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Craigslist killer sentenced to life in prison for murder of CSUN student

Abdullah Alkadi pictured
Abdullah Alkadi was last seen on Sept. 17 near his home in the 9900 block of Reseda Boulevard in Northridge.

Long Beach resident Agustin Fernandez, 30, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday for the murder of 23-year-old CSUN student Abdullah Alkadi, who he met on Craigslist.

Fernandez was convicted of first-degree murder on June 9 for the death of Alkadi, which jurors also found that the murder included a robbery and carjacking.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Hayden Zacky, who made the final verdict, said he believes the attack was premeditated.

Zacky also said Fernandez showed a cold and malicious heart in the way he callously disposed of Alkadi’s body.

In addition to the sentence, Fernandez was also ordered to pay victim restitution and a $10,000 state restitution fine.

Prosecutors allege the two met in Northridge on Sept. 17, 2014, to negotiate the price of Alkadi’s Audi A6, which he listed on Craigslist for around $30,000.

During the meeting, Fernandez stabbed Alkadi six times in the chest in an attempt to keep both the money and car. Alkadi’s body was found a month later off Interstate 10 in Palm Desert.

Fernandez’s attorney, Justine Esack, filed a motion for a new trial on July 29, on the basis that Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes’ conduct was out of line during cross examination, citing use of aggressive and deceptive methods.

However, Judge Zacky denied the motion saying that Barnes did not use deceptive or reprehensible methods, and that the court maintained control throughout preceding.

Prosecutors will be seeking victim restitution on behalf of Alkadi’s family with a hearing set for September 27.

Need 2 Read: Wednesday Book Column

Several novels are stacked on top one another
(File photo/Lindsay Baffo/The Sundial)

Title: Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley

Pages: 288

$4.45-$9.95

Mary Shelley’s classic novel about a man playing God raises the question if monsters are born or if they are created by society. Dr. Frankenstein takes it upon himself to create his own monster as a science experiment, but is ultimately frightened by the monster’s appearance. The novel is told through two narratives: one through a captain of a ship who finds Victor Frankenstein and the second is Frankenstein’s narrative, as he describes the horrific events that took place when his monster ran throughout the village. The book stands out through the way it weaves philosophical questions within the texts to have readers question what it means to be human or if it’s natural to play God.

Title: The Phantom of the Opera

Author: Gaston Leroux

Pages: 352

$3.99-$4.61

This novel by Leroux tells the tale of the infamous opera ghost that haunts the Paris Opera House. The guests of the opera house are frightened of the phantom, who is ultimately a misunderstood figure in desperate need of someone to love. He sets his eyes on the beautiful Christine Daae, who he becomes obsessed with and kidnaps. The rest of the book takes the readers on a chaotic journey through the depths of the opera house to find Christine before the phantom makes her a permanent possession.

Game of Thrones music comes to the Palladium

Issac Hemptead and Ramin Djawadi from Game of Thrones pictured speaking
Actor Issac Hempstead(left) and Ramin Djawadi( right) have Q and A session before the Orchestra plays. (Josue Aguilar/The Sundial)

“Game of Thrones” composer Ramin Djawadi performed a medley of music from the popular television series alongside a live orchestra at the Hollywood Palladium on Monday.

Djawadi, who created the music for all 60 episodes of the series, wants fans to experience the sounds of the series live with the “Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience.” Djawadi also announced there will be an North American tour next year.

The live orchestra recreated the music from some memorable moments of the show, such as the “Rains of Castamere,” and “The Kings Arrival,” taking the audience on a journey through the seven kingdoms. During the concert there were also props from the show displayed on stage to add more depth to the performance.

Djawadi said future shows would use state of the art technology to immerse the audience into the world of the series.

“We will have very special set designs, digital technology in this experience,” Djawadi said. “But also organic elements that create a special stage that they’ve never seen before.”

Issac Hempstead, who plays Bran Stark on the show, joined Djawadi on stage for a Q and A session, where Hempstead asked him why he thinks the music from “Game of Thrones” resonates with the audience.

