SJSU Celebrates Super Sunday 2016

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications

Pastor Jason Reynolds (Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications)

Members of the Emmanuel Baptist Church choir crooned “no weapon they throw at me, you know it won’t prosper, no,” while donned in all black outfits and carrying picket signs reading “Black Lives Matter” during this year’s CSU Super Sunday service.

Super Sunday, part of the California State University system’s African American Initiative, resulted in CSU ambassadors visiting over 72 churches and speaking at over 100 church services in the state to encourage African American youth to pursue higher education.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the CSU system to remind people that our mission is to aid ordinary people in being successful and transforming their families,” said San Jose State Interim President Susan Martin.

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications

Vice President for Student Affairs Reginald Blaylock (Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications)

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications

SJSU Interim President Sue Martin and Pastor Jason Reynolds (Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications).

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications

Vice President for Student Affairs Reginald Blaylock (Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications)

President Martin, who attended Emmanuel Baptist Church’s service on Feb. 28 along with SJSU Vice President of Student Affairs Reginald Blaylock, stressed the importance of encouraging youths to start considering college at a young age.

“Most of our CSU campuses, including ours, only have three percent of our students identifying as African Americans,” Martin said. “So we need more African American families to prepare to send their children to college.”

Tierney Yates, Social Sciences ’14, said he was only one of three African Americans in his political science program while in his undergraduate career and hopes the initiative will help boost representation in the CSU.

Yates, who serves as the church choir director, said the Black Lives Matter message was incorporated into the musical performances in addition to Pastor Jason Reynolds’ sermons for the month of February in order to bring attention to institutional racism and other issues.

“We talked about issues with community, income and family, so this week we were talking about the issues as they relate to education and disparities,” Reynolds said. “There is so much need for our children to see that knowledge is possible.”

Blaylock, who has served in the CSU system for 28 years, told the service attendees that he was a product of the system’s opportunities.

“My story can be summed up in eight words: ‘It wasn’t supposed to happen but it did,’” Blaylock said. “I came as a freshman over 30 years ago, and CSU and EOP [Educational Opportunity Program] most likely saved my life.”

Despite it being the 11th year that the CSU has organized a Super Sunday with California churches, Blaylock said there is a deep-rooted culture of partnerships within the system.

“There are many people in the CSU who have been doing work and reaching out to communities of color for many, many years,” Blaylock said. “I applaud and celebrate the coordination of these (Super Sunday) efforts, but as a witness today, there are staff and faculty from SJSU that attend this church that are on the scholarship committee and that organize afterschool tutoring, so we’ve been here long before the initiative.”

Yates said he was pleased to see over 20 SJSU or CSU alumni members in the church audience.

“When you’re on a campus of 33,000 students, you feel like you’re the only one,” Yates said. “But when you see it in a smaller setting you can see the impact that it can have and the potential growth that needs to happen.”

 

World-Renowned Sports Sociologist and SJSU Alumnus Harry Edwards to Serve as 2016 Commencement Speaker

Media contact:
Pat Lopes Harris, SJSU Media Relations, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu

Harry Edwards speaks at a campus event in May 2012 (photo: Christina Olivas)

Harry Edwards speaks at a campus event in May 2012 (photo: Christina Olivas)

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University announced today that human and civil rights icon Harry Edwards, ’64 Sociology, will serve as its 2016 Commencement speaker. In addition, Edwards will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at Commencement. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. May 28 at Spartan Stadium. The event will be streamed live on the university’s website.

“Harry Edwards came to San Jose State to pursue an education while representing the university in intercollegiate athletics, and he accomplished both with extraordinary distinction,” said SJSU Interim President Susan Martin. “Dr. Edwards went on to dedicate his life to developing innovative approaches for raising the nation’s consciousness about the hidden inequities and barriers that exist in our society through his work in athletics. We are proud to recognize his contributions with an honorary degree and look forward to hearing him address our graduates.”

This academic year, an estimated 9,000 San Jose State students will earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Approximately 15,000 family members and friends are expected to attend Commencement.

Harry Edwards

Harry Edwards, 73, was born in St. Louis, Mo., and raised in East St. Louis, Ill., the second of eight children. With no more than a third-grade education, his father supported the family and encouraged Harry to take advantage of the opportunities the sports world provided.

Edwards followed through, excelling in sports and academics in high school. With financial support from a St. Louis-area attorney, he arrived in California to attend Fresno City College on a track and basketball scholarship. He later transferred to San Jose State University, where he served as captain of the basketball team and set school records for the discus.

Edwards set SJSU records for the discus (courtesy of Spartan Athletics).

Edwards set SJSU records for the discus (courtesy of Spartan Athletics).

After graduating in 1964 with a degree in sociology, Edwards had three choices: professional football, professional basketball, or graduate school. He chose graduate school, and began work on master’s and doctoral degrees at Cornell University in New York. After completing his master’s degree, he took a break from his studies to return to San Jose State, where he worked as a part-time instructor of sociology.

The year was 1966, and the civil rights movement was in full swing. Drawing on his childhood experiences, his years as a college athlete, his academic training, and his desire to educate, Edwards began gaining national attention for speaking out on the inequities he perceived in the nation and the sports world.

