Lowell MARCH 2018 The
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Physics panel encourages female students to join the field
Alumnus dancer returns
Raising Awareness: Dreaming for Empathy
Rulers of th defe
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After win over Eagles, varsity girls soccer completes a perfect season
What is death? How the movie Coco challenged this reporter’s perception of mortality CHRISTINA KAN
“It’s been really useful because I can walk down the street and feel safe, and it’s not a false sense of security.”
“It’s not just in the music industry, it’s not just in politics, it’s everywhere surrounding us. And so to say it’s not in a school site is just wrong.”
“We’re not excluding anybody and we’re letting anyone who wants to take [honors English], take it...but the district just said no.”
he mat: Lowell wrestling team eats the Lions in a close 37-36 ANITA LIU
I’m never going to “choose a side” or a gender, only a person.
“Having the graduation date on the last day of school would help to make sure that seniors were coming to school for their full 180 days, which ensures that the school district remains compliant in following California law.”
WATCH: Teachers react to Rate My Teacher comments
COVER: A female student holds a white rose, symbolizing empowerment and solidarity among sexual harassment and assault victims. Photo by Jennifer Cheung, Tobi Kawanami and Ciara Kosai
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EDITORIAL Why we need to fight for more self-defense education at Lowell
or sophomore Silas Crocker, self-defense training through jiu jitsu has served as a good source of exercise as well as selfconfidence. He has been practicing jiu jitsu for seven years and currently trains at Ralph Gracie Jiu Jitsu in the Inner Sunset. “It’s been really useful because I can walk down the street and feel safe, and it’s not a false sense of security,” Crocker said. “I feel I could defend myself even if I didn’t have a weapon on me or I could defend others in a situation where I wanted to help someone.” Not everyone has access to similar selfdefense training, but Lowell has the ability to successfully make self-defense instruction available for our freshman physical education classes. The effects of teaching self-defense units have the potential to be far-reaching and important, as 97-98 percent of Lowell students graduate and move on to college, where, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men experience sexual assault. Self-defense can significantly reduce the probability and risk of injury for these types of attacks, according to the National Institute of Justice. In order to meet state standards, Lowell’s freshman PE classes include a variety of athletic activities, from archery to biking and yoga to pickleball. One of these units is combatives, which “Includes self-defense, kickboxing, wrestling, and other forms such as kung fu and jiu jitsu,” according to PE department head Michael Prutz. These forms of combatives fulfill the flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, and aerobic fitness requirements outlined in the state-wide Physical Education Instructional Program. All ninth grade PE classes currently incorporate combatives’ cardio kickboxing component, but only a handful cover self-defense specifically. “We worked on basic punching
and kicking and a little pushing and dodging, but no strictly self-defense work,” sophomore Chloe O’Keefe said, when recalling the combatives unit she took last year. Though combatives is part of the California Board of Education’s possible curriculum for freshman PE, not all Lowell PE classes incorporate the self-defence aspect of this component into their courses. Due to selfdefense’s appropriate athletic rigor and room in the curriculum, all ninth grade PE classes at Lowell and throughout San Francisco Unified School District should be required to include brief self-defense units. In recent years, several PE teachers have decided to introduce self-defense as part of combatives, and have found their efforts successful. Three years ago, freshman PE teacher Cambria Gersten began tacking self-defense training onto the end of her kickboxing unit. In addition to the ordinary punching and kicking combinations students are taught, Gersten’s classes now also receive specific lessons regarding self-defense topics, such as escape methods to employ when grabbed by an assailant. Beginning last year, she has started bringing in the professional assistance of jiu jitsu instructor Carlos Sapão to lead this portion of the unit. Though Gersten was initially a little nervous about how her students would react to the jiu jitsu, she was surprised at how well it went. Self-defense units such as Gersten’s have been met with positive responses from students. For example, sophomore Brandon Martinez’s ninth- grade PE class focussed on how to block and evade attacks during their combatives unit, and he considers his training worthwhile. “It’s good to be ready for anything,” Martinez said. “Lowell is pretty safe, but you never know when you might need to defend yourself.”
“It’s been really useful because I can walk down the street and feel safe, and it’s not a false sense of security.”
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v The Lowell March 2018
CARTOON A student’s guide to navigating Lowell hallways
FROM THE EDITOR Dear Lowellites, From restaurant owners in the Bay Area to bigwig hollywood actors and directors to the president of the United States, it seems like every other day a public figure gets accused of perpetrating sexual harassment or assault. While this outpouring of allegations is new, the sexual assault and harassment behind it is not; people have been being harassed and assaulted long before Trump was elected, long before Harvey Weinstein was accused, long before #MeToo existed. The difference is that now, people have something to take a stand against, and a platform on which to do it. Even with all the talk of sexual harassment and assault flooding the media, many people still struggle to understand what exactly constitutes as sexual harassment. With this issue of The Lowell, we decided to take a look at sexual harassment through the lens of students at our school. We discovered that Lowell is not exempt, nor is it the perfect example of the problem. In fact, the data The Lowell gathered reflected that fewer Lowell students have been harassed at school than at the average American high school. Yet it still needs to be addressed. We hope that from reading this article— whether you are a woman, a man, a victim of sexual harassment or someone who’s never even heard of it—you gain a deeper understanding of what it is and how it functions in our society and at our school. We can be the generation that breaks the cycle of sexual assault and harassment if we open our eyes. Editors-in-chief, Ella Murdock Gardner and Zahra Rothschild
Types of hallway-goers:
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The Lowell March 2018
SEXUAL ASSAULT , noun; any type of sexual contact or behavior that happens without the explicit consent of the recipient. Sexual assault includes molestation, rape, and attempted rape.
