The Daily Sundial asks incoming freshman trivia questions about their campus.
CSUN President Dianne Harrison welcomes back students and faculty in her second convocation address and focuses on several main goals for the 2013-2014 academic year.
President Dianne Harrison hosted her second convocation at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) on Aug. 22.
More than 800 people attended the celebration, filling the Great Hall to maximum capacity.
“[Harrison’s] speech was inspiring, motivating,” said Debra Hammond, executive director of the University Student Union. “It gave us a push toward the start of the year.”
During her speech Harrison encouraged faculty and alumni to offer their continued support to incoming freshmen and transfer students so that they can transition smoothly into college life.
This fall CSUN has admitted the largest group of incoming freshmen and transfer students in its history. The headcount for students enrolled totals more than 39,000.
This year Harrison’s primary focus is centered on the importance of CSUN’s external influence.
Since the president’s inaugural address last Aug. 23, 2012, CSUN has received praise and recognition from numerous institutions.
“Financial Planning Magazine” ranked CSUN’s Financial Planning Program among the top 25 in the nation and “The Los Angeles Press Club” named the Daily Sundial the the best college paper in 2012. The “National Collegiate Athletic Association” (NCAA) gave CSUN a $900,000 grant to further athletic programs.
“I want CSUN to be the envy of institutions who also strive for success and diversity, because we do it better than anybody else,” said Harrison.
Harrison also mentioned that her vision for CSUN is to grow cohesively through the promotion of diversity and student health.
The president also stressed the importance of students ability to access information through technology. This semester students can download the free CSUN Mobile App to complete tasks such as adding classes and making payments. They will also be able to gain access to several software and file-sharing programs such at Microsoft Office, CSUN Box, Lynda and more at no cost.
There will also be approximately 1,000 students in seven different departments participating in the myCSUNtablet initiative. The myCSUNtablet initiative links students with academic resources via their iPad device. This initiative aims to reduce the cost and increase the quality of learning materials for students.
CSUN student Jusdeep Singh Sethi, also known as Jusdeep “Peace” Singh Sethi, drowned at Big Bear Lake on Aug. 11.
According to Sethi’s family, the 20-year-old interdisciplinary studies major was swimming alone when he called for help. His older brother Mandeep Sethi and other family members pulled him out of the lake. They did CPR until Sethi was sent to Bear Valley Community Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
“Every student is special but Jusdeep was something else. He will definitely leave a void in people’s lives, but he will live on through us,” said Augie Garibay, activities coordinator for clubs and organizations at the Matador Involvement Center.
Sethi’s family held a memorial service at the Khalsa Care Foundation in Pacoima on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“No special invitation was sent to anybody,” said Kuldib Singh, a family friend for over 20 years.
Singh walked into the Gurdwara or “the place of worship for Sikhs” and said that there were more than 400 people at Jusdeep’s memorial service.
“He had his ways to touch people’s souls,” said Singh.
According to Singh, Sethi’s mother was grateful for the time she had with her son. She also told Singh that God placed him on this earth and God could take him away whenever he desired to.
“That’s the kind of family they are,” said Singh. “They didn’t say ‘why, god, why?'”
According to Sikh tradition, when a person passes on, their soul is not subject to death. The soul transcends and Sikhs celebrate the life that was lived. They do not focus on the sadness of the life that has passed, something Sethi’s brother Mandeep Sethi said he is learning to understand.
“In Sikhism we believe that after death the soul is transitioning into the universe,” said Mandeep. “He was a beacon of light and hope that even in this material world Jusdeep was able to maintain his purity and innocence and channel that through his words.”
Jusdeep was widely known by CSUN students and faculty and was held in high esteem as a student, friend and advocate for change.
“He was one of those people who was always humble and at the same time very committed to social justice. He was an admirable person,” said Danny Santana-Hernandez, 23, history graduate student.
Many of Sethi’s friends and family said he had passion for nourishing his environment. He aspired to become a naturopathic physician, meaning he wanted to use all-natural medicines and work with nature to heal people. Sethi wanted to start an all-natural medicine school and a free clinic.
“Jusdeep was really rooted in Mother Earth. He would work at the community garden both at CSUN and at the Sikh temple,” said Mandeep Sethi.
A funeral will be held for Jusdeep Singh Sethi at Forest Lawn Church of the Recessional in Glendale on Tuesday, August 20 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Following the funeral will be a Langar, or reception, at the Khalsa Care Foundation in Pacoima at 1 p.m. and a Kirtan, the Sikh tradition of spiritual hymns at 2 p.m.
Union leaders for CSU employees decried the 1.2 percent salary increase proposed at the CSU board of trustee meeting in Long Beach.
“Our members need more than a 1.2 percent salary increase and they cannot afford to pay more for their health care,” said Mary Kay Stratham Doyle, president of the Academic Professionals of California.
CSU employees have not seen a pay raise since 2007 and while $38 million will be allocated for salary increases for all CSU employees, this may be offset by a proposed increase in health care contributions.
Vice Chancellor for Human Resources at California State University, Gail Brooks, said CSU is unique compared to other systems because as health care costs have risen over the years, the university has compensated for those costs.
“Therefore, the CSU will propose modest increases in the payment of the employee share of the health care premium for all employee plans,” said Brooks.
Political science professor Andy Field said the CSU is not only unique when it comes to health care benefits.
“We are also unique in that we don’t get step increases as the thousands and thousands of other employees in the state of California do,” said Field.
John Orr, a dispatcher at CSU Fullerton who also represents clerical workers, says the situation needs a long-term solution and the “modest” 1.2 percent or even 2 percent won’t solve the problem.
