Proposition 64 sparks discussion about cannabis on campus

By Ben Goodale
Flapjack staff

Passed in November with a 56-44% win-loss margin, Proposition 64 legalizes the adult use of marijuana in California for those who are over the age of 21. The proposition describes measures to tax the sale of the flowers and leaves as well.

Several students at Humboldt State University offered opinions on why it passed and also what changes might be seen in California as it comes into effect some time in the year 2018.

Art major Gianni Arthur voiced his opinion on how this proposition may affect the community.

“I think that it might shift the control from the lower level people of selling cannabis, instead there could be a focus on reputable suppliers like big corporations,” Arthur said. “Seeing the way we handle alcohol I think the marijuana industry could end up in a similar place.”

Proposition 64 states that the new recreational marijuana market will be overseen by state government departments such as the Department of Consumer Affairs (responsible for licensing), the Department of Food and Agriculture (overseeing cultivation) and the Department of Public Health (safety and quality testing).

Dane Godbe helps to run a medical marijuana delivery service based in Humboldt County and also attends Humboldt State University seeking a major in Business. He sees Proposition 64 as potentially harmless or even profitable to the medical marijuana industry.

“Well, the way that I’ve heard it talked about it seems that the measure keeps the previous medical marijuana rules intact,” Godbe said. “Apparently the recreational stuff will be more taxed, and you can’t carry as much of it at once..so it might actually encourage people to become medical marijuana patients so they are able to avoid restrictions.”

One of the main things that Prop 64 aims to do is tax the growth and sale of marijuana. Money collected would be allocated towards restoring and repairing the environment as well as youth drug prevention and law enforcement.

Proposition 64 will also make it less expensive for people to obtain their medical marijuana cards by limiting the fees that county governments can charge to a maximum of $100, with that fee also having the option to be lowered for low-income MediCal patients.

“In the meantime I think that public opinion has shifted in the state; people are accepting cannabis as a society, which could lead to many more people becoming involved in the industry and a huge opportunity for jobs for those who are unemployed,” said Godbe.

While this is good for many, there are also speculations from the other side of things on how this proposition may frame how cannabis is seen by members of our society.

Section 3 of the proposition states the intent is to prevent the abuse of marijuana by adults. In addition it is also written that recreational marijuana should not be sold at the same place as alcohol or tobacco, which would discourage its abuse by making it less publicly available.

“The thing about Prop 64 is that people might start to see marijuana as a drug like alcohol or nicotine that has little to no medical benefit and seek mainly to profit or just get high on it, which doesn’t fall in line with my personal beliefs in seeing it as a medicine,” said Daniel Lee, medical marijuana card holder and third-year Business Management major at HSU.

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Why Public Participation and Activism Matters: A Look at the Merced River Plan by Kelly Bessem

A pullout in the popular east Yosemite Valley with vegetation loss-- one human impact that the Merced River Plan is supposed to address.
A pullout next to the river in the popular east Yosemite Valley with vegetation loss– one human impact that the Merced River Plan is supposed to address.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Releasing the final plan in 2014, it took 27 years, 3 lawsuits, and over 3 years of planning for the Merced River Plan (MRP), aimed at complying with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, to come about.

The Merced River Plan manages one of two Wild and Scenic Rivers in iconic Yosemite National Park. As the 4th most visited national park in the US and 10th most visited in the world, there are a lot of people invested in Yosemite– especially Yosemite Valley, which hosts 90% of visitors. The famed Merced river flows through this valley and received Wild and Scenic River (WSR) designation in 1987. This designation prevents further development in the river corridor, and protects the river’s (1) free-flowing condition, (2) water quality, and (3) outstandingly remarkable values (biological, recreational, geologic, hydrologic, scenic, and cultural) (WSRA, 16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.).

So what is this big Merced River Plan, and how can one find out current information about it?

As for online resources, you can go to the National Park Service (NPS) planning page for the MRP or you can consult their Facebook page for updates. If you are not familiar with environmental planning processes, the MRP planning page may be dizzying. The key decisions listed on the main page do not explain any portion of the reason why or how they were reached. There is no search button on the Yosemite National Park Facebook page, so you have to spend the time to scroll through months worth of posts before coming to MRP updates.

There’s no dedicated web page to current MRP implementation updates.

Yosemite park visitors seeking more real time updates on road construction and park closures are given the option to call the general information office to speak with a ranger. NPS does say, however, that “If you’re returned to the main menu, it means the ranger is already on the line (try again).” So the phone lines are minimally staffed, and one may not be able to get through right away.