timeâ€™s up by Olivia Moss and Allison Dummel
SEXUAL HARASSMENT , noun; verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. This includes catcalling, obscene remarks, and unwanted sexual advances.
COVER STORY “It’s not just in the music industry, it’s not just in politics, it’s everywhere surrounding us. And so to say it’s not in a school site is just wrong.”
any Lowell students, including senior Maxima Alexandra, face sexual harassment on almost a daily basis. Alexandra gets catcalled fairly regularly, but the worst harassment she’s faced was when a man followed her home from the bus stop to offer her money in exchange for sex. Most of what she deals with happens outside of school, but at Lowell she has been subjected to inappropriate comments, such as people trying to guess her bra size. For Alexandra, one of the worst parts about being sexually harassed is that there often is not a clear way for the victim to respond. “Women are taught to be very accommodating, and that, with the fact that we get sexually harassed, teaches us that we have to sit there and take it,” Alexandra said. “And sometimes for your safety you have to. It just makes you feel helpless.”
RECENTLY, WOMEN OF all backgrounds have been calling
attention to the sexual harassment and assault they’ve experienced by using #MeToo on social media. The phrase was first coined in 2006 by Tarana Burke, an American civil rights activist. In 2017, actress Alyssa Milano invited others to tweet #MeToo if they had experienced sexual harassment or assault. The tweet took off, and the movement went viral. Additionally, allegations against politicians and movie stars like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Roy Moore have flooded the media, bringing exposure to a culture of unwanted advances and unwarranted comments in American society. In response to this phenomenon and the #MeToo movement, Hollywood celebrities founded Time’s Up, dedicated to preventing assault and harassment in the workplace. The movement encourages women and men to speak up about their experiences and stop tolerating harassment and abuse. The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund also uses lawsuits to hold harassers responsible. Since October, 71 men in politics, media and entertainment have resigned or been fired after allegations of sexual misconduct,
The Lowell March 2018
according to a New York Times article. Yet even with the amount of recent coverage, there remains confusion over what constitutes as sexual harassment and what doesn’t. In one survey by The Economist, 25 percent of millennial men thought that asking someone out for a drink constituted as sexual harassment.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT is defined by the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission as verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. This includes catcalling, obscene remarks and unwanted sexual advances. Something not everyone understands about sexual harassment is that it has to do with a power imbalance, according to Lowell health teacher Lisa Cole. People who are typically more privileged, namely males and especially Caucasian males, are less likely to experience catcalling, being followed, or other forms of sexual harassment than their female peers, she said. Gender roles can also play into issues of sexual harassment, according to the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Center at the University of Michigan. While women are taught to be passive and accommodating, men are taught that they are entitled to women’s attentions. These ideals can lead into harassment and abuse, according to an article by the center. Although men do experience harassment, women are harassed at a much higher rate. A national survey by the non-profit organization Stop Street Harassment (SSH) found that 65 percent of women and 25 percent of men have experienced street harassment, which is defined as unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent. Women were also much more likely to say that they experienced harassment on a regular or daily basis. The Lowell conducted a survey of 301 students and found that 26 percent of female Lowell students have encountered the issue
Xhang said. She reported it to a librarian, who notified the police. The police told her he couldn’t be charged with any crime and the only thing they could do was to put him on a blacklist and prevent him from entering the library. “I don’t know how they’re going to do that since they don’t keep a very close eye on who enters,” Xhang said.
