Saint Mary’s Action Response Team created to streamline emergency response at SMC.
By: Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
Fire danger signs are a familiar sight driving around Moraga and the surrounding areas. Though familiar, the current risk severity of extremely high is a reminder of the dangers of SMC’s beautiful, albeit dry and grassy, setting. With fire season in full swing, emergency preparedness may be on the top of many students' minds. In an effort to streamline emergency response protocols, SMC’s Action and Response Team (SMART) was created last month, putting a heightened amount of attention on emergency management for the SMC community.
SMART was created by President Richard Plumb in August 2021. The committee is co-chaired by Chief of Public Safety Hampton Cantrell and Vice President for Student Life Anthony Garrison with additional members in Academic Affairs, Human Resources, Communications, Information Technology Services, and Facilities.
Chief Cantrell describes SMART as “a college-wide committee charged with overseeing the preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery of a major crisis that may impact the college as a whole or one of its major units.”
As a co-chair, Cantrell is responsible for the implementation of SMART initiatives with other team members. He says that in the event of a crisis, team members will review, come up with an appropriate plan of action, and recommend the action plan to the appropriate college officials.
“The campus has emergency plans for fire, earthquake, bomb threat, Active Shooter, unhealthy air quality, to name a few,” said Cantrell. “The role of SMART is to ensure these plans are updated regularly and communicated to the campus community.”
In response to high winds or severe weather in high fire danger areas, like parts of Lamorinda or Walnut Creek, PG&E may shut off power to help prevent wildfires.
According to the PG&E website, “wildfire conditions across California have intensified due to increased temperatures and dryness. The combination of dry vegetation and high winds can uproot trees, blow branches onto power lines or create sparks if power lines contact one another. These conditions call for Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).”
These Public Safety Power Shut-offs or PSPS are often forecasted several days in advance and community members are often warned of possible or planned outages 24 to 48 hours ahead of time.
Cantrell says that SMC is preparing for power outages by maintaining a generator to supply emergency power in case of a power outage. This generator has to be tested periodically.
According to Michael Beseda, the Vice Provost of Enrollment at Saint Mary’s, despite receiving emails about generator testing and repairs going on, students do not need to worry about broken generators. Beseda says that the tests and repairs are to fix a mechanism that automatically turns the generator on if power on campus is cut, but that the generators still work if turned on manually.
In the event of a power outage or fire, Saint Mary’s community members will be notified via the LiveSafe app. For community members looking for additional information about emergency preparedness, Cantrell offers himself as a resource, “as Chief of Public Safety, I am always available to discuss safety and security issues with students, faculty, and staff. It is an honor to work for such a fine institution.”
Chief Cantrell offers the following tips for students to be better prepared for emergencies:
Building specific evacuation plans can be found at the following link: Incident Management | Saint Mary's College (stmarys-ca.edu)
For more information about PG&E Public Safety Power Shut-offs including preparedness checklists and PSPS explanations: https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/outages/public-safety-power-shuttoff/learn-about-psps.page
Thousands of college students scattered along the east coast are again going online, however COVID-19 is not the culprit.
By: Ally Sullivan
Hurricane Ida made landfall on the coast of Louisiana on Sunday, August 30th, leaving universities in the area to deal with this unfortunate natural disaster. In hopes of being in a more personal post zoom world, educational processes will be stopped, and may not continue for several weeks. A statement from Tulane University in New Orleans was released stating that classes will be cancelled until September 12th, and be resumed online beginning the 13th.
With classes cancelled and power out, students are faced with the uncertainty of where they might go next. Lacking resources on campuses, some students have been transported to safer parts of Baton Rouge and neighboring areas. This does not impact the efforts to combat COVID-19. Research being done at Tulane University, has shown that when students are able to return to campus, efforts will be made to test the individuals coming in such as setting up proper quarantine rooms to ensure caution for all students.
Louisiana State University works toward cleaning up campus, and prepping for the oncoming of students in the next few days. First priority, as addressed by the administration, is allowing the students time to process and address the other difficulties that have arisen in their personal lives as a result of the hurricane.
