By Victoria Vidales
On September 23rd, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that no police officers would be charged in the killing of 26 year old Breonna Taylor. An African American woman, Taylor was killed in late March following a violent shooting by Louisville police officers. Both innocent, and unarmed, Taylor’s death has been met with intense national protests regarding continued calls of police brutality inflicted onto African Americans.
Investigations have determined that on March 23rd, Louisville Police Department officers entered Taylor’s apartment allegedly to search the premises for evidence against two men involved in drug related crimes. One of the men, Jamarcus Glover, had a romantic relationship with Taylor a few years before, however, the two remained friends. Taylor’s family claims Taylor recently severed the friendship. Taylor was never accused, nor suspected of any involvement in criminal activity.
Various news outlets have reported that, upon entering the apartment, the officers immediately responded to a single gunfire shot from Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend. According to public statements, Walker claimed that the two, he and Taylor, were asleep when they were awakened by loud noises. Walker recounts that both he and Taylor called out to the individuals, however, they did not receive responses.
Fearing a home invasion, Walker, who is a legal gun owner, claims that he fired a single gunshot in the direction of the noises. As a result, the officers returned intense fire, shooting Taylor, who was unarmed, five times. Walker, the intended target, was never hit. Walker then called 911 telling the operator that Taylor was injured, and that he believed someone had broken into their home. Investigators have determined that Walker’s shot hit Sergeant Jonathon Mattingly in the leg.
Following the shooting, Walker was taken into custody, while Taylor lied on the floor without medical attention.
The actions of the LMPD regarding the outcome of that night have been under intense scrutiny, debate, and criticism from legal professionals, and the American public. According to reports from The New York Times, and public statements from Attorney General Cameron, three officers were involved in the fatal shooting, each to varying degrees. Sergeant Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove have been determined to have fired the bullets that killed Taylor. It has been determined from an investigation that the officers engaged 32 rounds of fire into the apartment. Reports have also concluded that Detective Brett Hankinson fired several shots into the window, and patio door of Taylor’s apartment. Some of the bullets fired by Hankinson entered into a neighbors home.
During a press conference, Attorney General Cameron concluded that charges would not be filed against Sergeant Mattingly and Detective Cosgrove who shot Taylor for her death, claiming that since Walker fired first, the officers were not responsible for the shooting. Detective Hankinson’s actions resulted in his dismissal from the department due to “wanton endangerment,” however, this is not for the endangerment of Taylor but of the three neighbors whose apartment his shots entered.
Whether the officers announced themselves before entering the apartment remains under further confusion. Walker claims that he never heard the officers announce who they were before entering the apartment. Excerpts from his 911 call support his claims. The officers involved claimed that they did identify who they were before entering the apartment, however, most neighbors have not been able to corroborate that claim.
The issue of the warrant has also come under fire. The New York Times reported that the warrant was specifically changed from a no-knock warrant, to a knock and search warrant. If officers did not announce themselves before entering the residence they were in violation of the warrant. Investigators have also determined that Taylor did not receive medical attention for over 20 minutes after the shooting. Walker claims that Taylor remained alive briefly during this time.
Taylor’s family reportedly settled with the city of Louisville for 12 million dollars from a wrongful death suit they filed on May 15th.
Taylor joins the list of so many unarmed African Americans who have been killed by law enforcement. From the recent killing of George Floyd, to the six year old shooting of 17 year old Trayvon Martin, unarmed African Americans have continuously been subjected to unspeakable violence at the hands of law enforcement. Taylor was a young medical technician, with so much more life to live. Although the pursuit of justice for her remained strong, Attorney General Cameron shattered all hope. Taylor’s death has not only been called a tragedy, but a continued form of injustice.
By Riley Mulcahy
Going to college in the Bay Area is expensive enough, let alone living through a national pandemic that has affected millions of people's livelihoods. Saint Mary's Gael Pantry helps to bridge an economic gap by assisting students in securing food. Inspired by a group of students who led an event called "Economic Reality" showcasing the financial strain college students are faced with, the Gael Pantry strives to tackle the issue of food insecurity.
