Campus Reading Program Author Stevenson to Speak at Hammer Feb. 24

Flier about Stevenson Talk

Flier about Stevenson Talk

Bryan Stevenson, the author of “Just Mercy“, the SJSU Campus Reading book selection for 2016-17, will be speaking on campus Friday, Feb. 24, at noon, at the Hammer Theatre Center, 101 Paseo de San Antonio. Find more information and get free tickets online – students, faculty and staff are invited to attend.

Mercy’s book chronicles his years in law school and as a practicing attorney in the South when he worked to defend death row inmates. The book is marked by his personal reflections and descriptions of the people he defended. The book tackles issues of race, poverty and social justice in the United States. The event is sponsored by the Campus Reading Program, Campus Life, the Office of Diversity, the Office of the Provost, the NAACP, the Center for Literary Arts and Silicon Valley Reads

Other upcoming events related to the Campus Reading Program this spring include:


Thursday, Feb. 23, at4:30 p.m.
Student Union Theatre

We are proud to be co-sponsoring this event with our friends at MOSAIC and Justice Studies.  Attend an interactive theatrical drama that explores race and class inequities and injustices in the American judicial system.  DEFAMATION will be performed at the Student Union Theater.  (Then, two days later, come hear Bryan Stevenson address these topics in person at the Hammer Theatre!)


Thursday, March 23, at 1:30 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Room 225

In collaboration with our partner Silicon Valley Reads, we invite you to a talk by an author on a related subject-one man’s struggle while caught up in America’s mass incarceration epidemic.  Shaka Senghor, author of “Writing My Wrongs”, will appear at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on Thursday, March 23 at 1:30 p.m. in MLK 225.


Tuesday, April 18, at 4 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library Room 225

Khalid White from the African American Studies Department will give a presentation, “A Reaction to Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy.

SJSU Hosts “Stolen Education” Documentary Screening Feb. 28



San Jose State University will host a screening of the documentary “Stolen Education,” followed by a discussion, Feb. 28, at 6:30 p.m., in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225/229. The documentary discussed segregation of schools in the southwest during the 1950s and looks at the way eight Mexican-American school children fought against injustice. The event will be attended by Dr. Enqique Aleman Jr, an executive producer and writer, and professor and chair of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Texas, San Antonio, along with Ruby Luna, a director and writer. The discuss is sponsored by the Connie L. Lurie College of Education, MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center and Adelante, the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Task Force. Associate Professor Rebeca Burciaga, from SJSU’s educational leadership department, helped to coordinate the event.

Spangler’s ‘The Kite Runner’ Adaptation Opens in London with Positive Reviews

Matthew Spangler, a professor of communication studies in SJSU’s College of Social Sciences, created a theater adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner that is currently on stage in London’s West End. The show opened on Dec. 21 and runs until March 11. The performances are at Wyndham’s Theatre, an 800 seat venue off Leicester Square. The play has so far garnered more than two dozen reviews, including the few publications highlighted below:

“The best page-to-stage show since War Horse. . . . Matthew Spangler’s adaptation held the crowd spellbound. . . . Heartbreakingly good stage version of a popular story earns its place in the West End.”


The Stage Magazine


The Kite Runner soars.”


The Independent

“Spangler skillfully balances the scenes in Asia with those of the Afghan refugees seeking to maintain their dignity and culture in the West. . . . It cannot but remind us of the thousands of vulnerable children in Syria today.”


Sunday Express

“The book has to be something I really like,” Spangler said, of working on an adaptation. “When you write a play, you spend a lot of time with it. It takes about a year to write it, then I look for a theatre that wants to produce it and then there’s the rehearsal time. It can be a two-to-three-year process so it has to be a story I really feel connected to and I want to share.”

December 2016 Newsletter: Peers in Pride Support Incoming LGBTQI Students

Photo: Melissa Anderson Peers in Pride mentors Ai Nakamura and Abdullah Deen work with incoming first-year and transfer LGBTQI students to help them acclimate to SJSU.

Photo: Melissa Anderson
Peers in Pride mentors Ai Nakamura and Abdullah Deen work with incoming first-year and transfer LGBTQI students to help them acclimate to SJSU.