Although all are well versed in online learning, problems arise out of the lack of power in many areas. Online learning would be possible if staff and students were able to get far enough away from the affected areas to towns and cities with power.
While scattering amongst students and staff continues, concerns circle around the potential dropout rate at many of the universities affected by the storms. This all being the result of possibly 6-8 weeks of no schooling at all. Elementary school districts have been providing families with $100 stipends to use for tarps for roofs, as well as gas for generators. This same concern has yet to be matched by college universities, however if problems persist, actions will have to be taken.
A Behind the Scenes of Weekend of Welcome
By: Annika Henthorn
Who could forget about SMC’s notorious first-year greeting? After a year in hibernation, Weekend of Welcome finally returned for its first in-person appearance August 27-29. Greeted by energetic whoops and hollers of WOWies prepping to unload endless lines of cars, the class of 2025 was welcomed back onto campus with open arms and loads of enthusiasm. Such a large undertaking requires a sizable team, and for Weekend of Welcome, that team was made up of WOWies. Not only are they considered the school’s welcoming committee, but are also part-time Uhaul movers for first years, and intensive laborers, working around the clock to prepare for Saint Mary’s return to campus. Weekend festivities included painting the SMC, a carnival, the soiree, and so much more for first years to partake in.
Following such a tough year for so many, WOWies wanted to ensure that first year students were acclimated to campus and the social scene before beginning school. To the naked eye, Weekend of Welcome may seem like a culmination of typical college events and games, but beneath the surface lies the sweat and tears of coordinators, WOWies, and others who worked tirelessly to prepare for such a long-awaited week. Victoria Jacobo, a Weekend of Welcome coordinator, has revealed that they began “prepping for WOW the last week of June once the bulk of Orientation ended.” These large events that may seem simple to plan have actually taken months to prepare for. Although coordinators began planning in June, WOWies arrived two weeks before to train for the incoming chaos. Shortly after, they were split into teams, each focusing on an event and its needed arrangements. Whether that was hand-painting posters or setting up the Farewell Barbeque, WOWies seemed to have their hands full leading up to the start of the semester.
One of the biggest challenges faced in this process was “communicating with different departments to see how they can be involved and what they need from us,” according to Jacobo. This required all different departments of the school to collaborate in order to create such a seamless experience for incoming first year students. Despite the laborious work involved in orchestrating such a large production, both WOWies and coordinators can agree that seeing everything come to fruition made it entirely worth it.
Topher Costa, a first year student that attended Weekend of Welcome, has said that “it was really fun just to get to know everyone and be forced into it; it just made it a lot easier to meet friends.” With so much change and uncertainty spiralling around first year students, Weekend of Welcome helped alleviate some of that fear and allow them to meet friends before school began.
Skylar Matas, another first year student, agreed, saying that “whether it was in line or during planned activities” she was able to develop friendships over the course of the weekend. However, Megan Louis has said that with such a packed weekend, “it was hard to settle in because there wasn’t a ton of spare time.” Although this is intentional to shield students from feeling lonely, it can also be overwhelming for those that want time to settle in. College is not an easy transition, and Weekend of Welcome is there to help navigate first years through it.
Saint Mary’s professors speak out on the College’s proposal to implement the Graduate Student Teaching Fellow program.
By Victoria Vidales
As Saint Mary’s administration moves forward with the implementation of the Graduate Student Teaching Fellow program, adjunct faculty members are voicing their concerns for the potential loss of their employment and quality of education for students. The Graduate Student Teaching Fellow program would allow Graduate Students to teach undergraduate classes for a variety of introductory disciplines. Although the College has been adamant that the program would not effect tenure or tenure track faculty, the fellows would be a risk to adjunct faculty, who do not have as much administrative protection. As a result adjunct faculty have been vocal with both administrators and students hoping to persuade the former to reconsider and the latter to support their opposition to this program.
In regards to comparing teaching loads, Professor Thomas Cooney, of the English Department, said “The adjunct faculty does the heavy lifting at the College. Their workload is heavier than the tenure faculty. They spend more time with students.”
If allowed the Graduate Student Teaching Fellows would teach any introductory courses that correspond to a graduate program at Saint Mary’s. This would effect professors from a vast range of disciplines. Professor Cooney was involved in the creation of the Graduate Student Teaching Fellows program, however, he claims that the program has transformed from the original intention.
