Tag Archives: Crossroads

Profane Lyrics Lead to Crossroads Music Ban

Crossroads, USF’s student-run café, opened once again at the beginning of the school year, serving as a setting for students’ socialization, studying, TV-watching and, of course, eating. However, the atmosphere has a significant difference from last year. Unlike in the past, the soundtrack to the activity in Crossroads, music broadcasted over the speakers from the Crossroads workers’ iPods, has vanished.

It’s unclear exactly what day the music died. However, Seren Sehota, a junior history major who has been working at Crossroads for about a year, remembers the change to have taken effect somewhere in late April or early May of 2009.

“There was a song that had the f-word in it playing, and our managers came downstairs while the song was on,” she said. Several of her coworkers identified the song as “American Boy” by Estelle, featuring Kanye West.

“It was completely by accident, the iPod was on shuffle,” Sehota went on, “but because of that, there were some problems.”

According to Holly Winslow, director of Bon Appetit, the Full-Time Leadership Team then gave the Crossroads workers a warning not to play songs with profane lyrics. The Crossroads team continued to play inappropriate music, she said, and so a manager made the decision to temporarily ban the playing of music in Crossroads.

“We serve many guests in Crossroads: staff, faculty, students and the local community,” said Winslow. “It is our responsibility to create an ambiance that is comfortable, professional and that is just a nice place to meet, study and complete group work. A basic goal is to not offend any of our guests.”

While at present no one is being offended by explicit lyrics, some students are not happy with the lack of satellite music.

“I think it’s sad that because of one person’s shuffle, we lost all of our privileges for music. It’s really quiet in here, and I know that even the customers liked having a little music,” said Sehota.

The absence of background music is not permanent, however. While the speaker system is currently broken, Winslow said, “We are having the speaker system fixed in Crossroads so that we can play a larger variety of music in Crossroads as well.”

Twenty-four students were surveyed in an unscientific online poll conducted by the Foghorn, and their opinions on the music situation at Crossroads were varied. Four preferred having no music at all, one of them commenting, “I’m usually there to get something small to eat and sit down and study, so I’d rather not be distracted with music.”

Others felt that quiet elevator music, not pop songs, should be played. An anonymous commenter wrote, “I would like music but not flaring over the speakers, quiet enough so that I can still have a conversation with the people sitting at my table. [They should probably] turn the music off during midterms and finals week when people actually use that place to buckle down and study in groups.”

Five students chose the option of having student-chosen music with nonexplicit lyrics, because “usually music with nonexplicit lyrics is more pleasant to listen to if you’re studying or talking.”

Another prevailing opinion was that explicit or nonexplicit, the music played in Crossroads should be whatever the employees want to play.

“[Crossroads is] student run, mostly. It should be about what the students want to listen to,” wrote one survey-taker.

Said another: “This school is a university for the students. We are the reason it exists. Crossroads is one of the few things run by the students, so let the students play their music. Is that too much to ask?”

Sehota suggested that instead of putting an end to music altogether, Crossroads should allow an established playlist of appropriate songs approved by the managers.

“Of course we could establish a playlist! I love music and I think that it is so important in our cafes,” said Winslow. “Listening to our student team and their specific needs and finding solutions recognizes their individuality and is what we do as a full-time management team, and I am certain that at the end of this my goal is to compromise and find music solutions.”

Profanity Policy Inconsistent

On Sept. 2, USF held its’ annual Involvement Fair. Music was playing in Harney Plaza as hundreds of students made their way through the various tables. The music blasting throughout campus contained profane words that would be banned in some publications on campus. Before the Involvement Fair, there were a series of incidents in Crossroads Cafe in which student employees were playing their personal iPods. When Crossroads management became aware that profane words were being played, the students were asked not to continue playing music with bad words in the lyrics. According to Bon Appetit Director Holly Winslow, a member of the leadership team told the workers not to play the music, but they continued. Crossroads has since banned the playing of all personal iPods during business hours.

Why were the DJ’s in Harney Plaza allowed to project profanity-laced music louder and to a larger group of people in Harney Plaza when the Crossroads workers were not?  Were there any warnings given to DJ’s at the Involvement Fair?