“Just as I have to accept any dollar you’re willing to give me, I have to fight against any dollar you want to take away from me,” said Orr.
“The cost of living rises every day. The cost of gas rises every day. I’m at a point for the welfare of my family and the families I represent, if you give a dollar, I have no choice but to take it because I have nothing,“ said Orr.
CSUN President Dianne Harrison said it’s about time CSU employees get adequately recognized, as recent years of budget reductions steered the CSU system in a wrong direction.
“Everyone is tired of hearing, we are going to have to do more with less. The patience is wearing because it’s just been so long,” said Harrison.
While Harrison acknowledges that the proposed salary increase is not enough, she does believe the CSU system is moving forward rather than backward. This new direction will affect people’s morale and what “they are willing to do and not do for students” and the campus as a whole.
“It has to do with retaining good staff, good faculty. It has to do with morale and just trying to make sure our employees are compensated for their work as much as possible because we do value our employees,” said Harrison.
Meanwhile, the board of trustees approved the five new CSU presidents salaries, but as Chancellor Timothy White emphasized, “there is no compensation increase for any of these presidencies.”
William Covino, the newly appointed president of Cal State Los Angeles will be paid $299,000 and all new presidents will get the usual monthly car allowance of $1,000 and reimbursement for their moving expenses.
During the meeting, an emotional presentation by parents who lost their son to binge drinking compelled the CSU board of trustees to adopt and further implement their alcohol prevention policies on all CSU campuses.
“Perhaps our action will be one more step forward to making his death and all it represents to so many other families a little bit less painful,” said White.
In 2008, Julie and Scott Starkey lost their son Carson who attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Carson died from acute alcohol poisoning while participating in a fraternity initiation ritual.
“Carson’s life ended there, but his legacy began there,” said Starkey.
After their son’s death, the Starkey’s started the non-profit organization, awareawakealive.org, which provides tools to educate and prevent alcohol poisoning while giving students “the confidence to seek help without getting into trouble.” The Starkey’s pointed out that every 44 hours, a college student dies of alcohol poisoning in this country.
“With your support and our free tools, all CSU students can be empowered to know the signs and do the right thing, save their friends’ lives,” said Starkey.
“Joy and I have maintained good friendships with many of Carson’s friends and have just recently celebrated graduation with them….Carson should have been there. The clock is ticking,” said Starkey.
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The Supreme Court of the United States made two historic rulings Wednesday on the legal status of same-sex marriage.
In a 5-4 vote, the justices ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law passed by congress excluding same-sex couples married legally in their states from recognition under the federal tax code, is unconstitutional because it did not provide “equal liberty” under the law.
In the case of Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative passed in 2008 which ended the short time that same-sex marriage was considered legal in the state, the justices dismissed the case after deciding that the proposition’s defense had no “standing” to defend it in court.
“I am happy, but there is still struggle and more work (needs) to be done for the LGBQT community,” said Jessica Cardiel, a senior who is double majoring in Chicano and women studies and works as a peer mentor at the Pride Center
The DOMA case was brought to the court by 83-year-old Edith Windsor, who sued the federal government for requiring her to pay over $360,000 in estate taxes when her wife, Thea Spyer died in 2009. Windsor was denied a federal estate tax exemption usually given to married couples due to section three of DOMA, which defines marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife'”
In the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, section three of DOMA was struck down because it “violated liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment.” The court left section two of DOMA unaltered, which allows states to refuse recognizing gay marriages performed in other states.
The ruling in Prop 8 now clears the way for same-sex marriages to legally resume in California, but will not have the same constitutional or civil liberties implications. Rather than making any broad statements on the right to marry, the justices dismissed the case entirely, stating that since the defense team did not represent the state of California, they had no legal standing to defend the law.
“It’s going to (spread) nationwide because we are going to fight for it,” said Cardiel.
President Obama released a statement on the DOMA ruling where he “applauds” the court for striking down a law that “enshrined” discrimination.
“The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free,” said President Obama.
James Lopez, a graduating senior double majoring in philosophy and religion at CSUN says the gay marriage debate is not about equal rights and believes the fundamental issue in the debate has been lost.
“This is not about benefits, equality, gay people, love, religion or God , but rather the institution of marriage itself, and what defines a marriage,” said Lopez.
“Why fight to redefine the whole institution when historically speaking, marriage has been between a man and a women, defined by mankind. Around 2,000 years ago there were gay people, but I don’t think they wanted to redefine marriage back then,” said Lopez.
Lopez also said gay people are not the “new Black” that some people claim because of the interracial marriage ban in the past.
“Sexuality is not a class but rather the way you are born,” said Lopez.
Hugo Valencia, a senior majoring in CTVA, says norms and social definitions are not static, but rather evolves with time.
“We have redefined things for a long time and not too long ago, women could not even wear pants,” said Valencia.
Within ten years, the gay right movement have marked historical victories for the community. In 2003, the Supreme Court struck down Texas law banning same-sex marriage, ruling the law as a violation of privacy. Fast forward ten years, same-sex marriage is now legally recognized in 13 states as well as in the district of Columbia. With section three of DOMA gone, gay and lesbian couple who are married will be able to take advantage of the same federal benefits given to straight couples such as tax break and pension rights.
“Being a Catholic I should oppose gay marriage, but I believe in equal rights,” said Saskia Garibaldi, a senior majoring in sociology at CSUN.
Nami Hatfield, a CSUN graduate, said that even though things are more progressive now, the work must continue.
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