English Department will host its first inaugural colloquium presenting student literary work focusing on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color on April 28th during Community Time.
By Victoria Vidales
On April 28th, the Saint Mary’s English Department will be hosting its first annual inaugural colloquium focusing on presenting work that highlights Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. This colloquium will give English Department majors and minors the opportunity to present their own literary work in a public forum. Created by Saint Mary’s English Department students with the help of faculty, this event is meant to highlight issues that affect and are important to BIPOC, to create dialogue through literature to bring lasting change.
“This colloquium is about giving due attention to issues of equity and social justice within the literary canon and the areas of study as they arise in SMC’s English courses. English majors and minors can submit their work to us, and the goal is that students will then be able to present their work to their peers at the colloquium. At the colloquium, the SMC community can engage with each presenter’s work by asking questions and engaging in important dialogue with one another,” Bianca Guzman ‘21, member of the English Department Colloquium Planning Committee, said.
Following calls for racial justice during the summer of 2020, the English Department released a statement supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and racial equality. The statement also included a pledge by the department to reflect on the curriculum and lessons presented in Saint Mary’s English courses to ensure that racism and white supremacy will never be present. These students believed that an effective way to facilitate positive change in the department would be to center the colloquium on highlighting BIPOC, giving a platform to share stories about their cultures. Following support from English Department faculty, the students moved forward with planning for the colloquium in the Spring.
“It’s essential that we give due attention to issues of equity and social justice in our society, given our nation’s long history of racism and white supremacy. By allowing SMC English students and faculty to engage critically with their education, we are able to reflect on what we’ve learned and what still needs to be changed in our curriculum to lift up the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour communities,” Guzman said.
The SMC English Department Colloquium Planning Committee is comprised of Guzman and seven other English department students: Dominique Coleen Brown, Maya Dromlewicz, Tyler Dunne, Mayson Lord, Sara Mameesh, Annaliese Martinez, and Kelsey Slater. Mentored by English department professors, Dr. Kathryn Koo, Dr. Lisa Manter, and Dr. Sunayani Bhattacharya, the group has been working for months to develop an event that would positively reflect the pledges made by the department to strive for diversity and inclusivity in their curriculum.
“I would like the SMC community to understand that this colloquium is centered around giving a voice to BIPOC communities in literature. Our goal is to reimagine the narratives constructed by the literary canon, and to continually develop anti-racist pedagogies in the English Major,” Guzman said.
Guzman and her fellow committee members hope that this colloquium will honor BIPOC and create a place for dialogue amongst students and staff to talk about issues that affect BIPOC communities. They also wish for this colloquium to serve as a source of inspiration for other departments on campus that want to directly address racial equality but do not know how.
“Undoubtedly, the SMC administration can better highlight the experiences and stories of BIPOC by offering more courses that emphasize the importance of diverse literature. Not only this, but actively evaluating the courses already offered at SMC and molding them to better reflect the experiences of BIPOC is a must. Alongside this, taking the initiative to intentionally hire tenure-track people of color faculty to teach these courses are a great start to highlighting these experiences,” Guzman said.
The department hopes to address the progress made towards racial equality and the change that still must be made through literature that they hope will connect and resonate with the Saint Mary’s community. Above all, the committee desires for that students, English majors or not, to challenge themselves to be supporters of racial justice movements, and as allies within their communities.
“We have not only the ability, but also the duty to utilise what we learn during our time at SMC to enact positive change in the wider community. We need to critically examine the world we live in to fight against inequity and injustice, because this is the only way that things will change,” Guzman said.
To participate in this colloquium all work must be submitted by April 11th to Bianca Guzman at email@example.com with a short bio or through this Google Form https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSefRpJkaqQOhV_UyibEZSLdgAfU_mtB0gZb6_LKnLHU82wyQA/viewform?gxids=7628
Although the list of grievances contains Governor Newsom’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority consist of complaints of his policies that pre-date the pandemic, causing a mixture of reasons people support his recall.
