Spring 2023 Issue 4

Page 1

Graduation Spring

This magazine was made possible by a collaborative effort between SF State journalism and design students. All stories and content within were pitched, written, photographed, edited, designed and distributed by students for students.


Special Issue Editors

Myron Caringal, Oliver Michelsen

Editor-in-Chief Joshua Carter . Managing Editor Leticia Luna

Visuals Editor Miguel Francesco Carrion Multimedia Editor Andrea Sto. Domingo

Diversity Editor Alexis Alexander . Copy Editors Steven Rissotto, Sarah Bruno

A&E Editor Aiden Brady . Campus Editor Jenna Mandarano

Engagement Editor Myron Caringal . Online Editor Daniela Perez

Spanish Editor Oscar Palma . Sports Editor Jack Davies

Staff Reporters

Adriana Hernandez, Andrea Gallego Rodriguez, Arman Archouniani, D’Angelo Hernandez-Fulks, Destiny Walker, Ishaan Pratap, Michelle Ruano, Samantha Morales, Andy Damián Correa

Editor-in-Chief Eian Gil . Managing Editor Zackery Stehr

Photo Editor Aaron Levy-Wolins . Multimedia Editor Oliver Michelsen

Diversity Editor Ciara O’Kelley Copy Editor Caroline Van Zandt

Design Editor Daniel Hernandez . Design Assistant Sydney Williams

Engagement Editor Myron Caringal . Online Editor Sarah Bowen

Staff Writers

David Blakeley, Angelina Casolla, Nathan Hitchcock, Kamal Taj

Staff Photographers

Gina Castro, Tatyana Ekmekjian, Benjamin Fanjoy

David Jones, Chris Myers, Tam Vu, Leilani Xicotencatl


Claudia Acuña

Griffin Barnett

Nathaniel Bautista

Aaron Charles-Rhymes

Fiona Chertok

Danya Dajani

Chantal Gerwe

Ashley Guan

Junseo Kwon

Jessa Laboissonniere

Victor Pedraza Lopez

Alexis Martinez

Alicia Montoya Hernandez

Victor Pedraza Lopez

Rosie Salayeva

Anton Visola


Students protest outside San Francisco State Turning Point event with speaker Riley Gaines.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Parker


Top view of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. The steps at the top and the geometric shapes create one of SF State’s most brutalist buildings.

PHOTOGRAPH BY Leilani Xicotencatl

Scan For More!
Love Letters From Leo A long-gone artist survives through his artwork and ties to SF State 7 Now What?* The struggle for independence in early adulthood 10 Obituaries* Honoring the Gators we lost 31 SF State’s Finest in Fashion* Four apparel design & merchandising students share their vision for the spring runway show 12 La Hora de la Verdad Graduó el año pasado como trabajadora social, pero ahora no encuentra trabajo en su campo profesional 18 3 Years of COVID-19 A timeline of SF State during the pandemic 28 Online to Prime Time* SF State alumnus turned rapper, filmmaker and trailblazer 20 Brutalist, or Just Brutal to Look at? A deep dive into SF State’s concrete jungle 30 Capture the Moment SF State’s top spots for graduation photos 4 Where Did the Students Go?* As enrollment rates drop across the country, many are left wondering why 6 SF State Coaches to NFL Champions* The journey of coaching duo Andy Reid and Tom Melvin 14 Self-Driving City* Autonomous vehicles continue to flood San Francisco streets 24 The Turning Point USA Playbook* TPUSA has garnered national attention by bringing divisive politics to campuses 15 SF State’s Hidden Piano A space to practice and listen to music 26 A Public Setting for Private Encounters* Cruising for sex in the queer community and at SF State 22
Makena Rutis takes a photo of a "LOVE" sign on a tree at SF State's Quad a day ahead of Valentines's Day.
Photograph by Benjamin Fanjoy

Capture the Moment

SF State’s Top Spots for Graduation Pictures

It has been four, or more, years since this year’s graduates dressed in deep purple and gold regalia started their educational journey’s at SF State. The students, alongside their families, have spent hours sitting in Oracle Park waiting to walk the stage. The closing words were stated, the caps have been thrown into the air and now the families reunite and begin snapping away photos on their phones of the new SF State alum. Then, out of nowhere, someone utters a phrase dreaded by many: “Let’s go take some photos on campus.”

The graduates begin to worry — they’ve spent years on campus yet can’t think of one nice spot to take photos on campus. The photos end up rushed, hastily taken in front of the building they spent the most time in and stored away in a camera roll never to be seen again.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Despite SF State’s relatively small size and rectangular architecture, there are still some great spots to take amazing graduation photos on campus.

Memorial Grove is a garden-like area that engulfs visitors in nature. It’s a great location for those who want to enter a relaxed environment away from the campus buildings.


In the center of the quad, there is a giant tree and multiple benches to use as backdrops for your photos. This area is ideal for full-body, family or seated photos.


The plaza is one of the only locations on campus that prominently showcases SF State’s mascot – the Gator. The statue will immediately identify the graduate as a Gator alum and makes for some fun photos with family members of all ages.


How to see photo locations:

1. Open app store from the phone

2. Download the “Artivive” app

3. Open the app

4. Scan icons and view photos of each different location




Story by Daniel Hernandez Photography by Daniel Hernandez Design by Victor Pedraza Lopez Memorial Grove Don Nasser Family Plaza

This walkway, despite seeming simple, is perfect for graduation photos. The large trees provide shade to cover the harsh light and give a small window to the campus’ wide quad area. It’s a perfect spot for upper-body photos.

The Top of the Cesar Chavez Student Center

This photo spot is a bit of a climb, as it takes place on the top of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. On the bottom half of the rooftop, there is a great opportunity to take photos of someone sitting. The image will show off the building’s protruding architecture in the background. Climbing to the roof’s top will also showcase a bird’s-eye view of the campus and surrounding areas.

Garden of Remembrance

This area provides different angles and backdrops for photos. The biggest sell of the space though is the small fountain, which works for any type of shot.

Smartphone Photography

Tips & Tricks

• Always be aware of the sun’s position

Lighting is key to any great photo. Before taking a portrait, take a look at the sun’s position. If it’s behind the subject, then make a movement change so the sun lights their face and not the back of their head.

• Don’t be shy to manually zoom

Manual zoom, for the purpose of phone photography, means to walk closer or away from your subject. Full-body images might work in some scenarios, but don’t be afraid to switch it up. Capture some headshots and upperbody photos, or walk farther away to capture an extra wide shot.

• Follow the rule of thirds

The “rule of thirds” comes from the idea that a photo is split into nine different sections. The rule explains that visually aesthetic photos are made when the person is positioned on one of the two vertical lines splitting up the image. Extra points if the head or eye is positioned at an intersection where two lines meet.

• Capture some motion

Doing the same two or three poses gets boring after a while for both the photographer and the subject in front of the camera. Try to capture some movement by throwing the cap at the phone or shooting the subject walking.

• Play music

This tip isn’t directly photographyrelated but playing music is much better than taking photos in silence. The music will get the person to feel comfortable and might make for some great candid shots of them just enjoying their favorite artist.

SF State’s Main Entrance
19thAvenue HSS
Library Adminitstration Business

Where Did The Students Go?

Colleges across the country are seeing a drastic decline in class enrollment following reopenings from the pandemic

QUIETER QUADS, closed facilities, smaller classes with fewer sections. SF State students returning to campus after COVID-19 have likely noticed these and other changes associated with a drop in enrollment. After multiple semesters of online classes and isolation, students hoped — even expected — the campus to be vibrant and filled with students, among them peers and friends.

But that vibrancy has been tempered. Over the past six years, SF State’s student enrollment has declined, part of a national trend at other college campuses. SF State saw a 15% decrease in enrollment from Fall 2017 to Fall 2022 and a 16% drop from Spring 2017 to Spring 2023.

According to Katie Lynch, associate vice president for Enrollment Management, the trend is expected to continue until at least 2037.

Lower enrollment matters, as it means less tuition and fee revenue to support the general operating fund, which affects the student and campus experience. To worsen matters, the California State University (CSU) system — which includes SF State and 22 other campuses — will begin reallocating state support based on enrollment. Over the next three to five years, according to publicly available documents from the university, SF State will be required to resize its operations by reducing costs by $36 million. University officials expect the state allocation to decrease by 15% over three years (5% per year beginning 2024–25). So while the pandemic likely accelerated the enrollment decline, it’s not solely to blame.

“Schools across the state and country are feeling the enrollment decline,” said Lynch. “We are experiencing a decline similar to other schools that are facing the same combination of factors — shifting demographics and high cost of living.”

It’s no secret that San Francisco is home to high housing costs, leading people, particularly those with kids, to leave the city as a result. According to 2020 census data, San Francisco had the fewest children of any U.S. city. That contributes to fewer high school graduates in the area looking to pursue higher education.

“There are fewer students graduating high school,” said Lynch. “Similarly, the pandemic has added challenges for prospective students and families. More potential students are taking on familial responsibilities of providing care or working.”

To counteract the dwindling number of incoming freshmen, Lynch and her team plan to bridge the gap between high school graduates and new undergraduates.

“We are building stronger relationships with our local school districts and increasing opportunities to showcase SF State,” said Lynch. “We are excited about the new facilities being built on campus, such as the Science and Engineering building and a new

residence hall that will make living on campus more affordable.”

SF State is a popular destination for people transferring from a community college. However, enrollment at community colleges across both the Bay Area and the country is also declining.

“We have seen a vast decline in community college enrollment, particularly in our area,” said Lynch.

SF State has implemented efforts to counter declining enrollment among transfer students. In the past, to transfer to SF State, students needed to have completed at least 60 units at their first university; now they don’t.

“We have changed some policies to expand opportunities,” Lynch said. “For example, we began accepting lower-division transfer students.”

SF State alum Jake Kronquist always knew that attending college was expected of him by his parents. Despite not knowing what he wanted to do for a career, he attended a community college and transferred to SF State with an interest in communications and flight attending. Fast forward several years: He’s now a Delta flight attendant with a communications degree, traveling the world and getting paid to do so.

“There are countless examples of how what I learned in my major has helped me in my day-to-day life as a flight attendant,” said Kronquist. “I’m delivering urgent or difficult-to-navigate information, and having a strong background in communication gives me the confidence I need.”

The fear of job hunting and not finding work also contributes to enrollment decline — not to mention student debt being at an all-time high. Additionally, there’s the simple fact that college may not be for everyone.

Another likely catalyst for the decline in enrollment is the rise in popularity of trade schools, which provide specific training for skilled crafts such as plumbing and electrician jobs. Trade school jobs can pay well, and their programs typically only require one to two years.

Bay Area native Dru Solis had always planned to play basketball and earn a degree at a four-year institution after high school. He never anticipated, however, losing his passion for the sport and gaining another for diagnostic imaging.

“When I left Oregon Tech, I knew I didn’t want to transfer to another four-year to keep playing basketball,” said Solis. “When I came back home, I started working as an electrician with my uncle for a year while waiting to get accepted into trade schools for diagnostic imaging.”

Solis now makes just shy of a six-figure salary as an MRI technologist at age 24. Despite not getting a “college experience,” Solis says trade school is something he recommends.

“Do whatever fits your wants, your needs and your lifestyle,” said Solis.

Young Democratic Socialists of America member Bethany Padilla holds a sign for a student housing protest at SF State’s Malcolm X Plaza.
SF State’s Fall and Spring enrollment over the past 10 years.

Decades after his death, Leo Stillwell’s legacy lives on through fine arts students

THE NERVES ALONG one side of the young boy’s spine were severed, leaving a 12-inch scar on the small of his back. Living in pain and needing to wear a corset to keep his spine straight, he regularly took painkillers while still managing to lift the morale of his hospital roommates.

