Upward Bound supports students over the summer

by Hector Arzate
Flapjack staff

While many have argued that Trump’s policy agenda could negatively affect the lives of all Americans, the Center for American Progress found that his budget would harm employment, health, education, housing, and safety services for most rural communities, small towns, and tribal nations. It’s likely that a cut to these services would have an immediate impact on the local community in Humboldt.

As one of the oldest TRIO programs in the state of California, Upward Bound at HSU has served six different high schools in the local area of Humboldt and Trinity County for almost 50 years, including Arcata High School, Hoopa Valley High School and Trinity High School.

Leo Canez, the Academic Coordinator of Upward Bound at HSU, outlined what students are able to do during their pre-college experience.

“We have the summer academy, a residential experience here at Humboldt State University,” Canez said. “About 35 students live in the residential dorms for five weeks, beginning at the end of June and going all the way until the end of July. They study Shakespeare for their literature course, they have a composition course, a math course and this year they’re studying entomology for their science course. They also have different electives offered. This year we have Greek and Latin origins, street art, self defense and acroyoga.”

Although the proposal’s name is meant to signal change for greatness, some would argue that a 15 percent cut to the Dept. of Education is a far cry from prosperity. The aptly named “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” outlines budget cuts to several U.S departments for the fiscal year of 2018, including the Dept. of Education.

The Council for Opportunity in Education estimates that the proposed budget cut would result in a $92 million or 10 percent decrease in funding for TRIO for the fiscal year of 2018-2019, which would effectively eliminate services like Upward Bound for nearly 83,000 students.

While it certainly has an emphasis on the academics, UB tries to create a more well rounded experience for students to have fun, while learning how to be responsible scholars.

“With this program, we have a lot of social activities on the other side of the academics,” Canez said. “We go camping on the Klamath River, we have a masquerade ball, ice cream social, casino night, all these different activities on the weekends and the evenings because they’re here the entire time. So they have to balance, if there’s a swim night happening but they also have homework, they have to take care of it first.”

Harrel Deshazier, psychology major, and former Upward Bound resident mentor, found that he was able to provide multiple sources of support for his students and be a part of rewarding experience for both himself and his students.

“We’re not just doing academic stuff,” Deshazier said. “I’ve never done that many things in a summer, ever in my life. We went camping, on picnics, we went to Oregon for the Shakespeare festival. It was so great because all of them were into it… It just goes to show that underrepresented populations really have so much ability, it’s just the access.”

In order to prepare disadvantaged students, UB aims to bridge the gap that first generation students students have to deal with before arriving as college freshmen.

“They come from families that are low income and neither parent has a four year degree,” Canez said. “So they’re low income, first generation and there aren’t very many resources out there at these schools to provide students with information that they need for things like A-G requirements, SAT/ACT prep, making sure that they choose the right classes, and manage their time. I think that’s one of the biggest things, students being able to manage their time, especially when you come from communities where the kids have a lot of adult responsibilities.”

As a local student at Hoopa Valley High School and alumnus of the TRIO program, Canez always had a natural sense of curiosity and want to learn, but didn’t really value education.

“If it wasn’t for Upward Bound I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Canez said. “My mom finished the sixth grade before she stopped going to school and my father almost finished high school but he had to go to Vietnam. He didn’t finish school, he actually went into the military. They didn’t really excel in school and I didn’t have role models within my own home. As I grew up, they split up and between my third grade year to my freshman year in high school I went to 18 different schools. My goal was to drop out my sophomore year and become a mechanic, that’s all that I saw for myself and my future. I didn’t have anybody in my family who went to college or had any kind of experience with it, so I didn’t think that it was an option for me.”

Despite all impediments along the way, however, Canez began to value learning even more and found that there were more options than he could ever imagine.

“After my freshman year, I was living with a cousin in a laundry room,” Canez said. “I had a thin, little mattress on the floor where they moved the washer and dryer out and the roof would be leaking. When the Upward Bound staff came to my school and said I had to take classes, it wasn’t a big deal for me because I liked learning. But the kicker for me was that I would have a bed, three meals a day, and all I had to do was some school work over the summer and it would be a safe place to be. So that was a no brainer for me.”

While Canez’s story is unique, it’s a similar story that many students from a first generation, low-income background who come through the UB program share.

“We have the saying that, ‘UB lets you be you,’” Canez said. “It allows you for the first time to truly be who are and that’s what this program is all about… You’re surrounded by adults who want to help you realize your dream and we’ll do everything we can to help you figure out what that is. The entire staff, from the mentors to teachers to the administrative staff, we find out what seed is there in each one of our students’ heart and help it flourish.”