The ambiguity and double-standard in restrictions like these make it hard for students to know when and where their music is appropriate to play and when they should wait until they are in a private place.

Another issue is, who is this music offending? Students were not complaining about the music’s words at the Involvement Fair.  Instead, members of student groups were dancing on chairs, tables, and in surrounding areas.  People were equally not offended during the incident in Crossroads. We are adults and should be treated as such. If students are not offended by this music, whom is the administration protecting?

The student press has had conflict with the administration when deciding whether or not to publish a story. If the wrong decision is made, there lingers the possibility of getting a reprehensive letter or having a special visit from the highest USF officials for a scolding session.

Chris Begley, the executive producer of USFtv, says he and his staff play it safe when airing content on TV. “Before we air something I think about if Father Privett or Margaret Higgins were in the cafeteria, would they approve?” said Begley. He also said that USFtv has not had a major issue with the administration trying to control their content and the USFtv staff makes sure they do not air unnecessary curse words. The Foghorn is familiar with complaints about content or certain profane words printed in the paper. At times, the Foghorn has received emails from the administration questioning the appropriateness of some of the content printed. An article has never been kept from print, but the potential for a negative administrative response makes campus gatekeepers wary of printing a piece that could offend.

But other campus publications such as The Ignation, which prints original poems and stories by students in an annual issue, sometimes prints profane words and edgy stories. The Ignation is deemed art and the authors and editors have more leeway in the content they print. If this is the case, why is the music played in Crossoroads censored? Does it not fall within the same art exemption?

Students hold peaceful demonstrations in Harney Plaza, various residence halls, and other public spaces on campus. The Foghorn, USFtv, KUSF and all other student-run media outlets on campus serve as forums for student voices and offer information about our school’s community. Students are free to practice whichever religion they choose to, despite USF being a Jesuit institution.

Still, there is a gray area of restrictions on this campus that make students question whether they are exercising their rights or violating school policy.

Preserving Jesuit values is important, but if the administration is not consistent in their censorship rules and when and where they apply, students may restrain themselves before expressing themselves. Student should not have to “play it safe”  for fear of punishment. Student content will not be interesting or original.   It will be watered down, and will lack the unique personality of all the individual artists that make USF a free and diverse campus.

Battle of the Bands Rocks Campus

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The Nocturnal Rock Turtles took home the first prize for their great sounds and funky brass including trombone, trumpet and sax. (Andrew Jimenez|Foghorn)

It’s a Thursday night around 8 p.m.

Crossroads looks as usual: students sitting around, chatting, laughing, eating, waiting patiently in line for pizza with cardboard take-out containers. A few cluster around the television. The influx of Crossroads customers is only a little larger than normal. It’s an ordinary evening.
9 p.m. rolls around.

Crossroads has undergone a transformation. Many students are standing; some, dancing. Heads are bobbing, shoulders swaying, hips bouncing, hands waving, as local band Jahlectrik weaves their rhythmic, fluid movements together with a mellow reggae beat.

This performance on April 23 was part of USF’s Battle of the Bands sponsored by Whole Students, Whole Campus, an orginization whose mission is to reduce high -risk drinking and its consequences at USF. Seven local bands were brought to compete for a few hundred dollars of prizes before an approving crowd of Crossroads patrons, as well as five judges, among whom were USF student Annie Lawler, USF staff member Annemarie Galeucia and Bay Area musicians Andrew Perfetto, Jesse Grant and John Predny.

The event kicked off with a performance by student rap duo The Manchowder, who got the audience whooping and clapping and participating, despite a few minor technical issues (“They were funny, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying,” said one student as she left early.)

Following was a lineup of bands with varied styles, from the psychedelic style of Ghost Town Refugees, to Cactus Mouth’s frenetic indie rock, to The Nocturnal Rock Turtles (who were accompanied by a funky element of brass—a trombone, trumpet and a saxophone), to the gentle acoustic songs performed by duo Anastasia and Chris (with Chris providing guitar and vocals and the multitalented Anastasia supplying at any given time vocals, guitar, harmonica or tambourine).