After the event, there was a more concentrated effort to help those battling hunger on Saint Mary's campus. In 2016, The Mission and Ministry Center, who runs the pantry, started "Solidarity Suppers." According to the Missions and Ministry Center Director Karin McClelland, the event strived to "educate on food insecurity, promote the pantry and demystify using such a resource." In October 2016, with the help of Sodexo, Saint Mary's food provider, the Mission and Ministry Center launched the Gael Pantry.
According to the Gael Pantry’s website, "reports show that between 20% and 60% of college students on a college or university campus experience food insecurity." Food insecurity is defined as "the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food." With these numbers in mind, it is safe to say that many students need a little extra help.
During a "Gael Pantry Pop Up" event in 2018, the center learned that only about fifty percent of the undergraduates at Saint Mary's had heard of Gael Pantry, and graduate students did not know about the service. At first, some students were apprehensive about the idea of going into a food pantry and being identified as needing services. However, the pantry is a confidential service, and there is no proof required to have access to the pantry.
Although discouraging that such a low number of students knew about the Gael Pantry, community events like the pop-up event helped raise awareness of the program.
In the spring of 2020, a mass exodus of students left their college campuses to return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there was a significant adjustment on how the Gael Pantry was run (reducing the number of paid staff and volunteers and adhering to COVID regulations), there were still students on campus who needed the pantry. International students and students who could not return home frequented the pantry.
Currently, the pantry is open for pick-up on campus 11:00 am-2:00 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays outside of the Mission and Ministry lounge, and off-campus students have access to the pantry at the Rheem Center, 8:00 am-5:00 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students must order their desired items from the pantry before noon the day before picking up their items (Monday before noon if picking up on Tuesday). Additionally, a produce truck and expanded ordering services (including an app) for students are in the works.
According to McClelland, the connection to the Gael Pantry and the Mission and Ministry Center makes perfect sense. The Lasallian principles the Saint Mary's community ascribe to promote are faith, education, deep respect, and admiration for all peoples. Food insecurity may be challenging to notice in Moraga and other places in the Bay Area, but it is something that many students are facing.
To learn more about the Gael Pantry and order your items from the pantry, please go to:
Follow @GaelPantry on Instagram and Twitter for the most up to date information.
By Lenin O’Mahony
The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has brought about a deep sadness across our country, and our world. Her death has also been the catalyst of intense political division, as the argument over her replacement in the Supreme Court has led to yet another fierce battle in DC between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans have been eager to replace the now empty Justice position before the November election, which would become the third Justice appointed by President Trump.
On September 26th Trump announced that he would be choosing Amy Coney Barrett to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat. Trump has previously appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch. Both are considered to be very conservative leaning Justices, and Barrett is identified as a right leaning judge as well. This would give the Supreme Court a 6-3 conservative majority, which would lock in Supreme Court decisions in favor of more conservative rulings.
In past rulings Chief Justice John Roberts has occasionally voted in opposition to his conservative peers, which made Supreme Court rulings somewhat unreliable for conservative goals. With another Trump appointee and the subsequent majority, Republican lawmakers are much more likely to receive Supreme Court approval, even with a more moderate Chief Justice John Roberts voting on the line.
Democrats are ready to fight President Trump and the Republican lawmakers, and are even willing to expand the number of Supreme Court Justices in order to take away the conservative majority if the Trump appointee is confirmed. Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden has not been willing to state whether he’d consider expanding the court, claiming he wants to keep the focus on the election. Some lawmakers have expressed a hesitancy to change the number of Justices, claiming it will result in a lack of legitimacy in the Court; as it could be continually expanded with every new President looking for a majority.
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke out against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said that a Trump appointee would receive a vote in the Senate. In a tweet Sen. Sanders expressed frustration at the apparent disrespect to Justice Ginsburg's last wish, which was to be replaced by the newly elected president after the November election. Sen. Sanders also spoke about hypocrisy on the side of McConnell, referring to the fact that Republicans blocked President Obama's Supreme Court nominee in 2016, on the claim that there should not be a Supreme Court replacement during an election year.
The role of the Supreme Court is essential in the American Federal Government. It acts as a check and balance for the other two branches of the federal government, because it has the final decision on the constitutionality of laws or regulations passed by the Congress or executive orders from the President. Important rulings have decided the federal stance on abortion, segregation, and more.
