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Cover photo taken by Kincso Domiczi. While Caliber is a part of the Associated Students of the University of California at Berkeley, the content of the magazaine does not reflect the opinions of the ASUC in any way.







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Letter from the Editor If there is one lesson we come to internalize as students at UC Berkeley, it is the undeniable truth that education and community are inextricably linked. Each individual comes to Berkeley with unique - and often highly ambitious - expectations for their college career. But what we often fail to foresee are all the ways in which our experiences are shared, sometimes in rather deeply rooted, unexpected ways. It is in forming these bonds, both apparent and not-so-apparent, that we find the support we need to persevere in our endeavors and benefit from the most rewarding aspects of the intense personal growth that the college experience entails. In Issue 15, we tap into a few of the many communities of students, artists, engineers, and activists that comprise the Berkeley community and whose reach extends beyond the confines of our campus. We take critical look at the Berkeley community’s efforts to support women in the tech industry and students who stutter, as well as its relationship to activism and political dissent. We ask experts in the highly interdisciplinary field of Digital Humanities to share their cutting-edge research and give a sneak peek into a freshman seminar centered around the question we all ask ourselves: what do we ultimately want in life? We analyze the common process of mind wandering from a psychological perspective to re-discover the phenomenon in an unexpectedly positive light, and we question how our Fair Trade coffee affects communities we are more interconnected with than we might think. We also invite writer and educator Jade Cho to discuss the vital role that community plays in her own creative process. We hope this issue encourages you to take a closer look at the communities in which you are involved and how your individual strengths allow you to play a uniquely crucial role within them. We also hope that you are able to recognize and appreciate how much strength you derive from the support of these communities, as well as the strength that each community receives from you.

a note:

With love, Mieko Anders Editor-in-chief












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Table of contents

Mind-Wandering as a Creative Process

Does Academic Reading Ruin Pleasure Reading?

(Un)Fair Trade: Understanding the Positives and Negatives of Fair Trade Certification

Where is the Power in Protest? PHOTOSPREAD Tony Zhang: All Good


Digital Humanities: A (Relatively) New Approach to the Humanities 35


PHOTOSPREAD Suzi Hyun: Channing Way 50

Figures of Speech: A Spotlight on Cal Students Who Stutter


57 62 64

How to Change the World with a Doll and Fifteen Years Breaking the Silicon Ceiling

Living Life Wisely

Restaurant Review: Poutine Without Borders



mindwanDeRInG as a CReatIVe PrOCESS Text by Olivia Lewke Photos by Sitara Bellam 1



any of us allow our minds to wander throughout our days as we walk from place to place and while we complete menial tasks. Our thoughts drift so naturally to other matters that we find it difficult to pinpoint the exact moment that we begin to leave behind task-oriented thought. What’s for dinner tonight? Which email should I respond to first? How much time am I going to have to spend on my problem set or my reading? Allowing ourselves to disconnect from a structured line of thought can come as a relief after a long day. Berkeley’s intense academic climate demands so much of our brains that taking a break with some daydreaming is almost a luxury. Living in a space that is constantly overflowing with stimuli can be draining, and we may engage in cognitive processes that allow us to cope with this environment more often than we realize. The shift in cognitive process to a type of “zoned out” or dream-like state has recently become the focus of psychological study, and has been given the name mind-wandering. We’re all familiar with the process of disengaging from our immediate surroundings to play out a different train of thought, but this simple process conflicts with contemporary attempts to define what we experience as consciousness. The gener-

ally accepted definition of consciousness among cognitive scientists and psychologists is the awareness of experience. While allowing ourselves to drift to another mental space as we engage in simple activities seems rather commonplace, it actually presents an interesting dilemma: are we aware of having an experience if our mind is simultaneously occupied, even if the competing occupation can be related to something as simple as a daydream or plan for later in the day? Because we might be unaware of our thoughts while we daydream without any real cognitive focus, researchers question whether the processes of daydreaming and mindwandering happens through consciousness, or outside of it. Furthermore, recent studies have linked mind-wandering, which we usually consider to be a means of entertaining ourselves when we’re bored, to the a part of the brain directly involved with creative generation. It’s comforting to know that we can derive cognitive and creative benefits just from giving our minds a break! While the actual process of mind-wandering is rather nebulous and difficult to define because it encompasses most types of daydreaming, a study published in the Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology by University of California Santa Barbara professors, Benjamin Mooneyham and Jonathan Schooler, alludes to three functional categories for mind-wandering. The first is future thinking, or the mediation on what future events might come to pass. This classification of mind-wandering obviously plays a large role in our daily lives because the ability to allow ourselves to anticipate events and imagine potential outcomes is essential to how we mediate between our present and our future. When we imagine what the rest of our days might be like, or how we should manage the rest of the week, we engage in a type of associative thought that doesn’t always have a clear end or goal. Future thinking allows us to map out what might happen to us later in the immediate or extended future, and it serves as an imaginative process through which we are able to create narratives of our own futures. The second classification of mind-wandering is creative thinking, which involves the psychological process called “incubation.” Of course, we’re not laying and hatching little brain eggs continually as we go about our daily business; rather, incubation refers to the unconscious recombination of thought elements that were once present in conscious thought. In simpler terms, something we were initially consciously occupied with becomes submerged in our unconsciousness, and is further developed beneath the scope of our awareness. Incubation usually occurs when our brains are not strenuously occupied by a difficult task, and when we’re working on activities that don’t require the entirety of our mental focus. If this reminds you of the conditions under which mind-wandering occurs, you’ve made the right connection! It’s precisely when we’re allowed to assume a position of cognitive relaxation that our brains are allowed to deal with the products of its underlying creative processes. Sometimes our best ideas randomly occur to us in the middle of completing mundane tasks. I often hear other writers and artists complaining that they had their best ideas for a piece of art or writing that they’re working on while in the middle of a mind-numbing task. They wish that they could have had such inspiration when they were sitting in



front of their notebook or easel and consciously trying to think of a new idea. This sudden inspiration that strikes in the middle of the most mundane processes may not do so out of random coincidence. By allowing our minds to drift and process more complex matters under the notice of our immediate awareness, we put ourselves in an ideal state for receiving the finished products of what our subconscious has been cultivating. So it’s not quite so surprising that we’re struck with sudden inspiration while we’re commuting home or doing our laundry! The third classification of mind-wandering is dishabituation. Habituation refers to the lack of response to stimulus, or in terms of activities, feeling as though a task has become overly monotonous and losing interest in the stimulus that it provides. This feeling sounds uncomfortably familiar, doesn’t it? Allow me to bring your attention to a rather helpful means of regaining interest in even the most draining reading assignments! Mind-wandering allows the potential for dishabituation, or a way to disengage from a draining process. By letting our thoughts to drift to other matters through associative mind-wandering, we give ourselves a form of cognitive relief. Most of us are accustomed to taking quick breaks during longer hours of work to allow ourselves to recharge between intervals of intense focus. We’ve all sat in Moffitt or Main Stacks for hours on end, then suddenly realized that we’ve allowed our minds to drift off to other matters while we were taking a quick break. Mind-wandering plays a role in making what seems intolerably boring at one moment into something that is relatively interesting, or at least manageable, when we return to it from a short break of daydreaming. After gaining an initial understanding of its creative benefits, mind-wandering seems to be a fabulous and incredible creative feature of our consciousness. However, many psychologists consider mind-wandering to be an ultimately detrimental process, as it draws our mind away from conditions of the present. In an article for Psychology Today, Harvard psychologists Matthew Kilingsworth and Daniel Gilbert argue that “the ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.” They consider mind-wandering an intrusion of the non-present upon the present. While allowing ourselves to disconnect from our environments may be helpful for creativity, it also prevents us from engaging with the world and being an active participant in our experiences. Mindwandering certainly seems to be at odds with practices of mindfulness and the idea that one should be fully immersed and present in each moment. The process of mind-wandering is associated with parts of the brain called the default node network, which is an interconnected group of brain structures that are hypothesized to be part of the same system. The default node network refers to the parts of the brain that are active when one is relaxed, and was discovered when researchers found specific patterns of cerebral blood flow when participants of a study were at rest. There is no consensus over which portions of the brain may be associated with the default node network, but it seems to be most active when we are, according to the website Neuroscientifically Challenged, “daydreaming, recalling memories, envisioning the future, monitoring the environment, and thinking about the intentions of others.”



The common thread connecting these types of thought is the process of thinking without a particular goal. There is not necessarily a definitive end or goal to these types of thought, and thus the type of consciousness that the default node network helps produce is more focused on the actual process of thought itself than creating a definitive result. It’s interesting to try and notice moments in which we find ourselves just thinking for the sake of thinking. Not trying to figure out a problem or scheduling conflict, but just engaged in the process of having thoughts themselves. The more we pay attention to our mind’s ability to wander, the more we can appreciate our consciousness and awareness for their true profundity. Perhaps the very nature of mind-wandering as a process that we cannot fit into accepted definitions of consciousness and awareness is analogous to our inability to determine whether mind-wandering is definitively detrimental or beneficial. There are no simple answers when it comes to how we would like to perceive the world, and even the attempt to define consciousness and daydreaming is messy when you consider the incredible diversity of personalities, individuals, and minds. Personally, I would not like to live in hyperawareness of each moment, or without the ability to detach from my present state and explore different types of thought. Allowing yourself to be carried by your own consciousness can be one of the most exciting creative processes you can embark on, and you may stumble upon new ideas and parts of yourself along the way. However, there does seem to be a clear danger in allowing oneself to be consumed by an internal world at the expense of the external world. Many of us, myself included, could use some practice with fully engaging in our environments. In a place like Berkeley that is overflowing with stimuli, retreating into our own minds almost serves as a safety mechanism to prevent ourselves from becoming overwhelmed by everything that the present moment can hold. Perhaps the key to becoming a successfully aware individual while also maintaining a balance of creative introspection lies in mediating between moments that deserve our entire intellectual presence, and moments which can be used to explore the natural pathways of thought. ✍

Does academic reading ruin pleasure reading?