WITHOUT HAVING A clear definition
of sexual harassment outside of Lowell as compared to 15 percent of male Lowell students. Cole remarked that while men do experience harassment, many don’t have to worry about it on a daily basis and may not always understand the gravity of the issue. “I don’t think they’ve ever thought about what the world is like when you fear being harassed or being assaulted, and that’s just the reality for most women I know,” she said. Women of color report higher rates than white women. A 2014 study by SSH found that 48 percent of black women and 45 percent of Latina women had been harassed on the street compared with 36 percent of white women. “I definitely think that women who look like me get sexually harassed more than other women,” Alexandra said. “I’m biracial, and I think that women of color do tend to get sexually harassed more, and also women who are curvier.” Because of the imminent threat of being catcalled or street harassed, a lot of women have to take extra precautions, such as avoiding walking alone at night, according to Alexandra. “It’s made me more nervous to talk to people, and a lot more wary, especially of men,” she said. While the media has recently brought attention to celebrities experiencing harassment, it’s important to remember that the problem is endemic. “It’s not just in the entertainment industry,” senior Feminist Club president Claire Garcia said. “It’s not
just in the music industry, it’s not just in politics, it’s everywhere surrounding us. And so to say it’s not in a school site is just wrong.” According to The Lowell’s survey, 7.3 percent of students said that they had experienced sexual harassment at Lowell. However, more students reported experiencing sexual harassment outside of Lowell, with 21.7 percent saying they had encountered the problem. One of these students is senior Crystal Xhang, who had an uncomfortable incident at the public library last summer. She was browsing books when a man started standing uncomfortably close to her. She left the area but later ran into him again while reading a book. “I glanced up and he was exposing his genitals, and I was like, ‘Oh God, that is so uncomfortable,’”
of what constitutes as sexual harassment, people can find it difficult to know if they’ve experienced it. In one study by the EEOC, only 25 percent of women reported having experienced harassment at work, but when given specific examples of sexual harassment, that number rose to 60 percent. According to The Lowell’s survey, only 60 percent of Lowell students said they had learned about sexual harassment in school. When people are regularly exposed to sexual harassment, it becomes harder to recognize its more subtle forms, according to Cole. “When people see it all around them it becomes normalized,” she said. “Hopefully this will be the generation that says, ‘It’s not okay,’ and normalizes healthy and respectful interactions.” Cole teaches about sexual harassment as part of the curriculum of her health class. Every year, she invites a group called Expect Respect to speak. The group goes over topics such as power and control, both in relationships and in society, as well as sexual
INFOGRAPHICS BY MAXIMILIAN TIAO
The Lowell March 2018
COVER STORY ILLUSTRATIONS BY VALENTIN NGUYEN assault, healthy and unhealthy relationships, and ways to stay safer. They also provide students with a list of community resources.
ITSELF ALSO provides resources for students who’ve been harassed. If a student tells a teacher they’ve experienced harassment from another student, the administration tries to handle the situation internally, according to assistant principal Orlando Beltran. “Our initial reaction is, let’s see how we can discuss this so A, you don’t feel uncomfortable, and B, you learn that personal space is something that we need to be cognizant about whenever we’re talking, communicating, or even touching someone else,” he said. While Lowell teachers receive training on how to handle sexual harassment between students, the focus is not on the teachers’ own behavior towards students. According to new biology teacher Anjana Amirapu, when she started teaching at Lowell last semester, she received training about mandated reporting, which included how to recognize signs that a student is being abused outside of school, how to approach the topic and how to file a report. “We’ve had some training of sexual harassment in terms of mandated reporting, but if it’s like, ‘Don’t sexually harass students,’ we haven’t covered that—not to my knowledge,” she
v The Lowell March 2018
said. However, Amirapu said that it was implied this behavior was unacceptable, if not explicitly stated. Teachers themselves can sometimes tread the line of sexual misconduct at school. The Lowell’s survey found that 19 percent of students reported witnessing a teacher making inappropriate comments in front of students. If a student who has experienced sexual harassment at school wants to file a formal report, Lowell’s procedure for dealing with it involves a long process of paperwork and administrators, according to Cole. First, the dean takes a statement from the person who was harassed, who then has to write down the details of the incident. This is sent to principal Andrew Ishibashi, and then forwarded to Title Nine Coordinator Keasara Williams at San Francico Unified School District, Cole said. This process might seem intimidating for someone who has experienced sexual harassment, according to Cole. “It might be difficult to report it, or they may not know how to do it or who to talk to,” Cole said. “They may not feel comfortable talking to someone or reliving an experience that was very uncomfortable.” In addition, there’s the threat of being
disbelieved or not taken seriously when reporting having experienced sexual harassment. In middle school, Alexandra reported unwanted touching by a fellow classmate to the administration. “Nothing was ever done about it,” she said. Alexandra has also had friends that were told they were “overthinking it” or “victimizing themselves” when they told someone about an incident. Many sexual harassment victims are ashamed, blame themselves or fear retaliation, which often hinders them from coming forward, according to Psychology Today. As a result, most harassment goes unreported. Of the Lowell students who have been sexually harassed, only 20 percent have reported it, according to The Lowell’s survey. A 2018 study by SSH found that, on a national scale, only 10 percent of women in the United States who were sexually harassed reported it to an official. However, because of recent efforts like the #MeToo movement, more women have felt empowered to speak out, according to an article by CNN. Although the movement has been mostly met with support, some people fear that there is not enough distinction between different kinds of harassment and assault, and that lumping them together under the same hashtag might minimize the gravity of the issues. Cole thinks it’s good that people are coming out with their stories, but worries that minor types of harassment, such as commenting on someone’s body or staring at them in a way that makes them uncomfortable, aren’t being given the proper amount of weight. “I hope it doesn’t minimize the more subtle forms of harassment,” she said. Alexandra, on the other hand, fears that more severe harassment won’t be taken as seriously. “There’s a difference between being sexually harassed, being sexually assaulted and being raped.” she said. “I think the Me Too movement doesn’t recognize that.”
of sexual contact or behavior that happens without the explicit consent of the recipient. Sexual assault includes molestation, rape and attempted rape. Sexual assault in America is relatively common. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted or abused before they turn eighteen, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). People can be assaulted by friends, family members or other people they know. In fact, according to the NSVRC, in 80 percent of rapes, the victim previously knew their rapist. Jayem, a Lowell junior who is using a fake name to protect her identity, was assaulted
“It’s not their choice to get their life taken away.
