Tag Archives: Laura Waldron

Get Your Hipster Glasses For Coffee In The Mission

The Mission is a hit-or-miss kind of neighborhood. Sometimes you are walking down a perfectly lovely block of artsy shops and bike dens and the next minute you have stumbled upon a dark, sketchy corner where underprivileged youth are snorting cocaine. Likewise, coffee in the mission is either amazing or terrible. There’s no middle ground.

Progressive Grounds definitely takes the “amazing” award. This cozy coffee house is located at Bryant and 21st St. and is a branch of the Progressive Grounds mother ship in Bernal Heights. The coffee here is great, but the best part about this place is the vibe and the wide variety of food and drink. Their smoothies are fantastic and they have a huge amount of sandwiches, pastries, etc. Normally the large communal table in the center is filled with different people reading the newspaper or quietly working. Progressive Grounds is a great place to bring homework and utilize their free wifi.

Although single patrons are present more often than groups, it’s also a good hang out spot for small groups. The music will soften any private conversations you may have and the big tables are great for spreading out projects. This coffee shop has a comfy community feel that you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the mission.

Four Barrel on 14th and Valencia is everything that Progressive Grounds is not. They basically serve one thing: black coffee. Personally, I love black coffee so that isn’t a problem for me. The problem is that the very idea of a latte seems to disgust the baristas. Be prepared for an unrivaled level of hipster smugness at this establishment. The shop itself is very large, but sparsely decorated. The tables are communal, but look like steel slabs. They roast their own beans, but the roaster looks more like a museum display than a functional machine. If you don’t have a sleek Macbook, don’t even bother coming here to work—the ostracism you will suffer might damage you for good. The coffee itself is mediocre—I hear it being compared to Blue Bottle, but I have to disagree. One day, maybe, I will be obscure enough to appreciate this place, but that is unlikely.

Philz Coffee on 24th St. and Folsom is one of my favorite places to exist in the Mission. This part of the Mission is great because it is hidden from the tourists milling around Valencia St. and the market-place feel of the main Mission St. drag. This is definitely a neighborhood coffee house, with lots of local Mission-ites working, conversing, and enjoying the delicious nature of all things Philz. Each cup of coffee is brewed on site when you order, so you will never experience that gross stale taste of coffee long ignored in the pot. The baristas are always friendly and excited to help you. Then again, if I worked at such a fine establishment, I would also be excessively pleased with my life. I haven’t dappled into the world of fancy espresso drinks at Philz yet, but that just speaks to how tasty their drip coffee is. If you decide to order something extravagant, just know you are in uncharted territory.
The Mission has about as many coffee shops as they have hipster mustaches—so, finding the right coffee shop can be a bit of a journey. Other good coffee shops to check out include: Mission Creek Café and Maxfield’s. Shops to stay away from: Muddy Water and Ritual Café.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Scene Editor: Tracey Sidler

Human Rights Film Festival Gains More Public Support

Susana Kaiser, USF professor of Media and Latin American studies, stood in front of the Presentation Theater glancing out into the crowd to see just how far things have come.  Nine years ago, the USF’s Human Rights Film Festival (HRFF) was a one-day event endorsed by five sponsors. Since then, Kaiser has seen the event grow into a weekend-long festival with the support of 35 sponsors.

The university is almost certain to expand the event to four days in 2012 given the success of this year’s festival.

Each year Kaiser has maintained a basic objective for the USF film festival.“Film is a strong medium in which we can discuss human rights,” she said.

Kaiser termed the strategy in which film can be used to explore human rights issues as a “Documentation and Intervention” method.  Filmmakers first look to identify the perpetrators and victims of human rights concerns. Then, they identify any possible solutions.

HRFF can generate public action apart from giving filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their work.

This year’s festival opened up with three short films directed and produced by USF students and alumni.  The short films were a precursor to the human rights issues and worldwide regions that were explored throughout the event.

Elle Robinson’s Nice Country offered glimpses into the brash policies and attitudes of the Italian government towards its immigrant population. If Streets Could Speak, a documentary film by Erika Myszynski, followed an organization in Peru that is helping to liberate its young population from extreme poverty and homelessness.