Text by Molly Kearnan Photos by Sarah Lee @CALIBERMAG - VOL 15



eading has been my favorite pastime since before I could read. This statement may sound fundamentally contradictory, but it remains inherently true. Most of my earliest memories involve my mother, an English major herself, reading stories to me about the adventures of fairies, Greek mythological heroes, and vivacious kindergarteners. Once I learned how to read, I would spend hours hidden away with my books, eagerly getting lost amongst characters and worlds that were not my own. This passion for reading continued throughout my years at school and translated into a love for writing and an enthusiasm for English class. When I got to college, it seemed only natural that I follow my passion by majoring in English. Though I toyed with the idea of other majors and grew up facing the Silicon Valley belief that majoring in English was useless compared to majoring in engineering, I always knew that nothing else would interest me as much as English did. Speaking to other avid readers, however, I began to realize that many of my friends who I had assumed would major in English were, in fact, choosing other majors, partly due to a fear that majoring in English would negatively affect their enjoyment of reading and writing. This particular thought had never occurred to me. Would being an English major ruin the pleasure of reading? Does pursuing reading and writing in an academic setting ruin one’s appreciation for them in a non-academic setting? These questions are complex, but they can be answered through experience. With your first foray into collegiate English, you are introduced to a world where academic reading can be just as interesting and exciting as pleasure reading. The difference between the two, seemingly lies in what you get out of it. With academic reading, you read for the specific language used, for the way in which the narrative is developed, for the message the text is trying to communicate, for the literary tradition the author adheres to or strays away from. With pleasure reading, you read for the story, for the characters, for the feeling that engulfs you when you get lost in another world. This is not to say that one is better than the other, but rather that each type of reading offers something of equal, though different, merit. There is a certain freedom in pleasure reading that is not available in academic reading; if you begin reading a book for pleasure and discover that you don’t enjoy it, you are completely free to put it down and never to return to it again. In pleasure reading, you are entirely your own master. With academic reading, however, if you don’t like the book you are still obligated to trudge through it, no matter how



dense the language, no matter how many pages, no matter how irritating you find the narrator. After begrudgingly completing the reading, you show up to lecture the next day accompanied by your new-found discovery of a hatred for William Faulkner. Complaining aside, I have found that both the most troubling and beautiful aspects of studying English are the grey areas that arise when you read a book in an academic setting that you would also read for pleasure, or when you begin to read a book for pleasure and find that you are reading it as you would a book for class. Reading a book for class that you would read (or have already read) outside of class for pleasure can make you less willing to analyze and annotate it like you would any other academic text as you may be wary of letting such techniques keep you from enjoying the story. The overhanging fear is that if you treat every book you read as you would treat an academic text, it will always feel as if you are working and negate the leisurely and relaxing aspect of pleasure reading. When these crossovers become beautiful, however, is when you are better able to appreciate a book you are reading for pleasure when you are able to apply the techniques you have learned from academic reading. When you are able to pick up on the type of discourse used at a certain point in a novel, you gain a better understanding of the author’s choices and how those choices affect the overall narrative. When you are able to reap the benefits of both academic and pleasure reading in one text, your appreciation for the text multiplies. In reading book for pleasure, you may be able to better admire the skill of the author if you are able to recognize and understand the author’s use of discourse. The ability to appreciate both the plot and the language of a story can allow for a more comprehensive and illuminating appreciation. Furthermore, academic reading can help you discover favorite books that you would not have read otherwise. For pleasure reading is not necessarily sacrificed for academic reading but rather the reason we pursue academic reading in the first place. At its core, academic reading is built off the immense pleasure we receive from reading as an activity. Of course, this entire article also brushes aside the sad truth that majoring in English often leaves you with little to no time for pleasure reading -- but that’s an entirely different issue altogether. A New Yorker article published in 2013 asks a similar question in its title, “Why Teach English?” The article makes an argument for majoring in English, claiming that “some of us [read and talk about what we read] all summer on the beach, and others all winter in a classroom. One might call this a natural or inevitable consequence of literacy. And it’s this living, irresistible, permanent interest in reading that supports English departments, and makes sense of English majors.” English majors are the result of following your interest into a career, of making a vacation pastime a lifelong pursuit. Literacy opens the door to a vital and far-reaching form of communication, and to world’s, people, and ideas that would be unavailable otherwise. The English department as an institution then keeps this door open by making literature of both the past and present available to any college student who has always been perhaps a little too passionate about the importance of the Oxford comma. Ultimately, the English major allows for the unique

what you study becomes your life; why not make it something

and beneficial crossover of academic and pleasure reading. In studying English, it becomes evident that pleasure reading supports academic reading and vice versa. Academic and pleasure reading are not mutually exclusive, but rather intrinsically connected. In a more general sense, if you have the opportunity to turn your passion into your major, and perhaps even your career, then you should go after it with all you have. When you’re a college student, what you study becomes your life, both during your time at college and after. Why not make it something you love? ✍

you Love?




“Fresh coffee in hand, my interest was piqued: what exactly is ethical sourcing?” 7




t 9:45 in the evening, I found myself standing in line to order coffee. Starbucks, especially in a college town like Berkeley, remains jammed packed until the 10 p.m. closing time. While I idly waited for my Americano to appear on the bar counter, I noticed a scrawled sign on a blackboard - “100% Ethically Sourced.” Fresh coffee in hand, my interest was piqued: what exactly is ethical sourcing? Does ethical sourcing mean fair trade? If so, what are the implications of putting that trademark on your product? Since it’s inception in 1998, the fair trade label has become a watchword among the consumer-conscious, and rightfully so; fair trade was the first economic trade model to use marketbased systems to address poverty rather than a traditional approach to international development, which had historically consisted of ineffectual and costly gift aid. Fostering equity and transparency between providers and buyers, the initiative guarantees that producers receive price floors: a set, fair, and above-market price for their products. According to Fair Trade USA’s website, the “Fair trade minimum price…acts as a safety net when coffee prices fall below the cost of sustainable production.” For example, CNN Money reported that coffee prices decreased by nearly 33% over 2015. In May of 2016 Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) noted that the global coffee price fell below $1.20 per pound. However, Fair Trade coffee farmers still received at least $1.40 per pound, as well as the $0.20 per pound premium. Fair trade farms often receive premiums, i.e. additional money above

the fair trade price. These premiums can be used to fund community development projects, with the corporate intent of bettering working conditions and the quality of life. Fair trade farms tend to be members of farming co-operatives; premiums are awarded to the co-op board, and farmers collectively vote on how to allocate the funds - whether it be new equipment or investment in local schools. The premium system has been both successful and unsuccessful. Often the premiums directly benefit farm owners rather than farm workers. Jennifer Walske, a Fair Trade USA Advisory Board member and current visiting fellow at UC Berkeley’s Blum Center for Developing Economies, believes wholeheartedly in fair trade. She states that “Fair trade just isn’t growing fast enough,” despite the fact that fair trade has grown more than six-fold since its humble beginnings. “Supermarkets have aisles dedicated to the organic brand. But there’s no fair trade aisle. Grocery chains don’t want to overwhelm consumers with labels, and that’s how fair trade can be overlooked or forgotten.” Walske notes that the “...larger concern is that we are not moving the needle. Only a small percentage of coffee, less than 10%, is certified.” But many do not share Walske’s enthusiasm for fair trade, especially within the coffee sector. Despite its idealistic principles, the certification does not prevent the exploitation of workers. In 2006, the Financial Times uncovered that temporarily hired Peruvian migrant workers on select fair trade farms were being paid $3 per diem, less that the fair wage ($5 a day at the time), in addition to having

$0.30 deducted from their wages for room and board. When interviewed, the Peruvian migrant workers were unaware that they were picking fair trade certified coffee. It can often be too difficult to audit the conditions of workers in remote areas, like the jungle highlands of Peru, enabling certification abuses to slip through the cracks. On a global scale, fair trade certification presents challenges because it is not standardized. For example, FTUSA resigned from international Fair-trade Labeling Organization (FLO) membership in 2011 because, according to a FTUSA press-release, they had “different perspectives on how best to achieve this common mission.” FTUSA’s “perspective” was a shift to certify coffee plantations and other hired labor operations. Traditionally, fair trade was created to benefit the small farmer, to organize and combine his product with a farming cooperative. The issue is that larger-scale and private operations benefit from fair trade prices, which was not the original project of the label. Bigger and wealthier suppliers usurp fair trade business, excluding many small farms - the intended beneficiaries of the trade deal - and leaving them to struggle. The general demand for fair trade products has prompted global conglomerates to tap into certification as a means of boosting sales, one of the chief causes for FTUSA’s need to expand providers. Fair trade advocates dismiss FTUSA’s move, purporting that fair trade cannot logistically straddle smallholder producers and international corporations. To further complicate the issue,



many companies do not subscribe to FTUSA or FLO standards, instead developing their own fair trade certification schemes. In 2006, for example, Starbucks developed its own in-house certification label, C.A.F.E. Practices, in collaboration with Conservation International (CI). The C.A.F.E. Practices program is Starbucks’ initiative to harvest ethical beans, which demands that farmers have good working conditions and environmentally-responsible growing practices. While certain consumers may be skeptical of inhouse operations, C.A.F.E. Practices is monitored and enforced by a thirdparty contractor, SCS Global Services. SCS is also responsible for verifying Fair Trade, non-GMO, and Organic products internationally. According to Walske, “companies are looking into how to secure the supply chain…and white label or not, as long as having a third-party verification system is in place, a company doesn’t run the risk of [compromising ethics]. ” She lauds C.A.F.E. Practices, noting that companies get into hot water when “certification is in-house only…and they don’t have an auditing process or external checks and balances.” Katie Carguilo, a US Barista Champion and the head of innovative Counter Culture Coffee’s quality control, agrees with Walske’s statement. Headquartered in North Carolina, Counter Culture is a coffee roaster and wholesaler geared toward buying sustainable, high quality beans and providing education. Carguilo notes that some of her coffee competitors were “putting the sticker on the bag themselves, and certifying themselves.” Carguilo acknowledges the revolutionary beginnings of Counter Culture’s 1995 inception as “one of the first companies to publish [transparency reports about] our direct trade coffees, and ... the only company at the time who was third-party



certified.” At that point in time, fair trade had yet to become a widespread brand (FLO would emerge in 1997, and FTUSA a year later). But direct trade an alternative to fair trade - also has its problems. To Cariguilo, direct trade, where buyers form contracts directly with growers, offered a stronger and more trusting trade relationship than fair trade. There are no middlemen, unlike the fair trade suppliers who run the co-ops, consisting of many fair trade farms, or businessmen on larger FTUSA farms. While neither approach, direct or fair trade, is the ideal answer, each scheme does a “good” job at addressing its separate goals. According to Cariguilo, “direct trade was more about [quality], a justification for the prices,” which is a crucial tenet fair trade has yet to address. “Fair trade is limited. It was good because [as a label] it got people on board with the fact that market prices are insufficient. The [fair trade] prices were enough, but there was no linkage to quality.” This is why alternative, in-house certification systems like C.A.F.E. Practices are on the rise—they combine the demands and goals of many ethical, but disparately oriented, labels. In the case of Counter Culture, inhouse certification was unnecessary. As a wholesaler, they were unconcerned with competing for customers within the marketplace. Eventually, all white labels, including direct trade, became obsolete. “We dropped our direct certification label on our coffee last year, because of the same thing that was happening with fair trade. A barista litmus would be based on the certification, not quality. And for us, certification was dumbing down the conversation. It was saying to the consumer that these are the good coffees and these are the bad coffees,”

