When Gabriela Garcia recounted how she felt during the hour she spent in jail last Friday, April 4, she used the word “compassionate”; evidently, she bore no ill-will towards the policemen who arrested and further questioned her for her act of civil disobedience between Post St. and Montgomery St. downtown.
Often one can see a protest or a demonstration and wonder if all that effort is worth the trouble. When the United States decided to invade Iraq in 2003, thousands turned out in the United States (indeed, millions around the world) to protest the invasion. On February 15, 2003, 3 million of people turned out in Rome alone against the U.S.’ intentions.
The end result of some of the most vocal public expressions in history? The invasion of Iraq went forward, as planned, and operations continued in that country for seven years.
San Francisco is no stranger to protest. On April 13th, for example, at San Francisco Sate, dozens of students occupied the administrations building at their university to protest tuition hikes and overcrowded classrooms. As it stands now, tuition will still rise, and classrooms will still be crowded as before.
So it comes as surprise to when public displays of opinion do effect change, both on campus and off. In the case of off-campus change, most notably, we have the people-initiated revolutions of Egypt and Tunisia, which sucessfully occurred without the military intervention of foreign governments and were largely peaceful.
In the case of on-campus change, we have Upward Bound, where university leadership had first decided to sever ties with the program when the contract expired in 2012. After a consistent public outcry in the form of vocal town hall meetings and two campus protests, USF has now decided to renew sponsorship for Upward Bound and allow for its limited use of university facilities.
The Foghorn is not saying that all our problems, both campus-wide and globally, have been solved through public demonstrations. For example, Libya and Syria’s demonstrations for government change were met with violent and forceful resistance from Muammar Qadaffi and Bashar al-Assad, respectively.
Back at home, when KUSF went off the air suddenly in late January, the station rallied support for its reinstatement through hosting public events (see KUSF Lives(s)) and through petitions to the FCC. However, the doors to the old radio studio and transmitter are still locked. Also, the optimistic news of the FCC initially blocking of the transfer of KUSF’s transmitter was dampened by construction permit the FCC issued on April 12 to KDFC for a new transmitter in Sausalito, implying an eventual completion of the transfer of the 90.3 signal to KDFC.
In short, the Foghorn is advocating this: advocate however you can, because it does have an impact. It is worth the trouble to protest, demonstrate, and advocate (in the special case of the USF community), for both our student interests and for the rights and concerns of people around the world.
Whether the fight is to keep a funded account’s budget from going under the knife year after year, or to inform the university of the troubles its new housing policy has generated for underclassmen seeking housing, or to rally against military endeavors your government does in your name, demonstration and public expression is important and necessary; The alternative; i.e., apathy, automatically makes change an impossibility.
Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy
Chief copy-editor: Natalie Cappetta
Opinion Editor: Vicente Patino
Over a month after protesters encircled Welsh field in support of Upward Bound, dozens of students and community leaders lined the sidewalks and lawn in front of the School of Education last Monday afternoon. The second demonstration rallied against USF’s decision to no longer host the federally-funded college preparatory program because of an acute shortage of campus facilities.
Upward Bound, which traces back to the administration of Lyndon Johnson, operates nationwide. The program prepares underprivileged high school youth for a post-secondary education.
Upward Bound chapters supporting local high-school students are housed on college campuses, making use of its host institution’s classrooms and dormitories.
The program has existed at USF since 1966.
Only a handful of people sat in the pews of the First AME Zion Church by 4 o’clock. The church, situated merely one half-block east from the university’s Ulrich baseball field, is home to the congregation led by Rev. Malcolm J Byrd. Byrd is a key organizer in the movement to sustain Upward Bound at USF.
Byrd and USF Upward Bound Director Janice Cook and USF Professor Bernadette Barker-Plummer, greeted demonstrators while also reading through a letter released minutes before from the university’s Associate Vice Provost for Diversity and Community Engagement Dr. Mary Wardell.
