Monday, September 9, 2019

Parking Lots Stay Off-limits Overnight for Homeless Community College Students

Posted By on Mon, Sep 9, 2019 at 1:51 PM

Palomar College student Anthony White talks about his experience with homelessness at a press conference in the state Capitol. - CALMATTERS
  • CalMatters
  • Palomar College student Anthony White talks about his experience with homelessness at a press conference in the state Capitol.
The demise of a high-profile proposal to let homeless students sleep overnight in community college parking lots illustrates just how much California has struggled to solve the student housing crisis.

When Assemblyman Marc Berman introduced the bill in the Legislature earlier this year, it was met with equal parts applause and ridicule. Homeless students said they desperately needed safe places to park the cars that double as their bedrooms. Community colleges worried about security. And everyday Californians wondered, “How did things get this bad?”

Now Berman, a Democrat from Palo Alto, has decided not to move the bill forward after the Senate Appropriations Committee added amendments that delayed it until 2021, made it easier for colleges to opt out, and exempted colleges within 250 feet of an elementary school.

That last caveat would only serve to stigmatize students, Berman said in a statement in response to the amendments, which were made without public debate. “Homeless students are not pedophiles that need to be kept away from children,” he said. “They are men and women —many of them barely adults themselves —who are trying to improve their lives by obtaining a better education.”

Berman said he’ll work with the governor’s office to produce a stronger version of the bill next year.

One in five California community college students report experiencing homelessness at some point in the past year — including sleeping on a friend’s couch or in a motel because they didn’t have a place to stay, according to a survey by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice at Temple University. Skyrocketing housing costs and a financial aid system that mostly focuses on the cost of tuition have created a perfect storm of unaffordability for many of the state’s 2.1 million community college students.

Some critics called the parking lot idea a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Others envisioned unintended consequences if colleges began maintaining parking lots as makeshift vehicle camp sites.

(Read about College of the Redwoods’ groundbreaking program to help homeless students in the Journal’s Aug. 1 cover story "The Grove.”)

More than a dozen community college districts opposed the bill, citing concerns about the cost of securing and cleaning the lots, and the effect on colleges’ relationships with neighboring residents and businesses. A Senate Appropriations analysis said costs could run into the tens of millions.

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Charter Schools, Unions Call a Truce in an Epic Battle as Newsom Brokers a Deal

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2019 at 8:59 AM

Gov. Gavin Newsom, flanked by authors Sen. Connie Leyva and Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, prepares to sign a charter school transparency bill earlier this year. - PHOTO FOR CALMATTERS BY RICARDO CANO
  • Photo for CALmatters by Ricardo Cano
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom, flanked by authors Sen. Connie Leyva and Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, prepares to sign a charter school transparency bill earlier this year.
Gov. Gavin Newsom brokered an agreement Wednesday on a high-profile charter-school regulation proposal at the center of this year’s contentious battle between teachers unions and charter advocates, removing a key hurdle for its passage this session.

The compromise on Assembly Bill 1505 comes after months of lobbying by the state’s two most influential education interest groups and several impassioned hearings over sweeping proposed changes to how the publicly funded, independently managed schools operate in California.

Initiated in the early 1990s as a way to bring innovation into California’s K-12 school system, charter schools have sharply grown over the years, primarily in the state’s urban school systems, and have become a flashpoint for unions, who contend they draw enrollment away from traditional public schools, depriving them of critical funding and resources.

In a joint statement Wednesday afternoon, Newsom and Senate and Assembly leaders characterized the deal on AB 1505 as one that “significantly reforms the Charter Schools Act to address long-standing challenges for both school districts and charter schools.”

“This agreement focuses on the needs of our students,” the statement from the Governor’s Office read. “It increases accountability for all charter schools, allows high-quality charter schools to thrive, and ensures that the fiscal and community impacts of charter schools on school districts are carefully considered.”

Under the latest iteration of AB 1505, which lawmakers are expected to vote on in the two weeks remaining before the end of the legislative session, local school boards would have more discretion over approving new charter schools, including the ability to factor in a new charter’s impact on a district’s finances — a criterion that districts were not allowed to consider for prior charters.