Cariguilo explains. Now, Counter Culture includes every coffee in their transparency report, while in the past they were only obligated to publish the prices of direct trade coffee. They developed their own company standards, such as maintaining a high bean quality, publishing the minimum prices paid and promoting transparency along the supply chain, along with fostering personal relationships with farmers, which were defined as visiting once every 2 years. Cariguilo offers an explanation for this model, describing a private farmer from Burundi who didn’t have the paperwork to be certified. Counter Culture had a long-standing relationship with him, knew that he paid his workers a fair wage, and produced exceptional quality coffee. No longer limited by certification requirements, Counter Culture can trade unrestrictedly with suppliers and farmers they trust. This example also touches on another major problem with fair trade: the cost of certification. FLOCERT, a third-party company in charge of certifying and monitoring producers, can be bureaucratic and expensive. In order to become a fair trade certified farm, one has to submit an application followed by a farm inspection by FLOCERT representatives. Since 2004, it has been the responsibility of the farmer to pay for the application, initial certification, and annual recertification. FLOCERT offers a fee calculator online. A small holder producer with 30 workers (and no reported subcontracted labor) might pay around €2,200 for initial certification and €1,300 for annual recertification, of which both costs are subject to fluctuation based on the country of the origin. These are steep prices to pay— it is not uncommon that suppliers have to use fair trade premiums to pay for the fees rather than community

“Does ethical sourcing mean fair trade? If so, what are the implications of putting that trademark on your product?“



development projects, arguably defeating one of fair trade’s goals. But for all its flaws, fair trade is worth supporting. Unlike Counter Culture, most companies are just too large and/or oriented towards massmarket. They simply do not have the luxury of assessing every single coffee provider themselves. Walske believes the dialogue should be shifted away from fair trade’s deficiencies to consumer advocacy. She explains that consumer demand will drive companies to be vigilant in their buying practices. FTUSA is working hard to better the general conditions of foreign workers, but the catch-22 is that they have to spend millions in marketing to spread awareness on the issue. If consumers were more active and consistent in

fair trade consumption, money could be redirected towards the countries of origins themselves. She tells an anecdote of cacao farmers in South America who, when polled, stated that they hope their children will never be farmers. “Fair trade is trying to address that, but that’s why consumer advocacy is so important.” Other ethical schemes, such as Direct Trade, “are only truly competitive from a labeling standpoint. You can only have so many labels on your product.” She would encourage consumers “to not lose sight of Fair Trade with all the labels.” Her words to the coffee-drinking community: “Be vigilant.” Fair trade isn’t failing; however, it could be more successful. In the end, we need fairer trade, and that

starts with consumer consciousness. It starts with buying ethical products. Do buy fair trade to expand the power of the certification. More consumers will affect change. But don’t discount brands like Counter Culture, who abstain from certification schemes but still pay above the price floor (and often much more than fair trade). Regardless of where your coffee comes from, either a juggernaut like Starbucks or a smaller, speciality company like Counter Culture, ask questions about your cup of joe. ✍

Counter Culture Coffee




where is the power



erkeley is and always has been a hub of political discourse and activism. Today’s student activism for safe spaces, inclusion, and protests demonstrating unwillingness to accept discriminatory practices, are a clear sign of the impact that the Free Speech Movement has had on Berkeley. It’s apparent that a lot of the students have strong opinions concerning the current political climate and the government leadership. Whether left, right, or anywhere between, there seem to be a significant number of outspoken individuals who want to make their voice heard. This culture of political awareness and action appears to be strongly established at Berkeley. But through what actions do these students want to see change take place?

Evan Cui is one of these people. As an Asian American Studies major, active ASUC intern, and a member of the Class of 2020, Evan was thrown into a world of political activism quite suddenly. Even before coming to Berkeley, he had an interest in understanding the functions of the American government. He explains, however, that, “it was kind of more like rooting for a sports team in the sense that I was a bystander... and it was interesting to read about what they were doing.” But once Evan came to Berkeley, that attitude didn’t persist. Just as Evan felt discontent being a political bystander, he also felt discontent with the clubs he participated in during high school. “I found myself doing a bunch of clubs that...I didn’t really care that much

about, and it felt like I was doing things just to put another thing on the resumé.” This attitude led Evan to intern at the ASUC in Senator Jay Choi’s office. As he started working in the ASUC, Evan began to notice a general attitude of apathy and cynicism towards the institution as a whole. He observed that many members of the student body viewed the ASUC as an “organization that [didn’t] really do anything for students and ... [feels] really detached.” Dissatisfaction with leaders and representatives isn’t uncommon and has been explored in depth by many activists and political scientists. Dave Meslin, a community coordinator in Toronto speaks about this, explaining that there’s a difference between apathy and the current state of mind for many people. While some



people are apathetic, and don’t care to be involved, they are in the minority. They feel concern, and have opinions regarding what they believe is necessary to change. A feeling that isn’t analogous with apathy. Meslin clarifies at a TED Talk that “it’s not apathy. It’s a sense of... hopelessness, which is so different than apathy.” Even with dissatisfaction in the current political climate, we see on so many different scales, - it’s evident that there are plenty of people that want improvement and change, but take little action to do so. The desire for the country to progress to a certain ideal is evident. We see it in politically charge Facebook posts, overhear it in conversations fretting about the future of the country, and encounter it with the range of attitudes regarding our politicians. There’s an accepted standard of dissatisfaction that has developed, and with the 2016 election, that dissatisfaction seems to have magnified. You can barely scroll through Facebook without seeing a politically charged post about whatever problematic situation that has arisen. You may click on the article, read about whatever crisis it’s discussing, and feel angry. And while it’s important to be informed about current events, if nothing is done about the situation - what’s being achieved? The question then becomes- is there any reason to take action? As Evan continued to get more involved in the ASUC and started to identify his own ideas about positively impacting the organization, he began to realize the importance of taking action. Earlier in the year when Trump’s immigration ban was put into action, Evan was unable to stand idly by. He was especially bothered by “American exclusion and how it isn’t based on statistics and facts and justification for excluding people, but rather it is based on racism, fear mongering, and it plays on individuals’ worst instincts of hatred.” He and his roommate attended a protest at the San Francisco International Airport to “stand in solidarity with the people who were being unfairly discriminated and excluded from the nation.” Cynics might say that protesting does not enact change, but there are those who believe in the strength of showing support for those without a voice or disdain for the discriminatory and unfair practices. Often protesting is the only means of political activism available. Evan is aware of this cynical attitude that many people hold regarding protests, and he understands



“The question then becomes- is there any reason to take action?”

their point of view as well. “Protests alone aren’t enough to make effective, long term change. Protests aren’t the end of the game. They spread awareness and prevent b*******t from being normalized in society,” but there’s much more to making change that should take place afterwards. Duncan Green, author of How Change Happens, has been trying to tackle this problem for over 35 years. In an interview with NPR, he points out that “The thing about protests is that it’s never the end. If it’s the end, then you failed.” Micah White, co-founder of the Occupy Wall Street movement resonates with this sentiment. Reflecting on his own experiences, he saw the movement “spread to 82 countries. It was amazing. And it didn’t work.” Being politically active is a lot more complex than just going to rallies and having opinions. It’s not the same as “getting a lot of people to hear about my meme,” as White explains. It’s not even simply “changing the discourse. We changed the discourse. But we didn’t change how power functions.” There is more action to be taken. Green points out that “You have to be an activist and a ‘reflectivist’ at the same time. That’s someone who reflects on the systems evolving, how these institutions are structured. You have to understand the system to know who might be your ally. And there has to be a little part of you that acknowledges doubt, ambiguity and uncertainty. You have to have room to change direction.” White adds to this, putting the spotlight on changing “how power functions.” The cynical lens we’ve been conditioned to view things through is an easy perspective to adopt and hold onto, and there’s plenty to be pessimistic about with any governing body. As dissatisfaction has grown, people have resorted more and more to the hopelessness that Meslin described. However, this cynical perspective is all the more reason to evaluate the inner workings

of the systems we’re dissatisfied with. After the end of the Occupy Wall Street movement faded, White asserted, “You know, I think the reason it didn’t work was because there’s something fundamentally broken about protest.” So what kind of action can one take to start real change? White shares his perspective, saying, “I think one of the things about being an activist is what you have to do is you have to first create a theory of social change and then also you have to test it out.” Political activism can seem very daunting, especially for those who aren’t sure about what they need to do. However, it’s possible to be an activist on a smaller scale, like a college campus. Evan explains that each student has the responsibility to get involved. As ASUC elections come up each spring, there are steps each student can take to ensure that they are being represented by those who are qualified to be advocating on their behalf. Evan believes, “Every student has a responsibility to read up on all the candidates that are running to be senators and executives, reading through the platforms, and really challenging them in regards to how they’re going to accomplish what they say they’re going to accomplish and holding them accountable.” It’s with smaller, local efforts that people are able to find the validation and experience to later participate in the larger political discourse. So start small and go big. ✍


all good

























PHOTOS BY TONY ZHANG Tony Zhang is a New Zealand-based skateboarder and photographer who currently resides in California. A student of UC Berkeley, Tony rarely has free time and spends what little of it he has listening to ABBA, skating, and pretty much just chilling. When his friend, Kirsten, was asked for a statement to describe Tony, she had nothing to say besides, “How is this dude even real.” More of Tony’s work can be found on his Instagram page @tzhangdox and his video project A to B only can be found on YouTube page /tzhangdox. He has also recently been featured in Thrasher Magazine. LAYOUT BY RASYQIANA ANDIKASIM This page: stills from A to B only.





