New lending law helps college students

Federal bill tightens up bank lending programs

April 19, 2010
by Jamie Santiago | Staff Writer

As an incentive to help students pay loans after graduation, the federal student loan program is changing, doubling the Pell Grant program and making sure private banks no longer issue student loans.

President Obama signed legislation March 30 for the Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. The law will save taxpayers approximately $68 billion, by cutting out banks as middlemen, the president said. This piece of legislation will also end government subsidies to banks. Instead, private companies under contracts with the Department of Education, will directly provide loans to college students.

Expanding Pell grants will help make college affordability by increasing individual grants to almost $6,000 by 2017. By 2020, 820,000 more will be added, according to Obama.

According to Financial Aid Supervisor Kimberly Cortijo, the financial aid office at City College is preparing for the upcoming changes.

“The Sacramento City College Financial Aid Office has been aware of these upcoming changes for many months now,” Cortijo said. “And because we expected that this legislation would become law, we have been preparing to make the transition from the Federal Family Educational Loan Program to the Direct Loan Program so that our students will continue to have access to student loans.”

The biggest change for students will be that they no longer have a choice of lenders to select from since they will receive loans directly from the Department of Education, Cortijo said.

According to Cortijo, the loan application process will also change, but details have yet to be finalized.

Students will have access to all facts regarding this program no later than July 1, when the law goes into effect, Cortijo said. The eligibility requirement for loans will remain unchanged; however, the benefits of borrowing may differ compared to what students may be receiving from their current lender.

“I support it. I think that’s good,” said business major Tiano Mason. “It will save me a lot of money when I get up out of here.”


Gerwig’s Year

Gerwig’s year
This young, Sacramento- native actress will surprise you
April 19th, 2010

As I watch the trailer for Noah Baumbach’s “Greenberg” I am instantly drawn to the attitude. It may be hard to believe that the young woman who stars alongside superstar Ben Stiller is actually a Sacramento native and former City College student Greta Gerwig.

“Greenberg” recently opened in theaters, and is Gerwig’s big break into show business. Although “Greenberg” is probably the first time for many viewers to be acquainted with Gerwig, she has already established herself as a filmmaker and actress in  independent, low-budget mumblecore films such as “Hannah Takes the Stairs” and “Baghead,” and even has co-written and co-directed alongside Joe Swanberg on “Nights and Weekends.”

Her seemingly effortless talent and openness is apparent in these “mumblecore’ films. And for that reason, Baumbach decided to cast Gerwig as Florence in “Greenberg.”

Despite the fact that she has received much praise for her indie films, starred alongside Ben Stiller, and recently appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” she started developing her career in Sacramento.

City College theater and film instructor Kim Mc-Cann Lawson says she did not have Gerwig as a student, but did witness her talent at a young age when Gerwig participated in the Sacramento Shakespeare festival and appeared in “Merry Wives of Windsor,” directed by Donna J. Sparks, in the summer of 1994.

“While I do remember Greta–she was very disciplined even at that young age and demonstrated real talent–I did not get to know her well as I was involved in directing my own show for the festival,” says Lawson. “I do remember that she was already very committed to becoming an actress and that Donna and I were both extremely impressed with her audition.”

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An evening with the stars

Students, public enjoy observatory access

April 5, 2010
by Jamie Santiago | Staff Writer

While the City College observatory, located on top of Rodda Hall South, primarily serves as a resource to students in astronomy labs, the facility will be open April 9 to the public.

According to astronomy professor Douglas Copely, the observatory adds value to the City College community because it aids in astronomy students’ learning, while also capturing the fascination of people.

“It’s a nice opportunity to look through a very sophisticated telescope and use the resources on campus,” Copely said. “It’s quite impressive for the school that we have it, being a community college and not a university. It’s a unique opportunity for us.”

The observatory contains a large deck where students can set up telescopes, a set of small telescopes used in labs, and a main observatory telescope, which is the primary observing instrument.
According to astronomy professor and observatory coordinator Liam McDaid, the facility is a key component in educating students.

