Tag Archives: student

If You Build It, They Will Come: Campus Bike Locking Structure Forthcoming


Students at the University of San Francisco are constantly on the move. Whether it be the hustle between classes or a two-wheeled ride to campus, Dons of the latter variety will soon experience more accommodations for bikers at USF.

In the works is a roofed, secure bike storage structure to be built in the upcoming years. While the final design and location have not yet been determined, USF Facilities Management will be working with junior architecture student Bryce Costley to develop the bike shelter.

“As biking has become a more popular mode of transportation to the USF campus, the amount of secure bike parking must increase…a covered shelter offers more security and will also keep bikes out of the rain,” said Robin Kuehn, the transportation sub-chair of the sustainability committee and a senior history student.

Costley’s model recently won an architecture and design student competition hosted by facilities management, USFpedals, and the ASUSF Sustainability Committee. His design can house up to 72 bikes on a two-level locking fixture, and includes lockers and a changing space, all of which can only be accessed with a USF ID. The outside of the structure features an open area for educational sessions and meetings. According to Liz Miles of facilities management, the final design components will implement a roofed structure with secure racks in a space of 600 square feet, which is about the size of a large living room.

The fear of theft and weather damage are the top factors deterring USF community members from biking to campus, said Steve Zavestoski, an environmental professor behind the Bicycle Transportation Plan. “The promise of covered and secure bicycle parking would attract people who otherwise do not bring a bike to campus. When people feel respected for their choice to use a bicycle for transportation, they are more likely to continue making that choice,” he said.

Of 127 bike rack spaces available throughout campus, only 73 of them are being used, according to the USF Bicycle Transportation Plan headed by USFpedals. The plan hopes to create more amenities for USF’s cyclists in order to better adapt to San Francisco’s prevalent bike culture. One of these amenities includes doubling the number of campus bike racks to 20, and including covered and secure parking options for 250 bikes before 2016.

Bikes are often improperly parked in areas like the bottom of the Lone Mountain stairs or at the entrance to the Kalmanovitz amphitheater because most of the current racks are in inconvenient areas located away from where riders can keep watch of their bike, as stated in the plan. In a 2011 USFpedals survey, nearly 500 of the 620 students, faculty, staff, and USF community members said that a free, covered, secure bike parking area would persuade them to ride a bicycle to campus.

Kuehn said, “Hopefully the new bike shelter will be a place where cyclists and non-cyclists intersect to form new friendships, share stories, exchange biking tips, and brainstorm ways to make USF a more sustainable campus.”

For more information on the USF Bicycle Transportation Plan, visit www.usfpedals.org.

“Id:” A Feature Length Film by USF Students

It’s not everyday that the Red Vic on Haight Street will premiere a student-directed film, but that is exactly the reality for “Id,” a film directed and written by USF student Kevin Kunze, who claims he has been directing movies since he was seven. Kunze, who is a Media Studies major, has been writing “Id” since his freshman year at USF and can now finally bask in its completion in his senior year. The project began as a compilation of his dreams and random thoughts and grew into his first full-length film and senior thesis. It will premiere at the Red Vic for a free screening at 4 p.m. on Nov. 19, conveniently coinciding with his twenty-first birthday.

“Id” tells the story of four friends living out their final days underground in a fallout shelter. The world above them has turned to madness and anarchy. Out of the terrible isolation and straining thoughts of the future they begin to go crazy in their confinements.

With a cast of five, four of which are USF students, and a crew of eight, three of which are USF students, Kunze has really pulled his resources in creating his full-length film. In fact, Melinda Stone, the director of Film Studies at USF has taken on the Executive Producer position. Kevin Epps, the other Executive Producer, helped get the movie noticed at the Red Vic. Kunze also found a professional studio in Soma called Sir Studio with the help of two San Francisco artists, Justin Mussman and Austin Becker. Jimmy Buffett uses the same studio during the day. The music for “Id” is vastly different from Buffett’s; however, the movie definitely features dark, eerie sounds.

The USF students involved in the production include: Dylan Wittrock playing Adam Kadmon; Ava Madison Riley playing Lilith Kadmon; Maria Luna Garcia playing Maya Deimos; Zachary Rich playing Curtis Kunstler; and Chet Bentley, Dennis Walker and Brittany Rowles on the production team.