digital humanities

A (Relatively) New Approach to the Humanities Text by Elif Buyukakbas





umanities and Computer Science majors have more in common than one might think. The academic field of Digital Humanities (DH) welcomes students from these seemingly different majors to collaborate with one another and to explore a field that encapsulates both their academic fields. DH scholars employ digital tools and methods to answer questions in the humanities that humans either cannot address or would address differently than computer programs would. While some scholars say that DH is the future way in which the humanities will be studied, others say that it will exist as an entirely separate branch. Since the primary subjects of the humanities are humans and the human experience, the introduction of computers into this field has become quite controversial. The tools that DH employs include, but are not limited to, mapping, network analysis, image manipulation and enhancement, text analysis/distant reading, 3D modeling, digital archive and many more. The list is virtually inexhaustible. Many online resources such as Gephi and Palladio provide free access to users for experimenting with various DH tools and to visualize and analyze large network graphs. Gephi’s 3D render engine in particular displays graphs in real-time and enables its users to “spatialize, filter, clusterize, manipulate and export all types of graphs.” Since the study of humanities is a very wide field in and of itself, the projects that DH include are even broader. On the literary side, The Walt Whitman Archive is an exemplary DH project, which provides an extensive online database for Whitman’s works. In his interview, the co-director of the project Kenneth Price explains the purpose of the archive: “Whitman’s work was always being revised, was always in flux, and fixed forms of print do not adequately capture his incessant revisions.” Price points to the necessity of a digital platform that allows the readers to better address, compare, and analyze the dynamic nature of Whitman’s works, which might have been

otherwise neglected in the medium of print. While The Walt Whitman Archive points to the limits of the printed medium, Franco Moretti, the Italian literary scholar and the founder of the Center for the Study of the Novel and the Literary Lab at Stanford University, introduces even more controversial arguments when he criticizes the traditional way of studying literature. In his book The Distant Reading, Franco Moretti explains his method of “distant reading,” which, unlike close reading, brings together over 7000 British novels written between 1740-1950 to trace what has been missing in the study of literature. Moretti argues that even if one were to select two hundred titles from today’s canon of nineteenth-century British novels, they would still be only about 0.5 percent of all published novels. He questions the other 99.5 percent and proposes a whole new and all-inclusive approach to the study of literature. To be able to analyze twenty thousands books, however, he suggests the need for “other” skills such as sampling, statistics, and working with series, titles, concordances, and incipits. With these new tools, he proposes “a way to ‘open up’ literary history.” Although his approach is incredibly innovative and groundbreaking, it is also drastically different from the major methods of textual analysis and close reading that many English classes heavily stress. If one considers DH to be the future of the humanities, could Moretti’s studies become a threat to contemporary writers and scholars? Moretti answers these questions to some extent when he suggests that his studies show how “literary history could be different from what it is. Different: not necessarily better.” Johanna Drucker, a DH scholar at UCLA, takes a different stance and argues that “the attempt to place James Joyce’s spatial references onto a literal street map of Dublin defeats the metaphoric and allusive use of spatial reference in Ulysses, flattening all the imaginative spatial experience that infuses

the text.” Although Drucker’s points are irrefutable from a scholarly perspective, a digitized map of Ulysses could also be a helpful tool in analyzing a notably difficult work of literature. The discussion could be settled if the digitized map of Ulysses were to exist only as a supplementary tool subordinate to the work itself. Especially in studies of history and literature, mapping is one of the major tools that Digital Humanities utilizes, which conveys information in a visually stimulating way and makes it more accessible to many other people. Digital Humanities also raises questions about originality, authorship, and the art market, making it a topic of heated discussion for art historians. A fundamental question stems from the difference between viewing an original artwork versus seeing its facsimiles. In his study The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, the renowned philosopher Walter Benjamin associates the original artwork with a sense of “aura,” which he describes: “even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: Its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.” The experience of viewing a painting is indeed significantly different when one sees it in a gallery at a specific time and place versus on a computer screen. As Bruno Latour and Adam Lowe argue in their study The Migration of the Aura - or How to Explore the Original Through Its Facsimiles, the way that many works of art have become famous is precisely through the distribution of their copies among the public on various platforms. Mona Lisa is exemplary of this situation, which refutes the modern obsession with the “original” artworks. While many know Mona Lisa from its facsimiles, others, who have actually seen the original in person, are more likely to feel disappointed with its presentation behind a glass cage in the Louvre (not to mention the crowd of people trying to take selfies in front of it). Therefore, Latour and Lowe argue for “not the punctual delineation of one



version divorced from the rest of its copies, but the whole assemblage … It is not a case of ‘either or’ but of ‘and, and’.” Their argument illustrates how the original artworks and their digitally distributed facsimiles work together and complement one another to provide more coherent presentations of paintings for contemporary viewers. Google Arts & Culture is one of the foremost art projects that provides free and easy access to accurate facsimiles of over 1200 artworks from leading museums and archives. As the project aims to “bring the world’s treasures online,” it also provides an advanced set of tools to viewers to inspect the paintings under close scrutiny and to better focus on small details in specific portions of the composition. Google Arts & Culture also takes an innovative approach and allows its users to have a three-dimensional museum walk online, which in a way blurs the difference between visiting a museum in a virtual environment and visiting in person. While Google Arts & Culture is related to the problem of the wide distribution of the digitized copies of original paintings online, other projects such as take this distinction a step further and address the problem of authenticity. Elizabeth Honig, Professor of History of Art at UC Berkeley, is the founder of the website t, which is a wikibased catalogue of more than 500 paintings and drawings by Jan Brueghel, his workshop, and his imitators. The website provides a reliable bibliography for students and allows scholars, curators and owners of paintings to provide input. Moreover, the website provides many useful tools such as the Image Investigation Tool, which enables the users to compare two works side by side, extract details, and apply a grid onto them. With its various tools, allows its users to follow patterns of repeated imageries between authenticated Jan paintings and their copies by unknown artists of varying qualities. Professor Honig is currently teaching an undergraduate class cross-listed both in History of Art and English departments called “Digital Humanities, Visual Cultures.” Professor Honig explains that in her class, although students make extensive use of digital tools to analyze large data sets, it is still their responsibility to draw interpreta-



tions and come up with the end results. Therefore, even though Professor Honig agrees to some extent with the notion that Digital Humanities will become the way in which Humanities will be studied in the future, she asserts that Digital Humanities cannot replace Humanities altogether. She emphasizes, “The Digital and the Humanities collaborate together. We are the synthesizers,” as she highlights the importance of human interpretation in Digital Humanities. Professor Honig is planning to teach a more conceptual lower division Digital Humanities class in the upcoming semester. Since the field of DH is a very wide and relatively new field dating back to the 1980s, it is very hard to pin down a definition for it. In fact, many scholars define DH quite differently. The answers below are taken from the annual “A Day in the Life of the Digital Humanities (Day of DH)” project in 2011, in which various DH scholars from all around the world recount what they do in one day:

“When I’m asked, I like to say that Digital Humanities is just one method for doing humanistic inquiry.” —Brian Croxall, Emory University Finn and Croxall represent the two ends of a spectrum: Will Digital Humanities become the new way that the Humanities will be understood in the upcoming years, as Finn argues, or is it just a new empirical and highly interdisciplinary field that will exist as a separate branch? Predicting the future of an emerging scholarly field is a difficult question that extends beyond the scope of this article. Still, in analyzing the different sides of this debate and discussing some of the various studies and methods that DH scholars employ, one could gain a better understanding of Digital Humanities as an emerging field, its scholarly contributions, and, perhaps, its future. ✍

“I think Digital Humanities, like social media, is an idea that will increasingly become invisible as new methods and platforms move from being widely used to being ubiquitous. For now, Digital Humanities defines the overlap between humanities research and digital tools. But the humanities are the study of cultural life, and our cultural life will soon be inextricably bound up with digital media.” —Ed Finn, Stanford University

“The digital and the humanities collaborate together. we are the synthesizers.”

Palladio visualization of various Adoration of the Magi paintings by Pieter the Elder and Jan Bruegel. The paintings are connected with respect to the visual elements that they have in common. The various-sized nodes in the second image are weighted according to number of edges in each painting.





educator by trade and a poet at heart, Oakland-raised Jade Cho centers her work around issues of race, gender, diaspora, and power dynamics that result from the interaction of these characteristics that define human experience. Her book of poetry, In the Tongue of Ghosts, was published in 2016, and she has performed and facilitated workshops at universities and venues on both coasts of the U.S. She has competed in multiple slam competitions at the national level, representing UC Berkeley and the Bay Area and winning awards like “Best Political Poem� along the way. 35





aving graduated from Cal as an Ethnic Studies major and a member of Cal Slam, UC Berkeley’s official Slam Poetry student organization, Cho returned to Cal in 2014 (although she never truly left) as the Writing Program Co-coordinator for the Student Learning Center. She also briefly coached the Cal Slam team upon returning to Berkeley.She describes the transition from member to coach as “not much of a jump,” considering she had been co-director for Cal Slam for two years during her time as an undergraduate, as

*This interview was done in multiple sittings and has been carefully edited for clarity and flow. CALIBER: Do you have a time or place you prefer to write creatively? CHO: I actually like writing at home, whether that be in my home, the homes of my friends, or my partner’s place. Since writing is such a personal thing for me, I like to have a private space. I do like cafes occasionally, and sometimes I try to write on planes or buses, but I tend to worry the person next to me is looking over my shoulder--especially since I’m guilty of being nosy and doing this to my neighbors--so I prefer having my own space. As far as timing, I think I’m more of a morning person, but I don’t always wake up in time to take advantage of that, so I mostly end up writing at night. But ideally I would wake up early in the morning and have sunlight coming in through my window as I work in my room. Would you say your writing process is collaborative even though you value privacy? It’s funny because even though I said it’s a personal thing, I do think collaboration is a big part of my writing process. For a year after I graduated, because I had aged out of Youth Speaks - they only go up to age 19 - and of course I could no longer go to Cal Slam workshops, I was really missing the writing community I had as an undergrad. I got [to37


gether] with a group of fellow Cal Slam alumni who were still in the area: Ariana Weckstein, Isa Borgeson, Gabriel Cortez, and Natasha Huey. We were all adjusting to writing creatively while also working full time and learning how to keep a balance, and we were all really close from our time in undergrad, so we decided to form a writing collective together called Ghostlines. It’s been really great because they are some of my closest friends and some of my favorite artists, so it’s really rewarding to get to write with them, and we also keep each other accountable. One thing we are doing right now is 30/30; April is National Poetry Month, and one thing a lot of poets do is write a poem every day for the 30 days of April. I’m not as consistent at it as I should be, but we have a shared Google Drive folder, so even if we’re not in the same place everyday, we upload our poems and read each other’s work. I’m always tempted to just upload a messy first draft, but seeing my friends experiment with form or include some amazing metaphors every day pushes me to edit and make my own work better. So I really value that writing community as well.