By Annika Henthorn
Although many believe the recall effort against Governor Newsom sprung from his management of COVID-19, it truly began in February 2020. ABC has revealed that the grievances held against Newsom include: "laws he endorsed favor foreign nationals, in our country illegally, over that of our own citizens. People in this state suffer the highest taxes in the nation, the highest homelessness rates, and the lowest quality of life as a result.”
In addition to these claims against Newsom, after the pandemic struck California, many argued he did not do enough to prevent its spread. Others argued he was too slow to reopen businesses despite California conquering the curve in spring 2020. His precautions to stay at home and remain socially distanced backfired when he was caught at a large gathering in an enclosed area in November 2020. This compilation of events urged many Americans to sign a petition to recall Governor Newsom.
In order to do so, 12% of all California’s population would have to sign, or 1,495,709 people by March 17. Additionally, these signatures would have to be validated. Typically, recall efforts have 160 days to retrieve the necessary amount of signatures; however, due to the pandemic, Newsom’s recall campaign was given an additional four months. The Los Angeles Times has revealed that over 1.1 million signatures have been submitted, but only 668,000 were deemed valid. They have predicted that due to the extremely high validity rate of signatures needed to qualify for the recall, signatures should reach 1.5 million by March 17, thus beginning a new election later this year for another Governor.
If the recall is successful, the election should take place between August and December, according to The Los Angeles Times. Voters should be expected to answer two questions. One, should Newsom be recalled, and who is his replacement? It has also been said by The Los Angeles Times that Newsom’s approval rate has dropped 18 points in four months, resulting in only a 46% approval rating.
Former Mayor of San Diego, John Cox, who lost in 2018 to Newsom, has said if the recall is successful, he would run for Governor. However, Newsom, if recalled, is prohibited from running to replace himself, so the Democratic party will have to find a replacement candidate to run.
U.S Senate approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, set to be the third round of stimulus checks sent to Americans.
By Ally Sullivan
As citizens of the United States continue to battle the economic strife that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, a third round of stimulus checks are just around the corner and may be arriving in people's bank accounts as recent as this past weekend.
According to CBS correspondents, the The Senate approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, however this third round of stimulus checks has yet to be fully approved and passed on to the individuals in need. The House of Representatives will be giving final approval this week, and the IRS to start delivering the checks in the next couple weeks.
Americans should have received their checks via direct deposit as early as this past weekend. Prior to recent stimulus checks, families will get a payment for all their dependents claimed on a tax return, not just those qualifying under 17.
New modifications have come out, where Americnas will be able to check the status of their stimulus checks, by using the Get My Payment tool.
The statistics around the amount have been analyzed that the $1,400 checks will be able to aid 23 million people in payer for their living expenses over the next 4 months.
Supplementing the $1,400 checks will be funding for schools, small businesses, and cities and states. The stimulus money will enhance scholls safety protocols as students begin to return to the physical classroom. This check will also come in time as the extra jobless aid will expire.
Considering that many households have already filed their income tax for 2020, the IRS will use that updated information to manage who is eligible and for what amount. If individuals or households have not filed their taxes for 2020, then the IRS will use 2019 documents to determine eligibility and amount.
As the vaccine rollout continues, the country still has a long road ahead to beating this virus. The stimulus checks are vital for preserving people's economic well being throughout these troubling times.
Calls continue to grow for Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York to resign following allegations of concealing the number of patients dying in nursing homes from COVID-19 and sexual misconduct.
By Annika Henthorn
When COVID-19 first hit the United States, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York seemed to truly understand the fatality of COVID-19, despite the Trump Administration’s constant dismissal of it. However, now he is under the public’s scrutiny for understating nursing home deaths related to COVID-19.
