// Student-run newspaper serving Mills College since 1917 //
// Volume 99 // Issue 10 //
Students speak out against racism at Mills
Black students recently held a silent protest on the steps of Adams Plaza, with numerous students and staff members watching in support of their movement.
A recent racist post on the nowdefunct Mills College Confessions page sent the campus reeling last week and set off a chain of events that’s ignited a rise to action surrounding the culture of racism on campus. Though no one at The Campanil saw the post personally, word of its content spread like wild-fire. The anonymous post targeted black women on campus, stating that they are “too outspoken” and “should be hung.” Several versions of this statement have been quoted, some using the word “lynch” and others stating that the comment ended with a mocking glib, “Happy Black History Month.” “This, in my view, is one of the saddest moments at Mills College,” President Alecia DeCoudreaux said. “I wish I had the power to prevent this type of thing. And I say that with a smile on my face, but quite frankly theres nothing about this that brings a smile to any of us.”
As many have pointed out, this post is not the whole of the problem; it acted as a catalyst for the black community to speak out against the culture of institutional racism they feel is present at Mills. President DeCoudreaux mirrored this sentiment. “This is much broader than the post,” she said. “This is about a climate of racism that is intolerable on our campus.” The racist comment was posted on Feb. 25 and erased almost immediately, but this did not halt the community’s reaction, which began as sharing the information on Facebook. When the administration found out, they quickly organized a Town Hall meeting titled, “Moving Forward in these Challenging Times,” which took place March 4. in the GSB gathering hall, which was too small to accommodate the large number of students and faculty who came to show their support or voice their concerns. While the administration tried to stick to an agenda that included small group discussions, short statements from both President Decoudreaux and Dean of Students Eloise Stiglitz and a brief synopsis of the recent events, the plan was quickly dismantled when
students present felt that the meeting was not getting to the heart of the issue. Students took over and passed the microphone off to each other as they spoke out about their pain, fears and experiences on campus. Dean Stiglitz, who ran the Town Tall meeting, felt it could have gone better.
“This, in my view, is one of the saddest moments at Mills College.” -President DeCoudreaux
“There are things that I wish we could have done differently, I think there [are] things that all of us collectively who planned it, wish we would have done differently,” she said. “[but] we had good intentions.” President DeCoudreaux was also at the meeting. While she remained out of the spotlight for most of the discussion, she has high
Coalition works to raise Oakland’s minimum wage Maria Aguilar Contributing Writer A local group called Lift Up Oakland recently launched a campaign to raise the minimum wage in Oakland from $8 per hour to $12.25 per hour in the hopes of improving the community and the local economy. Lift Up Oakland is a coalition of labor workers, students, unions
and organizations including the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE) and the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC). Lift Up Oakland needs 35,000 signatures to be able to pass a ballot initiative in November to raise the minimum wage. Lift Up Oakland launched the campaign on Feb. 15 and continued to gather signatures March 1 and March 7. Lorien Rice, an associate professor in the department of
economics believes that raising the minimum wage on a local level is controversial. “Generally, economists are less optimistic about having a local increase in the minimum wage, because then some employers may move to other cities that have a lower minimum wage and the jobs move away along with the employers,” Rice said in an email. “Again, it is hard to measure how big of a problem that is, which makes see
Wage page 6
hopes for what comes next. “The Town Hall gave the community the opportunity to better understand whats going on, and gave those who are most directly affected by it an opportunity to share their concerns or explain it to those who didn’t quite understand,” President DeCoudreaux said. “I see it as an opportunity for us to move forward.” The following day, black students staged a silent protest on the Tea Shop steps, inviting all community members to take part. Dressed in all black, the students and faculty faced Holmgren Meadow and quietly held signs that read “Can you hear me now?” “I refuse to be silenced” and “I’m unsafe, how are you?” The protest went from 12pm to 2pm, and for both hours, other students and faculty stood or sat in the grass facing them, silently offering their presence. Along with the protest, the Black Women’s Collective wrote a list of nine demands they hope the administration will accommodate to help fight racism on campus. They first presented the list to President DeCoudreaux, and have since posted it on bulletin boards and posts around campus. The list includes such demands as shifting away from lump-
ing all students of color together, an increase in tenure track faculty of color and racial sensitivity training for faculty and students, all of which President DeCoudreaux and Dean Stiglitz said are “reasonable and actionable.” “The first order is really responding to the demands,” Dean Stiglitz said, “because if there’s one group of students that feels like they’re... being mistreated and not being heard, which is what the black students are saying, we need to take that as a wake up call, see what we can do differently and take this as an opportunity for selfreflection for all of us.” According to President DeCoudreaux, some of the actions on the list are already underway. The Provost Office is already working with a task force on a review of the general education requirements, which will now include a requirement for teaching and educating students on racism in the United States. A retention task force was also just revitalized, and President DeCoudreaux opened the idea of connecting it to a task force devoted specifically to black students. She also felt that having an see
Racism page 6
Leona Creek to lose orange tint
Leona Creek, which is often cleaned by the Mills community, will soon lose its orange hue. See page 6 for the full story.
