Students express support and concern for California's newest proposition that will allow Rideshare drivers to remain independent contractors.
By Angus Stayte
With election results coming in throughout the country, these are changing times in America. In California, one of the most high-profile propositions was Proposition 22. It’s a proposition that calls into question whether or not California should continue classifying rideshare drivers as private contractors and not employees. The most expensive ballot measure campaign in California history with almost 200 million dollars invested by companies like Uber, Lyft, and Doordash passed last Tuesday. 8,073,556 Californians voted yes while 5,714,200 said no leaving that to be 58.6 percent and 41 percent.
I interviewed a couple of students to find out what they thought about Proposition 22. Josh Fong, a junior and also a part-time door dasher, was very passionate about the proposition passing. When I asked him what he thought about the two hundred million dollar campaigns by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies he said that “we shouldn’t focus on the corporation’s benefits for keeping workers independent and need to instead focus on drivers for the sake of the gig economy. Becoming employees will restrict that.”
The gig economy is essentially a market that has short-term contracts or freelance workers instead of permanent jobs which is what you sign up for if you are an Uber driver. Fong then brought up another concern saying “as a doordash driver, a high percentage of other drivers I’ve met have broken English. Having an employee-based system will restrict them from being able to pass interviews.”
Corey Miley, a junior business major voted no on Prop 22 and says that now that it is passed the drivers can’t form a union “if all drivers were part of a union then you could drive for whoever you want and you would still get benefits, better wages, workplace protections, etc.”
He went on to say that, “now because drivers are contractors these apps can fire you for trying to form a union and you can’t do anything about it legally. They have no obligation to the drivers.” I then asked him about the two hundred million ad campaign by the companies and Miley said “I think it is a bad precedent to set when you basically let Uber and Lyft buy their own labor laws.”
Time will show the effects of this proposition but for now, Proposition 22 is the newest legislation for Rideshare drivers in California.
College students pay full price for modified college experience.
By Olivia Buckley
Across the nation students are outraged that the reduced quality of their education during the Covid-19 pandemic has not spurred a reduction in tuition. “The quality of learning has diminished, you have to admit by some percentage, so there has to be some sort of compensation…” explains James Watt, a Junior at Saint Mary’s college of California.” These sentiments were echoed by Saint Mary’s student Sam Dixon, an Integral major, class of 2021, “Stepping away from the context of SMC, it would never make sense to pay such a high financial price for such a diminishing return.”
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a national shift that moved class meetings to an online format held on platforms such as Zoom and Skype. ” For many students, distance education means extended periods of time with their laptops or other electronic device; a reduction in resources such as constant face to face contact with professors, tutors, advisors, counselors, and other faculty members; and waning access to facilities such as libraries, classrooms, recreational centers, and a community of students.
Watt contends that the move to online education eroded the benefits of St. Mary’s College, “Saint Mary’s benefits from good relationships between student and teacher because of intimate class sizes and Zoom takes away from that relationship”. “What we’re paying for is the culture and the facilities and being face to face and we don't have that when we’re online” explained Blake Moser, a senior from Saint Mary’s College of California. Moser is among many students who are struggling with the idea of paying full tuition. Dixon explained “I do not think the cost of college is worth the current investment while class is being conducted online.”
It’s not just students who are frustrated, but parents as well. “They should have more communication with families and the people paying for college to find out where and how the money is being spent” explained Stacia Lemke, whose child attends Saint Mary’s College.
Aric Moirao, a senior at Saint Mary’s College and the senator for the class of 2021, explains how he is being proactive regarding this situation when he states, “During these times I am trying my best to advocate for the students through this hard time. Within Associated Students, trying to help students who expressed concerns during this time as well as trying to write resolutions to better our community. Personally, I have created a petition to advocate for the students after the tuition increase. This petition has received support from Associated Students, Academic Senate, and Staff Council.”
Saint Mary’s is not the only college that has students upset about tuition. University of Boulder, Colorado Vicky Hooper said of her campus’ tuition, “I think it's just a little bit frustrating and I don’t think I'm getting the same education as I do when I'm in person.” In fact, Hooper perceives a dip in the quality of education explaining “I don't think I'm learning as much online.” Kirby Bryant, a student at the University of Washington, explained that his tuition has bought him an education that includes watching his professors lecture on videos that were recorded years earlier. He explained “I would like to see professors not use pre-recorded lectures and pass them off as teaching. I need something more personal.”