“They tried hard to keep him — to help him stay alive. They could tell that he had so much to live for… but there was nothing anyone could do — there was not a thing, dear darling, that anyone could do to prolong his life,” explained Josephine Stillwell, the boy’s mother, 39 years after his death in 1948.

Twenty-three years old when he died, Leo Douglas Stillwell Jr. was no stranger to struggle. He was often alone. With his father away at sea in the Navy and without siblings, much of Leo’s time was spent learning how to draw and paint, resulting in his proficiency with many mediums at an incredibly young age. Despite the hardships he endured, Stillwell lived a life unimaginable to most, fostering a deep connection to the world around him through his artwork depicting scenes of San Francisco in the 1930s and ’40s.

Having a father in the military, Stillwell’s family traveled often. He spent some time in Panama when he was seven years old, but was primarily raised in San Diego, according to his mother. By his arrival in San Francisco, Stillwell had produced hundreds of sketches, oil paintings and sculptures. Before his death, the Legion of Honor and several other galleries and museums across California showcased his work. Yet, long after his death, a more intimate look into his life and artwork surfaced.

Stillwell penned close to 200 letters to Russell Hartley, a ballet dancer and costume designer who would go on to found the San Francisco Performing Arts Library, now the Museum of Performance and Design. The content of these letters varied. Some included incredibly intricate sketches and suggestions for costume designs for Hartley’s ballets; others offered simple notes of affection toward Hartley, sometimes only a few sentences long.

Through these letters, Stillwell’s life, and his sexuality, have become a fascination. In 2013, Joshua Saulpaw wrote a dissertation for a Master of Arts Art History degree at University of California Davis, titled Leo Stillwell and the Development of a Homoerotic Icon in an Emerging Queer Community. In it, Saulpaw explores the significance of Leo’s work:

“Although Stillwell lived a very short life and never received the recognition or fame that he might have with more time, Stillwell’s work is important. Not only important for the quality and potential of the art itself but because of its unique position in San Francisco at its emergence as a gay center.”

After spending several years in and out of the hospital, Stillwell succumbed to malignant hypertension, a condition caused by dangerously high blood pressure. According to his death certificate, the malignant hypertension was only the immediate cause of death. The certificate notes malignant nephrosclerosis (the hardening of artery walls) and congestive heart failure as contributors to his death. He died at the age of 22.

Oil painting titled “Self Portrait” by Stillwell. There are multiple self portraits of Leo in SF State’s possession, most painted in his late teens and early twenties.

Stillwell used the short time he had to amass a collection of artwork that rivals that of artists who were decades his senior. Through his mother’s determination and largess, his legacy continues to fund fine arts students at SF State, a university he never attended.

In 1988, Josephine Stillwell contacted SF State about preserving her son’s artwork. The university agreed to showcase Stillwell’s work on an annual basis — what’s now known as the Stillwell Exhibit and includes a variety of his work that rotates every year. In return, Josephine Stillwell transferred ownership of the family home located at 120 Duboce Avenue, near the city’s Duboce Triangle. Within a year, the university sold the home for $250,000 and established an endowment that funds two students for up to $6,000 each year.

Sylivia Walters, acting dean of the College of Creative Arts from 1984 to 2004, is one of a few people from the university who spoke to Josephine Stillwell during the time when the future of Stillwell’s art collection remained uncertain. It’s not clear why Josephine waited until the mid-’80s to reach out to SF State, but Walters suspects that Josephine feared her son’s artwork would be lost to time as she grew older herself. Prior to Josepehine reaching out to the university, Walters recalls that, to her knowledge, Leo and his artworks were still largely unknown.

“She had suggested that the property there could be ours [SF State’s] to sell. The idea was to reassure her that we had every intention of perpetuating Leo’s memory and holding onto and preserving his work,” Walters said.

In a transcript from a meeting between Walters and Josephine on March 26, 1987, Josephine Stillwell recounts the life of her son. What was supposed to be a meeting to simply discuss the proposed agreement between the school and Josephine, turned into a long conversation in which Josephine Stillwell recount-

ed Leo and his life in detail.

During this meeting, Leo’s mother recalled his beauty. “He had eyes with many colors in them. He had speckled eyes,” she said. When asked if her son received a lot of romantic attention, Josephine Stillwell made it clear how handsome her son was while seemingly confirming her acceptance and acknowledgment of his sexuality in the same breath: “Oh, my god are you kidding? Oh, god yes, girls and boys.”

While there are no direct confirmations of Stillwell’s sexuality, it’s clear his work (no matter the medium) embraced the male form. He documented the sailors of San Francisco during World War II. His portrayal of sailors and other men in locker room scenes provides a window into the time period, and his absolute familiarity with human anatomy leaves little to be desired in terms of technical skill. Stillwell often depicted sailors homoerotically, placing special emphasis on muscular structure and detail towards the expressions of faces.

Kevin B. Chen, resident curator of the fine arts gallery on campus, firmly believes Stillwell’s talents were exceptional — especially considering his age at the time.

“I mean, if you could imagine if he lived to like 63, how much work could actually be part of the art historical canon,” Chen said. “He obviously had a talent… there was just no fear in his mark making. He could obviously render figures. This is a perfect case of somebody who was born to be an artist with a paintbrush in their hand.”

Stillwell made an effort to make sure the emotion of the scenes he created translated to viewers. He created welcoming and heartwarming scenes of affection that challenged homophobic narratives and showed Stillwell’s willingness to depict gay subculture openly.

In the book Wide Open Town, a History of Queer San Francisco to 1965, Nan Alamilla Boyd, an SF State Women and Gender Studies professor, touches on this policing of the community during World War II.

“San Francisco’s history of bar raids, shut-

downs and court cases documents its transformation in the 1940s and 1950s from a wideopen town where sexual subcultures flourished to a city frequently hostile to its emergent gay and lesbian communities,” Alamilla Boyd wrote.

Despite this, Stillwell appears to have been incredibly open with his sexuality based on his artwork and the letters he wrote to friends and Hartley, who is believed to have been a romantic partner of Stillwell judging by the close correspondence between the two and comments from Josephine Stillwell during her interview with Walters.

The discovery of handwritten letters found near the former residence of the Stillwell family brought new depth to the understanding we have of Leo Stillwell. According to Sharon Bliss, director of the Fine Arts Gallery at SF State, Alan Perry was the man responsible for getting the letters to SF State — he reportedly donated them after a student who was working on the annual Stillwell Exhibit reached out to him. Reportedly, he had intentions of writing a book on the artist but ultimately decided that SF State should hold onto the collection.

In an article published by the SF Chronicle, Perry was quoted explaining his reasoning for donating the collection to the fine arts gallery: “It belongs there, in San Francisco, where Leo lived. They have everything else of his.”

Theresa Von Dohlen, in 2019, was the first student tasked with the archival project of documenting, transcribing and preserving the letters. Despite the letters being in SF State’s possession for a few years, no action had been taken to document the arrival of the letters.

A second-year Museum Studies graduate student at SF State, Von Dohlen came across the letters through pure chance, as she was looking for opportunities to get more involved with art preservation at the university. For two days a week, she gathered the necessary materials and

He obviously had a talent ... there was just no fear in his mark making. He could obviously render figures. This is a perfect case of somebody who was born to be an artist with a paintbrush in their hand.
1. 2. 3.

made her way through a series of locked doors within the fine arts department. In the designated scanning room, she spent roughly four hours each visit digitizing the letters.

“I would take my little box [of letters] back there,” Von Dohlen explained. “Yeah, my usual routine is that I would go get a very large coffee and a snack from Cafe 101, and I would take it all back there with me… It was a perfect project for me to really start with.”

Von Dohlen, like others, found herself falling in love with Leo’s story as she spent more and more time with the letters. According to Von Dohlen, her interest in Stillwell took on a life of its own due to how closely she worked with the letters. The COVID-19 pandemic cut her time with the documents short, forcing her to transcribe the letters from home until her graduation. Still, she remains invested in Stillwell and hopes to write a book on his life in the future.

Ivan Kudin, a 22-year-old art history graduate from SF State, described having a similar experience to Von Dohlen during his time at the university. In fall 2022, Kudin was tasked with leading the curation for the 35th annual Stillwell exhibit. He selected the artwork to be displayed and handled the installation. According to him, it was a perfect way to close out the semester.

“I just couldn’t believe the abundance of art that this person produced, especially before he died at such a young age,” Kudin said. “It was just crazy to me; it was unfathomable. And I think it’s such an honor, I mean, for the gallery, obviously, but also for me personally. It was such an honor to be able to come in contact with this archive.”

As an international student, Kudin moved from his home country of Russia to the United States when he was 17 years old. Although not explicitly the reason for his move to the U.S., Kudin commented on the current state of LGBTQ+ rights in his home country. He appreciated the sense of comfort the university

Image Guide

“Two Sailors” by Stillwell. Arguably his most well known and recognizable painting, Stillwell demonstrates his talents in the nontraditional through this painting showing two sailors leaving what appears to be the “Paris Inn”. American sailors docked in the San Francisco Bay were frequent subjects in Stillwell’s paintings.

A study of the upper body by Stillwell. The artist paid special attention to the muscular structure of his subjects, taking care to define their movements in a way that conveyed the flow of their movements and postures. “He obviously had a talent… there was just no fear in his mark making. He could obviously render figures,” said Kevin B. Chen, resident curator of the Fine Arts gallery at SF State.

and its diverse student population offered — his interactions with Stillwell’s artwork only solidified his feelings of acceptance.

“I am a gay man myself,” Kudin said, “so there’s definitely this direct connection where if I were to stay and study art in Russia, I definitely wouldn’t be able to, first and foremost, even come in contact with such a collection and an artist like that. I mean, I couldn’t say so for sure, but that’s kind of my guess. Just being able to kind of be a queer art history student myself and then being able to work on helping display and install a queer, gay man’s art was very fulfilling in that way.”

Most people familiar with Stillwell and his story would likely agree that he would be grateful, astounded and overall content with the new home his collection has found. That said, it’ll never be known for certain how he would react to the knowledge of his memory living on. What is certain, is the fact that this young man, who lived a life more interesting than words on a page can convey, encapsulates the wide range of talent, beauty and compassion San Francisco has to offer.

“He’s Leo. He’s just, he’s everything,” said Von Dohlen. He’s melancholy and he’s joy. He’s the full range of human experience in that short 22 years.”

An example of one of the many letters written by Stillwell to Hartley. He often embellished his letters with intricate drawings and paintings. Here, Stillwell commented on the voice of Virginia Veral, a singer he was listening to on the radio, and discussed his progress on a book he was writing.

Another letter written by Stillwell for Hartley. This example in particular shows the level of detail Stillwell included in his correspondence with his supposed romantic partner. Although Stillwell’s work includes a strong focus on the male form, here his talents in drawing women are displayed.

A charcoal drawing of a soldier lying alongside women with a drink in his hand, by Stillwell.

A watercolor painting of the Greek Myth “Venus and Mars,” by Stilwell. This piece was sent to Hartley, and is a perfect example of Stillwell’s multiple artistic styles that draw from a variety of inspirations — although much of Stillwell’s work consists of oil paintings, he never limited himself to only one medium.

I just couldn’t believe the abundance of art that this person produced, especially before he died at such a young age ... It was just crazy to me; it was unfathomable.
6. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 5. 4.


YARA JERIES HAS deadlines to meet. No, not homework due dates or upcoming tests. Not credit card bills or car insurance payments. She has international student deadlines. If Jeries fails to find employment and housing upon graduating from SF State, she must move back to her home country, Jordan, and live with her parents. This means saying goodbye to her San Francisco friends, building her life in a different corner of the world and most likely, according to her, never living in the U.S. again. That wasn’t the plan.