“I’m coming from a specific place that no one [from Saint Mary’s] comes from. I’m the one who set [the Graduate Student Teaching Fellows] up. I’m the one who put this into motion and I know all the negative aspects that are not being considered. Most importantly that less than one third of students that applied to the program had an English degree. Its often difficult to find three qualified students for graduate fellows,” Professor Cooney said.
Professor Cooney claims that the original program allowed for teaching interns, who were mentored by a faculty member during their second year of study. Professor Cooney wrote the policy for the program and enforced it for 15 years. Although Professor Cooney fully supports graduate students in their educational endeavours, he believes that as the amount of graduate student workers increases the program would not be beneficial for graduate students, undergraduates or professors.
“There have been really strong graduate student teaching fellows but that does not mean that this program should be fully implemented,” Professor Cooney said.
Professor Mary Volmer, of the English Department, is an alumna of Saint Mary’s and former member of the Graduate Student Teaching Program. Although she credits the teaching program with helping her develop her own craft in the classroom, she notes that the increase in fellows for the College in the place of adjunct faculty would severely change the dynamics of Saint Mary’s education. Professor Volmer recognizes the importance of relationships between students and professors in and outside of the classroom, and how these relationships are a part of the attraction to the College.
“I came to Saint Mary’s as an undergraduate and as an athlete and I chose Saint Mary’s over other colleges because of the academics, the small class sizes, and the fact that I would be taught by professors, not graduate students. [As a professor] I have been able to develop relationships with students that go far beyond the classroom, and that’s what I fear with graduate students teaching courses is that very few if any are going to come back to teach so you don’t have the same relationships that professors are able to develop,” Professor Volmer said.
Professor Volmer notes that especially for first year students, who are mainly taught by adjunct faculty, the Graduate Student Teaching Fellows would not be able to provide the same attention that an adjunct professor does. Professor Volmer advises that Saint Mary’s administrators must re-examine the College’s Lasallian values, which adjunct faculty believe are not being considered with the implementation of this program. Above all, Professor Volmer argues that adjunct faculty choose to teach because they enjoy working with students, and that the students’ experiences within the classroom remain their priority always.
“[Adjunct faculty] are not willing to sacrifice [students’] education for some unknown financial savings. We know because we have been students how important it is to have professors across campus as sounding boards and mentors. That’s why we are fighting to remain. Very often the subject matter is secondary, there are other ways to make money. We choose to be with students,” Professor Volmer said.
Professor Cooney highlights this claim as well, arguing that this program proposal from the College is a part of a larger blind spot from Saint Mary’s administration when it comes to valuing adjunct faculty. He claims that adjunct faculty members provide not only expertise within the classroom but share their talents with the general public. Professor Cooney says that the College should focus on promoting the talents of their existing faculty, not trying to replace them with graduate student workers.
“I would advise the College to re-route the ridiculous amount of money that is being spent on useless dean positions and put the funds into qualified instructors who are publishing to a greater amount of readers than tenure faculty,” Professor Cooney said.
Professor Cooney claims that if Saint Mary’s administration would invest in adjunct faculty they would be able to see the incredible amount of work that adjunct professors provide towards the College. If this investment in adjunct faculty were to occur Professor Cooney claims that it would validate professors’ work and invest in student learning.
“Many adjunct professors have written novels that have been reviewed by The New York Times. Professors Chrsitine O’Brien, Mary Volmer and Jeff Chon all have written incredible works yet the College sees them as expendable. Meanwhile students pay money to deans that they will never meet or see. This is a nationwide problem not just exclusive to Saint Mary’s,” Professor Cooney said.
Professors hope that students will realize their dedication to them and receive their support as they face this new program. As Saint Mary’s moves forward with welcoming the College’s new president Richard Plumb for the upcoming academic year, adjunct faculty are hopeful that he will recognize the importance of adjunct faculty, and remain committed to protecting their jobs.
“We would love [the new President] to recognize the potential Saint Mary’s has and how much a part of that potential adjunct faculty are,” Professor Volmer said.