Meanwhile, Laura Waldron’s Queer in Phoenix tracked the growth of gay and lesbian youth groups and injustices taking place.

Each film was followed by a question and answer session.  Audience members were able to interact with filmmakers and activists who have personally dealt with the human rights issues and continue to expose such breaches through their films.

The second day of HRFF highlighted social issues in both Latin America and the Middle East. Two of the four films were based on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a struggle that has plagued the Middle East region for a more than a quarter of a century.

Other films presented at the event included Budrus, by award-winning filmmaker Julia Bacha, as well as David Zlutnick’s Occupation Has No Future: Militarism + Resistance in Israel and Palestine, which underlined the success of a Palestinian-led nonviolent movement and the push for civic dialogue.

While many films provided moviegoers an in-depth look into several international human rights violations, some documentaries explored human rights violations occurring in the United States.

Director Vadim Jean’s In the Land of the Free… explored what the UN General Assembly has called the largest human rights abuse–the prison-industrial complex. The documentary examined the imprisonment of the famed Angola 3.

Robert King, the only member to have been released from Louisiana’s prison at Angola, engaged in a remarkable conversation about this serious issue with those in the theater that day.

Kaiser and media studies professor Dorothy Kidd chaired a panel discussion about media and film’s role in protecting human rights. Audience members crafted solutions and shared criticisms about USF’s sale of KUSF 90.3 FM radio frequency. The conversation then quickly turned to a larger dialogue about the importance of public control of the means of communication.

The festival concluded with a piece by Mustafa Eck titled Ana Mish Fahim. Egyptian filmmaker Eck has been traveling to Egypt for years. It was only recently that he pieced together this film in an attempt to expose the misconceptions of Egyptians in the West prior to the Revolution.  The piece showed a different side of Egyptian society not seen in the media.

During the opening, President Stephen A. Privett, S.J. said, “Film is a wonderful way to commit ourselves to pursuing the truth and fashioning a more humane and just world, following the Jesuit tradition of 450 years.”

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

News Editor: Ericka Montes

Arizona Still Backwards After Shootings

On January 8, a young man in Tucson, Arizona opened fire in the crowd at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-AZ) “Congress On Your Corner” event. Six people were killed, and 13 others were wounded. Over the past few weeks, the media has spent considerable time covering Rep. Giffords’ recovery process, investigating the shooter Jared Loughner’s background, and fueling the political “blame game.” The media has not, however, suggested any way to improve domestic safety or prevent gun violence from happening again. What it comes down to, quite simply, is the need for the government to improve legislation in three key areas: Health care, education, and gun control.

I am an Arizona native. I am all too familiar with Sheriff Joe, Jan Brewer, and trigger happy second amendment activists. Recently, Arizona has been getting a bad rap for its immigration policies and its inability to protect its citizens from gunfire at local grocery stores. What many do not realize, though, is that Arizona has always been (and will continue to be) an incredibly backwards state.

It has become consensus that Jared Loughner was not mentally stable. The New York Times describes him as “erratic” and his previous school, Pima Community College, describes his behavior as “disruptive.” His youtube videos speak for themselves. So, why didn’t Loughner get any medical attention related to his mental health during high school or college? First, without a steady job, he was probably uninsured, making mental health care incredibly expensive. Second, at public schools, funding falls so short that help for mentally ill students is nearly obsolete. Lastly, there is no communication between schools, health care officials, and the government officials who allow civilians to purchase guns. It is a deadly trio and, unfortunately, no member of the government seems particularly interested in combating it.

Days after the Tucson shooting Arizona Governor Jan Brewer announced her plans for the state budget which included cutting Medicaid from about 5,200 mentally ill individuals. Instead of addressing the need for individuals like Loughner to have access to counseling and psychiatric services, Brewer is literally sending many mentally ill individuals to the streets.

When the possibility of gun control and firearm regulation is suggested to the Arizona legislature representatives turn a blind eye. Guns are allowed in bars and at public events, permits are not required for concealed firearms, and guns may soon be allowed on school campuses. My driver’s license would receive more scrutiny if I was trying to buy beer, than trying to buy a semiautomatic pistol.

