Tag Archives: teach-in

KUSF Teach-In Urges Support Amid Pending Sale

Although it has been over a month since KUSF’s airwaves were sold for $3.75 million, members of the college radio station and community continue to rally together to fight for their beloved music and culture outlet.

A mixed group of students, station volunteers and faculty from the Communications Studies and Media Studies department came together to discuss the current state of the sale of KUSF airwaves.

On Jan. 18, the University abruptly shut down the station, giving KUSF staff one hour to halt all broadcasting and to exit the offices. KUSF staff members were told of the sale on that same day. The station continues to broadcast through its website. With much controversy surrounding the method of the transaction, outrage and events like the teach-in followed the closing down of the station.
Student volunteers involved with KUSF in the past and present presented their perspective on the sale of KUSF. Alumna like Jessica Labrador and student Harmony Corlitz expressed the importance of KUSF as an abundant resource for experience in the media world and beyond. For Labrador, KUSF gave her the practical knowledge and skills for real world jobs. A self-proclaimed “shy girl of [her] classes”, Corlitz felt that working at KUSF gave her the confidence she needed to succeed in her future careers.

Though many students identify with the need to save KUSF, USF faculty member Barbara Jasperson pointed out the low turnout of students. “There are about 8,000 students who attend USF, but look around you, there are only about 20 to 25 students here,” she said. The lack of student awareness and support is attributed to many factors.

KUSF Advertising and Marketing Coordinator Miranda Morris connects the timeliness of the station’s sale to the difficulty in raising awareness on the situation. According to Morris, because the deal was done over the winter break, many students were unable to learn about KUSF’s situation and voice their concerns to the university.

Morris believes the unorganized manner of the transaction poses an obstacle in spreading awareness of the issue and gaining more support from students. Regardless of such barriers, Morris was satisfied with the student turnout at KUSF’s first teach-in. “For a Monday, many people stayed for the event. It’s difficult to get everyone together since everyone has a different schedule,” she said.
Media Studies Professor Dorothy Kidd led the teach-in, providing vital information on the status of KUSF. According to Kidd, two petitions to protest the sale of KUSF have been sent to Washington, D.C. for further analysis.

Throughout the teach-in, many KUSF staff and student volunteers emphasized the musical, social and cultural impact the station has had on the community since it began nearly 34 years ago. “I can’t imagine where the community’s voice would go if KUSF did not exist” said KUSF staff member Kenya Lewis. “[The station] has both irreplaceable public value and cultural value.”

As a noncommercial radio station that gave airtime to small, local bands, KUSF was viewed as a great place for musicians to share their art. KUSF music director Irwin Swirnoff saw the on-air station as an “outlet for small and local bands from and outside San Francisco”. Furthermore, Swirnoff dubbed KUSF as a “cultural tour guide of San Francisco,” providing listeners with information regarding music and art events, as well as self-help material like HIV/AIDS testing sites.

The station hosted many shows in various languages, some which gave assistance to immigrants from foreign countries. As a host of Chinese Star Radio, David Pang’s radio show informed Chinese immigrants about issues like education. As the “only Cantonese programming in San Francisco,” Pang said the program is the “voice of the Chinese.” Although his show continues to stream through KUSF’s online format, Pang understands that many of his listeners have no access to the Internet and may feel “lost” trying to tune their dial to get desired updates and information.

Rev. Stephen A. Privett, S.J.’s claim that KUSF volunteer participation outnumber student participation was raised for discussion. Media Studies professor Bernadette Barker-Plummer said it is important to “remind the University that there isn’t a divide between the community and the students—the students are part of the community.” Barker-Plummer expressed that she is “totally embarrassed with the University’s position on media”. She said KUSF’s sale is “a sad interpretation of media education…I’m disappointed with the short-term thinking of the University.”

Kidd plans to have another KUSF teach-in in the near future. She hopes to hold the next event in Harney Plaza to gain the attention of more students.

Professors and Students Talk Egypt at USF Teach-In

It has been dubbed the “18-Day Revolution,” the internationally acclaimed movement that saw millions of Egyptian organizers end the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak.

