Tag Archives: senate

USF Forecast: Sunny With a Chance of New Dorms

A brief of ASUSF Senate’s recent meetings

USF plans to build a new residence hall, a new academic building for the Arts, and new athletic facilities, alongside other projects, as part of a 20-year development plan. Peter Novak, the Vice Provost of Student Life, presented USF’s Institutional Master Plan (IMP) at a Senate meeting on November 19.

The San Francisco Planning Department requires educational institutions to submit an IMP every 10 years to inform both city officials and the public about future facility and site plans on campus and their impact.

According to the IMF, USF’s housing quality is not competitive with many peer institutions. In 2011, the dorms accommodated only 38% of USF students. The new student housing would accommodate a higher percentage of students on campus and provide more housing options.

Novak said that the new dorms will probably be located where the ROTC building is now, and the new Arts building will either be placed below it, or in a new building that the university would purchase nearby.

The only obstacle to the development project is opposition from the neighbors.

The University Terrace Association (UTA), a neighborhood group, is concerned that the construction plans will increase the student population and consequently create traffic and parking problems. They are asking USF to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) before constructing a new residence hall. The EIR could take up to a year to create, which would hold off the project.

In 2010, the same neighborhood group appealed USF’s plan to construct the John Lo Schiavo Science Center because of similar concerns. In early 2011, the Foghorn reported that a compromise — limiting construction hours and improving long-term communication — between the UTA and USF was reached.

If an agreement is reached, Novak projected that the new residence hall will be built at least 4 years from now.

Click here read more about USF’s Master Plan

ASUSF Senate Meeting, Highlights from Week 10/21

Koret Health and Recreation Center receives $1,000,000 from Susan Koret, lifetime Board Chair of Koret Foundation

    Guest speaker Chuck White, Director of Recreational Sports Department of Koret Health and Recreation Center, updated students about the Koret Center.

Susan Koret gave the center $1,000,000 grant in light of the student outreach and programing

they have done, and that money has been used to upgrade the “cardiovascular alley”, on the second floor of Koret. There are now 16 different TV channels, a renovated large and small weight room, and plans for all machines by the windows to be replaced.

Did you know?

Koret employs 109 students and 47 part-time students as staff, reported White. “Students always come first in Koret and they do everything for us,” he said.

Koret gives free half-hour lessons on any machine or any room for students getting acquainted with the Center.

Registered fall students are good to work out through intersession! However, if they’d like to use Koret during the summer, they must be registered for summer classes.

Senate policy on hazing may suspend reported clubs or funded accounts from ASUSF funding for 2 years

    John Chibnall, ASUSF Senate President, and Echeagaray, Students of Color Representative, spoke about Senate’s Stance Against Hazing. Senior senator Taylor Jackson has motioned to amend the document under the “Be It Resolved” statement to change Senate policy so that any club or funded account that has been reported for hazing by the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) will be suspended from ASUSF Senate funding for two years.

Representatives of Senate decided to postpone discussion of the amendment for the following weekly meeting as to allow some time for Senate to work with OSC and Student Leadership and Engagement (SLE) to find out the best way to discipline organizations or individuals accused of hazing.

Public safety updates students on the shuttle service, Path Lite — a safety escort smart phone app, and on-campus sexual assault cases

    Guest speaker Daniel Lawson, Senior Director of the Department of Public Safety, provided an update on upcoming projects and renovations in the department. Three projects he spoke about concerned the Public Safety shuttle, the emergency notification system, and sexual assault.

Thanks to funds from ASUSF, a second public safety shuttle was purchased in September to provide the service to more students. The shuttle will hopefully be ready by November, said Lawson, and will be introduced in late fall or as soon as possible.

On the topic of the safety on campus, Lawson and Jason Rossi, a representative from One Card, spoke about the recent glitch in the emergency email notification system. Public Safety reported a Google glitch as reason behind some students not receiving email alert of a crime that occurred on campus earlier this semester. “ITS worked out the issue and hopefully it will never happen again,” Lawson said.

