Social Media Activism is Apathy

Americans don’t care about Paris. Not really. For most of us it’s an abstract concept glimpsed only in movies. For a few it’s a fond memory from a study abroad. For even fewer it’s actually a distinct place with a personal connection.

On Nov. 13, when approximately six separate attacks took place across the city, Americans were shocked not because they felt any real, unique sympathy for Paris, but rather because for the first time in 14 years, terror feels like it’s on the doorstep once again.

The impulse to make this criticism racially charged is tempting. How else might we explain why nearly 130 dead in Paris gets its own Facebook check-in widget, while the constant killing in the Middle East and northern Africa barely even makes the news anymore? That question answers itself to some degree. The violence in Syria and Iraq alone is so constant that Facebook would have to become a 365-day tragedy check-in service just to keep up.

Maybe then Facebook would do well to avoid sticking its finger in the tragedy-aid pie in the future. After all, it’s not as if individuals couldn’t already declare their safety simply by updating their own statuses like normal. Unless the site is prepared to update with a check-in widget for the tragedy de jeor of each week (which no one wants to see happen), then attempts to “help” will continue to come across as selective and motivated by Western hysteria.

What about Paris specifically should alarm us any more than any of the other horrors taking place daily across the globe?

Put somewhat less hostilely by fellow NDNU alumni Sasha Ratvitch, in a Facebook post, “My heart is with the world, no borders, no hierarchy; I hold every human’s life with value who is attacked by extremist beliefs whether they are based on religion, prejudice or profit!”

But I am willing to throw Americans a bone when it comes to wanting to examine the implications of ISIS being capable of so successfully executing a terror attack in a developed nation like France. After all, we are still the Western nation with the highest body count when it comes to Islamic terror attacks. As one of my close friends who is currently studying in Paris wrote to me after the attack, “Americans are more freaked out than the French are.”

Certainly, we should be dubious of any attempts to curtail terrorism through additional warfare. The current lack of stability in the Middle East is owed at least in part to constant interference from foreign governments, chiefly our own. If this is a war of ideologies, then it’s time to start fighting bad ideas with better ones.

We live in a world where the likes of Homeland Security, the CIA and NSA will continue to be an unfortunate necessity. But these institutions do not have to define America’s relationship with the rest of the world. Allowing Syrian refugees into the nation is the best place to start. What better way to prove an enemy’s ideology bankrupt than to accept thousands of its former citizens as our own? If Americans really wish to show they care for Paris and the lesson it taught the world, and work to defeat the enemy while they’re at it, then this is the path ahead, not changing your profile picture on Facebook.

NDNU Blood Drive

On November 16, 2015 Stanford Blood Center held a Blood Drive from 1-4pm in Saint Joseph’s Lounge. Forty five attendees came to this year’s drive, an increase from last year’s attendees during this year’s fall Blood Drive, and thirty six. Surprisingly almost all were first time blood donors, which according to the charge nurse Jocelyn B, makes the process of blood donating take a bit longer, which is why they had to turn away some volunteers who could not wait long enough to make blood donations. However, when this reporter spoke to the in charge nurse about how this will influence the spring blood drive she was very optimistic about the possibility of the increase in attendees

“Since a lot of these students were first time blood donors, they will have been introduced to it at an early age and become more comfortable with donating for the rest of their life. So [these students] will give back to the community.” Said Jocelyn

One of those students, Samantha Sandy, Senior, who was a first time donor, shared why she decided to donate her blood.

“I donate blood because I know that I am helping people who need it. My blood type is B+. I know that I am saving lives, which I hope to keep on doing for years by giving blood. I am glad that I am able to help by donating.”

She had mentioned to this reporter that the decision to hold the blood drive in SJ lounge was made by the recruiter to place the blood drive in a more high traffic area- and with the increase of volunteers that they will most likely continue that in the spring.

“NDNU is a great place to host a blood drive because there is lots of healthy volunteers who can give back to those who are ill, and I enjoy working with young people and dealing with healthy donors. This field of work fell into my lap at a time when I was jobless and I’ve been working these drives ever since.” Said Jocelyn

She stressed to this reporter on why it is important to donate.

“Whatever your reason, the need is constant and your contribution is important for a healthy and reliable blood supply. And you’ll feel good knowing you’ve helped change a life. You never know when you might need healthy blood yourself one day.” Said Jocelyn

If you would like know more about the blood donation process and where you can donate blood, you can visit the American Red Cross website for more information. The next blood drive at NDNU will be scheduled in the spring but the time and date is not scheduled as of now.


Halloween In The Tenderloin

Belmont, CA, November 5, 2015— Hundreds of witches, wizards, superheroes, princesses and other critters invaded San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, candy buckets in hand, parents in tow, to embark upon an experience sure to remain in the memories of every child in attendance. Whether they want to have a sack race, try out a jumpy or march in the costume parade, there was something for everyone at Halloween in the Tenderloin.

