Saint Mary’s recognizes the importance of remembering those who have lost their lives to police brutality with Remembering the Legacies event with guest speaker Wanda Johnson, whose son Oscar Grant was killed in 2009 at the hands of law enforcement.
By Isabelle Delostrinos
With the advancements of technology and social media platforms, racial justice movements have grown to be more powerful than it has been before. Global awareness is possible with outlets like Twitter and Instagram. Over the past few months, the death of George Floyd ignited protests nationwide for justice and changes within our government and law enforcement systems. But once the protests and hashtags subside, what happens then? What kind of impact do these unfortunate events have months or years later?
This month the Center for Women and Gender Equity is hosting Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant, to speak on the innocent lives lost to police brutality. Oscar Grant was killed by BART police in 2009. They mistook him for a call to mediate a fight that was taking place on another train. The general identifiers used led the police to believe that Grant was the one causing the commotion when he was actually not the one involved. His life was unrightfully taken when the police officer holding him down mistakenly pulled out a pistol instead of his taser.
Wanda Johnson founded the Oscar Grant Foundation once the trial of the officer convicted was completed. She fights for individuals more at risk of discriminatory interactions with law enforcement. Johnson works to bridge the gap of distrust between these two groups to eliminate life threatening situations to innocent citizens. The foundation also serves as a resource for these groups to direct their lives towards a more positive future. They work to reduce issues like teen crimes by holding workshops and programs to develop personal and academic skills. The organization upholds Grant’s name and legacy through servicing the youth of underprivileged communities.
Remembering these lives is important in a number of ways. It acts as a reminder that racial injustice is still evident today and is still something that needs to be fought for. It holds law enforcement accountable in implementing updated training or technologies like dashboard cameras. It also holds Americans accountable with their own knowledge and actions to lead a better future for our younger generations. How we respond to issues like this is powerful and can influence not only our youth, but those around us. The legacies of Oscar Grant, Sandra Bland, George Floyd and so many others should continue to live on and be a force in the movement for racial justice.
This event is taking place tomorrow, February 24 at 7 PM. Johnson will be highlighting the individuals who fell victim to an unjust system. She will be sharing her experiences and discuss the movement to eliminate racial discrimination and bring justice to the lives lost. Many of the officers involved in these situations walk freely from the events they were a part of. Remembering these lives keeps the conversation going and continues to bring attention to the issue. It puts pressure on those in power positions to change their beliefs and approach their work with inclusive and humane perspectives.
The Center for Women and Gender Equity is also a good resource for students interested in attending events like this one throughout the year. The Center is still operating on campus, but most programs and events are taking place on Zoom, making it accessible for those not living on campus during these times. The director, Sharon Sobotta, works alongside Wanda Johnson each month to present different issues that could be discussed with students at Saint Mary’s. If you are unable to attend tomorrow’s event, you can still learn about intersectional issues and listen to guest speakers throughout the school year. Saint Mary’s encourages a safe space for students to get involved with these matters through the center and the guest speakers they host.
Author’s Note: You can learn more about the Oscar Grant Foundation at oscargrantfoundation.org.
Black Lives Matter subcommittee has a conversation with the Collegian about their mission, 44 days events, recent strives for change in the Saint Mary’s Community, and how students can be allies of the Black community.
By Victoria Vidales
Within all institutions, leaders must be established, those among us who take charge in advocating for positive change for all members of their community. A group of leaders within the Saint Mary’s community is the Black Lives Matter subcommittee, a team of individuals who strive to promote diversity, inclusivity and understanding of the Black community to accomplish changes within the Saint Mary’s community.
The BLM subcommittee is a part of the Saint Mary’s Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CCIE), an organization meant to support underrepresented students, staff, and faculty, and create an inclusive environment. A vital group of positive role models, the BLM subcommittee is a voice for Black students, faculty and staff who deserve for their voices to be heard. This committee has worked tirelessly to promote outreach and collaboration within the Saint Mary’s community, in order to create a more diverse and inclusive community for all students, faculty and staff.