Priding himself on New York’s management of COVID-19, Governor Cuomo, according to KHN, said New York ranked 46th out of 50 states in regards to nursing home deaths. This “ranking” was based off of understated deaths, where nursing home residents that died in the hospital were not counted in the overall nursing home deaths due to COVID-19.
When allegations first arose, Governor Cuomo justified its removal of nursing home deaths in hospitals as avoiding a “double count” in overall state deaths related to COVID-19. However, all other states reported nursing home residents who died in a hospital as a nursing home death, inflating New York’s statistics in comparison to others. However, Priya Chidambaram, a policy analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation said that “New York is the only state that explicitly stated that they were excluding hospital-based deaths.”
Officials in Minnesota, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont have argued that there is, in fact, a way of calculating hospital deaths of nursing home residents without double counting. According to NBC, research experts like Chidambaram, have said that they did not know of any other state who opted to use the same method as New York. This has left many people wondering why other states were able to work around this problem of “double counting” and New York couldn’t, suggesting Cuomo’s intention of downplaying nursing home deaths.
Not only is Governor Cuomo under fire for his understatement of nursing home deaths, but also for sexual assault. According to Huffpost, recent allegations have surfaced from six women regarding sexual harassment and unwanted sexual misconduct. Four out of the six women were aides of the governor, and one of the women who did not work for him recounted her experience. Anna Ruch told The New York Times that he placed his hand on her bare lower back at a wedding in 2019 and after she moved his hand, he put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her.
Governor Cuomo has denied the allegations, saying that “never touched anyone inappropriately” and that “no one ever told me[him] at the time that I[he] made them uncomfortable.”
There is an ongoing federal investigation for his understatement of COVID-19 nursing home deaths, and the former U.S. Attorney for the South District of New York Joon Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark will be investigating the sexual harrsassment allegations, according to Huffpost.
A settlement of a San Diego lawsuit over the prohibition of high school athletic competitions under Covid regulations allows for sports to return statewide.
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
On March 4, 2021, lawyers representing high school athletes in San Diego reached a settlement that allows for sports to resume statewide. The settlement requires counties to reach the Orange Tier where COVID-19 case rates are 14 per 100,000 people before resuming practicing and requires athletes and coaches of indoor sports to be tested for COVID-19 regularly.
The status of allowing for athletic competition is also subject to change at any time, depending on the level of COVID-19 transmission in the state. The California Department of Public Health website dictates that High School sports hoping to return to competing must follow the strict guidelines set out for College athletics which include strict testing requirements, contact tracing, and working with local health officials. Return to athletics is also dependent on the requirement that everyone involved, athletes, coaches, spectators, and support staff, wear masks.
A release by the law group Wingert Grebing Brubaker and Juskie llp, states that before the updated regulations, California was one of only three states to not allow High School sports teams to play competitive games. The lawsuit was filed on the behalf of High School football players Nicholas Gardinera and Cameron Woolsey, who sued the County of San Diego, and Governor Gavin Newsom. The goal of the lawsuit was to push the state to allow for students to return to competing.
The release by the law group also said that,”This long overdue relief is sought on the basis that current restrictions on playing high school sports violates the athletes’ right to equal protection under the law because the State and County have allowed College and Professional teams to play the same sports… high school students have been denied the opportunity to abide by these same safety guidelines and have been unfairly denied the chance to play the sports they love.”
The Los Angeles Times quotes Marlon Gardinera, the father of the plaintiff Nicholas Gardinera and a football coach at Scripps High School in San Diego, as saying, “All sports can resume in the state of California as a result of this lawsuit in San Diego County. We’re trying to clear a path for kids.”
In the Moraga area, a push to return student athletes back to practicing and competing has existed for several months, with a “Let Them Play” occurring on January 15, 2021. The new regulations regarding sports may not change much at local high schools surrounding Saint Mary’s where, occurring to the Diablo Athletic League’s February 22, Meeting Minutes, some sports have been allowed to practice and compete since early February while the county was still in Purple and Red tiers.
