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Hikers

Environmental Justice and Outdoors Club: For Tree Huggers and Hikers Alike

The Environmental Justice and Outdoors Club (EJOC) is a student-led organization at USF that combines activism and hobby. The club’s mission is not only to bring forth environmental justice, but also to promote outdoor activity, volunteer work, and community involvement.

The club currently has around 50 members.

EJOC meets once a week to discuss important environmental issues, and to plan for future volunteer opportunities, weekend activities, and the ever-popular, once-a-semester camping trip.

According to student co-president Andy Cole, a fine arts major, the club strives to bring environmental awareness and education to students and faculty to encourage a more eco-friendly university community. Originally just the “Outdoors Club,” “Environmental Justice” was added at the beginning of last year due to a gaining interest within the club and around campus in discussions like fossil fuels, climate change, and even animal rights.

Last year, the club held a screening of the documentary “Chasing Ice” (2012) to educate students about the effects of climate change.

Some members of EJOC worked closely with Fossil Free USF to draft and deliver a letter of petition to University President, the Reverend Stephen A. Privett, and University CFO, Charles Cross, requesting that the university divest from all companies burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. The petition is part of a national campaign to reduce global warming, and currently has 241 USF signatures.

This year, EJOC will host a screening for “The Cove” (2009), which documents the mass fishing of dolphins in the coves of Taiji, Japan and investigates how such fishing affects dolphins and humans, alike.

Co-presidents Cole and Rachel Palmer, senior, have several events planned for the school year, whether they be on campus, in the city, or even in the woods. In the current semester so far, EJOC has hosted a BBQ bonding session in Golden Gate Park and a weekend hike at Land’s End. Cole said students can expect to see more activities in the upcoming months, such as volunteer trips in the city, biking and running groups, and even a “tech detox” hangout, where students tuck away their cell phones in order to create a more intimate and organic bonding experience.

EJOC also works with a San Francisco nonprofit organization called The Garden Project to help plant in a community garden located on Divisadero Street and Eddy Street. Palmer, a nursing major, explains: “We are going to work with the new community garden to promote sustainable living regardless of class. We are hoping to develop a high-yield garden that offers fresh, organic food to the low-income housing residents nearby.”

The Garden Project is one of several volunteer opportunities in which the club takes part. Students who wish to attend the club’s three-day camping trip are encouraged to volunteer at least twice during the semester.

EOJC also aims to make a close-knit and involved community, Cole said. By allowing students to interact and experience nature firsthand, the members of EOJC can directly enjoy what they are helping to preserve — while having fun and growing closer as well. “USF is not a huge campus, so it allows us to take the opportunity to create a really intimate community with people who have a mutual interest in the environment and the outdoors,” Cole said.

Club member Sofia Marbach, a freshman international studies major, joined EJOC after moving to San Francisco from her hometown in Hood River, Oregon. “I do a lot of hiking and backpacking back home, and I didn’t want to lose that connection when moving to an urban area like San Francisco,” Marbach said. “I joined the club looking for an opportunity to camp and hike, but also [to] involve myself in service projects like beach clean-ups and helping Fossil Free USF reach success in getting our school to divest completely from fossil fuels.”

Reta Flynt, a sophomore psychology major, is interested in environmental sustainability and joined the club to get involved with local sustainability events. “I love agriculture too, so I want to be more involved with community gardens and connect with people with similar interests.”

Freshman psychology major William Shaw explained why he joined the club: “[Because] I was born a tree hugger!” Shaw hopes to utilize EJOC as a way of bettering the world. “I hope we can make some actual change in our community to benefit our environment, because without it we’d be dead!” he exclaimed.

A Chance for Justice in Palestine

Imagine you are a refugee of war, kicked out of your home town and placed in small strip of land of about 140 miles. You are not allowed to leave this strip of land. Your family as no way out or in to visit you. Militants with machine guns man the borders of this land and yet the international community blames you for this oppression. If you can imagine this then you can imagine being a Palestinian living in Gaza.
The people of Palestine do not just want to be a recognized state – they have to in order to survive. Right now – today, yesterday, and tomorrow – the United States has an opportunity to stand for justice and fight for the oppressed. In its request that the United Nations grant Palestine statehood, the Palestinian Authority is pleading with the international community for a level playing field. But the United States will surely reject this plea and use its veto power in the United Nations Security Council to deny Palestine its established independence.