“Helping Black students feel welcome comes from the institution and the structures within the institution. The institution must commit both in words and deeds to change policies and structures to reflect what diversity really is,” Dr. Zahra Ahmed, Co-Chair of the BLM subcommittee, said.
The Saint Mary’s College website defines the BLM subcommittee as existing to demand “accountability of Saint Mary’s College of California, as a community and institution, to recognize and address, rather than react to circumstances of inequitable treatment of Black students, staff or faculty particularly systemic racism at the institution.”
The BLM subcommittee is comprised of various Saint Mary’s faculty, staff, and students to ensure diverse perspectives, and collaborative decisions amongst members of different branches within the Saint Mary’s community. The BLM subcommittee is co-chaired this year by three individuals, faculty member Dr. Zahra Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Politics, staff member Legacy Lee, director of the Intercultural Center, and student representative Kulia Osborne ‘22, Vice President of the Black Student Union. Co-Chair leaders change each year to provide fresh perspectives from other Saint Mary’s community members.
Active year round, the BLM subcommittee has been especially busy within the past few weeks preparing for the College’s 44 Days events, celebrating Black History month. In their discussion with the Collegian, each Co-Chair member spoke about 44 Days events, recent strives for change within the Saint Mary’s community, and how students, faculty, and staff can be allies for the Black community.
In preparation for the event, the BLM subcommittee was faced with new challenges that were unexpected for the 4th 44 Days event, adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic and distance learning. “COVID has impacted, changed how we have moved forward. [What has] made this year so special has been the different kinds of events. [Social distancing] has forced us to adjust to this new form of reality, taking on more ways to learn,” Student Representative Osborne, Co-Chair, said.
The 44 Days celebrations, similar to most Saint Mary’s events, have had to undergo transformations on how to reach students in a virtual environment. Although not the ideal setting, the BLM subcommittee highlights that 24 events have been created for Black students, faculty, staff, and allies to participate in, and learn from in order to celebrate the Black community.
The BLM subcommittee acknowledges that support has been generally positive from the student body, who have made efforts to better support the concerns of the Black community. “[From the students] a lot more understanding of the support system. More physical presentation and listening from the community,” Osborne, Co-Chair, said.
The BLM subcommittee also reflected on responses from other members of the Saint Mary’s community, to the changes suggested to reform the College. Although responses have been mostly positive, Co-Chairs admit that there are many changes that need to be addressed, and made. Dr. Ahmed noted that, “[Responses to calls for change] are always mixed. My impression is the College is accepting in terms of rhetoric. I have seen some openness and willingness [to address concerns]. [However,] obstacles come up in the way leadership comes up. Obstacles in [people] who do not support agenda spectrum.”
Osborne, Co-Chair, added that “Change doesn’t happen overnight. [We have seen] a growth in understanding complaints of [Black] students. There has been growth but we would like to see more support outside of the Black body.”
The BLM subcommittee also encouraged the continuation of dialogue and conversation within the Saint Mary’s community. As a smaller College community, Saint Mary’s has advantages in creating personal connections that larger universities may not. Osborne, Co-Chair, stated that “A way to strengthen our community is to be open about having more discussion. Everyone on campus has different experiences, [which makes it] so great to be in an intimate community, to have outreach to learn from each other.”
These dialogues can create the much needed collaboration between students, and student run organizations. The BLM subcommittee hopes to see increased interest from student organizations to working with both the BLM subcommittee, and BSU to create more inclusive events that recognize the Black community. The Co-Chairs acknowledge how underfunding, especially during distance learning, can impact these efforts, but encourages students to make plans to grow.
“Students can only do so much, ideally lets move beyond what organizations were created to do. Student organizations have accomplished what they were meant for, now its time for them to evolve into something more” Director Lee, Co-Chair, said.