Education in Arizona is not a priority. Public schools do not have the money to tend to students with special needs. Salaries for school counselors scrape the bottom of the middle class barrel. How can Brewer and the Arizona Legislature look at the state of their schools and the health and safety of their citizens and still refuse to abandon tax loopholes and their anti-big government agenda? Guns should be severely taxed and permits should be expensive. Sin taxes are no longer enough. Big change is necessary in Arizona, or the state will crumble. With no interest in health care, education, or gun control, it is just a matter of time before another Loughner steps up to the plate and fires into a crowd.

Laura Waldron is a sophomore political science major.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Opinion Editor: Vicente Patino

Republican’s “Rape” Violates All Women

Last month, the GOP house majority presented the “No Taxpayer for Abortion Act,” a bill that would ban government funding for abortions, even in situations of statutory rape, incest, and consent-less sex. Many critics, media outlets, and citizens refer to the bill as the “Redefining Rape Act,” among other things. Due to pervasive criticism, the GOP has decided to remove the section of the bill that requires “rape” to be defined by physical force. Regardless, I think it is incredibly important to analyze just what this bill implied and what it means for the future of women’s rights in this country.

First, the bill specifically stated that a woman could only circumvent the ban on abortion funding if she experienced “forcible rape.” This force, additionally, would have to be physical. To understand the monumental effect of this statement, it might be helpful to consider a few scenarios. Suppose a 14-year-old girl has just finished eighth grade and is getting ready to start high school. She has a relationship with a 20-something year old man, possibly even just for one night. When she says, “no,” he doesn’t beat her up or physically force her to have sex with him. He simply peer pressures her, gives her plenty of alcohol, and then conveniently doesn’t hear her when she asks him to stop. The girl is traumatized and a few months later she finds out she is pregnant. But the man didn’t break any of her bones or leave bruises on her body, so it’s not rape. He violated her emotionally and physically, destroyed her self-image, and impregnated her with a lifetime of regret.

But it’s not rape, right? What if the girl was the legal age of consent (18), but that man was her brother? What if the girl was 18 but had a disability, leaving her with the mental capacity of a seven-year-old. Is it rape?

Speaker of the House John Boehner says no. According to him, none of the above situations are legitimate rape and none of the women in those situations should be allowed to have an abortion. This is not a political issue.

It’s not a religious issue, or even an intellectual issue. This is an issue that cuts to the very core of our human conscience. The fact that men like John Boehner could think they have any ability to understand the trauma a woman experiences in any situation of rape or the inherent helplessness a woman feels when her control over her body is seized and destroyed by the government in a shameless attempt to restrict women of their right to choice, is despicable.

At USF, this issue may be especially controversial considering our institution’s emphasis on human rights and social justice, as well as the Catholic Church’s mandate against abortion. At a crossroads like this, where moral obligation and religious doctrine differ so directly, I urge all members of the USF community to acknowledge the necessity for social reform regarding women’s sexual rights and reject the notion that a potential fetus is somehow more valuable than the livelihood of a rape victim.

Laura Waldron is a  sophomore politics major.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Opinion Editor: Vicente Patino

San Francisco Does Not Support LGBT Youth

SF Weekly reported in the article “Wounded Pride” last week that 34% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) middle school students in San Francisco have attempted suicide. Conversely, I spoke to a friend of mine in Arizona on the phone a few days ago and she asked me, “How’s life in the big gay city?” Something doesn’t make sense. How can San Francisco be viewed as the most gay friendly city in the country when our schools are chock-full of hate crimes, anti-gay bullying, and ignorance?

There are a few key reasons why this gap in perception exists. Go to the Castro and people watch and I think the first reason will become clear. The gay community, specifically in the Castro, has become something of a tourist attraction.

