Tag Archives: students

This V-Day Put Down the Ice Cream and Get Swimmin’

For all the swimmers and water lovers out there, Valentine’s Day is sure to bring you a sweet surprise. In addition to flowers and chocolate, avid gym goers will also be able to enjoy the Koret pool which will be ready to open its doors again in a few short weeks.

The pool is on schedule to open on Feb. 14, said Clare Rudd, aquatics instructor at the Koret Health and Recreation Center. After months of construction, the secret to keeping this anticipated re-opening on track was the constant work schedule of the contractors.

While many USF students enjoyed a nice, long six-week winter break, Rudd said that the Koret pool workers only took off Christmas and New Year’s Day and worked consistently through the break. The pool area has been painted and re-tiled, scaffolds are gone, and the old ceiling lights have been replaced, according to Rudd.

Naturally, people have been curious about the progress of construction. Rudd said that some onlookers often asked questions about the status of the project, while others have been completely oblivious to the large-scale construction project. “We have had people walk all the way down not noticing the construction or the signs,” she said.

No major issues were presented during the process and everything is on schedule.

Obama-Rama! Students Celebrate the President’s Reelection

Barack Obama won the re-election for a second term as the President of the United States of America. Obama won 303 electoral votes against Governor Mitt Romney’s 206 votes, according to the Huffington Post.

Hours before the announcement of President Barack Obama’s election victory, it seemed many USF students already knew who would win the presidency. “Obama,” said freshman Adam Hernandez. “Obama,” said sophomore Victor Valle.  “Hopefully, tonight is not just an election night, but a re-election night,” said Meagan Cuthill, a junior politics major who voted for the first time in this election. “Obama,” agreed freshman Cody Vassar, even though he is an open Republican. “I voted Romney, but I’ll run away if he wins, so I don’t get shot,” he joked. In Tuesday night’s crowd of Obama supporters, Vassar felt like a minority, he said. “But we’re a democracy, so I support everyone that voted,” he concluded.

With the high number of “I voted” stickers worn proudly by voters of the USF community at the event, Vassar had many people to support. Large groups of students gathered in the University Center’s first floor for the election watch party, standing or sitting in chairs and on the floor to keep an eye on the changing ballot numbers between Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.  “I’ve never seen so many people coming together and being involved,” said senior Adriana Duckworth. Junior Caroline Christ agreed. “Tonight and the Giant’s game are the only time I’ve seen people come together like this!”

It appears the viewing party has come a long way from its small, humble beginnings.“We’ve had three presidential election parties so far. It has gone from just twenty political junkies eating a pizza or two, to this,” said politics professor Patrick Murphy. “It’s almost a sports bar, but for political nerds,” he said.

Take into consideration the cheering and hollering each time a state’s final vote is cast, one might actually think they’re at a sports bar. Why are people so active this election? Junior media studies student, Hayley Zaremba, attributed the interest to the Republican candidate. “I’m surprised so many people came out, but I think just the prospect of having Romney as president is scary enough to get people out of their down rooms,” she said. Others connect the interest to the group environment. “I just wanted to watch the results on not [sic] my computer. It’s a pretty exciting environment,” said sophomore Jazlyn Taylor, an international studies student.

In the midst of enthusiasm for the election, which was the first voting experience for many students, some admittedly came to the watch party for the free food. “I came for the gathering, to feel more engaged…and for the food,” said Vassar. “The food is definitely a plus, but I also hope to see Obama win tonight,” said Alex Bacon, a sophomore English major.

Whether people were more excited for results or free food is a toss-up, but the election no longer is — Obama was voted for a second term as the U.S. president. “Obama won the presidency, everyone praise God and take your clothes off!” shouted an unidentified student, running out the door of the University Center.


The election watch party was hosted by the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good.

Architecture Student Designs Water Conservation System in India

Sonia-Lynn Abenojar has a lot on her plate, so to speak. As an architecture and community design major, she is working to complete her final portfolio. As a senior, she is preparing for graduation in May, and as a future alumna, she is already working toward the next step: a master’s degree in urban planning.

Abenojar’s Sunday afternoon is spent applying to graduate schools and working late in the FX Arts studios. She is miles away (both geographically and culturally) from the 115 degree Sunday afternoons she spent working for a non-governmental organization in India this past summer.

From May through August, Abenojar lived in Rajasthan, India where she helped design a water conservation system for farmers living in a village located outside the city, as part of the Sarlo Scholars program. The program is a full-immersion, volunteer-based trip sponsored by the University of San Francisco’s Leo T. McCarthy

Center for Public Service and the Common Good.
The program, she said, tries to match foreign organizations to a student’s major or future interests. Abenojar was assigned to work for Prayatna Samiti, a small sustainability development NGO that focuses on bettering the livelihood of nearby farmers through water and resource management. Water storage, for irrigation and home use, is vital to farmers in the desert-like climate surrounding Udaipur, the district in which she lived.