SEXUAL ASSAULT is defined by the
Department of Justice (DOJ) as any type
All Lowell staff members are mandated reporters, according to Beltran. If a student tells a teacher they’ve experienced sexual abuse, neglect, violence or human trafficking, the teacher is required to file a police report. Jayem and her counselor filed a police report, but three weeks later, the police called her and said that she didn’t have enough evidence to accuse her assaulter. “It was very unfair,” Jayem said. “Why would I lie about something like that? Obviously, I don’t have enough evidence, I ran away right after the thing happened. I was just upset that they didn’t believe me.” In retrospect, Jayem said she would have acted differently after the assault. “I should have called the police right after I got out of that situation,” she said. Sexual assault often has long-lasting repercussions. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, effects of sexual violence can include anything from decreased self esteem to serious mental illnesses, such as depression or posttraumatic stress disorder. Sexual harassment also has repercussions, although they are usually not as devastating as those brought on by assault. It can lead to anxiety, depression and stress-related physical problems.
Now it’s their choice to take control again.” by someone she knew well. In her freshman year at Lowell, Jayem was living with her aunt and her aunt’s husband. Jayem said that she looked up to the husband. “[He] treated me as a daughter,” she said. “So it was very unexpected how he approached me.” Jayem recounts that one night in her freshman year, the husband started touching her in inappropriate places and asking questions like, “‘Do you feel good?’” Jayem said she was disgusted by these advances. She left her aunt’s house right away and got picked up by another relative, who she now lives with. At first Jayem didn’t want to report the husband because he was family. However, in the beginning of her sophomore year she told her counselor about the incident, and her counselor, as a mandated reporter, was required to report what happened.
sexual harassment or assault experience victim blaming, which happens when other people question whether the crime could have been prevented if the victim had acted differently. Victim blaming includes saying things like “she asked for it,” or remarking that if the victim had dressed differently, they wouldn’t have been attacked. Victim blaming can be harmful because it marginalizes the victim and often makes it harder for them to report the abuse, according to an article by Southern Connecticut State University. In one study by the DOJ, only 33 percent of rapes were reported to the police. Junior Emma MacKenzie told The Lowell in an interview about having taken a class syllabus test that made her upset. According to MacKenzie, one of the questions was, “What kind of clothing makes you a target for sexual harassment?” The choices listed
See TIMES UP on pg. 20 The Lowell March 2018
The Last Chapter:
By Kate Green and Beatriz Durant
No more honors English
“We’re not excluding anybody and we’re letting anyone who wants to take [honors English], take it. But the district just said no.” -English department head Meredith Santiago
NEWS English in a jumbled half honors/half regular state, according to Santiago. SFUSD’s final decision to cut off the program was not made until after course selection last spring, meaning sophomores signed up for honors English, and then walked into non-honors classrooms once their fall semester begun. According to Santiago, the English department’s plan was to continue teaching former honors classes as though they were still honors, in order to cater to students that were initially expecting that level of curriculum. Sophomore Simone Herko Felton has felt the effects of this disruption. Herko Felton originally took honors English last semester because of her interest in the subject and a desire for a challenging, engaging course. Though she still enjoys the regular English class she is taking, Herko Felton is disappointed that the elimination of honors English means she will not be able to read the texts she thought she was going to study. “I was really looking forward to reading The Great Gatsby, and there’s been this kind of weird discontinuity,” Herko Felton said. Despite this, she remains confident that even without English honors, her personal passion for writing will eventually lead her to take AP English in her junior year.
“The problem [now] is the pacing suddenly becomes slow for the kids who are ready for something more challenging...or the course may be too hard or too fast for the kids that need more exposure, practice, and time.” Teachers have also felt the consequences set off by the midyear curriculum disruption. This semester the problem of having students who wanted to take honors and students who didn’t in the same classroom, has been newly accentuated. Pacing has emerged as the most significant difference between regular and honors English, according to Yu. Having taught both regular and honors, she recognizes how students in honors are more eager to put forth ideas and analysis, while their counterparts in regular English often lack the confidence to due so. According to Yu, this slight difference in timing is what makes the district’s attempt at equity fall short. “The problem is the pacing suddenly becomes slow for the kids who are ready for something more challenging...or the course may be too hard or too fast for the kids that need more exposure, practice and time,” Yu said. Recht and the rest of the English department are working to alter English classes as minimally as possible. “I’m going to try and make it my goal to not change much and keep the class culture and the curriculum pretty similar,” Recht said. They hope that in time, this approach will help assimilate students into their new English classes while keeping the educational standards high. The Lowell contacted SFUSD for a comment about their removal of English honors at Lowell but they have have opted not to respond to any questions.