Wardell’s message, distributed via USFconnect around 3:45 p.m. that day, listed four conditions that Upward Bound could retain USF’s sponsorship, which included “direct oversight of the program by an advisory committee…which will ensure accountability for the program’s management”, a requirement that the “program must be integrated into the life of the University”, and that “facilities must be located off the USF campus.”
Demonstrators were optimistic about the letter, but doubts remained over the ultimate future of Upward Bound at USF.
Undergraduates Hennessey Donovan and Claire Brennan attended the protest.
“I was told about [Upward Bound] in class by my American history professor, and anyone else I’ve talked to about the issue has been immediately [in support of] Upward Bound,” Brennan said.
“To be honest [though], I think Fr. Privett is going to do what he wants to do,” Donovan added, “But that doesn’t mean we should do something.”
Undergraduate student and freshman Gabriel Vancea works in the Upward Bound office as a tutor. He credits his participation in University of San Diego’s Upward Bound program for being able to attend USF. He said the future of the program was “very unpredictable,” because of the administration’s inconsistencies.
Dominique Byrd, Rev. Bryd’s wife, felt strongly about recent efforts to retain the program at USF.
“I have no idea what is going to happen,” she said. “God’s will is going to be done…but we can’t let this discussion happen without doing anything about it. We want to exhaust all our resources before the decision comes through.”
By 4:30 p.m. there were about 100 demonstrators in the church. After an opening prayer by Rev. Byrd, the group left the church in a police-escorted procession to the front of the School of Education.
The procession was joined by Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco Chapter of the NAACP and pastor of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco.
During the one-and-a-half-block walk to the intersections of Tamaulipas and Turk, the crowd carried enlarged prints of individual Upward Bound students’ USF ID cards, and chanted “Keep around, Upward Bound.”
The demonstration also drew correspondents from the San Francisco Chronicle and KPIX 5, the local television affiliate of CBS.
Protestors distributed letters from students, alumni, and parents. Some students read aloud the letters.
Impromptu speakers included Dan Daniels, the Coastal Area director of the California NAACP Daniels is also a former student of Upward Bound.
“Growing up a poor boy in Oklahoma, I would not have had the money to attend college were it not for Upward Bound,” he said, while the Rev. Arnold Townsend, another pastor, urged perseverance, telling the protestors to not become “one-issue” people who stop demanding rights once one issue is resolved and to “become consistent in their demonstrations.”
The rally continued into its second hour, with an Upward Bound student quoting John F. Kennedy in connection to the fact that USF was a Jesuit Catholic institution.
An elderly community member said, “Stay fighting for what you need and what you want…fight until your 30’s, your 40’s, 50’s 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s.”
“I’m glad to see what the students can do,” said Dr. Bill Goring, who addressed the crod drawing from his time as the director of Upward Bound at USF in the 1970’s. “Keep up, Upward Bound.”
Certain individuals had scheduled a meeting with Dr. Wardell the following day to discuss the possibility of continuing the program with USF support.
Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy
Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta
News Editor: Ericka Montes
Last Thursday was unlike any other day at USF. A human chain of over two hundred individuals clasped hand in hand around the Welsh Field wall of St. Ignatius Church to protest Upward Bound’s discontinuation at USF. The protest was titled “Circle for Social Justice,” a demonstration that included a march around the church.
Bound For Social Justice organized the event. It is an ad-hoc on-campus organization dedicated to keeping the program at USF.
“It’s a horrible decision. [Upward Bound has] given so much to me,” said Christian Cobar, a senior at Phillip & Sala Burton High School in the City and an Upward Bound student who clasped hands with the people to his left and right.
Andrea Mejia, a fellow Upward Bound enrollee and senior at Burton High, came to defend the program because it had made college a possibility for her. “Upward Bound is one of the main reasons I’m going to college,” she said. “This argument about ‘space’ just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Mejia and Cobar were just two of a large group who protested the university’s decision to no longer renew the federal contract on which USF’s Upward Bound program operates.