By making recommendations to the CCIE, the BLM subcommittee is making sure that Black students, staff and faculty are recognized and welcomed by the Saint Mary’s community. Totaling 15 members from other organizations on campus, the BLM subcommittee is making a positive impact on the Saint Mary’s community, for the current, and next generation of members to come.
Special thanks to the Dr. Zahra Ahmed, Legacy Lee, Kulia Osborne, and Holly Dusenbury for their participation in this interview.
For more information visit the BLM subcommittee at https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/inclusive-excellence/44-days-celebration
Saint Mary’s Center for Women and Gender Equity Director Sharon Sobotta shares details related to the upcoming “Student to Professor” speaker event featuring Saint Mary’s alum Dr. Nicole Jackson. Dr. Jackson offers readers some details about her journey from Saint Mary’s to Bowling Green University.
By Evan Rodrigues
Located next to the CARE center beneath Augustine residence hall, the Center for Women and Gender Equity offers a space for the college community to learn, heal and connect. The CWGE plans programs with intersectionality being a focus. Director Sobotta explains that teaching about sexism needs to be accompanied with lessons on racism. The Center’s ideals are represented in the work they do, offering programs that are also listed on the 44 Days events page.
The planning committee, Director Sobotta reports, is composed of individuals from the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence sub-committee on Gender Equity, as well as the CWGE student team. The committee sees a need for programming relating to representation, given the lack of women and people of color currently represented in the academic world. This focus on representation contributed to the formation of the “Student to Professor '' event, featuring former Saint Mary’s student Dr. Nicole M. Jackson.
Jackson is an Assistant Professor of History at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, as well as a contributing writer for the African American Intellectual History Society blog Black Perspectives. She graduated from Saint Mary’s in 2005, going on to earn both her M.A. and Ph.D from the Ohio State University in 2009 and 2012.
“I’m a social and cultural historian of the modern Black diaspora with an emphasis on social movements, women’s activism and migration.” says Dr. Jackson, “Much of my work focuses on post-World War II England and Afro-Caribbean social movements.”
Connecting her current work with her time at Saint Mary’s, Dr. Jackson talks about an experience that sparked interest:
“I stumbled on this topic while at SMC. I took a study abroad trip through Michigan State University, encouraged by Denise Witzig, Myrna Santiago and the larger SMC Women’s Studies Department. My research project in that class was about Black British Feminism, which became part of my application to graduate school and later my PhD dissertation.”
Next, Dr. Jackson talks about some of her favorite parts of the job, saying “I like working one-on-one with students. I also love traveling for research and spending time in archives.”
The “Student to Professor” event will not only give attendees insight into where Dr. Jackson is in life currently, but it will also focus on her journey from undergrad to graduate school and beyond. Alluding to the challenges of this journey, Jackson shares:
“I’m from a working class background. I was raised by a single mother who never went to college. I spent a considerable amount of time in college and graduate school worrying – as many students do – about money and navigating the college campus while feeling as if I didn’t belong. However, I’ve also been incredibly lucky to find people who were willing to help me find my way through, beginning at SMC.”
Taking it further, Dr. Jackson conveys how her experience with intersecting identities has shaped her interests as well as the goals she has for her classroom environment:
“I’m a Black woman whose primary area of research is Black people, especially Black women. I want to know more about people of African descent each day.” explains Jackson, “It’s hard to figure out exactly how my race and gender shape my teaching for a variety of reasons, but I want to create classrooms that are, as much as is possible, safe spaces for Black students and other students of color, first-generation and working class college students and students of all genders to take ownership of their ideas and ask questions that matter to them.”
Concluding with words of wisdom for anyone in school, Dr. Jackson expresses, “Your peace and happiness are more important than the degree.”
Make sure to add the February 26th “Student to Professor” event at 4 PM to your calendar so you can hear more about Dr. Jackson’s journey from Saint Mary’s College to the larger community of academia.
Special thanks to Dr. Nicole Jackson and Director Sharon Sobotta for participating in this article.