“We Will Prevail” Joyelle Baker Contributing Writer
These issues are much bigger than [the Confessions] incident and display of extreme hate. [That post] is only the tip of an iceberg [...] in a sea of inequalities. I address you today as a concerned friend, peer and student. I am concerned that we, the Black leaders on this campus, are being asked to stay invisible and complaisant. I, as the Vice President of the Black Women’s Collective, am concerned that people feel the need to strip those of us in influential positions of the little influence that we hold and worked so hard to obtain in an environment where we are the minority. Yet, I am also realizing that there are more cracks in the system than are visible to us. If we continue to go forth with resilience and steadfast persistence, then the system will start to give under its own weight of disparities and negligence. We must have faith in knowing that we are stronger than our opposition. If we are strategic in our vision and our goals, if we are collaborative– forming alliances and partnerships–and deliberate in our actions, and if we believe in the strength of our numbers and voices, then there is no other outcome than for us to succeed. […] I do not know about you, but I did not work this hard to have it all thrown back in my face. We must continue carrying the torch in honor of our past ancestors who fought to their graves, our present brothers and sisters who are being unjustly sent to their graves and our future generations who will continue to fight. To all of the people who are surprised that such a thing could take place at this institution, NEWSFLASH! This has been going on for years. It is bewildering to me how it has taken someone threatening the lives of Black students for the community and the administration to take matters seriously and to start the conversation. We, the Black students whose lives were in that threat, have been having this conversation since the day we stepped foot on this campus. […] We have been ready for real change in campus culture. In the areas where support is scarce, I will not stop working to strengthen our system. When encountering racism and navigating spaces in which we are met with micro-aggressive attitudes on a regular basis, the administration is not sitting there [with us] as we painfully hold back tears and swallow frustrations out of fear of falling into the stereotype of the “Angry Black Person.” We are the ones who are directly affected and suffer most deeply. We are unable to simply close our eyes or our ears–or our hearts– and turn our backs away from the problem and pretend that it does not exist. I do not hold the privilege of being able to be oblivious, untouched or “colorblind” because I wear my Black every day of my life. And I refuse to hide that part of me, even if I could. We have a right to be angry. Do not be fearful of showing too much emotion. Sometimes people who do not see us as human beings forget and they feel intimidated by our ability to be complex beings. Therefore, when we do express anger or frustration, they try to villainize us and portray us as dangerous because they believe that we should not have the same rights and access to our human emotions. I am done feeling as though I need to make myself smaller or diminish all that I am, just to make someone else feel bigger or safer or validated. I do not feel sorry that people are being forced
to wake up. I do not feel sorry if people’s worlds are being shaken by the realization that, no, we are not all treated justly. [...] One thing that racist people hate to hear the most is that they are racist. I must briefly reiterate what has been explained over and over again: there is no such thing as reverse racism. Yes, there can be prejudice on both ends. However, oppressed minority groups of people are disempowered and/or disenfranchised to such an extent by those in positions of power or privilege that it is made virtually impossible for the oppressed to alter the dynamics in a way that would threaten the positionality of the oppressor. It is a learning process for all of us joining together in solidarity and acknowledging one another’s struggles. This is the note on which I would like to continue: solidarity. The “race problem” is not Black students’ problem alone. Not only are we affected by racial tensions on campus and within our larger society, but Latina, Asian, Middle Eastern, Pacific Islander, Indian, Native American and multiracial-identifying students of color also experience racial tensions and isolation in varying ways. I can only speak to the experience of walking through this world as a Black woman. Even then, I cannot be the voice of “the black experience” because there is no one image or way of categorizing blackness. Furthermore, this problem is also our allies’ and our oppressors’ [problem]. […] We cannot call ourselves allies until we do some of the actual work that it takes to dismantle systems of oppression. We, as Black students, can be allies to each other. Students in all affinity groups on campus can be allies to one another. Our White peers, too, can be allies to us. However, no one can call themselves true allies if we pick and choose when it is convenient to be so or not. Allyship should not be self-serving. Furthermore, we do not need to be saved. We need space to feel safe in our own bodies. […] I have watched many of my closest friends leave [Mills] due to a combination of a lack of financial help or advising and feeling unwelcome and unsupported. So often, I even considered leaving. Yet, I cannot find it in my heart to abandon ship when so many people invest in, believe in and depend on me. I also [know] that Mills can be an amazing place and I love being able to be in an environment with such incredible, intelligent, strong and beautiful souls. But I have come to learn that the feeling is not mutual for Black students on this campus. I will not be a passive observer, suffering as I pour myself into this institution—financially, academically, emotionally and spiritually. We should be active agents, pioneers of real change. As I close this letter, I make a promise that, even as the system fails us in ways that we cannot begin to count, I will not fail us. We must not fail each other. Together we are stronger. Though this incident may weigh heavy on our hearts in the aftermath of the killings of Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Jonathan Ferrell and Jordan Davis in Florida and all of the horror stories that happen on campuses nationwide, we will not be victims. Something has to change in the system or we will have to rewrite the system ourselves. I am sending all of my love, support and strength to our community. Lean on me, as I hope to lean on you. We will prevail.
5000 MacArthur Blvd. Rothwell 157 Oakland, CA 94613 510.430.2246 phone
Janel Park Contributing Writer
To whom it may concern: I am writing this letter to the Office of the President of Mills College in response to recent issues around race, prejudice and bigotry raised on our own college campus. Though much admirable and humbling activism has been initiated by the Black Women’s Collective in direct response to a murderous, hateful and racist comment written by an anonymous member and then deliberately publicised on the Mills College Confessions Facebook page, the issues brought to light regarding this event have been a part of an ongoing and ever-present narrative of racism and cultural ignorance that I have witnessed since my own introduction to the Mills College campus six semesters ago. Though I can not speak to the experiences of others who sought their paths of higher education at Mills College, I can say that I personally came to this college in search of a foundation of equity and social justice upon which to build my professional career as an educator of the young people of our country, as well as a passionate advocate for prestigious public education for all. I cherish and value the education that Mills College has given me through which I have deepened my passion for my future profession and strengthened my own voice to take with me into a society riddled with a plethora of social injustices that must be continually addressed, discussed and resolved. However, this can not negate the prolific instances of cultural insensitivity, racism and prejudice I have both experienced and witnessed on this very college campus I proudly call my Alma Mater as I continue to work on my second degree at Mills College. I went through a very unexpected phase of culture shock upon beginning my journey at this school, mainly due to the stark contrast of the image of Mills College that is marketed to the general public via pamphlets, informational sessions, the Mills College website and the reality of attending an institution that was established in 1865, nearly a whole century before the peak of the Civil Rights Movement. The face of racism has changed. It is no longer an angry mob of white men in white hoods burning crosses while terrifying and murdering innocent people based on the color of their skin (although this is easily arguable given the shamefully endless instances of police brutality and baseless murders of Black people; Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and Steven Eugene Washington, just to name a few). Contemporary racism more commonly comes in the form of covert racism through cultural insensitivity, microaggressions, prejudiced assumptions and a dominant mainstream narrative that only validates specific groups of people while continuing to alienate the “others.” Mills College is no exception to the pitfalls of modern-day, institutionalized racism. Though our mission statement as a school embodies an ethic of social justice and cultural, racial and ethnic diversity, the reality for many of the students of color on our campus tells a different tale. It is time for us to practice what we preach; to not only “talk the talk” but “walk the walk.” It is for these reasons, that I, Janel Park, graduate of the Mills college psychology department and current candidate for a master’s in education through the Mills teachers for tomorrow schools, stand in solidarity with the demands of the Black Women’s Collective and urgently insist on the immediate implementation of the BWC’s Mills college Black students’ list of demands. I TOO AM MILLS COLLEGE.
