Is Disney’s and Pixar’s New Movie Coco Culturally Sensitive? by Noelli De La Cruz

Disney and Pixar finally gets it right by being culturally conscious in its new movie Coco, an animated movie about a Mexican boy and his family.

In the past years there has been controversy around Disney’s movies having negative ethnic stereotypes or were culturally inaccurate. When the movie Princess and the Frog released, many people were excited that finally there was going to be a black heroine. However, critics were upset with the transformation of the princess to a frog because it reminded them of the past racism comments that black people were animals. Also, they thought that having a white prince instead of a black prince suggested that black love was not possible.

 Although Disney has made improvement in creating characters of color, they still get many things wrong.

So when it was publicly released that there was going to be a Disney movie about a Mexican family and the traditional Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead, there were many skeptics questioning if Disney was finally going to get it right regarding cultural sensitivity.

I hope that [Disney] will have people who are of Latino descenders to play the character of the movie as well as paying tribute to Dia de Los Muertos in a way that the concept, colors and music was right,” said sophomore at Skyline Marissa Vazquez.

Coco was released on theaters across the United States on November 23, 2017. The setting of the movie takes place in Mexico and is about a young Mexican boy, Miguel Ramirez, who wishes to be a musician. However, his family forbids it, since they think that music cursed their family. Behind his family’s back, he seeks for a guitar to play at a musical festival, and while on his mission to find a guitar he embarks on a journey in the afterlife. While there, he seeks to find his dead great grandfather, a Mariachi, in order to get his blessing to go back home and be able to be a musician.

Many Latinos themselves were surprised that Disney wasn’t patronizing and truthfully portrayed the Mexican holiday and the culture.

I relate to [the movie Coco] because it made me remember my grandfather that passed away a year ago… and remind me that one day I’ll see him again up there,” said senior Fabiola Malfabon.

Pero Like and Mitu, two BuzzFeed’s hubs for U.S. Latinx content, watched and reviewed the movie. They expressed satisfaction towards the film because it is a movie that kids of color can latch onto and see themselves; and believe they can make it on the big screen.

They also said that Coco tells a story they can relate to because Dia de los Muertos is a tradition that is celebrated all across Latin America. The colors, the music and the offerings shown in the movie are very similar to any latin american country during Day of the Dead. As well as the central theme of the movie that family is the most important thing is something latinos can relate too.

I actually really like the movie and I feel like it did show how important family is in the Mexican culture. It made me realize how important [Day of the Dead] is and the significance of it, your family will always be there for you and to never forget about any of them. The movie did a great job with the animations and all the colors it used to represent how dia de los muertos is celebrated,” said senior Erick Mora-Hernandez.

Not only did Disney/Pixar made sure the colors and the music were right for this movie, but they took the extra mile to cast all Latino actors. Famous latino actors such as Gael Garcia, Benjamin Bratt, Edward James Olmos, and Jaime Camil were the voices of the main characters of the movie.

Latios applaud Disney and Pixar for portraying Dia de los Muertos in a realistic and truthful way. Many reviews don’t forget to mention that Miguel’s’ grandmother using her “chancla” (sandlel) to scold is the most authentic Mexican tradition that Mexican families grow up with.In two weeks the movie Coco has made 89.6 million dollars in Box Office, but it will grow now that a spanish version of Coco has been released in theaters and families want to watch that too.

Harry Potter Festivities and More by Jared Ortiz

Who doesn’t love a little Harry Potter? People here at NDNU love it and are the biggest fans of the movies and most of all the books. Bringing it here to NDNU and incorporating different and fun topics involving underage drinking and its effects. The scheduling of this event was one of the best ideas that the school has had in awhile because it brought in many students who were interested in the event and the festivities, but also learned about interesting facts about how they can stay away from alcohol and its effects.

This event took place November 15th in front of the library where tables that were set up with games, drinks, and food caught everybody’s eye when they walked by. You could tell right away that this was a Harry Potter themed event that was going to be a well liked and enjoyed.

Sophomore, Julio Hernandez said, This was a great event that me and my fellow housing staff members put on together, it had a great turnout and many students across the campus had a fun time with the arts and craft stations we had going on. Without the help of my staff members this event would have been a total disaster.

The festivities included the taste testing of butterbeer, making of wands, creating potions, and finding out which Harry Potter character you best matched up with by taking a short little quiz. Each station had a specific purpose that created awareness for alcohol drinking and other hazardous things you could do to your body. The NDNU housing staff teamed up with fellow Psychology professor Hannah Yanow to help spread the word around about such drugs that can harm your body.