“I think best case scenario would be to find my own place, still in San Francisco or somewhere close, finally have my car around, and then find a position in the company that I’m going for,” Jeries said. As of right now, the odds of any of that happening are low.

But Jeries isn’t alone in that struggle. According to research from the Pew Research Center, 52% of 18 to 29-year-olds in 2020 still lived in their family homes. College-graduateaged adults live at home for longer now than in any previous generation. But the numbers make up just one aspect of the whole ordeal. Most college graduates today grew up with the same expectations that college graduates had 40 years ago. Most expect — or at least hope — to find a job, a house and, eventually, start a family. What effect does “failing” that expectation have on a young adult who lives in a culture that puts so much pressure on

succeeding the first time? How do you find your independence while still living under your parents’ roof? Is the transition from college student to bonafide adult easy for anyone?

Jeries, a marketing major set to graduate this fall, moved from Saudi Arabia to San Francisco in August 2019. With the Coronavirus pandemic robbing Jeries of much of her social life at SF State, and her citizenship status restricting her from many different paid jobs, Jeries often speculates on where she might have studied or lived if not for her parents’ decision for her to attend SF State.

“Everything that I decided was pretty much based on where my family was going… It was really about them more than it was about me,” Jeries said.

Still, so close to her final semester at SF State, Jeries finds herself not wanting to return home just yet. Though eventually, she must return home at least long enough to

“plan [her] next move,” if she fails to get a job and stay the maximum amount of time legally allowed would strike her self-esteem hard. After spending her whole college career out from under the direct supervision of her parents, going back to square one in her journey to independence seems unthinkable.

“It would be such a hit to my expectations,” Jeries said. “I really had this vision for where I wanted my life to go. And I feel like if I have to move back home to my home country, back with my parents, not have a job, I feel like that would really hit me hard mentally.”

Between the lack of independence and options at home and the prejudice and restrictions on immigrants in the U.S., Jeries thinks she might build a life in Europe, though that has its own drawbacks in terms of the job market there and its minimal opportunities, in Jeries’ opinion.

“Everywhere I think to go has this one factor that’s just a slap in the face,” Jeries said with a sigh.

However, not every college graduate faces the same struggles. In contrast to Jeries, Kylie Baker-Williams anxiously awaited her return home after she finished school. When she moved back to California from Kenyon College in Ohio, Baker-Williams appreciated living in her family home as much as she had when she’d left. Though her time away gave her space and independence, she had little trouble with the adjustment.

“I love home,” Baker-Williams said. “I loved having that independence and all that, but I

Yara Jeries stares up at the ceiling inside her dorm at University Park North, one of SF State’s student housing complexes. Jeries has lived in this dorm since Fall 2022 and shares it with two other people. by Caroline Van Zandt Photography by Gina Castro Design by Alexis Martinez & Chantal Gerwe
I’m big on home. I loved having that independence and all that, but I hated not being able to see my family. I missed my family a lot.

hated not being able to see my family. I missed my family a lot.”

For Baker-Williams, the struggles she faced after college took two main forms. Initially, the change affected her body image. Baker-William’s hometown played a large role in her selfconfidence, according to her.

“I think Marin is very — all the women and girls here are so conscious of their image,” Baker-Williams said. “Everyone’s so thin and small… I really spiraled with body image and my eating habits… I definitely didn’t feel that when I was at college.”

According to Baker–Williams, the culture where she lives in California focuses far more on appearance than in her college’s town, Gambier, Ohio.

As time went on since she’d come back home from school, another insecurity became prominent in her head as well. As a dedicated psychology student who took pride in her work, Baker-Williams missed the opportunity to excel that school provided. She remembers the impact that leaving that environment had on her confidence.

“I had a lot of my identity and self-esteem tied up in doing well in school, my GPA, my grades, being able to answer questions, things like that,” Baker-Williams explained. “So graduating, a couple months later, I was like, kind of spiral[ing.] I was like, ‘Oh, this whole thing has kind of been the center of who I am, like, I’m the kid that’s good in school.’ I don’t have that anymore.”

One psychotherapist, Satya Byock, who works exclusively with clients like Jeries and Baker-Williams, uses a unique term for those in this stage of their life: quarterlifer. In her book, Quarterlife: The Search for Self in Early Adulthood, Byock addresses the many struggles often faced by young adults and provides ways of thinking to help readers through them.

This period can prove so difficult for many because not only is it a complete shift from one distinct stage of life to another, but also because the way we measure adulthood differs from the way we have in the past, yet the expectation to reach it has remained just as rigid. Byock explains that the measure of maturity used to have a far more clear distinction than in recent generations.

“So historically, people would be leaving home to enter a marriage,” Byock said. “They were leaving their home primarily to enter a new home and create a family. So now we have this system that’s theoretically less segregated on some level by race and gender. You go to high school, maybe you go to college, community college, whatever. But there’s not a clear path from there into adulthood. It’s not like you’re setting up a separate home. So all of those things have to be figured out one by one by one. And I think it’s beautiful that we’ve made it so

that adulthood is not directly tied to gender roles the way that it used to be, but we haven’t replaced it with anything that’s really clear.”

With no exact path to success, any deviation from the norms of the past feels like failing. Even though young adults increasingly reach typical milestones like moving out and starting a family later, due to their own choice or the economic state of the world, that blueprint for life remains prominent in their minds. And they still get judged for not following it.

“The cost of living has skyrocketed,” Byock said. “The cost of mortgages has skyrocketed, student loans have skyrocketed, and so, that sort of path from college into creating an independent life away from your parents has become significantly more difficult. And the idea that that’s like the fault of the young people or something, and they can’t grow up – like they’re having an ‘extended adolescence’ just drives me crazy.”

The phrase “extended adolescence” describes the period between adolescence and adulthood that seems to increase with every generation.

Byock rejects this term in defense of quarterlifers, explaining the importance of recognizing that quarterlife is a “stage of adulthood unto itself,” and that the struggles therein should be afforded the same attention as mid-life crises receive.

Byock explains that part of the struggle that quarterlifers face in finding a sense of identity and stability in adulthood comes from a “deeply internalized” shame from societal pressure and judgment. When children who grow up with a certain idea of what it means to be a successful adult based on past generations reach adulthood, the reality can be completely demoralizing.

“It should not be this difficult to become a happy and functional adult,” Byock said. “But there’s so much pressure on young people to both succeed and to ‘adult’ and so

much going against them that it feels like a constant pressure that’s almost impossible to get out of.”

This is not to say that checking the typical boxes of adulthood is the only way for one to reach a state of independence and maturity. Byock explains that young adults like Jeries and Baker-Williams can change the dynamics they have with their home lives and the relationships they have with themselves through conscious and loving work.

“You might be living at home and really be able for the first time to have conversations with your folks, or whomever you live with, as an adult,” Byock said. “To work out boundaries and to work out old patterns and to hear old stories and to develop a new kind of friendship.”

Whatever your chosen method of independence, there isn’t really a wrong answer. The question then becomes, how can graduates train themselves out of the seemingly inevitable shame that comes with maturing? Alternatively, as Byock asked:

“What is actually a path into independent adult life that doesn’t feel crippling?”

A picture of Samantha Omar, Jeries’ best friend, rests on her desk at University Park North at SF State. They have known each other since they were 2 years old and are now long-distance best friends. “She’s my sister at heart,” Yara said. “She’s my world.”
Jeries crochets in her room at University Park North. Crocheting is one of the hobbies she does on her free time. She is in the process of making a top.

SF State’s Finest in Fashion SF State’s Finest in Fashion


EVERY SPRING, the Apparel Design and Merchandising department put on a fashion show to showcase senior student collections from their Advanced Apparel Design class. The show will be coming back in its full form for the first time since the pandemic. While students adapted well to last year’s show, which was held outside due to pandemic restric-

tions, this time they’ll go back to the in-door runway. The name for this year’s show was “Kinetic."

Professor of Design and Apparel Amy Dorrie, who graduated from SF State in 2012, has been teaching Advance Apparel design since 2017. Their finished work is graded on the garment’s construction with the use of specific principles of

design, the collection’s overall cohesiveness and garment fit.

“The collection should have a definite theme or inspiration that they’re drawing from,” Dorie said. “So it’s all clothes, right? It’s all the things we’ve seen before, but it’s the combination of their unique perspective with their interesting inspiration that will make those clothes look new and exciting.”


About: Originally from San Jose, Ramirez’s personal style is influenced by gothic styles juxtaposed with cute and playful aesthetics. She enjoys new wave and rock music, her favorite groups include the Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bauhaus.

Concept: Ramirez’s collection will feature three outfits, two tops, a maxi skirt, paints and a dress. Her inspiration for the collection comes from gothic culture taking inspiration from a gothic style. Red, black, white and gray are her main colors for the collection.

“Looking at fabrics, creating your mood board, although every part of this is stressful, our deadlines are short, we need to constantly be working on it,” Ramirez said. “It’s a lot of pressure too cause you’re trying to think of ideas and nothing is coming to mind.”

After Graduation: Ramirez plans to continue working on her own brand, she’s already made shirts and other garments but is pausing for now as she finishes school.

Zitlali Ramirez measures Maddie Acino’s upper body in the Burk Hall at SF State. above shown is ramirez showing sketches of the designs. Design by Fiona Chertok Photos by Tatyana Ekmekjian & David Jones
Photograph by David Jones


About: Cassandra Cueva is originally from Los Angeles and has been at SF State since her freshman year. Cueva has a personal passion for sustainable materials. For her collection, she is using mostly second-hand fabric from taking used clothes apart.

“I try to go to stores like Scraps [a second-hand fabric store], I love that place,” Cueva said. “It’s dangerous, I’ll go in there and end up coming out with way more than I need.”

Concept: Cueva is producing three outfits for the show, a pair of pants, a skirt and top and a dress. The concept for her collection is distortion, inspired by nature and a poem called Reflection by her favorite childhood poet Shel Silverstein. One of the techniques that Cueva is implementing is Canadian smocking, where she manipulates the fabric by gathering and sewing small sections of the fabric together to create a textured look.

After Graduation: After graduation and maybe some additional schooling, Cueva wants to go into textile research, looking at new ways to find sustainable materials.


About: Buisan, born in Mexico and raised in San Diego, transferred last semester from San Diego Mesa College to pursue fashion at SF State. Fashion has been a part of Buisan’s life for a long time. Their mother and grandmother had their own clothing boutique in Mexico making wedding dresses.

“That’s where my love of fashion began, I have memories of my mom showing me pages of Versace, so many Italian designers, so many Parisian designers,” Buisan said. “I think that’s where my love grew and developed.”

Concept: For Buisan’s collection, inspiration came from feminine figures like sirens, early Renaissance art, Catholicism and famous women like Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe and Kim Kardashian. The collection will include three matching sets of tops and skirts, the fabric will be a green plaid, a red plaid and vintage fabrics from deconstructed garments.

After Graduation: Buisan plans to apply to grad school after their time at SF State and eventually move to a more fashion-forward city like LA, New York, London or Paris to work as a designer.


About: Nathan Barnes is a transfer student from De Anza College in Cupertino. Fashion has always been a part of his life and started out by reselling clothes in high school. Personal style and dress have helped him express his creativity growing up.

Concept: His inspiration for the collection came from hobbies such as nature, cars and guns. Barnes collection will include three tops, one hoodie and two puffer jackets, with one almost floor length and the other cropped. For pants, he’s implementing baggie oversized cargos and jeans, with earthy tones in each of the garments.

After Graduation: Barnes plans to launch his own brand promoting it on social media with the hopes of opening a store.

“A lot of the random Instagram come-ups, those are really inspiring, the ones that are at like under 2,000 followers, the ones that are just starting up,” Barnes said.