How did a country’s unlikely coronavirus success end up falling apart?
“At the beginning of the pandemic, global experts had predicted that India would face a tsunami of Covid cases...we not only solved our problems but also helped the world fight the pandemic.” – Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, in a speech at WEF’s Davos Summit, January 28, 2021
Modi wasn’t wrong. When the pandemic began, India’s high population mixed with densely packed cities set the stage for a perfect storm of high infections and high casualties, or so the world thought. But surprisingly, India has one of the lowest mortality rates of Covid-19 in the world (1.1%). While there is not enough data to say why, scientists believe it has to do with environmental factors, age demographics, or potential underreporting. This low mortality rate, calculated genuinely or otherwise, gave rise to the narrative of the lockdowns being unnecessary, doing more harm than good for the country.
India's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has thus resulted in shortages of hospital beds, oxygen tanks, and medicine in many hospitals across the country. Funeral pyres have not stopped burning since this calamitous second wave hit, black market medicines are in high demand. Since the end of March, cases and deaths have been on a steady incline. As reported, there are over 400,000 new cases and 4,000 deaths a day at the time this article was written (Reuters). And this surge has exposed the inefficiencies of India’s healthcare system.
Established after independence in 1947, the system was segmented into three tiers: village, small urban areas, and specialized treatment; over time, this system has been perverted to prioritise for-profit hospitals at the cost of healthcare for those in villages, or small towns, all while overcharging their patients (Kalpana Jain, STAT News). And through this crisis, the government continues to gaslight the populus, understating yet again the severity of the crisis which they spawned with their own willful ignorance of science, inability to accept responsibility, and their prioritization of reelection campaigns over the safety of their people.
India’s Covid-19 “death paradox” in tandem with the winding down of the first wave led to a knee-jerk reaction by the government, opening up prematurely and completely. “When the first wave was tapering, that’s when they should have prepared for a second wave and assumed the worst. The [government] should have taken an inventory of oxygen and [the drug] Remdesivir and then ramped up manufacturing capacity,” says Mahesh Zagade, former health secretary of Maharashtra state, to BBC.
Policy-makers ignoring science have given rise to a state of indifference towards the crisis.
A group of scientists, known as Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genome Sequencing Consortia or INSACOG, created a report on a variant (now known as the Indian variant), and passed it over to the National Centre for Disease Control before March 10th. This came a day before 3.5 million pilgrims converged for the Kumbh Mela celebration (Reuters). The NCDC sent the findings to the Health Ministry, who has not publicised nor made policy to prevent the spread of this increasingly common, more contagious strain. Rather, the Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan, prioritizes pushing the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda. In a virtual meeting a month after the INSACOG report had been sent to his office, Vardhan stated that “Significant progress needs to be made on the cow science front before PM Modi’s speech on 75th Independence Day. Covid-19 pandemic cannot be used as an excuse for this delay” (The Print).
Downplaying the virus as a mere obstacle in the way of more meaningful problems has been this government’s narrative even once India hit more new cases in a day than ever before. Additionally, doctors and hospital directors are being arrested for putting out SOS calls for oxygen when their hospital supply runs low. According to SkyNews, Akilesh Pandey, who runs a hospital in Uttar Pradesh, was arrested by UP police, charged with “false scaremongering” for requesting oxygen as 4 patients died as the supply ran out. This pattern is seen unfolding across the country as the government continues to downplay the gravity of the crisis.
Besides downright denying the severity of the virus, there are leaders who allege that spirituality will protect people from falling ill. “Kumbh is held on the bank of river Ganga. Maa Ganga’s blessings are there in the flow. Hence, there should be no corona” says chief minister of Uttarakhand (the state in which Kumbh takes place), Tirath Singh Rawat, on April 13th. He goes on to warn that there should be no “rok-tok,” or hindrance, to the practices, and the recommended testing and distancing measures should be ignored. There are also widely circulating “home remedies” to cure Covid-19, which include inhaling alcohol vapors, staying inside on certain phases of the lunar cycle, and more pseudo-scientific solutions to beat the virus.