The federal program, which helps underrepresented, low-income, and first-generation high school students attain college through academic support, has been housed at USF since 1966. Currently, the program is quartered in the Underhill building on Lone Mountain, sharing the building with ROTC’s classrooms. USF decided to not renew funding because the university needs the office’s facitlity space.
More than two hundred demonstrators attended the protest, including USF faculty, graduate and undergraduate USF students, Upward Bound students, Upward Bound faculty, community activists, and passersby.
A rally followed the march. Rev. Amos Brown of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco and Rev. Malcolm Byrd of the First A.M.E. Zion Church spoke to the demonstrators, who by that time had organized around these and other addressees into a large circle encompassing most of Welsh Field.
“We did meet with the President [of USF]”, said Brown, who three weeks prior attended a town hall meeting at USF to advocate against Upward Bound’s removal. “There was a good faith meeting to work as a team to keep the program alive,” he said before he addressed the protesters at large, adding that he was, “cautiously optimistic, because there has not been a clarion commitment on the part of [Rev. Stephen Privett, S.J.].”
On March 1, two days before the protest, Privett issued a statement regarding the meeting he had that day with Brown, Byrd, and others, including Vice Provost of Diversity Engagement Dr. Mary Wardell and School of Education Dean Dr. Walt Gmelch.
In the statement, Privett wrote, “We agreed that Chuck Smith, Vice Chair of the USF Board of Trustees, Mary Wardell and [Upward Bound Director] Janice Dirden-Cook will work together to develop scenarios for an Upward Bound program that is sustainable and enjoys strong community-based support.”
While Privett said USF “believes strongly” in the program, he emphasized that “there is no easy solution to our severe space limitations on campus”.
Privett closed the statement by acknowledging the university’s commitment to the community, noting USF students completed over 400,000 hours of community service-learning last year.
“Compassion is not shown by going to the Bayview and planting a garden,” said Brown as he addressed all at the demonstration, “it is to be with [the underprivileged], to walk with them, to talk with them”.
Another addressee, who quoted the same 400,000-hour statistic which Privett included in a private e-mail to a student which was then re-circulated on bright yellow sheets at the protest, said, “Why stop there?”
Earlier, Politics Professor James Taylor communicated his support for Upward Bound as he marched around St. Ignatius. He spoke of the general desire of the Policy Boar, which is USF’s professors’ assocation, to find an alternative for Upward Bound’s eviction. Citing what he saw as the administration’s failure to include the larger university community, such as faculty and staff, in this decision, he said, “the only recourse is to demonstrate.”
“As a family unit, I [felt]…disappointed with my family,” said another demonstrator, Darlene Conwell. Herself an alum of Upward Bound at Stanford University who obtained her Masters degree in 2000 from USF’s School of Education. Conwell is the director of Upward Bound’s Math and Science component at USF. She was heartened to witness a large turnout in Welsh Field. “What’s happened here has…filled me with joy to realize there was this support I didn’t know existed from students of the university,” she said.
Graduate and undergraduate students alike turned out to the event. One of these was a School of Edcuation graduate student who posed the question, “after 45 years of hosting [Upward Bound] has USF’s mission suddenly changed?”
“Being on campus is a valuable part of the program,” undergraduate student Jason Farrera said. He feels Upward Bound is needed at USF because “it allows these kids to see what their future can be.”
Onlooker Davis Kantor, a physics major, stood at the entrance of Gleeson Library. “I don’t think it should be cut,” he said, “I don’t have all the details, but there’s definitely space [for Upward Bound].”
Peter Nora and Danica Swenson, undergraduates viewed the protest from afar. “It’s the biggest demonstration I’ve seen at USF.” said Nora, a sophomore.
“There’s always space,” said Swenson.
Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy
Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta
News Editor: Ericka Montes
A petite blonde clutching a megaphone larger than her head steps up on a table in the middle of Harney Plaza. A crowd of students, most waving posters and distributing leaflets, silences at this action. She shouts into the megaphone and the crowd below shouts back.