“I mean, there’s nothing more boring that I can think of than taking an astronomy lab and never going outside,” McDaid said. “It would be insufferably boring.”

City College has had an observatory almost from the college’s inception, but the present facility was built in 1976. In 2001, a new telescope replaced the outdated technology. McDaid says the new telescope is much easier to work with and can also take high quality digital pictures.

According to McDaid, clear weather conditions are necessary for optimum viewing in the observatory.
Although the air pollution in Sacramento is a bit problematic for telescope viewing, Copely said they use CCD cameras — high-powered digital cameras used specifically for photographing celestial bodies — to stack images and remove noise, which help make the images clearer. He says there is still an opportunity to do-top notch observations.

“So what we can see are bright objects — the moon, planets, brighter groups of stars, brighter nebula, and the brighter galaxies,” McDaid said.

In spite of the light pollution, McDaid said he can show people in the observatory nearly a dozen galaxies, a dozen nebula and the planets.

“The observatory is awesome,” said astronomy student and business major Eric Mills. “I mean, just the fact that we have one is cool.”

The observatory is open to the public every first Friday of the month except January and the summer months.

Vegetarian Club welcomes all

A community of recipe sharing and lots of earth’s good eats

April 5, 2010
by Jamie Santiago| Staff Writer

When some people hear the word “vegetarian,” images of green vegetables for dinner, tree-huggers, hippies, and avid PETA supporters may be what come to mind. However, the Vegetarian Club at City College is not exactly what someone might expect.

The club has only been active for two years, but it is making its mark at City College with the steady amount of members each semester. Members share recipes, stories and knowledge about the humanitarian, environmental, and health aspects of vegetarianism with each other and other students on campus.

Club President Hannah Jenks says her growing knowledge of factory farming and its environmental repercussions is what caused her to become a vegan five years ago. She enjoys being part of a group of like-minded students with similar beliefs.

“When I first got here I was like, ‘You know, I can’t be the only vegan on campus, but it sometimes feels that way.’”

Jenks says the club consists of vegetarians and vegans but is not exclusively open to them.  Even meat-eaters can join the club and those who are considering vegetarianism are always welcome to join.

“We do a little bit of getting out there and sharing information with other people. We’re not really a club to convert people or anything,” says Jenks.

The club shares information with other students about vegetarianism by having “veg-ucation” days, where they offer literature to students that shows the treatment of animals and different health aspects being a vegetarian can bring someone.

“During 2008 Campaign Proposition 2 that was going on, and that was the prevention against farm animal cruelty act. We campaigned for that. We spread news about it,” says City College student and group member Jeremy Vick.

Other activities include making trips to Farm Sanctuary, an animal protection program, vegetarian restaurants in the area, handing out pamphlets of homemade vegetarian recipes, and holding occasional bake sales on campus.

Film major Ana Ayon is a fellow vegetarian on campus and thinks it’s great to have this small community on campus.

“I think that’s awesome. People think that it’s weird to be vegetarian. It shows support.”
If you’re interested in joining the Vegetarian Club, attend the weekly meetings every Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. in Rodda Hall North 267

The power of the sack

Hacky Sack is a popular alternative sport

April 5, 2010
by Jamie Santiago | Staff Writer

With his mouth slightly open, David Alexander pauses mid-kick and balances a Hacky Sack in concentration, as it sits on the tip of his shoe. After slowly moving the sack to the middle of his shoe, he jerks his right leg up, quickly bends his left leg at a 90-degree angle and kicks the sack toward an alert player next to him. The player then juggles the frumpy bag and repeats likewise.

The scene is reminiscent of a midair soccer kick replayed in slow motion during a match recap. It’s intense and the participant doesn’t take it lightly—until it ends.

When it’s clear and sunny outside, some City College students gather outside City Café or Rodda Hall North or near the Quad fountain to participate in a sport that doesn’t exactly have an official team — Hacky Sack.