This year’s Halloween in the Tenderloin Festival was the 19th annual autumn celebration that NDNU has participated in. Dr. Don Stannard-Friel’s Streetwise Sociology class organized the event and collaborated with community partners from Tenderloin Children’s Playground; Boys and Girls Club; Vietnamese Youth Development Center; Glide Memorial’s Janice Mirikitani Family, Youth and Childcare Center; Up on Top After School Program; SFPD, Tenderloin Station; and the Tenderloin Safe Passage program. 250 neighborhood children and parents, many of them refugees from Cambodia, Vietnam, Latin America, Yemen, and other, often war torn, countries, dressed in costumes and gathered at Tenderloin Children’s Playground for three hours of fun.

Mom’s in burkas sat in a circle and chatted in Arabic while their children screamed in delight in the haunted house. Little fairies painted pumpkins or drew witches at the art table. Children, whose parents or grandparents fled the Killing Fields of Cambodia or escaped on boats after the fall of Saigon, jumped for joy in the bounce house. Super heroes pushed their faces into whipped cream to find the hidden gumball, blow a bubble, and win a ticket that would be added to other tickets, won at other games of skill, and traded in for prizes.   All night, lines of children and parents waited patiently to have their faces painted by one of the 60 volunteers from NDNU, many arriving in a school bus provided by Jim McGarry, director of the Sr. Dorothy Stang Center and Dr. Judy Buller, chair of the communications department.. Maps of seventy-one safe houses for trick ‘r treating were passed out, as were 270 hot dogs, fruit drinks, and chips.

Dr. Don Stannard-Friel, a professor at NDNU, and his Streetwise Sociology class of fifteen have planned for the event since September. The class is designed to give students the opportunity to understand those who are less fortunate and the urban social problems they face. The goal of the class is to, “learn the issues of the inner city” and “engage with the community,” said Dr. Stannard-Friel. “We want to help others feel safe.” The event gives students the power and feeling of being able to make a difference. The students, along with volunteers, will help run the activities and play with the kids.

“Streetwise Sociology builds up to two main events, we have been preparing for this event for 5 weeks it’s nice to have a whole class dedicated to kids in the Tenderloin- its cool we have a table set up for the parents too. Our next event is college night.” said Daisy Aguilar, Junior, a student in the class and volunteer for the event.

It was a great night celebrating the end of the harvest season, when the line between the world of the living and the world of the dead is said to be at its thinnest, when ancient cultures the world over honored their loved ones who had passed on, and gave thanks for the bounty that their crops produced. Halloween itself is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. But the children of the Tenderloin knew none of this. They were just here to have fun.

The next event College Night will be on November 20th from 5:30 to 8:30 at Boeddeker Park in San Francisco, helping underprivileged children get prepared and excited for college.

Intruder Alert

On Oct. 5, 2015 at 2:25, Two NDNU Public Safety Officers were conducting a vehicle patrol when stopped by a NDNU student and was advised of a suspicious male. The student described the person wearing a black shirt with black camo shorts with a red bag under his arm. The student informed them that he has been seen on campus during the night wandering in the past.

The two men began a search of the campus and located the suspect walking down towards the Oaks building as they made contact. They covered one another and began to interview the person of interest. One officer asked the person what was the reason for their visit and for any type of I.D. The person of interest stated he had no I.D and was on campus looking to film a movie and add classes. During their questioning of his purpose on campus he provided a bank check with his name on it.

At this time the suspect seemed to be under the influence of something. For the safety of themselves and others, one of the Officers asked if they could look inside his backpack for any weapons, he refused his request. The suspect asked if he could look into taking classes here at NDNU and go to the Admission Department.

The two officers agreed to escort him to talk to someone in Admissions. Because the suspect could not produce a valid CA. I.D and would not allow them to search his belongs and they felt he was under the influence, one officer contacted Belmont PD. At 2:50 Belmont PD Officer Friedman came on scene and interred the Admissions Conference room #2 and began to question the suspect. One officer was not present during this interview however during this time the suspect’s property was searched.

Based on the findings and the behaviors of the suspect, BPD Officer Friedman issued a trespass order PC 602 to the suspect. At 3:35 BPD escorted the suspect off NDNU campus and the scene was all clear, according to the official report cleared by Head of Public Safety, Kenneth Blackwell, and the Two Officers in the official report. A copy of this trespass order was given to the Housing Department along with his photo.

In light of this incident, this reporter sat down with Blackwell to discuss whether or not NDNU should continue to be an open campus and if NDNU should establish a check in system for students. “Yes [NDNU should remain an open campus], NDNU is a part of the Belmont Community. They often come through the campus, and they enjoy being a part of campus- walking their dogs etc. They often see things and report it to my officers that they are not able to catch. I think as far as the community goes, we play an integral role in the education.”