ophomore English honors courses have permanently ended this semester in a district attempt to eliminate inequitable tracking towards Advanced Placement English. Marking the conclusion of the last standing honors English classes offered at Lowell, this shift has stirred conversation over AP preparedness and altered the placement and plans of many mid-year honors students. According to English department head Meredith Santiago, the overall process of removing English honors arose in the San Francisco Unified School District around three years ago. SFUSD saw English honors as a form of tracking, and thus fostered an impartial academic environment. Tracking is when schools separate students by academic ability into certain classes, helping them achieve levels of difficulty which challenge them in their specific subjects of interest. Tracking feeds into honors and AP programs, which is where SFUSD identifies an issue. AP classes have to be available to all students, not just one group, in order to ensure equity. “The district told us that we could not have a selection process for AP, so we did away with that,” Santiago said. Since 2015, SFUSD has worked to abolish English honors through a series of program changes at Lowell. Gradually honors classes became open enrollment, freshman honors courses were ended and now the district has done away with the honors English program entirely. Santiago disagrees with the district’s decision. “We’re not excluding anybody and we’re letting anyone who wants to take [honors English], take it,” she said. “But the district just said no.” With the end of honors English, Lowell faculty and students are wary of how its termination will affect students’ preparedness for AP classes. English teacher Sydney Recht taught sophomore honors English for 10 years prior to this semester, and currently teaches regular 10th grade English, as well as AP English 83 and 84 for seniors. Recht was disappointed upon discovering the loss of the course. With her honors English classes, she was able to accelerate the pace and push her students more, she said. “There’s no question to me that [honors] students go into APs more prepared,” Recht said. “You expect students to bring more to the table, be really engaged with their reading, [and] generally be at a high level in terms of writing skills.” Junior Emily Wu, who took English honors as a sophomore and is currently enrolled in AP English, echoed many of Recht’s views on the benefits of the old course. Wu took honors English in order to challenge herself, and she considers it a worthwhile decision. “Back in first semester [of honors], a lot of analysis was helpful,” Wu said. “If it weren’t for that, I probably wouldn’t have done so well with rhetorical analysis in AP English.” Beyond the informative lessons and discussions Wu experienced in honors English, she feels the class was especially fun, in part due to the fact that students were more animated than in regular English classes. “It was honestly one of my favorite classes to go to during sophomore year and I’m not really an ‘English person,’” Wu said. Furthermore, Wu finds it unfair that current juniors and seniors had the option to take English honors, while current freshman and sophomores do not, creating what she observes as a disadvantage entering AP classes. In addition to the AP preparation issue, the discontinuation of the English honors program mid-school year has left 10th grade
The Lowell March 2018
SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN OLIVIA MOSS
BY OLIVIA MOSS
rowing up, even in a city as liberal as San Francisco, bisexuality was never something people talked about. It was always a given for me that you either liked girls or boys, that you were either gay or straight. So any feelings I had for girls were pushed aside. I knew I liked guys, so that was it. I couldn’t like girls, too. It was only in 8th grade that I heard the word bisexual for the first time. And, given my history of subconscious crushes on girls, the realization that it was possible to like both girls and boys sparked a long internal battle which ended in the conclusion that I was attracted to both genders. But with that awareness came consequences. Even though I had discovered the concept of bisexuality, it was still foreign to others around me. While many people, especially in San Francisco, have heard the term, a lot of them don’t really understand what it means or take people seriously when they come out as “bi.” It’s a common misconception that bisexuality is a stepping stone to coming out as gay, or just a phase of experimentation after which a person will inevitably choose a side. I came out to my mom in freshman year. She had been asking me why I had been going to the Gender Sexuality Alliance club, and after a few stammered phrases about supporting the LGBT+ community, I just said, “Well, I’m bisexual.” She stared at me for a while, and I got the impression that she didn’t really believe me. After a few more moments of awkward silence, I excused myself and told myself she’d believe me if I started dating a girl. The second time I came out to family members was even more uncomfortable than the first. It was at a family dinner, and I was wearing a purple LGBT bracelet. My aunt noticed this and asked me if I was “LGBT” or “S.” I was confused by her phrasing. “S” isn’t part of the acronym. Straight people aren’t part of the LGBT+ community, not for the purpose of exclusivity, but because it would mean including homophobes and antiLGBT activists in a place meant to be safe for people historically discriminated against because of their gender or sexuality. Either way, I didn’t want to lie, so I awkwardly stammered, “I’m bisexual?” which was followed by silence and a change in conversation. That night, I took off the bracelet and was
too afraid to wear it for the next couple of months. Now, when I tell people my sexuality, I usually get a reaction of, “Oh, wow! That’s so cool!” Some tell me, “I’ve never met a bisexual person before.” And still others ask questions like, “But which do you like better?” Reactions like these always make me a little uncomfortable, though I know these people mean well. What’s weird to me is that people treat my sexuality as something unusual or exotic, when I just think of it as a normal part of me. My general impression, after being “out” as bisexual for three years now, is that people have a misunderstanding of what it means to be bisexual as a result of the lack of openly bisexual people in media and in real life. People don’t understand that my sexuality never changes. I’m not straight when I date guys; nor am I gay when I like girls. I’m never going to “choose a side” or a gender, only a person. But “choosing a side” goes past deciding between straight and gay. It’s also an issue of belonging to a community, since neither straight nor queer people have been entirely accepting of bisexuals. While representation of queer people has become more common in the media, bisexuals are often either absent or misrepresented. It’s pretty rare for me to see accurate depictions of my own sexuality in movies or TV shows. Bisexual characters are often labeled as gay and then straight, as if they’re simply switching between the two. I remember watching “Orange is the New Black” and getting increasingly frustrated as the main character dated both girls and guys but was only described as “becoming a lesbian” or “switching back” to being straight. This translates to real life, too: people treat me differently when I date girls as compared to guys. I’ve had people ask me, “So you’re a lesbian now?” when I started dating a girl, and I’ve noticed people generally are more comfortable talking about my relationships or crushes on guys.