For the full blog post, go to http://themillennialvoice.wordpress. com/2014/02/28/a-letter-to-the-too-outspoken-who-still-go-unheard/
Managing Editor Natalie Meier
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A Letter To Our President
Chief News Editor Ari Nussbaum Arts & Entertainment Editor Emily Mibach Sports & Health Editor Amanda Polick
Chalk illustration on ground during silent protest.
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The Campanil welcomes public commentary on subjects of interest to the campus community, as well as feedback on the paper itself. Letters to the Editor should be no more than 150 words. Submissions may be edited for length and clarity only. All submissions must include the author’s name and contact information and may be submitted via e-mail or in typewritten form, accompanied by an electronic copy. No anonymous submissions will be accepted. Submissions must be received one week before the publication date to appear in the next issue. The Campanil reserves the right to upload all content published in print, in addition to original content, on our website, www.thecampanil.com. The Campanil is published every other Tuesday. Students interested in joining The Campanil staff should contact the Editor in Chief at firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening the Conversation:
From the Office of the President
Critical Whiteness MILLS.EDU
The Mills College website portrays an image of a diverse student body.
Beck Levy Contributing Writer During the Town Hall meeting, a Black student asked a question into the microphone, frustration in her voice. She asked something to the effect of “Do any white students have something to say?” I had been focusing on listening, paying close attention to what my classmates were saying. It didn’t seem appropriate for a white person to take up airtime when Black voices urgently needed to be heard. At that meeting, Black students were working hard. Black students were performing the labor of their survival, the hard, thankless and obstructed labor of self-advocacy, and the additional labor of unpaid community education. So what this Black woman was asking was, are white students willing to work, too? Are we? Black students are responding to an anonymous threat by speaking up, putting themselves on the line. White students ought to share the burden of stating one’s allegiance, publicly, accountably to everyone. All white people benefit from white supremacy– whether directly or indirectly (such as not knowing about the culture of racism at Mills until the administration is forced to recognize it due to a possible public relations issue). Because of this, it is our responsibility to take an active role in ending racism and white supremacy. “Not being racist” is not enough–because there’s no such thing. Want to be less complicit? Me too. Here are some steps. • Listen. White people are conditioned to feel entitled to take up space. Our personal experiences of pain and oppression can be a source of empathy and compassion, but they don’t enable us to know what it is like to be Black. Don’t assume you can map your experiences onto someone else’s life. People of Color are speaking. Listen. • Ask. By asking about other people’s experiences and needs, you can help open space. But remember, it’s not the responsibility of People of Color to end racism or to hold your hand and educate you through not being a racist. • Learn how to get called out. Racism manifests institutionally and in social relationships. It is not possible to be reared in a racist society without being conditioned by racist ideology. If someone takes the time and energy to call you out, that’s a gift. They don’t have to expend their resources like that. Take the opportunity to grow from it. Don’t use the opportunity to just talk about yourself more. It’s not about you. • Specificity is important. The “Confessions” comment targeted Black women. The violent threat referred to a specific act that has specific roots in the murder and intimidation of Black people. This incident should spur many conversations about the resources People of Color need and the personal/systemic injustices they suffer. Those conversations shouldn’t become just a litany of identities. When Dean Stiglitz invoked Mills’ population of “gender fluid” students during the Town Hall, it was inappropriate because the violent threat was against Black students, not genderqueer students (and some Black people are genderqueer/trans*, too). That moment read as a desperate plea to remember Mills’ more favorable track record and recent public presence regarding gender pronouns. • People of Color are not a monolith. Black people
are not a monolith. Being asked to represent an entire group with your opinion is a burden only placed on marginalized people. Picture how weird and inappropriate it would be if you were repeatedly called upon to represent the opinions of all white people, or even all white students at Mills. This unfair and ridiculous expectation is constantly placed on People of Color. • Be a resident of Oakland. Some students raised the point that the ignorance and racism demonstrated at Mills is particularly egregious given that we live in a city of significant Black history and organizing. We live in the city that gave birth to the Black Panther Party. Educate yourself. • Be a resident of California. We live in a state in the midst of a prison crisis, a crisis of prison overpopulation. People of Color are disproportionately criminalized. The prison population is disproportionally Black, and Black women are the fastest growing prison population. Educate yourself. Critical Resistance, a group co-founded by Black Panther, Angela Davis, is actively struggling against prisons in California. Check out books like Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California by Dr. Ruth Wilson Gilmore. • Understand your role. Understand what’s at stake. Mills derives value from diversity but doesn’t reinvest in it. Mills’ website shows smiling women of many colors representing the student body. Though Mills profits from this display of diversity, Mills has not taken sufficient measures to protect, support, or listen to People of Color, specifically Black women. We as white people benefit from Mills’ diversity–from the involvement and contributions of students of color, from the perseverance and work of faculty and staff of color. We benefit from the perception that we go to a progressive diverse school. When Mills as an institution benefits from Black students but those students cannot access that value and get the support and respect they need, that is exploitation. • Welcome to the crisis (already in progress). Alumnae in attendance spoke to the fact that they had presented lists of demands to the administration and many of the Black students who spoke up were frustrated because they had been talking about the racism they experience for years, some directly to Dean Stiglitz. The “Confessions” comment was merely one symptom of a systemic ongoing problem. Racism on campus didn’t just become a problem this week when white students learned about it. Racism is the everyday reality of Black students on this campus. The responsibility to respond is not on the administration alone. We ought not to rely on the administration to be our moral compass. Respect the work that groups like the Black Women’s Collective have been doing for years and respect the work that Black students have been doing by simply surviving on this campus. Find out what that work is. Support the demands of the BWC, and support the ongoing and emerging needs of Black students and students of color, not just now but in a couple weeks, a couple months, for the rest of your time at Mills. Don’t expect to stand hand in hand, a rainbow of skin tones, on an aircraft carrier with a “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner. That’s not what dismantling racism looks like. Stay self-critical. Go online to www.thecampanil.com/unlearning-racism-confrontingwhiteness/ for the full article and book recommendations.