In a game, a foot bag — commonly known as a Hacky Sack, is kicked around individually or by a group of people. In addition to the feet, other parts of the body, such as elbows, knees, and the head can be used to hit the sack. There is one principle of the game that makes it a delight and challenge.

Do not let it hit the ground or your hands,” says Alexander, frequent Hacky Sack player and communication major.

According to Alexander, the game doesn’t start until every player in the game legally hits the sack at least once. It may sound simple, but it’s easier said than done, especially when there could be 10 or more people.

City College student Maxwell Warmington says he began playing Hacky Sack to pass time, and he notices improvement in eye-foot coordination and the use of his left foot.

“When I first played Hacky Sack I couldn’t really hit the sack with my left foot at all, and now it’s gotten a little better,” Warmington says.

Video game design major Joe Henderson says he plays approximately three times per week and has been playing since middle school. Not only does he enjoy exhibiting stylish techniques with his feet, he also enjoys the fact that Hacky Sack brings different types of people together, allowing him to make new friends and learn new things.

“The best part about Hacky Sack is everybody puts away their own predisposed likes and dislikes to play Hacky Sack,” Henderson says. “So you meet a lot of new people and then they introduce you to certain things.”

Alexander says the game is never competitive and sees it as a social gathering.

“Pretty much anyone can say, ’Hey you want to let me in on this hack?’ and they’d be happy to let you in,” Alexander says. “That’s just the sport.”

SCC, district receive state award

Districtwide commendation highlights innovations in student success program

March 22, 2010
by Jamie Santiago | Staff Writer

As a reward for reaching out to incoming freshman ages 18-20, Los Rios Community College District received the Chancellor’s Student Success Award Jan. 11 from the state office that oversees California community colleges.

In 2005, through the leadership of LRCCD Chancellor Brice W. Harris and the Board of Trustees, the district created the Education Initiative Program, which is designed to increase the success rates of students, with a focus on incoming freshmen ages 18-20.

Counselor Mary-Sue Allred said City College works hard to help students engage in school and strengthen basic skills, including reading, writing, and math. Allred said the initiative targeted freshman students because many have a tough time finding a sense of direction.

“We encourage students to come to school, to stay in school, to look at all the different options that there are in terms of support on campus,” Allred said. “There are so many different programs that have been initiated in the last decade really that are all for promoting student success.”

One program receiving special commendation during the award distributions, the RISE (Respect, Integrity, Self-Determination, Education) program, provides in-class tutoring to City College students.

Second-year City College student Estrella Ramirez believes that her teachers are always willing to accommodate the needs of students by having open office hours and keeping the lines of communication open with students.

“I definitely felt more welcomed, I felt more at ease coming into college from high school.”

Barbara Davis-Lyman, recently retired City College psychology faculty member and a current member of the Board of Governors, said the programs have evidentially increased student success — measured by the reduction in drop-out rates.

“It was a very wise and brave thing for the chancellor and our board of trustees to do. And is it has achieved some really incredible success rates,” Davis-Lyman said.

The Education Initiative manifests itself throughout the entire district, through different types of programs catered to the different cultures of the colleges.

“There are similar programs that all of our sister colleges and various faculty member have implemented and supported. So it does address the work of many people who have made the focus of their work helping students succeed,” said Virginia Gessford coordinator of Learning Skills and Tutoring center. “I believe it is a well-earned award.”

“We care about our students. We want them to succeed. We want to do the best job we can do in the classroom as well as getting the support from classified staff because one person can’t do this,” Davis-Lyman said. “It takes a whole college to help a student succeed.”

Pocketful of sunshine

Reflection on the iconic Polly Pocket from 20-something’s chilldhoods

March 8, 2010
by Jamie Santiago| Staff Writer

When I was 5 years old, I remember excitedly walking in the local Toys-R-Us or F.A.O. Schwarz store, clutching my mother’s hand. Instantly, I was in heaven.