In response to one recent call, the Yosemite park ranger seemed less than fully informed about whether construction was on schedule and had moved into its second phase. The second phase road circulation map online states an effective date of Nov. 21, 2016. This map had to be referenced before the ranger understood what was being talked about.

There seems to be a possible disconnect between park management and the public when it comes to the MRP.

A look at the three lawsuits leading to the final MRP reveals a lot about Yosemite’s NPS. Though the Merced River was designated in 1987, it was an eastern California district court ordering the NPS to prepare a Merced River Plan in 1999 that initiated the planning process. When NPS released the first draft of the plan in 2000, it was deemed lax on conservation goals by the Ninth Circuit appeals court because it didn’t properly address what public use the River could tolerate amid such high visitation rates. Two local NGOs, Friends of Yosemite Valley and Mariposans for Environmentally Responsible Growth (collectively “Friends”), brought this and the 2 proceeding lawsuits (2002, 2006, and 2008) against the NPS. It took a decade of litigation for Yosemite’s NPS to craft a plan that would do the minimum required by law. These lawsuits set the standard that Wild and Scenic River plans are to use preventative rather than reactionary management.

Those lawsuits and the public comments received during the 112 day comment period led to NPS revising the final plan. Some of the changes made due to public comments can be viewed here: MRP Response to Public Comment Examples. In the case of the Merced River Plan, public comment played a part.

During the public comment session in 2013, one person commented on the ease of access to MRP information.

“This is undeniabl[y] one of the biggest changes in park history and yet there is no information readily available or posted everywhere throughout the park,” said one Yosemite Valley visitor. “This should be handed out upon arrival as are other informative paperwork guests receive upon entry. Great job on the [Hantavirus] posters, pamphlets and information posted throughout the valley, now if you can only do the same with this. Staff at the Lodge had no idea about any of it nor did anyone at the visitors center. It was only after pressing and my insistence did Emily, a park ranger finally offer me a pamphlet which as I previously mentioned, successfully buried many significant and pertinent issues.” –Merced River Plan Public Comment #152

HSU politics professor Mark Baker gave some insight as to what engaged citizens can look for in a US park management plan if they seek out information themselves. He outlined what fundamental issues good policy in those regions should address.

“Recognition of the tension between environmental integrity and enjoyment,” Baker said. “A balance of those two competing mandates.”

He explained how the Organic Act of 1916 (which created the NPS) has created this tension, since it puts an emphasis on the NPS’s duty to promote tourism and increased visitation but also requires them to conserve the park.

According to HSU Environmental Management and Protection professor Steve Martin, the next step in finding the balance between environmental protection and recreation for Yosemite Valley is a an active and informed public. 

“Educating visitors about how they impact the park is more important than educating visitors about the plan itself, which is more behind the scenes,” said Martin. “Explaining to the visitors how to behave in the park in such a way that these actions [degradation] don’t keep recurring.”

Conservation and recreation go hand in hand, and both are needed to maintain the Merced River watershed. Watchdog nonprofits and citizens do have an impact, which can be utilized to create movement in the right direction.

HSU Forestry professor Sungnome Madrone has had over 45 years of experience related to watershed restoration, and his long list of accomplishments in successfully improving management of the redwood forests and watersheds of Humboldt County is inspiring in itself. He gave some insight into Wild and Scenic River Act (WSRA) implementation. Madrone recognized the shortcomings of government when it comes to compliance, but emphasized that it’s important to not get discouraged because really big things do happen with persistence. As long as there’s a movement in the right direction that’s reasonable, meaningful positive change is occurring.

 

Finding strength in silver linings

By Cara Peters
Flapjack staff

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s presidential victory, many Americans have spent the past few weeks piecing themselves together and trying to regain sight of hope. Some, however, are finding that silver linings are not so far from their line of vision.

Michelle Neal, a nurse from Oakley, California, says that in light of Trump’s election, she has experienced elevated levels of stress and depression. While a few of her friends have begun therapy as a means to cope, Neal is taking a more proactive approach.

“Right now, I’m paying close attention to the people that Trump is appointing to his administration,” Neal said. “Trump’s picks so far are likely going to set us way back in terms of social services, so the best I can do right now is fight that.”

Awareness and action, Neal believes, are her two most empowering tools at the moment. She says that she has been signing petitions from change.org and other campaign sites as a means to stay involved. As a safety measure for her own well-being, she has cut social media out of her life substantially.