To the protesting students, I want you to know that yes, I have heard you. To all Black students, I want you to know that I have personally experienced racism in all forms in my life, so I understand your pain. To all students, faculty and staff, I want you to know that we will work together to repair the damage done to our sense of community. The following actions have already been implemented: Counseling and Psychological Services has arranged for three days of crisis counseling by Black counselors in order to deal with both the aftermath of the Confessions page posting and our students’ experiences of racism on campus. Students were notified yesterday that we have three hours of drop-in counseling that began [...] Friday, March 7, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm in Cowell. [...] A counselor will be available all day on Tuesday, March 11, for more drop-in sessions. In addition, a Healing Circle for all Black women will meet weekly throughout the semester at noon on Tuesdays in the Solidarity Lounge. We will continue to arrange for Black counselors to come to campus throughout the semester. I met on Thursday afternoon with students from the Black Women’s Collective (BWC). Joining me in the conversation were Professors Dave Donahue, Ajuan Mance and Julia Oparah. We discussed the formation of a task force charged with investigating impediments to recruitment, retention and matriculation of Black students. The BWC will recommend task force members. We also discussed how the task force would interact with the already existing Retention Task Force. I will appoint this new task force and charge it to meet as soon and as often as possible before the end of the semester and to provide their recommendations to me as soon as they can. The college has begun to identify social justice-based race relations consultants to analyze systemic issues and provide training programs for the campus community, including faculty. We will have students participate in the interviews with the consultants before they are selected. I want each of you to know that I take personal responsibility for addressing racism at Mills, and I will hold myself and the institution accountable for making sustainable change. To do that, I will need every member of the Mills community to work with me. We all have to be willing to have difficult conversations, hear opposing points of view, and do so in a way that is both respectful and productive. We are all Mills College, and you have my commitment that I will do everything I can to make that real for you.
Staff editorial As a publication, The Campanil strives to report the news. We want to give an account of what has been happening, provide multiple viewpoints and allow the reader to make his/her/their own decision from the information provided. A critique on our coverage of the Silent Protest on the steps of Adam’s Plaza March 5 was that we watered down a powerful protest with our reporting. Know our intention was and is to convey what happened on campus for students, alumna and community members who were not able to be there in person, as well to document it for continued media coverage. We hold ourselves to the ethics of journalism: to seek truth and accuracy, to convey truths to an audience and to use our publication to check the power structures that surround us. And we need people on staff who are willing to shape our publication to make us as efficient, well-represented and informed journalists as possible. But we also want to take a moment to say that as a publication, we are trying to showcase multiple viewpoints. We cannot effectively do our job if members of our community are silenced from fear of expressing sentiments that go against others’ opinions. When these opinions are said aloud or in print, even if and especially if the reader does not agree with them, they become part of the larger dialogue that we as a community need to have. Nothing will be changed if people cannot speak and hear reactions. We realize though that issues of racism are highly personal and emotional. For those expressing opinions, please keep in mind that it is crucial for each and every one of us to do as much work as possible to educate ourselves. Only when we have done that can we responsibly express our beliefs to one another and enact change. As a publication that is trying to serve the Mills Community, we know that we need the Mills Community’s help to be better. This is your school’s newspaper. If you hate it, help change it or communicate how we can improve so that you can be proud. We are part of your community. We want to listen to your voices.
Arts & Entertainment
Mills professor publishes 18th novel
Kathyrn Reiss has been writing at Mills for 25 years.
Micha Borneo Contributing Writer The house remains still as Kathryn Reiss takes a seat in the armchair by the window of her 19th century parlor. In this position each week on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, Reiss sits quietly writing her favorite forms of creative writing: mystery and historical fiction. It is this focus and discipline that has allowed Mills Associate Professor of English Kathryn Reiss to produce 18 novels over her two decades of teaching at Mills and raise a family of seven.
“I have been a published writer for 23 years,” Reiss said. “I wrote my first book in Germany while I was studying as a Fulbright Scholar. It underwent 25 revisions.” Although Reiss has written 18 books of young adult mystery and historical fiction, she has recently expanded her writing to new platforms. Within the past five years, Reiss has written five novels for the American Girl Book Historical Series. “This is a different kind of writing,” Reiss said. "American Girl Historical Mysteries are based on one character. I am writing about a character that already exists, so I have to read all that has been written on that character before. It has been fun for me.” According to the American Girl Company, their mission is to “provide inspiring products for each stage of a young girl’s development.” Today, the American Girl Company is comprised of young adult fiction novels, young adult historical fiction novels, a magazine and a line of 18 inch dolls. Reiss’ most recent novel for American Girl Historical Series, Intruders at Rivermead Manor, is the fifth of five books and is about American Girl character Kit. “Kit is a Depression Era girl living in Cincinnati in 1935,” Reiss said. “In the story Kit discovers that the House [Rivermead Manor] that she’s working in has a secret tunnel that was used by slaves during the Underground Railroad. I want [the] reader to get a new understanding of the challenges and social issues of the Depression Era.” With the online and in-store release of Reiss’ newest novel Intruders at Rivermead Manor on Feb. 25, many of her readers, including her daughter, are thrilled. “I read all of the American Girl books including the ones that she wrote,” said Isabel Strychacz, Reiss' daughter. “Sometimes she will let me read the manuscript and ask me if I can figure out the mystery.” Reiss’ success also helps her daughter with her own writing. “I am a writer,” Strychacz said. “I like reading mysteries and the young adult section in general. I always know that I can go to her with my writing, and she loves to talk with me about it. Her success is really amazing and exciting for everyone.” Reiss’ literary success not only inspires through novels, but in the classroom as well.