Despite this, high school athletes all over the state will be able to start back up their athletics, a new step forward to a return to normalcy from COVID-19.
On March 3rd the Saint Marys Community welcomed, on behalf of the Center for Women and Gender Equity, Porche Taylor and Courtney Morris. As previewed in a recent article the discussion is in honor of the 44 days event on campus, and a follow up with these women advocating for change in the criminal justice system.
By Ally Sullivan
Recently incarcerated individuals who reside at 111 Taylor Street, have been the victims of a mass COVID-19 outbreak that could have been prevented. As part of parole they were not allowed to wear masks. Courtney Morris, Organizer of No Justice Under Capitalism, expressed her concern and commitment to help these individuals. Morris has recently been actively demanding mass releases throughout prisons to decrease deaths from the COVID-19 outbreak. As a local advocate for abolishing the prison system, Morris is not alone in her efforts.
Porche Taylor, Founder of Prison from the Inside Out, and owner of her own reentry facilities expresses her disgust toward places like 111 Taylor Street. “It is a disgusting look at what transitioning has been in the past years because of privatization” Taylor said. The Taylor street institution is owned by the GEO group. As stated on their website, the GEO groups core reentry treatments includes training in behavioral treatment, substance abuse education and treatment as well as work readiness/ vocational skills. This is not the services that were provided to current resident Malik Washington.
Malik Washington was denied access to drug rehabilitation centers without regards to the high drug use that exists just outside the doors of the institution. Washington was sent to 111 Taylor street on a work release program, as a Journalist Washington went to work at a rally, and was told that it was not authorized. Inhumane treatment at 111 Taylor street seems to be another one of GEO groups core values.
As opposed to privatized reentry institutions, Taylor strives and succeeds at providing these second chance citizens with a home environment where they are treated as respectable human beings. Taylor believes in serving the incarcerated and recently incarcerated with compassion, empathy, and respect. “We have a lot of work to do, they cannot fight alone,” Taylor said.
Taylor and Morris are working to change the narrative, and educate people around common misconceptions about the prison system. The biggest one that Morris points out, is that they keep us safe, however crime and homicide rates have not gone down. These women advocate strongly that people do not need prison, but rather social services in their everyday lives. As Morris states, “When people have what they need, they don't commit crime.”
Thank you to these women for sharing their stories, and for bringing awareness and action to the increasing incarceration problem. The Saint Marys Community thanks you for taking time out of your day to educate and inspire all those who attended the event.
Newly approved for emergency use, the Janssen vaccine has it’s pros and cons. Johnson and Johnson struggle to reach production goals, entering into partnership with pharmaceutical giant Merck. US Catholic officials voice moral concerns over vaccine production.
By Evan Rodrigues
On February 27th, an emergency use authorization from the FDA was announced for a third COVID-19 vaccine. Produced by Janssen Biotech Inc., a pharmaceutical company owned by Johnson & Johnson, the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is delivered in a single shot. An article written by Noah Weiland for the New York Times highlights the benefits of a single dose:
“At small, independent pharmacies, the vaccine has caused a surge of excitement. Steve Hoffart, the owner of Magnolia Pharmacy in Magnolia, Texas, a small town outside of Houston, has received calls and emails from residents anticipating its arrival this week. He said he hopes to hold a Johnson & Johnson event for teachers on March 13. Schools in the area have struggled to find substitute teachers during the pandemic, and a vaccine that does not require a second visit and more time off was a significant development, he said.”
The article cites other upsides of the vaccine, saying it “can be kept at normal refrigeration temperatures for three months,” making it “ideal for distribution at nonmedical sites such as stadiums and convention centers.”
While the benefits of the vaccine are numerous, there is a slight difference in efficacy rates among the three vaccines available. A New York Times article written by Noah Weiland and Sharon LaFraniere reads:
“The new vaccine’s 72 percent efficacy rate in the U.S. clinical trial site — a number scientists have celebrated — falls short of the roughly 95 percent rate found in studies testing the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Across all trial sites, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine also showed 85 percent efficacy against severe forms of Covid-19 and 100 percent efficacy against hospitalization and death.”