This all stems from a lack of transparency between the government and its constituents. “[O]ur inability to adequately manage the spread of infections has, to a large extent, resulted from epidemiological data not being systematically collected and released in a timely manner,” researchers wrote (Science Mag). Modi’s BJP ministers won’t publicize important cautionary information for people to follow, and thus they either underestimate the severity of the virus, or create their own home solutions. Both cases of state-induced ignorance have contributed to the spreading of Covid-19 like wildfire.
Scientists don’t believe we’ve seen the worst of this deadly wave yet, some predicting a peak in June, or late May at the earliest (NY Mag). While the nature of viral crises make it impossible to bring cases and deaths to a screeching halt, this disaster has exposed some inadequacies of India’s money-driven healthcare system and the great deal of incompetency that exists in the country’s leadership.
During this crisis, here are a couple sites collecting donations for oxygen tanks, icu beds, etc. to help India during this crisis. Please help as best you can.
The American India Foundation (AIF)
The American India Foundation is launching Phase II of it's COVID-19 relief effort to provide infrastructure support (such as oxygen supplies), to protect front line workers via PPE and other measures, and to build community resilience through campaigns and nutrition. Donations are accepted from the United States: Donate HERE
Can anyone in the senior class claim they are wearing a graduation gown from 1923?
By Ally Sullivan
Brady Lance, a graduating senior, will have his name embroidered into his family's graduation gown on May 21st.
The traveling gown was first worn by his great-great-grandmother at her graduation from the University of British Columbia in 1923. Margaret Ada Lewis Brown, a widowed mother of five, attended the university after many years of having to put it off to support her family. Eventually earning her degree in two years, a gown was handmade for her in celebration of her achievements.
Margaret and the gown have acted as a beacon of light for the family and a marker of the importance of education. The gown has been passed from every grandchild, to great-grandchild, and now five of her great-great-grandchildren. In total, it has been passed down to thirty-four people, including Brady. The sacred gown, originating from Canada, finds itself moving back and forth, never mailed, or transported via courier, or even in checked luggage. The careful nature of handling the gown shows the compassion and inclination toward the preservation of family heritage that is to be admired.
Julie Lance, Brady's mother, expressed the strong connection the gown has had with her dad's side of the family. “My dad passed away before Brady was born, and he was such a strong role model in my life. I see so much that they have in common, and having Brady wear the gown that my dad wore as well is overwhelming.” The family thread that ties the gown to the past and those loved ones that have passed on really shows the amazing power of the grand gown.
Brady himself is looking back at the long list of family members before him. “It's important to me that I wear it, I'm proud of all that my family members have accomplished, and am honored I get to add to that legacy”.
Brady Lance will be accompanied by his immediate family at the drive-thru commencement ceremony on May 21st. He will be the only one in his class with a gown from 1923.
Authors note: I would like to extend my gratitude toward the Lance Family for allowing me to capture their wonderful story, and remind me and the Saint Mary’s community of the unbreakable bonds of family.
A Bill is to be passed in the state of Florida that allows for even tighter voting restrictions post the 2020 election.
Florida, one of the battleground states, is going to see a major shift in voting policies in the next few years. Florida legislatures passed an election overhaul bill on Thursday in a confirmed effort by Republicans to reshape the electoral system in the state. The lasting impact of Donald Trump's election still affects the political atmosphere in this swing state.
The new bill will add more identification requirements when requesting an absentee ballot. It will also severely cut the number of drop boxes available and require that, for each election, the individual must request an absentee ballot rather than automatically receiving one in the mail.
Many Florida politicians have identified these new voter guidelines as “unnecessary” and “just another way to make voting more difficult”. In addition to the stricter guidelines, researchers have predicted that it will have a discriminative effect on voters of color.
This push will have the most impact on mail-in voting, which is being measured as the main reason for taking such actions. In the 2020 electoral race, more than 2.1 million Democrats cast mail ballots compared to the 1.4 million Republicans. This alarming statistic has pushed many Democrats to fight back the new voter guidelines to halt the bill’s disproportionality. However, when asked about fraudulent activity in the past election that would inspire the new bill, Republicans often remain quiet.