Bisexuals have experienced discrimination from both straight people and members of the LGBT+ community. They also have higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide risk than gays and lesbians, according to studies by the American Psychological Association. I’ve often felt isolated from the LGBT+ community, as if I weren’t really a part of it if I wasn’t actively dating a girl. Back in freshman year, when my sexuality was only newly discovered, I stumbled across a YouTube video with lesbians talking about why they wouldn’t date someone who was bisexual. As someone who was only newly self-identified with the LGBT+ community, I was deeply hurt by this. I began to question whether it really was wrong to be bisexual, or if maybe I really was mistaken about all of this.
I’m never going to “choose a side”
Luckily, despite the reactions I’d seen and despite people’s initial
or a gender,
only a person.
tendency to not believe me, I had the fortune to know other people who had gone through the same thing. I felt very accepted by Lowell’s GSA, and I knew many people who were incredibly supportive of me, all of which helped me to feel comfortable and secure in my identity. However, I can’t help but wonder about all the other kids who don’t have access to these types of resources—all the kids who are shut down when they get the courage to reveal something they’ve been thinking about for months or even years. Everyone who never sees themselves represented in
See SOMEWHERE BETWEEN on pg. 20 The Lowell March 2018
WHY DID THE SENIOR GRADUATION DATE CHANGE?
By Sofia Woo and Allison Jou
ith this year’s class of 2018 graduating in a few months, recent changes in the graduation date has caused confusion amongst seniors. Graduation has traditionally taken place a week before the last day of school. However, this year’s graduation event will be on June 6, the last day of school because of a state law compliance issue and venue availability. Last year, San Francisco Unified School District was audited regarding the district’s policy of allowing seniors to graduate before the last official day of school, according to principal Andrew Ishibashi. The district was not compliant in following California state law, which mandates that students must attend school for at least 180 days of the year. Many teachers, like social studies teacher Michael Ungar, who has been teaching an all-senior AP Economics class for three years, noticed that most seniors did not show up to school following graduation because they had already received their diplomas. He and other teachers assumed that seniors were not required to come to school after graduation, Ungar said. The other issue which factors into deciding the graduation date is the availability of the graduation venue, which in Lowell’s case is the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. It shares this venue with Lincoln High School and Galileo High School. This combined
“The only difference is that there isn’t a couple of days of school after graduation.” 16
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with other events being held at the auditorium, makes reserving it a challenge. On November 3, 2017, Ishibashi was notified by the auditorium concerning the final graduation date. Ishibashi said that if the seniors were to graduate the day before, he would hold a senior breakfast or lunch on the last day in order to keep the seniors at school for a minimum of four hours. However, the venue was only available on June 6, according to assistant principal Orlando Beltran, who is also in charge of the graduation. Reactions from seniors about this change have been mixed. Ishibashi said that a few seniors approached him asking about the reason behind the change. Some students were not thrilled by the decision, but were not extremely upset. Senior Scout Mucher, Student Body Council president, did not feel too negatively affected by the change. “The only difference is that there isn’t a couple of days of school after graduation,” Mucher said. “I don’t mind graduating a few days later. Personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal.” Senior and Lowell Student Association president Uma Krishnaswamy also agreed that the change was not extremely impactful, but expressed disappointment in the later date. “Naturally, all seniors would want a few days after graduation, just to not go to school,” she said. “It’s a nice, gratifying feeling.” The change does, however, make it a challenge when planning
“I don’t mind graduating a few days later. Personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal.”