Some view this as a flawed and manipulated system, which is what some politicians believe is occurring now with the political fight over RBG’s replacement. Many congressmen and congresswomen believe that the responsibility of selecting the next Supreme Court Justice should be left up to the candidate elected this November, but it’s expected that President Trump and his supporters will fight to get their candidate confirmed into the Court before the end of the year.
Many Senate Republicans who helped block President Obama’s pick in 2016 have changed their stance or backed off early claims to oppose President Trump’s nominee. Many Senators are also locked in tight re-election races, and, as a result, are unlikely to oppose President Trump for fear of losing much of their base support.
The days and weeks following the regretful passing of Justice Ginsburg have been filled with heated debate, deep sorrow, and frustration from voters on both sides of the aisle. However, it has proved to be an unfortunately unexpected addition to the last four years of President Trump's presidency, which has been filled with allegations, scandal, imprisonment, and even impeachment.
This has in particular been an interesting time for Saint Mary’s current first year students, who spent almost the entirety of their high school years under President Trump's administration. I know, as a member of the class of 2024, we are all watching carefully as this political battle unfolds, knowing that what happens now will inevitably define the next four years of our college experience.
Student organization continues to hold events in a virtual environment.
By Annika Henthorn
With the world engulfed by a constant virtual reality, Zoom has become the heartbeat of our society. In order to adjust to these trying times, Campus Activity Board (CAB) has worked around the clock to provide a fun and COVID-safe outlet for students to decompress. Whether that is through Kahoot, Zoom, or other online resources, students have the opportunity to participate in the ongoing, and upcoming events CAB is hosting.
In-person activities have gradually transformed into a pleasant memory of the past; however, this is not without hope. The union of online resources and added preparation time has allowed CAB to host fully virtual and interactive events with prizes.
The challenges that come along with virtual events are obvious; however, in an effort to mend the growing chasm between students and the Saint Mary’s community, evening program coordinator for CAB, sophomore, Carly Marks, hosted a Pop Culture Kahoot for students virtually. Confined by the protocols of COVID-19, this event marked the beginning of a new norm, at least for now. Budget cuts have also led to less versatility in regards to what CAB is able to accomplish; however, the top three winners were still offered prizes such as a JBL Go2 speaker and Spotify/Starbucks gift cards.
Held on September 21st, the Kahoot consisted of three rounds, each a different theme including celebrities, movies, and current music. In order to keep up, being well-versed in pop-culture was shockingly a must.
With midterms in full swing, school has remained the forefront of many people’s agendas, myself included. Carly Marks attested that although it has been “a struggle to get students on zoom, especially with courses being mostly virtual, the turnout was unbelievable.” More than 40 students attended, validating not only the dedication of the students to the school but also vice versa.
CAB is also planning a virtual Bingo Night for September 30. Prizes include an Air Fryer, airpods, and a JBL speaker. Additionally, they are creating a spinoff of MTV Crib to flaunt student’s changes in bedrooms or office spaces in response to COVID-19. The dates remain undecided; however, it is a fun way to highlight overdue spring cleaning or room changes students have made since the initial lockdown.
As difficult as it is to stay connected to students through the same screen that classes are typically on, these events continue to strengthen the student body of Saint Mary’s. With the constant chaos that seems to be unveiling itself this year, it is crucial that students stay involved even if it is through Kahoot or a game of Bingo. Who wouldn’t want to win an air fryer?
By James Molnar
What exactly are the policies that our presidential candidates advocate for? What is their reasoning behind supporting these policies? In this article, we explore the candidates’ views on two key issues: immigration and economics.
On the issue of immigration, the two presidential candidates hold starkly different philosophies. President Trump favors a merit-based immigration system, with an emphasis on curbing illegal immigration. He aims to change the criteria with which applicants are selected, relying primarily on such traits as education, economic productivity, and entrepreneurship, rather than a lottery system. He argues that “Random selection is contrary to American values and blocks out many qualified potential immigrants from around the world who have much to contribute.” As he points out, similar meritocratic immigration systems are in use in a host of other developed nations, including Canada and New Zealand.