He also introduced students to Path Lite — a safety escort application for smart phones. If a student is walking from one area on-campus to another, the app will notify dispatch and will track the student’s movement around campus. If the student does not reach his or her final destination in a certain time, then dispatchers will be notified and report to the area. Path Lite was developed last October and, though it is still being tested, it is currently ready and available for use, said Rossi.

Public Safety reported a Google glitch as reason behind some students not receiving email alert of a crime that occurred on campus earlier this semester.

On the topic of sexual assault, Lawson spoke about the Title IX Investigations. There have been aggressive investigations of complaints of sexual assault on campus, he said. Public Safety has spent many hours investigating the situation through interviewing victims, suspects, and survivors. “This is happening behind the scenes because it is confidential,” he said. “So [Public Safety has] created a procedure where certain information was given to RA’s. If they believe there is a threat to everyone, then they will send out messages to everyone. So these are the challenges they have. They are not trying to cover anything up, they are just under confidentiality.” The Gender and Sexuality Center had a presentation last night about the forces in male culture that may lead to sexual assault and ways to stop and solve the crimes of sexual assaults on campus and at large.

ASUSF Responds to Foghorn Staff Editorial

Note: This response to the Aug. 21 Foghorn staff editorial was sent on Thursday, August 22, 2013.

To the editorial board of the USF Foghorn:

We would like to thank you for your article this week regarding the ASUSF funding process. We understand that having more time between print publications has placed some limitations on your traditional operations. However, we were encouraged to see that you are continuing to publish the content you see fit and we hope the additional time provided between issues will allow you
to develop your editorial techniques and to innovate your online presence.

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 5.25.01 PMIn your article, you claimed you were being hindered in carrying out your ethical code which guarantees journalists “a freedom of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know”. Despite your claims of censorship levied since the budget hearings in April, Senate has never attempted to or indicated that we would limit or edit the position taken by, or the content of the Foghorn. However, we have always attempted to be clear that we were interested in the quality of the reporting and production. By the very fact that you have published this article in your first edition of the year, you have proven that we have no say in what you publish. You will face no financial repercussions for publishing this article in opposition to our funding policies. The sole purpose of the evaluation process is to address editing oversights, inaccuracies, and readership expansion. The proposed evaluation process is meant to be a time of reflection and growth about the expanding role of the Foghorn in the USF community.

The decision about the Foghorn was not taken lightly. In fact, the newspaper was given additional attention by both the ASUSF Senate Finance Committee and ASUSF Senate during the appeals and final budget approval processes in order to better understand all aspects and opinions of the debate.

The members of ASUSF Senate are representative of the entire undergraduate student body. It is in the interest of these students that agencies of the university, including the Foghorn, represent the students well. We are all expected to be fastidious in our professionalism and eager to learn in our positions to not only better ourselves, but the organizations we work for at the university.

Sincerely,

The ASUSF Senate Executive Board

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Accused of Censorship, Senate Reverses Foghorn Cutbacks

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This story was produced in its entirety by Professor Michael Robertson’s advanced reporting class with no editing from the Foghorn staff. Since the Foghorn is one of the parties in the dispute, the staff did not want to risk having bias or a conflict of interest affect the quality of the reporting. Sincerely, the editors.

On Friday, Johnny Chibnall, ASUSF Senate President, announced that the Executive Board had reversed the senate’s May vote to reduce the Foghorn to a bi-weekly newspaper. If the paper met senate standards for quality journalism, senate said four months ago, the paper would be allowed to resume its weekly run next spring.

Now the Foghorn will be able to publish this fall the usual 13 issues instead of eight. The Executive Board’s reversal came days after senate was presented a letter from The Student Press Law Center (SPLC), an organization advocating for student journalists’ First Amendment rights. The letter argued that the original senate decision constituted censorship and was in violation of the “Leonard Law”, a California law that applies the First Amendment to private universities like USF.