You used to write fiction in high school; do you engage in any other type of art or creative practice? Well, as a kid I think I played piano for, like, 12 years or something - my parents had the resources to enroll me in classes, and I just

went with it for all of K-12. In middle school and high school I had a punk phase and was in a band, which was pretty much just a bad cover band of Green Day and other pop-punk stuff. I also did jazz and marching band in high school. I’ve always liked music but it’s never been my main creative thing. I like to draw; as a

well as a member of the youth advisory board at Youth Speaks, an organization dedicated to promoting literacy and performance in the arts among Bay Area youth. Likewise, through her work at the SLC, she aims to empower students by encouraging them to strengthen their own writing skills.Today we invite Cho to discuss both her creative process and her journey as an artist, mentor, and dedicated advocate for change in the UC Berkeley community and Bay Area.

young person I was always really into anime and I wanted to be a cartoonist. One of the first things I did as a kid was make my own picture books: I’d write the story at the top of a piece of printer paper, draw a cartoon underneath it, and staple it all together. I was really lucky that my parents

encouraged my creativity. I still draw, but it’s less serious. It’s more like if I’m sad or going through something intense that I can’t write about through poetry or want to approach from a different perspective. In college I had a whole series [documenting] my failed love stories…the comics show times I’ve felt crushingly

sad or awkward, but they also allow me to take a step back and laugh at myself, which helps me get through it. What has been the most exciting moment of your career thus far? I can think of two things. Last year student organizations from Occidental and Wesleyan contacted me to fly out to perform and co-facilitate a workshop. I was really amazed, like, ‘Wow, people actually found my work on the internet and are going to pay me to do my thing outside of the Bay?’, but it was nice to get that affirmation of my work that way, and it was exciting to travel. These were both Asian Pacific American student organizations, so it was really nice to meet APA students in other places doing a lot of the same work I was involved in as an undergrad. Both events featured multiple APA poets, so it was cool getting to dialogue with the poets and students after about our experiences coming into our own, whether that be through activism or coming to a better understanding of our own identity. I also published my first book of poetry last year, which was a really long and arduous journey that I began

at 19 and ended at 24. I think there was a time when I was like, these poems are so old I don’t even like them anymore, or who even cares about this, I’m just not gonna publish it. That was a journey in and of itself, deciding to care about my younger self enough to honor what I had to say. It took a lot to become okay with that [version] of myself. It also took a lot to just believe in my [present] self enough to go through with it. I really benefitted from the encouragement of my collective, particularly Isa who sat down with me and mapped out deadlines and helped me edit and revise, and Khuyen Nguyen, my boss and Writing Program Director at the SLC, who really encouraged me to value my voice and take the time to ensure the book was something I was proud of. When the book finally came out, it was really affirming to see how certain things I had to say resonated with different people in my life once they read it, sometimes in unexpected ways. How do you motivate yourself to create when you’re in a rut? So actually I was in a rut for about a year recently. It was interesting because, like, in 2016 I came out with my book, I helped start a new slam venue called The Root Slam, and NBC Asian America interviewed me, so it was a lot of seeming[ly], at least from the outside, success, but inside… I basically didn’t write any new poetry at all. I was getting kind of scared and feeling like, I just came out with a lot of stuff and so many people are @CALIBERMAG - VOL 15


expecting, like, a certain level of artistry, which is fine, but I was scared that I couldn’t meet those expectations. And then I would feel bad that I wasn’t creating anything; it was an ongoing cycle of paralyzation and self-loathing which ended up impacting my personal and professional life as well. And so at the end of the year I was like, okay this

really sucks, what can we do to not feel like this? There is this book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which is for unblocking your writer’s block. It was actually given to me when I was a tutor by Alberto Ledesma, who was at that time the Writing Program Coordinator from his personal library...I should probably give it back to him, it’s been a few years (laughs)...but I had never sat with it seriously until recently. It’s cool because in it [Cameron] writes about the affec39


tive reasons that we get blocked, and she also encourages you to do something called “the morning pages,” which is where you journal or free write whatever’s on your mind for three pages in the morning. It’s nice because it’s a form of meditation and reflection, but it’s also just nice to be creating something when you’re blocked, even when it’s not necessarily related to whatever art you’re doing, whether that’s painting, writing, or making music. She also has exercises about, like, talking to your inner censors that prevent you from creating and prompts for envisioning the type of art you want to make. Another thing that we at the SLC encourage writers to do is really make the focused time and space in your day to write. A lot of times I’ll set a timer on my phone so that I’m not distracted during that time. But for me, a lot of my process involves just sitting there and staying with it until I can really get into it. Just showing up to write, and being okay with what you churn out even if it’s not your best work, and also being in a community with other writers, is key. Like hitting up people from the collective and saying, hey, keep me accountable

for x, y, and z. Have you always known you wanted a career in the arts? It’s funny that you ask that because I don’t really see myself as currently having a career in art. I have a full time job, which is being a program coordinator/ educator with the SLC, and art’s kind of like the side thing, even if I do get paid for it sometimes … Even though I try to treat writing with as much professionalism as possible, I still don’t consider it my main gig. Yet. Yet? Well I’m not really sure if I have what it takes to pursue writing full time, or if that’s the lifestyle that I really want. I’m trying to figure that out and find the right balance for myself. I really enjoy reading about writers and their processes, like Junot Diaz writes about fighting his writer’s block a lot, and I was watching a clip of Akira Kurosawa this morning and he was talking about how it takes a certain amount of grit to write so much and to commit to it, even when it really sucks. Part of the writing process is churning out stuff that basically sucks sometimes, so I think it’s just difficult to have that kind of perseverance - and to push through it to meet deadlines which your income and reputation depend upon! But I definitely think that art, writing, education, and social justice are all things that are really important to me. I just haven’t figured out which arrangement it should all go in yet.

What are your favorite slam venues in the Bay? One of my favorite places to attend is actually Youth Speaks open mics and slams because I

I definetely think that art, writing, education, and social justice are all things that are really important to me. think the young poets who come out to those events are really inspiring. With Youth Speaks they use the term “first sound” to describe when someone speaks on an experience or story in front of an audience for the first time and

I just haven’t figured out which arrangement it should all go in yet. the transformative power that has for the poet and listeners, which you often get to witness at their events I also really appreciate the curation; the poet mentors really facilitate the whole process, and with the MCing they do they really put a lot of attention and love into their commentary. I’ve also been lucky to be one of the organizers for The Root Slam. We just started up the venue in September [2016]. It was the brainchild of Janae Johnson, who is actually a Residential Director at UC Berkeley. She and Terisa Siagatonu brought in my fellow Cal Slam alumni Gabriel and Natasha, and, eventually, me and Isa. We were envisioning a space where voices of marginalized people could be heard and that encouraged

the generation of new work and artistic growth. Sometimes, in slam especially, it can be easy to do the same poem over and over again if it’s popular. We wanted to encourage people to bring new stuff. There used to be a venue called The New Shit Show in San Francisco where you couldn’t bring old stuff, and we were really inspired by that. It’s been really cool seeing the space become what we wanted it to be. There’s an open mic and a slam every second and fourth Friday. We have a lot of regulars now but there are always new people coming in. Someone once told me it feels like a party; it’s like a hundred people in one room on a Friday night showing up for poetry… I competed in our Last Chance Slam recently, and that was really fun. I loved hearing everyone’s poems, and it happened to be all people of color speaking on issues impacting themselves and their communities, from learning self love to fighting gentrification, and it really felt cool to be on a stage with seven other poets whose artistry I really enjoyed and who were telling similar stories [to mine]. What are your feelings about the

role that art plays in critiquing culture, namely structural bias? I’ve experienced art as conduit for personal transformation, which can also cultivate empathy, reflection, and action. For me, I grew up in the Oakland hills, which is an upper-middle class, predominantly white part of Oakland. At the same time, I also went to public schools, where folks from all over the city would come to go to school, and so by the time I started middle school I could kind of see what class division and oppression looked like, but, because of my privilege, I didn’t have the vocabulary or context to fully understand why there were such huge differences between the resources and experiences myself and my classmates had.

By the time I came to Cal, that was something I really wanted to understand more about, namely, @CALIBERMAG - VOL 15


what is the root of structural oppression and inequality. I think the Ethnic Studies major really helped me understand that, but another part was also doing poetry and coming to writing workshops at Youth Speaks and Cal Slam, and I think more particularly Youth Speaks because there were so many diverse poets coming from different racial and class and gender and sexuality backgrounds and talking about their stories, writing about their personal experiences, whether it be about oppression or even just silly love poems. In a workshop, sometimes we’d do free writes where you just kind of work things out, and usually the mentors would encourage us to give each other feedback to strengthen one another’s work. And through that process, it’s not only like you’re working together to improve the poem, but you’re prompting questions and giving suggestions about how to tell a more honest story. I’d be writing about being a third generation Chinese American and having, like, a lot of shame or confusion or angst about not having a connection with



my culture, but sometimes it would take draft after draft after draft to really get to the kernel of the story. The act of writing would help us learn new things about ourselves, [helping] us to name our trauma and to heal from it. And even the writing itself can be a form of resistance, you know, speaking back to society and to power structures about, say, standards of beauty and how that can

be really damaging for a lot of people. You hope that it might change the perspective of those in power, but also resonate with and activate other folks like you who are affected by it. There’s also something powerful when you write about an experience someone else has had and it resonates with them and inspires them to write their own stories, too, or be more critical and want to change the world around us. I’m really influenced by the Filipinx hip hop artists Bambu and Rocky Rivera… they’ve often said that creating art is only one part of it; sure it can lead to personal transformation and even conversation that can influence how other people think, but it also needs to go hand-in-hand with education and community organizing to really address structural oppression. Education [through art] has been such an important source of my empowerment. It all goes with encouraging other people to develop their own critical thinking skills and become agents for change as well. ✍



ade’s steps for the writing process Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and try to write about your topic non-stop. Get it all out on the page without censoring yourself.

1. freewrite

Go back to your freewrite(s) and see what most stands out to you. Use this as a starting point to create a full draft of the poem.

2. draft 3. take a break... and draft again Take some critical distance from your poem and return to it with fresh eyes. This might entail editing the previous draft or starting a completely new one.

4. get

Share the poem with a new audience, be it a friend, mentor, or tutor. It’s helpful to ask them specific questions about things you’re not sure about or would like to improve. Sometimes I ask multiple people to get different perspectives!

feedback 5. revise

Consider the feedback you received and what makes sense for you as the writer. Revise accordingly! You may want to freewrite to expand on part of the poem, completely reorder things, or start from scratch again, and that’s okay; it’s all part of the process!





share it with the world Take it to an open mic, publish it on social media, submit it to a journal, read it to a friend, or just keep it for yourself.



S U Z I H Y U N : C H A N N I N G WAY 45








PHOTOS BY SUZI HYUN More of Suzi’s work can be found on her website [].