Humbe Buisan inserts pins into a top on a mannequin as they look ahead in Burk Hall at SF State. This helps them with the fit they want for the garment. SF State senior Cassandra Cueva employs dated and unique sewing techniques in the sewing lab on campus. Cueva works on building a collection under the guise of distortion by repurposing primitive techniques for modern purposes. SF State senior Nathan Barnes works on his war inspired collection in the sewing lab on campus. The collection will feature distressed materials and upcycled fabrics. Photograph by Tatyana Ekmekjian Photograph by Tatyana Ekmekjian
Photograph by David Jones

From SF State to Super Bowl champions

The journey of coaching duo Andy Reid and Tom Melvin

ANDY REID AND TOM MELVIN have come a long way since starting their coaching careers at SF State. When Reid started his coaching career in 1983, he sold hot dogs around campus to help the team pay for travel to road games. Meanwhile, Melvin developed a passion for coaching under the tutelage of Reid and head coach Vic Rowen.

Now Reid is the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and Melvin is the Chiefs’ tight ends coach. Both are two-time Super Bowl champions after 24 years together as coaches in the NFL, an unlikely journey that started at SF State. This year, 37 years after leaving SF State, Reid and Melvin celebrated their second Super Bowl victory together. The first one came against the 49ers during the 2019-2020 season.

After graduating from Brigham Young University, Reid became the offensive coordinator for the Gators from 1983 to 1985. Reid and Melvin first crossed paths in the summer of 1983 during training camp. After making the team, Melvin played football at SF State during the same span and became Reid’s first graduate assistant.

“It was a great learning experience for a young coach to come in and be able to learn how to coach,” Reid said. “I had a great mentor with Vic Rowen, who helped show me the way. It set up a foundation for me so I could continue on and move up the ladder. And I’ve maintained that foundation. It was simply being able to teach, which is a big part of coaching.”

Reid knew of Melvin’s interest in coaching, so he created a graduate assistant position, which had

not been a position that the program had before then.

Melvin remembers the impact of the Gators football program being shut down in 1994 due to lack of funding, among other reasons. Melvin found it to be a shame that opportunities dried out for players and coaches who weren’t likely to make rosters at bigger programs.

“It was very unfortunate, because obviously, that’s where I played. And honestly, for me, without athletics, I would not have gone to college,” Melvin said. “There’s no two ways about it. I did it to play football because I enjoyed that. And that brought me to where, after two years of college, I decided that now I want to go and get a teacher’s credential because I want to stay in this.”

When Reid became the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, he brought in Melvin as an offensive assistant and quality-control coach. In 2002, the team promoted Melvin to tight ends coach, a title he has kept ever since.

Reid and Melvin then went to the Kansas City Chiefs together in 2013. They’ve currently racked up a 247–138 record. Reid has the fifth most wins by a head coach in NFL history and is just four wins away from taking fourth. Reid has 38 playoff games as a head coach, 22 of which are wins. Both are the second most in NFL history behind the legendary New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

“I only knew how Andy did things and that kind of molded me and how I approached my coaching career,” Melvin said. “He’s got a connection to everybody. So I was fortunate to be the first one in that tree in having a close connection to him. And clearly, it’s worked out for me going forward.”

Reid and Melvin formed a bond through

Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Tight Ends Coach Tom Melvin and Head Coach Andy Reid after the Kansas city chiefs beat the san francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

teaching and a passion for food. San Francisco had a wide variety of cuisine for them to enjoy while talking football and life. This is also how Reid formed a bond with former 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci when they were on the Green Bay Packers staff together from 19921995. If they weren’t in their office studying the new West Coast offense, they’d often go out to eat together.

One time, as Mariucci recalled, he and Reid went to the Prime Quarter Steakhouse in Wisconsin. They were informed if they ate their meal in under an hour, they’d get their next meal free and a picture on the wall.

“People hated to see us walk in there, because, hometown buffet for $9.99, all you can eat, can you believe that? They didn’t make any money on us,” Mariucci said.

The meal was enormous – a 40-ounce steak, baked potato, salad, garlic bread. Reid scarfed his down in about 19 minutes; Mariucci in roughly 30.

“We were well under the one hour clock,” Mariucci said. “They put a bib on ya and a baker’s hat, you take a photo, because you just wolfed down a 40-ounce steak.”

Mariucci said that he is proud of Reid for all that he has accomplished since they grew together as NFL coaches back in 1992.

“He’s got a great perspective on life,” Mariucci said. “He’s level headed and his players appreciate it. He’s honest and fair, he knows when to push and when to pull back. He knows what talent is. He always supplies his team with good, young, fast talent. He does it the right way, I’m really proud of him.”

Melvin grew up in Palo Alto before going to SF State and receiving his Bachelor of Arts. A Bay Area local, he was a 49ers fan growing up, so beating them for his first Super Bowl title was storybook, as was their second victory against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“That was my team. It was a little surreal,” Melvin said. “My ex-teammates, I had to hold their feet to the fire a little bit. ‘Who you guys gonna root for? Your team you’ve been rooting for all your life or are you gonna go for me and Andy?’ That was a little difficult and actually this last one was too because I spent 14 years in Philadelphia with the Eagles; my kids grew up there and still live there. They’re huge Eagles fans, so they were torn.”

Looking back, Reid appreciated the opportunity that players like Melvin were given that a bigger school with more highly touted athletes may not have provided.

“It was a non-scholarship program. So I thought it was great for kids that want to play college football, but weren’t quite good enough to get a Division I or a NCAA scholarship at that time,” Reid said. “So it gave them an opportunity to play, and I’ve stayed in touch with the players. And that was a great experience for them, something that they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives.”

Photo courtesy of the kansas city chiefs

The Turning Point USA Playbook

SF STATE RARELY makes national headlines. However, for a couple of weeks this spring, the often overlooked campus became the latest battleground in the culture wars. The university was cast into an unfamiliar spotlight in the wake of former collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines’ controversial speech about trans women in sports.

The event prompted a flood of coverage from major news publications like CNN and Fox: “American swimmer says she was ambushed by trans-rights activists,” “Riley Gaines details harrowing situation at SFSU: ‘I feared for my life in that moment’” — a view that many within the SF State community disagreed with.

Two weeks after the Gaines drama, it seemed like all media hell would break loose when Jon Root, a conservative weekly sports show host, planned to speak on “How Wokeness is Destroying America.” SF State braced itself for another syndicated conflict, but after multiple venue changes, the event was held at Merced Manor Reservoir with fewer than 70 attendees.

Both events were hosted by Turning Point USA, an organization founded in 2012 by conservative commentator Charlie Kirk. While TPUSA claims to focus on freedom, free markets and limited government, it garners the most attention when it comes to hot-button issues like abortion, vaccinations and LGBTQ+ rights.

TPUSA has over 600 chapters at colleges and high schools across the United States. This

semester, SF State became one of those schools.

The TPUSA chapter at SF State, created by Broadcast and Electronic Communications Arts student Navid Mehdipour, debuted during the first week of the spring semester. Mehdipour said he discovered TPUSA when the organization tabled at Diablo Valley College, the school he previously attended. At the time, he was not heavily involved in politics; however, Mehdipour found himself aligning with the conservative beliefs of the organization. This was around the time of Donald Trump’s presidency, and when Mehdipour expressed support for him, he was met with backlash.

“Why am I being oppressed and getting attacked because of my political beliefs?” Mehdipour asked. “I’m just saying something like everybody else. I just have a point of view; I just have my own beliefs.”

The beliefs of Mehdipour — and of TPUSA as a whole — are often controversial. On March 16, Mehdipour hosted a meeting about abortion in the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Members in attendance spoke about whether it is acceptable for women who become pregnant as a result of sexual assault to receive abortions. TPUSA has publicly promoted the idea that abortion is immoral, even for victims of assault.

On the subject of COVID-19, Mehdipour sought accountability for alleged vaccine-related deaths and claimed the science behind wearing

masks is fake.

“Pfizer, Moderna, they are killing people with their vaccines,” Mehdipour said. “Stuff that we’ve seen, it’s not a matter of opinion. It’s just [a] fact.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed nine deaths related to COVID-19 vaccinations. These were caused by rare blood clots after patients were injected with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

While Mehdipour clarified that his personal views do not represent TPUSA, anti-vaccine and anti-abortion rhetoric is prominent in the organization’s literature. The TPUSA website has an entire page dedicated to platforming misinformation about vaccines, sharing stories that highlight claims about negative side effects.

When it comes to TPUSA’s national controversies, abortion and vaccines are only the beginning.

The organization is perhaps most famous for bringing big-name conservatives to college campuses across the country. Over the years, personalities such as Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, Kyle Rittenhouse and Milo Yiannopoulos have taken the stage for TPUSA.

Since being acquitted of murder after shooting three and killing two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Rittenhouse has been a mainstay of the TPUSA live circuit. Yiannopoulos, who came under fire in 2017 after claiming

Since becoming a school-sanctioned student organization, TPUSA has garnered national attention by bringing divisive politics to campus
Navid Mehdipour listens during the Q&A portion of Turning Point USA’s event featuring Riley Gaines at SF State. Mehdipour is the president of the SF State chapter of Turning Point USA. Story by Aiden Brady
Photography by Miguel Francesco Carrion

that pedophilic relationships between younger boys and older men can be beneficial to young boys, has not worked with TPUSA since. In a New York Times article published after the controversy, though, Kirk clarified that his organization would only be taking a break from engaging with him directly.

Multiple TPUSA live events have sparked large protests over the years, some escalating to violence. In March, two people were arrested and one police officer was injured when Kirk spoke at UC Davis. A group of protesters smashed several windows outside of the venue before the event. There were also reports of eggs thrown and pepper spray used by protesters in the crowd of approximately 100 people.

On April 6, SF State received its first taste of the TPUSA live experience.

Gaines, who swam against Lia Thomas at the 2022 NCAA championships, visited campus to talk about trans women in sports. According to Gaines, trans athletes like Thomas possess unfair biological advantages.

When Gaines and Thomas competed against each other in the women’s 200-meter freestyle, they tied for fifth place. The four swimmers who placed ahead of them were all cisgender women. Advertisements for the Gaines event referred to Thomas as a biological male, and implored students to “help Riley in her fight to save women’s sports.”

The event evoked an impassioned response from students at SF State. On March 30 — just a week before Gaines came to campus — TPUSA College Field Representative David Llamas posted videos on Twitter of his interactions with SF State students.

One video showed a student blowing their nose into a Riley Gaines poster as Llamas tabled for TPUSA in the quad. In another, he recorded a student after they allegedly smashed his iPad. “Get that shit out of my face,” the student demanded as Llamas followed them into the J. Paul Leonard Library. “This is the behavior of fascists,” he responded.

“You’re allowed to disagree with Riley,” Llamas said. “I’m sure that even Riley and I don’t see eyeto-eye on everything. We just want

to start a dialogue.”

After weeks of growing tension, Gaines spoke to a maximum capacity crowd of approximately 75 people in Room 310 of the HSS Building. Over 100 protesters filed into the hall outside of the venue, their chants of “trans women are women” bleeding into the room. Inside, another group of protesters passed around a black Sharpie to write messages on their faces: “Trans lives matter,” “Ur lame” and “You want me dead.” They stomped along to the rhythm of the chants pouring in from outside.

“I really am glad that a lot of people here don’t agree with me,” Gaines said. “I want to reach the people who don’t agree with me. What good would it be to sit here and talk with people who agree with me?”

As soon as the event concluded, numerous protesters from outside cascaded into Room 310. They swarmed Gaines, shouting and pumping their fists, as she backed into the corner of the room. Three officers from the University Police Department escorted Gaines away from the crowd, rushing her down the hall into Room 325. Approximately 50 protesters surrounded the door as UPD created a barricade around it.