After multiple attempts at contacting Saint Mary’s College of California, Megan Mustain, Vice Provost for Student Academics and Dean of the Core, gave the perspective of the school on increasing tuition. She states,“We simply cost more because our cost of operations is higher. We’ve put in a lot of energy, particularly over the summer our faculty went just crazy doing faculty development things to make Saint Mary’s as Saint Mary’s-y and Gael-y as a virtual environment could possibly be.We had intended to do salary increases along the lines of cost of labor increases in the Bay Area. We haven’t been able to do that to the extent we had hoped to.”
Megan explains the question on Saint Mary’s administration’s minds when deciding to increase the tuition saying, “How are we going to make it through this year with the other thing that changed on my spreadsheets? The cost of maintaining Saint Mary’s campus and its employees and the students who are going to be living on campus under COVID.”
As bad as the education quality may be, it is still better than the many who cannot access the online tools or lack the skills to use them properly. Although the frustrations of the students are valid, the faculty and staff at Saint Mary’s college have been working tirelessly to create an online environment where the SMC community can be the best that it can be.
Movie Review: The Devil All the Time
By Benjamin Noel
The Devil All the Time is a timeless thriller set in the Midwest, in years after the Second World War. In this Netflix Original cinematic retelling of Donald Ray Pollock’s book of the same name, the star studded cast and the gripping storyline keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Over the course of two hours, we watch the unfolding of the intertwined lives of two serial killers, a crooked preacher and a kid with some serious bad luck.
The story unwinds in a jumbled up fashion, jumping back and forth between storylines and times, but is easy to follow. While I expected a slow burn thriller, I was pleasantly surprised by the film’s pace. Throughout it’s rather long runtime, the film has over a dozen points of tension, and the pace never lets off after the first character’s introduction. While the narrator (author Donald Pollock himself) keeps the story moving, the characters are responsible for the movie's memorable morally gripping moments, brought home with the acting prowess of Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Robert Pattinson, and more.
Even with a runtime of over two hours, we surprisingly do not get well acquainted with the characters as a result of the tightly packed story line. They are hardly given any personality outside of what is required to move the plot along. However, the lack of individuality, and formlessness of the character’s outside of what’s shown on screen allows these figures to represent a type of person, and become an archetype. For example, the movie does not give us much backstory or depth to a certain child molesting preacher. But his advances towards an underage girl are utterly repulsive, knowing the commonality of this type of man. The character’s are not individuals, but rather symbols, painting the picture of the traumatized soldier, the perverted preacher, or the loyal son.
I found my heart racing multiple times throughout the film, predicting the next mind blowing build up or dreading what may go wrong. And in the film’s two plus hour run time, I never quite got bored, as the story absolutely refused to slow down, with conflict always right around the corner. Without a doubt, this movie is right for fans of thrillers, mysteries and anything fast paced.
Overall, the movie was an absolute home run, the storytelling, characters, and beautifully executed motifs earn it a spot in my top ten movies of all time. I can’t get enough of the story, so I will be picking up a copy of the book. This film is a must watch!
The Saint Mary’s Spirit Team explores how to bring spirit to an un-spirited basketball season.
By Peyton Prebil
With Saint Mary’s basketball season in full swing, the University Credit Union Pavilion is packed with excited fans. The student section, the band, and the spirit team collectively join forces to build a powerful sporting environment. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the influential role that the spirit team holds to create a fun, game-day atmosphere has been forced to take a back seat.
“This basketball season will look different,” third-year spirit team member Alex Crivello said, “It will not hold the same electric energy as past seasons because we are unable to cheer for a big crowd.” During a “normal” sporting season, the spirit team cheers in at least two men and women’s basketball games a week.
Crivello described their typical schedule, “We typically have two game days a week starting in November up until the WCC tournament in Las Vegas in March.”
Third-year spirit team member Kate Young explained how exciting it is to be part of the game-day action in the University Credit Union Pavilion. “There is nothing like cheering in front of Gael fans,” said Young, “They are always so fun to perform for.”
As of right now, there are no plans for the spirit team to be involved in the upcoming basketball season. However, coach Cassandra Ngyuen explained that there is hope for the future. “Things do change daily and we are hopeful to be part of it in some ways.”
Until the spirit team is granted the green light to safely host events on campus to bring the Saint Mary’s community closer, they will continue to meet over Zoom. Crivello said, “We’ve been meeting over Zoom to practice cheers and to learn new dances in case we get to perform.”
In an attempt to deliver spirit to the Saint Mary’s community, Young explains the team's utilization of social media platforms. “Instagram has been our main way of spreading spirit in a COVID-friendly way”, Young said, “We have made ‘Meet the Team’ posts so our followers can get to know a little more about us.”
To expand, Young explained, “We are also hoping to start a Tik Tok to create exciting content for Gael fans.” The team wants to post cheers, dance routines, and their own spins of popular Tik Tok trends.