More fixes needed for HSU student housing insecurity

By Maddy Harvey
Flapjack staff

College can be one of the most stressful time in a person’s life due to all the deadlines, classes, debt, and everything in between. However, many students have another thing to add to the stress of college, and that’s being homeless.

Cynthia Paredes, a former HSU student, was homeless for a few months her second year attributed this experience to her eventual decision to leave HSU and go back home and transfer.

“My mental health was at it’s worst when I was going through this,” Paredes said, “I was completely empty and didn’t know who I was. I couldn’t be happy in Humboldt anymore. I go to school in SoCal now and I’ve been working on myself and am doing so much better.”

Humboldt State University has quite a bit of a homeless student problem. In fact, 15 percent of students surveyed at HSU have reported to have experienced housing insecurity, according to a report done by Jennifer Macguire of HSU.

This number is concerning considering that the rate of homeless students in the CSU system, that spans 23 universities, averages about 10 percent, as reported by a detailed report on homeless students in the CSU system by Rashida Crutchfield from CSU Long Beach.

Homelessness can have an influence on a  student’s mental well being that can negatively impact how they perform in school and their ability to focus due to increased feelings of anxiety, depression, and other distressing disorders, according to a study done by the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research.

HSU has taken some steps to address the issue and offer some help to students, including hosting housing nights where students can become familiar with how to go about places up for rent and how to fill out the applications, but many agree that there is always more that can be done.

Chanté Catt of the Homeless Student Advocate Alliance, a group on campus that works with and for homeless students, has some simple advice for the school on what they can do about the crisis.

“Quit enrolling people and not matching the available housing to the area,” Catt said, “This is the biggest issue.”

Unfortunately, HSU has not been too responsive to this since they continue to admit a greater number students that they cannot fully support, and has led to a “housing lottery” and long waitlist being used the last couple years since there isn’t enough supply for the demand.

HSU housing administrators were contacted multiple times to respond to these criticism but did not offer comments.

“Honestly I don’t know much of what they’re doing, but I’m sure they know the problem is up in the air,” Catt said, “Individual staff, faculty and professors are helping in many ways and are very supportive.”

For Paredes they didn’t seem to do much when she was put on the waitlist for housing, and didn’t offer her much information on what her situation would be until the school year had already begun.

“They eventually put me in this, like, big room where they put new transfers and overflow housing in the Hill, and they didn’t even give me that option until a week or so into the semester when I had been crashing on the small couch in my friend’s dorm since I had no place else to go,” Paredes said.

On top of that the housing they do offer on campus can be too expensive for many, which is the major reason so many non-freshman students choose to live off campus, even when that can become a greater hassle since the housing market in Arcata is so competitive, and the rent for off campus places just keeps getting raised as well.

Kira Hudson, a graduating senior has been homeless for quite a while and has just accepted that this has become a part of her life.

“They just kept raising my rent and I couldn’t do it anymore and I just became so frustrated,” Hudson said, “I finally just moved out of where I was and ended up living in my car for a few months and now I’m just staying with some friends.”

Hudson’s experience is a great example of how the community members here are so willing to help out their neighbors, but also shows the greater issue of the area taking advantage of the student population and charging them so much for housing and getting away with it because they need a roof over our heads and don’t want to have to travel too far from campus.

This community based effort is something that Humboldt is known for, and it’s really great, since sometimes the only thing that can be done in the moment is to just to help out your neighbor.

It should also be noted that the students have more power than they know to make a change and demand better resources and options, there is strength in numbers.

“It’s up to the students to make the changes. That’s what really matters,” Catt said.

 

Navigating white spaces in Humboldt County as a person of color

By Alyssa Anaya
Flapjack staff

During her first semester at HSU, Vanessa Cota, a 20-year-old political science major, had a frightening encounter at Don’s Donuts in downtown Arcata.

“A guy approached me and asked where I was from and said SoCal and kept telling me to go back where I came from,” she said. “I lost sense of what I was going to do. He threw a glass bottle at my feet.”

Cota’s story is not an isolated incident. Racism is alive and well in Humboldt County, where 77.1% of the population are white, 17.6% are Latinx, and 13.3% are black or African American. This leaves people of color to navigate white spaces, and that is a space that feels not always safe for minorities.

At last week’s Arcata City Council meeting, only a few days after the fatal stabbing of Josiah Lawson, a 19-year-old HSU student and leader of Brothers United, racism in the county was brought up for discussion.