“I have worked with Professor Reiss for 20 years,” said Elmaz Abinader, a colleague of Reiss' at Mills College. “Reiss’ work is appealing with her supernatural approaches. She writes diligently and prolifically turns out more writing than anyone else in the department. She is an admirable scholar.” Reiss has served Mills College’s English department for over 20 years as a full-time and part-time creative writing professor. All of her classes have focuses in young adult fiction and creative writing workshops. Many of her students are writers themselves and use her insight as a published writer to guide their own works. Sophomore Joana Brito is currently taking Reiss’ class for a second consecutive semester. “I have taken writing fiction for children and young adults and this semester I am taking advanced fiction for young adult novels,” Brito said. “She has taught me how to hook the reader in that age group. She tells us about her novels and lets us know the process of working on and publishing a novel.” Junior Melanie Vega, a creative writing major who has also studied under Reiss, has also benefited from Reiss’ insight in her own career. “She has experience as a writer and teaches us the tools she uses within her own writing,” Vega said. “Her advice is useful because I am trying to become a writer myself. She gives constructive feedback and helps us develop our skills as writers.” Aside from writing and teaching, Reiss’ literary skills bring an inspirational spirit to her family and home. Reiss’ husband, Professor Thomas Strychacz, who is also an English professor at Mills, notes that she is steadfast in her work. “She spends concentrated time writing her books,” Strychacz said. “She goes through several drafts before she can get the final product. Occasionally she gets stuck, but we hash it out.” As Reiss enters her third decade as both a writer and a teacher, the biggest mystery is what new platforms of expression she will excel in next. However, one thing is certain: she will be writing about it. “Press on and finish the first draft even when it’s difficult; then, you have something to revise,” Reiss said. Reiss’ new novel Intruders at Rivermead Manor is available for purchase online or in store at any major bookstore.
Twenty years and going strong MFA alum Eliza Barrios is a Filipina American artist who has been working in the San Francisco art scene for 20 years.
Michele Kilmer Contributing Writer After 20 years of working in San Francisco’s art scene, Eliza Barrios has reached a milestone in her career. As a multidisciplinary artist whose work is informed by her Filipina-American queer activistism, Barrios, a Mills MFA ‘95 alumna, is about to accomplish her dream of moving into her very own art studio. Barrios is currently working on a project funded by the Irvine Foundation and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, whose focus is to bring art into the community. Barrios' project will be for the South of Market (SOMA) community of San Francisco. “Essentially we use art to facilitate a dialogue, process or engagement,” Barrios said. Encouraged by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to work with existing institutions, Barrios’ project will bring together the Filipino community, The Veterans Equity Center and The South of Market Community Action Network. “I am the first person in my family to get a master's degree," Barrios said. "I am first generation Filipina." Barrios noted that when she was at Mills, being a woman of color played a prominent role in her experience. She likened it to current discussions about gender politics students are having now; multiculturalism was a popular topic then. “It was the year of multiculturalism," Barrios said. "It was pretty hot. I remember that being a point of contention during
critique class.” In her graduating class, there was only one other person of color. Barrios said they got flack from fellow students any time either one of them were showcased in a gallery, museum or at school. It was thought that maybe they were being showcased because they were the "flavor of the month," as Barrios put it, and not because their art was good. Through this experience at Mills, Barrios developed a thicker skin in navigating the world of art and art criticism. Moira Roth, a Mills art history professor, was especially influential for Barrios. In the 1980’s, Roth helped another Filipino Mills MFA student, Carlos Villa ‘63, open up the discussion around multiculturalism, academics and the arts through a symposium he taught at the Art Institute called “Worlds in Collision.” “Moira as a mentor for me was really helpful because she understood the politics," Barrios said. "When I was going to Mills at the time, being Filipina-American, you were already dismissed. It’s like you have handicap points; of course they are going to look at [your art] because you’re [a student] of color.” “I have been a great admirer of Eliza Barrios’ innovative art practice, politics and sense of community ever since she began her MFA at Mills,” Roth said. Barrios chose to attend Mills because the school offered interdisciplinary art study, which was unheard of at the time. Back then, nobody was doing more than one discipline; now it's unusual if you aren't. “There was nothing as progressive and advanced as Mills
COURTESEY OF ELIZA BARRIOS
was, and the teachers, the mentors I had, were amazing," Barrios said. "I came from a lineage of alumni that were actually practicing [art]." Learning how to deal with prejudice and what it means to be an artist who also happens to be a queer woman of color has continued to inform Barrios’ art and the projects she chooses to collaborate on. One collaboration called Mail Order Bride, or "M.O.B.", is described on Barrios' website as “a group of Filipina American artists engaged in an ongoing collaborative investigation of culture, race and gender.” Barrios’ current MOB project including artists Jenifer Wofford and Reanne Estrada is called Mananangoogle, a complex parody of google, Silicon Valley, and the mythical creature from the Philippines, Mananaggal, a man-eating blood sucking witch. One of the ways Barrios maintains an art practice is the work she does outside of the art world. “I basically did everything I did not go to school for," Barrios said. "Luckily I was young, I was able to go to work full-time and practice [art] full-time." Currently Barrios is working part-time at The Global Fund for Women, which keeps her practice inspired, as do fellow Mills alumi who she occasionally runs into out in the art world . “Very rarely do I find peers that came out of Mills not practicing [art] in some way or the other." To learn more about Barrios’ current projects you visit her website, elizabarrios.com
Arts & Entertainment 03.11.14 5 Creative Growth Art Center Check it out Where: When:
355 24th St, Oakland CA creativegrowth.org
Contact: To get involved or volunteer, contact email@example.com. For information about studio visits, go to creativegrowth.org/category/news/.
