Friday, July 12, 2019

Late HSU Professor Honored for LGBTQ Work

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2019 at 12:28 PM

Eric Rofes - FILE
  • File
  • Eric Rofes

Humboldt State University professor of education Eric Rofes, who died of a heart attack in 2006, was honored at the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City on June 27.

“Eric was a whirlwind of energy and brilliance at HSU and in the world, and I miss him daily,” said critical race and gender studies professor Christina Accomando in a press release sent by HSU. “His influence continues to be felt through our curriculum, our student organizations and Eric’s former students, who continue to do amazing things to make this a better world.”

According to a press release from the National LGBTQ Task Force, the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor "celebrates LGBTQ leaders who have paved the road to liberation and contributed significantly to progress for LGBTQ people.” The wall features 50 names of LGBTQ activisits, artists, federal workers and others.

Before heading to HSU in 1999, Rofes was an organizer and activist who began developing a gay men’s health movement, according to his obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle. He also led many organizations, including the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center from 1985 to 1988, and then went on to direct San Francisco’s Shanty Project from 1989 to 1993. Rofes also testified at the National Committee on AIDS hearing in 1991 wearing a leather chaps, vest and gloves to show there are varieties of sexual expression.

The National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the Stonewall Inn. - NATIONAL LGBTQ TASK FORCE WEBSITE
  • National LGBTQ Task Force website
  • The National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the Stonewall Inn.

While teaching education courses at HSU, Rofes was also an activist and influenced the development of the multicultural queer studies minor, which then became a part of the Department of Critical Race and Gender Studies (CRGS). The school’s Multicultural Queer Resource Center was also named after Rofes and works to “shift public opinion of the queer community on campus and in the local area from tolerance to acceptance.”

“He was a big personality who was never satisfied with the status quo,” Sheila Rocker-Heppe, director of Extended Education and Global Engagement at HSU said of Rofes in the press release. “He challenged me to examine my perceptions; he challenged me to live well beyond my boxes.”

Read the full press release below:

HSU Professor Honored on National LGBTQ Wall of Honor

The late Eric Rofes, a scholar, activist, and professor of Education at Humboldt, has been honored for his work in queer liberation and social justice on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the Stonewall Inn in New York City.

Rofes, who died in 2006, was instrumental in developing the Multicultural Queer Studies minor at HSU (which later became part of the Department of Critical Race, Gender & Sexuality Studies) and is the namesake of the Eric Rofes Multicultural Queer Resource Center, which supports LGBTQ students and continues his community organizing efforts around queer, anti-racist and feminist activism. He founded and led gay organizations in major U.S. cities, authored groundbreaking books on gay men’s health and organized national meetings on gay and lesbian issues. Read more about Rofes’ legacy in a San Francisco Chronicle obituary.

“Eric was a whirlwind of energy and brilliance at HSU and in the world, and I miss him daily,” says CRGSProfessor Christina Accomando. “His influence continues to be felt through our curriculum, our student organizations, and Eric’s former students who continue to do amazing things to make this a better world.”

The National LGBTQ Wall of Honor celebrates leaders who have paved the road to liberation and contributed significantly to progress for LGBTQ people, according to a press release from the National LGBTQ Task Force. Unveiled on June 27, it begins with 50 artists, activists, federal workers, and others, and hangs in the historic Stonewall Inn, where demonstrations against a police raid on a gay bar in 1969 launched the modern LGBTQ movement. Other honorees include James Baldwin, Sylvia Rivera, Audre Lorde, Marsha P. Johnson, Kiyoshi Kuromiya, and Harvey Milk.

“The 50 leaders recognized represent some of our most vibrant changemakers and serve as a reminder that each one of us has a role to play in achieving freedom for LGBTQ people,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. “I invite everyone to honor those who have come before us and to be inspired to work for all that lies ahead.”

Sheila Rocker-Heppe, Director of Extended Education & Global Engagement at HSU, remembers Eric as an activist and educator characterized by both intensity and levity. “He was a big personality who was never satisfied with the status quo,” she says. “He challenged me to examine my perceptions; he challenged me to live well beyond my boxes. And he welcomed the opportunity to be challenged as well—which made for lively conversation and spirited exchanges about topics that could range from the definition of desire to the optimum cook time for microwave popcorn.”