In the past 5 years, supervisor respondents have said there was very little potential for fraud. It's noted that most of their dropboxes are already under physical or video surveillance. It is becoming evident to many Florida lawmakers that certain facts pertaining to the assertability of the bill are underrepresented and lack sufficient evidence.
Within hours after the bill was passed by Gov. Brian Kemp, Democrats and civil rights groups filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the legality of the bill. All of this is sure to unfold in the next couple of months.
Saint Mary’s professors fear for the preservation of their jobs following the College’s proposal to have graduate students teach undergraduate classes.
By Victoria Vidales
Saint Mary’s has created a reputation for providing a high quality college education taught by experienced professors. In a small school environment Saint Mary’s professors are able to establish close relationships with their students, watching them grow over four years. These intimate bonds between students and faculty are a highlight for the attraction to Saint Mary’s. However, professors are now concerned that these mentorships will diminish as the College moves to implement the Graduate Student Teaching Fellow program, which would allow for graduate students to teach undergraduate college classes in the place of faculty.
“I believe [as a Union] when we are trying to raise awareness about this we are speaking for a large majority of the stakeholders at Saint Mary’s College who are either not as close to the event, or are close to the events but are afraid to speak up,” Professor Colin Chan Redemer, Chief Steward of the Campus Union, said.
According to the Senate Resolution, Graduate Student Teaching Fellows will be defined as “graduate students enrolled full time in a Saint Mary’s College graduate degree program who have been selected to participate in an approved teaching pathway program for professional development within a Sponsoring program and been assigned by a Chair or Program Director within a Supervising program to teach a course at Saint Mary’s College, either as an assistant, co-teacher, or sole instructor of record.”
The purpose of this program is to provide graduate students with the opportunity to teach a college class before entering the professional world. If passed, this program would provide for a significant increase in graduate students teaching undergraduate courses which could continue to grow over time. Unionized professors fear that this increase in graduate student workers in the place of faculty would eliminate their jobs with the College relying on graduate student workers in the place of unionized faculty members.
“Once you have been teaching at Saint Mary’s for a while you see not only the department’s best practices but you are involved in helping find those best practices. Those thought processes graduate students don’t necessarily have the path to,” Vice President of the Campus Union, Tony Panlilio said.
In response to this development Professor Redemer created a virtual petition to gain support for unionized faculty’s opposition to this proposal, and to bring attention to the matter. The petition states that the administration is “forming a new grad-student teaching policy which will determine the future of unionized labor on campus, as well as the future of undergraduate education at Saint Mary’s College.This policy may reverse the college’s long and widely respected tradition of staffing core classes with highly qualified adjunct faculty, and allowing departments to replace us with temporary graduate students.”
Furthermore, the petition explicitly calls upon Saint Mary’s administration to not grant this program, writing that “we ask that the Administration adopt a position which leads with the following phrase: Saint Mary's College will not replace any unionized employee with a graduate student worker.”
“If you were to replace three highly trained faculty members with 18 graduate students or more. The Senate proposal makes no limit on how many graduate students could be teaching. If you replaced faculty members with graduate students how many students would have a new trainee teaching their classes. What value does that place on a Saint Mary’s education?” Professor Redemer said.
To be clear, this petition is not in response to graduate students assisting or being mentored by experienced professors. These roles exist and are encouraged by unionized faculty. The petition is in response to graduate students teaching a course alone in the place of a unionized faculty member, thus eliminating the faculty member’s job.
“I really believe in the students that we produce at Saint Mary’s I think that they are a cut above. [However,] there’s an awareness they know that they have gotten from their professors that they are not quite yet ready to provide. They need more formation, they need a bit more steeping in the great tradition of thought of whatever it is that they are studying,” Professor Redemer said.
The majority of Saint Mary’s faculty are not tenure or on the tenure track but are adjuncts. This means that they are at risk for less employment security and benefits. With the help of a labor union they are able to receive more legal protections in the classroom. Although the Graduate Student Teaching Fellows would not be a risk to tenure faculty, they would be to adjunct faculty.
“A union is not the same thing as tenure but it does make you an at-fault employee rather than an at-will employee, that means that if you make a mistake, if you are not doing your job, you can still be fired but the employer has to prove you've done wrong. There is a slightly higher level of protection. It provides for things like academic freedom, it allows for professors to teach within the discipline without pushback. Adjunct faculty that are unionized have access to benefits,” Professor Redemer said.