“This story on Egypt, more Americans are following this than any international event not directly involving the United States in history. It really has struck a cord—really inspired people,” said Politics Professor Stephen Zunes at a teach-in event held last Monday.

To educate the community about how and why Egypt’s uprising took place, USF’s Muslim Association and YALLA! Students in Solidarity organized a three-hour event called “Egypt’s Uprising: To and From Liberation Square.”

The teach-in featured a panel of four USF professors and skype interviews of outside guests who partook in Egypt’s uprising firsthand. Topics ranged from the influence of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East to the roles of youth and social media, and a historical breakdown leading up to the uprising.

Protests emerged in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities from Jan. 25 to Feb. 11 as a result of Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship in restricting free speech and free elections (next in line for the presidency was Mubarak’s son), high unemployment rates including university graduates, and the emergency law that extended police powers and denied constitutional rights.

Boston University graduate Zane Ahmadein, who lives in Egypt, shared his experience in the demonstrations. Ahmadein said he became involved after friends described to him the situation of the Jan. 25 revolts, and influenced by his instincts of right and wrong, he began demonstrating the next day.

Within moments of stepping into the demonstration on Jan. 26, Ahmadein said he saw a shotgun aimed at him. Unaware of what type of guns the police were using, he realized “it was just a sound gun, and it wasn’t directed at me it was directed at the crowd.”
What first began with peaceful chants erupted into turmoil as police forces charged at the demonstrators “at full speed, and hit anyone that they got in touch with.”

“Eventually it got to a point where I felt my life was in danger,” Ahmadein said.

Ahmadein joined another peaceful protest that same week when the Egyptian government disconnected mobile phones and the internet to limit communication between demonstrators.

At this demonstration, police once again used brutal force against the demonstrators, including the use of tear gas. Ahmadein said he witnessed individuals lose their lives, even some who had been decapitated.

Although demonstrations were meant to be peaceful, Ahmadein said protestors only used violence as defense and reciprocated police attacks.

Politics Professor Shalendra Sharma delved into the dictatorship of Hosni Mabarak as a disappointment to the Egyptian people. “Egypt used to be a trend setter in the Arab world, it was the place of high culture, of music and literature. Then it became bleak and a drab place. Then you had the emperors and you had the Dubai’s of the world, the materialism…and the Egyptians resented it quickly,” he said.

Prior to Mubarak’s presidency, Gamal Abdel Nasser was Egypt’s second president from 1956 until his untimely death in 1970. He is known for his role in helping overthrow the monarchy in Egypt and Sudan. Although his legacy had mixed criticisms, he was greatly admired by the Arab world for his anti-imperialist efforts.

After Nasser’s death, Vice President Anwar El-Sadat took his place as president, but was assassinated in 1981 after declaring peace with Israel, which was viewed as an act of deceit in the Arab world.

Mubarak began his 30-year reign thereafter. “For all the sense of propriety offended Egyptians, the sheer arrogance that somehow only him and his son can rule Egypt…in the sense he became the pharaoh, and unlike Sadat, and unlike to some extent Nasser, he broke the moral contract of his people,” Professor Sharma said.

Professor Zune said, “For decades, Mubarak was considered what we call a friendly dictator,”

“Over the past 30 years, both the Republican and Democratic administrations took 70 billion dollars of our tax money—money that could have been used for education, healthcare, housing, public transportation…to crop up the Mubarak regime, primarily in the form of military aid.”

According to Professor Zune, the United States has supported Egypt through military aid because the White House considers Egypt an important ally.

To President Barack Obama’s credit, Professor Zune said, “he spoke strongly against shutting down the internet and threatened to cut-off military aid…if U.S. weapons were used in massacre or other form of oppression and eventually called for speedy transition to democracy.”

But the United States did not play a role in the transition to democracy. Mubarak’s resignation Mubarak on Feb. 11 is all in credit to the demonstrators, because even the strongest dictators cannot rule without the cooperation of people.