FiguRes of Speech: a spotlight on cal students Who stutter



y second week at Berkeley, I introduced myself to a stranger and lingered for a few seconds on the S that begins my name. I was promptly met with a hearty laugh and an incredulous “Did you just forget your own name?” As a Person Who Stutters (PWS), this wasn’t my first rodeo. Like always, I responded with the standard canned laughter and immediate change of subject. Navigating introductions is just one of the many challenges PWS face, and on a college campus, meeting new people is a constant. No two introductions are alike. Sometimes I slide (Sssssophia), sometimes I repeat (S-S-Sophia), and sometimes I’m totally fluent. But even more unpredictable than my speech is the response of my listener. When I stutter, I am usually met with looks of confusion, concern, or discomfort, which points to a larger issue: most people probably have no idea what stuttering really is, much less what it can look and sound like. Stereotypes are crumbling all around us, and marginalized groups are becoming unprecedentedly visible. Groups that experience oppression and discrimination based on gender, race, sexuality, religion, and immigration status frequently use media and politics to advocate for their fundamental rights and share their lived experiences. But the disabled community, which includes PWS, is almost entirely absent from the larger discourse of inclusion and education. Three million people in the United States stutter. Stuttering can look and sound many different ways; it can be characterized by prolongations, repetitions, filler words, or blocks of sound. It’s not caused by uncertainty, nerves, or shyness, though these feelings can exacerbate it. Some PWS, like me, are comfortable stuttering openly (as another PWS once told me that I stutter “honestly”). However, many PWS stutter covertly and may disguise disfluencies



with a range of techniques. Often, PWS will substitute words that are easier to say for words they know might be more difficult, or pretend to forget the answer to a question they actually know (I can’t count the times I’ve pretended not to know my major). Many of these techniques of hiding disfluency are undetectable to the untrained ear, so for many people who stutter covertly, theirs is a largely invisible disability. But many PWS, including myself, sometimes wonder, is stuttering really a disability? Is my stutter a disorder of speech or simply a difference in speech? The Berkeley Disabled Students’ Program includes “speech impairments” like stuttering as a disabilities that are supported through the program. They offer special accommodations for students with speech impairments once they submit a form from their speech therapist. I recently joined the DSP, and I now can access certain accommodations that relieve much of the anxiety that can come from compulsory participation in discussion or required oral presentations. Speech disorders, like many disabilities, are often a source of discrimination. According to a 2014 study published in Work, Employment and Society, job applicants who stutter in their interviews are more likely to be immediately rejected. A simple Google search will yield countless forums asking users if they would “date someone who stutters,” and most are filled with negative responses. In 2011, a professor at the County College of Morris asked a student who stuttered not to speak in class because he was “infringing on other students’ time.” These everyday run-ins with prejudice are deeply embedded in the lives of those who stutter. I spoke to two other Cal students who stutter—Steve*, a fourth-year Applied Math major, and Jonathan*, a first-year Computer Science major—to shed some light on the challenges and the diversity of experiences among PWS. Both Steve and Jonathan feel it is important to share

their stories and give a voice to other students who stutter at Cal. Jonathan is particularly happy to share his experiences because he feels “increasing awareness of the issue as a whole is super important.” Like most PWS, Steve and Jonathan started stuttering as children. Both of them attended speech therapy for many years. Steve’s recalls his experience in speech therapy as “stressful,” while Jonathan feels it “made a big difference” in his life and his speech, so much so that he “still carries the lessons” he learned from his speech therapist today. After attending speech therapy, Steve tried other strategies. He has experimented with different medications to minimize his stuttering and has found medication to be a useful tool. “If I didn’t have the medications,” he says, “I wouldn’t accept [my stutter]. If my stuttering was more severe I wouldn’t accept it; I’d just be sad.” There is no cure for stuttering, so PWS may treat their stuttering with therapy or medication, or they may choose not to treat it at all. For some PWS, the obsession with being fluent and having perfect speech can be profoundly damaging. For others, the constant desire to improve their speech can be motivating. In my experience, I’ve found that the desire to improve your speech can coexist with self-acceptance. But self-acceptance can only do so much; facilitating acceptance within the Berkeley community and beyond is essential. Most people who don’t stutter learn about PWS from the depictions they see in media; therefore, delegitimizing the harmful stereotypes and caricatures of PWS, like Billy Bibbit or Porky the Pig, is crucial to forge empathy and establish our humanity. In addition, we must eradicate the association between stuttering and a host of negative traits. Both Steve and Jonathan are familiar with the hurtful ways PWS are perceived and the inaccurate traits that are ascribed to us. Steve believes PWS are stereotyped as “less intelligent, less capable, and less

Three million people in the uS stutter.




social,” while Jonathan feels they’re seen as “nervous wrecks” or “shy.” The Berkeley Chapter of the National Student Speech, Language, and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) once worked to challenge these stereotypes and advance the discourse surrounding speech disorders. Ivy Hoang, a third year cognitive science major and disability studies minor, describes the NSSLHA as a “club aimed at helping students who are interested in speech and communicative disorders and those pursuing a career in speech and language pathology at Berkeley.” However, the NSSLHA was recently dissolved due to a lack of interest, abruptly eliminating the opportunity for campus-wide education about speech disorders. Without the presence of a Communication Disorders major on campus, communications disorders remain completely invisible at Berkeley. This places tremendous pressure on students who stutter to educate their classmates. What do Cal students who stutter wish their peers knew about stuttering?

tering to be “not helpful” during summer interviews for internships. But PWS are not a monolith. Each of us relates to and deals with our speech differently. Returning to the question of disability, many of us feel differently. I am still undecided about whether or not I see stuttering as a disability; above all, I see it as a different way of speaking. However, identifying myself as disabled resolves confusion surrounding my disorder and gives me access to resources I need. Steve and Jonathan both see stuttering as a disability. For Jonathan, stuttering “is as valid a disability as anything else” because it “impairs communication.” Steve also believes it’s a disability because it “inhibits [your] ability to communicate.” But does that make stuttering a flaw? Jonathan feels this is a difficult question. “On one hand, it would be healthier if people accepted it as something different, not a flaw,” he says. “[But] it’s a flaw in the sense that it impairs functionality.” I identify stuttering as a characteristic, not a flaw;

not drawing attention to it, he prevents it from defining him. Steve also chooses not to disclose most of the time. Steve says, “I’m not very upfront with [my stutter] because it’s not that bad, and I don’t want people to think I’m stupid. But they’ll always figure it out, … especially if I’m having a bad day.” Often times the fear of premature judgement keeps PWS from disclosing in conversation, especially due to all of the misconceptions surrounding stuttering. PWS also identify themselves differently. I call myself a Person Who Stutters because I see my stuttering as something I do, not who I am; I am a person first and foremost. Steve calls himself a stutterer, because he feels his “whole life is affected” by his stuttering. Jonathan prefers not to have any label because he doesn’t “want to be defined” by his speech. I try to avoid being defined by my speech by owning the way I speak, disclosing my stutter, and stuttering openly; I firmly believe that those unwilling to wait the extra time to hear what I have to say

“It’s outside a person’s control,” says Jonathan. For Steve, he wants people to know that he has “good days” and “bad days.” On these bad days, “it’s gonna take a little longer to say what I have to say.” But ultimately, with patience from his listener, he’ll say what he needs to. “Stuttering is like walking somewhere,” he says. “You’ll trip, but you’ll eventually get to where you have to be… You’ll always get there, it’ll just take longer to do it.” Most of all, Steve wishes his peers knew that “stuttering isn’t consistent.” For all PWS, speaking is harder on some days than others, and which days those are falls entirely out of our control. This unpredictability can especially affect us academically and professionally. Steve admits, “I definitely will not raise my hand [in class], and I definitely don’t go [to office hours] as much as I should.” Unsurprisingly, Jonathan found his stut-

flaws are imperfections that can be corrected, and many of us will stutter our whole lives. Acknowledging stuttering as a part of who we are as opposed to a defect in who we are is an important first step towards self-acceptance. PWS also differ in how we present ourselves. Some PWS disclose that they stutter before every conversation, and some have never disclosed to anyone. I feel comfortable telling people, “Hey, I’m a Person Who Stutters,” and it helps to alleviate anxiety for the rest of the conversation. For example, on the first day of class, I sometimes introduce myself to my classmates by saying “Hi, I’m Sophia, and I’m a Person Who Stutters, so please be patient with me.” But this can be understandably daunting for other PWS. Jonathan has never disclosed because he feels not doing so helps “minimize the impact of stuttering on my life.” By

probably aren’t worth my time anyway. Jonathan agrees: “If who I’m talking to isn’t willing to accept [my stutter], then I’m not interested. People who dislike it are arrogant.” Nothing about living as a PWS is easy. “Stuttering is hard,” admits Steve. “Accepting it is hard; living with it is hard.” Thriving with a stutter is no easy task, but our struggles shouldn’t diminish the power of our voices. It is up to us and our allies to educate others, normalize our experiences, and facilitate conversation between people across the spectrum of fluency. The voices of PWS, disfluent as they may be, deserve to be heard, understood, and valued as assets to the Berkeley community. To those who don’t care to listen, Jonathan doesn’t mince words: “Get rekt.” ✍


*Names have been changed


change the world



o my sister and me, American Girl dolls were as good as real. We gave them tea parties, birthday parties, and pool parties in the makeshift pool we constructed out of the little pond behind our house. We stole the stretchy book covers from our brother’s textbooks to cut and sew together waterready bathing suits. On Christmas, my sister would wake me up at five a.m. so that we could commence the annual ritual of present-giving — handmade gifts for each and every doll, from each and every doll—before full-sized-human Christmas began. But the dolls were far more than playthings. Each doll, with her own historical background and lessons to teach, brought the past—sometimes ugly, sometimes inspiring—to life, born again from the chaotic, messy, and mostly wellintentioned well of childhood love. That was over a decade ago. Today, American Girl, once the maker of over a dozen dolls whose stories were rich, intricate and diverse, has chosen to blend into the crowd of mass appeal and unoriginal marketing. This development, which has been evolving ever since founder Pleasant Rowland sold American Girl in 1998 to Mattel (also the maker of Barbie dolls), has gained center stage these past few months, catalyzed by the introduction of American Girl’s first boy doll, a cookie cutter brown-haired, gray-eyed specimen that knows nothing of the struggles or complexity of Molly or Felicity. If the issue is given no more than a cursory glance, it may seem like the epitome of progression—which, incidentally, is probably exactly the angle Mattel is going for. Unfortunately, that’s just it: the release of a boy doll, just like every other major change in American Girl’s image over the past two decades, is all about the angle, and very little about the meaning behind it. It’s 2017; we shouldn’t expect our girls to wear pink and play house when we’re teaching and preaching that there are a thousand other opportunities to reach for in their futures. Most people, if not in agreement that toys should not be gendered in a world seeking so hard to un-gender, at least acknowledge that the issue exists and that people are working to fix it. It makes perfect sense that Mattel, a major toy manufacturer, is in tune with contemporary happenings and is seeking to please. The inherent issue with creating a boy doll simply for the sake of creating a boy doll is that the discussion then