As evidenced by his honor at the Stonewall Inn, Rofes’ reputation spread far beyond Humboldt State.

Co-founder of Queer Humboldt and HSU Housing Director Todd Larsen met Rofes in 2003 and said he seemed like an average person doing some queer work in the community.

“At his memorial in San Francisco, I realized just how well-known Eric was,” Larsen says. “There were hundreds of Eric’s friends, including many of the major political players and activists in the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and so many others from all the national work Eric did for gay rights across the country in addition to his published works. Eric’s work on ‘Reviving The Tribe’ has always meant a lot to me, with the goal of passing on our queer history from gay elders to new queer youth.”

About the Eric Rofes Multicultural Queer Resource Center:
The Center’s mission is to shift public opinion of the queer community on campus and in the local area from tolerance to acceptance. With a rich resource library and events such as Q-Fest, Trans Speak Out, Queer STEM Mixer, and Safe Sexpo, it is a hub for students to learn about events and organizations on campus. The Center was established after Eric Rofes’ death and commemorates and continues his community organizing efforts around Queer/Anti-Racist/Feminist activism.

Visit the Center’s website to learn about resources and how to get involved.

About the National LGBTQ Task Force:
The National LGBTQ Task Force is the oldest national LGBTQ advocacy group in the country. The National LGBTQ Task Force builds power, takes action and creates change to achieve freedom and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. As a progressive gender, racial, economic, and social justice organization, the Task Force works toward a society that values and respects the diversity of human expression and identity.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

KHSU Hit by Cyber Attack

Posted By on Wed, Jul 10, 2019 at 12:29 PM

  • Mark McKenna
  • KHSU's studio.
The dead air you’ve been hearing on KHSU is the result of a ransomeware attack that disabled most of the station’s programming systems and storage servers, according to Humboldt State University.

A university spokesperson tells the Journal the university does not yet know whether the cyber attack on the station was the result of a broader fishing effort, a targeted ransom attack or an act of sabotage potentially carried out by someone upset with the university’s decision to eliminate the vast majority of the station’s staff and local programming back in April.

According to a press release, the servers affected by the attack did not house sensitive information and while these kinds of malware attacks often come with a ransom request, the university has not “received a specific payment demand.”

Noting that KHSU is federally licensed, the university press release notes the incident was reported to federal law enforcement and the Federal Communications Commission.

In the meantime, KHSU programming — which has consisted of feeds from affiliates in Sacramento and Chico since the station’s gutting — continues to be interrupted.

“The university hopes to have this resolved as soon as possible as it rebuilds programming and improves the security of KHSU,” the press release states.

See the full press release copied below:

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

HSU Professor's Book Nabs Prestigious International Award

Posted By on Sun, Jun 30, 2019 at 11:47 AM

Cutcha Risling Baldy accepting her award. - SUBMITTED
  • submitted
  • Cutcha Risling Baldy accepting her award.
Humboldt State University Native American Studies department chair and Journal contributor Cutcha Risling Baldy’s first book was just honored at the Native American Indigenous Studies Conference in New Zealand.

We are Dancing for You: Native Feminisms and the Revitalization of Women’s Coming-of-age Ceremonies was named the Best First Book in Native American and Indigenous Studies on Friday night at the conference, which draws more than 1,000 scholars working in the fields of Native American and Indigenous studies throughout the world.

If Risling Baldy’s book sounds familiar, it should. The Journal ran an excerpt from it as our Aug. 2, 2018, cover story, “The Flower Dancers.” We suggest you check out the excerpt here and pick up a copy, available at local book stores. And check out Risling Baldy’s other columns for the Journal here, including her most recent offering, “How We Let This Happen,” which takes on issues of concentration camps detaining migrant children and the genocide of Native people in California.

And please join us in giving Risling Baldy a hearty congratulations on this prestigious honor.
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Monday, June 24, 2019

A Single Quake Hit Saturday Night

Posted By on Mon, Jun 24, 2019 at 12:56 PM

The seismograph at Humboldt State University recording of the quake. - REDWOOD COAST TSUNAMI WORK GROUP
  • Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group
  • The seismograph at Humboldt State University recording of the quake.

In case you haven’t heard — or didn’t feel what most of the county did on Saturday night — there was an earthquake. And a good-sized one at that. But just one.