“I uninstalled Facebook and Instagram from my phone and I only check them on my computer once every few days,” Neal said. “I couldn’t deal with all the Trump supporters, and all of the misinformation. I feel better not being absorbed by that negativity.”

Though she anticipates rough tides throughout the Trump administration, Neal finds solace in the thought that the majority of Americans who did not vote for Trump will act as a buffer against any detrimental policies.

“Honestly I think the next four years will be a time of damage control,” Neal said.“We’ve got our work cut out for us, and hopefully in 2020 we can try again with another grassroots candidate.”

While Neal has placed her faith in the unity of determined progressives, others are looking towards another faction of dynamic thinkers for encouragement.

Christian Legaspi, a 26-year-old music producer and DJ, believes that artists and the work they produce over the next four years will help to inspire activism.

“Music is such a powerful medium, and it can be used to solidify movements and get people to rise up,” Legaspi said. “Think about artists like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, who stirred protest of the Vietnam war. Their music encouraged awareness, and most importantly, brought people together to fight for a common goal.”

Legaspi immigrated to the United States when he was 7 years old, and says that it was painful to see Trump, a candidate whose campaign he believes was founded largely on xenophobic rhetoric, win the presidency. Yet, he speaks optimistically about the potential unity that music can bring a divided country.

“There’s been a rise in hate crimes since Trump was elected, and I’ve personally felt that animosity,” Legaspi said. “As a musician and performer, though, my ethnicity doesn’t matter. When I’m playing for a crowd, people come together in a space where differences go unnoticed. That’s a powerful thing, and I believe that musicians can and will use that power for a greater good.”

Beyond the influence of music and song, is the influence of words themselves.

In an era of communication where one can become an overnight sensation from a single blog post or Youtube video, the potential of a wi-fi equipped laptop or smartphone cannot be underestimated. Compelling words can affect a nation with just a few clicks.

Rudy Lopez, a Master of Fine Arts and artist by profession, is hopeful that there are many forward-thinking intellectual works to come, which will have reaching impacts on our nation through the Trump Administration and beyond.

In his lifetime, Lopez says he has never witnessed such an overwhelming election cycle, and has been shocked by the outpour and wide reception of Alt-right ideals. Yet, he’s also confident that this reinvigorated white nationalism is a greater incentive for progressives to express themselves.

“This has been an unconventional election, and if the KKK, neo-Nazi’s and other white supremacists feel emboldened to express themselves like they wouldn’t have dared before, why wouldn’t progressives?” Lopez said.

Himself a writer, Lopez is looking forward to seeing this response play out through written works and leave its mark and influence in this politically troubled period.

“It will be interesting to see how all of the arts react to this new presidency,” Lopez said. “I believe something artistically wonderful will come out of it in the end, and a hundred years from now people will look back in awe at what was created and it will be a continuing inspiration.”

HSU groups seeks to help houseless students

By Morgan Brizee
Flapjack Staff

It’s 40 degrees outside at nine o’clock at night. You’re cramped in a small compact car parked on the street in front of Humboldt State and you’re worried about getting a ticket for sleeping in your car.

This and not knowing how to pay for the next meal are some worries that many Humboldt State students deal with daily. Humboldt State has one program on campus called Oh Snap, which is a food pantry for students to use. Oh Snap is free for Humboldt State students to use once a week to get food. But for the students that are homeless right now, there is no program on campus. A Homeless Student Advocacy Alliance (HSAA) club formed to offer help to students in need of somewhere to live.

Michael Barnes, a 27-year-old communications major at Humboldt State, is the vice president of the HSAA club.

“HSU has been supportive of the efforts of HSAA and so has the city of Arcata,” said Barnes. “At this point in time we know that an open dialog between these two major entities is possible and necessary in taking steps toward alleviating the issue of student homelessness and hunger.”

Chanté Cat is a 37-year-old sociology major at Humboldt State who is the President of the HSAA. Cat believes that it is partly HSU’s responsibility to provide programs for students in need.

“They should warn new students of the housing issues we have, warn about pet policy issues, get involved in our community,” said Cat. “At the least have housing liaisons, partnerships with the community, offer lockers and showers, space to park and other services to ease the housing gap issues.”

Many transfer and freshman students aren’t told how hard it is to get housing either on or off campus before they move to HSU. The school doesn’t have enough on campus housing to house the number of students coming in and already enrolled. Students have complained that the off-campus apartments around the neighborhood are hard to get into and have strict rules and guidelines to follow.