4th annual Black Student Convocation begins 44 Days: Honoring Black History to celebrate, reflect, and honor the Black community.
By Victoria Vidales, Editor-in-Chief
And Melanie Moyer, Associate Editor
On Saturday, February 13th, Saint Mary’s 44 Days: Honoring Black History officially began with the Black Student Convocation. Named “Joy, Fun, Community” the 4th annual Black Student Convocation celebrated the beauty of Black culture, and the diverse experiences of members within the Black community. Open to Black members of the Saint Mary’s community and allies, this event consisted of keynote speakers, panel discussions, self-care sessions, and other community-building events. A day to learn, reflect, pray, share, and hope the Black Student Convocation was an incredible celebration of the Black community within Saint Mary’s College and abroad.
The Black Student Convocation is “designed to give Black undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to gather, reinforce their academic and professional pursuits, enhance transformative bonds, and discuss their shared experiences, goals and needs as students at SMC with the guidance and support of Black Faculty, Staff, and Alumni.” These intentions remained at the core of the convocation, with all the activities designed to educate, support, and inform Black students.
The event began with an opening by Dr. Zahra Ahmed, Co-Chair of the BLM subcommittee, and professor of Politics, welcoming all to the event. Collin Fisher, a Black and Native American student and member of the BSU, spoke next with a “Land Acknowledgement” to recognize the origins of the land that Saint Mary’s was built upon. Reverend Dr. D. Mark Wilson spoke next with the invocation, inviting all to participate in praying together before the event began.
The Black National Anthem was played in a beautiful virtual video of 105 student singers from HBCUs. Dr. Ahmed returned with the “Pouring of Libations” to acknowledge and remember those who have passed away. Dr. Ahmed poured water continuously over a plant, encouraging attendees to call out the names of their ancestors who have died. A particularly moving moment, this event united all participants as they mourned for their loved ones.
The opening of the event concluded with remarks from Dr. Margaret Kasimatis, Interim Executive Vice President; President Donahue; and Kathy Littles, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Senior Diversity Officer at Saint Mary’s College. Each speaker discussed the importance of listening to and supporting Black students on the Saint Mary’s campus, and the importance of allyship.
The next event began the Plenary Sessions, where speakers would present on topics of personal experiences. The first was the “Student Speakers Keynote Address” moderated by student Kulia Osborne ‘22, Vice President of the BSU and Co-Chair of the Black Lives Matter Subcommittee, with fellow students Juliana Davis ‘22 and Roxelle Thomas ‘22 as panelists. Each speaker shared their personal experiences identifying as Black female students on the Saint Mary’s campus, specifically those which demonstrated difficulties with microaggressions and tokenism, and what they want allies to know about those experiences. The panel ended with Davis and Thomas urging the Saint Mary’s to continue to improve the experience of Black students, for “compared to other schools [Thomas] thinks we’re doing great, but there’s always room to be better. This is just a time for us to be better and grow every day.” Davis elaborated with her father’s advice “don’t be sorry, just be better.”
Following a game of SMC Black Trivia, the next event was “Black Male Student Perspectives: Telling Their Stories Across Generations” moderated by Dr. James Johnson. The panelists consisted of Saint Mary’s male alumni Maurice Harper ‘75, Dr. John Mosby ‘94, Derrick Crayton ‘08, and current student Collin Fisher ‘23. Each of these speakers shared their experiences as Black male students at Saint Mary’s, highlighting how the college has evolved in addressing racism over the decades. Each experienced over-policing in the Moraga and surrounding communities and shared some of their encounters with law enforcement. They all shared personal stories of facing racism within the college, their personal reactions, and their hopes for improvement in the Saint Mary’s community.