“During the 1967 college football season, Edwards, then a part-time instructor… presented a list of civil rights grievances to the administration on behalf of the school’s black students, particularly its athletes. Edwards’s group threatened to ‘physically interfere’ with the opening game if demands were not met. It was a regional watershed in radical sports activism, and the mainstream reaction was also a first; the opening game was canceled,” according to The New York Times.

Taking a Stand

The following year brought the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy. Edwards lent his voice and support to the Olympic Project for Human Rights, a movement calling upon black athletes to boycott the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Watching television in the United States, Edwards observed SJSU track stars and U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos take a stand for human rights on the awards podium.

Harry Edwards and Sandra Boze Edwards met at SJSU, and have been married 47 years (courtesy of Mr. Edwards)

Harry Edwards and Sandra Boze Edwards met at SJSU (courtesy of Mr. Edwards).

At the time, all three men were heavily criticized for their actions. Three decades later, San Jose State student leaders recognized the courage of these Spartans by memorializing the moment with a 24-foot tall sculpture in the heart of our campus.

Edwards went on to earn a doctoral degree from Cornell University in 1971, and to begin a distinguished, three-decade career as a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. A giant of a man with a caring presence, his “Sociology of Sports” course was among the most popular on campus.

During that time, he remained in constant contact with the professional sports world, where he served as a consultant to two luminaries who also graduated from San Jose State: Major League Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth, ’59 Business, and the late San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Bill Walsh, ’55 BA, ’58 MA Education.

Providing Opportunity

In addition, Edwards worked with the Golden State Warriors and the University of Florida. In all of these roles, he sought to develop practices and programs to increase minority representation in the coaching ranks and to support players of color as they navigated the opportunities and pressures of college and professional sports. Edwards delivered a moving eulogy for Walsh, summarizing the ways they sought to provide opportunities to all NFL players.

Harry Edwards is the author of four books: “The Struggle That Must Be,” “Sociology of Sports,” “Black Students,” and “The Revolt of the Black Athlete.” He has been married for 47 years to Sandra Boze Edwards, ’70 BA Liberal Studies, ’88 MA Education. The couple resides in Fremont, Calif., and they are the parents of three now adult children: a lawyer, a physician, and an information technology/computer programming specialist.


About San José State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San José State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 145 areas of study with an additional 108 concentrations – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 32,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San José State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 220,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

Civil Rights Icon Ruby Bridges to Receive Steinbeck Award

SJSU Media Relations Contact:
Pat Harris, pat.harris@sjsu.edu, 408-924-1748

Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges today (photo courtesy of Ms. Bridges).

SAN JOSE, CA – Civil rights icon Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in Louisiana, will be on campus Feb. 24 to receive the John Steinbeck Award.

“An Evening with Ruby Bridges” is slated for 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) in the Student Union Ballroom. The award presentation will culminate an evening featuring an onstage interview of Bridges by KQED’s Joshua Johnson. This event is sold out.

Ruby Bridges has been called the youngest foot soldier of the civil rights movement. In 1960, the NAACP selected a six-year-old girl to break the color barrier of an all-white elementary school in New Orleans. White parents removed their children from classes, and angry protesters jeered at Ruby as she walked the steps of William Frantz Elementary School surrounded by federal marshals. For months, Ruby sat alone in her classroom, instructed one-on-one by Barbara Henry, a white teacher from Boston. John Steinbeck was moved by Bridges’ courage and wrote about her in his 1962 book “Travels with Charley.”

More information is available on the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies’ website.

 

President’s Commission on Diversity to Host Forum

The President's Commission on Diversity Fall Open Forum will take place 4-6 p.m. Oct. 8 in the Morris Dailey Auditorium.

The President’s Commission on Diversity Fall Open Forum will take place 4-6 p.m. Oct. 8 in the Morris Dailey Auditorium.

Media Contact: Pat Harris, 408-924-1748

San Jose, CA—Everyone is invited to discuss how to foster a welcoming community at San Jose State.

The President’s Commission on Diversity Fall Open Forum will take place 4-6 p.m. Oct. 8 in the Morris Dailey Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, and will be streamed live on the SJSU home page.

Judge LaDoris Cordell (retired) will serve as moderator. Cordell was chair of the Special Task Force on Racial Discrimination, which was appointed by President Qayoumi in January to review all of the facts and make recommendations addressing an alleged hate crime that occurred last fall in a campus residence hall.

In April, the task force submitted more than 50 recommendations and in May, the President’s Commission on Diversity completed an action plan based on those recommendations.

The Oct. 8 forum, the first event of the new academic year on this topic, will bring the campus community together to discuss recent activity, including the consolidation of more than 50 recommendations into 22 action items as well as the Commission on Diversity’s role advising the president and overseeing implementation of the action plan.