Ai Nakamura and Abdullah Deen discovered SJSU’s PRIDE Center in their first days at SJSU, Nakamura during Admitted Spartan Day and Deen during freshman orientation. They both were interested in connecting with the LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex) community at SJSU and in connecting with a mentor.

“I had no support system on campus – no family or friends,” said Deen, who identifies as gender queer and bisexual. “I wanted to create that by being part of the queer community.”

Deen was partnered with a mentor through the Peers in Pride program. Now a junior general business major, Deen is mentoring four new Spartans. Nakamura, a third-year computer science student who identifies as queer, also has four mentees. Nakamura stressed that the Peers in Pride program is a way to create a community for LGBTQI students while also drawing campus members to the PRIDE Center.

This fall, 13 mentors are working with 40 mentees. The Peers in Pride mentors undergo training with counselors from SJSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services to help them work with students who may be questioning their sexual orientation or gender, or who are dealing with personal challenges, such as lack of family support. They are trained about campus resources – both personal and academic – that they can refer students to when they need additional support. The mentors work with mentees during the fall semester, planning group activities at the PRIDE Center and also engaging one-on-one. Activities include barbecues, game nights and other monthly events.

“It’s nice to be able to pay it forward,” said Nakamura. “All throughout high school when I started questioning I had so many mentors, including counselors and an LGBTQ coordinator…It’s my turn to say it will be okay.”

Deen, who has not come out to family members, and Nakamura, who has told select relatives, understand the pressures other students may face. Nakamura described one student who came out right before college whose family cut them off financially. The student was concerned about how they would be able to afford college.

“Some students who haven’t come out yet aren’t sure their friends are going to accept them,” Nakamura said. “They are worried teachers will treat them differently, or they won’t have the same access to resources.”

Deen said another struggle is that students who are not out with their families can’t share some of their achievements such as participating in the Peers in Pride program. Nakamura and Deen both agreed that a big part of the program is helping other students connect to the LGBTQI community. In addition to involvement in Peers in Pride, Deen is active in the student organization Queer and Asian. With the Pride Center, the group is planning a Queer Prom in the spring on March 24.

““Every new mentee is a different story,” Nakamura said. “We get this beautiful opportunity to learn about them. Their story is not the same as your story, but we work to find an optimal solution. The big point is to connect to the community that is already here. We hear similar stories.”

October 2016 Newsletter: State Assembly Uses Public Hearing to Discuss Benefits, Challenges of Faculty Diversity

The California State Assembly Committee on Higher Education and the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance selected San Jose State University as its location for a public hearing on faculty diversity on Oct. 6. The campus hosted Assemblymembers Jose Medina, chair of the committee, Shirley Weber and Kevin McCarty, as well as several guest speakers who discussed the importance of faculty diversity in all public higher education systems – California Community Colleges, the California State University, and the University of California.

Medina, whose father attended SJSU and earned a civil engineering degree in the 1960s, recalled the university’s connection to social justice as he opened the hearing. He highlighted alumni Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ brave action at the 1968 Olympics, Louis Valdez’s founding of Chicano theater and Amy Tan’s narratives on immigrants in America.

“I know the history of this university and what it means as the oldest higher education public university in California,” he said. “I know what role it played in history, especially as it pertains to civil rights.”

Weber, who earned three degrees at UCLA, said her journey was “lonely and isolated” as an African American student at a time when the student body was not as diverse as it is today. When she became a professor at the university, she was one of the only faculty members of color on the campus.

“I hope we can move it a little further than we have in the past and understand what it means to have a campus reflective of California,” she said.

SJSU President Mary Papazian welcomed the assemblymembers to campus and thanked them for hosting a conversation around the important topic of faculty diversity.

“We need to address challenges in ensuring the retention of faculty, not only in developing the pipeline or ensuring the search process that reduces the inherent bias,” Papazian said. “Our Chief Diversity Officer Kathy Wong(Lau) will be working together with a team of people to really review what we are doing and why we haven’t been successful.”

While student populations have become more ethnically diverse at public universities, the faculty populations have not shifted. In fall 2015, 27 percent of students enrolled at CSU campuses identified as white, while 63 percent of faculty identified as such. There were similar disparities at community colleges and UC campuses. View the full hearing background document online.