’s hard to get them to come.”

Student clubs and organizations that put on annual or semi-annual events generally enjoy large attendances. Courtney Ball, president of the Black Student Union (BSU), said that she organized Gospel Extravaganza, the Breast Cancer Tea, Expressions and a pre-Kwanzaa event each year during her two-year presidency. Of these events, Ball said “The most successful event is Expressions. There are always a lot of people that come out.

We had about 75 there [this semester], but that’s because people know Expressions is happening. I would say that is the most successful because people always look forward to it and people always leave happy.”
Some student organizations, like College Players, conduct their own survey of how their events went. Platt, who was also the producer for “The Vagina Monologues” last year, said that, “After every show, they do a reflection on how the show went, what the turnout was, what they could have improved on, what each person thought about the process, which is fantastic.” Non-student organizations like the McCarthy Center and the Lane Center do not currently have any system or process of evaluating the success of their events. Beckman said, “We really haven’t done a great job of getting the feedback after the event, that’s something we really could possibly work on to better our center.” Of the Lane Center, Dowd said, “We do table at our events, where people can come and talk to us or sign up for events. We don’t do evaluation forms at the end of all of our events, we do at some. But that’s probably the extent of it.”

Another annual event that generally draws many students is the Election Watch sponsored by the McCarthy Center and the Politics Society. The widespread interest in the 2008 presidential election may have helped pack Parina Lounge with eager students on election night this past Nov. 4.

While part of the college experience is attending on campus events, a big part of a student’s experience at USF is exploring the city of San Francisco. Platt said that she is constantly struggling to motivate students about Senate and “get spirit up and apparent throughout the USF community.” She said, “It’s like the college experience to go to student stuff on campus. Because we’re in the middle of San Francisco, it makes it harder for us. It’s USF competing with the city of San Francisco.” Some student cultural clubs have a built-in advantage. While an interest or passion in a field or topic can drive a student to join a club, the desire to meet and socialize with members that share your same ethnic background can cement one’s allegiance to his or her respective cultural club. Ball said, “When I came to campus, I knew I had to join BSU because when you are a minority on campus, people need that support and you want to see other people that look like you. Just so you can have someone to talk to and relate to and share resources with.”

Beckman said , “We have been very fortunate that students do attend our events, because we try to pick things that students want and that students are interested in, because why do it? It’s an embarrassment if you don’t get anyone there, just because you want to get someone to talk. Our main focus when we choose a speaker is will it be beneficial to our students.”