Speakers will include President Qayoumi and the commission chairs: Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Renee Barnett and Provost Andrew Hale Feinstein. Representatives from Housing Services, Faculty Affairs, Human Resources, Student Academic Success Services, and the Center for Faculty Development will also be on hand to discuss work underway in specific units.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

 

Judge LaDoris Cordell

President’s Update: Task Force Recommendations

Judge LaDoris Cordell

Judge LaDoris Cordell at the final task force meeting (James Tensuan photo).

President Qayoumi emailed the following statement to all faculty, staff and students regarding alleged hate crimes in SJSU’s student housing complex. A website summarizing all relevant reports, updates and messages has been established.

Last night, the Special Task Force on Racial Discrimination held its sixth and final meeting, which I attended.

In appointing this task force, I asked for recommendations that would help ensure a safe, welcoming, inclusive climate for everyone in the SJSU community. It was important to me that the task force and its work be both independent and transparent, and that its membership reflect diverse constituencies and viewpoints.

The task force met all of these objectives. All meetings were publicized and open to the public, and accessible to others via live webcast. All drafts of task force recommendations were posted and available for public review, as are the corrected final recommendations [PDF].

At Thursday’s meeting, I publicly thanked retired Judge LaDoris Cordell for serving as task force chair. She was the strong, focused leader we wanted. I also thanked each task force member for investing time and energy in this important effort. Their honest input has been crucial, and will help inform our future actions.

The task force has offered more than 50 suggestions. In the aggregate, they reflect the diverse experiences and perspectives on this committee, as well as input offered by others. These recommendations deserve and will receive careful consideration and study. We will then develop an implementation timeline.

There are no easy or quick fixes. I am committed to thoughtful, sustainable actions that will have the long-term impact we all desire. We will act in a timely manner, and we will report our progress both to our campus and the community at large.

Sincerely,
Mohammad Qayoumi
President

“Cultural Showcase” Displays Diversity

Students Plan "Cultural Showcase"

Kris Delacruz of Pilipino Vocal rehearses (Codi Mills photo).

An international kaleidoscope of the visual and performing arts is planned for “The First Annual Cultural Showcase,” to be held 6 to 9 p.m. April 17 at the Student Union Barrett Ballroom.

Students Plan "Cultural Showcase"

Salzburg Scholars are collaborating with student artists and Spartan Shops on this “Cultural Showcase.”

The event is free and open to all SJSU community members. Even the refreshments will be on theme; Spartan Shops’ Street Eats will sell fusion tacos. 

We have students who will be performing traditional dances from China, Mexico and Eritrea, and students showcasing modern ballet, traditional Filipino music, German, Italian and French opera, and so much more,” said Mary Okin, ’15 Art History and Visual Culture, and a Salzburg Scholar.

San Jose State selects approximately a dozen students annually for the SJSU Salzburg Program. Scholars spend a week over the summer in Austria, where they attend an intensive global citizenship program. 

All scholars commit to promoting global citizenship right here on campus, and the 2013-2014 cohort is making good on its promise by collaborating to produce what the group hopes will become an annual event.

The showcase is a fabulous opportunity to learn about diversity at SJSU and celebrate our multicultural campus identity,” Okin said. “Everything in this event has been a collaborative effort by students and every student working on this project is a volunteer.”

The lead organizer is Erin Enguero, a kinesiology major, Salzburg Scholar and recipient of the 2012 William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Contact the organizers.

Follow this event on Facebook.

 

Silicon Valley Business Journal: SJSU’s Answer to Gender Disparity

Posted by the Silicon Valley Business Journal April 8, 2014.

By Jon Xavier

The solution to the tech industry’s gender problem must start with schools. After all, it’s hard to hire more women for tech jobs if there aren’t enough female applicants entering the job market. But faculty and administrators are fighting a hard battle. They have to smash stereotypes that prevent women from applying to science and engineering schools to begin with.

Melanie McNeil is a chemical engineering professor at San Jose State University and the head of the College of Engineering’s Women in Engineering program, which seeks to provide mentorship, outreach and events to bring more women into engineering majors and increase their leadership opportunities.

In this interview, McNeil outlines what schools are doing to close the gender gap.

Read the full story.

Persian Studies Hosts “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora”


Media Contact:
Persis Karim, Director of Persian Studies, Persis.karim@sjsu.edu, 408-924-4476

Persian Studies Program Hosts First-Ever “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora Conference”

Various scholars, acclaimed artists and filmmakers from across the country will present at this conference.

SAN JOSE, Calif.- The Persian Studies Program at San Jose State, with support from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute and the College of Humanities and the Arts, will hold the first-ever “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora” conference on Friday, April 11, and Saturday, April 12, at SJSU.

This conference brings together visual artists, writers, filmmakers and cultural activists who have been making art and representing the experiences, perspectives and sentiments of a diverse community of Iranians in the United Since over the past three decades.

Panels and discussions will convene in the Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr. Library, rooms 225/229 and 255 , on Friday morning. Registration for the conference for both days including lunch is $60 for the general public and $50 for students. Advanced registration is required. 

Various scholars, acclaimed artists and filmmakers from across the country will present at this conference while representing institutions including the University of Southern California, Boston University, California College of Arts, UCLA, California Institute of Integral Studies and UC Irvine. Participants will provide a multi-dimensional exploration of how art has helped shape a conversation about Iran, migration to the West and the unique culture of Iranian Americans and the Iranian diaspora.