Saint Mary’s is one of the few universities that does not rely on graduate students or undergraduate teaching assistants to teach introductory classes. Most, if not all, Saint Mary’s classes are taught by experienced faculty members. Unionized faculty members not only fear for the loss of their source of employment, but also a decrease in the quality of education that students at Saint Mary’s expect to receive. Undergraduate students will no longer be taught by a long term professor but instead by a fellow student learning how to teach.
“That’s part of the draw of Saint Mary’s College is that you are being taught by a professor that has been with the College department who grows with the school. [As a faculty member] you build relationships with these students that carry on as they become alumni. As opposed to a graduate student who will be out the door when they graduate with a degree. You might have that momentary classroom connection [with a graduate student] but you don’t have the legacy of Saint Mary’s College going into the classroom,” VP Panlilio said.
The creation of the Graduate Student Teaching Fellow program would drastically change the dynamic of Saint Mary’s College education. With graduate programs available in several disciplines, several types of courses could be taught by graduate students. Depending on the success this could lead to a decrease in the amount of courses a unionized faculty member teaches, and eventually, could lead to a termination of employment.
“The proposal from a year ago just impacted the English Department. However, the proposal now impacts any department that has graduate students in it. There’s nothing in the Senate language that prevents MBA students from teaching introductory Business classes,” Professor Redemer said.
Since the petition has been online a number of students have signed the petition, expressing support for faculty and opposition to the proposal. Unionized faculty are hopeful that students will recognize the importance of their role in their undergraduate education and receive their support moving forward.
“Many students have signed the petition, and a number of them have left comments. A student currently at Saint Mary’s wrote on the petition ‘you will not take my favorite professor from me.’These students love their professors they find the professors that they click with and they want to take more classes with them. There’s an awareness that you will lose that if you have a new graduate student who comes in and teaches one Jan Term class that they are ever going to teach and then they move on. From a student perspective there’s no institutional knowledge,” Professor Redemer said.
Unionized faculty will continue to petition against this program in order to preserve their jobs and the relationships that they build with students. Above all unionized faculty want students to know how much they value their jobs and the relationships that they have built with generations of Saint Mary’s students.
“I really am here because there’s nothing I’d rather do than discuss great books, big ideas, and beautiful writing with the students at Saint Mary’s College. That’s why I am here. The union is what allows me to do that without fear or a sense that my family is financially suffering because of my vocation,” Professor Redemer said.
For the petition to sign in opposition to the Graduate Student Teaching Fellows please visit the link below: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-union-jobs-at-saint-marys-college
“Conversation with Dr. Russell Jeung, Co-Founder of Stop AAPI Hate Organization,” explores recent hate crimes against Asian Americans and the movement that has sprung up against it.
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
On Tuesday, March 27, at 4:30 pm, Saint Mary’s hosted “Conversation with Dr. Russell Jeung, Co-Founder of STOP AAPI HATE Organization.” The event was co-facilitated by Saint Mary’s faculty members, Dr. Loan Dao and Dr. Luz Casquejo Johnston, and was co-sponsored by a number of campus groups including the Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, Justice Community & Leadership, Anthropology, History, Communication, and Performing Arts departments, as well as the Black Lives Matter Committee. Through a mixture of presentation and Q&A discussion, the event examined recent hate crimes against Asian Americans, the sources and impacts of racism, and solutions.
The event featured Dr. Russell Jeung, a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, and Co-Founder of the organization Stop AAPI Hate. His organization was founded in March 2020 in collaboration with the organization Chinese for Affirmative Action and the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council. It tracks COVID-19 discrimination incidents, and, since its founding, has received over 3,795 reported incidents of hate.
Jeung began the event by giving background to the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans this year. He says that this is not a new phenomenon and that violence against Asian Americans has been a reappearing occurrence during pandemics in the past, like SARS in 2003.
“I'll tell you a little bit about the background of what happened because I know Asian American history,” Jeung said. “We knew that whenever a pandemic came from Asia, Asians are blamed for it, and then interpersonal violence occurs.”