On this Thursday, April 16, during dead hour at USF, students are out protesting not the latest international war or human rights injustice; rather they are fighting for the job of an adjunct sociology professor named Andrej Grubacic, who, after one academic year with the University, has not been asked to return next fall.
The young woman with the megaphone, a sophomore named Madeline Scarp, shouts, “He’s not coming back and it’s a shame!” The crowd erupted in response.
Grubacic was signed on as a temporary professor in the sociology department with a one-year contract in fall 2008. His contract, he said, was revised sometime thereafter, under what he called “somewhat mysterious” circumstances. He taught two classes as an adjunct professor this spring, as well as advising nine directed studies.
Despite being told his student evaluations “were very impressive,” and being nominated for both professor and mentor of the year awards, he was informed in February that there would not be a space for him next year. Grubacic was surprised; he had turned down two job offers at other universities believing he would continue employment at USF. Students, who had grown to love his style of teaching and mentorship, were shocked as well.
Many students would feel apathetic about fighting for a professor’s job. What makes this professor different, the protesting students said, is his manner of teaching, leading interactive discussion courses and mentoring them on how to become involved with political processes.
Senior Jennifer Herrera, one of Grubacic’s students, said, “He’s very passionate. It’s a pleasure to hear someone talk passionately about issues.”
After taking multiple forms of action to express their feelings about Grubacic’s job, including repeatedly meeting with Dean of College of Arts and Sciences Jennifer Turpin and Sociology Department Chair Steven Zavestoski, presenting their case to the ASUSF Senate, gathering signatures on a petition, forming a Facebook group, distributing literature around campus and holding the protest last Thursday, students were met with the same response from the administration: that there is simply not a spot for him. Herrera said, “I think this is really about a bigger issue: students should have a say.”
Grubacic echoed this statement. “What [the students] are asking is, I believe, a question of the first order: what is the role of students in collective life of the university? Shouldn’t their collective voice account for something more? What does that famous phrase ‘student power’ mean?” He asked. “I believe that this whole ‘movement,’ if we can call it that, is about something far more important then keeping one professor.”
Turpin, who helps oversee the staff in the College of Arts and Sciences, maintains that there simply is not space or funding to keep Grubacic at the University. She said, “Mr. Grubacic was meant to serve as a temporary instructor while others (full-time faculty in Sociology) were on leave. But all of the excellent faculty who were on leave last year will be returning in the fall, and thus we have to resume paying their full time salaries.” These professors not only require the salary that would go to Grubacic, but also will be instructing the classes he would teach, she explained. “All of them teach in globalization – Mr. Grubacic’s main specialization and the area in which he’s been teaching for us.”
Still, many students maintain that in a case where so many students are pleading for a professor to stay, the University should take note and make things fit somehow.
Junior Megan Langley, a student of Grubacic who participated in the protest, said, “We understand that his contract expired, but we’re asking for a re-hire. We’re the students, and we should get some say in who teaches us. It’s just logical.”
Turpin addressed this point, “Student opinion is very valuable. When USF recruits new full-time continuing faculty, students are included in the hiring process. They also play a role when they evaluate faculty at the end of each semester. Student opinion is not the only variable involved in creating new positions at USF, however.” She said there were too many logistical impossibilities with this case: no money designated to pay his salary and no classes open for him to teach.
Some still do not accept this answer. Rumors arose that Grubacic was not being rehired because of his radical political ideology. Chair of Sociology Department Steven Zavestoski said this had absolutely no influence on his not being rehired, but Grubacic said he believes this with certainty. “Do I believe it? Yes. Do I have proof? No,” he said. Grubacic said in fall when he began teaching, other professors accused him of “organizing” his students, and molding them into a “cult” following.
But if Grubacic did help his students learn to organize, he says he had no part in their latest cause. “It came as a surprise, a beautiful surprise. I am very happy to have been able to encourage it, by teaching students to think for themselves.” He said, “It is one of the most heart-warming and moving experiences of my life.”