“We have a lot of character themes and themes from the different houses and plots,” Djawadi said. “So I think through the seasons, as we’ve sort of lost some characters, [it’s] nice to hear those pieces of music again and remember some of these characters and certain special moments in the show.

Kate Sumlin, a 33-year-old fan of the show, without spoiling the show, shared her own thoughts as to why the music leaves a lasting impression on the audience.

“It definitely builds the suspense and the tension,” Sumlin said. “In the season finale the music made such an impact in the first 20 minutes.”

There was also an exhibition piece called the ‘Hall of Faces,’ which used tablets to take pictures of the guests’ faces and displayed them on the columns, as seen on the show. On display were props from the show, such as Arya Stark’s ‘Needle,’ the House of Black and White costumes and the infamous Iron Throne, which guests were allowed to sit on to take pictures.

“The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience” tour will hit 28 cities, including Los Angeles, New York, and Montreal, beginning on February 15, 2017.

Music Mondays: Heavy Metal

Ozzy Ozbourne pictued performing
Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath performs at the United Center Friday, Jan. 22 2016, in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Metal music can be great way to get the blood pumping or provide an outlet to release some frustrations.

The roots of the genre can be traced to the blues-rock genre of the 1960s with bands like Led Zeppelin and Cream being major influences. The dark, angry and serious tone of the music embodied the blue-collar town of Birmingham, where it originated.

Now metal is a diverse genre with a variety of sub-genres such as death metal, power metal, along with thrash; each offering different lyrical themes and sounds.

Some students on campus share why they listen metal along with some of their favorite songs and bands.

For John Paul Gordon, a 21-year-old computer science major, metal music gets his adrenaline going whenever he listens to it.

“I like listening to metal from time to time because it gets me pumped with adrenaline,” said Gordon. “When I was competing in track, I sometimes would listen to a song or two before a race.”

Ashley Robinson, a 20-year-old recreation and tourism management major, also said she enjoys the tone of the music.

“My favorite song is ‘Bodies’ by Drowning Pool because it pumps me up,” said Robinson. “But i also listen to metal music sometimes because of the way it sounds, it depends on my mood.”

This week’s playlist features a heavy dose of Metallica, Black Sabbath, System of a Down and a mix of other artist in the metal genre.

Weekly Editor’s Picks: Stand-up Comedy, Pokemon Double Feature, Downtown Art Walk

Art piece shows a man with a skull face-painting holding a skull
Art lovers take in the works along Spring Street during a recent Art Walk in downtown Los Angeles. Dozens of businesses have tacked DTLA onto either end of their names. (Barbara Davidson/MCT)

Sunday 8/7

Pokemon Double Feature @ The Regent | Film

The Pokemon video game series has been unavoidable for the past month with the release of the Pokemon Go app. Joining in on the craze, a double feature of “Pokemon: The First Movie” and “Pokemon The Movie 2000” will be shown for aspiring Pokemon trainers at The Regent.

$12

7 p.m.

448 S. Main St.

Los Angeles, CA 90013

Monday 8/8

Pete Davidson: Prehab @ Largo at the Coronet | Comedy

Stand-up comedian and current “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson brings his wit to the West Coast with a stop from his national tour.

$30

Doors: 7 p.m./Show: 8:30

366 N. La Cienega Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90048

Wednesday 8/10

“Radical Feelism with Dallas Clayton” @ UCB Sunset | Comedy

Children’s author Dallas Clayton combines poetry and personal experiences in an adult-targeted show that discusses searching for joy while discovering rather unconventional forms of it.

$5

7 p.m.

5419 W. Sunset Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90027

Thursday 8/11

Downtown Art Walk | Art/Museum

Centered around the theme of transportation, the 34-gallery art walk features L.A. artist Diego Cardoso and photographer Carol Cirillo-Stanley, whose work depends on the city itself. The two artists work will be featured at the Art Walk Lounge. The Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Little Tokyo Art Complex and MOCA Grand Avenue are some of the other participating galleries.