Iranian American Life

“As we read daily headlines about the tension between Iran and the United States, it is important to recognize the significant presence of Iranian-Americans and the ways that their experiences and contributions are often overshadowed,” said Dr. Persis Karim, director of Persian Studies at SJSU. “This conference is an occasion to reflect on and share the arts and humanity of Iran and its diaspora communities in the context of North America.”

Persian Studies Program Hosts First-Ever “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora Conference”

The play “Inja o Oonja: Stories from Iranian American Life,” featuring Kyle Swany, Mehrzad Karimabadi and Sara Mashayekh, will premiere at the “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora” conference (photo courtesy of Persis Karim).

The conference also features a play titled, “Inja o Oonja—Here and There: Stories from Iranian American Life,” adapted by SJSU Theater Arts Professor Dr. Matthew Spangler from three short stories by Iranian American writers on Friday, April 11, at 7 p.m. at the Le Petit Trianon Theatre (72 N. Fifth St., San Jose).

To conclude the conference events, a film-screening and discussion of two films by SJSU Professor Babak Sarrafan (Radio, Television, Film and Theater) and San Jose native Mo Gorjestani will be held on Saturday, April 12, in the Student Union Ballroom at 7 p.m. Both of these evening events are free and open to the public.

SJSU’s Persian Studies Program was established in March 2011 with funding from a grant from PARSA Community Foundation and received a generous three-year grant from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute  to continue the work of educating the SJSU community about the rich culture, history and heritage of the Persianate world, including the Iranian diaspora.

Evolution of a Community

Since 2011, Persian Studies at SJSU has offered courses in beginning Persian through the World Languages department and has hosted numerous lectures with scholars, film-screenings, musical events and book readings. This year’s events commenced with lectures “Jews of Iran” featuring Dr. Jaleh Pirnazar of UC Berkeley as well as “Days of the Revolution” presented by Dr. Mary Hegland of Santa Clara University. Celebration of Norouz, the Persian New Year and the spring equinox, has also become a tradition of the Persian Studies Program with the third annual concert of classical and folk Persian music on March 9.

“We hope people will see how art can help shape a different conversation about a people, their heritage and the evolution of that community right here in the United States,” said Karim. “We’re grateful that the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute is making that conversation possible in the heart of one of the largest populations of Iranian Americans in this country.”

More information for this conference, play and film-screening can be found at SJSU’s Persian Studies Program website.

Also, like Persian Studies at SJSU on Facebook for event news and updates.

 

Ronstadt Retrospective

Imagery, words and performance illuminated the career of one of the leading vocalists of a generation when Linda Ronstadt came to Morris Dailey Auditorium on March 12. With a slideshow flickering in the background and students performing in the foreground, Professor Maria Luisa Alaniz and Cesar E. Chavez Community Action Center Director Maribel Martinez took Ronstadt through a retrospective of her life’s work. The result was a sensational lesson in the Mexican American experience, as well as an inspirational dialogue about the power we all can draw from our roots and her experiences. “She has a lot to say to young women about resiliency,” Alaniz said. “She negotiated the music industry’s corporate world as a woman and for the most part a single woman. She really had to be courageous in creating her own eclectic career.”

San Jose Mercury News: San Jose Conference Held to Boost Latino College Graduation

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News March 15, 2014.

By Steve Johnson

SAN JOSE — Joining hundreds of other Latinos, Robert and Robyn Rodriguez hustled through San Jose State‘s sprawling campus early Saturday morning with their 10-year-old son, Ceasar, so they could find a seat at a conference intended to boost Latino college attendance and graduation rates.

Ceasar, a student at Horace Mann Elementary in San Jose, is doing well in school. He said he wants a college degree “to get a good job.” And his parents share his enthusiasm.

Noting that neither he nor his wife went to college, Robert Rodriguez said, “We’re real excited about him having a chance.”

Latinos make up 38 percent of California’s population and are expected this year to surpass non-Hispanic whites as the state’s biggest ethnic or racial group, yet they lag worrisomely behind many other racial and ethnic groups in higher education.

Although seven out of 10 Latino high school graduates enroll in college, according to the nonprofit Campaign for College Opportunity, they are less likely than whites and people of Asian descent to get into top schools, attend full time and earn a bachelor’s degree.

Indeed, a 2011 study by the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley found that just 14 percent of local Latinos have a bachelor’s degree compared with 52 percent of non-Latinos.

That’s a costly educational gap. By some estimates, people with college degrees over their lifetimes on average earn at least $1 million more than those with just a high-school diploma.

“Education offers a golden opportunity for each and every one of you,” San Jose State President Mohammad Qayoumi told the crowd at the university’s event center. “Education is the passport for your future.”

Read the full story. 

Cesar Chavez Day: Spartans Embrace Activism

Cesar Chavez Day: Spartans Embrace Activism

Cesar Chavez Day: Spartans Embrace Activism

The César E. Chávez Monument: Arch of Dignity, Equality and Justice on the grounds of San Jose State (Bruce Cramer photo).