In order to curb the influx of undocumented immigrants into the country, Trump plans to continue to build his signature “wall” along the Southern border, about 320 miles of which have already been erected. This marks a pivotal disagreement between President Trump and his adversary. While Trump believes that illegal immigration brings about heightened crime as well as economic degradation, Democratic candidate Biden holds that it is an indispensable boon to America, providing both economic benefit and a host of unique cultural traditions. Biden, therefore, vows to grant citizenship to the 11 million-strong community of undocumented immigrants. The two candidates agree that the U.S. should secure its borders against drug traffickers, but while Trump sees a physical barrier as being vital in this pursuit, Biden holds that such a barrier would be both expensive and impractical, and therefore promises to cut funding for it. He does, however, agree with Trump on the importance of screenings at legal ports of entry into the country.
In essence, Trump believes that the immigration process should prioritize applicants who have demonstrated skills that would tangibly benefit the United States. Biden, however, theorizes that America is strengthened by the presence of immigrants more generally, regardless of their economic fortitude, and thus seeks to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants and to abolish many of the policies that Trump has implemented.
In the economic sector, Biden believes that prosperity can best be achieved by raising taxes on the wealthy and using the proceeds to fund a variety of welfare programs. He wishes to increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and the rate for the highest income bracket from 37% to 39.6%. Biden’s economic ideology is underpinned by the conception that vast amounts of money are being “hoarded” in the wallets of overpaid Wall Street titans, a phenomenon that he sees as being worsened by the President’s policies over the last four years. While Biden makes it clear that his economic views are not as radical as those of Senator Bernie Sanders, and is careful not to “demonize” billionaires, he nonetheless believes that the wealthy are not paying their fair share of taxes. Moreover, Biden's model appears to treat economics as a “zero-sum game,” insofar as it implies a tradeoff between the prosperity of the wealthy and that of the working class.
President Trump approaches economics with a substantially different philosophy. He advocates for a more Laissez-Faire system, drawing from the ideas of Adam Smith, the father of free-market economics, aiming to spur economic growth through lowering tax rates and lifting stifling regulations. During his presidency, Trump implemented tax cuts across the board. Prior to the fallout associated with Covid-19, the economy surged and unemployment fell in record numbers. As the president points out, these positive effects are especially apparent for historically disadvantaged groups. Though the precise cause of this growth is still a matter of debate, many believe that Trump’s economic policies played a key role in it.
Some of the candidates' ideological differences on this issue may stem from their notably different personal backgrounds. While Biden dedicated most of his working years to jobs in government, affecting the economy through passing laws and regulations, Trump spent most of his career working in the private sector as a prominent entrepreneur and businessman, stimulating economic growth by building companies.
In summary, Biden favors a redistributionist approach to economics, consisting of heightened tax rates on the wealthy and the introduction of additional social programs. Trump, on the other hand, takes a more free-market view, advocating for deregulation and decreased taxes across the board.
By Annika Henthorn
Whether you are living at home or in your apartment, here is your look into how on-campus life has changed.
Housing: With the significant changes in protocol since COVID-19 transpired, many students on-campus have provided their insight in the day-to-day life of a Saint Mary’s college student. In regards to housing, sophomore Ryan Jackson, has explained that although Saint Mary’s has prohibited roommates and requires a solidary living situation, he has been able to “focus better than at home.” Because of the typically hectic household, the peace of having a dorm to oneself has been deemed advantageous in regards to schoolwork. Sidney Clemer-Engelhart, a junior living in the townhouses, has also pleasantly described her experience. With quarantine being a difficult time for socializing, she has loved “being able to be around my[her] friends everyday” and getting “to cook meals together.” A common misconception is that on-campus living would get lonely from the substantial drop in the number of students residing on campus; however, she is “appreciative that I[she] gets to live on campus.”
However, with most living situations there is usually a downside. Alexander Romo, a sophomore at Saint Mary’s has described the difficulty of on-campus housing. Although there are still people that live on campus available to chat with, it still “can feel a little secluded.” With the strict regulations that the school has implemented to combat COVID-19 , it can have a detrimental effect on the residents. Additionally, the limited activities the school can host can also tend to make on-campus life a little “uneventful” at times, according to Ryan Jackson.