Free

6 p.m. at the Art Walk Lounge

634 S. Spring St.

Los Angeles, CA 90014

Interim director of EOP announced

Woman speaks at podium
(File photo / The Sundial)

The committee headed by Provost Yi Li has chosen Shiva Parsa for the position of Interim Director of EOP, according to an email sent to the campus community by Li.

The search committee looked to replace previous EOP director Jose Luis Vargas, who was beloved by students and staff on campus, following his passing on March 19, after a brief illness.

Parsa, who assisted Vargas, has 26 years of experience in CSUN’s EOP program and was a favorite of EOP students.

On May 12, students and other members of the community gathered on the Oviatt Library lawn and marched to CSUN President Dianne Harrison’s office to request Parsa be appointed interim director of EOP.

Eduardo Torres, 20, an accounting major, who has been part of the EOP Residential Bridge Program since 2014, was one supporter for Parsa as interim director.

“I strongly believe that Shiva Parsa should be the EOP director,” Torres said. “She has the right experience with both EOP students and staff.”

The three candidates who were being considered for interim EOP director were Conchita Battle, Maria Valiton and Shiva Parsa.

The search committee was looking for someone with a strong background in advancing the educational experience of underrepresented students, as well as experience in a administrative role in an EOP program.

All three candidates fit that criteria.

Battle is the Director of Advising Resource Center/EOP, as well as part of staff in the Academic First Year Experiences. Maria Valiton is the Director of the Student Resource Center/EOP in the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication. Parsa is the associate director of EOP and worked under Jose Luis Vargas.

Ultimately, Parsa was chosen to succeed previous director Vargas.

Yi Li said in the email that the search for a permanent EOP director will begin in the near future.

Torres believes that students should have some input when it comes to choosing a new director.

“My thoughts on this is that as an EOP student, we should have the right to have some kind of input on choosing the new director,” Torres said. “EOP staff should also have a right on choosing the new director because I believe they have more knowledge on what the position requires.”

Parsa was appointed on Aug. 1.

Expert debunks freshman 15 weight gain myth

Comic shows a student looking stressed while eating unhealthy foods
Illustration by: Kiv Bui/The Sundial

Many incoming freshmen may have heard of the concept of the freshman 15, a supposed average amount of weight a first-time college students gain within their first year.

Despite the freshman 15’s prevalence in pop culture, students are not as widely affected as one may think.

“The freshman 15 is a little bit of a myth,” said Ellen Bauersfeld, registered dietitian at the Klotz Student Health Center on campus. “By no means do all freshman gain 15 pounds.”

According to Bauersfeld, most freshman gain about two to five pounds during their first year, although some students may gain more based on numerous factors. Some of these include a change of environment, food availability and stress.

“A lot of [the difficulty] is being launched into a new environment, and with that comes challenges,” Bauersfeld said.

In a new campus environment, students may feel limited to their food options since a majority of the restaurants on campus and in the surrounding area are fast food establishments. Those who dorm and are on a meal plan may face additional difficulties such as overeating since they have a wider variety of food in a single place.

Students’ reliance on heavily processed, if not fast food, stems from their lack of menu planning and shopping skills, according to Bauersfeld. Since these skills, along with cooking are not heavily stressed in high school and possibly not at home either, students turn to fast food as their only option and think it’s a cheaper meal, though she said fast food is not any more cost efficient than cooking.

Stress also plays a factor into the fast food decision, mainly when students feel crunched between classes. They may feel an urge to eat more than necessary at times, which may be a behavioral response to stress, according to Bauersfeld.

Though all these factors may sound overwhelming, freshmen can look towards older students who have been in this same situation for advice.

Sophomore child development major Brittany Reyes, 18, recommends long-distance running and staying hydrated as part of her healthy lifestyle. Reyes also stressed the importance of making more conscious decisions when it came to eating.

“For snacks, instead of going to the market for chips, get fruit instead,” she said.

Similar advice was given by Juan Gomez, a 23-year-old mechanical engineering major. Instead of turning to soda or other sugary drinks to quench thirst, Gomez said to stick to water.

Like Reyes, Gomez emphasized the importance of exercise and food choices in a healthy lifestyle.