“We cannot continue to ignore the systemic and cultural racism that exists in our community,” said Arcata’s vice-mayor Sofia Pereira. “While we can say we’ve been working on issues of equity in our community, we as a community failed [murder victim] Josiah [Lawson] and other students of color, who have stated over and over that they do not feel safe and welcomed here.”

HSU sociology lecturer Lora Bristow defines racism as simply the systematic oppression of a group based on “what we call” race.

“[This] advantages the dominant group (white folks in the U.S.) and disadvantages and harms other groups,” Bristow said. “ It has multiple levels–individual, ideological and cultural, and institutional, and can be overt/explicit or covert/subtle/even unconscious.”

In Arcata, a college town, racism here isn’t so avert, said 23-year-old Sociology major Danielle Dickerson.

“Arcata is a small town that is becoming more diverse and that makes some white folks uncomfortable,” Dickerson said. “It’s whether or not they are willing to accept that.”

Dickerson also brought attention to HSU’s graduation pledge and how it addresses a so called social and environmental justice.

“For who? Where do people of color lie in the discussion?” she said. “It’s bleaching. Watered down. Paradoxical.”

Dickerson said that language is very problematic.

“There needs to be a change of behavior,” she said. “White people need to be held responsible.”

As Bristow explained, racism can be both subtle and even unconscious. Cota said that she sometimes feels that her professors and colleagues come off as microaggressive.

“Sometimes I will say something and it’s kind of brushed off,” Cota said. “But when a white student says almost the same thing, everyone praises it.”

Racism is not just about minorities, it also calls attention to white folks.

“Racism is immense in its effect, in all layers of our lives.  For people of color, it creates diminished life chances, while it simultaneously increases the life chances of white folks.  Although as a system of power it seeks to dehumanize folks of color, I think it dehumanizes white folks.” said Bristow. “ How can we be good in our souls if we hate others, if we benefit from harm that is done to others and do not work to end that harm?”

Of course, there is no all ending, over night, happy ending when it comes to something as heavy as racism. However, there are ways that it can be combatted.

“There needs to be more accountability, safer spaces, and actually acknowledging gender, and race. Not leaving anyone out of decision making,” Dickerson said. “We need to redefine ally. You can’t just simply agree with the ideologies, you need to be action oriented. People are allies in theory, but they need to put that into praxis,” said Dickerson. “When you have a platform you need to use it.”

“We just had that march for science and it was full of white people. After the recent passing of Josiah [Lawson] we did not see many of these “allies.” They came to the vigils but didn’t show up to the courthouse to show support. Where are the allies?”

Cota agreed and added, “White folks need to not be so defensive. It happened, accept it. Ask what you can do to fix it. Check other white people. It is exhausting being a person of color and trying to educate white people who don’t want to listen to me.”

“At the individual level, we need to have conversations with each other–and white folks need to really listen to people of color.  White folks need to talk with other white folks, to work towards a collective anti-racist white identity,” said Bristow. “At the ideological/cultural level, we need to really examine ideas, images, beliefs–everything–and question where they come from, how they are connected with racism as a system of power.”

Racism has been a system structured at the roots of this nation and it shows at the institutional level.

“We need to see how racism may be operating in our schools, political groups, churches, workplaces, all the social institutions we interact with in our lives,” said Bristow.  “And then work for policies and practices that support racial justice. We need to do the same at the national and global level.”

 

Underfunding of art programs looms

By Andrea Curiel
Flapjack staff

For many involved in a creative program, their involvement is their main method of stress relief. Take away that method of stress relief, and the negative results are endless. Then there are the countless stories of shy, introverted teenagers possibly saved by joining some kind of creative ensemble and coming out of school with irreplaceable friend groups and outgoing personalities. Art programs are crucial to human development. But in many public schools, they’re becoming obsolete.

Braedyn Tawyea, psychology major at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, was involved in his high school’s music program and thoroughly believes his involvement was beneficial to his overall health and wellbeing.

“I love music so I participated in choir, band, and marching band in high school. I got to relieve a lot of stress when I played or sang,” Tawyea said. “I would say 100 percent that art programs aren’t seen as valuable anymore, which sucks considering how helpful they can be when you’re stressing about core classes and you just want that one fun class to be creative in.”