Kunze has high hopes for his independent film. He plans to enter the final product into several film festivals, covering local ones such as SF International and Cinequest as well as the “big ones” including Sundance, Venice and Cannes film festivals. However, Kunze admits, “That’s the tricky thing about being an independent filmmaker these days. You have to set up a website, Facebook group, and try to get the word across.”

“I won’t tell you what the message is, that’s why I made the movie,” Kunze said. For Kunze, showing human emotions through the film is his biggest goal. “If you make the emotions big, you don’t need elaborate settings or props.”

For “Id,” he believes there is a “timeless feel” to the whole story. Kunze likes to look at examples of bad movies to see what the director did wrong, and learn from those mistakes. The example he gave was “Alice in Wonderland.” Kunze commented, “I wanted to rent it to see how bad it really was. You can learn a lot by checking out bad examples.”

The process of filming “Id” took about a year. Kunze pointed out that films such as “Black Swan,” directed by Darren Aronofsky, took nine years to organize and then was filmed in forty to forty-five days. “So many things can go wrong. Every day is a compromise. I feel it’s near the final product. It’s a child. It’s never truly finished. But in the end, you have to be satisfied,” said Kunze of the process. “One time,” he said, “we were shooting in an alleyway by Loyola Village and someone called the cops on us. Thankfully the cops understood. That was a hazardous day.”

Even though his first feature film has not premiered yet, Kunze is already thinking about his future films. “Next I’m doing a comedy,” he laughed. He would love to switch methods up and escape from so much drama for a while. “I would love to do a book adaptation, and work further with Kevin Epps,” he said.

Dylan Wittrock, a sophomore at USF and the lead character, said of the experience: “Actually getting shown at the Red Vic is a surreal feeling. I haven’t seen the whole thing put together yet, so I get to be surprised at the premiere.”

Wittrock, who has performed in other student films before said, “This is the most extensive movie I have been in.”

When asked how it was working with Kunze, Wittrock said, “Kevin put it all together. He fought for this movie. He knows what he wants. Sometimes organizing stuff is difficult, but it’s fun to work with him. He would ask my opinion on a lot of stuff.”

His role in “Id” was demanding in new ways.

Wittrock said, “I had to show a lot without dialogue at some points. I had to show emotion without overacting. It’s a challenging process.” Despite the “challenges,” Wittrock said he “got really into the character.”

With all the hard work put into “Id,” there should be a line waiting to get into the Red Vic on Nov. 19 at 4 p.m. There will be a raffle and donations taken at the premiere to support the independent film.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain

Scene: Tamar Kuyumjian

Profile: Student Lives With African Village, Authors Children’s Books

Elizabeth Guerra, above, spent Sept.-Dec. 2009 in Burkina Faso, where her three children’s books were distributed through village libraries. Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth R. Guerra

The opportunity to travel in Africa and publish a children’s book for a small village does not come by very often. For junior Elizabeth Guerra, accomplishing just that was an experience of a lifetime. Guerra traveled to Burkina Faso, a small country in the heart of West Africa that is known to be one of the poorest countries in the world, “with about 80% of its population living in rural villages and earning their livings by working as subsistence farmers,” Guerra said. For four months, Guerra traveled with a group of eight other students from September to December 2009 through the Santa Clara University Reading West Africa program.

For the beginning part of her stay, Guerra took classes in the capital city of Ouagadougou, studying economic development, community development, French literature and photography. The official language is actually French, since France colonized the country until Burkina Faso gained its independence in 1960 .

During the other half of her time in Africa, Guerra stayed in the rural village, Sara, in Burkina Faso for a total of 6 weeks. There, she shared a village house with one other student, and together they worked as librarian assistants in the village’s library, which was established by Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL) and the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).

In working for the village, Guerra became inspired to do more for the community. The literacy rate in Burkina Faso is about 20%, and this inspired Guerra to make a change. The head of the study abroad program, Dr. Michael Kevane from SCU, who is also the founder of FAVL and professor of economics at Santa Clara University, came up with the idea for Guerra to write books for children. “FAVL operates under the belief that true development can only happen when people are empowered by access to information and the habits of reading and critical thinking,” she said.’Guerra eventually wrote three basic children’s books, which were written in French and coincided with the photos that she took for in Africa for her photography course.