Apart from the slight difference in results, the vaccine’s production has run into barriers. The New York Times reports that “Johnson & Johnson and its partners fell behind in their manufacturing. Although the company was supposed to deliver its first 37 million doses by the end of March, it said that it would be able to deliver only 20 million doses by that date, which made Biden aides nervous.”
This delay in production led to an increase in aid and the formation of a partnership. The New York Times reports, “In a brief speech . . . Biden said his administration had provided support to Johnson & Johnson that would enable the company and its partners to make vaccines around the clock. The administration had also brokered a deal in which the pharmaceutical giant Merck would help manufacture the new Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine.”
While focussed on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, an article from NPR touches on the concerns of US Catholic Bishops:
“Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was produced in part through the use of cell lines derived from an aborted human fetus. . . ‘If one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna's vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson's,’ say Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind. Naumann chairs the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Rhoades chairs the USCCB's Committee on Doctrine.”
The bishops understand that not everyone will have a choice when it comes to the type of vaccine they receive, so they stress the importance of getting vaccinated, even if your only option is the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The NPR article quotes the bishops again, “[getting vaccinated] ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community. In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good."
For more information please follow the links below:
President Biden reopens a Trump-era facility for migrant children outraging many, including fellow Democrats.
By Annika Henthorn
During President Biden’s campaign, he vowed to undo the inhumane, immigration policies Trump implemented during his presidency. However, this has taken a quick turn after Biden announced he has reopened an emergency facility for migrant teens, which was last opened in the summer of 2019 for one month under the Trump administration.
Located in Carrizo Springs, Texas, this facility holds up to 700 children from ages 13-17, according to The Washington Post. Officials say its reopening serves as additional space since COVID-19 has cut the capacity of the facilities in half. Due to the reversal of Trump’s immigration policy, there has been a spike of unaccompanied, migrant children, with 5,700 reported in January, the highest total according to The Washington Post.
The ideal goal for the facility is to ensure that the child is there for no more than 30 days, arranging for an approved sponsor to care for the child. However, the average time a child typically spends is 42 days. Denise Bell, a researcher for refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA has told Business Insider that “a government agency is not a parent for children.” She later goes on to say that “children who are alone need to be accommodated for their safety while the government identifies and reunites them with appropriate sponsors. We don't want to endanger children and we don't want them held in detention or in facilities that don't meet their best interests."
Business Insider has revealed that because this facility is deemed an influx facility, it is not subject to state regulations and unlicensed in childcare, prompting much concern. These facilities are typically temporary and meant for emergencies, not permanent residence. For many, this feels as though the United States have regressed in its progress for reformed immigration policy. The re-opening of a facility that caused such protest and controversy during Trump’s presidency has caused people to speculate if Biden’s promise for a more humane immigration system was hollow. Linda Brandmiller, an immigration lawyer who represents unattended minors, strongly believes "it's unnecessary, it's costly, and it goes absolutely against everything Biden promised he was going to do." Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also spoke out that "is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay — no matter the administration or party."
However, some argue that although it’s never an easy decision, COVID-19 has complicated decisions on how to properly care for migrant children. Mark Greenberg, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute and former HHS official, has told Business Insider that "opening an influx facility is never something that people want to do, but sometimes, it's the only alternative to having children backed up in [Customs and Border Protection] holding facilities that are totally inappropriate for children.” Although both are not ideal, many believe that the administration is facing a tough and time-sensitive issue on how to safely house the growing number of migrant children during the pandemic.
Graduate Student Writing Reading series gives students an opportunity to showcase their literary creations.