After “Lunch with the DJ,” Concurrent Sessions began with “Alumni Career Panel” and “Life Hacks and DIY.” Divided into two groups, attendees attended either event, learning about the experiences of guest speakers. The “Alumni Career Panel” was moderated by Saint Mary’s alumnus Lloyd Schine ‘98, with panelists S. Jamila Buckner ‘88, Eric George ‘99, Rushell Gordon ‘96, Frank Knight ‘99, and Brian Stanley ‘98. Each panelist gave advice to students about life following college, encouraging all to pursue their dreams, regardless of the opinions of others. “Life Hacks and DIY” was presented by Dr. Ahmed where she talked to the group about different ways to “hack” life. She showed attendees how she mixes special oils for a variety of uses and talked about how she acquired the oils by growing them herself or finding them in grocery isles. She went on to talk about the plants she has grown and how she cares for them.
The second concurrent sessions “Higher Education Professionals Tell Their Story” and “Overcoming History: The Role of Entrepreneurship in Economic and Social Development” were run in the same fashion as the previous pairing, with attendees divided in two groups. “Higher Education Professionals Tell Their Stories” was moderated by Dr. Evette Castillo Clark with panelists Dr. Desiree Anderson, Dr. Sonja Daniels, Sherie Gilmore-Cleveland, John Rawlins III, and Marcus Weemes. In this session panelists shared their stories of embracing careers in higher education, and how students can enter into these fields themselves.
“Overcoming History: The Role of Entrepreneurship in Economic and Social Development” was presented by Troy Clark, where he focused on giving advice and personal knowledge to Black students to “rehabilitate, redirect and redefine Black life” through pathways of entrepreneurship and activist economics. His presentation focused on the history of Black people in economics and what new entrepreneurs can learn from those who created substantial change through social entrepreneurship.
Following these events, all participants were brought back together for closing remarks, and a meditation. The closing was led by Arisika Razak, MPH, who is a Professor Emerita and former chair of the Women's Spirituality Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies as well as a core teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center. Her closing remarks reminded all participants that all are united together in advocating for messages of joy, fun and community is every aspect of their lives. The Black Student Convocation was an incredibly informative and celebratory event that opened the 4th 44 Days Celebration.
The Black Student Convocation was presented and sponsored by several Saint Mary’s organizations, including the Black Lives Matter Committee, College Committee on Inclusive Excellence, Office of the Dean of Students, High Potential Program, The Intercultural Center, Office of the President, and the Office of Student Engagement and Academic Success.
44 Days Event focuses on women advocating for reform in the criminal justice system.
By Ally Sullivan
The Saint Marys Community is proud to present as a part of the 44 days edition, a look into taking action with, “Women Advocating for Change in the Criminal Justice System.” The event will take place on March 3rd at 7pm, where individuals can join the conversation on the effects of incarceration in and out of prison, disenfranchised voting communities, and so much more. Join guest speaker Porche Taylor, Founder of Prison from the Inside Out, and Organizer with No Justice Under Capitalism, to learn what inspired them to take action. To get a closer look at the importance of the event Sharon Sobotta, Director of the Center for Women and Gender Equity, explained “The program is very intersectional in nature, when looking at women's history month it's also relevant to look at racial inequality.”
Sobatta believes the stories and experiences of disenfranchised, incarcerated and recently incarcerated individuals need to be amplified. Included in the program is an in-depth and relevant discussion around the lack of voting resources in specific communities. Voter disenfranchisement is embedded in American fabric, and the victim historically has been the African American community. The light has now been shown on the voter restrictions of recently incarcerated individuals. Sobotta addresses this pre-discussion, “Once they get out they might have that little asterisk that says felony which becomes a setback, the system has not come up with a way to support them.”
The event will also focus on how COVID-19 has affected the incarcerated population. Guest Speaker Courtny Morris works and meticulously focuses on more humane treatment of incarcerated individuals, the deadly effects of being incarcerated during the pandemic. All these realities will be discussed more in-depth.
The women involved in this program are actively empowering the population and working to impact policy. Specifically, to bring focus to the women impacted by these situations. Sobatta explains, “Men of color are more likely to be incarcerated, and we tend to forget the significant others and the family affected.”