President Barack Obama has repeatedly shown his support for the reinstatement of the 1967 borders in Israel/Palestine, which establish Gaza and the West Bank as Palestinian territory and Jerusalem as a multinational city. This support is positive, but it doesn’t mean anything. The United States continues to supply Israel with upwards of $2 billion every year, and the military weapons that Israel receives for the United States go directly to fighting against the 1967 borders. Israeli interest groups overwhelm the lobby in Washington and politicians in the Christian right preach that the United States’ support for Israel is a direct order from God. Unfortunately, God, it would appear, is not interested in combating the corruption of the Israel lobby, the oppression Palestinians experience every day, or the blockade against the Palestinian attempt for statehood.

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, at this point in time, are not fair. Palestine is not a country, is not allowed a president, and is not recognized as a legitimate group of people or piece of land. Israel on the other hand is an established nation with clear leadership and billions of dollars to spare in its wallet. Although many Americans hail Israel as the only true democracy in the Middle East, Israel is actually an ethnocracy, where people are denied civil and voting rights simply because of their ethnicity.
Since the United States will not change its political and ideological commitments, the United Nations must stand up for the Palestinian people. Palestine must be defended. Statehood must be attained in order to eradicate Israeli settlements, tanks, and check points from the West Bank. The United Nations could stand up to the United States and refuse to accept its tolerance of injustice. If it did, the entire world would be shook. Barack Obama will not stand for justice, America will not stand for justice, but somebody must. By the end of these belaboring negotiations, Palestine must be recognized as a state.

Uprisings in Egypt an Opportunity to Exercise Global Awareness

In the last couple of weeks, students were unlikely to run into any kind of media, electronic, print, or otherwise, without picking up at least the smallest morsel of a detail about the popular uprisings in the north African nations of Tunisia and Egypt.

With the distractions, duties, and commitments that follow from being an American college student, it is too easy to dismiss these faraway, international news items as just that: narratives so far removed from our lives that we can tune in and tune out at will.

The editorial does not seek to feed you, the discerning reader, a stance on the nature of these events or a detailed geopolitical analysis you can lap up and then feed to other people when there is nothing else to talk about. No, the purpose is to make you aware of the unique and valuable opportunity you, the USF undergraduate, have as these history-making movements unfold in one of the most important and volatile regions on the planet.

The Foghorn recognizes that the current situation in the Middle East, with its possible long-lasing, far-reaching political, economic, social, and cultural effects, is historic; national leaders who have accumulated and solidified their power through force and fiat and who have enjoyed virtually unchecked authority for decades are being called to answer for their leadership, or lack thereof.

We recognize that people will disagree on what these events mean, whether they represent the best interests of the United Sates, of China, of Argentina, etc. etc., whether this will finally precipitate peace and stability in the region or an intensification of conflict, whether these events are a victory or a setback to human rights, whether the international community should respond in this way or that way or even at all.

Inevitably, people will form their own opinions (and then clash, nonviolently, we hope) on this matter. What we advocate as journalists, whose essential task is to foster a long-running conversation for the truth, is for you, the student, to invest yourself in this noteworthy event in history.

Ask yourself, how do these events alter the world I will enter into after graduation? How can I shape that world into a vision for jsutice and positive change?

While obviously not all can effect change by visiting the sites of these demonstrations, one can form an opinion. One can know what is going on in the world. Be creative and seek solutions to these and other problems. Apply what you learn in school to the issues you feel compelled to take on . As citizens who are being prepared to engage, in our own inimitable, individual fashions, the world around us, the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings should capture our attention as global citizens and invite us to constructively use our power as educated individuals for good.

So instead of tuning out to a distant news piece, use your USF education as best you can to make sense of this and frankly any issue that will transofrm the world you will one day engage in. Then do something about it. What is happening now in Cairo and Tunis is a perfect way to exercise your cultivated sense of global stewardship and social responsibility, however that sense may manifest itself.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Opinion Editor: Vicente Patino