Visitors from outside the city populate Castro, taking pictures and observing the gay community in its “natural habitat.” In the time of Harvey Milk and the push for equal rights, the gay community spent a lot of time in the streets of the Castro, talking about social reform, networking with other community members, and focusing on change. Now, the gay community spends more time at dance clubs than town hall meetings. I remember walking to the bus from the Equality California office this summer and seeing about 50 people in line to get into Badlands club. I was the only volunteer at Equality California that night and it became clear that my community was much more willing to spend a Tuesday night partying than organizing against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Stray very far from the Castro and the rainbow flags become pretty sparse. The previously mentioned article in SF Weekly describes life for LGBT youth in the Mission district, where conservative Catholic values run deep in the heavily Hispanic community. In neighborhoods with large conservative immigrant communities (i.e. Mission, Richmond, Sunset, etc.), coming out is not an option for LGBT youth and San Francisco’s claimed “pride” is more foreign than most of us realize.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that approximately 14% of the total San Francisco adult population identifies as LGBT. That means 14 out of every 100 people in this city have experienced the hardship of being an LGBT youth. That 14%, however, is not present in the lives of today’s LGBT youth. Where are the support groups, mentor programs, and non-profit organizations that religious, ethnic, and racial minorities have created to aid their youth? While the adult LGBT community surrounds itself in the world of Castro glamour and disinterest, their absence is literally creating a new identity for San Francisco: the city of LGBT apathy. It follows that the second reason for misconceptions about San Francisco’s role as a gay oasis is the generational gap between adult members of the LGBT community and LGBT youth.
It is crucial for LGBT students and allies at USF to bridge the gap between older adults and our younger counterparts. As students at a school with such emphasis on social justice we are in a position of power. We have the resources to support LGBT youth and to convince working professionals in our community that their help is imperative in the effort to change the culture of LGBT isolation in our schools and in the lives of youth struggling with their sexual identity.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain

Opinion Editor: Laura Waldron

Major Changes a Minor Problem

The summer before my freshman year at USF I was prompted by an academic advisor to choose a major before registering for classes. I remember scrolling through the list of departments and classes on the USF website and feeling entirely overwhelmed by the array  of options. I felt like nearly every department had something interesting to offer and classes that I wanted to take. Many of my friends from high school had their majors already picked out, their four-year graduation plan in place and the next 50 years of their lives configured around their career choice. I was exactly the opposite. I knew that I was passionate about film, but also fascinated by mathematics. My teachers in high school had encouraged me to consider law school, while members of my family pushed me towards the arts. By the end of the summer I was still conflicted and still decidedly major-less.
I declared my film minor first, confident that my long-harbored interest in film would not fade. From there I chose to declare media studies as my major since it was the umbrella department of the film program. Quickly I realized media studies and film production were not very similar, and I retreated back to my undeclared major. Then, I read an article in Time magazine about a woman who worked as a secret agent in the State Department.
Inspired by the article, I declared international relations as my major, assuming it was the best preparation for secret-agent-ship. By November my secret agent phase had passed and the (figurative) ship containing my international relations major had sailed. Again, I was without a major. In the spring, I decided to take on a politics major as I considered the possibility of law school. The frigid health care debate in the House and the Senate last spring, however, left the foul taste of bureaucracy in my palate and turned me off from a career in politics. Just to review: that totals three major changes within my freshman year alone. Luckily, this summer I did some soul searching and, inspired by the countless Youtube videos I watch detailing the complexities of String Theory and my fascination with every episode of “NOVA” ever made, I declared physics as my major. In summary, I do finally feel confident in my major, but it took me three failed attempts to get here.
Fortunately for you, the reader, the point of this article is not to broadcast my lack of academic direction to the entire USF community. Instead, I want to highlight something that I think is common, but often overlooked by many college students: most of us don’t have any idea what we want to do. If you are a first-year student at USF and are completely positive about what you want to do, then good for you! But you are a minority.
Academic interests can change and, possibly more importantly, new interests can form. At a university where every department has small class sizes, top-notch professors and opportunities to become engaged and involved, there really is no excuse for limiting yourself. Dabble in subjects you have never been exposed to before or maybe have been too afraid to try. Let’s face it: you probably won’t get this opportunity again.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy
Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain
Opinion Editor: Laura Waldren