The magnitude-5.6 that struck 3.7 miles off Petrolia was, according to the Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group, what is known as a “strike slip” — when the ground moves in a vertical motion — and was likely associated with the Mendocino fault.

In his assessment of the temblor, geologist Jay Patton notes that “contrary to what people have posted on social media, there was but a single earthquake.”

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the U.S. Geological Survey website showed the temblor as a 5.4 that struck near Rio Dell. Within minutes, the site had re-posted with a more accurate description of the earthquake. It's not uncommon for initial reports to err somewhat in locations and magnitude but some local residents and media outlets took the double post to mean what North Coast residents felt had been two simultaneous quakes.

A magnitude-3.3 had hit nearby about 30 minutes earlier.

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Does California State University have a $1.5 billion slush fund?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2019 at 11:42 AM

Humboldt State University - FILE
  • File
  • Humboldt State University
A report released by California’s state auditor this week looked like a bombshell: California State University has been sitting on a $1.5 billion budget surplus, it found, failing to fully disclose the existence of the money to legislators and students even as it raised tuition and lobbied for more state funding.

That includes $62.4 million at Humboldt State University.

CSU, however, quickly disputed the audit’s conclusions, saying it has been transparent about the reserves and that it needs them to cover short-term debts, pay for one-time expenses such as new buildings, and hedge against a possible recession.

HSU spokesman Frank Whitlatch told the Times-Standard on Thursday that about two-thirds of those HSU funds were earmarked for certain expenses, including “housing, parking fees, which has a designated purpose, the student union, the university center.”

Readers who care about higher education might have questions. We thought we’d answer a few.

What exactly were the auditor’s concerns?
CSU tuition has almost doubled over the last decade, funding a sizable increase in the university’s reserves, State Auditor Elaine Howle found. But CSU, she wrote, continues to argue that it has only two options to avoid cutting programs: getting more state dollars or raising tuition even more.

“By failing to disclose this surplus when consulting with students about tuition increases or when projecting CSU’s resources and needs to the Legislature, the Chancellor’s Office has prevented legislators and students from evaluating CSU’s financial needs in light of its unspent financial resources,” Howle wrote.

$1.5 billion — that’s a lot, right?
The surplus could cover about two-and-a-half-months of expenses for CSU, says the university, which serves nearly 500,000 students. Chancellor Tim White likened it to a family savings account, or the state’s rainy day fund.

About $662 million is earmarked for short-term debts, White told CALmatters, such as when the university has to front financial aid checks to students before it receives the funds from the federal government. He said the university is saving $376 million toward capital projects, including deferred maintenance on buildings, and a final $459 million in case the economy goes south.

“If we didn’t have that reserve, when the economy flattens we’d either have to offer less or raise tuition more than we otherwise would,” said White. “We don’t want to do that.”

The revelation of the funds—which the university is holding in separate investment accounts outside the state treasury—comes a week after state lawmakers signed a 2019-2020 budget that increases CSU funding by about $400 million to pay for an additional 10,000 undergraduate slots at the overcrowded system.

“Had we known (about the surplus), would things have gone differently? That’s the $1.5 billion question,” said Democratic Assemblyman Kevin McCarty of Sacramento, who chairs a subcommittee on the education budget. “Is that the right amount to have in a reserve, or are some of these monies available to address student needs today?”

Was this money really “hidden?”
The university says the reserve funds have been hiding in plain sight, pointing to a 2017 trustee meeting and other correspondence with legislators in which the investment accounts were discussed. CSU has even launched a new financial transparency website that allows users to view university spending down to the campus level.

The audit, however, says that while lawmakers might have known about the total balance in the accounts, they weren’t necessarily aware how much was being held in reserve.

“That issue never came up,” said McCarty, when asked if legislators discussed the surplus during budget hearings.

The law requires CSU to discuss any proposed tuition increases with the Cal State Student Association. But the university did not provide information about the reserves to students during conferences that led to a tuition hike in the 2017-18 school year, the audit found — an omission that student association president Mia Kagianas called “disappointing and concerning.”

“Students deserve accessible information on the institution’s budget in decision making processes that directly impact their lives,” Kagianas said in a statement.

Administrators didn’t bring up the reserves with students, White said, because they would never use such one-time savings to cover ongoing operating expenses.