Understanding that violence was likely to occur due to COVID-19, Jeung and his partners created a website tracker to record personal accounts of racism, which he says is “flooded” with hundreds of reports every day. He describes the hate, fear, and anger against Asian Americans depicted in the reports as “palpable”.
Jeung shared several anecdotes of the incidents reported over the past year. One reported incident was of a fourth-generation Chinese American in San Luis Obispo, who was spit on and called racist slurs and described that he felt like he would never be perceived as an American. Another reported incident took place in Sausalito, California, where a woman was yelled at for “bringing the China Virus over here.” Jeung described the racial violence that occurred within his own family, where his wife was spit on while running in the Oakland Hills.
Jeung expressed that with all of the violence seen on the news, it is easy to get desensitized. Because of this, he read off the names of all of the AAPI people killed in the United States during the last year and held moments of silence for each.
Jeung explained how the effects of the recent uptake in violence against Asian Americans are going to be long-lasting, stating that one out of every five respondents on the Stop AAPI Hate website shows signs of racial trauma. He also said that Asian Americans are currently experiencing higher instances of stress and anxiety than any other racial group. Jeung described how widespread racism is at the moment, saying “Asians are more concerned about other Americans and their racism than we are concerned about a pandemic that's killed half a million people.”
The event ended with Jeung, Casquejo Johnston, and Dao sharing their own experiences and answering questions about solidarity, activism, and ethnic studies. One question asked was about the Anti-Asian American hate crime bill currently in the Senate. Jeung acknowledged that the bill was a step in the right direction but expressed that he views restorative justice as a better solution that would do less harm to communities of color.
“I'm really pushing for restorative justice because I think criminalizing everything maintains the cycle of violence and punishment,” Jeung said. “We need to hold people accountable, but then educate them and teach them of the harm they have done and then try to restore that relationship.”
Students experiencing psychological distress from the recent violence against Asian Americans are encouraged to reach out to the SMC Counseling and Psychological Services, and community members who have been the victim of a hate crime can report the incident at https://stopaapihate.org/
California’s fires season begins earlier than ever this year due to lack of water.
By Annika Henthorn
With the power outages behind us and the endless fires coming to a close, it seemed as though California was finally recovering from the arduous fire season endured in months prior.
However, this hope was short-lived. Fire season is anticipated to officially begin within the next couple of weeks.
Assistant Santa Rosa Fire Marshall Paul Lowenthal, has told ABC that more rain was expected this Sunday and “we ended up with quite a bit less, so we're faced with what we anticipate as potentially a long dry summer.” ABC has revealed that 85% of California is in a severe drought. This has exponentially worsened from last year, where only 12% of California suffered these extreme drought conditions.
Two counties in Northern California, Mendocino and Sonoma, have even declared a drought emergency. Governor Newsom has stated that “oftentimes we overstate the word historic, but this is indeed an historic moment, certainly historic for this particular lake, Mendocino,” where 40 feet of water used to be. The lake is now at 40% capacity due to the extreme heat and weather conditions, according to U.S News. Newsom has stated that he will likely expand the drought emergency declaration if conditions worsen, according to U.S News.
The Guardian has revealed that the snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains and Cascades were approximately 40% below expectations, indicating that the state no longer has the resources to replenish other depleted water sources. For some communities, the drought never really seemed to end. With water becoming scarce, controversy about how the water should be distributed will be a conversation at the forefront of California media for months to come.
Nicola Ulibarri, who researches water management at the University of California, Irvine, has expressed her concerns with The Guardian, stating “we’re going to need the whole system to change.” California seems to undergo droughts increasingly more often, and Ulibarri has argued that in order to adjust to what seems to be a growing norm, the system needs to change.
Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California Los Angeles and the Nature Conservancy has said that “extreme, intense fires are the exclamation points at the end of long-term droughts.” These brutal fires that seem to have grown increasingly more severe are not only products of drier conditions, but also extreme heat that has been on the rise. Unfortunately, Swain has revealed that this fire season break for some Californians is temporary and “there isn’t really any sign of relief on the horizon.”
Melanie Moyer '22,