Chardonnay Hightower-Collins Contributing Writer Entering the brightly lit gallery, the surrounding art pops out and draws you in. The small art gallery is home to a large array of inspiring artwork. Some pieces are bright and attractive while others are heavily detailed with the utmost care. With a quick glance to the left of the galley, the artists are at the peak of their crafts in a large, open area. This is where all the magic happens. Since its inception in 1974, the Creative Growth Art Center has been serving adult artists in the Bay Area who have developmental, physical and mental disabilities. This sacred space provides a professional studio environment for artistic expression and creative growth. The artwork is displayed directly in the Creative Growth gallery, as well as in museums and private collections throughout the world. The work expands as far as Paris, where there is a large selection of Creative Growth artwork on display in France's 10th arrondissement. On any given day, you can see the artists in their creative zones, whether it's sewing a free-flowing gown or sculpting a vase. Artist Jorge Gomez has enjoyed spending the last 15 years at Creative Growth. Gomez has created a myriad of art pieces ranging from extravagant paintings to fine sculptures. “I like my work here,” Gomez said. “I like this space. The teachers are nice and they help you a lot, and if you have a problem you can always talk to somebody before you go kaboom!” Visiting professor Michael Hall, who teaches painting, has been involved with Creative Growth for 11 years. He was a member at the YMCA up the street and one day the space caught his attention. A friend later encouraged him to work there, and he's been hooked ever since. Hall believes that Creative Growth is a great establishment for the Oakland community. “Creative Growth is a good model for more than just the population that they deal with,” Hall said. After volunteering for so many years, Hall now teaches the video-making workshop he originally brought to the center. In this class, students make a wide variety of videos ranging from biographical to science fiction to comical videos. The class recently transitioned into bigger projects like informational cue videos shown at the New Parkway Theatre in Oakland reminding viewers to shut off their cellphones. “Even within that small parameter, each artist makes a video about turning off your cellphone in a completely different way,” Hall said. Artist Larry Randolf was eager to share his story about leaving and eventually returning back to his home at Creative Growth. Randolf enjoys making food-like sculptures, some of which include a group of uniquely decorated clay donuts. Not long after leaving, Randolf developed physical problems that forced him to leave his job at the Oakland Museum, at which time Randolf found it fitting to come back to Creative Growth where he was accepted and could do what he enjoyed—creating art. Any visitor to the center will immediately notice the kind, caring and nurturing characteristics the artists embody. Not only is this space a place for adults with developmental disabilities to strive artistically, but it is also a great model for many other art facilities that nurture different aspects of social life. As such, Creative Growth acts as a catalyst for other art centers like itself, including Creativity Explored in San Francisco and NIAD Art Center of Richmond. Creative Growth Art Center is a great place for the Mills community to get involved, whether you consider yourself artistic or not. It is a place for creative and personal growth and a groundbreaking facility in Oakland.
ALL PHOTOS BY CHARDONNAY HIGHTOWER-COLLINS
Creative Growth is an art studio for adults with mental, developmental and physical disablities.
News 6 03.11.14 Water Board to remove heavy Racism discussion metals from Leona Creek spreads across campus from
Leona Creek, upstream from Mills College's Lake Aliso, is an unforgettable sight. Since Leona Creek is affected by acid mine drainage from the Leona Heights Sulfur Mine that closed 84 years ago, the river bed is bright orange due to the iron sulfate that reacts chemically with the oxygen in the air. It has no wildlife and vegetation in the creek due to the high levels of heavy metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic. On Feb. 27, a community meeting was held at the Leona Lodge led by the Regional Water Board and the City of Oakland to discuss the details of the clean-up of Leona Creek and the prevention of heavy metals from transferring to other bodies of water. The issue of cleaning up Leona Creek has been the subject of a lawsuit for several decades. Britta Bullard, the sustainability coordinator, has led projects to clean up the creek on the Mills campus. "When I first got here, my first collaborator thought the creek was never going to be cleaned up because it's on private property," Bullard said. Lindsay Whalin, a geologist and chemist of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board ("Water Board”), said the issue of acid mine drainage is very rare in the Bay Area. Leona Creek is the worst in terms of acidity. According to Whalin, the Creek does not pose a threat to humans, but there are concentrations of metals and arsenic that exceed water quality standards for the protection of wildlife. The project will be financed by property owner, Collin Mbanugo, according to SFGate. After many failed attempts by the Regional Water Board to start the project since 1992, the Water Board threatened to fine the property owner $10,000 each day the project deadline was
Racism page 1
emergency crisis response team was an important demand, specifically one comprised of black mental and emotional health professionals, which is one demand that has already been met. In a March 6 email, Dean Stiglitz notified the community of three days of free counseling by black counselors for black students, as well as a Healing Circle for all black women, which will meet weekly throughout the semester at noon on Tuesdays in the Solidarity Lounge. “We really need to do everything we can to be responsive to
our students and their needs and to make sure that they are studying in an environment in which they don’t have to worry about feeling unwelcome, they don’t have to worry about feeling threatened, they don’t have to worry about justifying their existence and they don’t have to feel the need to say ‘I too am Mills,’” President Decoudreaux said. “They will know that they are also Mills. That’s what I think we need to strive for and that’s what I’m committed to putting into place at our institution.” The BWC’s publicity chair declined to comment at this time. Contributed reporting by Emily Mibach and Amanda Edwards.