For over three hours, pro-

testers stood their ground outside of the room. Behind them, a trans flag hung on the wall from thin strips of tape. They chanted, banged their fists against walls and danced to songs like money machine by 100 gecs and I Don’t

Like by Chief Keef as UPD collaborated with the San Francisco Police Department to safely extract Gaines. She was unable to leave campus until nearly midnight.

Gaines took to social media — and even national television —

to claim that she was punched by a “man dressed as a woman” during the frenzy.

“I was ambushed and physically hit twice by a man,” Gaines tweeted from inside the room. “This is proof that women need sex-protected spaces.” Golden Gate Xpress had eight reporters and Xpress Magazine had two inside and outside the event taking photos, recording video and observing from the time she arrived until she was ushered into the safe room. No staff witnessed the alleged assault

Protesters chant “Trans rights are human rights,” in the hallway outside of the event venue during Riley Gaines’ speech at SF State.
Riley Gaines speaks to a maximum capacity crowd of 75 people in Room 310 of the HSS Building at SF State. A majority of the crowd were protestors who organized a sit-in at the event.

by the person Gaines described.

The protest sparked an outcry from several prominent conservative figures, including Kirk himself. “Violent trans radicals assaulted Riley Gaines at a TPUSA event on campus at [SF State] tonight,” Kirk wrote in a tweet. “The Alphabet Mafia continues its terror.”

SF State President Lynn Mahoney resented the way in which conservative media misrepresented the event for political gain.

Mahoney said, “99.75% of our students, 23,390 students, did not participate in that protest in that hallway that day. But what I read in the press, ‘college campuses are full of lawlessness and leftist students are running amok.’ You know, come visit my campus. You know what our campus looked like on April 6? There were students all over the quad because it was a blissfully sunny day. There were students going to class.”

The protest was not the only response to the Gaines event at SF State. On the same day, the AS Queer & Trans Resource Center hosted an event of its own — a mixer in the student center to celebrate trans and queer athletes.

Queer & Trans Resource Center Director Chloe Simson and co-director Jeremy Lark believed that the mixer would be more productive than a direct demonstration of the Gaines event. However, they supported anybody who decided to protest.

“We had received requests from students to organize a protest movement, and we were considering setting that up,” Lark said. “But we have to acknowledge that that’s Turning Point’s MO. They want to create a big confrontation so that they can paint themselves as the silenced minority.”

In total, approximately 80 people attended the mixer. Roughly half of them made their way to the Gaines event afterwards.

Simson said the Queer & Trans Resource Center received numerous complaints from students who are not comfortable with TPUSA’s presence on campus. Within TPUSA’s first hour of tabling alone, Simson received 24 complaints.

“This was the first time I’ve seen anything this overtly transphobic on our campus,” Simson said. “This is very direct intimidation and discrimination.”

Mehdipour, who introduced Gaines at the event, said that violence actually stems from the side of trans advocates.

“We’re not harming anybody,” Mehdipour said. “First of all, what

happened in Nashville, Tennessee, three children and three adults got harmed by a shooter who happened to be transgender.”

Mehdipour is referring to a shooting that happened at a private Christian school in Nashville on March 27. The shooter, who identified as trans, killed three children and three staff members. According to statistics from Gun Violence Archive, there have been 2,861 mass shootings (four or more people shot or killed) since 2018. Only three of those shooters identified as trans.

Marc Stein, an SF State professor and historian of gender and sexuality, said that the portrayal of trans people in the media is creating harm.

“The problem that law has currently is that it maintains strict distinctions between physical harm and psychological harm,” Stein said. “Speech that can be

weeks after the initial conflict, Root prepared to deliver a speech on “wokeness” in the same room where Gaines spoke. There was just one problem: The event reportedly received over 800 RSVPs, and Room 310 has a maximum capacity of 75. Because of this, SF State decided that the location of Root’s speech had to be moved.

With no suitable alternate venues available, the university suggested rescheduling the event, hosting it over Zoom or proceeding somewhere off campus. TPUSA refused all of the above. Instead, they planned to move to the spacious quad; however, according to Root on Twitter, SF State “refused to provide proof that TPUSA students would not receive disciplinary action for hosting my speech in the quad.”

This prompted yet another move to nearby Stern Grove, but it

SF State take action against TPUSA. Not only are they calling for the organization to be removed from campus, but they also want the university to make a public statement denouncing TPUSA’s transphobia.

“Free speech does not prevent the university from making a statement against transphobia,” Simson said. “I’m very strongly encouraging the administration to make a stand because this is not something that can be overlooked.”

While President Mahoney has since written that Gaines’ views do not align with SF State’s commitment to inclusivity, there are still free speech considerations to be made.

“I wish there was a solution that kept everybody happy, but there isn’t,” Mahoney said. “So I’m just going to continue to do the same thing, which is ardently defend the rights of speakers to speak, regard-

directly linked to physical harm is not protected, but speech that causes psychological harm… today’s dominant understanding is that we can’t really do anything about that.”

Despite this, Stein expressed concerns about whether TPUSA’s rhetoric crosses the line of free speech.

“There’s a defamation and slander exception to free speech,” he said. “It’s in question about whether certain ways of referring to trans people might constitute defamation, slander or libel.”

Stein also questioned whether TPUSA’s event violated state obscenity laws or incited imminent unlawful activity, both of which are exceptions to free speech.

On April 19, less than two

wasn’t long before TPUSA realized that the park was closed due to storm damage. Stumped for the third time, a final location was selected: Merced Manor Reservoir, a nearly 20 minute walk away from campus.

Despite the 800 RSVPs, fewer than 70 people showed up. Without a microphone, Root talked about the Gaines situation, his words drowned out by music playing from a protester’s speaker. Behind the small convergence, a child learned how to ride their bike.

Meanwhile, back at campus, it seemed like everything was returning to normal. But that does not mean everybody was ready to forget what happened.

On behalf of trans students, Simson and Lark demanded that

less of whether they align with our community or with my personal values. But then I’m also going to continue to work with this university to make sure that those marginalized by divisive speech get the support they need.”

As the fight to remove Mehdipour’s organization from campus continues, he reflects on the future of TPUSA at SF State. He expects to graduate from the BECA department at the end of the Spring 2023 semester. While he might not be around to see what becomes of his TPUSA chapter, he believes that his work this semester will have a lasting impact on the campus.

“I hope I could make people awake,” Mehdipour said. “Because wokeness is destroying America. And I love America.”

But we have to acknowledge that that’s Turning Point’s MO. They want to create a big confrontation so that they can paint themselves as the silenced minority.

La Hora de la Verdad

Elsa Hernández se graduó el año pasado como trabajadora social, pero ahora no encuentra trabajo en su campo profesional

VESTIDA CON UN PANTALÓN corto negro y camisa azul, Elsa Hernández de 27 años, hacía sentadillas, respiraba rápido y con esfuerzo en su rostro contaba: ocho, nueve, diez. De esta forma, terminaba su rutina de gimnasio después de casi dos horas. Con rostro fatigado y sudor en la frente, Hernández respiró profundo y cerró sus ojos. “Estoy [en el gimnasio] para combatir mi estrés y ansiedad y dejar de pensar en mi futuro, ya que me estresa”, dijo Hernández.

En las próximas semanas, Hernández, quien se graduó en 2022 con la licenciatura en Arte de Trabajo Social en SF State, seguirá en la búsqueda de un empleo en el ámbito del trabajo social que le permita tener solvencia económica. Sin embargo, debido a su poca experiencia en el área de la salud, este objetivo resulta complicado. Durante su carrera en SF State, realizó un voluntariado en Healthy Choices AmeriCorps y Mission Graduates, ambas organizaciones en el campo de la Salud Pública.

“Nadie quiere contratar a una egresada sin experiencia, pero si nadie me da la oportunidad ¿cómo voy a poder desarrollarme en mi área?”, dijo Hernández.

Por ahora dejó su trabajo como hostess en el Hotel Riu en Fisherman ’s Wharf.

“Era un lugar tóxico y estresante, mi salud mental es lo más importante por ahora”, dijo Hernández, haciendo referencia al ambiente laboral del restaurante donde se sirven más de 1,000

desayunos para aquellos que visitan San Francisco. Hernández trabajaba más de ocho horas y hasta seis días a la semana, en un turno que iniciaba a las 5 de la mañana. El ambiente le parecía estresante al no contar con un espacio amplio para recibir a los huéspedes del hotel, y dada la poca organización de la gerencia había desafíos diarios.

El Consejero Profesional en SF State Víctor Yu, estudiante de postgrado en la universidad, trabaja medio tiempo en el Departamento de Desarrollo de Carrera y Liderazgo (CLD) ayudando a cualquier tipo de estudiantes con sus objetivos y metas, antes y después de graduarse. Afirma que su trabajo consiste en: “Ayudar a las personas a pasar por el proceso de reflexión e introspección, pensando en lo que es importante para ellos, en qué son buenos, y en qué quieren desarrollar más en un trabajo."

El CLD es la división que ofrece citas individuales de asesoramiento profesional para estudiantes sobre una serie de temas, desde la creación de un currículum y una cuenta de LinkedIn hasta la preparación para una entrevista. El CLD también organiza una serie de eventos, talleres y programas curriculares para preparar a los estudiantes para carreras posteriores a la graduación. Durante el otoño y la primavera, Yu tiene alrededor de 22 a 25 presentaciones diferentes que cubren una

Elsa Hernández observa la vista de la ciudad durante su visita de su nuevo trabajo. Designed by Claudia Acuña
Photograph by Andy Damián Correa

variedad de temas. Según Yu, SF State realiza alrededor de dos ferias de carreras cada semestre. El CLD trata de atraer al menos a 40 empleadores diferentes, para que los estudiantes que asisten a los eventos establezcan contactos y potencialmente reciban trabajos de tiempo parcial o completo.

“Como ex-alumno, creo que el mayor obstáculo es no comprender cuánto tiempo se necesita realmente para conseguir un trabajo y también cómo retratarte con precisión y calificarte para los próximos trabajos”, afirmó Yu.

Según Yu, el proceso de desarrollar una carrera profesional no debería comenzar después de terminar la universidad, sino cuando entras en la universidad.

“Cuando llegas, deberías estar pensando, ¿quién soy yo? ¿qué me gusta hacer? Si no tengo esas preguntas, empecemos a obtener esas respuestas”, dijo Yun.

“En el segundo y tercer año deberían estar pensando en qué es lo que les gusta hacer, cómo pueden obtener experiencia antes de que se gradúen, para que puedan decidir si esto es para mí o no, y puedan comenzar a tomar esas decisiones adecuadas cuando salgan de la universidad”, dijo Yu.

Afirma que los estudiantes sienten que tienen derecho a un trabajo y no hacen el trabajo preliminar, o no intentan entender lo que implica el trabajo o lo que pide.

“En lugar de pensar que esta hoja de papel te dará un trabajo, debes pensar en cómo perfeccionar tus habilidades”.

Yu considera que la parte más difícil para muchos de los estudiantes de SF State es que no han hecho el trabajo de preparación paratener la confianza que se necesita para ingresar al mundo profesional. Cada año, el CLD realiza una encuesta, preguntando a los destinatarios sobre su experienccia profesional posterior a la graduación, empleadores, escuela de postgrado profesional, entre otros datos.

Estos estudiantes son encuestados de forma continua y tienen la oportunidad de actualizar sus respuestas hasta seis meses después de recibir sus títulos. La Encuesta de Primer Destino (FDS) que ha recopilado la respuesta de egresados de la universidad desde el otoño del 2018 envía encuestas por correo electrónico a los estudiantes que se gradúan cada año académico del 1 de julio al 30 de junio.