“Take advantage of the gym [the Student Recreation Center], find a gym partner,” he said. “Cook at home, don’t have fast food as much.”

Both the Klotz Student Health Center and the Student Recreation Center (SRC) are on-campus resources that students are encouraged to use. The Klotz center, which includes dental, vision and prescription-filling services in addition to one-on-one consultations, is located west of the G3 parking structure. Students can find the SRC, a fully-equipped gym, east of the University Student Union.

CSUN Leads CSU Systems in Diversity

Students play foosball
File photo / The Sundial

Over the past few years, the amount of diversity across California State University campuses has increased significantly regardless of being located in predominantly white communities. Northridge, in particular is one of the most diverse of all 23 CSU campuses yet 56 percent of the surrounding community is white.

Hanso Castillo, for example, discovered his life altered when he attended CSUN not only through means of education, but culturally as well.

Castillo always had a passion for music and while enrolling in classes, he found a club that was about music and performing with a diverse set of students who enjoyed music as well.

“It’s amazing how music can bring together a group of random people with random ethnicities. It’s been great learning about music from different cultural backgrounds and how different we all grew up” Castillo said.

Among the top 5 enrolled CSU systems CSUN is among the top most diverse campuses. As of Fall 2015, the student body is made up 44 percent Latino/a, 23 percent White, 11 percent Asian, 9 percent International, 5 percent African American, 3 percent multi-raced, less than 1 percent Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, with 5 percent of the ethnicities not being reported.

According to CSU Office Chancellor Toni Molle, California’s Latino, African-American and Native American students earn more than half of all undergraduate degrees, with nearly one third of all CSU students being first generation college attendees.

“The CSU [system] serves California’s growing underserved communities, offering affordable opportunities to pursue a college degree” Molle said.

CSUN Associated Students Production Coordinator Austin Ysais said the diversity is felt in every corner on campus.

“As a part of the faculty, I can say that not only is our student body diverse, but faculty as well,” he said.”It’s great to continue seeing different ethnicities enrolled in this university. It makes us well rounded.”

According to the CSU College Portrait’s Voluntary System of accountability, of the 917 full-time instructional faculty members, 33 percent of them are persons of color.

Public Health Major, Bernard Fernandez said the cultural diversity on campus has helped him make friends from different backgrounds.

“I’ve made friends with people from different ethnic groups that I wouldn’t have, but just because of the exposure of me being around them.”

Many students have reported similar experiences with 92 percent of seniors reporting that their experiences at this institution contributed to their understanding of people from other backgrounds and 84 percent said they often had serious conversations with students of a different race or ethnicity, according to the CSU college portraits system.

For CTVA Major Cynthia Rojas, the diversity at CSUN depends on the major.

“It is pretty diverse at CSUN but I’d say it is pretty Caucasian at times depending on your major. I’m a CTVA major and what I noticed is that for the most part, there are a lot of Latinos in that major but when I see marketing or engineering its Caucasian or Asian.”

Chicano Studies Department Professor, Stevie Ruiz recognizes the benefits and presence of diversity among CSUN, yet worries impaction will affect the numbers.

“One of the concerns that we have as a department is over time because we’re a service learning institution for the local demographics across the Los Angeles County, will those numbers actually change or actually decrease,” he said.

The diversity among CSUN students in the past five years has gradually gone up as the number of enrolled students increases. Since 2011, CSUN’s total enrolled students has gone from 36,911 students to 41,548 in 2015 according to the Office of Institutional Researches’ annual profile reports.

The percentage of American Indian students stayed the same for all five years, yet the Latino and Latina population increased from 2011’s 34.2 percent to 39.5 in 2015. The white student population decreased from 29.4 in 2011 to 25.9 in 2015. Other significant changes were shown in the international student population increasing from 2011’s 6.7 percent to 2015’s 8.7 percent.

University Student Union student employee Kevin Chau said working on a diverse campus makes him a proud matador.

“As a CSUN student it makes me proud to go to CSUN because of the diversity here, because I get to work with different kinds of people and just like learn from them.”