I jumped into the fluffy piles of life-sized stuffed animals. Wide-eyed, I stared in awe at the moving toy monkey on the ceiling. I wanted my mom to buy me all the different BarbieTM dolls on the shelves. Toys were a hallmark of my childhood because it created a world of simplicity and make-believe.

My childhood was spent playing with BarbieTM  dolls, collecting TY Beanie Babies™, making up dance routines to the BarbieTM workout theme, riding the go-carts at Paradise Island and mustering up the courage to ride the merry-go-round at Arden Fair Mall. There were no such things as “Hannah Montana,” the Jonas Brothers, or “High School Musical.” Miley who?

One of my favorite toys was Polly Pocket, a plastic, 1 inch-tall, cute and simple doll who lived in a compact-sized foldable playhouse. I collected the different miniature playhouses she came with and carried this conveniently sized doll around in my pocket wherever I could take her.

Polly Pocket was first created in 1983 by Chris Wiggs for his daughter. Wiggs created Polly Pocket by using a make-up powder compact to create a pocket-sized doll in a miniature house. In 1989, England’s Blue Bird Toys took the concept and began distributing Polly Pockets in stores. Polly Pocket gained popularity throughout the 1990s. Not long after Polly’s debut, Mattel contracted to distribute the doll and eventually purchased Blue Bird Toys, taking over the concept of Polly Pocket and launching the spin-off, Fashion Polly.

Polly is no longer the pocket-sized doll I loved and enjoyed. Now, Polly has realistic-looking features, including long eyelashes and long, blonde hair. She is slightly larger and doesn’t exactly fit in my pocket anymore. The smaller Polly was deemed hazardous for young children and is not in stores anymore. Worst of all, Polly is materialistic and comes packaged with clip-on fashion accessories and clothing.

My niece has recently turned 9 years old and has never owned a doll. Instead, her Christmas list consists of an 8GB iPod, cute clothes, a digital camera, and a Nintendo DS. She loves listening to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A,” and watching YouTube videos of Beyoncé and re-runs of her favorite Disney shows. She prefers trips to the shopping mall over trips to the toy store.

I remember fondly being content just playing with Polly and her friends in Pollyville. The simplicity of this tiny doll and travel-sized playhouses reminds me of the simplicity of my childhood. Nowadays, a little girl’s childhood is filled with electronic devices and grown up things.

Sometimes I wish kids wouldn’t grow up so fast. I wish we could go back to stuffed animals, trips to theme parks and pocket-sized dolls named Polly.

Kitties kitties everywhere!

March 10, 2010
by Jamie Santiago | Staff Writer

They hide in the bushes, watch students walk to class, live on the campus and have the ability to multiply. They’re cute, furry and sneaky. They are the cats of the City College campus.

Although the Kitty Committee has been an on-campus organization since 2003, most students and faculty members don’t know of its existence or what the cause of this organization is all about. Holly Kivlin is an admissions and records clerk at City College and the woman behind the nonprofit Kitty Committee. Back in 2003, Kivlin formed the committee to regulate the feral cat population and help care for them.

“Different students and staff were feeding them over the years and a complaint was made that the cats were peeing in one of the team’s locker rooms,” says Kivlin.

So she decided to do something about it. Before the committee started, Kivlin was trapping and feeding the feral cats on campus and later found journalism professor Janis Haag at the opposite end of the campus taking similar measures to help the feral cats. Both women joined up and presented a plan to the administration that would monitor the population of cats while also keeping the campus cats healthy and happy.

“You know, if you have a hundred kittens running around campus and they’re dying, and people always say, ‘What are we going to do about it? Someone should do something about it. And so I decided to take that on,” Kivlin says.

Haag helps care for the feral cats alongside Kivlin and thinks the work of the committee is important.
“Holly Kivlin is the reason that the feral cat population at City College is under such good control that these cats are well taken care of for their lives…there are far fewer of them than there were years ago…,” Haag says. “I am one small part of this committee. Holly is the heart and soul of the committee quite honestly.”