Dining: The notorious Oliver Hall has also made some drastic changes in regards to the dining experience. Ryan Jackson has described the new norm and the lengthy process to grab food. Adhering to the regulations mandated by the county, the school has stickers along the floor six feet apart that students must line up along. There is a capacity for how many people are allowed inside the cafeteria, and when one leaves another can go. This can be problematic when students have limited time between classes. Although it takes longer to pick up food, Koda Kammer, a sophomore, says that “the quality has definitely improved from last year.” However, the quantity has been rationed in to-go containers, limiting the amount of food available for students.
RA Perspective: Rob McMaster, the resident advisor for Ferdinand and Camile Ageno HALL, graciously offered his insight on both the good and bad of these unprecedented times. One of the main struggles of being an RA, according to Rob McMaster, has been communication. With contact being very limited, Rob claims “making connections with the residents has been much more difficult than in years prior.” Rob has been an RA in the past, and because most updates are given through email now, students have not been as “responsive or receptive.” The chasm between both the resident advisor and residents has become more transparent following the constraints of COVID-19. However, despite the expected challenges with the changes on campus, Rob McMaster has praised the school for their clarity in communicating the expectations for this semester. Thus far, students, overall, have been “doing well so far with the protocol” and have continued “wearing their masks.”
Teacher’s Responses: The majority consensus concerning the teacher’s response to online learning has been overwhelmingly positive. Ryan Jackson confirmed that, with more time to accustom themselves to the new reality of Zoom, professors “have done the best they can to provide as many resources possible for solitary learning.” Rob McMaster, also added that they “have been very good at adapting their course and syllabi to the changes,” which, in his eyes, “speaks to their level of dedication to providing the highest level of education they can.” With the added time over the summer, professors have been able to properly construct their course schedule to meet the needs of both the students and the course.
Resources: The resources available on-campus practically mirror the ones offered to those living off-campus. With the recreation center closed as well as the library, most of the helpful resources have shifted online in order to establish a leveled education for students on and off campus. The Rheem campus is also available for students residing off-campus and allows you to reserve study rooms and have access to Cloud printing and free wifi.
With the ever-changing regulations mandated by the county, Saint Mary’s has done a generally admirable job of adjusting to online learning. From the safety measures to ensure the security of their on-campus residents to the extensive resources available to students regardless of their living situation, the school has done their best to acclimate students through these rigorous months to come.
By James Molnar
As the college rings in another semester of remote instruction, students scramble to keep up with the demands of an increasingly apocalyptic world. Still swathed in the opaque clouds of acrid smoke now billowing throughout the pacific northwest, and bound by the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, many have not left their homes in weeks. Instead, they spend their time pouring over their laptops and phones, tuning into the vast online learning network that has enabled the greatest shift in mass education since the introduction of public schooling.
While the technological breakthroughs of Zoom have allowed a rapid transition to an economical, high speed learning model, many students report that this has come with the loss of experiences that were once central to their education.
Chief among these is frequent socialization with other students and professors. As the distinguished topologist and Saint Mary’s math professor Kathy Porter points out, the days of both of students and instructors, are largely sapped of the small pleasures of close-up personal interaction that were once commonplace. This has implications not only for the social dynamics of the college but also for the scholastic ones.
Adriana Centeno-Rivas, a junior at Saint Mary’s, makes the point that many students now feel increasingly unmotivated owing to a lack of rewarding feedback throughout the day. She also describes a widespread feeling of disconnection: “You aren’t surrounded by people. You’re staring at them through the screen.”
In addition, many students do not feel that they are receiving the same level of guidance from their professors as before. "You have to do everything for yourself,” says Radha Rai, a freshman at Saint Mary’s. Removed physically from their students, sometimes by as much as a couple of continents, instructors have found it difficult to provide the same level of counseling and feedback. Students, therefore, are required to exhibit an unusual level of independence while carrying out their academic obligations. As Ms. Rai puts it, “There’s nobody to watch you and keep you in check,” unlike in the classroom where “you know you need to stay on top of it.”