senior events, such as senior picnic, prom and graduation night. Because many senior boards and committees plan most of their events around graduation and the end of school, planning was difficult because they were notified two months late. “Everything you do on senior board is sort of a domino effect,” Krishnaswamy said. “It’s sort of a cascade effect if we don’t know when graduation is and it is unfortunate that we were made aware of it so late, even though it’s not up to us.” Some events have already been affected, including Grad Night, which had to be rescheduled. “I mean, it’s almost like we can’t plan without a graduation date,” Krishnaswamy said. “And it’s probably not just Lowell. It’s Lincoln, it’s Galileo, and I think in general other schools should make their graduation dates more set in stone otherwise they can’t plan events, they can’t sell tickets, and they can’t advertise to students on time.” However, having the graduation date on the last day of school would help to make sure that seniors were coming to school for their full 180 days, which ensures that the school district remains compliant in following California law, according to Beltran. “I think it keeps kids from getting into trouble, and it keeps kids in school,” Beltran said. “The issues that we have after they graduate is that they ditch, and we need to have kids here because it has a lot to do with state funding.” Krishnaswamy also acknowledged that the date will keep students in school longer, saying, “Legally we’re supposed to be in school for 180 days, and having graduation later makes that possible, it makes the district look better, it makes us all abide by these rules.”
Although students will be fulfilling their full 180 days of school, there is concern over the nine school days between senior finals and graduation. Since graduation will be pushed back, there will be a period of time between finals and graduation where no new material will be taught in classes. AP English Literature and Composition teacher Sydney Recht has mixed feelings about the change. Although the new dates will make Lowell more aligned with other schools around the country, she has had to come up with an extra unit to teach. “I find it challenging even with the other calendar in what to do with those empty days,” Recht said. The challenge of keeping students interested in coming to class starts even earlier when AP classes are over by mid-May, she said. In order to keep students incentivized to come to school, Recht is thinking of teaching a film unit during the period of time between senior finals and graduation. “I’m hoping that it’ll be an interesting enough unit that it will keep people coming in and it will keep class as meaningful as its been,” she said. Although she has come up with a solution for her class, Recht still thinks that there’s more work to be done. “Because [the change is] district and school-wide, rather than leaving it just to the teachers, I think we need to have some kind of connecting thread through different AP classes that makes an incentive for students to come to class,” she said. Another issue left unresolved is the date of next year’s
See SENIOR GRADUATION on pg. 20 The Lowell March 2018
FOOD FOR What to eat if your brain is hu
Hey there students of Lowell High!
Ono Hawaiian BBQ: Address: 1501 Sloat Blvd.
It’s no secret that students are always trying to save money. Many of us are too busy to work a job, and therefore don’t have any source of real income. However, there are days when you might just need to treat yourself to a coffee after a long, painful test, or when you have a sudden craving for spam musubi while you’re sitting in class taking notes. Unfortunately, eating in San Francisco can be very expensive. Never fear! I, as a Lowell senior and lifelong foodie, have put together a list of cheap, delicious places to go and eat near Lowell, and gone and tested them out for you along with my splendid photographer friend, Lauren. And so, without further ado, here is an account of some of the best places to eat for a frugal Lowell student. I set the price limit to $10 per person per meal.
Ono Hawaiian BBQ is popular, but I still didn’t find out about it until my junior year at Lowell. It is at Lakeshore Plaza, behind Peet’s.
Spam Musubi - $5.43
Two large rolls with rice and spam smothered with teriyaki sauce, wrapped in seaweed. The rolls are each roughly the size of an iPhone 5. Recently, I have observed that they have started to decrease the size of the spam musubi. And they thought no one would notice.
By Zahra Rothschild All photos by Lauren Caldwell
Chicken Katsu meal/Hawaiian fried chicken - $9.79/ $7.99
This meal comes with two scoops of rice, a scoop of macaroni salad, and lots of cabbage, as well as a heaping amount of meat. The macaroni salad is what dreams are made of, and the chicken is perfectly crispy. You can also get the half-size meal for $7.99.
The extra sauce makes all the difference. Get teriyaki and katsu. 18
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Y O U R T H O U G H T S ngry, but your wallet is empty
Address: 2522 Ocean Ave.
Dinosaurs is a small, hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant on the corner of Junipero Serra and Ocean Ave.
Spring rolls - $7.50 for 3 rolls
My personal favorite is the pork and shrimp spring roll. Inside, lettuce, noodles, pork, shrimps, apples and cucumbers mingle to form an incredibly fresh flavor. The dish comes with your choice of peanut, hoisin or fish sauce.
Banh Mi - $7.15
Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that usually has soft bread, sauce, cucumber slices, carrot shavings and meat. I’ve enjoyed the roasted chicken or the pork Banh Mi.
If you’re not a fan of spicy food, don’t forget to ask for no jalapeños on your Banh Mi.
Marugame Udon Address: 3251 20th Ave.