That’s actually smart fiscal policy, said Kevin Cook, a higher education researcher at the Public Policy Institute of California. “It’s a good idea for the system to have these reserves, because if revenue goes away and they have to tap into the reserves, then they can preserve access,” he said. “But obviously if they’re making money and not disclosing it, then that’s an issue.”

Wait, didn’t something like this happen with the University of California recently?
Yep. UC President Janet Napolitano came under fire after a 2017 state audit found she’d set up a secret $175 million fund for special projects that she hid from the university’s regents.

The CSU reserves are nearly ten times as large as the amount Napolitano reportedly squirreled away. But there are key differences: Napolitano also faced accusations of using the money to provide above-market pay and benefits to her staff, and pressuring campuses to change their responses to an auditor’s survey. No such charges have been raised so far in relation to the current audit.

Still, CSU has faced criticism before for its financial management—including last year, when it gave raises to highly-paid executives just after successfully lobbying the Legislature for more funding. A pending bill would bar the university from raising executive pay within a year of any tuition increase.

What else did the audit find?
The audit also examined CSU’s parking system, criticizing the university for raising the cost of student permits as high as $236 a semester without significantly increasing the number of spaces. Administrators failed to consider alternative transportation options such as shuttles, buses and bicycles before building expensive parking garages, the audit found. Auditors focused that review on four campuses: Channel Islands, Fullerton, Sacramento and San Diego.

While the audit did not find that the university misused any of the parking proceeds, it highlighted disparities in parking fees, with students paying nearly three times what faculty and staff pay to park. The average parking permit for students costs about $171—compared to $68 for faculty and $70 for staff.

Mary Washington, a lobbyist for the student association, said students had hoped the audit would offer ways to ease the burden on them. Earlier this year, San Diego Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber had proposed a bill that would have required campuses to lower the cost of student permits, but it stalled.

As it stands, university labor contracts require faculty and staff to pay less than students.

“It’s one of those issues that’s so simple—anyone can understand it and see that it’s morally not the right thing,” Washington said. “Something should be done.”

White said he accepted the challenge to “think more deeply about alternative transportation” and agreed with students’ concerns that charging them more for parking was unfair. “I think as we go into the future, that will be something we will be working hard to make more fair for our employees as well as for our students.”

What happens now?
The Legislature’s audit committee could call a hearing, at which both the auditor and CSU would testify. Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, who sits on the CSU board of trustees, has also called for a discussion of the audit at the trustees’ July meeting.

— Adria Watson contributed to this report. This story and other higher education coverage are supported by the College Futures Foundation.
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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Fortuna Man Arrested After Threatening Church Group, Referencing Mass Killings

Posted By on Sat, Jun 15, 2019 at 9:39 AM

Humboldt State University - FILE
  • File
  • Humboldt State University
An 18-year-old Fortuna man was arrested this morning after allegedly making criminal threats against a church group that planned to visit Humboldt State University, with the threats making reference to a pair of mass shootings.

University Police Chief Donn Peterson told the Journal that Sean Allman made the threats via text messages to church members, with some of the messages referencing mass shootings at a New Zealand mosque and Columbine High School.

“The congregants communicated through their network, their church, and a person there reached out to authorities here in Humboldt County that included UPD and Fortuna PD,” Peterson said, adding that local police learned of the threats yesterday afternoon.

Peterson said it’s still unclear why Allman allegedly directed these threats at this particular church group. According to a UPD press release, Allman lives in Fortuna with his family and is not an HSU student.

While Allman is currently in custody, UPD is asking the campus community to remain vigilant in the event he is released. UPD is distributing a flier asking anyone who sees Allman on campus to contact UPD immediately.

Asked if Allman had the means to carry out an attack or to follow through on his threats, Peterson said it’s not immediately clear, though he said it is incumbent upon UPD to take all threats seriously.

“If you’re going to make threats toward campus, idle or otherwise, and you’re going to invoke the memories of other mass killings to do it, we’re going to take those things very, very seriously,” he said.

See the full press release from UPD below.

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Test Shows 'Some Asbestos' in Material Found in Gist Hall

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2019 at 3:25 PM

Humboldt State University - FILE
  • File
  • Humboldt State University
Material found in Gist Hall earlier this month “does indeed contain some asbestos," according to a statement posted today on the Humboldt State University website.

