A student-organized demonstration called attention to the lack of resources and support available to diverse students at USF, and encouraged the community to start talking about diversity in terms of experience, not in terms of numbers.
Over 50,000 people gathered for the ninth annual Walk for Life West Coast on Saturday, Jan. 26. Joyful locals and visitors marched from City Hall to the Ferry Building, spreading news of their shared mission — to choose life.
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
“Sign this petition, you with the USF shirt!” could be heard across Harney Plaza last Wednesday, Nov. 11, as three student protesters urged passersby to sign a petition to protest the new class schedule announced by James L. Wiser, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Junior Kevin Kunze organized the protest, after a number of professors expressed their discontent with the new class schedule, announced in a Nov. 3 message to faculty. “If professors are complaining, it should be a serious concern for students,” he said.
Wiser proposed that a Monday-Wednesday-Friday and Tuesday-Thursday schedule format would replace the existing Monday-Wednesday and Tuesday-Thursday schedule beginning in the fall 2010 semester, which has been in place for the last eight years.
Converting twice-a-week courses into three days would make each class run about 50 minutes. In the email to faculty, he said the new schedule was formed in response to the space problem that the university has been facing. Many professors were given classrooms with inadequate space for their class size, forcing them to resort to lounges or library rooms, or no classrooms were found at all.
Wiser said the new class schedule will allow an additional 180 course sections on Monday-Wednesday-Friday and 60 sections on Tuesday-Thursday. “At the beginning of the fall 2009 term we had approximately 40 course sections without classrooms,” Wiser said.
After student complaints circulated, Wiser sent out a message to the university on Nov. 12, explaining that the new schedule format starting in the fall 2010 semester was a proposed plan, not a final resolution. Wiser said at a November Policy Board Meeting with faculty that the message was intended to eradicate students’ misconceptions on the class schedule proposal.
Yet amongst students, the proposed plan has not been taken lightly. After only an hour out in Harney Plaza, Kunze said he accumulated about 7 pages worth of signatures. He has since continued to ask anyone who crosses his path to sign the petition, eventually gathering over 600 signatures.
Rebecca Waterhouse was one of many students who signed the petition. “It’s less logical making people take Friday classes,” she said, since many students commute and would have to come on Fridays for only a 50-minute class.
Students are concerned about the short time frame, since “50 minutes is going back to high school,” Maggie Gehegan said, but also about the flow of information. Gehegan said “I was annoyed that [the administration] didn’t tell the students.”
Senior class representative John Coon stopped by the protest, but chose not to sign the petition. “The way it is labeled, I’m not comfortable signing the document,” he said. A handout listing the “Pros and Cons for the ‘New Measurement’” was distributed at the protest, but Coon said after reading the provost’s message, he believes the new class schedule will benefit the students, and said that the “detractor is actually the faculty.”
University of San Francisco Faculty Association (USFFA) President Elliot Neaman said there is a “rumor that students would just skip Friday. I think they have a responsibility to come to class,” commenting on certain students’ unwillingness to give up their Friday.
As for the faculty, Neaman said professors have a problem because they use Fridays for research, or work outside of their teaching responsibilities. Professors have also already organized their courses around twice-a-week time slots, and do not believe that 50 minutes is enough time to lecture. In accordance with students, the new class schedule also conflicts with professors who commute to the city.
“When I first heard about it, I understood why the university was doing it, but I anticipated the provost to write out reasons for it and then present it to faculty,” he said. Neaman then comprised a survey with help from the psychology department, to collect data on “who was against it, for what reasons, and from what department. Sometimes home has to do with what are the surrounding issues,” he said.
The decision was “not clear to me that the new schedule had to be done quickly.,” he said “The provost has admitted that the process of consulting faculty could have been done better.”
From the survey, Neaman learned that about 70 percent of faculty opposed the schedule, and 30 percent were in favor. “Scientists are here 3 days a week and they don’t see why their colleagues are upset. One more day [to them] isn’t so bad.” Neaman said that many professors are already on campus 5 days a week, and resent that others have reduced their teaching schedule to three, two, or even one day. “Some feel the new policy will lead to a more vibrant university life, and force departments to establish more equitable schedules,” he said.
To resolve issues with the administration, a Policy Board meeting was held on Nov. 11 with the provost, Dean of Academic Services BJ Johnson, and Associate Dean of Academic and Enrollment Services and University Registrar Archie Porter, and members of the faculty.
Favoring the schedule change, several faculty members pointed out that it would allow more faculty interaction on campus and more opportunities to work with students. Alternative solutions were also given, one that would keep the Monday-Wednesday schedule and still create additional slots, by making classes run 180 minutes rather than 200 minutes.
Media Studies Professor Andrew Goodwin said, “I have argued for years that it would be good to teach a Wednesday-Friday class. It would be nice to have been asked about that idea. Our chair in media studies also pointed out to me that a Friday-Monday 75 minute class could . work very well. We could easily work out a rational way to maximize space at USF and keep everybody busy on Fridays without making cumbersome and irrational proposals that would set the University back ten years.”
However, deadlines for implementing a new schedule are fast approaching, with the Colleges of Arts and Sciences on Dec. 4th. To this problem, Wiser said he would consult with deans to see if there is room to expand the timeline in developing a new schedule.
Neaman said the meeting was “very productive,” because the administration now understands the problems that faculty are facing.
If students would like to take part in the conversation, senior representative Jon Coon said they could approach Senate with their concerns. “Whenever a big issue comes out, it’s not a formalized process,” he said. “Students can come in and speak up.” Coon said that Senate could invite tWiser to speak at a Senate meeting, and answer any concerns students may have.