Along with CSU Northridge, San Diego State University (SDSU) is among the top five highest enrolled CSU systems, it is also the CSU that has won the National Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award for the past three years.
Whereas CSUN’s top enrolled demographic is Latino/Latina, SDSU’s enrollment makeup is predominantly white. The chief of diversity at SDSU, Aaron Bruce, said ethnic diversity is valued at his campus.

“Diversity includes race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, veterans status, nationality, age, class and socioeconomic status” Bruce said. “Most importantly is the overall commitment to diversity and inclusion which supports the quality of life for students.”

Supporting the quality of life is definitely something diversity does for Castillo and his friends. As he walked to his next class he said, “This is like a brotherhood for us, we all have different skin tones, we all look different, and are raised differently and the music brings us together.”

“These guys will be in my life for a long time.” said his friend Quinn Fernandez. “Being with these guys has made my college experience.”

This story was contributed by the students in Professor Hoffman’s investigative class: Laine Wherritt, Grecia Lopez, Danielle Pendleton

Public transit measure to benefit CSUN students in upcoming years

Students board the city bus
Commuting students board the bus on Vincennes St. near CSUN campus. (Josue Aguilar/The Sundial)

The CSUN community has struggled with commutes due to the lack of transportation options, but a possible solution to the problem was recently included in the Los Angeles County Traffic Plan.

The decision comes after the Metro Board of Directors voted in favor of adding a rapid transit line in the north San Fernando Valley that would connect to CSUN in the proposed Los Angeles County Traffic Plan.

According to the motion introduced by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, this program is expected to directly benefit CSUN’s student population and to maximize public transportation in the San Fernando Valley area.

Director of Government and Community Relations Francesca M. Vega said there are several priorities that the San Fernando Valley had outlined in the plan, and that even though these would benefit the students and the campus, CSUN didn’t have anything explicitly for the campus in the plan.

“That’s why it was so important for us [CSUN] to ensure that we were at the table, and we were formalized,” she said. “Bus rapid transit was a priority for us and now we know that’s something that will be implemented in the plan.”

According to a statement released by CSUN president Dianne Harrison, the Metro Board of Directors voted to include $180 million to implement bus rapid transit connecting the east and west ends of the valley. This will help decrease carbon emissions, traffic congestion and parking on and around campus.

The plan lists hundreds of projects and billions of dollars in investments that will be funded by a half-cent sales tax increase.

If this measure is approved by voters on the November ballot, that would mean that CSUN is expected to the see the project finalized around 2023.

“This plan is not in the ‘right now.’ We are talking about years,” Vega said. “The projects in this plan of course, will happen

Vega explained that other projects will need some study and it could take 10 to 20 years to be completed.

“The great thing about CSUN is that we are now formally mentioned in the plan and our project has moved up. This is not something happening in 50 years,” Vega said.

On the other hand, the project could be at risk if the measure is not approved in the ballots.

“If people don’t vote for it, we aren’t looking at CSUN, but also all of the greater Los Angeles region and the many critical projects that other communities were advocating for. It will all go down the drain basically, if it doesn’t pass [the measure],” Vega said.

 

 

Going with the flow of Pokemon Go

Pokemon go battle on smart phone
A Pokemon Go player battles the serpent-like creature, Arbok, while walking past the Quetzalcoatl statue in Plaza de Cesar Chavez in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, July 11, 2016. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

Almost a month after the release of the mobile app Pokemon Go, where users can find augmented reality versions of monsters from the “Pokemon” video game series in the real world, peoples’ interest is still piqued by the creature catching craze.

The smartphone app, a partnership between Nintendo and Niantic, Inc., uses the phone’s GPS signal to vary the types of available Pokemon, PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms, the latter two which are based off real landmarks. Players can spot Pokemon on the map and attempt to capture them via swiping their phone’s screen, where a virtual image is overlaid images of the real world by means of the phone’s camera.

With the app’s release, new and longtime fans have turned the mobile game into a massive pop culture phenomenon, somewhat revitalizing the series that started a similar obsession in the late 1990s.