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
On Monday March 1, 2021, Saint Mary’s hosted a Graduate Student Reading, part of the school of creative writings weekly Graduate Student Reading series. The Graduate Student Reading series takes place every Monday evening at 6:00pm over zoom. The series features the works of different MFA Candidates every week. This week the reading featured the readings of four students from the Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction programs.
One of the first readers of the night was Jenyth Gearhart-Utchen, a Poetry program student and the Poet Laureate of San Ramon. She was introduced by ‘22 graduate Stella Santa Maria who described Gearhart-Utchen’s poetry as “visual art.” Gearhart-Utchen read several poems that she had written over the past year, centered on a variety of themes and events, including quarantine and the Sonoma County wildfires that took place this summer. Most of her poems had a nature and outdoor themes with titles like “Waiting for Lady Banks Rose,” “Retaining Wall” and “Running After the Recycling Truck on New Years Shoes.” As a part of the SMC MFA program, she has experienced a dramatic shift in her writing and has found her writing getting shorter and more intense. Over the last year she has found inspiration in small details of the world around her.
“During the pandemic, I've decided to focus on the small, mundane, but magical and wonderful things I've never noticed before, rather than the larger, less controllable aspects of our lives,” Gearhart-Utchen said. “For instance, when my garage door wouldn't shut, I realized a sunbeam was hitting the safety sensor for about 5 minutes. That became a poem about "nature enticing artificial intelligence."
Gearhart-Utchen was followed by Fiction student Nick Golden, who read a humorous piece about an animated bong. Putting on a Pete Davidsonesque narrator voice, Golden entertained the whole zoom meeting with his story of a guy who spends all day getting stoned while working for the U.S. Government until his bong comes to life and urges him to get his life together.
Although the story is fiction there is still an element of truth to it. Golden based the story off of his own experience living in Florida and working for a Congressman after his graduation from Saint Mary’s in 2014. While in Florida, he found himself isolated with a tough time making friends because of the cultural difference of his California upbringing and “stoner personality” and his coworkers who “literally believed President Obama wasn't American, wanted more guns on the street, didn't understand various movements, and the voters there held some radical views.”
Golden describes his time in Florida as one of the bottom points of his life, and because of this, found himself unable to write about it from a nonfiction lens, inspired by surrealist shows like Wilfred and Man Seeking woman, he gave the bong in his story, “my own retrospective thoughts and criticisms of my past lonely self was a fun way to blend what happened when I was living there, while making it comedic to brush over the isolation and loneliness of the narrator.”
After graduation he hopes to continue in the writing world through continuing to write his memoir, write fiction short stories, and submitting fiction and nonfiction essays for publication. He acknowledges that it is rare for writers to be able to make a living only out of writing and wants to use his writing skills in the corporate world to find a job copyediting, content researching or in internal communications.
The night ended with the poetry of Poetry student Jacqueline Simon. Her first poem she read, titled “Atonement,” was about not fasting on Yom Kippur, intergenerational conflict, and the feeling of personal lacking. She read another poem about an experience with her husband's heart condition. She also read a collection of poetry called her crown sonnets that she began writing at the beginning of quarantine on March 19th 2020. She then finished the night by reading an excerpt from a longer poem of hers titled “Donkeys.”
Her writing inspiration comes from the world around her,“I would say that mostly my inspiration comes from the non-human world. But it's more than that. It is more like how our reactions and interactions with the non-human world define us. And highlight our responsibilities to the world and each other. Both the necessity and the intrinsic value inherent in these relationships.”
Nazi artist Fritz von Graeventiz’s statue “Falcon Boy” was displayed on the Saint Mary’s campus in the Museum of Art’s quad. Saint Mary’s administration has temporarily removed the statue followed by a petition started by three Saint Mary’s students receives over 1,000 signatures.