Los índices generales de respuesta en

la SFSU para la FDS han oscilado entre el 15% y el 24%. La Asociación Nacional de Universidades y Empresarios (NACE) pone en contacto a más de 15,400 profesionales de los servicios de carreras universitarias y proveedores de soluciones empresariales que prestan servicio a la universidad. Esta ha determinado una tasa de respuesta institucional alcanzable del 65% en su reporte anual para SF State.

De acuerdo con el correo electrónico de Cori Miller, Director Interino del CLD, la División de Estudios de Posgrado y Desarrollo Profesional (GSCD) involucra a los profesores que desean asociarse con ellos en prácticas de asesoramiento de desarrollo profesional. Su objetivo es garantizar que los estudiantes estén mejor posicionados para la transición de la universidad a sus carreras.

“La misión del CLD es equipar a nuestra diversa población de estudiantes y exalumnos con recursos modernos que ayuden, guíen y fomenten su liderazgo, profesional y promoción profesional”, escribió Miller. “A través de los avances en tecnología y con personal listo para hacer un esfuerzo adicional, brindamos a los estudiantes las herramientas para tomar la iniciativa y sobresalir en sus proyectos futuros”.

Por ahora, la ex-estudiante Hernández seguirá buscando empleo como trabajadora social. Aunque no conocía los servicios ofrecidos por SF State, dijo que ahora intentará visitar por primera vez al departamento de CLD para prepararse mejor en la búsqueda de un trabajo que le permita un desarrollo profesional exitoso.

Scan the QR code for text in English
Victor Yu trabaja en el Centro de Desarrollo y Carreras y ayuda a los estudiantes con metas y objetivos antes y después de graduarse de SF State. Elsa Hernández aplica el depósito directo cada quincena en la oficina de recursos humanos. Photograph by Andy Damián Correa
Photograph by Chris Myers

Online to Prime Time

SF State Alumnus turned Rapper, Filmmaker, and Trailblazer

IN THE SUMMER of 2002, Ja Rule’s “Down 4 U,” the second single off the compilation album Irv Gotti Presents: The Inc., was No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Fascinated by its sound, Michael J. Payton assembled his cousins to record their own compilation album – writing songs and producing beats to emulate the album.

While always a fan of Ja Rule, Payton grew more intrigued with the man behind the music: Irv Gotti, hip-hop mastermind and CEO of Murder Inc. Records. Sitting in his NYU dorm room 16 years later and three years after graduating from SF State in 2015, Payton took out his laptop, inspired to tell the story of the world’s most notorious record label that seemingly vanished. He never imagined the unofficial documentary that came to life in his dorm room would lead to a job opportunity that would one day land his work on national television.

Murder Inc. became the self-proclaimed world’s most notorious record label in the early 2000s with a slew of chart-topping hits. Label artists like Ja Rule and Ashanti dominated the airwaves. Gotti, the genius behind it all, earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most consecutive weeks at No. 1 by the same producer. Gotti also helped cultivate the careers of artists like Jay-Z and DMX.

“I was always fascinated by Irv’s story and by the story of Murder Inc., and the label just kind of disappeared,” Payton said. “They were burning hot, and then they had 50 Cent, then they had a federal case, and they just kind of went away.”

When Michael J. Payton, an Oakland Native, was a kid, he aspired to one day become a rapper. Though his journey pivoted, now a filmmaker and social entrepreneur, he remains in a space of creativity and expression today.

While majoring in broadcast and electronic communication arts at SF State, Payton managed the campus radio station and hosted mini Coachella-style parties in The Depot, and even managed to bring rapper Waka Flocka Flame to campus, staying true to his hip-hop roots. Payton shot music videos for himself and other artists, such as San Francisco rapper and local legend San Quinn, and fellow SF State alumnus Voris Forte.

Former SFSU alumnUS of the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Art department, Michael J Payton, in his workspace at The Gathering Spot in Los Angeles. Design by Anton Visola & Aaron Charles-Rhymes

wThese backyard music videos gradually turned into YouTube documentaries, which set him on a path towards filmmaking.

Inspired by the success of promoting shows on campus, Payton started his own production company, M. Payton Multimedia Productions, the precursor to his current company, CSUITEMUSIC, “a company dedicated to bridging artistic expression with business, policy and community.”

Payton initially gained notoriety when he directed The Murder Inc. Story, a five-part documentary series that told the story of the record label’s rise and fall from greatness. Payton was given complete creative control of the project and interviewed icons such as Fat Joe, Ja Rule, Jay-Z and Nas to help narrate. Most recently, they’ve submitted the docuseries to be considered for an Emmy Award nomination.

Following the success of his documentary, Payton is now a sought-after director and producer. He’s currently working on a documentary about rapper Jay Z’s Shawn Carter foundation in addition to a documentary on Soul Beat, an Oakland television station known for its focus on music, culture and community.

The social justice sector has become an increasingly central part of his work. This year, along with the SFPD and San Francisco Human Rights Commission, Payton is at work on a project about crime prevention from a community standpoint that’s set to be released this summer.

“These are the projects I’m really super passionate about, because at the end of the day, you can do all the cool shiny documentaries all you want,” Payton said. “But if your work can’t be used to actually make other people’s lives better, then what are you doing?”

Payton credits SF State in playing a big role in his development as an artist and creative. One of his last musical projects was an EP titled 19th & Holloway, in which he rapped about his experiences at SF State and featured tracks, For U, and What to Even Say.

Jeff Jacoby, faculty advisor of SF State radio station KSFS, remembers Payton as smart, intellectually oriented, kind and genuinely caring about those around him. Even as a young undergrad, Payton turned heads with his work. Jacoby recalls one of Payton’s submissions to BECAfest, the department’s year-end showcase, in particular.

“Michael submitted a song to the music production category one year that was so full of expletives that he enraged some of the judges,” Jacoby said laughing. “I don’t remember if he won an award or not, but I remember that.”

Along with Jacoby, Payton acknowledges Dawn-Elissa Fischer, a professor of anthropology at SF State for being his biggest cheerleader and supporter.

“Just what she taught me in the classroom and all the opportunities she gave me to explore my filmmaking and hip-hop,” said Payton.

He also shouts out sought-after Africana studies lecturer Dave ("Davey D.") Cook for his expertise as a hip-hop historian on Payton’s project, The Murder Inc. Story. Cook recalls Payton’s go-getter attitude and potential even as a young undergrad.

“That sort of grit separates the successful

ones from the folks who just kind of stay stuck,” Cook said. “Taking initiative is a paramount in a world where most people are kind of just sitting around waiting.”

Payton impressed Cook as that young student and T.A. at SF State and continues to impress him on a professional level.

“He definitely established his own track,” Cook said. “You know him as Michael Payton, not Michael Jay-Z student. We know him as Michael Payton, not the guy who did Irv Gotti’s thing. He has his own reputation.”

As well as being a hip-hop enthusiast, Payton is a self-proclaimed political junkie, always looking to blend hip-hop culture and pop culture with policymaking and policymakers and changemakers.

“Maybe that’s because he’s from the Bay

community way back before people knew she was Jay-Z’s mom. Now she’s leveraging her son’s name and all the resources that he has to help give kids an opportunity.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. With that spirit in mind, Payton and his crew are at work on an upcoming documentary about Soul Beat, a Black-owned public access television network that started in Oakland in the 1970s. The channel acted as a platform for Black arts and culture.

“It gave a lot of hip-hop artists, and local hip-hop artists in the Bay Area a platform before there was social media. Before there was Twitter and TikTok,” Payton explains.

Those artists who stopped by Soul Beat on their way to stardom included Michael Jackson, Prince, MC Hammer, Too $hort, En Vogue and Tupac Shakur.

Soul Beat also highlighted local Black business and acted as a mirror for the city of Oakland, where residents could see a direct reflection of themselves on screen.

“That’s one thing that’s really near and dear to my heart, because I’m from Oakland,” said Payton.

While Payton joked about eating one too many burritos during his time at SF State and expressed his qualms about not living on campus, what he regrets most is not attending his own graduation ceremony, opting instead for only the more intimate department celebration. Eight years after his departure from SF State, and he’s more than ready to come back one day and give the commencement speech.

and the [Black] Panthers was from the Bay,” Sam Hicks, director of photography for the Murder Inc. Story, said of Payton. “But this guy is really a geek about politics.”

On the heels of the George Floyd riots, Payton participated in a panel discussion in San Francisco to explore what justice looks like from a community standpoint. SFPD Chief William Scott and Supervisor Shamann Walton were among the community leaders on the panel.

“There’s obviously a lot of mistrust between the community and law enforcement and vice versa, so hopefully we can start a conversation about how to heal that divide and have both community and law enforcement work together to solve some of these problems,” he said.

A scholarship from rapper Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter foundation funded Payton’s time at SF State, which came full circle when he interviewed Jay-Z for the official Murder Inc. documentary. He’s now graduated from scholarship recipient to filmmaker for the brand.

“He has the ability to build and nurture relationships, which in film making — especially as a director — is just as important as you being able to work with talent,” said Hicks. “I mean he has a relationship with Jay-Z’s mom!”

Payton’s currently at work on a documentary celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the foundation, highlighting the legacy that Jay-Z and his mother, Gloria Carter, have created through helping disadvantaged youths further their education.

“Education is huge and a big equalizer in our communities and our society,” said Payton. “And [Gloria Carter] was helping kids in the

“I’m just gonna put it out there — I’m giving the commencement,” Payton exclaimed.

Taking initiative is a paramount in a world where most people are kind of just sitting around waiting.
Former SF State alumnus of the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts department, Michael J. Payton, poses for the camera in his workspace at The Gathering Spot in Los Angeles.

WHILE ATTENDING Orange Coast College in Southern California, Jose visited a restroom outside of a chemistry lab. The restroom, Jose said, rarely saw visitors because it was tucked away at the back of campus. At the time, 18 years old, Jose identified as bi-curious.

He walks into a stall, locks the stall door, pulls down his bottoms and gets comfortable.

“I’m going to the restroom and I get to doing other stuff waiting for class,” he said. “Someone joins the stall next to me. They’re doing the same thing. You know, shoes move closer to each other.”

In bathroom stalls, a tap of the foot is the most common signal for “cruising,” or “the act of looking for sexual partners at a ‘beat’,” according to A Modern Gay’s Guide Jose’s visit to the bathroom unintentionally became his first same-sex sexual experience.

“It was a rush, heart pumping like, ‘Oh my God, what’s happening?’” Jose explained.

This phenomenon is not unique to Orange Coast College. College campuses across the nation are a hotspot for cruising. UCLA, Yale University and the University of Chicago have records of it.

At SF State, multiple locations on campus appear as active cruising spots on various gay and bisexual hookup websites. Most recently, Marcus Hall appeared on Sniffies — a hookup site popularly used for cruising — and the J. Paul Leonard Library, Thornton Hall and the HSS Building are listed as active cruising spots with short descriptions and the best time to visit.

“Locker room and shower in old gym,” one listing suggests. “Athletes come here so be discreet. Open showers and restrooms to play in, can easily hear people coming. Afternoons and evenings are best times.” According to Sniffies users, the third-floor bathroom in the Humanities Building gets the most foot traffic for cruising with hundreds of visits each month.

The earliest online record of cruising in the Humanities bathroom was in 2001 when an unknown user listed it on CRUISING for SEX, less than a decade after the Humanities Building was erected in 1994. It’s since appeared on Squirt and Cruising Gays – other dating and meetup apps,

which are known for access to quick, often anonymous hookups at public meetup spots.

Jose has since cruised on various campuses across California after transferring to UC Davis for his undergraduate degree and while pursuing his master’s degree at CSU Long Beach.