“It's tough to understand this through a textbook” Sobatta said.
Sobatta reiterates the importance of having access to these stories, where you can hear the voices of people who have experienced these issues. This amplification of voices gives voice to the voiceless in hopes of changing the way we view and interact with incarcerated individuals. “This is an act to preserve their humanity, they are not second class citizens, they are second chance citizens. If we reduce someone with our language, that will impact the way we see them,” she says.
All the women included in this event are working tirelessly to see a change. Sobatta encourages members of the Saint Marys community to attend the event, claiming “We have the capacity to touch minds and hearts, and from there we can impact change.”
If interested in joining the conversation, and being a part of the change, log in through the Saint Marys library portal and register through the zoom link for the event on March 3rd at 7 p.m. I hope to see all of you there!
Authors Note: Special thanks to Sharon Sobatta for this interview, and for the women putting this together for sharing their stories with us.
During a month focused on Black History, Afrofuturism celebrates visions of Black futures.
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
In non-COVID times, if you wandered into the Saint Mary’s Library lobby, you may have noticed different displays on a variety of topics. While the Library building may be closed, these exhibits live on in virtual form. The library's current virtual exhibit on Afrofuturism, a part of 44 Days Honoring Black History: "Telling Our Own Stories,” is available online as part of the library's virtual catalog from February 8 through March 23.
Afrofuturism is a genre of literature, film, music and visual arts that blends features of science fiction and futuristic themes along with elements of Black culture. The exploring Afrofuturism library display provides a basic definition of afrofuturism, as well as links to works of afrofuturistic fiction, film, and scholarship.
The Afrofuturism virtual exhibit was curated by Saint Mary’s Librarian Gina Lee Kessler, who created the exhibit after an invitation from the College’s Black Lives Matter subcommittee that was sent to the different departments on campus inviting them to become involved in 44 days. Kessler became aware of the concept of Afrofuturism after witnessing the popularity of the Black Panther film.
“I think it was after Black Panther came out I noticed that I became a lot more attuned to this lens to look at literature and music and such that Black writers and artists and scholars were making,” Kessler said. She noted that although Afrofuturism is not a new genre, the rising popularity may come in part from publishers recognizing a need to show stories from more diverse authors featuring diverse characters.
She created the exhibit as a way to share resources she has found interesting on the topic. Kessler says that Black history month is often very focused on Black trauma, and that Afrofuturism in itself is a liberating concept because it focuses on Black futures.
She also believes that Afrofuturism “also makes the very radical assertion that there are Black people in the future; whereas a lot of sci-fi just only talks about white people, as if they are making the assertion that our current time is focused on whiteness, and looking into the future there will only be white people too.”
Kessler thinks that Afrofuturism is more necessary than ever in our current times. Despite the dystopian themes often found in Afrofuturistic works, she believes that Afrofuturism is really rooted in hope.
“Sci-fi and fantasy are great ways to escape our difficult realities and these have been especially difficult years, for everyone but especially for Black people and people of color. I think that there may be an increased embrace of Afrofuturism as a method of escapism where people actually see themselves in these stories,” Kessler said.
Kessler also wants to acknowledge that as a white person, there may be some problematic aspects to her being the creator of the exhibit. She notes that the exhibit is not meant to be an authority on the topic of Afrofuturism but rather a collection of resources. The exhibit is also open to community feedback and offers a suggestion box where people can submit more suggestions of Afrofuturist works that may have been omitted.
“If anyone reading this article has any suggestions for works we’ve omitted and that should have a place in the library, that is totally welcome, and they should submit that form and I’ll see what I can do to add it,” Kessler said. “We totally welcome community collaboration on this to try to account for my blindspots as a white person making this for 44 days of honoring Black history."
Saint Mary’s Spring 2021 Involvement Fair premiered with virtual platform Discord that features new ways of connecting students with each other.