This move toward a more self-driven educational model is not without its proponents. A Saint Mary’s community member, who wishes to remain unnamed, asserts that “The Zoom model allows many of my students to achieve at levels above and beyond what they would otherwise have done.” She continues: “With the heightened independence of remote learning – coupled with the sheer quantity of hours that it frees up – they are able to devote their energies to academics in a way that is truly unmatched.”
This effect appears to be particularly pronounced in students who are highly driven and motivated to begin with. One such student is Leilani Love, a second-year business student at Saint Mary’s. "It helps me work on my time management,” she remarks, as well “to be more productive and feel like I have more control over my schedule.”
Despite living through a historical period wrought with catastrophic events that would have been considered impossible mere months ago, many students have demonstrated an unprecedented resilience in swiftly adapting to their new environment. Even so, it will take a concerted collective effort on the part of our community to ensure that the perilous features of distance learning do not destroy the tried and true educational model of our school that has been finely honed over the last few centuries.
By Annika Henthorn
How could we forget about California’s fifth season, fire season. With an apocalyptic haze that stretches across the bay area, concealing both hope and sunshine, these relentless fires are impossible to ignore. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, a record-breaking 2 million acres of California has been burned. Firefighters have been working around the clock to reach full containment; however, it continues to eat its way through California, propelled by a perfect storm of lightning and relentless heat.
Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA, told The San Francisco Chronicle that “the geographic scale and intensity of what is transpiring is truly jarring.” Fire season has become the new norm; however, the caliber of these fires is a pressing issue. Governor Gavin Newsom released a statement, saying in part, that “if you are in denial about climate change, come to California.”
SCU Lightning Complex Fire The Santa Clara Unit fire, sparked by lightning, has ransacked its way through five counties including Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus. According to Cal Fire, since its ignition on August 18th, the fire has engulfed over 396,624 acres, and because of its unmatched intensity, it has been deemed the second largest wildfire in California history. Thankfully there have been no fatalities. Nonetheless, Cal Fire has recorded five injuries, in addition to the 224 structures destroyed by the fire. On September 15, it was reportedly 98% contained.
LNU Lightning Complex Fire Lightning North Complex fires refers to the fires in North Bay induced by lightning. Much of Wine Country in Northern California, consisting of Napa, Sonoma, Solano, and a few other counties, was decimated in the fire. Cal Fire has reported 375,209 acres scorched and a total of five fatalities thus far. According to NBC Bay Area, three of the five killed in the fire were Mary Hintemeyer, her boyfriend Leo McDermott, and his son Tom McDermott. They tragically passed when the fire traversed through Napa County. The LNU Complex Unit Chief Shana Jones says that "the size and the complexity of this fire is not one that we have seen in times past." Although fires have always been a common threat of California, its severity has become increasingly harder to manage. CNBC disclosed that the Hennessy Fire, a prominent threat in Napa and lake counties, has blazed 317,909 acres; however, it has reported 91% containment. Within Sonoma county, NBC also addressed that “the Walbridge Fire is 54,940 acres, with 95% containment.” In total, the LNU Complex fire has reached 97% containment.
CZU Lightning Complex Fire Ripping through Santa Cruz and San Mateo county, the CZU Lightning Complex fire, a title for the collective fires in those counties, has ravaged 86,509 acres as stated by Cal Fire. Although it started August 16, as of September 15 it has reached 91% containment. According to NBC Bay Area, the CZU fire has “prompted evacuation orders for more than 77,000 people” and devastated 925 homes. The Santa Cruz Sentinel disclosed that 73-year-old Tad Jones was killed in the fire. However, Cal Fire has revealed that his death has been the only fatality in this monumental fire.
The dangerous partnership of heat and lightning meshed to form an insatiable, fire-breathing monster, devastating the lives of those it crossed. Climate change simply egged it on. As we have watched the symptoms of this fire unfold through our windows, computers, or even first-hand, we have the ability to help during these trying times. Organizations like the Red Cross or Salvation Army all need donations or volunteers to help with food donations and finding shelter for victims. With so much chaos in the world, let’s be the good.
Victoria Vidales '21,