Campaign launched to increase minimum wage from
Leona Creek, which runs through campus, has high levels of heavy metals due to a sulfur mine that closed 84 years ago.
missed until the creek runs clear. The owner is not affiliated with the mine operators. Bullard and her student volunteers have worked to remove invasive plants and replanting native plants near Leona Creek. "In terms of my interactions with and place in the watershed, my perspective is coming from years of work days to restore our native habitat during the week," Bullard said. "Being a member of the community who works on restoration efforts for the creek, I'm really excited. I'm wondering what sort of wildlife might become stronger because the water will be cleaner." Lake Aliso, which, despite its name, is actually a reservoir, is contaminated not only from the runoff of Leona Creek but also
While the creek is not dangerous to humans, wildlife is unable to thrive in it due to the levels of mercury, lead and arsenic.
from the runoff from the freeways, trout ponds and from city streets. According to Linda Zitzner, AVP of operations, the Leona Creek clean-up will also benefit Lake Aliso. "The lake should be cleaner, with the exception of occasional mud, and habitable," Ziztner said. "There's nothing in the lake. There are frogs that live around the lake. It will change the ecology." Dr. Kristina Faul, associate professor of environmental science, has been doing research on Lake Aliso and two other urban manmade lakes in the East Bay. According to Faul, the Water Board is going to keep all the metals upstream with the clean-up. "Instead of our lake being a trap for all those heavy metals, it will be trapped at the source, which means the downstream lake and creek will be much healthier," Faul said. Dr. Sarah Swope, visiting professor of biology, feels that the clean-up of Leona Creek will be beneficial to the students at Mills. "It has great potential to be a major restoration project that has both ecological importance and that can serve as great teaching tool right here on campus," Swope said. The official clean-up of Leona Creek is slated to start in May 2014 and will be completed on Sept. 30, 2014 due to the upcoming rainy season. For more information regarding the clean-up of Leona Creek, contact Whalin at firstname.lastname@example.org or Darin Ranelletti of the City of Oakland at email@example.com.
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it controversial.” Katherine Wu, a junior at Mills, also worries that there will be consequences if the minimum wage increases locally. “Individual companies might hire less because they have to pay more,” Wu said. Ashley Morgan, a junior at Mills, thinks that the minimum wage should be raised but notes that it will be difficult to increase. "Do I believe that workers living on a minimum wage salary need more money to realistically live in the Bay Area? Absolutely,” Morgan said. “The difficulty in raising the minimum wage, however, namely figuring out where the extra money is going to come from, leads me to be apprehensive about simply saying yes to the increase.” Although Morgan thinks that the increase in minimum wage will be beneficial, she is skeptical as to how much the increase will help. “Factor in minimum wage workers with families and the disparity between them and individuals who make more than minimum wage becomes even more apparent," Morgan said. "Raising the minimum wage would hopefully allow workers to live at least mar-
ginally better, ideally more.” In addition to Lift Up Oakland's campaign, there are already several changes that will affect the minimum wage on a broader scale. In September 2013 Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 10, which will increase the minimum wage in California to $10 by 2016. The minimum wage will increase to $9 on July 1, 2014 and to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016. President Obama has also proposed raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour nationally. Lift Up Oakland is also working on adding a provision requiring that employees are able to have up to five days of paid sick leave. Although California does not currently have paid sick leave, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez announced a bill Jan. 14 that would allow California workers to have at least three paid sick days a year. Lift Up Oakland will host several other events throughout March around Oakland. The coalition encourages Oakland community members to join them. "Together, let's lift our entire community and make Oakland the kind of city [where] families can afford to put food on the table," the Lift Up Oakland website said. Go to http://liftupoakland.org/ for more info.
Lift Up Oakland Signature Campaign Events:
Friday, March 7 First Friday 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Sunday, March 23 Oakland Running Festival 8:30 am to 3:00 pm
Saturday, March 15 SEIU 1021 Union Hall 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Saturday, March 29 Allen Temple Church 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Sports & Health
Gender Games: Navigating the World of Gender and College Basketball Michele Kilmer
Contributing Writer A crowd of more than 30 students and faculty gathered in Haas Gymnasium on Feb. 20, for a screening of the short documentary film Gender Games. The film was co-directed by a Mills alum and Stanford University MFA digital media arts student Meg Smaker. The event was organized by Mills’ swimming Coach Neil Virtue and sponsored by the athletics, physical education and recreation department (APER) along with the social justice resource center. The film was followed by a panel discussion. The eight-minute film, Gender Games, focused on Gabrielle “Gabby” Ludwig and her journey to competing in women’s college basketball after having gender reassignment surgery at the age of 51. In her introduction, Smaker said she and her co-director Veronica Lopez chose Ludwig as a subject because they were drawn to her. “As soon as we met her, like five minutes into the conversation, I was like we have to do this movie,” Smaker said. “She was just so inspirational and so ... open and genuine and as a film maker you just can’t ask for more than that.” Ludwig’s opening line in the documentary says it all: “What I really like about this team is that they’ve only known me as a female and that’s how they see me.” The film goes on to highlight the struggles and triumphs Ludwig has had on her journey to playing women’s basketball at Mission Hills College from juggling a fulltime job, three kids and a wife, to all the