By Evan Rodrigues
This past Wednesday, Feb 10, SIL (Student Involvement and leadership) and AS (Associated Students) hosted the Spring 2021 Involvement Fair. The event was held over Discord, a platform designed for virtual group communication. While video calling is within Discord’s capabilities, the Involvement Fair made use of text and voice channels. Each organization had its own channel, or chatroom, where students could stop by and ask questions. Club executives were also able to send links to upcoming events or interest surveys, among other things. In the voice channels, students were able to get even more of a feel for what interacting with a club might be like.
Two of the individuals responsible for putting the event together shared what it was like interacting with a platform that, for most, is less familiar that Zoom. Accounting for the possible lack of comfort someone might experience when using Discord for the first time, they held a Discord tutorial the day prior. Julia Hammer from SIL, having experience using Discord in the past, helped deliver a great introduction to the platform. “I’m just hoping,” Hammer said, “that both the tutorial and Involvement Fair were helpful to everyone who participated. At SIL we’re really trying to make getting involved as easy as possible since events haven’t been in person as much and it can be a challenge to know where to reach people.”
Hammer shared some insight into the decision to try Discord, saying “While Discord probably wasn’t as familiar to everyone as Zoom, it does offer a lot more options.” For example, event guests and organization execs could both jump from various voice channels as well as participate in multiple text channels simultaneously.
Kameryn Gubera, Vice President of Student Organizations, was also involved in the planning of the Discord tutorial and the involvement fair. VP Gubera shared her perspective on the events, saying “We had a really great showing, as far as using a new platform. A lot of people were able to log on and participate.” It seems that, despite the stressful nature of using unfamiliar software, the event was a success. Both Hammer and VP Gubera expressed that they are hopeful student organizations will make more use of Discord for future meetings and events.
The student organizations also worked well with the platform, using text channels to share links, photos, and more. The server was set up in a way that grouped club channels depending on the type of club. The groupings included Student Life, Diversity Orgs, Culture and Community Based, Academic Orgs, Media and Tech, Outdoors and Recreation, and Philanthropy. On the text channels separated by the aforementioned groupings, execs were able to gather and share contact information with ease. Some organizations had larger text paragraphs welcoming guests to their text channels, while others shared that they were ready and willing to answer questions.
Maddi from the IC wrote, “The Intercultural Center is looking forward to an amazing lineup of programs and events this semester! All folks from the SMC community are welcome to join our events and programs, and we are available to chat and answer any questions during our weekly virtual office hours called IC Cafe.”
Maya from Native American and Indigenous Student Association (NAISA) shared, “our general body meeting is on the 19th at 6pm and Mexica New year is our upcoming event on March 12th 6-8pm . . . it’s a collab with La Hermandad. We're having guest speaker Jose Islas from Mexico teach us about the meaning of this new year and how the Anahuacan count functions and lead us in a prayer for the new year.”
This is just a fraction of the information shared during the event, and does not fully represent the diversity of student organizations at Saint Mary’s College. If you missed the event and are curious about getting involved with an organization, check out the Saint Mary’s College of California website SIL page, or go to https://stmarys-ca.campuslabs.com/engage/organizations.
President Joe Biden has declared the stop of the United States’ support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, however, after a six year war many wonder if the support will help put an end to the violence.
By Annika Henthorn
According to The New York Times, the ongoing conflict in Yemen began in 2014 when the Houthis, a rebel group from Yemen, attempted to take over the capital and a majority of Yemen's northwest. A year later, Saudia Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Arab states implemented a bombing campaign to dismantle the group and reestablish the government. Thinking that this campaign would be short-lived, many Saudi officials did not predict it would continue for as long as it has.
The United States has offered military aid to Saudi Arabia to assist in the rebel’s demise. However, many Yemenis who are also opposed to the Houthis, are angered by the actions of the United States. Tragically, the ones that have been hit the hardest by the attacks are civilians, many of which take place at funerals, weddings, and other gatherings, according to The New York Times. These attacks are organized by Saudi Arabia and its allies, but carried out with US materials and weapons. Yemenis are upset with the decisions the US has made regarding their stance in such a massive humanitarian crisis.