All charter school teachers also would be required to hold some sort of state credential along with a background check, though uncredentialed charter teachers leading “non-core” classes would have five years to meet that requirement.

The state would also impose a two-year moratorium on non-classroom based and online charter schools under the proposal. But a pathway toward appeals to county and state boards for charters denied by local school boards would remain in place under the proposal.

Unions representing teachers and classified school employees celebrated the agreement, touting it as “significant progress on behalf of our students.” The California Teachers Association, which backed Newsom during the election, spent $4.3 million this year lobbying for more restrictions to charter schools.

“All along, our goals have included ensuring locally-elected school board members have the discretion to make decisions to meet the needs of local students … and holding all taxpayer-funded public schools to the same high standards,” the CTA and a coalition of unions said in a joint statement.

The California Charter Schools Association removed its opposition — formally shifting to a “neutral” position — on AB 1505 after it said it secured “significant protections” for charter schools, including some preservation of appeals to counties and the state, as well as granting high-performing charters a fast track toward renewal.

“For 25 years, California’s charter public school movement has relentlessly run towards the greatest challenges in public education,” Myrna Castrejón, president and CEO of the state’s charter association said in a statement.

“Far too many of our most vulnerable students have been underserved by our current public school system, which is exactly why we’ve engaged in thoughtful conversations and shown a willingness to compromise on this important legislation.”

News of the agreement marked a striking departure from previous sessions in which teachers unions and charter advocates bitterly fought the opposing sides’ proposals to a legislative stalemate.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

HSU to Offer Immigration Legal Services to Staff, Employees

Posted By on Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 2:01 PM

Humboldt State University announced today that it is included in a California State University systemwide plan that will provide immigration legal services to its employees and the estimated 100 undocumented students currently enrolled at HSU.

“I am delighted that we will be able to increase the availability of immigration legal services to the California State University community,” writes CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White in a press release. “We remain committed to ensuring that all CSU students have the opportunity to pursue their higher education goals regardless of their country of origin."

The program will see an immigration lawyer from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights on HSU's campus for a few days each month to provide legal assistance through the through HSU's Educational Opportunity Program office. HSU has pledged to keep its appointment calendars confidential, adding that while students will receive priority for the appointments, they will also be made available to students who are U.S. citizens but from mixed-status families, as well as employees.
  • FILE
“We don’t have immigration legal services in our region, as far south as Santa Rosa and east to Redding,” says EOP Director Dan Saveliff. “We have advocacy and support programs on campus and in the local community, but immigration law requires expertise that’s not accessible. Oftentimes students have to figure things out on their own and can receive incomplete or inaccurate information. So we’re excited the campus will have access to that expertise.”

According to a press release, the lawyer's first trip to campus will be Sept. 16 and 17. For more information or to make an appointment, students and faculty can call the EOP office at 826-4781.

For more information, see the full HSU press release copied below:

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Former Trinity Hospital to Become HSU's Children's Center

Posted By on Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 1:12 PM

Rendering of the west elevation of the Trinity Annex. - HSU
  • HSU
  • Rendering of the west elevation of the Trinity Annex.
Humboldt State University has announced plans to renovate the Trinity Annex —the former Trinity Hospital property adjacent to campus on 14th Street between B and C streets — to house the university's Children’s Center.

Once slated for demolition, the 1944 building will now undergo “extensive work,” which will help preserve the “aesthetic of the west, original building,” according to the university.

The project became possible after recently receiving a $8.6 million financial boost  in one-time funds allocated by the California State University System’s Office of the Chancellor from state budget monies, according to a release from HSU.

The project will breathe new life into the structure — which was a working hospital until 1972 — by bringing the Children Center’s operations together under one roof, with the possibility of the Child Development Laboratory also moving in at some point.

“Faculty and staff at Child Development Department and Child Development Lab are excited about this proposal,” Hyun-Kyung You, Child Development Lab program leader, says in a press release. “Overall, this potentially helps us continue our vision and mission and do even better what we have been proudly doing.”

Not only does the project “preserve that beautiful building to a degree” but it also opens the door to the creation of an enriching environment from a blank slate, says Steve St. Onge, HSU’s executive director of Housing and Residence Life, adding there are no plans for “expanding right now.”