Most universities have some sort of check in system for visitors but mainly for resident buildings, when this reporter asked Blackwell what his opinion on the necessity for such a system for NDNU- he was on board with the idea. “Yeah depending on whom they are here to see. Normally if they [visitors] require parking I am notified. For the resident halls I think it is valuable for non NDNU students who visit NDNU students, at least if something happens we will have a record of it.”

Like Blackwell mentioned above it is not uncommon for Belmont residents to be seen on campus for activities like walking their dogs, jogging, even using the library, since this is an open campus. However, what is important to note of here is that visitors must go through the proper channels of visitation in order to conduct their business on campus. Any violation of that is a threat to a student and staff’s personal safety. Given that this incident occurred less than a week after the Roseburg Oregon, while minor in nature, it is important to be aware of one’s surroundings.

Picasso Himself- Joe Hill

October 9, 2015- Picasso at the Lapine Agile had a successful run featuring their cast comprised of NDNU undergraduate actors who were joined by NDNU alumnus Johnny Vilar and visiting Artist George Metroplus. Cynthia Delgado was the Production Stage Manager.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile is written by the iconic comedian/actor/screenwriter/banjo-aficionado Steve Martin. Set in a Parisian bar at the beginning of the 20th century (1904 to be more precise), the play imagines a comical encounter between Pablo Picasso (Joe Hill) and Albert Einstein (Jay Sharma), both of whom are in their early twenties and fully aware of their amazing potential. In addition to the two historical figures, the play is also populated with an amusing barfly, Gaston (George Metropolis), a gullible yet lovable bartender Freddy (Juan Pasqual), a wise waitress Germaine (Linsey Almassey), along with a few surprises that trounce in and out of the Lapin Agile.

The play takes place in one non-stop scene, lasting approximately 80 to 90 minutes. There isn’t much plot or conflict; however, there is a satisfying combination of whimsical nonsense and philosophic conversation. This reporter got an inside look on the play as well as the main character Picasso itself with its lead star: Joe Hill.

Reporter Jasmine Ben-Rached sat down with Joe Hill, not in a fancy dressing room- but the second place he spends the majority of his time in (due to his 21 unit academic workload), his dorm room. To ask a few questions that compares and contrasts the star to his character Picasso. How is Picasso like you and how is he different? “He’s [Picasso] a womanizer, he’s an egomaniac, an anarchist, at this point of his life, eventually he becomes a communist- not like me at all *chuckles* We are both artists, and we are both anti-social.”

Hill talked about the challenges that ensued in taking on the Picasso role, he addressed what he loved and hated about Picasso- “I love all of Picasso’s flaws, they make for such a good character.” As well as the biggest challenge in taking on this role- “Being the womanizer, having the suave confidence in everything that he does, because I’m always second guessing myself.”

The conversation went back to inciting tid bits about the play itself- Hill told this reporter without giving anything away, what his favorite line of Picasso was. “I am taking that small part of us that cannot be understood by God and letting it bleed from my wrist onto the canvas….”

If Hill was to play any other charter in the show “I would play Freddy, because in my opinion Freddy has the funniest lines in the show.” Then we concluded our interview with his opinion on why this play just works- “That’s a tough question, this play works because this is a great ensemble play- everybody is so great.”

Picasso at the Lapine Agile won the 1996 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off Broadway Play. It is staged in the 100 seat NDNU Theatre Studio Theater that brings Steve Martin’s comedy in an “up close and personal” way. The play ended its successful run on Oct 18th.




Safety or Hazard?

Monday, September 14, 2015- On Wednesday on September 9th, Resident Assistants reported to Kenneth Blackwell, Director of Public Safety, that a fire alarm was going off on the first floor, coming from West 12- the fire panel noted nothing out of the ordinary and let the fire department know to cancel the request.

Shortly after 10pm, the same fire alarm was reset. At 10:48, the fire alarm went off for a third time due to a failed thermal heat detector. Ryan Martini, Facilities Director, called to have the technician to replace the faulty part. Semans, the security company contracted to NDNU, sent out a technician at 12:50am to repair the heat sensor detector. The students were evacuated before housing received the official clearance from the fire department per standard procedure- according to Kenneth Blackwell. There are 8 rooms in New Hall with strobe lights in the ADA disability rooms, one of those students Gerlinda Herring, suffered a severe panic attack due to a strobe light going off in her room.

“ It [the fire alarm] is right above my head where I sleep, when it went off. I was paralyzed with fear. I couldn’t breathe, I was afraid to go outside my room. I had to text one of my friends to come over and help me because of the overwhelming anxiety it caused me.” Gerlinda set a meeting with the Dean of Students, Dean Jean; on the matter of moving her from her current room now into a room that does not have a strobe light- Herring’s request has been approved.

“The fire alarms are sensitive enough to be set off by the steam of a shower in some cases.” said Blackwell. It is still unclear though whether students who currently live in rooms with strobe lights will be able to be re assigned due to lack of housing availability in new hall.