In a world with more than eight billion people, just one can make a difference when a life is used to better someone else’s. “I have a button that says ‘one person can do so much’,” said Leila McCabe ’12 Sociology . “I feel like it’s my duty to help improve people’s lives, but I love doing that.” McCabe, and others such as Elisha St. Laurent, ’13 Behavioral Science and Sociology, were among some of the students who campaigned to raise the minimum wage in San Jose starting in 2011. Though the campaign recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, they have not stopped fighting for the rights of others.

Workers rights and activism flowing throughout the nation

Workers rights has been a debated topic for decades with advocates such as Cesar Chavez, in the 1950s and 1960s, marching and working to see employees given proper wages and working conditions. Chavez is honored with a holiday that falls during SJSU’s Spring Break, and Maribel Martinez, department manager of the Cesar Chavez Community Action Center, said Cesar Chavez Day is an opportunity for people to honor his legacy and serve. “We host a service day,” she said. “We encourage people to come out and volunteer.”

Maribel said the CCCAC and volunteers will work with Veggielution to reconnect with the land and harvest as a way to celebrate the impact that Cesar Chavez made in the San Jose community.

McCabe said as an SJSU alumna, its part of her “lineage” to be inspired by those such as Chavez, who sacrificed time and strength for workers rights. She, as an activist, does not sit down when she sees a moment to serve. Now part of the Raise the Wage East Bay campaign, McCabe said “the fact that I’m still able to do this work is kind of amazing. It’s probably best thing I’ve done in my life.” McCabe explained that some doubted that she and her peers could make a difference in a complicated issue such as workers rights and the raising of minimum wage but looking back, they were in some ways pioneers for a now national discussion. “People literally told us we were crazy that it was not the right time to do it.”

Serving: A way of life

McCabe said though generation X can be a generation that works for self interest, she has begun to see a shift in her group of friends, as people look to be part of  social justice issues and campaigns.

St. Laurent, who also worked on the Measure D campaign, said though people such as Chavez are highlighted when talking about people who make a difference in social justice issues, there are others who selflessly serve. “We’re all tired … The idea of actually getting up and wanting to empower [your] community or wanting to be a part of [your] community  just on [Cesar Chavez day] or one week is great, but you should wake up every day like that, wanting to help people because every day people wake up homeless,” St. Laurent said. She said time is precious and she has often sacrificed time for herself for others because any day can be a chance to change someone’s life. “I make time because God made time for me … It took me realizing that my life should be of servitude to others,” she said.

McCabe said it’s her passion to help others, and she feels empowered to see change in her community. “I can’t not try to make a difference when I know that we have the power to make change,” she said.

San Jose Mercury News: San Jose State’s Festering Racial Issues Challenge Black Students

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News March 1, 2014.

By David E. Early and Katy Murphy

SAN JOSE — Whenever touring black high school seniors consider the sprawling San Jose State University campus, they are impressed by the main library named for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and by the majestic statue depicting alums Tommie Smith and John Carlos, raising their fists in the Black Power salute on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics.

“Look at this,” is what an awed Zhane Gay, now a sophomore health science major, thought when she saw the 20-foot-high sculpture on her visit from Southern California. Like so many others, she decided, “This is where I need to be.”

But the recent turmoil over a racial bullying scandal has rattled the campus, and many black students are questioning how a university with these outward symbols of diversity leaves so many of them feeling isolated and lost inside.

Read the full story.

Shirley Weber

Assembly Committee on Campus Climate to Convene

Tower Hall and the front entrance of Morris Dailey

The Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate will meet March 21 at Morris Dailey Auditorium (Bruce Cramer photo).

(Editor’s note: The following was posted March 5 by the office of Assembly Member Shirley N. Weber.)

Media contact: Joe Kocurek, (619) 655-8330

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Member Shirley N. Weber, chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate, has announced that the committee will hold its first informational hearing on Friday, March 21, from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., at San Jose State University’s Morris Dailey Auditorium, One Washington Square, San Jose. Students and the public are invited to attend.

The Select Committee on Campus Climate was formed to explore issues of diversity, tolerance and student safety at the state’s college campuses after a series of bias-motivated incidents in recent years, including a serious incident at San Jose State last fall involving an assault on an African American. This is the first of four hearings to be held throughout the state over the next few months.

“Our mission is to ensure that the state’s college campuses are safe and welcoming environments for all students,” said Weber, a former faculty member and department chair at San Diego State University.

For more information, please contact Assembly Member Weber’s Capitol Office at (916) 319–2079.

Read the full release. 

Linda Ronstadt to Speak at SJSU

Linda Ronstadt to Speak at SJSU

No admission fee will be charged so that all can attend. Donations will be accepted.

Since publishing her autobiography, Linda Ronstadt has spoken at several pricey Bay Area venues.

Professor of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Maria Luisa Alaniz wanted something different for SJSU.

This means organizers will request donations, not sell tickets, when the 11-time Grammy Award winner comes to Morris Dailey Auditorium 6 p.m. March 12.