He describes the annex’s renovation and consolidation of the childcare program into one location as a “win-win” for the community and the families served by the center.

“That give us the opportunity to continue to offer a really solid program,” St. Onge says.

While rumors have been floating around social media that the building was in foreclosure due to an erroneous listing on a website that describes it as a “single family residence,” university spokesperson Grant Scott-Goforth said that would be impossible, considering the property is owned by the state via the university.
He adds that attempts have been made to “correct” the listing.

Classes were last held in the building in the early 2000s and it's sat all but abandoned since then with just a single wing being used for storage.
The annex doors facing C Street. - FILE
  • File
  • The annex doors facing C Street.
The Children’s Center currently serves around 90 youngsters, down from more than 120 in 2017, when the program was cut amid budget and staffing woes, and was under consideration for more changes, including privatization, last year during another rounds of campus reductions.

At the time, the budget plan described the Children’s Center as “an important service” but stated “having a Children’s Center operated directly by the university is financially challenging to sustain.”

Things appear to be on more solid footing this year.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Gist Hall Re-Opens After Asbestos Shutdown

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 1:12 PM

Humboldt State University - FILE
  • File
  • Humboldt State University
After a presence of disturbed asbestos found in a “space used to help circulate air” closed down Gist Hall in May, Humboldt State University has announced the building reopened this week.

Right before the spring semester ended, HSU closed down the building to test for traces of asbestos. Tests later confirmed no asbestos fibers were found in the air but some materials did contain asbestos, leading the school to close down the building.

Throughout the summer, the school worked with an outside firm to clean the building and hired a contractor to remove the “disturbed material” before the fall semester. The school passed the final air clearance test and has reopened the building.

Gist Hall’s reopening will be celebrated Thursday, Aug. 15, with light refreshments, a release states. Classes resume Aug. 26.

Read the full press release below:
After final air clearance test results showed that no asbestos fibers were detected in the air, Gist Hall re-opened as scheduled on Monday, August 12 at 8 a.m.

HSU will celebrate the re-opening on Thursday, August 15 in the lobby of Gist Hall starting at 8:30 a.m. Light refreshments will be served.

On May 10, Gist Hall was shut down out of an abundance of caution following the discovery of the possible presence of disturbed asbestos. The disturbed material was found during a check of the building’s systems following reports of heating issues. It was discovered in a plenum — a space used to help circulate air — behind an access panel on the second floor.

After an extensive evaluation, the building was closed that day to ensure the health and safety of students and employees. Classes were relocated, all activities were suspended, and the campus community was notified. Various tests conducted over the next few weeks showed: No asbestos fibers were in the air.

The material presumed to be disturbed asbestos contained some asbestos fibers. Asbestos fibers were not present in similar loose material that had been found in various areas of the building. Contractors removed the disturbed asbestos and the University passed the required final air clearance test.
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Friday, August 9, 2019

HSU Enters Interim Agreement to Farm Out KHSU Management

Posted By on Fri, Aug 9, 2019 at 9:25 AM

Humboldt State University has entered into an interim agreement with Capital Public Radio in Sacramento to provide “programming assistance” to KHSU-FM, which was controversially gutted by the university back in April.

“The agreement allows KHSU to continue airing national and state programming as the university considers various approaches KHSU’s future,” states a university press release. “As a next step, HSU will be assessing options for maintaining KHSU as a vital public service radio station and ensuring its alignment with the university’s teaching mission.”

Under the agreement, which extends through October, Capital Public Radio will serve as KHSU’s station manager and essentially run the station.

  • Mark McKenna
  • KHSU's studio.
As far as long-term solutions, the release states that HSU is considering joining ongoing partnership discussions between Capital Public Radio and North State Public Radio in Chico. But the release makes clear HSU is still assessing its options.

Before formally entering into any long-term discussions, the release states new HSU President Tom Jackson Jr. has indicated he wants to clarify “Humboldt’s overall goals for KHSU” and wants to gather input from faculty and students “to learn more about their interest in KHSU.”

“One thing he says he has heard frequently is the importance of the station’s presence and news role in connecting communities stretching from Petrolia to Crescent City,” the release states.

See the full press release from HSU copied below:

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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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