Sophomore, Monika Bernal said, Spreading awareness throughout the NDNU campus is important because it allows us as students to voice our opinions and knowledge about certain topics that can cause harm to oneself and by adding the Harry Potter theme to this event it gave us an easier and more fun way to spread awareness about important subjects.

By teaming up with one of the psychology professors here at NDNU it gave more of a professional insight on certain topics that many people do not find interesting, but at the same time people should be more aware of because underage alcohol drinking is a big problem at many universities and by letting students know about this in an earlier time it can prevent them from going down this road.

Sophomore Joscelyn Pardo stated, Putting together this event was great fun because I got to help setup the events of a movie that I loved watching, even till this day I still watch Harry Potter movies and it puts me in a great mood because it is such a classic that will never get old in my mind.

Alvarez breaks records in comeback win over Holy Names by Micah Tateishi

The Notre Dame de Namur women volleyball had a thrilling back and forth win against Academy of Art of San Francisco, California last Wednesday and in the process one individual broke the Pacific West record for most kills or points scored in a single career.

Bianca Alvarez of the women Notre Dame de Namur volleyball had a career high and record breaking night for numerous reasons. In a 3-2 set game Alvarez and the lady Argos have improved their record 10-15 overall and a 10-7 record in the Pacific West women’s Volleyball conference and looking for a top six finish this year. With the win over Academy of Art, Alvarez earned a career high 34 kills in one games and falling just short of the school record of 35 kills in one games.

Alvarez came into the game needing 19 kills in order to surpass the Pacific West record of 1,705 career points. After the win against Academy of Arts the lady Argos are now on a five game winning streak and look to earn another victory over Academy of Art this coming Friday.

When speaking to students and faculty of Notre Dame de Namur many were shocked and impressed at such a record being broken. A senior at Notre Dame de Namur, Nick Nuyen said “It is crazy to think that she (Alvarez) could accomplish such a crazy task as breaking the all time record of points scored in a career. I am super happy for her, she is the most humble person I’ve met and for someone of such a high athletic ability to be that humble is very rare. It is really inspiring to see other athletes succeeding” Nuyen said.

Alvarez finished the first set with eight kills despite coming up short in the first set 30-28. The Argo ladies continued to drop the next set thus putting the Argonauts down 2-0 with Alvarez sitting at 12 kills during this time.     

The match took a turn of events in the third set where the Argos won the third game with Alvarez seeming like an unstoppable force. Alvarez finished the third set with seven kills and with this points breaking the all time record of 1,705 kills in a career. The lady Argos then took the fifth set to 15-10 to win the game in five sets.

In the win Alvarez also set a career high and totaled a 27 dig night with an added on four blocks. This is the second consecutive season that Bianca has reached the 500 kill mark for a single season and moved her consecutive double digit kills per game to 60 games in a row. 

During an exclusive interview with Bianca Alvarez, when asked how the season was going, Alvarez said “Overall I thought that it was a very good season. In all four of my years here at NDNU this is the first time that we have had a winning record.”

When asked how Bianca felt about breaking the record she said “I feel very accomplished and honored to be apart of such a great team and do something that no one has done. I could not have done it without my teammates and coaches.”

The women’s volleyball team look to improve their record to 11-7 when they face Holy Names of Oakland next week Friday. The Argos will be hosting a special event during the game against Holy Names celebrating Alvarez recording breaking night by handing out 150 exclusive t-shirts commemorating Bianca and all of her accomplishments.

Many collegiate athletes have aspirations of playing sports after college in either semi-pro or professional sports. When asked if she was planning on playing volleyball after college Alvarez said “I have definitely thought of playing volleyball after college. I Plan on going to either Italy or somewhere in Europe to play volleyball after college.”

New Cultural Course Coming Your Way for Spring Semester! by Noelli De La Cruz

It is time to choose spring semester courses. NDNU marketing released on Monday, October 30th, that the Department of Modern Languages and Culture is offering new classes: African Cinema, Business Culture of France, Business French II, Social Justice in French Literature, Basic Practical French II, Intro Spanish II, and Reel Latin America.

For many students, it is difficult to choose an extracurricular class because they are not sure what they are about.

“I check the portal and the course descriptions have very brief details of the subject matters covered in class… I think they really lack on details since the portal doesn’t feature a full description .

Below are few cultural and language classes with more information about what the class is about and what it will offer.

Dr. Helene Laroche Davis, will be teaching CUL 2400-08 African Cinema, CUL 2135-01 Business Culture of France, and CUL 2140-01 Business French II. Dr. Laroche-Davis is a professor of French and Film studies. She got her MA in Sorbonne, Paris, France and her PhD at Stanford University. She has published many books and articles on French literature and French cinema.