Marugame Udon opened very recently and I’ve heard nothing but raving reviews. I’m here to tell you: they aren’t lying. Despite the long line to be seated, the wait between ordering and eating is practically non-existent, as they make your food right then and there.
Nikutama Udon - $8.50
The rich, smoky flavor of the noodles made this the best part of my meal.
Shrimp Tempura - $1.90
I could tell the tempura was not freshly fried. Although the flavor was good, the fried batter was no longer crispy.
Mentai Mayo Musubi - $1.60
The Mentai Mayo Musubi did not have the flavor that I personally like, but there are many varieties you can try if you like musubi and want to give these a go. You can also order a couple of musubi. If you want a fuller meal and are willing to pay a little bit more, I recommend getting the Udon with meat and a soft-cooked egg. The egg was too soft-boiled for my liking, but the meat was great, flavor-wise.
I recommend getting the simplest bowl with only the noodles—the noodles are the best part anyways. The extras table has a lot of other stuff you can put in your noodle bowl to make it feel like a full meal, including green onions, sesame seeds, crunchy onions, and a bunch of sauces.
Disclaimer: Since the Marugame udon was ordered with both extras, the cost is over $10.
The Lowell March 2018
From TIMES UP on pg. 11 were “a halloween costume, jeans, a sweatshirt and shorty shorts and low-cut blouses.” The implication that a person can render themselves a target with their clothing choices reinforces the idea that victim blaming is appropriate instead of teaching people not to harass others, according to MacKenzie. “It’s such an outdated idea that female clothing is the cause for sexual harassment,” MacKenzie said. “The whole problem lies with men who oversexualize girls and their clothes.”
“I think that we have a problem with sexual harassment in that we don’t have ways to stop it and we don’t have any kind of ongoing conversation about it.” A SURVEY BY the American Association
of University Women found that among 7th through 12th graders, 48 percent had experienced sexual harassment at school in the previous school year. That percentage is much higher than the one found by The Lowell’s survey, which reported only 7.6 percent of students experiencing harassment on campus. Alexandra thinks that, while Lowell is apparently better off than other American schools, there needs to be more discussion about sexual harassment and assault and how to prevent it. “I don’t think there’s more sexual harassment than other places,” Alexandra said. “I think that we have a problem with sexual harassment in that we don’t have ways to stop it and we don’t have any kind of ongoing conversation about it.” She believes that the issues of sexual harassment and assault can be addressed with more general knowledge of the topics 20
Lowell March 2018 v TheThe Lv owell February 2017
and their detrimental effects. “Education is part of the answer to solving this issue, and that requires that everyone has to listen to what women have to say and their experiences with sexual harassment,” Alexandra said. In addition to becoming better educated, it’s important for students who experience sexual harassment to report it, according to the Equal Rights Advocates. It says there are several steps that students can take to confront the issue. Students should clearly tell the harasser that what they’re doing makes them uncomfortable and talk to a trusted adult, like a parent, teacher or counselor about the issue. If it doesn’t stop, students can file a report with the school or contact their Title Nine officer and ask about the complaint process. It’s important to remember that societal change doesn’t happen by itself, according to Garcia. “Everyone has a lot going on,” Garcia said, “but at the end of the day something needs to be done and someone needs to step forward and do it.” Jayem hopes that coming out with her story inspires other people who’ve had similar experiences to speak up. “It’s obviously not their fault,” she said. “It’s not their choice to get their life taken away. Now it’s [their] choice to take control again.” v
From SOMEWHERE BETWEEN on pg. 15 public spaces or doesn’t feel like there’s a place for them. We need to be normalizing bisexuality in media and in our culture. Let’s stop describing bisexuals as “switching from gay to straight” or vice versa. It’s not exclusively a stepping stone to choosing one or the other, and when people tell you something about themselves, it’s not your job to question. Their identity is right because they say it is. My identity is right because I say it is. Most importantly, we need to start talking about bisexuality as a valid and unique identity. While education about homosexuality is still scarce, education on bisexuality is nonexistent. Both of these things are harmful to young children who may suppress a part of their identity or be confused because they were only ever taught it was okay to have crushes on the opposite sex. If, from a young age, I had had access to the knowledge that it was okay to like girls or boys or both or neither, my path to
discovering myself would have been a lot easier, and a lot shorter. Let’s all make an effort to be accepting not only of gays and lesbians, but everyone who falls somewhere in-between. v
From SENIOR GRADUATION on pg. 17 graduation. Because this is mostly based on the availability of the venue, it may change from year to year. Although both Beltran and Ishibashi personally feel that keeping graduation on the last day of school is better, it all depends on scheduling. “In the future I have no idea, but I haven’t heard whether or not it’ll change, but I think it’s also gonna go as long as we don’t have our graduation here on our campus and we have no control over it necessarily, because it has to go on availability, but I think that’s the issue,” Beltran said. Krishnaswamy understands the pros and cons of the situation. “I don’t see anything super negative or super positive about it, it’s just a change and we’re all gonna have to adapt,” she said. v
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The Lowell March 2018
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