This event is accessible to all community members,” Alaniz said. “No one will be turned away.”

Ronstadt will be in conversation with Alaniz and Cesar E. Chavez Community Action Center Director Maribel Martinez, ’03 Political Science and Sociology, ’10 Applied Sociology.

Resiliency

Although the performer has lost her singing voice to Parkinson’s disease, music will remain a big part of the evening. Entertainers include Grupo Folklorico Luna y Sol de SJSU. Ronstadt remains close to San Jose’s Mexican Heritage and Mariachi Festival.

Broadly speaking, her career cut across so many musical genres—rock, country, blues—that she defies description. She is perhaps best known for the ballad “Blue Bayou” and the upbeat anthem “Somewhere Out There.”

ronstadt

Thirty signed copies of “Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir” will be available at a discounted price at the door.

Ronstadt made it look easy. It was not. A fragile beauty in front of the cameras when she emerged on the scene in the 1960s, she fought to forge her own path.

She found a way to express her creativity and independence in the tough, competitive music industry,” Alaniz said.

Ronstadt eventually returned to Mexican American roots belied by a German last name. She wore a traditional, embroidered suit while receiving a Grammy for her nostalgic 1989 album, “Canciones de Mi Padre” (“Songs of My Father”). 

Embracing culture and history

“It was just a beautiful thing to see her represent our music while also embracing our culture and our history,” Alaniz said.

It’s no coincidence the event’s principal organizers are women. Ronstadt may be older, but her journey resonates through the generations.

She was never afraid to lend her voice to social causes, and continues to do so today, making appearances even as her voice falters.

She has a lot to say to young women about resiliency,” Alaniz said. “She negotiated the music industry’s corporate world as a woman and for the most part a single woman. She really had to be courageous in creating her own eclectic career.”

“Are We Post-Racial, or is Racism Still a Problem?”

Dyson

Michael Eric Dyson, acclaimed author, professor, political analyst and holder of a doctorate in religion, delivered a provocative lecture in response to alleged hate crimes at San Jose State (Christina Olivas photo).

Race: a topic some may dare not to whisper, Michael Eric Dyson boldly addressed with the dynamic, poetic cadence of a reverend and a rapper as he spit the lyrics of Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls to tackle the question, “Are we post-racial, or is racism still a problem?”

Dyson, acclaimed author, professor, political analyst and holder of a doctorate in religion, delivered a provocative lecture in response to alleged hate crimes at San Jose State. More than 500 people of different ethnicities, genders and ages flooded Morris Daily Auditorium, sitting and standing for the lecture Monday evening.

Is racism an issue in 2014?

Before the lecture, Adam Ahmed, ’17 Microbiology, and a member of the lecture’s planning team, said he was curious about Dyson’s take on race as he found it shocking that in 2014 racism is still a problem, especially at SJSU. However, other attendees anticipated Dyson’s lecture would shed light on a dark reality in America.

I think it’s interesting how people of color seem to be the only ones who think that racism still exists and that it’s still a prevalent issue,” said Najma Sadiq, a DeAnza College student.

“I hope Mr. Dyson definitely breaks all the stereotypes and lets people know that it’s real, it exists and what happened [at SJSU] is a clear-cut definition that it does still exist in 2014.”

Dyson did address the current and past existence of racism as he said even in “hot beds of liberalism,” cases such as the alleged hate crimes at SJSU are very real. Dyson compared racial issues to a boil that one must sometimes “slice open and let the puss spill out.”

Dispelling the makeup of a racist

During the lecture, Dyson walked the audience through the history of race in America. He emphasized the vast importance of understanding America’s racialized history before we can move forward.

The very people who acknowledge the racial chasm are themselves said to be the reason for the racial chasm because they keep talking about the racial chasm.”

Dyson expressed how this concept is almost as absurd as blaming a diseased person for the creation of their disease. His voice boomed in the auditorium as he went on to make three points relating to how people can respect race and differences.

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Dyson in front of the iconic Smith/Carlos sculpture at SJSU (Christina Olivas photo).

Hierarchy and specificity, not exclusivity

“We’re obsessed with hierarchy,” he said, making his first point that society must learn to nurture the differences in people without ranking them. “In other words, you ain’t got to be what the mainstream says you ought to be in order to be acknowledged as something worthy to exist.”

Next, he encouraged the audience to develop an appreciation for racial specificity without being racially exclusive, which means one must realize that race is an essential part of individuals’ stories in the United States.

Lastly, he said diversity must be for the sake of a just goal. For example, if people of diverse ethnic backgrounds ostracize someone based on sexual orientation, an injustice is being perpetuated amidst superficial diversity.

You have to hold on to the courageous assertion of your identity,” he said. “The reason you come [to SJSU] is to make a contribution and to challenge the norm.”

During the question and answer period, Rigo Garcia, ’15 Mexican American Studies, shared his observation that although the university touts diversity, ethnic studies departments don’t have the perceived support that one may expect.

This was promoting diversity for an unjust goal, Garcia said, before asking how he can be part of those who instead seek diversity for justice within the ethnic studies programs.