TEXT BY NICOLA PHILLIPS centers around that one product. The discussion becomes about who this boy doll is, what he does, what he represents, and why we care. Following the release of “Logan,” a New York Times Sunday review op-ed by Caity Weaver aptly summed this dilemma up, asking us all: “Are mediocre white men not prevalent enough in today’s society, so now their avatars must haunt even our tea parties?” I’d like to pose a different question: if we are trying to teach boys that playing with dolls is natural and OK, why are we working so hard to create a particular type of doll to achieve that goal? Isn’t it a bit counterintuitive to proclaim, “boys should play with dolls” and then “…but only if they look a certain way”? American Girl dolls were wondrous to my sister and me because, like so many of the best playthings, they opened our eyes to different worlds. American Girl, or the American Girl we knew, opened our eyes to real worlds of our own country’s history, managing to make those tales seem just as magical and fascinating as any Disney princess land. They made us care about history, made us empathetic toward others, and raised our awareness beyond the superficial divisions that do an impressive job of shaping the adult world. We need to provide all children with the opportunity to learn those lessons free from the stigmas that gravitate us toward those who look, dress, and act like we do. We need to stop catering ‘look-alikes’ to a demographic of people that needs more diversity, in its surroundings. My mother, a big proponent of American Girl dolls, was also the one who bought my older brother dolls and taught him how to sew. She was adamant that neither childhood toys nor life skills should be gender specific. She raised my brother not only to respect women, but also to understand that doing “girl” things did not emasculate him, but empowered him. Young boys everywhere would do well to learn those lessons. All children should have the chance to see that by exploring unchartered territory in playtime, they will learn history and empathy, and grow up to be better adults because of it. Children have an astounding depth of perception and compassion, but those things need to be harnessed effectively, fostered, and encouraged so that they have a fighting chance against stereotypes, biases, and hate. American Girl, and indeed dozens of other high-profile toy companies, has the ability to use its influence to do substantial good. A plethora of research

on the subject has shown us that fear of the other—racism, sexism, homophobia—is not innate but learned. In fact, even the most basic gender stereotypes like color preference are not born to their respective sexes. A study reported by Alice Robb of The New York Times found that it’s not until age two that girls begin to prefer pink and boys begin to disdain it. All babies are born preferring blue. So instead of a pretty-boy guitarist, I’d like to propose three dolls that might open our eyes instead of narrowing our perspective. I’d like a doll named Riley, who grew up in rural West Virginia in poverty and isolation, but dreams of being a powerful female CEO and will work her butt off to get there. Or Jeremiah, who’s from inner-city Chicago and was raised in the projects, but has aspirations to be an artist, and uses the people he loves as subjects for his portrait paintings. Or maybe Eli, who’s transitioning into Ellie while navigating the life of a kid growing up on the Upper East Side with conservative, overbearing parents. Those are the types of stories American Girl used to tell, stories that were not always pretty or easy but portrayed a country that is far more complex and tumultuous than the narrative of Logan makes it out to be. For my sister and me, American Girl dolls were rich in detail and depth, unlike any of our other toys. They gave us lenses into worlds we knew very little about. What if we harnessed that power again and gave thousands of kids lenses to view the world they’re currently living in? What if we used dolls to invoke empathy for our neighbors who most of us, truthfully, know very little about? Teaching kids not to hate is essential, not because children are born with pre-determined views, but because if they are not taught to value their compassion and acceptance, they might be seduced by the ease of stereotyping. But the command of toys is real and pervasive. American Girl dolls were powerful shapers of my early development. They were symbols of strong-willed, smart, independent girls, taking on

the world and the issues abound in it. They were reminders to my sister and me that we could grow up strong-willed, smart and independent. We were lucky enough to hear that message echoed many times throughout our childhood by our parents, relatives, teachers, and friends. Not all kids are so lucky. Toys provide a unique opportunity to impact kids on a large scale. They have the power to shape biases, and also to break them down. Young girls everywhere need the kind of positive reinforcement that American Girl provided my sister and me, and that a dozen other toy manufacturers could provide to hundreds of thousands of girls every day. They need to see the same message conveyed to the boys around them—boys who they must view and treat as equals, while expecting the same in return. And young boys need to see a future that represents more than the Logans of the world, full of a cast that is as complex and varied as the one American Girl once provided for young girls. All young boys, regardless of background, should have the chance to learn that they can grow up to be strong-willed, smart and independent men because they played with dolls. It’s a huge undertaking, going about changing the world, but maybe we just need a bit more perspective. Maybe all it takes to change the world is a doll and eighteen years. ✍







ommunities of scientists, engineers, and other technical occupations have been buzzing with sexist scandal. In the midst of the twenty-first century’s groundbreaking innovation, we have borne witness to growing stacks of reports of sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. On the other hand, our increased awareness of these issues may indicate a new age of addressing and discouraging them. Although women are entering technical fields more and more, they remain a minority. This disparity doesn’t seem to stem from lack of interest but from a variety of factors, beginning well before the college years, that discourage girls from pursuing science. Professor Sascha von Meier, who teaches in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) department at Berke-

silicon ceiling

ley, referred to the sum of these factors as a “cultural inertia” within our society. “My favorite toy was a little science kit with batteries and wires and light bulbs, and that’s what I ended up doing with my life,” she reflected, whereas other girls did not receive the same “opportunities to play and experiment with science as a kid.” Von Meier mentioned a pervasive “impostor syndrome” that she observed among several female students. A confluence of social and subconscious factors cause women to feel unqualified

and out of their depth in technical fields, even at the graduate level. University of Washington Professors Suzanne Brainard and Linda Carlin studied retention rates of women in STEM majors over six years. The researchers found that grade point average and capability in math and science were the same between women who persisted in studying science and those who switched to other majors. Intimidation and lack of self-confidence were cited as the main reasons for changing majors, while the primary reasons for persisting included



enjoyment of high school science classes and positive relationships with mentors or advisors. This trend points to another common issue for budding female scientists; for a student to advance to graduate school, attain research positions, or reach a tenured academic position, she needs recommendations, connections, and invitations from (because of the field’s demographics, frequently male) mentors, advisors, or professors. Professor Tsu-Jae Liu, who teaches microelectronics and serves as the Vice Provost of Academic and Space Planning, confessed to having experiences in which “someone seems to be taking an interest in your work, but really they’re interested in you.” In STEM fields in particular, ad-

vancement often relies on access to research grants, data sets, and expensive lab equipment, all of which has typically been controlled by male faculty. Young women find their futures dependent on approval and aid from men who are, at least on paper, more qualified and credible than themselves. This structure tends to create a dynamic that permits abuses of power. A 2014 study of field scientists by John Bohannon, a biologist at Harvard University, found that 70% of women and 40% of men surveyed had experienced sexual harassment, and 26% and 6% respectively reported physical sexual assault. Female scientists also experience harassment for other reasons.



For instance, familial factors including marriage, pregnancy, and childcare disproportionately discourage women from tenure-track academic positions. In 2009, Marc Goulden, Karie Frasch, and Mary Ann Mason at the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security, revealed that among Ph. D. students, married women without children were 8% less likely than married men with children to receive a tenuretrack position, and married women with children were 35% less likely to do so. This study also demonstrated that only faculty members, not graduate student researchers or postdoctoral fellows, received paid maternity leave from a majority (58%) of American universities. Furthermore, these researchers found that women who had children during the course of their postdoctoral studies were twice as likely to change their career goal of becoming a professor and academic researcher as men with young children and women with no children and no plans to have children. Women frequently report snide comments about “pregnancy brain” affecting their work. Conversely, women without children are seen as work-obsessed, unfeminine, and they often receive lower salaries than their male peers with the justification that men have to support families. As such, women in the academic workplace frequently find their personal lives infiltrating their professional ambitions. These issues of balancing work and family (and being penalized for trying) affect women throughout the workforce. However, STEM fields remain among the last strongholds of male-dominated careers. Due to the high level of education that is required to pursue a STEM career, people tend to view STEM as a more democratic sector, where skills are essential and discrimination more difficult. Liu noted that colleagues over fifty years old seemed “unaware of the implicit bias that influences the meritocracy” of these fields. Professor Ruzena Bajcsy, an EECS professor and Director Emerita of CITRIS, is one of those colleagues over fifty. She was born in 1933 in Czechoslovakia and became an orphan shortly afterwards as the Holocaust claimed most of her adult family. She began her pursuits in academia in the late 1950s. She attributes the obstacles she faced over the course of her career to her sta-

tus as an immigrant in the United States. Bajcsy’s experience brings up an important topic within discussions of diversity: race. Although women as a whole face certain obstacles, non-white women face discrimination based on their race and gender. Both factors influence hiring, harassment, and demographics in STEM fields. A 2011 symposium by the Harvard Educational Review, focused specifically on the “double bind” experience of women of color in STEM, found that all of the women surveyed reported experiencing some form of gender bias; and 93% of white women have experienced gender bias. A United States Census Bureau report from 2013 showed that men were hired at twice the rate of women. Only about 6% of the STEM workforce was black, while 7% were Hispanic; about 41% of Asian-Americans with science or engineering degrees were employed in a STEM occupation, though the report did not specify gender. According to the National Science Foundation, 84% of working professionals in science and engineering jobs in the US are white or Asian males. It is clear that though all women face bias in breaking into these fields, women of color are significantly impacted. From Bajcsy’s perspective, we “belong to a lucky generation.” Her generation of women faced a different set of challenges, as they struggled

to integrate into the workforce. Her advice for young women was “don’t complain... When I started, people were questioning why I’m not in the suburbs taking care of some children and being a housewife,” Bajcsy recalled. “There were skeptics; they didn’t think I could stand up to the pressure of academic life.” She confessed that she doesn’t fully understand the disparity between male and female presence in STEM fields, but hypothesized that perhaps women prefer fields that seem more “socially relevant” than engineering appears to be. Liu, whose academic career began in the 1980s, expressed a similar sentiment on the public perception of engineering. “Many young women don’t understand what engineering is about, which is making the world a better place. They’re not aware of the opportunities.” Liu also observed that the stereotypical engineer is male (think of TBS’s’ Big Bang Theory) and when women don’t see themselves represented in a field, they get a subconscious message that they don’t belong there. Even if they enter the field, the statistics and atmospheres described above frequently reinforce this sense of alienation. So, what’s being done to alleviate these effects at the university level? The coordinators of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) theme house were unavailable for interview, offer a community and mentorship program on campus. The Black Engineering and Science Association, the Berkeley chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), provides support programs, study halls, and informational sessions with tech companies for black STEM students. The Hispanic Engineers and Scientists (HES) offers a network for Hispanic STEM students as well. The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has been active on college campuses across the country for generations. Alyssa Scheske, the Professional Development Coordinator, recalled her mother “dragging her to SWE events” at

the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, where she grew up. SWE provides an intergenerational community of female engineers that offer mentorship and networking opportunities for young women. Workshops teach stress relief and studying techniques while hosting bonding opportunities. Scheske valued her relationship with her mentor at her first internship, found through SWE. Her mentor was “worldly” and “helped assure [her] that this was something [she] wanted to pursue,” exemplifying a healthy balance between work and family life and showing Scheske the “flexibility” of an engineering career. Von Meier reflected: “I think I would have benefitted hugely from a group like’s important for students to have a space where they feel safe and comfortable, and I understand that for some that means a room full of women.” At the other end of the spectrum of groups for STEM-focused women lies FEM Tech, an organization founded in August 2015 here, at UC Berkeley. Andrea Lombard, the founder and current president, began teaching herself coding as an extension of her research in media studies. In the summer of 2015, she reached out “to female friends who were also interested in computer science, but maybe feeling intimidated by the computer science department here.” She and her friends shared the impression that Soda Hall was a space reserved for computer science majors, and CS61A served as “weeders” for other majors or low-commitment CS majors. This climate directly contradicted her belief that “all majors really should be a part of this technology in-