Abenojar designed a roof rain water harvesting structure for the traditional mud and stone homes of the farmers in the Bambura village. Her design consists of two light-weight, grooved metal sheets that are placed on top of the mud tiles to form an upside-down ‘V’ structure. When heavy rains come during monsoon season, the water runs off the metal sheets, into the gutters, and then through PCB pipes that enter into an underground storage tank.
“It was pretty simple,” she said. “The company had already been creating a similar design for concrete homes of wealthier households,” she continued, “so they just needed me to find out if it was possible to use water run-off from mud tiles.”

Triple language translation, labor-intense research, sustainability design, and heat rashes do not sound like the common definition of simple. But many aspects of Indian life, explained Abenojar, are exactly that.

“I learned that you don’t need much to live —in a good way! The language barrier was tough. I had to conduct interviews with the farmers to see what was going on, but I needed one, sometimes two, translators with me,” she explained. “First, they’d translate my questions into Hindi, and then, a second person would translate that into the local dialect of the farmers. It was crazy,” she recalled.

One of the ways Abenojar could be said to have had a little less on her plate is pretty literal. There wasn’t a surplus of food. Families in the communities lived off only chic peas, lentils, and a homemade wheat dough, she said, “but they aren’t yearning for something more, they aren’t yearning for something greater than what they have.”

According to Abenojar, however, her host family fed her well. “There’s lots of of cumin, coriander, and red chili powder,” she said. “It’s really delicious.” Regardless, the cuisine did take some getting used to. “My host family was Hindi,” said Abenojar, “so I went veg[etarian] for three months which was unusual for me.” In accordance to religious practice, most Hindi do not eat meat. She said she now cooks with more fruits and vegetables.

Abenojar experienced another culture shock, albeit a playful one, when women in her host family or in the village poked fun at her for having her nose ring pierced ‘on the wrong side.’ Nose piercings, which are in abundance in female Indian culture, are typically worn on the left nostril. “They’d all be laughing at me and asking why my nose piercing was on the wroside, and I would say I didn’t know!” she recalled.

Although she’s back in America, Abenojar has not left her experience in Udaipur behind.

“It is what I love about traveling; everything is brand new to each of the five senses. I’ve come back with a deeper understanding that I’m a global citizen,” she said. “It sounds cheesy, but when you’re over in a foreign country where you think the people are living so differently than you, and then you realize that you can relate to all of these people—it really makes an impression.”

She said the Sarlos scholarship instills in its students the reality that they are not in India to try to save the world. “It’s easy to go overboard. You’re there and you’re excited, and you want to do everything you can and meet everybody around, but you just have to take a step back,” she said. “Take a step back, and look at what these organizations have done for their communities already, and appreciate the opportunity to help as an outsider.”

Developing Story: Ass’t Dean of School of Managment Quits

On September 24, 2012, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story on its website, SFGate, in the Matier & Ross column about the resignation of Dayle Smith, the associate dean of undergraduate studies at the USF School of Management.

Dayle Smith quit her position as associate dean amidst what the Chronicle calls, “USF’s aggressive recruitment of students from China.” Many of these students have trouble speaking English. Smith remains employed as a USF professor.

According to the Matier & Ross column, 781 of the 10,017 students at the University of San Francisco are Chinese national students. In the column, it is noted that Mike Webber, dean of the School of Management, said that the “considerable increase in foreign students this year is not in and of itself a cause for concern.”

In his written statement included in the Chronicle’s column, Webber said, “But given that so many of these students have weak English skills and are disproportionately from one country, we are going to be faced with some unique pedagogical and cultural challenges.” Mike Webber’s comments in the Chronicle also stated that Smith “felt there was a real failure on the part of the university to understand these unique challenges and how they will impact” the business school.

Provost Jennifer E. Turpin, provided a written comment to the Foghorn which stated “USF admitted a smaller percentage of Chinese applicants than we admitted last year, but we increased our requirement in English proficiency. As a direct result of conversations I had with faculty last year, we now require Chinese students to score not only an overall 79 on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), but also to obtain a score of 17 on each sub-area of the test.

These criteria are similar or more strict than those at other universities.” She also said, “The University is rightfully proud of the successes of our Chinese students and grateful to them for the cultural perspectives they bring to campus. USF will continue to recruit internationally and will work to ensure all students are prepared for class.”