Asked for her favorite band out of the lineup, USF junior Corinne Aparis replied, “Jahlectrik.” From the audience’s reaction, the majority of students would agree with her. Local reggae act Jahlectrik drew enthusiasm and energy from the crowd, who, even after a comparatively long set during which the students danced and clapped and sang along, were left yelling “We want more!” and “One more song!”

At the end of the event, bands were judged based on vocal/instrumental skills, the quality of their material or covers, entertainment value, professionalism and audience response. Local band Inner Sunset took the $50 prize and third place, with Cactus Mouth coming in second with $100. First prize went to Nocturnal Rock Turtles, who emerged from the battle with a $200 award, to the sound of the students’ loud approval.

The atmosphere at Battle of the Bands was surprisingly supportive of the performers. Students cheered and whooped for each band, and the closest anyone came to heckling was an offer of constructive criticism by one of the audience members (“The bass is too loud, you need to lower the volume.”) “I just like how everyone’s here using Crossroads,” Aparis said. “When I was a freshman, not that many people were at Crossroads, so I liked how [the Battle of the Bands] brings everyone together. It makes the school more diverse and musically inclined.”

Crossroads New Later Hours Popular, Unruly

Strictly by the numbers, Crossroads’ new extended hours on Thursday and Friday nights until 2:30 a.m. have been incredibly successful. The new hours are wildly popular with students, and the late night shift is the third busiest time of day at the café, after the lunch and dinner rushes, said Crossroads General Manager and senior Hailey Anderson. And it has also been profitable for Bon Appétit.

On its first evening of extended hours, Crossroads processed 250 transactions and half of the seats in the café were occupied at any given time, Anderson said.

However, many of the students who patronize Crossroads during the extended hours are less than perfect customers and many are intoxicated, she said. Anderson has witnessed many more students than usual trying to steal pizza, which is the only station open late at night, leaving excessive amounts of trash at their tables and refusing to leave when the café closes. Students have also been fighting in the café and vandalizing artwork in the hallway outside when they do leave.

Anderson said that since the café began operating on the new trial schedule the Thursday following spring break, there have been multiple occasions when groups of intoxicated students have ignored staff who asked them to leave. At least one group demanded 20 more minutes when told to leave because the café was closing.

The final version of the ASUSF Senate resolution that created the extended hours at Crossroads required that public safety make rounds through the café once every hour and at the 2:30 a.m. closing time. However, public safety has been “very inconsistent” and did not do any rounds through the café on at least two of the nights with extended hours, according to Anderson.

Despite a huge uptick in business and the profitability of the trial, Anderson has questioned the practicality of the new hours, mostly in light of student behavior at the café and safety concerns for her staff. At one point earlier this week she thought her superiors at Bon Appétit might be ready to call off the new hours, but have so far decided to continue with the trial.

“I understand students want a place to go late at night to get food but I don’t want my employees to have to serve drunk and rowdy USF students,” she said.

Safety for workers in the café was a major concern of Crossroads management as they worked with senate on a plan to offer the extended hours. Sophomore Class Representatives Lansen Leu and Patrick Sudlow, who introduced the resolution, worked closely with Anderson and Bon Appétit General Manager Holly Winslow to ensure that Crossroads workers had a way to get home safely and installed swipe access outside of the Parina Lounge handicapped door so that all students could get into the café during its extended hours when all of the other outer doors to the University Center are locked.

Despite issues with safety and student conduct during the late night hours, the new schedule has received positive feedback from students, particularly those who live on campus and have Flexi.

Freshman Mike Needham, who said he usually gets hungry after 11:30 p.m. when Crossroads would normally close, has been to the café several times since it started offering extended hours of service. “Friday night is when I would usually go to Mel’s or order food and it is nice to be able to charge food on my Flexi instead,” he said.

Leu is happy that he was able to work to fill what he saw as a serious void on the USF campus by offering late night dining. “We just wanted to fill that demand from students who can use their Flexi to pay for food,” he said. However, he is concerned that some intoxicated students may be ruining the experience for others. “If people want it they should be respectful of the space,” he said.

Whatever the outcome of the trial period, Anderson said she doubts the extended hours will continue next year because Bon Appétit plans to convert Jamba Juice into a 24-hour café where students can get a wide variety of food.