For African Cinema, Dr. Laroche Davis will be using films and discussions in class to study French speaking Sub Saharan African studies, their culture, society, politics and language. Students will study The Negritude Movement, a movement that allowed black writers to declare their cultural identity through French Language. Films that will be watched will by director A.Sissako, a Mauritania film director and producer who has won Cesar Awards for best film and best director, and other Cesar Awards winners such as Gaston Kabore.

 CUL 2135-01 Business of Culture of France Versus the U.S compares and contrast French business with American business. This course prepares students for job search and planning work experience in a French or French American company. The class is also for business students who want to or are going to travel to France or work in a French Environment. Young French CEOs will be coming to the class to speak to the student.

 “ I think it is useful to know what this French class will be about and who it is for. It’s cool that French CEO are coming to present, ” said senior Lizete Segura.

 Professor Janice Quackenbush, will be teaching Intro Spanish II and Reel Latin America. Professor Quackenbush is a professor for Spanish language and Latin American Culture, Literature and Cinema. She studied abroad in Spain and has traveled to many Latin American countries. She also teaches cultural and Spanish language classes at Menlo College.

 SPA 2134 “Reel” Latin America focuses on Latin American countries and their culture. Students will be watching different Latin American films, such as Apocalypto, Christopher Columbus, Frida, Innocent Voices, West Side Story, and presenting on them. Students will have in class discussions about the themes and how the films relate to the Latin American country the film talks about. Students get the chance to share about their cultural background and how they can relate or not to the culture of these countries.

 “I took a Latin American class last semester with Professor Quackenbush and she was very knowledgeable and fun. I learned new things about my own culture and other cultures that I never knew before. Now I have new ideas of where I will be traveling,” said senior Fabiola Malfabon.

Dr. Laroche Davis and Professor Quackenbush have years of experience with cultural and language courses. They welcome everyone who is interested to learn a new language or about different Latin American cultures to join their class.


Remembrance of Veterans by Caleb Keohokapu

The event to honor NDNU Veterans took place on Saturday November 11th, 2017 at 4 in the Cunningham Chapel. This service was held to commemorate the fallen, and also to the living veterans that have devoted their life to protect their country and the citizens who live in it. Anyone was welcomed to come and listen to the service.

At first not many people were showing up to the service because it was still early but when the service was about to start a swarm of people arrived to the chapel. Many families showed up and students and also veterans. Around 40 to 80 people attended the service. Also there was around 10-15 veterans that have showed up to the service.

A lot of people knew each other, everyone was greeting each other and having small talk trying to catch up and see how each other was doing. As the service started there songs that have been sung and very special readings.

One of the readings that Father Samuel Oppong Nkansah shared was “Colossians 3 verse 17: And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

Campus Chaplain Father Samuel Oppong Nkansah said, “I give all my praise honor and glory to God for the Veterans that have risked their lives to fight for the country and also for their loved ones and for the citizens across the country.”

Director of Spirituality Diana Enriquez-Field said, “I am so happy to have set up this event for the veterans because they have done so much for us and the country, but do not gain the respect they deserve. By having this mass I believe it will be very heartwarming.” When speaking to Ms. Enriquez-Field she has mentioned, “It makes my heart feel at home being able to see and give respect to the veterans that served our country.”

A veteran named Ezra attended the Veterans Day Mass and said, “It is such a special moment being able to see the veterans and their families together spending their time together and respecting the veterans and giving praises to the Almighty God for safety and protection over the veterans that have fought in the war.”

Junior Margarita Luna attended the mass and said, “I am so appreciative for the veterans because my uncle is a veteran and I am so grateful for him and many other soldiers that have chose to fight for our country. I am so proud of my uncle and many other veterans out there in the world. It feels good to see all the families out here supporting the veterans.”


Commuter Services: Who Will Make the First Move? by Samantha Rupel


Commuter students want to claim the services they feel they are due, and Notre Dame de Namur (NDNU) staff want commuter students to tell them where to spend the budget for those services.

Makenzie Tompkins, Director of Student Services, encourages commuter students to organize and ask for the services they feel they need. “If the commuter students are interested in having commuter services on campus, the best way to achieve that would absolutely be to get a commuter club back in action.” said Tompkins.

There are limited services now, the Commuter Lounge has two couches, a microwave that takes four minutes to heat leftovers and 20 lockers. Students receive an email before the Fall semester starts, letting them know that an online raffle has been opened to distribute the backpack sized lockers to 20 winners. The Commuter Lounge stands between the cafeteria and the International Student Services office skirting the quad, but it will soon need to be moved when the cafeteria kitchen is expanded into that area.