As of Monday evening, Dayle Smith has not yet returned Foghorn phone calls for a comment.
The Foghorn will provide more news on this matter as the story progresses.

Bon Appétit Concerns Suggest Improvements are Needed

Caff by Emily Bogden

As the fall semester comes to an end, some students will face the reoccurring challenge of making sure their meal plans stay on budget, while others may have abundant funds roll onto their flexi account next semester.

Yet, students may have had other concerns regarding campus dining that may also extend to the spring.

Some questions may include what happens to the funds forfeited at the end of the spring semester and how much funds are collected each year? Why does everyone have the same flexi plan when students have different eating habits? Why are the prices on campus higher than other surrounding food establishments?

In September, Foghorn staff writer Sascha Rosemond reported on the combativeness of Bon Appétit General Manager, Holly Winslow and her efforts to develop sustainable initiatives while offering affordable food. That article addressed the complexity of the market’s cyclical patterns and its impact on the high costs of purchasing local farm foods.

But what about the non-organic products?
In an attempt to update students on matters pertaining to the cost of Bon Appétit foods, the Foghorn did a price comparison between products sold by Bon Appétit and nearby grocery store Lucky. The price comparison was not conclusive because findings showed there were price inconsistencies among particular items at Bon Appétit’s campus establishments.

One item for example was a box of Frosted Flakes. Bon Appétit café, Outtahere, sells it for $6.50 while the cafeteria located upstairs sells it for $7.00.

In an interview with General Manager Holly Winslow and Director of Operations Heather Ogg, Winslow chose not to comment on the price difference. However, there was a response for Lucky’s price, which was $4.49.

Ogg said, “Yes! Prices are really driven by the market…The cost of bringing in certain items is definitely going to be different to what a grocery store would be because of the volume they are selling the items for.”

She added, “Bon Appétit vendors send us a new price list each time we make an order. And we dictate our prices by what it costs us to purchase items.”
When asked who Bon Appétit’s vendors are, Ogg didn’t specify names.
With regards to updates Bon Appétit has made, Winslow said Bon Appétit has started accepting cash again at 13 of the 14 registers in the cafeteria since August.

“Cash is the new black, and I’ve brought cash back,” Winslow said.
Winslow added she has also taken steps to help students budget their flexi accounts.

Recognizing that Dons dollars and flexi can cause students to lose track of how much money they actually spend, Winslow has created 8×11 inch budget posters and displayed them around the cafeteria. The posters outline how much flexi students should have during their final weeks of the semester.

When asked about the ways flexi resembles the use of debit cards in our plastic money culture, Winslow said she thinks the current meal plan is “simple” and “streamlined” since in her opinion the plan is easy to understand.
“Here’s pretty much a debit card, and we are asking students to learn how to manage their money,” Winslow said.

Yet not all students eat as much or as little as their Flexi plan allows.

“The conversations are certainly happening with parents and students, such as my daughter doesn’t eat like an athlete yet their meal plans are the same. I would be lying if I said these conversations were not happening, they certainly are,” Winslow said.

Ogg added, “Although these conversations are happening they are not at the level to where we need to make changes to the program.”

Yet Winslow said, “The continual look at meal plans has been evolving since I’ve been at USF for the past five years, and the possibility of it evolving again is something that could definitely happen again.”

When asked if any student complaints have been brought to Winslow’s attention, she said only comments regarding hours of operation and cleanness have been reported.

In regards of there being outlets for students to address their concerns, Winslow said, “There are ‘Tell the Chief’ comment cards, but they’re not out right now.” She didn’t mention when comment cards will be out again for students.

Ogg however, said she feels dining services is quick to respond to any concerns that come up. She added Bon Appétit has an open door policy. Student comments are always welcome.

According to Winslow, the current meal plan will be assessed in January.
Bon Appétit, however, presents a business progress report to the Board of Trustees every year. It is during this time that Bon Appétit also proposes new initiatives to the Vice President for the Division of Business & Finance, Charles E. Cross.
Cross oversees Bon Appétit’s operations.

When asked how much money is forfeited when students don’t use all of their meal plan money at the end of the spring semester, Winslow said, “It changes every year, and when students read the word forfeited, Bon Appétit doesn’t get to keep the money. The only money we get is when students purchase at the register.”
She added, “When there is money left over the university keeps the remaining, which is not very much, and the university typically uses the money for construction or food services.”

During a phone interview with Charles E. Cross he said the estimated amount collected from students that forfeit their meal plans each year is $80,000. Cross said funds are used to improve dining services, such as ovens, refrigerators, and other needed structural improvements.