“By then I had a little bit more of that experience,” Jose said. “I knew where to look, what the signs were.” Subtle nuances in a person’s mannerisms — a certain look, nod, smirk or grab of the crotch — meant they were interested in pursuing a sexual relationship. These are meaningless gestures to most, but an obvious signal to some.

Jose, now 25 years old, said his first encounter helped him affirm his sexuality. “One positive of it is definitely that it lets you explore that stuff a little more discreetly,” he said. “So maybe if you’re not sure, maybe you’re still in the closet or anything, but you still want to try it privately, but also easily accessible.”

Brian Dodge and Michael Reece, researchers who have studied men who cruise for sex on college campuses wrote in the Journal of Homosexuality that “For some men, cruising plays an important role at a critical time in their

actively seeking opportunities to explore and understand their sexual orientation and identity.”

Most of the men who participated in Dodge and Reece’s research, however, already identified as gay or bisexual and reported a high level of comfort with their sexuality. They had rich social networks and multifaceted sex lives in which they chose to participate in cruising culture.

But cruising was not always a choice — rather, a necessity. For over a century, many U.S. states criminalized homosexual activity, so men who wanted to have sex with men often sought out public places that offered some privacy.

In September 2022, San Francisco resident Marcel C. founded SF BAYTORS, a community of men who celebrate nudity and masturbation as a form of self-love and self-care, in an effort to combat the shame of masturbation.

“If you’re just thinking back in gay history, being openly homosexual, you can lose your job, you can lose, you know, just kind of like everything,” Marcel said. “So men who were homosexual, bisexual really had to explore their sexuality in complete secret.”

They sought out bars, bathhouses, theaters and saunas for discreet sex. California passed the Consenting Adult Sex Bill in 1975, which repealed a sodomy law that previously prohibited gay sex. Still, it was taboo for men to have sex with men. Gay and bisexual men started accessorizing their outfits with leather bands and colored handkerchiefs to signal their sexual desires, and only those in tune with the culture knew the different symbols.

“In modern day, apps have sort of just really replaced the organic [method], how men would connect,” Marcel said. Apps like Grindr — a more popular example — act as a digital atlas for casual encounters for gay, bisexual and curious people, making cruising more accessible for the online generation.

Most apps follow the same format, with location-based data and user profiles. Typically, faceless, almost nude-bodied profiles occupy the majority of the platforms. The only identifiers are users’ “stats” like age, height, weight, endowment and

Photography by Myron Caringal Design by Junseo Kwon
Cruising for sex has been part of queer culture for decades; SF State’s campus is no exception
If you’re just thinking back in gay history, being openly homosexual, you can lose your job, you can lose, you know, just kind of like everything. So men who were homosexual, bisexual really had to explore their sexuality in complete secret.

body type. Users can also describe their sexuality, interests and sexual health.

“The organic [method], it’s a lot less often, but when it happens, it’s a bit more of a rush,” Jose said. “But then with the [social] media aspect of it, you’ve at least had a chance to talk to the person, maybe trade some pictures or something.”

Cruising-specific apps list non-private, outdoor and indoor locations for meetups, which vary from parks, gyms, hotels, spas, public restrooms and parking lots.

However, there are still laws that prevent cruising in public spaces.

California Penal Code 647 Chapter 2 states, “An individual who solicits anyone to engage in or who engages in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view” is guilty of disorderly conduct.

It goes on to say anyone “who loiters in or about any toilet open to the public for the purpose of engaging in or soliciting any lewd or lascivious or any unlawful act” is considered guilty of a misdemeanor.

On SF State’s campus, there have been multiple police reports filed for indecent exposure, including one in 2016 when a male victim, “noticed an unknown male suspect approach him from behind, turned around and saw that the suspect had his

sniffies users describe the humanities bathroom as a "Campus Spot for Fun," accompanied by "most popular for cruising on weekdays in the afternoon," and a thumbs-up icon labeling the bathroom as "very popular."

pants pulled down and was masturbating” in the gymnasium’s locker room.

SF State administration did not respond to a request for comment.

But these laws haven’t stopped San Francisco’s sex-positive culture and queer community.

“Most cities, even LA, there aren’t parks and nude beaches and theaters, it’s just, it’s not a thing like that,” Marcel said. “San Francisco has bars and clubs and theaters, and there’s spaces specifically designed for men — like Steamworks, EROS — these bathhouses were meant to really engage in activity.”

According to the most recent data available from a Gallup study, San Francisco maintains the highest percentage of LGBTQ+ adults in a large metropolitan area; 6.2% of San Francisco adults identified as LGBTQ+ in the study, 2.6% higher than the national average.

“Historically, there has always been a cruising presence in San Francisco, there’s a high-density population of gay men and the fact that Folsom [Street Fair], Dore [Alley], Bearrison [Street Fair], like these spaces sort of exist, it’s just acknowledging that sex-positivity is a real thing,” Marcel said. “It’s very contemporary and forward of San Francisco to allow these spaces to really exist.”

Apps like Grindr — a more popular example — act as a digital atlas for casual encounters for gay, bisexual and curious people, making cruising more accessible for the online generation.


Companies on forefront of autonomous vehicle production continue to expand onto San Francisco streets

A CRUISE VEHICLE with its hazards flashing slows and then comes to a stop, blocking the right lane as cars head east down Fulton. It’s dark and late at night, about 10 p.m. It’s hard to see too far ahead, but there doesn’t seem to be an accident. It’s an immobile vehicle, completely empty. No driver or passengers. Many passersby do a double take, but for San Francisco locals, instances like this have become increasingly normal. That stalled vehicle is simply one of the many self-driving cars operating on the streets of San Francisco.

If you’ve spent time driving in San Francisco, you’ve likely seen an autonomous vehicle—a car without a human operating from behind the wheel from one of three major companies. Cruise, Waymo and Zoox (owned by General Motors), Alphabet Inc. (parent company of Google) and Amazon respectively, have filled the city’s streets with self-driving, or autonomous, cars.

The vehicles, differing in design from company to company, drive mostly normal. They don’t speed; they stay between the lines on either side of the lane they’re driving in and use blinkers often. However, it remains unclear just how ready autonomous vehicles are ready for mass deployment.

Cruise is the only company that has been approved by state organizations to charge for driverless rides. Still, the company is restricted in the hours and areas of operation.

Currently, the driverless company provides rides at night on lower-density San Francisco streets with a maximum of 30 vehicles.

Collisions reported in 2022 and 2023 and traffic caused by confused AI have led to questions about public safety from San Francisco residents and public officials.

Throughout 2022, there were 134 collisions involving autonomous vehicles from Cruise, Waymo and Zoox reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). By April 2023, there had been 36 collisions. These collision reports are self-submitted by the AV companies to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and provide brief summaries of the incidents. Some are more descriptive than others. Many clarify in their final sentences, “No police were called.”

Collisions don’t tell the whole story of autonomous vehicles though.

In many of the reported cases this year, the autonomous vehicles weren’t the party at fault. In one early march collision, a car doing donuts at the intersection of Polk and Sutter struck a Cruise vehicle making a legal left turn.

From March 21 to March 23, Cruise autonomous vehicles were involved in six reported incidents. One ran into the back of a San Francisco Muni bus, while two others ran into power lines downed by March’s intense winds.

District 3 Supervisor and President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Aaron Peskin is working to make sure rides in autonomous vehicles are not rolled out to the public too hastily.

Peskin has said that while he and other city

officials would love to “regulate the living shit out of AVs,” it largely falls outside their jurisdiction. For the most part, regulation of self-driving cars is the job of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to a representative from the CPUC, the organization doesn’t actually authorize AV operation on public roads. That duty falls to the California DMV, which tracks the number of registered AVs in the state. The CPUC said in an email that while its jurisdiction is specifically over the transportation of passengers in AVs, any operator of vehicles without relevant DMV permits for AV vehicles could face suspension.

In November 2022, Peskin proposed a declaration of city policy in regard to autonomous vehicles. The proposition, adopted by the board of supervisors unanimously, urged these and similar organizations to “condition the granting of permits” to AV companies and prioritize San Francisco public safety.

“The city has basically said, repeatedly, we want to work with these companies, and we don’t want to fight with them,” Peskin said. “Our job is to make sure that our public rights of way continue to function at the highest levels, and that pedestrians and motorists are safe.”

Tilly Chang is the executive director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA). One of the main focuses of

Story by Oliver Michelsen Photography by Oliver Michelsen Design by Chantal Gerwe
Cars driving on Oak Street and Kezar Drive in San Francisco. Autonomous vehicles are seen more frequently in certain areas of the city due to companies like Cruise’s limited areas of operation.

the SFCTA, outside of its “transit first” policy, is congestion management, according to Chang.

When rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft were increasing in popularity, the SFCTA determined their impact on city traffic through a partnership with Northeastern University. However, according to Chang, tracking the effects of AVs has been more difficult.

Due to different reporting requirements from different agencies and a desire to protect trade secrets, companies share little data with city transportation agencies and officials. This has led to SFCTA employees using more informal means to collect data, combing through social media and call logs to local service lines like 311 and 911.

In Cruise’s latest application to the CPUC, Chang said, they are asking to expand their services to the entire city at all hours with “an unlimited number of vehicles.”

The San Francisco Police Department has its own set of guidelines for engaging with and citing autonomous vehicles. Drivers operating vehicles in an autonomous-driving mode without proper permits can be cited by the police. However, no procedure has been established for pulling over or citing driverless vehicles; still police need to respond to calls regarding AVs.

According to public records from the SFPD, officers responded to 15 instances of property damage caused by autonomous vehicles as of April 8. 14 of the 15 incidents involved Cruise vehicles.

Others have also expressed concerns about proposed fleet expansions. Mark Gruberg has been driving taxis in San Francisco for 40 years and is a board member of the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance (SFTWA). Nowadays Gruberg drives about two days a week and spends most of his time as an administrator.

“It’s a promising technology,” he said. “There’s no doubt that it’s coming. There’s no doubt that it’s going to be a major portion of future transportation. But is this all premature? Are they going too fast?”

Gruberg also posited that any business poached by autonomous robotaxi companies would likely be coming from Uber’s and Lyft’s pool of younger clientele willing to try out the “scary technology.”

“I don’t see [AVs] as an immediate threat to cab drivers’ livelihoods,” Gruberg explained. I think the rollout… is going to be slower than these companies would hope… They still have not proved that they can operate on a large scale across the city and do that safely and efficiently.”

According to some experts, fully-autonomous vehicles outside of major cities are likely still a ways away.

Zhuwei Qin Ph.D. is an assistant professor of Computer Engineering at SF State and studies deep learning and computer vision, two of the essential components in operating autonomous vehicles. In the field of computer vision, Qin noted that there has been major progress over the past five to six years with regards to accuracy and computational efficiency, but he feels the industry is reaching a bottleneck.

Camera, radar and LiDAR sensors all use different processes to visually map out surrounding areas for AVs. LiDAR stands

for “light detection and ranging,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which uses the technology to map shorelines and the Earth’s surface.

LiDAR technology, Qin noted, while more efficient in many ways, is much more expensive. Vehicles from Cruise and Waymo use a multiple-sensor approach to computer vision utilizing camera, radar and LiDAR technology in their vehicles.

This, in theory, makes the drive safer than say a Tesla due to the fact that the vehicles are receiving more data to make decisions on the road. However, even these more advanced systems have limitations.

“It is extremely challenging to achieve 100% accuracy for computer vision-related accidents,” Qin explained. “[Cruise and Waymo] probably will eventually have higher accuracy than the Tesla self-driving car. But if they can, you know, make sure that self-driving is fully safe — I’m still in doubt about that.”