On Thursday, February 4, President Joe Biden declared the war in Yemen a “humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.” In response to this, he has decided to stop the United States’ support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and some sale of weaponry, according to The New York Times. Although this is a relief to some in Yemen, others have expressed that it might be too late. After six years at war, many believe the damage done cannot be reversed. Farea Al-Muslimi, an associate at Chatham House, a research group that focuses on Yemen and the Persian Gulf, has stated that “the Gulf countries already have a lot of weapons, so the decision is symbolic in a lot of ways.” Regardless of the United States pulling their support, Saudi Arabia and its allies attain enough weapons to continue the destruction. Unfortunately, Biden’s decision to pull the United States’ support does not automatically mean an end to a war.
Weapons or not, New York Times has reiterated the deep-seeded tensions and conflict that Yemen still exists, complicating this common goal of peace. However, by Joe Biden removing the United States from its involvement in the war, it allows the United States to be in a better position to devise a resolution. Trump’s administration has deemed the Houthis a terrorist group; however, Biden has reversed this in hopes of moving towards peace.
Former baseball player turned businessman Derek Poppert was the first guest speaker in the “Life Beyond Sports” series, providing wisdom for student athletes after their time involved in college sports end.
By Ally Sullivan
In the first ever “Life Beyond Sports” series, the Saint Marys Community welcomed guest speaker Derek Poppert. Poppert, a Bay Area native, grew up loving the game of baseball as an exceptional Shortstop, and eventually following it all the way from Acalanes High School to the University of San Francisco.
The process Poppert described to make it to a competitive level did not come without challenges, “I wasn't heavily recruited, I had this chip on my shoulder that I should be highly recruited” Poppert said.
Nevertheless, he found comfort and culture at USF, deciding the college was the best place to be. At USF he described the rigorous transition from being a high school athlete to a collegiate athlete as being challenging, “I was not easily able to coast [through]. In college days were more structured and I now had more responsibility. I took school more seriously in college, looking at Grad[uate] school if baseball did not work out.”
Fortunate for Poppert he was sought out in the baseball realm, initially being picked to play for the Cincinnati Reds. He turned down the offer to focus on his senior year at USF, in hopes that he would be higher up in the draft the following year. This allowed time for Poppert to take a step back and start thinking of what life may look like after baseball. He thought about beginning to travel, and what Graduate school might be like, developing new interests off the field. Eventually the draft came again, and Poppert was successfully brought on to play for the Seattle Mariners in their minor league, after a short amount of time he decided to retire from his beloved sport and step into what he referred to as the “real world.”
The cozy confines of college felt like a distant memory for Poppert. Poppert came out of college with a degree in Global Politics, and like many others struggled to connect it to a career. Now away from baseball he described the separation of his identity away from being an athlete, claiming the transition to be easier for him than most because he had other interests.
“I sort of zig zagged back and forth in a trial of different things, circling to the tech industry and UX design” Poppert said.
Poppert now four years into UX design, and working for a popular sports ecommerce company Fanatics, reflects that he could never have pictured that his current life is where his path would have led him to. “If you asked me what I did 10 years ago, I wouldn't even know what my job [would be].”
Popperts biggest piece of advice to a student-athlete, is to look at practicality. He advised those on the call to be weary of just choosing classes that will help you learn more about an interesting subject, but to view it more practically for how would it translate into a career. He urged students to ask themselves “How can I actually make money from this?” Much appreciation should be given to Poppert on behalf of the Saint Marys community for sharing his life experiences, and reminding students that interests can change and sometimes life may throw you a curveball.
Author’s Note: Special thanks to Derek Poppert for his participation in the “Life Beyond Sports Series."
Ryan Ford '23,