When asked about student’s limitations in choosing the amount of their flexi accounts Cross said, “When we had multiple types of meal plans we had them changed because students were getting penalized too often, so we decided to find a low base rate and use a streamline meal plan.”

When asked what concerns Cross had heard the most, he said most comments are about Bon Appétit’s high prices and short hours of operation. Cross said he was also open to student proposals, but he suggested students remember Bon Appétit is a business that seeks to make a profit on the services they provide.

Last week, Bon Appétit’s Holly Winslow, Executive Chef, Jon Hall, and Café Manager, Blanca Garcia reported to ASUSF Senate on several student concerns, among them operation hours.

For example, reasons for not making Outtahere open 24 hours, a promise made two years ago was one of the inquiries addressed.

Winslow and Garcia both responded, explaining that it is a liability issue due to safety concerns of student’s late night behavior. Such behavior included students throwing up when seeking food late at night. Other concerns included hiring employees that would work night shifts and having sufficient late night customers.

When asked how campus security has been helping, Winslow said, “Our public safety has been amazing. A couple things they have implemented, so we have been collaborating by getting panic buttons and the automatic lock doors have really helped too, and another is they have been frequently checking in with us every hour.”

Winslow added that the enhanced security could help with the future development of having a 24 hour food service.

Winslow also asked senators to brainstorm a business approach that would explore whether it is cost effective to have more night hours.

During the interview with Winslow and Ogg both pointed out the inconsistency of the cafeteria’s operation during each semester, and mentioned the challenges of operating roughly 20 weeks this semester. Bon Appétit was closed Thanksgiving Day and they will be closed for six weeks during winter break.

Shortage in hours is a concern for many students and some are looking for ways to use their flexi off campus.

Freshman Christina Nguyen, a student sitting in the audience, suggested the possibility of using flexi at local businesses. “This possibility might be favorable for businesses considering they will get more business, and this might make the cafeteria more appetizing because we don’t always have to eat at the cafeteria but we will always have that option,” Nguyen said.

Ideas of forming a student food committee that can sit down with Bon Appétit and the University to discuss student’s concerns was also proposed during the senate meeting.

ASUSF President, Lexington Wochner said in a private interview, “I think ultimately what needs to happen is we need to have clearer channels of communication. I think the food committee is a good starting point, so students can get the information they need to make responsible decisions for themselves.” He added, “ I think students need to know they can advocate for their meal plans, but ultimately what needs to happen is students need to be empowered to help make responsible choices… once information is out there it is on the responsibility of the student to take the information and make conscious decisions.”

Environmental Science for Kindergarteners

If you were to walk into any American classroom today, you will find that the majority of instruction is focused on English and math.  With such intense attention on the core curriculum, students are missing out on the opportunity to learn about the world around them.   Our children deserve to know about the world they come from, and the world they will someday inherit.

The natural world is a subject that is seldom touched on in the early grades. In fact, in the state of California, science education, let alone environmental science, is not strictly required until the 4th grade.  If we expect to see any great, positive change in our environment, this simply can’t be the case.
This semester, I had the opportunity to work in a San Francisco elementary school teaching students about environmental issues, and it has been one of the most transformative experiences of my college career.  It is clear to me that change must occur in our narrowly-focused education system.  By altering the currently accepted, deep-rooted models of public education, and implementing new techniques, we can empower students with the knowledge of the natural world they so sorely lack.  

Unfortunately, the current public education system puts excessive weight on teaching strategies primarily geared toward improving standardized test scores, which means an excessive focus on mathematics and the language arts. Introducing environmental education early and more frequently can break that cycle by doing two things: introducing an important topic and being able to implement innovative teaching methods.

Environmental education is the perfect opportunity to address the intelligences of visual, kinesthetic and naturalistic learners, who have usually played second fiddle to learners who are math or reading-oriented. When students are physically involved in their education, they create a context in which they can deepen their understanding of any concept.

For example, the program with which I work, Environmental Education for the Next Generation (EENG), implements the small group model and hands-on learning for K-2nd grade environmental science.  One unique quality of EENG is its youth to youth education:  college students teach the lessons!  By working through interactive games and experiments with their college student-instructor, each student is shown how natural systems work and in the process gain the tools and knowledge necessary to apply to other questions that cross their paths.

We are living in a world where our societal practices and actions can no longer be sustained.   We have lost sight of our relationship to our earth and it’s making us sick.  Environmental education is about inspiring young minds to see and make real change happen.  We cannot solve our world issues over night, but we can start change now by being responsible for our actions and giving our children the tools necessary to preserve our future.   

For more information on the EENG program, contact Max Binstock, maxbinstock@eeng.org