By Victoria Vidales
Saint Mary’s administration has temporarily removed a statue created by a Nazi artist following a change.org petition created by three Saint Mary’s undergraduates. Named “Falcon Boy,” this statue was displayed in the Museum of Art’s (MOA) quad. Created in 1954 by known Nazi Fritz von Graeventiz, this statue represents all that Saint Mary’s should not be: divisive, racist, and discriminatory. As a result of the artist’s association with the Nazi Party, Saint Mary’s students believe that this statue never should have been and no longer can be present on the Saint Mary’s campus.
On February 23, Saint Mary’s students Sara Mameesh ‘22, Melanie Moyer ‘22, and Venessa Ramirez ‘22 began a petition on change.org to have the statue removed from the campus. The student activists noticed the statue after walking past it on the evening of February 22. The students said they approached the statue out of curiosity, and read the inscription. Not familiar with the artist, the three searched on the web for more information, eventually coming across his ties with Nazi Germany. Immediately appalled by what they had found, the students knew they had to alert the Saint Mary’s community.
“We didn’t know what the next steps were so we reached out to a professor we trusted for advice. We decided to create a petition because we wanted student support before going to administration with our concerns. We felt that if we went to administration alone we would not have received the same attention as we would have with the majority of student support,” Melanie Moyer said.
Arguing that the “artist cannot be separated from the art,” the petition states that this statue is contradictory to Saint Mary’s values, and is extremely offensive and insensitive to members of the Saint Mary’s community. Along with calling for its removal, the petition states the need for an explanation from Saint Mary’s administration for how it came to be displayed on the Saint Mary’s campus and why it took so long for it to be removed.
Following public outrage across the Bay Area, Saint Mary’s administration has temporarily removed the statue to investigate the artist’s background and the statue’s presence on campus. In a statement reported by NBC Bay Area News Saint Mary’s administration claims that the statue was “bought by a member of the Saint Mary’s Art faculty who fled Nazi rule in 1937, and taught at the university in the 1960s and 1970s.”
Mameesh, Moyer, and Ramirez claimed that they are disappointed in the administration's statement, with Ramirez stating that “initially [we felt] very underwhelmed, and disappointed. [The statement was] not genuine, and not really solving the problem. We had our sources, and we thought the school would immediately see our demands.” Mameesh added, claiming that while “[administration] did give us some answers, they did not really acknowledge the artist’s true connection [to Nazism].”
Fritz von Graevenitz was an active Nazi Party supporter, designing several pieces comemorating Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. According to the petition, he is responsible for creating three busts of Hitler and a statue of a 20ft wide Eagle, a symbol of the Third Reich, holding a swastika. As a frequent participant and member of Nazi inner circles, Fritz von Graevenitz’s positions regarding Nazism are clear: he was an avid supporter.
The petition also called upon Saint Mary’s administration to make a public apology to members of the Saint Mary’s community and general public who have suffered as a result of Nazi ideals and propaganda. The petition also suggests that the statue be replaced by another statue that instead celebrates the Jewish community. Students and petitioners believe that this replacement would be a step in support of the advocacy for unity, allyship, and community that Saint Mary’s College promotes.
“[The replacement] does not necessarily have to be a statue, but a painting or mural, something that is celebrating the beauty of Jewish culture,” Mameesh said.
As the petition gained more local attention, the students admitted that they received messages from internet trolls who were critical of their concerns. However, they stated that the positive feedback and support that they have received from fellow students and the local community have been worth the pushbacks. Moyer reflects that “I’ve had fellow students message and reach out to me saying how happy they are that it has been removed, and how hurt it made them feel knowing that [the statue] was there.”
This statue is a living memory of a man who openly represented the worst of humanity. Students are furious that this statue remained on campus for so many years without anyone noticing. As an institution that promotes unity and understanding, a statue created by a Nazi will never be acceptable. Saint Mary’s students will continue to seek accountability from administration to ensure that statues of similar nature, are never again present.
To sign the petition to permanently remove the statue please follow the link below: https://www.change.org/p/saint-mary-s-college-of-california-remove-nazi-art-from-saint-mary-s-college-of-california?redirect=false
Victoria Vidales '21,