Despite the young target audience, many adults, including some CSUN students, have been bit by the exploring-and-Pokemon-capturing bug.

“I didn’t think much of [the app] to tell you the truth, until I went outside,” said Hernan Juarez, a 30-year-old mechanical engineering major. “I was going to the park and seeing people interacting [through the app].”

Though people are socializing with the aid of a smartphone application, the face-to-face interaction is what Juarez appreciates about the app, besides the fact that people are going outside and walking more.

Juarez, who recently located to a new neighborhood, said the app helped him explore his new surroundings. Even around CSUN, Juarez found parts of the campus he normally would never visit or even know were there.

Multiple on-campus landmarks and buildings are virtual points of interest within the app which grants players items at PokeStops, such as the Oviatt Library, Matador Bookstore Complex and Student Recreation Center. The botanical garden and Sierra Tower are Pokemon Gyms, where players can battle for turf control.

Some may also enjoy just exploring different cities and public spaces for the PokeStops alone.

Tristan Bruno, 21, a kinesiology major, wasn’t much of a fan of the series prior to the app but began his Pokemon hunting adventure after his girlfriend suggested he download the app. Passing by PokeStops is his main draw to the game, along with the social aspect that follows. Bruno has even incorporated the app into his dates with his girlfriend, specifically walking to points of interest and claim a given PokeStop’s items together.

“It’s great to see people going outside,” Bruno said, “I have seen a lot of people say [the app] has helped them because they are bored of the same things.”

The app’s reliance on walking in public has made a positive impact on players’ lives, according to The Huffington Post and Vox. Through the use of Twitter, people have praised the app for the supposed increase in physical activity and improved mental health through interaction with other players.

While it’s hard to qualify health benefits from personal anecdotes, there is one thing players should keep in mind while playing, according to Juarez, which is to be aware of the immediate surroundings and not get sucked into the virtual world.

Crime blotter for July 25-31

Art piece shows the words

Monday, July 25

A suspect fled from University Park Apartment 12 after removing two tires from a secured bicycle.

Tuesday, July 26

  • A cooking pot was stolen from a victim’s apartment on University Village Apartments.

Wednesday, July 27

  • An unknown suspect falsely pulled a fire alarm in Jacaranda Hall.

Thursday, July 28

  • An individual was sexually assaulted at 17740 Halsted St.
  • A possible bicycle theft occurred near the Bookstore Complex. The alleged suspect was captured and questioned; however, he released due to lack of evidence and received a trespassing admonition.

Saturday, July 30

  • An alleged suspect was taken into the LAPD Van Nuys jail for booking after being arresting for posession of a narcotic-controlled substance and paraphernalia at the Transit Center on campus.

Sunday, July 31

  • A driver was arrested for driving under the influence near Balboa Boulevard and Nordhoff Street. The alleged suspect was arrested on the scene.

Calendar of events at CSUN (Aug. 8-14)

Mural of Jack Nicholson's face
A mural of Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" adorns a pillar in the main call center at Zappos.com's Las Vegas corporate office, which gives tours to visitors. (Sam McManis/MCT)

Tuesday, Aug. 9

“Tuesday Talks” in the Pride Center

The Pride Center, located on the second floor of the University Student Union, Sol Center, invites students to its weekly event, “Tuesday Talks,” which will cover an array of topics, including gender identity, bisexuality, coming out and other issues that relate to the LGBTQ community. The event is free of charge and will be held from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 11

Summer Movie Fest – The Shining

CSUN will show “The Shining” on campus, a movie where an evil and spiritual presence forces a father into violence in an isolated hotel during the winter. The summer movie festival, which is held weekly, will occur on the lawn in front of the Oviatt Library at 7:30 p.m. and is free to all.

Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 11-14

Camp Matador

Incoming freshmen are invited to the fourth-annual Camp Matador, located at the Outdoor Adventures Office on campus. The camp, which will take place Thursday-Sunday and costs $155, shuttles CSUN students to Ponderosa Pines in Big Bear, Calif., where they’ll participate in several activities, such as swimming, hiking, playing, singing, and dancing.