Qin suggested that the next step in safely integrating AVs onto the road might consist of these vehicles communicating with one another and their environments. Right now, self-driving cars operate as isolated systems, navigating roads solely off of data from their camera, radar and LiDAR sensors. If these isolated systems could communicate and share information with each other, then even more data would be available for the operating systems to make safer driving decisions.

Self-driving software is being updated daily. On April 3, Cruise submitted a safety recall report to the CPUC after the incident where one of their vehicles ran into the back of a Muni bus. According to the report, the car’s vision technology at the time couldn’t comprehend or predict the movement of the “articulated” bus. An update has since been issued to the company’s fleet of 300 driverless vehicles.

Though Cruise is currently limited to operating with 30 driverless vehicles at a time, if their application to expand services is accepted by the CPUC, the company has parking lots full of vehicles ready to be released onto San Francisco streets. According to state DMV records, Cruise has 300 registered vehicles in their driverless fleet but 700 vehicles throughout the state. Waymo follows with 301 vehicles allocated for their driverless fleet and 362 cars total.

With Cruise’s newest application to the CPUC still pending, city officials are preparing for what comes next. Peskin said that there are areas where the city can exert control.

“I think what’s next is whether or not the city is going to continue to be cooperative over issuing conditional use authorizations for electrical vehicle charging facilities… whether the city is going to be cooperative as it relates to where they can park and where they can be stored,” he said. “All of that is within our authority… if they don’t work with [us], the city’s gonna be left with no choice but to use the tools that are at its disposal to get their attention.”

A Cruise lot in San Francisco filled with autonomous vehicles. The company submitted a request to the CPUC to expand their fleet size and area of operation. The request has yet to be approved.

SF State’s Hidden Piano

The piano at The Depot provides students a space to practice and to listen to music

AS THE CONSTANT CHATTER and restaurant clamor fill the upper levels of Cesar Chavez Student Center, piano music fills the lower levels of the building.

The melodies of Satie, Mozart, Bach, Chopin and Tchaikovsky travel past pint glasses around The Pub to the pool tables of Rack-N-Cue.

The walk from the entrance to the lower level of the building has become a tunnel that leads to the music. And the beeping communal microwaves are the only complementary instruments to the piano.

According to Associated Students Senior Director of Productions and SF State alumnus Horace Montgomery, there has been a piano at the student center even before he graduated in 2002.

Montgomery said it is essential for students to have spaces on campus where they can hangout and unwind.

“It is important to give students a space, so we try to have creative spaces,” Montgomery said. “As a student, I was a big supporter of these spaces.”

The piano is located directly across from the stage at The Depot and is open to anyone who wants to play. Oftentimes, students perform their own compositions or even collaborate by singing or playing alongside fellow students.

Students often play throughout the entire day, but lunch hours are at the peak of activity.

According to sophomore Zaza Martinez, the piano is an important part of student life at SF State.

“I just love coming here and listening to the beautiful music students perform,” Martinez said. “Sometimes I perform too, but I really enjoy just relaxing and appreciating.”

Martínez said that during midterms and finals, it is important to have these places to disconnect.

“The semester can get stressful,” Martinez said. “I love coming here to decompress between classes.”

Creative Arts, now the College of Liberal and Creative Arts, donated the current piano two years ago because the previous one, which was in the building for at least 20 years, needed major repairs. At the time, LCA also offered a grand piano, but it was too large to fit in The Depot.

Montgomery said he was impressed with how well students play.

“There’s always someone really damn good playing down there,” Montgomery said. “It is the perfect fit for that space.”

Students Jonathan Flores, Maria Dimalanta, Reena Yamat, and Nathanael Cabrales, Play and sing around the Piano at the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Photograph by Ashley Hayes-stone Photograph by benjamin fanjoy
coming here and
to the beautiful
Scan the QR code for an inside look at the SF State Piano.
I just love
music students perform.
Photograph by Ashley Hayes-stone Photograph by benjamin fanjoy


Years of COVID-19

It’s been three years since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The virus disrupted our day-to-day lives as the world was put on pause. It was a shared experience across the globe and impacted nearly everyone. According to WHO, there have been over 1,115,000 reported deaths in the United States and almost seven million deaths worldwide. Here’s a look at three years of coronavirus through photos by Golden Gate Xpress staff.


Lorenzo Ramos holds up his phone to show the number of signatures he had gathered via his online petition for SF State to cancel face-to-face classes in the wake of COVID-19. As cases were increasing, SF State President Lynn Mahoney announced via email that classes were canceled and students moved to online instruction. Faculty and students faced the challenge to quickly switch, learn and effectively teach course materials online.


A group social distances in their cars at the Newport Aquatic Center parking lot in Newport Beach. Over the next several months, the number of Californians hospitalized rose slightly even as more people sheltered in place and practiced physical distancing. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide shelter-in-place order in March 2020. At the start of April 2020, there were 20,975 cases reported and 318 deaths.


Jessica Garzaro receives a nasal swab COVID-19 test as a mandatory requirement for students living on campus at the University Park North testing site. Now, all students regardless of the mode of instruction are required to upload proof of vaccination or request an exemption for medical or religious reasons. The Biden Administration announced two mass vaccination sites would open mid-February.

Beth Hellwig, former interim vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, receives her first dose of the PfizerBioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Mashouf Wellness Center on March 2021. Hellwig received her vaccine when the state was in phase one of vaccine distribution, limited to ages 65 and up.

2021 3
Photograph by Jun Ueda Photograph by David Sjostedt Photograph by Saylor Nedelman Photograph by jun ueda

June august

Alex Singh holds up a sign that reads "Racism is a Pandemic," during a peaceful protest against police brutality and systemic racism in front of SF State at 19th and Holloway. The murder of George Floyd ignited protests across the country, and 2020 became known to many Americans as the year of the protest. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) recorded more than 10,600 demonstrations across the U.S.; around 95% were peaceful protests.

Sam Kaleh, owner of Lucca Food Deli and Wine Shop in the Outer Sunset, waits behind the register for customers. COVID19 orders required stores to put together a plan to enforce social distancing like a 6-foot separation between customers.

March September

SF State announced it would maintain its indoor masking policy through the remainder of Spring 2022 semester. This came after San Francisco eased its COVID-19 mask orders and requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test.

SF State has lifted its mandatory indoor masking protocols and has made wearing one “strongly recommended.” Students and faculty are no longer required to wear masks on campus for the first time since March 2020. Universities in California made their decisions independently when the statewide mandate ended.

Photograph by Bianca Heredia Photograph by Juliana Yamada Photograph by Emily Curiel
Photograph by Sean Reyes

Brutalist? Or Just Brutal to Look At?

WHAT’S THE FIRST THING visitors to SF State notice? The grassy quad? The flashy library? The long line at Quickly?

The large number of concrete buildings. SF State’s buildings don’t share much in common design-wise, except for the heavy presence of one building material: concrete. The Cesar Chavez Student Center, Thornton Hall and Student Health Services are dominant campus structures with concrete exteriors.

Concrete is often associated with Brutalism, the architectural style that emerged in the 1950s and early 1960s.

According to the Royal Institute of British Architects, Brutalist architecture “create[s] a sense of mass.” Brutalism rejects decorative features and remains minimalist. Geometric lines, odd shapes, contrasting textures — all of these are used to create a “memorable, powerful image.”

Brutalist design, wrote architect Simon Henley in Redefining Brutalism, started as “a design philosophy, not a style.” Darlene Tong, former architecture librarian at SF State echoed this via email: Brutalism involves “exposing the building’s inner workings rather than hiding building elements like utility lines, pipes, conduits, etc.”

Tong agreed that brutalist elements can be found in the student center. Tubes with giant vents for the below-ground floors sit in the dining hall. Massive concrete beams connect diagonally inside and out, and unpainted concrete staircases sit outside. Rather than hide the structure, architect Paffard Keatinge-Clay put it on full display.

Le Corbusier, a French Swiss architect Keatinge-Clay trained with, named the style “béton brut.” In French, the phrase translates to “raw concrete,” a practical description of the material’s condition. But Henley argues the term adapted a new meaning when translated. “Brutal,” in English, connotes harshness.

Brutalism, Tong explained, frequently used this “exposed, unpainted concrete.” A building isn’t inherently Brutalist because it’s made with concrete. But concrete is often employed in Brutalist design. Henley wrote, “the two are hard to separate in the collective psyche.”

The association may have ultimately dragged down Brutalism’s reputation. Because

concrete can be cheap building material, it’s often used in cheap, ugly buildings that aren’t actually brutalist. Affordability, not architecture, may have drawn many government and campus buildings to feature concrete.

In particular, Brutalism gained a bad reputation at universities because of a popular theory that administrations used the architectural style — with its imposing shapes, odd entrances and complex floor plans — to deter riots after the student movements of the late ’60s. J. Bryan Lowder, writing for Slate, argues this is a myth. The dates don’t add up: Most brutalist buildings were built in the 1950s and early 1960s, when college administrations couldn’t have predicted the unrest to come. The more likely reason: Concrete was cheap.

But, timeline-wise, it might not be a myth for the SF State’s Brutalist student center. The idea of a student union came about in the mid-’60s. In 1969, students approved a design by architect Moshe Safdie that also contained Brutalist elements. But the Board of Trustees rejected it for structural concerns. The rejection coincided with large-scale protests and strikes on SF State’s campus. Faculty even required the board to approve Safdie’s design in their strike demands to show solidarity with students. Safdie was ultimately removed from the project; KeatingClay replaced him. Construction started in 1973, and the student center opened two years later.

Tong said that, though it may be just rumor, she heard that Keating-Clay’s design was chosen “because there were not large open spaces in it for ‘student protest congregations.’” So, while far from confirmed, it is possible the protests had an effect on the design.

Whether or not the buildings were actually Brutalist or intended to limit dissent, the fact that governments and universities frequently used concrete — with what some consider a cold architectural style — drew an association in the public’s mind between Brutalism and totalitarianism.

This association is ironic, as brutalism pushed against repression and order, defying the status quo in its refusal to hide structural elements. As Henley wrote, brutalism “stripped back rendered surfaces and allusive images to reveal the concrete physicality of things.”

SF State’s buildings have brutalism’s trademark building material and cold vibe But, aside from the student center, are any buildings on campus brutalist?

According to Tong, no.

“There are a lot of ugly buildings on the SF State campus,” Tong wrote, “but [they] don’t seem to me to fit the bill of ‘brutalist’ architecture.”

Image is Side view of SF State’s Thornton hall with the repetitive structure of concrete frames and small windows. Story by Sarah Bowen Photography by Leilani Xicontencatl Design by Alicia Montoya Hernandez


WHEN TALKING ABOUT higher education, death is often not involved in the discussion. It is, however, a part of life and thus a part of the college experience. We wanted to recognize the faculty we lost this academic year in our community. We also want to acknowledge that we aren’t perfect, we surely missed somebody on this list, but our outreach is limited and we did our best to include all the names of our fellow Gators up until the day we sent this publication to the printer. May they be survived by the SF State community.

Andrew Speight School of Music

Phil Klasky Ethnic Studies

Jerry Needleman Philosophy

Hamzah Al-Saudi

One of the losses that had a great impact campuswide was that of a student-athlete. Hamzah Al-Saudi went missing off the coast of Pacifica on the morning of Jan. 19, just days before the beginning of the spring semester. A wrestler since his freshman year of high school at Palisades High in Santa Monica, Al-Saudi embodied the definition of grit when he became the team’s unofficial “punching bag” due to his inexperience, yet he still decided wrestling was his path to something greater. Al-Saudi is still considered “missing,” according to state officials.

Elana Dykewomon English Hamzah Al-Saudi (Right) poses with his wrestling teammates. Photograph by albert juliano
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