Mira Friedman is 39 years old and is a health educator, Director of Prevention Education through the Department of Justice grant and co-coordinator of the Oh Snap program.

“I think that [HSU] should institutionalize the Oh Snap program and provide ongoing resources such as funding and provide additional storage,” said Friedman. “The research shows that 53% of our HSU students are food insecure.”

Over half of HSU students are unable to get access to food, that is about 4,506 students going hungry. When Oh Snap first started in 2013 they found that students were unable to meet the requirements to have CalFresh because they were students. CalFresh is a federal program that gives people monthly electronic assistance to buy most groceries at grocery stores. Now Oh Snap is helping students apply for CalFresh.

When Oh Snap first opened they had over 1,000 students visit the pantry for their first time and over 1,900 visits from students overall, reports the Oh Snap website.

Oh Snap is funded by many sources including the CalFresh grant, Associated Students, IRA funds (student fees), College of Professional Studies and fundraising campaigns like the holiday canned food drive. The College of Professional Studies pays for some of the student employees at Oh Snap and CalFresh pays for the rest. The IRA and the Associated Students help pay for the food.

Acquiring food addresses part of the problem. Oh Snap has free cooking classes and demonstrations to help show students that they can make easy and healthy meals at home for cheap and has a farm stand during the harvest seasons for students to get free healthy vegetables.

“I would like a commercial kitchen to teach people how to make healthy meals,” Friedman said. “I would like to expand our farm stand to twice a week.”

But more is needed, say advocates for students struggling to meet basic needs.

“I would like HSU to support and advocate for students experiencing food and housing difficulties in whatever way is feasibly possible,” said Barnes.

 

 

 

Parenting 101 For College Students

By Christine Harris
Flapjack staff

College students face competing priorities. Not only do the parents who do return to school now have to juggle both responsibilities of parent and student, but they also experience their peers’ and administrators’ new perceptions of them.

Most college universities offer different options for students who are also parents, but in most cases being both a parent and a student isn’t talked about in the classroom settings. Chelsey Davis, 20-years old and a child development major, said that she has looked at people in class when they say they have a child.

“I remember I was in class and some girl answered a question starting with my daughter. I wanted to look to see who was speaking, but I was also curious to see if she was older or not,” Davis said. “She said she had a son and daughter, but I didn’t view her differently at all. I was curious to see if she was the age that is perceived to be  culturally appropriate or my age.”

Unless people have experienced the daily tasks of being a parent, very few realize what it entails. Yvette Cuevas, a communications major and mother to her 2-year-old daughter, has had a positive experience with being both a parent and student. Cuevas feels that her peers were supportive of her having to balance both roles.

“I believe that the only negative comments came from those who didn’t know me,” Cuevas said. “I felt some peers saw me differently and treated me like a parent rather than a peer.”

A major factor of any parent’s daily lives is being able to find quality and affordable daycare for their child. Affordable childcare has been an important topic nationwide for many years. Cuevas shared that at first finding quality daycare for her daughter wasn’t easy.

“At first it was horrible,” Cuevas said. “It was summer and she was around six-months-old, so I had to pay various nannies that didn’t stay long because of summer.”

When it comes to having children, especially young ones, being blindsided by unexpected situations is a normal occurrence. For a parent who is also in college this can become very difficult with having to attend classes. Armeda Reitzel, professor and department chair of the communications department, said that she has had instances where students have no other choice but to bring their child to class.

“I have had students come to me,” Reitzel said. “Both students who are going to become parents during the very same semester that they take a class with me and students who have children. I actually do appreciate it, so if for some reason they are unable to complete something on time,  if for some reason they are late or have to bring the child or children to class at least I’ve been given a heads up.

Reitzel says she “loves little kids” and has no problem with them being in class if there is no other options available for the parents.

“If I am aware of it ahead of time, that kids are going to be coming because of circumstances, I’ve got a whole bunch of crayons,” Reitzel said. “I mean look at my office you see all the stuffed toys. There is a reason it’s not just for me. When kids are here I’ll give them a stuffed toy or two to play with while they’re here.”

Lisa Drew, communications/dance major and a member of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, said she knows a few people who are also parents and students and has a lot of respect for them.

“When I first had met the person I thought they were like any other college student; independent and a hard worker,” Drew said. “After I found out my respect for them grew. Not only are they juggling the responsibilities of a college student but also a parent. They’re probably more badass than I thought.”