Bajcsy’s experience brings up an important topic within discussions of diversity:



novation conversation... Having multiple viewpoints helps represent the needs of underrepresented groups that might not be served by tech developers otherwise.” The club’s membership is currently about half computer science majors. They host a speaker series of Bay Area women in tech who share the stories of their career paths, and they offer a weekly class on basic web development designed for people of any major to get their bearings in computer science. They have an introductory robotics program at the CITRIS lab on campus as well. In general, the club provides a forum for women studying computer science to work together in a low-pressure environment that promotes reassurance and counteracts intimidation. “People want

to feel safe being confused,” explained Lombard. Overall, though the climate facing women in STEM appears bleak at times, so much progress has been made in the last half century alone. The research of Lecia Barker, Cynthia Mancha, and Catherine Ashcraf, with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), demonstrated that gender diverse companies and teams tend to be more productive and more financially successful, encouraging businesses to adopt a more inclusive mindset. Liu advocates implicit bias training for teaching assistants and increasing awareness of the gender imbalance in the field. She also notes that acknowledging the contributions of women and minorities to scientific

fields helps people understand the benefits of diversity and provides role models for aspiring scientists and engineers who might otherwise feel unwelcome. Currently, administrators and faculty are becoming more aware of, and open to, efforts for diversity and inclusion, pointing to a bright future for gender equality in the field and at Berkeley.✍

“The important focus is on the outcome of our work as professionals, trying to help humanity. It is not personal or about being male or female or about how good I am at my job, because what I’m trying to do is help achieve a result.” - Sascha von Meier

“Follow your passion and stick with it.”

- Alyssa Scheske

words of advice

“Make your own path in tech. There will be a lot of people saying there’s only one way to make an impact or get a job... Screw that. Do what excites you.”

to women embarking on stem careers: 61


- Andrea Lombard “Be persistent.” - Ruzena Bajcsy

Living life Wisely


uring our time in Berkeley, we have all faced some form of uncertainty. In the jumble of decisions regarding our major and career path, we try to evaluate what will make us happy, yet productive and purposeful; we ponder not only what we want from the world, but also what we hope to give to the world. Answering such questions is no small feat as the answers can sometimes conflict with each other, but reflecting on them can make “life-changing” decisions feel not so big. The seminar taught by Berkeley professors Dr. Richard Van Sluyters and Sharon Joyce, “How to Live Your Life Wisely,” gives students the opportunity to grapple with these questions in a classroom setting. Van Sluyters and Joyce’s inspiration to offer this seminar ignited from a similar course, “Reflecting on Your Life,” taught by Richard J. Light at Harvard University. After reading Light’s article, “How to Live Wisely,” in the å, Van Sluyters and Joyce knew they had to bring his focus on


students’ college experiences, values, and ultimate goals to the Berkeley campus. One of my biggest takeaways from their seminar is one that seems simple and quite obvious, yet is often forgotten: aligning your wants, passions, and values with your daily decisions. Placing these daily choices at the center of our attention lightens the pressure of the decisions labeled as “big”, “significant”, or “life-changing.” We all hold an internalized image of our future that includes these desires, but do our actions each day actually fit in the bigger picture of this future? This does not necessarily mean whether or not an aspiring businessman chooses each day to be in a business club; these decisions can relate to hobbies, friends, experiences, places and anything else you hope to be a part of the present and the future. If you care about travelling, but have too many school deadlines and too little money to pack up and leave, are you at least exploring Berkeley and San Francisco? If you see yourself as more active in the future, are you leaving time in your schedule to go to the RSF? It all seems pretty obvious, right? But if we are truly honest with ourselves, there are countless situations in which this type of alignment does not occur throughout our daily lives. How can we move closer towards this alignment? We can start with self-reflection by continuously evaluating whether or not our values match the decisions we make each day. Right now, you could be shaking your head at this remark, saying there is no room to stop and think in the schedule of a Berkeley student. However, our relentlessly busy routines are the very reason such mental check-ins with ourselves are so crucial. Once a path has been chosen or a decision has been made, it is natural to

become lost in that decision and push ourselves down that path without ever questioning that initial choice again. But we need to question; we need to doubt. If we never do, we will never see the misalignment between our values and choices. A student in Light’s seminar at Harvard University embodies the importance of such reflection. For years, the student dreamed of becoming a surgeon, but one of his biggest values was family. However, he never saw the mismatch between the hours of a surgeon and the priority of family, until he engaged in self-reflection. Doubting his initial decisions prevented him from continuing down a path that would have eventually led him to compromise his core values. As demonstrated with this case, recognizing a mismatch is not necessarily negative. The realization rather proves open mindedness through a continuous consideration of a variety of options and a willingness to make changes along the way. In this sense, the decisions that matter are the day-to-day ones that we can change at any point. This notion seems contrary to the pressure placed on college students to choose a major and a career path. We, in turn, feel that pressure with the belief that these decisions change the direction of our lives. Yes, your life will be different if you’re an English major instead of an Integrative Biology major or if you’re a lawyer instead of a math professor. However, the way you live your life is not altered fundamentally by either of these decisions. No matter what career you choose, those hobbies, passions, places, friends, and experiences are relatively unchanged. It is odd that majors and careers are often the built up, high-pressured choices, when in reality, the decisions that most shape our future selves are the small daily ones. The culmination of our day-to-day choices create @CALIBERMAG - VOL 15


habits of either alignment or misalignment with our values, and those habits mold how we continue to live our lives in the future. Reaching alignment, even on a small scale, not only ensures that the happiness and purposefulness we seek for the future is achieved in the present but also lifts the pressure off of the decisions labeled as “life-changing.” The answers to the “big” questions regarding a career path, a job, where to live, etc., are already ingrained in our daily values. If our values regarding friends, family, passions, and hobbies match our present actions, then those choices will shed light onto how we should tackle the larger questions. Instead of focusing on answering our own million dollar question, we should put our efforts towards keeping our priorities and daily actions in sync. This mentality is what guides the bigger picture of our future. Such alignment is by no means automatically achieved. It is much easier to push off a goal into the future or deny misalignments altogether. The challenging part is to honestly evaluate our current selves so that the mismatches are recognized. We tend not to want to see what we are missing, so we move the possibility of a misalignment to the back of our minds, reassuring ourselves that “I’ll change one day.” Self-reflection to check for matches and mismatches may seem unnecessary, but it moves us closer to reaching alignment not just each day, but also every day in the future. This greater sense of interpersonal development is what Van Sluyters and Joyce hoped to bring to the campus through their seminar. They want to help students understand the importance of growing, not just academically, and reflecting on time commitments outside the stressful, fast-paced classroom environment. In our reflections, there is no right answer to the small daily decisions or to the “life-changing” ones. Rather, the “right” choices in our actions and endeavors are the ones that reflect our individualized values. What counts is that all aspects align. To move closer to an alignment between decisions and values, I challenge you to create a list of how you want to use your time at Berkeley for the week. As each day passes, record what you actually did so that by the end of the week, you can see if your goals and priorities are reflected in your actions on a small scale. Day-to-day decisions ultimately influence long-term choices and values, so it is crucial to start reflecting so that the person you aspire to be shows through your daily life. ✍


illed with grease, cheese curds, and Canadian pride, poutine is an infamous, i.e. heavily stereotyped, Canadian delicacy that hails from the cobbled streets of Old Montreal. With a long, respected history, poutine is known across the world as one of the most important things to come out of the Great White North, on par with basketball, Plexiglas, and Trivial Pursuit. Though poutine is not nearly as widespread in the States as it is in Canada, some American businesses have produced sorry replications of Quebec’s masterpiece in an attempt to capitalize on the popularity it enjoys in Canada. Much to the dismay of Canadians everywhere, but especially to those who have been forced to travel south for jobs or school, these American restaurants have unabashedly bastardized our favourite dish, sometimes going so far (innocent Canadian readers be warned) as to serve it with measly regular cheese rather than cheese curds. The barbarity! Determined to discover the origins of horror stories such as these, the Berkeley Canadian Student Association, affectionately known as the CSeh, and I took it upon ourselves to visit Berkeley’s own “poutinerie,” Smoke’s Poutinerie. At 7 pm on a chilly (for American standards) Monday evening, the CSeh settled into a cozy, albeit slightly cramped, corner of Smoke’s. Upon entering, we were immediately attacked by an overwhelming amount of red and black, with every available surface covered in plaid. One wall was covered with Canadian newspapers about poutine and Smoke’s, while the other had quotes like, “How do you load your fries?” and “Clogging arteries since 2008!”, and it became clear that our beloved tradition was not being given the respect it deserved. Even before sitting down, the club’s prime minister (rather than president) wisely warned us, “If you’ve ever had real Old Montreal poutine, don’t get your hopes up.” Out of the eight Canadians present, all eight had tried Canadian poutine, and four of the eight had tried Montreal poutine. The menu was nothing short of ambitious, with toppings including homemade chile, peas, guacamole, chipotle pulled pork, which boldly strayed from what we had come to known as poutine. Whereas some members pursued the adventurous approach by choosing options such as ‘Philly Cheesesteak,’ others went traditional, opting for ‘Smoke’s Poutinerie Signature Gravy and Wisconsin cheese curd.’ As Bon Jovi’s “Born to Be My Baby” played on repeat in the background like a scene from the Twilight Zone, our group of (perhaps foolishly) optimistic Canadians dug into our meals and were met primarily with disappointment. Critiques varied, from “The fries are too soggy and the cheese curds are just wrong” to “Nothing about it is right, honestly.” The ever-important cheese curds received perhaps the most severe judgement of all; they were called “plantains” and the“puffy dodgeballs of cheese curds.” Despite being known for our

Text by Molly Kearnan Photos by Sarah Lee

she would only come back to feel like bon jovi was still relevant.



poutine without borders

(continued from page 64) niceties, the CSeh members had no reservations when it came to picking the restaurant apart piece for piece. While one member decided that “most people come here because they’re too drunk to notice,” another shared that she would only come back to feel like Bon Jovi was still relevant. Determined not to be impolite, the CSeh members struggled through their final bites of what can only be described as a heart attack waiting to happen, and the conversation dissolved into a friendly bashing of Saskatchewan geography and each other’s preferred hockey teams. ✍

*Disclaimer: As a blindly loyal Canadian, my opinions on poutine are extremely biased and do not reflect the actual quality of the food!



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Profile for Caliber Magazine

Caliber Magazine - Issue 15  

Caliber Magazine - Issue 15