Student Elizabeth Guerra grew to be accepted as a friend by the people of a small African village. Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Guerra

The first book she wrote,“What Can I Be When I Grow Up?” targets children learning to read. “It featured photos from all types of professions that could be found in my village, such as a librarian, doctor, farmer, shoemaker, shop keeper, etc.” she said. The book gives a visual representation of the world that they can imagine for themselves in the future.

For the second book, Guerra said she wrote it for readers of all ages–not just children. The book,“The Life of the Peuhl’s,” is about a semi-nomadic ethnic group. The idea came from the fact that during her time in Burkina Faso. there was a small group of semi-nomadic people living there. She felt inspired to express the presence and value that these people brought to the village.

The third and final book touched upon the history of the Islamic presence that is seen in Burkina Faso. “Islam in Burkina Faso” touches upon religion in the village, presenting an understanding of Islamic principles. Guerra said, “This book was my civic engagement book, which was for higher reading levels and touched on the religious aspect that is so deeply ingrained in their society.” Religion is dispersed in Burkina Faso with about 50% of people being Christian and the other 50% being Muslim, Guerra said. Due to this significant separation of religions living together, Guerra wanted to highlight its significance. All of these people live in a village together, regardless of their difference in religious beliefs, and through Guerra’s outlook during her time there she recognized their ability to live and work peacefully side by side one another. The book featured the different aspects of religion due to Guerra’s belief that religion is truly a fundamental part of a culture. Religion can also often dictate conflict or advocate for overall peace. FAVL funds made the publishing of the third book possible, created and distributed by Blurb.

All three books were published and distributed throughout 10 FAVL libraries in Burkina Faso. The book project enabled Elizabeth to really open up and communicate with the people in the village, which is a community home to about 2,000 people with around five to eight families. Guerra said, “It really got me out and talking to people and helped me make friends. By the end of my stay in my village I was accepted as part of their community. They trusted me. I wasn’t just the white girl walking around with my big camera anymore; I was considered a part of their family.”

“The most important thing that I took away from this trip was that the poverty of the Burkinabé people is independent of their dignity. Many of us look at Africa as the “dark continent,” but what I realized while I was there was that Africa and Africans are rich in ways that many Americans could never understand.”

Currently Guerra is not sure when she will be able to return to Africa. Her hopes are to return sometime soon and that upon graduation she will be able to travel and work in the FAVL libraries. The time that Guerra spent in Africa has truly changed her view of the world. Guerra is an International Studies major with a minor in African Studies and French Studies.

“Africa has many developmental problems, but when we strip away all of our preconceived notions of abject poverty in Africa, we see that they are just like us. They have the same goals and aspirations as we do, and they are driven by the same emotions as we are. They are humans too and we tend to look past this in all of our backwards analyses of the continent.”


Chris McMurry: Celebrating Her Heritage Through Irish Dance

When not studying at USF, freshman sociology major Chris McMurry performs Irish jigs at local fairs and festivals, celebrating her culture and making new friends. Photo by Photo Courtesy of Chris McMurry

With all the different cultures that can be found on campus from all around the globe, one student knows how to celebrate her culture—it’s in her genes. Chris McMurry, freshman sociology major, has been dancing the Irish jig from the beginning of her freshman year of high school. In turn this has led her to appreciate her heritage, being more than 50-percent Irish. Her dancing has also led her to become involved with Renaissance Faires and playing the accordion. It just shows how one good thing can open up many doors.

Having grown up in Oakland, California, she has been coming into the city of San Francisco for dance classes and competitions since she first began Irish dancing. She describes her urge to dance as “completely random” and explains that it was the “first thing she wanted to do on her own.” In fact, it became one of her reasons for coming to the University of San Francisco. Also, she said, “I wanted to be in the Bay area and I liked a small school with small classes.”

McMurry’s first dance school was the Raven Valley School of Dance in Davis. While improving she progressed to the dance school of Cumann Rince Naisiunta, or CRN, and the prestigious McBride School of Irish Dance. CRN’s policy is to support and protect the Irish dancing tradition. At McBride, McMurry competed up to primary champion and soon became bored with competition and went to the Celtic Dance Ensemble, which also falls under the CRN. This past fall McMurry proved her worth as an Irish dancer in her first national competition. McMurry received first place in all her dances, which included the “Reel,” “Trouble Jig,” and the “Hornpipe.”