Johnny Chibnall, ASUSF President

Johnny Chibnall, ASUSF President

In an interview after the reversal, Chibnall said the letter from the Student Press Law Center “was an interesting letter, and the Executive Board was very aware of it, and we were discussing it, but that’s all I can say. I have opinions on it, but it’s in legalese and I don’t speak legalese and we just want to bring it back to the issue of a hand in the quality of the paper.”

Chibnall did not further address the reasoning behind the Executive Board’s decision.

When a reporter noted that senators were rebuffing her attempts to interview them, Chibnall explained that most of this year’s senators are new and don’t have the proper context to comment on the situation yet. When Ajouni Singh, last semester’s VP of Internal Affairs was contacted, she said she could not comment on the issue “out of respect for the current team.”

Madeline Vanden Branden, editor-in-chief of the Foghorn, was thrilled to hear that the newspaper would return to weekly publication.  “We’ve been fighting for this for a long time, and it’s great we finally got our issues back. More students are getting their voices heard every week.”

Foghorn advisor Teresa Moore said, “I’m happy for student media and for the USF community, but I wish I could believe that the reversal was motivated by the ethical arguments we made last spring — that it is wrong for the government — any democratically elected government — to control and inhibit the people’s access to information and discourse. ASUSF Senate and the Foghorn are both charged with representing student interests; both are essential for a healthy campus.”

Privett Scolds Foghorn For ‘Hiding’ Behind Letter

Not everyone shared this enthusiasm about the senate retreat. Earlier in the week, USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J., said, “Are these types of publishing decisions always a good thing? No. But I think [the Senate] should have a legal right to do this.

After the Friday announcement, Privett responded, “I think the Student Senate made a mistake by backing off its initial decision regarding funding for

the Foghorn. The threat of a lawsuit is phony and for the Foghorn to hide behind the threat of a law suit is inappropriate.”

Heidi Patton, Foghorn sports editor, was disturbed by Privett’s comments. “Father Privett should be proud of us for standing up for our rights,” Patton

Father Stephen Privett, S.J., University President

Father Stephen Privett, S.J., University President

said. “It frustrates me as a student at his university that he doesn’t see the direct conflict of interest at play here,” she added.

Patton has been with the paper since the beginning of her freshman year and authored the recent staff editorial calling for a new funding system for the paper so that senate does not have de facto control of the Foghorn.

That was one of the points addressed in the SPLC letter, written by Frank LoMonte, Esq., the group’s Executive Director. “Making budget decisions on the basis of displeasure with a student publication’s content not only is unlawful, but is an educationally unsound decision,” he wrote. He strongly advised USF finding ways to guarantee funding for student publications to protect them from interference.

Senate Backs Off Challenge To Foghorn ‘Quality’

In May, Chibnall said the senate decision had nothing to do with the Foghorn’s selection of material. He explained the budget cuts as an effort to motivate. “This isn’t jail, this is rehabilitation. We are helping (the Foghorn) to get better. We are not sending them to the gallows. We are sending them to the hospital to help them get better.”

On Friday, Chibnall reiterated that Senate had no problems with editorial content. He said what the Senate took issue with was grammatical errors and linking up pictures with the proper stories. “This was always about the constituents and them being proud of the paper and putting out quality stuff,” he said.

However, the LoMonte letter warned that one must be careful not to define censorship too narrowly:

“While we often hear ‘quality’ cited as the justification for punitive action against a student publication, withholding funding, firing the adviser, removing the editor, ‘quality’ is a perilously slippery rationale because it is so subjective,” he wrote. “If simply making a mistake became a legitimate justification for the withdrawal of funding, then the First Amendment would cease to exist at campus publications, since it will always be possible for censors to find mistakes in a publication at any level.”

LoMonte added, “Campus budget committees do not micro-manage other student organizations, or hold them to subjective standards of perfection, when deciding their level of funding. They do not reduce the funding of the glee club because the choral director chose a disagreeable piece of music, reduce the funding for intramural football because the team drops too many passes, or reduce the funding of the marching band because a drummer fell out of step.”

In his Friday interview, Chibnall also said, “Senate will not be implementing a review system that will hold the Foghorn accountable. We will be encouraging them and supporting them in any way that they need help,” though he did not specify what form that help would take.