Crossroads’ extended hours trial period is set to end the week before final exams start.

Crossroads Receives Five Star Rating From Zagat

Crossroads gets rave reviews

Crossroads finally received positive feedback on their food and menu when they received a high ranking in the Zagat review. (Melissa Stihl | Foghorn)

In an unexpected series of events, the well-respected Zagat dining guide for San Francisco put USF’s own

Crossroads Café in their 2010 book, and awarding it their highest honor of five stars. The review calls the small café “avant-garde,” “cutting edge” and “a hip, fresh take on campus dining.” This is the first time the small student-run café has been featured in Zagat or any other guide book. Though Crossroads has long been featured in popular restaurant review site Yelp.com, the café only received a dismal rating of one star by Yelpers.

Zagat reviewer Jacques Lefluer first caught wind of the café when visiting campus for a lecture. On a stroll through the campus he saw students emerging from an underground lair in the University Center with some most unusual culinary concoctions in hand. One was eating a slice of pizza that held an innovative combination of toppings: tuna fish, sliced potato, and barbecue sauce, Lefluer recalled. Another was eating what appeared to be pasta, but was undercooked and seemed to crunch in his mouth, unlocking exciting flavors and freshness. The Zagat crew, always intrigued by independent and experimental dining establishments, set up a date for a full dining experience.

Lefluer returned to dine and rate and review the full experience. Though Crossroads was marked down for lack of valet parking, lack of coat check, inability to make reservations, and the obscene frequency of Family Guy and South Park reruns playing on the big screen television, he was otherwise blown away by the food and service.

He began his meal with a chicken Caesar salad, which was made by an exceptionally cordial Crossroads employee who actually greeted him with a smile and the word “hello.” Moving on to the main course, Lefluer had a cardboard tray of cheese tortellini with a pinkish red sauce situated between the red sauce and the white sauce, which seemed only appropriate to be named “middle sauce.” He filled a second cardboard tray with Crossroads’ signature entrée, pizza. He took one slice of chicken, bell pepper and potato, and one slice of pineapple, pesto and bacon.

Grabbing a plastic fork and knife, Lefluer sat down at an available table, wiped away the crumbs, and began his supper. First the salad: with crisp lettuce and chilled chicken, it was an ordinary Caesar salad. Though the lettuce was still quite wet from being washed and inadequately dried, he enjoyed the puddle of watery dressing left over as he finished the salad.

Next he took a bite of each variety of pizza. His mouth adjusted to the shock of being exposed to such an unconventional combination of toppings and he devoured them fully, taking notes passionately in his notepad. Finally the pasta: his fork attempted to spear one plump tortellini soaked in the creamy tomato sauce, but it failed to puncture the pasta’s hard skin. He stabbed again and again until the fork broke through the very “al dente” pasta. The pasta crunched in his mouth. His eyes lit up, wondering why no other chef had ever thought to cook pasta for such a short amount of time! He crunched and chomped the rest of the pasta, which was so hard he almost chipped a tooth.

For dessert, Lefluer enjoyed a slightly undercooked churro. He was going to sip a latte along with his dessert, but the employees at the coffee bar had decided to shut down early, even though it was still an hour before the restaurant’s closing time.

Lefluer left with a strange aftertaste in his mouth, and suffered indigestion that evening, but was satisfied nonetheless. He gave Crossroads his highest praise in his review and a five star rating.

Since the review was published, Crossroads has increased in popularity within the San Francisco epicurean community. Socialites, celebrities and foodies regularly stop by USF for the surprising pizza specials and the now world-famous pasta with middle-sauce.

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom has already been photographed extensively in the Crossroads Café with his actress wife Jennifer Siebel. Munching on a five-dollar bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Newsom said, “This is the kind of dining we need in a city like San Francisco. We need to be audacious with our choice of pizza toppings, and push the limits of how crunchy our pasta ought to be. Bold – that’s how I’ve always served as mayor of San Francisco, and that’s how I would run a campus dining facility.” Newsom then realized his cereal was stale and threw the rest away.

Lefluer’s final words before leaving campus were “Bon Appetit.”