“It has definitely been challenging to brainstorm the different ways we can virtually pump-up SMC fans for basketball season,” Coach Ngyuen said, “We are doing the best we can and will continue to explore our options.”
The spirit team plans to uphold their active social media status in order to distribute virtual spirit during this unusual basketball season.
Film in the COVID-19 Era
The entertainment industry gets back to work forced to navigate shooting new film material amidst a global pandemic.
By Benjamin Noel
Through the trials and tribulations coronavirus has brought upon us, the world as we know it has changed. The precautions taken in restaurants, grocery stores and the like remind us that we are not living in a normal time. But none of these have faced a threat to their very existence like movie theaters. Movie theaters, as we know them, have been wiped out of the collective conscience, and new releases are continuously being pushed back in hopes of making a big box office opening. With no new movies coming out, we’ve found ourselves relying on the classics to keep our film itch at bay.
But films are still being shot, and T.V. shows continue to pump out new episodes. And it isn’t unheard of for films to go straight to streaming services.
So what in the world is happening to the film industry? How hard can it be to shoot a T.V. show or movie during this unpredictable time?
Well, the whole ordeal of shooting amidst a virus is much trickier than meets the eye. To start, shows need dozens and dozens of ordinary people to populate a scene to make it feel genuine. For example, filling out a mall, or having cars driving by in the background, are vital parts in giving a scene authenticity. Compiling a group of people, testing them for the virus, then shooting all for a single scene at a time becomes a hassle and an expense.
Additionally, with so many places closed, or otherwise restricted with state legislation, with masks mandates, and social distancing, shooting on site has become a trial of its own. T.V. producers are forced to get creative with their scene, and ultimately plot, choices while navigating the seemingly endless maze of restrictions and regulations. Ultimately, the price of shooting during COVID-19 is sacrificing the feel of the show. For example, the Netflix series Better Call Saul heavily relied on shooting on site, where it be a nail salon, a fried chicken spot, or another staple of New Mexico’s money laundering landscape (Washington Post). So the show’s producers have had to adapt their shows accordingly.
Additionally, the crew behind the camera must deal with the changes too. Make up, lighting, camera crews and more have the same regulations to follow. And the industry is harder to break through as smaller jobs are put on hold due to a hike in budget required to film safely.
And as a side note: to make shows more relevant to today, we may even see some producers start introducing masks, and social distancing to their scenes, and adapt their plot to COVID-19. And while that would make it more relatable, it almost certainly will not make for good television.
Back to the point, a big question to the industry is the sustainability of shooting in these times. Will extras put their health on the line for a minimum wage paycheck? Will new film crews be able to establish names for themselves given all the financial and logistical setbacks in these times?
Only time will tell.
All these obstacles provide for a challenging atmosphere for new and even established shows and films. But as measures ease up, and producers collaborate and figure out viable solutions to creating new content, we can hope to see some great new films.
Saint Mary’s students reveal how they will vote or how they have voted in this election, revealing concern around mail in voting.
By Isabelle Cannon
This upcoming election there has been a lot of talk about how people will be voting given the coronavirus and quarantine restrictions. The primary options are to vote in person or use a mail-in ballot. However, in typical political fashion there are rumors and worries that the election will be fraudulent due to miscounted votes. Due to social distancing guidelines, this election it is believed to encourage voters to mail in their ballots, but what do Saint Mary’s students plan on doing?
A majority of the Saint Mary’s students that I interviewed expressed that they plan on voting in person despite the pandemic. Senior, Katrina Heffernan stated, “I think that right now in person voting is probably better because of the slow delivery with USPS and you also get an “I Voted” sticker which is pretty cool.”
The United States postal service has been rumored to have recent problems of speed due to a lack of funding. Heffernan even expressed packages that have been sent to her from her parents seem to take longer than in years past.
Saint Mary’s student, Ava Parashis, similarly stated, “I honestly prefer in person voting just because I trust that it will be counted and I turned it in myself.” With in person voting individuals seem to feel more secure that their vote will be counted and not tampered with. She went on to say, “Voting by mail is not new, it is just new to us.”
This is the first time many students are able to vote in a presidential election. Because the way people are voting seems to be politically charged, individuals forget mail voting has been around for years.
For some students, they don’t have an option to vote in person even if they want to. Raquel Corral, an out of state student, voiced “Personally, I think in person voting is better mostly because of the likelihood that nothing is tampered with, but I am voting with a mail ballot because I am out of state.”
All three students who were interviewed expressed that they thought in person voting was better. However, all three of them have practiced mail in voting this election. So, is there really a right way to vote? Some believe that mail in ballots could be tampered with or the delivery will be delayed. While on the other hand, in person voting could lead to challenges with social distancing and large crowds.
Ryan Ford '23,