Myth of a post-racial society

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Students crowd Dyson for handshakes and pictures (Christina Olivas photo).

After the questions subsided, audience members rushed and crowded Dyson for handshakes and pictures. Ahmed said he was struck by the professor’s point that we are not in a post-racial society even though the country has its first black president.

“People believe with [President Barak Obama’s] election that we are done with race, ‘been there done black,’” Dyson stated, followed by laughs from the audience as he explained much remains undone.

Ahmed said Obama’s success may have contributed to his previous thoughts, adding that he now wanted to ask Dyson,

What happens next? This is not the first talk like this [about race relations]. Will we ever see true unity in this country?”

CSU Super Sunday

San Jose State President Mohammad Qayoumi, faculty and staff attended four San Jose churches to inform families that it’s never too early to strive for higher education during CSU Super Sunday Feb. 16.

Ready for Greatness

Parents and youth, such as Jahne Hill, a high school sophomore, sought more insight into college readiness.

Whatever choices you make now affect what you are going to do in the future, especially for college,” she said.

Grandmother Flavor Dyer, ’81 Liberal Studies, encouraged her three young grandchildren to introduce themselves to Qayoumi at Emmanuel Baptist Church, as she insisted that they too would be doctors.

Greeting the President

Catherine Mann, ’12 Art and Art History, waited for Qayoumi’s arrival after the 8 a.m. service because she wanted to shake the hand of her alma mater’s president.

Qayoumi participated in the entirety of the 11 a.m. service, standing, sitting and bowing in reverence to the speakers, songs and prayers before he spoke to the congregation about financial and admission opportunities within the CSU system.

Despite campus dissonance, Qayoumi said the administration wants to make SJSU more hospitable.

If there are changes that need to be done whether it’s in our training, whether it’s in our outreach, whether it’s the general knowledge [or] whether it’s the policies, changes will be incorporated,” he said.

“Unfortunately, bad things happen in our society. The key is … how do we use that information so that we can strengthen the university?”

 

 

Michael Eric Dyson to Speak at SJSU

Michael Eric Dyson to Speak at SJSU

Michael Eric Dyson to Speak at SJSU

Named one of the 100 most influential black Americans by Ebony magazine, Dyson is a Georgetown University professor of sociology.

“Are we post-racial, or is racism still a problem?” This question—central to shock waves that rocked campus in response to alleged hate crimes at SJSU—is the topic of an upcoming provocative discussion.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. Feb. 24 in Morris Dailey Auditorium with remarks by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown University professor of sociology. Admission is free. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for SJSU students with Tower Card, and 5:45 p.m. for the general public. The event will be streamed live on the web and accessible from the university homepage.

The audience will be encouraged to submit questions in person or via Twitter, using the hashtag #DysonSJSU. The feed will be monitored by a team of students, faculty, staff and administrators who came together in response to the alleged hate crimes. The group is planning a series of events beginning with Dyson, a Detroit native who took an unusual path to becoming one of the nation’s leading African American scholars.

According to his bio, he was a welfare father and factory worker before he began college at age 21. Now an author, minister and political analyst, he bridges academia and pop culture. In addition to penning 17 books, he has appeared in the cartoon strip “The Boondocks,” and been name checked by hip hop legends KRS-1, Black Thought and Nas.

 

Fact Finder Mike Moye

President’s Update: Fact Finder’s Report

President, Judge Cordell and Mike Moye address the media.

President Qayoumi, Judge LaDoris Cordell and lawyer Myron “Mike” D. Moye address the media regarding the release of a fact finder’s report on alleged hate crimes at SJSU (Christina Olivas photo).

 

President Qayoumi emailed the following statement to all faculty, staff and students regarding alleged hate crimes in SJSU’s student housing complex. A website summarizing all relevant reports, updates and messages has been established.

Late last year, I pledged to initiate an independent fact-finding review of alleged hate crimes against one of our students, and establish an independent task force to study those findings and offer recommendations for ensuring a safe, welcoming climate for everyone in the SJSU community.

The fact finder, Myron “Mike” D. Moye, has completed his work, and the report [PDF] has just been provided to the campus and special task force headed by Judge LaDoris Cordell (Ret.). The task force plans to convene for the first time this Thursday, February 6 to begin studying the report.

Judge Cordell and I are firmly committed to an open, transparent process. The public will be able to attend and observe task force meetings; there will be opportunities at some meetings for community members to share their thoughts and suggestions with the task force as a whole. Meetings will be streamed live on the web and accessible from the university homepage.

I am grateful to Mr. Moye for his thoughtful, rigorous work, and to Judge Cordell, the SJSU students, faculty, staff and alumni, the CSU and community members for giving their time and talents to the independent task force. I look forward to receiving and sharing their report, which Judge Cordell has said should be completed by April 30.

Meanwhile, State Assembly Speaker John Perez has created an Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate. Assemblywoman and San Diego State Professor of Africana Studies Shirley D. Weber will chair the committee, which will hold hearings and make recommendations for the California State University, University of California and California Community College systems. I have met recently with Assemblywoman Weber and Assemblywoman and Speaker Pro Tempore Nora Campos (also a member of the select committee) and assured both that we will work cooperatively with them. I am also meeting with other lawmakers, including Assemblyman and SJSU alumnus Paul Fong.