Patton agreed that the Foghorn staff would like to like to produce a cleaner paper with fewer mistakes. “We are a fully student run organization with a frequent turnover of staff members. We are learning on the job – there really isn’t another option. Take a close look at some professional publications and I guarantee you will find both mistakes and a corrections box from the last issue. Perfect just doesn’t happen.”

Former Foghorn editor James Tedford had this perspective: “The Senate as much as the Foghorn is an experiment for students to learn real-world roles. They are going to make mistakes along the way.”

In an email to the Journalism 2 class, which is responsible for this story, Teresa Moore explained the limits of her role as advisor. “I advise the Foghorn. I don’t edit it.”

Moore said she trains staff at the beginning of the semester and does extensive critiques the day the paper comes out. “But I don’t check the editors’ work before the paper is published. That is what is called ‘prior review,’ and it is illegal under the Leonard Law.”

She said neither she nor the Foghorn staff was aware of the Leonard Law until “about a week ago.” We weren’t engaging in prior review because it defeats the purpose of having a student paper if the end product is the work of a non-student professional.”

Although senate has reinstated the Foghorn as a weekly, the issue of funding remains. “I think the University needs to find a way to fund student media outside of government,” said Bernadette Barker-Plummer, the chair of USF’s Media Studies department. “It’s a conflict if media can’t report on government. I think there’s a teaching moment here. It’s not something that needs to be hostile,” she added.

Gregory Wolcott, assistant vice provost for student engagement – essentially an advisor to the student senate – felt that the issue was communication. “It’s always good to bring people together and have conversations about process, about the success of each organization. I would definitely like to see more consultation between the Foghorn and the Senate,” Wolcott said.

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The Foghorn Calls for New Funding System

“Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.” 

- Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics

Journalists reporting for the San Francisco Foghorn are hindered from following this ethical code because of the way the newspaper is funded. The funding for the Foghorn is determined by USF’s student government, the Associated Students of the University of San Francisco Senate. Senate allocates the student activity fee, a $97 fee each student pays every semester, among different clubs and organizations on campus including student-run media outlets. The student government determining the funding for student media is a serious conflict of interest. The Foghorn has an obligation to provide its readers with relevant information — this includes information about the student government. Senate makes decisions that directly affect student life at USF; the students deserve to be made aware of such decisions. However, the Foghorn cannot provide accurate and fair coverage of Senate while the senators have the power to determine the newspaper’s funding. With this funding structure, Foghorn journalists are put in the unethical position of potentially having to censor themselves to insure the continuation of our publication.

Last May, Senate voted 7-6 to cut the Foghorn’s number of issues in half for the Fall 2013 semester. Senators chose to implement a review system for the newspaper, in which they will critique the issue to determine if it meets their standards

The decision of one student, in the 7-6 vote, was capable of censoring the voice of the hundreds of students who utilize the Foghorn as a means for expression. ASUSF senators are elected officials whose job it is to represent the students — they are a “voice” for the greater student body. So is the Foghorn. The student newspaper is a forum for student voice, and to have one representative student body silencing the voice of another is wrong. It is an unethical decision within an unethical system, fraught with conflicts of interest. Students are censoring other students by taking away the Foghorn’s ability to publish relevant, timely news. It seems as though Senate does not understand that what they are doing is inherently unethical — we believe that the time has come for the senators to be made aware of the impropriety of their decision. It is also time for a restructuring of the funding system for student media organizations.

The Foghorn budget can no longer be determined by the student government on which the Foghorn must report. It is a blatant conflict of interest that limits our ability to report honestly about Senate as long as they are providing our funding. Funding for media needs to be a set amount — a specific amount from each student’s fee, for example. The University must make changes to remove this conflict of interest in order to operate ethically and to allow their student journalists to report ethically as well.

Senate wants to evaluate the quality of the paper—deciding by their own standards what is worthy of publication. The media’s role is to inform and serve the public freely, with no government interference or censorship. A government-controlled press is not a free press.