legal hoops she had to jump through to be eligible to play. Former Mills Athletic Director Helen Carroll, who now works for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), was instrumental in helping Ludwig sue the college for her right to play. According to Ludwig, there were some dark moments and some of the media coverage was very nasty and downright mean. The coverage on ESPN’s Radio program “The Sports Report,” by hosts Steve Czaban and Andy Pollin referred to Ludwig as “she/ he” and “it.” They also said, “So you lose your testicle’s but gain eligibility,” (in the National Collegiate Athletic Association). They also discussed her “gender bending” and age saying that the age limit for college athletes should be 25. Carroll helped Ludwig sue them as well. The movie goes on to show the close relationship Ludwig has with her team and how glad the team is to have a six-foot-seveninch tall player. “What’s it like to be accepted by my team? It’s like the gift of life,” Ludwig said. The panel discussion included Ludwig, Carrol, Smaker, Lopez and one of Ludwig’s teammates, Aleahlulu Lua, who is currently a freshman at Mission Hills College. Ludwig disclosed more about her personal life, including the fact that she is a Gulf War veteran. She said one of the hardest things she had to do on this journey was to change her birth certificate. She said she didn’t want to change it because it was as if she was erasing all the accomplishments she had made as Robert Ludwig. “And Robert Ludwig was a great guy,” Ludwig said. “He was just an average, hardworking guy who was all messed up in the head because the body didn’t match
Cyclone of the Week:
the spirit.” Ludwig relayed the story of the night when one of the junior basketball teams she coaches came to watch her play. She said there were two drunk men sitting in front of the team making derogatory comments about her during the game. She got choked up remembering her little players asking her if she was “a real lady or not.” Up until then they had never known her as any different. “It was really hard to try and tell them about myself when they don’t even understand themselves,” Ludwig said. “They’ll remember that for the rest of their lives because two drunk guys tried to rip apart my life from the bleachers. I had to share that story with you. I know there is more bad stuff coming but there is a lot more good stuff coming as well.” At that point Ludwig closed the evening by thanking the filmmakers for changing her life, and hoped that it changed the lives of the audience members as well. Reactions to the evening were positive as a loud round of applause rang through Haas. “Tonight was awesome,” sophomore Larri Ford said. “I’m psyched because I stopped playing sports a long time ago. But to come back and you’re, like, 51 and a veteran and you just got six weeks off surgery. I have no freaking excuse. All of that just happened to you and I was complaining about being a little overweight. I have no excuse.” Immediately after making this comment, Ford joined Ludwig, Lua and other Mills students on the Haas court for a little shooting practice. Gender Games is still on the festival cirKURT LOEFFLER cuit but will be available online in six to Top: Gabrielle “Gabby” Ludwig, Bottom: Meg Smaker, Mills alum and film co-director. eight months.
Tennis March 14 vs. Notre Dame de Namur 2pm
March 15 @ Sacramento State Invitational March 22 & March 29 vs. Biola @ Blue Heron Regatta 10am KURT LOEFFLER
Junior Alice Hewitt is this week’s Cyclone of the Week. Alice has put a lot of extra work into her game, both mentally and physically, and it is coming through in her match play. This past weekend against Division II Holy Names University, Alice was the last one on the court, still in her first set trailing 3-4, when the rest of the team had finished their singles matches. She came back to win that set 6-4, lost the second one 6-2 and lost the tiebreaker 10-4. Alice played with
intention, focus and fight. Head Coach, Loke Davis said, “I respect her for taking ownership of her game and putting in the work to grow mentally. At the beginning of the season she had said that she wanted the team to be remembered for their fight, that she wanted people to say, “Those Mills girls really put it out on the court, and she embodied that in her play.” Cyclone of the week is provided by APER’s Allie Fox.
March 30 vs. Dixie St. 10am Swimming March 19 vs. Mills @ IU Natatorium (NCAA National Swimming & Diving Championships)
Weekly Support Groups
Wellness Talk March 12 Managing Stress and Depression @ Rothwell Student Union 4:30-6pm Wellness Action Group Meeting March 19 @ Cowell 113 4:30-6pm Free Fitness Class March 20 @ Fitness Center 8-9am
Academic Anxiety Fridays @ Chapel Lounge 2-3pm Depression Wednesdays @ Cowell 110 12:15-1pm Healing Circle for Black Women Tuesdays @ Solidarity Lounge 12pm Survivors of Sexual Assault or Abuse Mondays @ Cowell 110 6-6:50pm Support Group for Seniors Fridays @ Chapel Lounge 12:10-1pm
Black Women’s Collective
List of demands
Addendum: This list of demands was compiled in response to the murderous, racist, anonymous confession posted on the Mills Confessions Facebook page that targeted Black women on the Mills College campus. This list was finalized on March 4, 2014.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ALANNA HO
1. An active role in the reformation of the general education requirements/curriculum. Specifically, the replacement of the multicultural requirement with a requirement that addresses racism in the United States. This would be a required course for all students which encompasses the curricula covered in the “Introduction to Ethnic Studies” and the “Race and Ethnic Relations in the United States” classes. 2. A Task Force specifically charged with the tasks of investigating impediments to recruitment, retention, and matriculation of Black students, formulating solutions to those issues, implementation of those solutions, and ongoing evaluation of those solutions. This task force should include Black student representation and input on appointments to the committee. 3. An investigation and reformation of racist policies that police the presence of Black people on the Mills College campus, including those set forth by the Department of Public Safety and the Office of Student Activities. 4. Establishment of an emergency fund for Black students and other students who experience low rates of persistence due in part to difficulty financing their Mills College education. 5. A shift away from lumping students of color together in one group and a recognition of the unique issues that students of each racial group experience, including but not limited to publishing an accurate racial breakdown of the student population as opposed to the “student of color” percentage published on the College’s website. 6. A marked increase in tenuretrack faculty of color, such that each academic department is home to at least one permanent faculty member of color. 7. An emergency crisis response team comprised of Black mental and emotional health professional taking appointments with Black students, faculty, and staff to provide counseling and therapy in light of Facebook Confessions page incident.* 8. A revision of the Social Justice mission statement that includes mechanisms to hold the institution accountable for addressing student/faculty/staff behavior that is incongruent with the mission statement. 9. Comprehensive, social justice based racial sensitivity training for faculty and staff who have sustained contact/interaction with students. *We demand immediate implementation of demands 2 and 7. We expect that the creation of the Task Force will take place by May 7, 2014, the last day of instruction for the Spring 2014 semester.
The Black Women’s Collective will hold an
for allies to show support Tues., March 11 at 7pm in the Student Union. JEN MAC RAMOS
Spring 2014 Issue 3 of The Campanil.