Our own students remain very active, participating in discussions with the California State Student Association and University of California Student Association and calling meetings here on our campus. During King Day festivities at the library, Diana Crumedy and Gary L. Daniels received the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award. Daniels is also serving on the special task force. We are proud of their work.

I will continue sending you regular updates on our progress on all of these fronts. Thank you for your patience and support.

Sincerely,
Mohammad Qayoumi
President

Creating the Change for Which They Marched

Black students have rallied, marched and protested their way to recognition, promoting solidarity every step of the way.

Black students have rallied, marched and protested their way to recognition, promoting solidarity every step of the way.

After feeling nearly invisible a year ago, black students last term rallied, marched and protested their way to recognition, promoting solidarity every step of the way.

The result? Stronger relationships and communication within the black community surrounding this year’s Black History Month events.

“We are making great strides, we are more unified than we were a year ago,” said Danielle Miller, ’15 Political Science, and current Black Student Union president.

Taking Notice

Former BSU president Alyxandra Goodwin, ’14 Journalism, has seen changes in the administration’s approach to Black History Month. In the past, she and other black organization members were frustrated and felt that the administration did not take notice.

“Last year, the Black History Month events were all [student-led]. This year, the university sent out a memo for the African-American pioneer posters,” she said. “It’s almost like the university has to give us more recognition.”

Different Perspectives

Sasha Bassett, ‘14 Behavioral Science and Sociology, and MOSAIC diversity advocate intern, said it’s imperative that SJSU honor the different perspectives and cultures on campus.

Gary Daniels, ‘15 Political Science and Alpha Phi Alpha president.

Gary Daniels, ‘15 Political Science, and Alpha Phi Alpha president, added that in the last year, student leaders developed the Black Unity Group, a coalition of student-run black organizations that advocates for the rights of black students as well as other marginalized groups at SJSU.

“We are actually able to work closely with groups of different struggles like Latino students, LGBT groups and women’s groups,” he said. “We’re able to work together on a common basis where we can support each other.”

Displaying Unity

Last February, students marched on “Black Thursday” for recognition of blacks on campus and against the opinion article “Black History Month is Redundant,” published in the Spartan Daily.

Daniels said that the rally was the first display of black unity and the movement has grown.  Danielle Miller predicts this growth will continue, in spite of trials and tribulations.

“If you go to a place and everyone is complaining about something,” Daniels said, “it’s time for you to stop complaining and start standing up.”

What would Dr. King say?

Bronze bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by renowned artist Sascha Schnittmann at King Library (Christina Olivas photo).

Bronze bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by renowned artist Sascha Schnittmann at King Library (Christina Olivas photo).

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The students of San Jose State have long stood on the frontlines of civic and social justice movements. Over the decades, Spartans have rallied against everything from environmental pollution and unfair wages to chemical weapons and, most famously, racial inequality, as immortalized by the statue of Tommie Smith and John Carlos in their 1968 Olympics Black Power salute. This statue, along with the Cesar Chavez Memorial Arch and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, represents the dream of social justice that San Jose State strives to embody.

But, given the recent alleged hate crimes in our residence hall, is true equality still just a dream? With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day upon us, we’ve turned our ear to the community. Below is a small selection of comments posted on news stories and social media by individuals near and far, along with some of King’s most poignant words.

What do you think King would say today?


“I read that a university freshman was harassed for three months in a dorm community regarding his racial identification, yet the problem was not identified by the university until a parent intervened. I worry that the university is losing the battle of survival in the 21st century.”

-Gerald McMinn, ’72, posted on Washington Square online

King: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus characterthat is the goal of true education.”

“Don’t deny him his education. Make him do community service in the inner city.”

Tim Nourie, posted on KTVU Channel 2’s Facebook page 

King: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

“Haven’t any of you people heard of hazing? I am not saying it’s right; hazing is stupid and unnecessary and causes a lot of BS. Despite what I think, it happens. I agree this kid and his accessories should definitely be slapped with some consequences because of what they did. It doesn’t matter if the victim was black and the perpetrators were white. It was people doing stupid things to a person.”

Brianna Marie, posted on KTVU Channel 2’s Facebook page

King: “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“Being a blond-haired, blue-eyed, white guy around enough people who assume I probably don’t care for some non-whites and feel free to express their true feelings, I can tell you racism is alive and well in mainstream America. There is still a long fight that needs to be waged, and the fight only gets worse the longer some folks continue to deny that racism is still a factor in America. It is, be embarrassed by it, and don’t perpetuate it by pretending it isn’t.”

Andy, posted on CNN’s website

King: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

“Perhaps a little jail time might help…but that costs money and it’s time to stop trying to jail or imprison everyone who doesn’t think like you. Could there perhaps be a teach-in, and allow them to admit they were wrong without resorting to jail or prison? Unless you’re hell-bent on vengeance, I think that’s a better direction to go in.”

Blair Whitney, posted on the Mercury News’ website

King: “I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.”