With President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities,  federal support for the arts is on track to failure. New York Times writer Sopan Deb reports that only $300 million of the $1.1 trillion annual discretionary spending is currently being put towards both endowments, and each endowment receives a multitude of grants from coveted artists for decades, which solidifies the importance in society. Unfortunately, the government thinks otherwise, and some are fully determined to eliminate all “unnecessary” spending.

In K-12 public schools, similar funding concerns have resulted in classroom creativity being overlooked at young ages, and the emergence of increasingly STEM-heavy curriculum.

In high schools, art programs are losing funding, and are treated more as electives instead of requirements. Music programs are forced to fundraise year-round, art and theater classes resort to using scrap materials, journalism and design programs lack the proper technology to generate a decent product.

However, on the other end of the educational spectrum, science labs receive new equipment more frequently than arts programs. Math lessons are more prevalent than music lessons, and it seems as though being unable to write a decent sentence is not a problem as long as you know how to balance math equations.

Ana Judith Puga, a 19 year-old environmental studies major at HSU, is passionate about the sciences but has always had a special connection to the arts.

“I do feel like art programs have decreased because people don’t think funding for art is as important for as other academics,” Puga said. “I took art and music classes in middle school and high school, and our theater class was never a class, just a separate program.”

Recent high school graduate Kasea Horn, 19, believes her lack of involvement in art programs was because of the severe underfunding of them.

“I was involved in photo for two years,” Horn said. “I was never really too involved though because the programs at my school had no money. It’s like art programs aren’t really emphasized in school these days.”

 

Alumni, students, college dropouts — all value college degree

By Treanna Brown
Flapjack staff

Did you know that for every $600 a high school graduate makes, a college graduate makes about $1,300? Those are numbers cited in a recent story at CNN.

There has always been a debate when it comes to rather or not a person should have a college degree and if that degree grants them success in life. For this story, three individuals were interviewed — a post grad, a sophomore in college and someone who has never been to college before. All interviewees were asked the same prompt: How do you feel about a college degree versus no degree. Do you think a person can successfully live life without a degree ? Does a person have an advantage over others because they have a degree?

 Humboldt State University alumna Fabiola Mendoza discussed her experience.

“You can go to college and get a degree and it will give you a leg up in society opposed to someone who doesn’t have one at all,” Mendoza said. “But having a degree doesn’t mean that you’ll be stable, I’ve been in that position before. I was a good student, A-B average, various campus jobs, I was a student activist but I did experience a period of unemployment.”

Mendoza now works in the EOP/SSS department at Humboldt State, with her various connections she was able to join this team shortly after she graduated. But it’s not always that simple.

“You have to find a job market that best fits you because you will find yourself being told you’re overqualified especially in Humboldt County,” she said. “And then you get rejected for the job because they don’t want to have to pay you more than they are offering.”

Mendoza said that networking is an important part of the college experience.

  “When you graduate you will start at the bottom of the barrel unless you know people,” she said. “You have to work harder to get where you want to  be especially if you’re a minority because a degree doesn’t guarantee you a job. When you graduate college people have this expectation (up until they graduate) that you will automatically be able to find a job once you graduate, but that’s not the case. Everything is about who you know.”

Though even people with no degrees are able to succeed in life, Mendoza said, it’s better for you to have a degree.

Humboldt State University student Amber Johnson said students today experience different kids of success.

“So many teens are now using social media, reality television and music as an outlet for success,” Johnson said. “The circumstances of life are all different compared to past generations, we may have more affordable access to higher education but we are not taking advantage of this.”

Johnson said she feels like this new generation doesn’t take higher paying jobs that a degree can get you seriously.

“I do believe though that with a college degree you’re expanding your knowledge and with that expansion, it makes you want to go after the good jobs,” she said. “With no degree you’re limited to what you can do, and this where the different outlets for success that I talked about come into play.”

Johnson mentioned that wanting a degree first comes from a person’s determination/ seriousness.

Xiomara Motavo, who completed one semester at community college before taking a break from school, agreed.

“I wish I would’ve stayed in school, because now I’m stuck working at Starbuck’s until I find the energy to go through 4 years of school and get my degree,” Motavo said. “ If you have a college degree you’re more a priority than anything else. You’re more inclined to get a job especially if your degree pertains to the job.”

Having a degree, Motavo said, makes it seem like you’re more serious about the job.

“Not just anyone will go to college and get a degree only someone who is determined takes that time and effort,” Motavo said. “When employers look at your resume they can tell that you want the job more than someone who is less qualified than you because they look at that resume as a handbook for you, as an insight on what they are taking on compared to someone who has nothing but irrelevant jobs on their resume.”