“Who deserves credit for the Egyptian Revolution?  It’s the Egyptian people,” Professor Zune said.
In the fight for justice, Egyptian activist Zena Sallam said action must be taken into people’s own hands. “If we don’t act on it, then who will? We’ve lost trust in the government. We’ve lost trust in what they can provide us with…it’s time to be accountable and it’s time to be responsible.”

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Teach-In For Haiti Highlights Earthquake Aftermath

Haitians use the proverb “Lave Men Swiye Yo Ate.” In English, it means “wash your hands by wiping them in the dirt.” This proverb sums up what the U.S.-Haitian relations have been like, according to Brian Concannon, director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti and chair of the Lawyer’s Earthquake Response Network. In his estimation, America has metaphorically washed its hands of its responsibility to Haiti by supposedly aiding the country in ways that end up hurting its economy instead.

In response to Haiti’s diminishing media coverage, USF held a half-day event last Monday to update the community on what is happening and what still needs to be done in Haiti.  Teach-In on Haiti, sponsored by the Provost’s Council, featured an extensive list of expert panelists.

Anne Bartlett, USF professor of sociology, served on the humanitarian panel and said that since the earthquake, Haiti has received $5 billion in aid. Being the poorest country in the Americas, 80% of its people live on less than $2 a day.

U.S. Director of Sion Fonds, Annie Blackstone, spoke on behalf of the non-governmental organization (NGO) working in Haiti. When the earthquake hit, her work office collapsed. Blackstone, who is the adoptive mother of two Haitian children, recalled one of her sons’ remarks concerning Haiti’s immediate coverage after the earthquake. When the office fell to shreds, her son said, “I’m really sorry it took people this long to… help.”

Blackstone said that Sion Fonds was founded as a response to the earthquake, to support Haitian mothers and their children. It provides children the opportunity to attend one of its three different schools, since “most children don’t go to school because parents can’t afford it,” she said.

Another NGO, the What If? Foundation, has also supplied Haiti with assistance. Pamela Keenan, resource development coordinator, said that the organization was founded in 2000 to provide needed meals to hungry children. What If? is able to feed 1500 meals a day, 5 days a week in Haiti.

During the political and historical context session, Brian Concannon gave light to U.S. aid and said that the United States’ “amazing outpouring of generosity is leading the way in the international community.” The United States has promised $1.5 billion over the next two years to help Haiti re-build itself, even with a recession.

Prior to the earthquake, Concannon said that the major conflict that has affected Haitians has been the food crisis. The U.S. free trade policy during Bill Clinton’s presidency was one of the factors that contributed to the crisis. Because of the policy, U.S. agriculture out-competed Haitian farmers in selling rice, when in 1987 Haiti nearly grew all their rice. Since the policy, Haiti now imports about 80% of their rice, making up a third of the U.S.’ rice imports, despite that it’s a third world country.

As a result, farmers went out of business and moved to over-populated cities looking for work, usually ending up in sweatshops. They also resorted to slums built on steep ground and piled in unsafe floors atop each other (eventually succumbing to the earthquake).

U.S. food aid has also factored into the crisis, even though it seems unlikely. As means to rid its subsidiary corn, the U.S. distributed it to Haitian markets. However, the more food aid there was, the more farmers lost their jobs, which led to hungrier families who couldn’t support themselves.

Other factors included Haiti’s international debt, incurred since its independence from France in 1884, and the government’s destabilization. According to Concannon, the U.S. kidnapped Haiti’s elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 2004 by leading him on an American plane to a South African prison.

Pierre Labossiere, cofounder of the Haiti Action Committee and boardmember of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, said that it was an act that declared that Haiti can’t do for themselves. At the time, Aristide was investing money for infrastructure on hospitals and schools, but it didn’t happen. Instead, the coup d’etat kept Haitains away from healthcare, education, and clean water, among other things.

“What people need is solidarity,” Labossiere said. People need “with no political agenda. Governments are donating money and doing so much, but you have given so much, neighbors who are unemployed have donated money, insisted on sharing and thanks every one of you.”