Peace Through Credit
In 1994, San Francisco State University erupted over a mural named for Malcolm X, unveiled in the campus quad. The mural -- which incorporated six-pointed stars amid dollar signs and the words "African blood" -- was interpreted by many, including the administration, as anti-Semitic. It was sandblasted off after heated controversy that attracted the attention of city leaders and the national media.
Two years later, the mural has been replaced, and a class of students is about to receive credit for completing what is believed to be the first class in the country on black-Jewish studies and how each are portrayed in the media. "It's been perhaps the most extraordinarily complex and good teaching experience I've had," says Laurie Zoloth-Dorfman, head of the Jewish studies department, who teaches the class along with journalism department Chairperson Erna Smith. "It's so important to teach this class at this place, where it was so dramatically revealed that this relationship is at risk."
San Francisco State has operated on the principle of education through activism since the infamous student strike of 1968 gave birth to the first black studies department in the nation, followed years later by one of the first gay and lesbian programs in the country.
Only God Can Make a Tree
The dark underbelly of biological pest control -- kidnapping! torture! disrupted lives! -- showed itself in the East Bay recently. In its November/December newsletter, Berkeley Horticultural Nursery, a tony plant purveyor to the East Bay's moneyed back-to-the-garden set, renounced its participation in the ladybug "flesh trade."
After years of selling the small "mesh bags containing wood shavings, two raisins, and approximately 1,500 ladybugs," as the newsletter puts it, Berkeley Hort discovered that the garden helpers came at a steep price in insect anguish. Turns out the ladybugs' reverse-migration pattern makes them easy prey for " 'back to the land' entrepreneurs," the newsletter noted tartly. Come winter, these Hippodamia leave the toasty Central Valley and head for the cold, wet mountains -- riding wind currents for miles. They then settle down for a long, cold nap till spring. That makes it simple for enterprising harvesters to scoop them up, bag them, and sell them.
No clear ecological damage is being done, according to the newsletter, but not much good is either.
So what was the clincher? Berkeley Hort asked rhetorically: "We humans are bigger than ladybugs and can do anything we want with them while they're hibernating, but does it mean that we should?"
Nearly 6,000 aspiring officers of the law picked up job applications from the San Francisco Sheriff's Department last month, following the department's four-week recruitment drive. Applicants who qualify -- recruitment director Lt. Richard Dyer says he expects about 600 -- stand a good chance of being hired.
As part of an overall expansion, the department will add a few hundred officers to its ranks during the next two years. The Sheriff's Department is increasing its responsibilities to cover all warrants (many having been formerly administered by the SFPD), as well as the transfer of arrestees from the district stations to downtown. Also, the brig at Treasure Island is slated to become a jail next year.