Through a Scottish and Irish dance and music troupe, Siamsa le Cheile, McMurry finds herself performing at different venues all across northern California, such as Celtic festivals and renaissance faires. They usually dance about twenty dances per show and are one of the only troupes to perform Irish and Highland dances. McMurry recognizes this troupe as her extended family. With multiple dance performances accomplished, she stands as the Irish sub-director for the troupe. Along with dancing for the troupe, McMurry wears the traditional renaissance garb. She has also has been practicing the accordion for over a year now in order to play with some of the other members of the troupe who play English, French, Spanish, Irish, and Middle Eastern music together.

Siamsa le Cheile describes itself as practicing “the traditional music and dance of Scotland and Ireland, and we all share a love of traditional Gaelic culture. We try to pass on our love of the arts and traditional folk cultures through our performance.”

Senior Anita Buitrago Interns For Mission Community Council

photo by Cass Krughoff/Foghorn

photo by Cass Krughoff/Foghorn

The Mission District is a neighborhood home to artistic murals and cultural cuisine, a direct contrast to the established homelessness and street crimes for which it is also known. Mission resident and USF senior Anita Buitrago is well accustomed to the colorful culture and violent downsides of the neighborhood, but was never aware of the daily contributions made to improve community life until she landed an internship that opened her eyes to her own backyard.

Buitrago acquired the opportunity early in the spring semester to intern for the Mission Community Council (MiCoCo), an umbrella organization for 25 Mission community organizations that work together to offer programs to families, youth, working residents, immigrants and the Latino community. As an intern, she is assigned various tasks updating and emailing weekly newsletters, updating the organization’s website anything that improves the fluidity of MiCoCo’s operations.

“It’s not a typical office job where you sit at your computer all day,” Buitrago said. “We go to meetings and do different things,” including attending and supporting MiCoCo’s weekly meetings to provide community members information and hold forums on neighborhood concerns.

Within MiCoCo’s building, programs are offered that help people find jobs, provide students with after-school programs, hold classes to learn English or attain one’s GED, and even provide an accessible computer lab to the community. Encountering community members on a daily basis, Buitrago said, makes her have a different perspective on the neighborhood she grew up in.

“I lived there my whole life but I was never involved with the community because I felt like I was sheltered,” she said, “and I’ve noticed before that there’s a lot of gang violence, but the Mission nowadays is lot more justified…its a different community.”

The main reason Buitrago decided to intern for MiCoCo was because it directly helps the community in which she grew up in. “It’s where I live, and now that I’m older I’m getting to know the real, positive things that are going on in the neighborhood.”

But acquiring the job was somewhat unintentional, she said. With only retail and office experience under her belt, she applied to a couple of internships, not knowing whether she would receive a response from any of them. When MiCoCo contacted her, she said it was somewhat of a surprise.

“I was really interested just because it involves the community,” she said, “to make good connections within my neighborhood.” And the experience thus far has been a rewarding one, she said, exposing her to political issues that she was not aware of before.

“Now that I’m a part of it, I know now that’s what I wanted to do,” she said, “get that [political] experience.”

One of MiCoCo’s projects that Buitrago helped put together was the “One Mission Peace March” on Jan. 28, a rally intended to spread messages of love and peace to Mission youth by advocating non-violence as a way of life in the community. It also highlighted the efforts of organizations to prevent crime, as well their fight against the Mayor’s Office for cutting the funding to programs that serve the youth in the Mission. “I was on the committee looking up facts for the youth,” Buitrago said, referring to the poster signs that displayed youth and crime facts that rally participants hold. “Whenever they needed help I helped them, making calls or faxes,” she said.

The internship above all has given her networking opportunities, the chance to meet other people and find out their life stories, and find out what they went through to get where they are now. “The people I work with, they really love what they do,” she said, “having this job reminds me to keep in mind that, if I’m not happy with what I’m doing, then why do it at all? But I’ve learned that I really love what I do.”

To find more information on MiCoCo, visit: http://www.micocosf.org/