A shuttle service is available from Monday through Thursday 5:15 P.M. to 10 P.M. on weeknights during the semester and runs on request from St. Mary’s Circle to the bottom of Ralston at the Belmont Caltrain station. If you call the campus security phone line from the bottom of the hill, the shuttle will come take you back to campus. There are 130-160 student riders per month, and it costs the school $80,000 a year to have it available.

“I had no idea we even had a shuttle service, I feel like that money would be better spent somewhere it would benefit a larger portion of the commuter student population.” said NDNU senior commuting student, Mashal Yaseen.

Student Services tried to reach out to commuters to find out what their needs are through a Coffee, Cookies and Commuters event, though they could not get students to attend or to share their opinions and services they think are lacking. If students want to allocate the available funds differently, Tompkins says all they need to do is come together and ask.

There used to be a Commuter Club that could be a voice to communicate commuter needs with the administration who can organize fulfilling those needs. Once the leadership of that club graduated, the club disassembled and has not been put back together. If a leader in the commuter community was willing to stand up and take charge of the Commuter Lounge, survey the needs of commuter students and bring that to the administration, budget could be spent on making campus life more comfortable for those students and future commuter students.

“As a commuter student, I didn’t know to ask for student services. There are little things that could make a big difference; a bigger commuter lounge for those who stay long hours on campus or payment options like flex for commuters to save time with the cafeteria cashiers.” said NDNU commuting Senior, Sneha Anisingaraju.

Tompkins says there is a budget for commuter services but it needs to be an impactful service with a large commuter student population backing it up. All student services are paid for with student fees and tuition, if commuter students want the services they pay for, they will have to ask. Students have an opportunity to advocate for themselves and their peers, and the administrators have expressed desire to help those students.

There is a Student Assembly meeting every Wednesday night at 9:10pm in Cuvilly 6 where student can come voice requests or suggestions for services They can also send an email to Marsh Allen Smith or Makenzie Tompkins making a request. In order to implement services on campus for commuters, there needs to be written requests that Marsh-Allen Smith can then bring to the Board of Directors for the stamp of approval.


Makenzie Tompkins

Director of Student Services


Marsh-Allen Smith

Dean of Students

NDNU Hosts Voci Musical Arts Show at Taube Hall by Diego Acuna Ortega

The Musical Arts department hosted Voci, a musical show with multiple performances from current students, alumni, and faculty on Saturday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m.

The show included the school’s Fall 2017 vocalists and accompanying piano students who we’re the main performers. They come from the Vocal Performance and Repertoire class here in NDNU, and range from freshmen to senior students and alumni. They performed a number of classics that they have been practicing as part of their vocal curriculum. There also were faculty and MFA students in the performance.

Voci was directed and organized by Debra Lambert, chair of the Department of Music and Vocal Arts as well as the Program Director of Musical Theatre. Lambert has done several leading roles and solo performances with even a few televised roles. She has recently been working to organize the event and prepare the students for the show.

The performances consisted of “lots of different kinds of repertoire, from Mozart opera through contemporary Broadway,” said Lambert. She made sure that “the students are prepared and both being challenged with something new, but also doing the work they are ready for.” The songs that they performed for the show will also be the song that they will perform for their final vocal exams for the semester. This show acts as practice for the students to give them experience on performing in front of a real audience.

The students range from beginner to advanced singers. Although some are more experienced than others, all students will be pushing their skills towards new heights and learning from themselves and each other. The performances for the night are organized in a concert fashion, where each student will sign their song chosen for them by their instructors.

The students performing all have a passion for musical and vocal performance. “It’s about doing what I really want to do in life,” said Sophomore Yesenia Castillo, who was one of the students who performed at the show. “Even though it can be terrifying, it becomes worth it because it’s what I want to do.” Music students are held to high standards on vocal performance and knowledge of music theory, which makes the process difficult but rewarding for those who are passionate about music.

When asked about what it’s like training and performing in this field, Freshmen Pixie Ladd-Barrett said, “It’s a balance of comfortable and uncomfortable. Getting through the nerves is tough but doing what I like is what gets me through it.” Several students in the class agreed that it is scary to perform every time, but they are guided by their vocal director and their peers to ensure that they can sing as best as they can.

Lambert and the vocal students will now start preparing for a Christmas concert at the end of the year, and some students will audition for the spring musical, “Into the Woods” in December. Until their next show, Lambert and her students will continue to build their vocal skills and pursue their career in musical entertainment.