Other “loose materials” found in the building will also be tested, with results expected back next week. Meanwhile, HSU is working with an outside firm on a clean-up plan, according to the statement, which notes that no asbestos fibers were detected in the air.

“With the discovery of additional material found in the building, the scope of the cleanup will likely be wider than anticipated,” the statement reads. “As a result, Gist Hall will remain closed until mid-July out of an abundance of caution. The air will be tested again for the presence of asbestos fibers before the building reopens.”

For the time being, Gist Hall is off limits with “no exceptions” and the university directs employees to contact their supervisors with any questions.

“Based on the location of the materials and other factors, employees in Gist Hall were not exposed to disturbed asbestos, which is a naturally-occurring mineral and was commonly used in particular construction materials prior to 1978,” the statement reads.

Read the Humboldt State University statement below:

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Otters are Coming! The Otters are Coming!

Posted By on Wed, May 29, 2019 at 10:53 AM

The otter sculptures ready to be shipped. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • The otter sculptures ready to be shipped.

A shipment of 100 otter sculptures is heading toward the North Coast, according to Jeff Black, who created the North Coast Otter Public Arts Initiative. All the way from Jolly Roger Sculptures in the Philippines, the arrival of the 3-foot-tall sculptures standing ready for an artist's touch will kick off a public art initiative scheduled for next summer.

The initiative will combine art and citizen science to “promote clean water and healthy habitats where we live and play,” using a fun scavenger hunt across five counties in the North Coast, a junior ranger program and an Eo Day/Otter collaboration to support the River Otter Citizen Science Project. The initiative is a celebration of otters, Black said.

Black is still continuing his search for sponsors and hosts, as the scavenger hunt will incorporate business across Humboldt, Del Norte, Siskiyou, Mendocino and Trinity counties. To learn more about hosting or sponsoring an otter click here.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

HSU Welcomes New President Tom Jackson Jr.

Posted By on Wed, May 22, 2019 at 4:56 PM

New President, Tom Jackson Jr. and his wife Mona Jackson. - IRIDIAN CASAREZ
  • Iridian Casarez
  • New President, Tom Jackson Jr. and his wife Mona Jackson.
The Humboldt State University bells rang loudly across campus, 12 rings, it was noon and a group of people were walking toward the library. Upon entering the jam-packed lobby filled with HSU faculty, students and community members , the crowd began to applaud: The new president had arrived.

Just a few hours after his announcement as the new president of HSU, Tom Jackson Jr. was ready to greet everyone who came to get a first impression. After about 20 minutes, Loren Blanchard, executive vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs for California State University, introduced Jackson and his wife.

“We welcome the opportunity not only to reside in this community but do all of the things we hope will happen over the next several years,” Jackson told the crowd. “So please, as we go through this process, I ask you seriously and deliberately to take the time to stop me and let’s chat. You could buy the cup of coffee (he said jokingly), but tell me your story because, for the two of us, that story is really what’s most important.”

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CSU Announces Hiring of HSU's First African-American President

Posted By on Wed, May 22, 2019 at 9:41 AM

Tom Jackson Jr. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Tom Jackson Jr.
The California State University Board of Trustees this morning appointed Tom Jackson Jr. as Humboldt State University’s next president.

A military veteran and Seattle, Washington, native, Jackson will be HSU’s first African-American president, coming from Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota, which he has helmed since 2014.

“There are few institutions that are as closely tied to the success of their respective communities as HSU,” Jackson said in a press release. “A degree from HSU can lift the life of the person earning it as well as the lives of their family, and those degree holders drive the success of the entire North Coast. I welcome the opportunity to work with HSU’s talented faculty and staff, alongside community members, to ensure that those life-altering opportunities are expanded for current and future students.”

At first glance, Jackson appears suited to address many of the challenges at HSU. According to a brief biography on the Black Hills State University website, Jackson is himself a first-generation college student, having graduated with an associate degree from Highline Community College in Washington before receiving a degree in business management from Minnesota’s Southwest State University. He went on to get a masters from Pennsylvania’s Shippensburg University before getting a doctorate in educational management from University of La Verne near Los Angeles. He will now be taking over HSU, which has put an emphasis on recruiting first-generation college students and in recent years has enrolled them in record numbers.

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