Cat lover and child development major Enid Olwell supports the cause of the Kitty Committee and believes the feral cats, along with other unwanted animals, need to be properly cared for.
Kivlin says that although most people who do cat rescues seem to be women, she thinks it’s important for both women and men to be helping the community in any way.

“Whether it’s helping children or animals that are suffering or the environment, I think everybody whether, they’re man or woman, should make some contribution to their community.”

The Kitty Committee gladly accepts donations and help from student volunteers.

Faculty takes a stand

Academic Senate passes resolution to address cuts in curriculum

March 8, 2010
by Jamie Santiago | Staff Writer

In reaction to the administration’s mandate that faculty continue to make dramatic cuts in classes, Resolution 4.0, the first of its kind, was passed by the City College Academic Senate on Feb. 2 to address a disconnect between administrators and faculty.

In brief, the resolution states that for courses to be eliminated, administrators should first enter into a meaningful dialogue with faculty in order to reduce potential road blocks to the academic success of City College students.

Because of state budget cuts, City College lost some funding, forcing classes to be cut last semester. Connie Zuercher, Academic Senate president and physical education professor, said there was scarce opportunity for adequate discussion between faculty and administrators.  “Because of the budgets cuts and because of the funding, there were a tremendous amount of section cuts, and they came as a surprise to everyone,” Zuercher said. “There was a great deal of angst and frustration among the faculty. There was a general feeling that there wasn’t enough dialogue going on.”

The Academic Senate, a group of elected full-time and adjunct faculty members, represent academic divisions and acts as an information conduit between the two entities.  The Senate meets bimonthly, addressing issues pertaining to academic and professional matters, such as curriculum, grading policies, program development, degrees and certificates, and student preparation.

“We participate in a governance process,” said senator and English professor Troy Myers. “I think that’s the key role for the Senate.”

Myers said it’s important for faculty members to have a role in decision making, and not solely the administration.

“The people who really matter in this are the students,” Myers said.

According to Myers, Resolution 4.0 was created to make sure the faculty has a strong voice.

“I just don’t think that anyone in the administration, or for that matter the Legislature, has unilateral expertise where they can individually — without getting faculty communication — decide what needs to be trimmed,” Myers said.

According to City College Vice President of Instruction Mary Turner, steps have been taken to ensure more faculty-administration communication. Recently appointed as the vice president of Instruction, Turner met with the department chairs, leadership of the Academic Senate, and faculty-union representatives to address the issue.

Course reductions for the upcoming summer and fall semesters will impact students, according to Zuercher.

“I would just really, really encourage students to make sure that they see a counselor as soon as they can,” Zuercher said. “So that they can get into those classes and that they know what classes they are ready to take.

Addictions are all around us

Smart phones pose major problem to City College students

February 22, 2010
by Jamie Santiago | Staff Writer

An addiction has overcome the City College campus and it can’t be cured by a bottle of pills or a trip to rehab. The only way to kick this addiction is to turn it off.

Many students are heavily addicted to their iPhones. They use them during breaks between classes, lunch, while waiting in line for the bathroom and even during class when the instructor isn’t looking.

“I use it at least 2,000 times a day. There’s so much to do on it,” says City College student Justin Villena. “Yeah, I am kind of addicted to it. It‘s like a drug, but legal.”

Those who don’t own an iPhone may wonder why people are addicted to using this device. There are thousands of iPhone apps, short for applications, available to download, including games, weather, horoscope, and social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace just a simple click away.

“It does so many things that you can‘t really provide a good enough explanation why not to use it,” says Max McKee, Theaters major. “I got along without it before, but sometimes I leave it at home and I kind of feel weird without it. I feel like I can not do all the things I need to.”

Selam Bekele, an avid iPhone user, thinks the gaming and social networking
contribute to students’ addiction to iPhones.

“I canceled the Internet on my phone so that I wouldn’t be so addicted. And I’m not much of a gamer, but I would say those are the two biggest reasons: constantly checking our social networking sites for updates and playing games,” Bekele says.

But when is this constant use of iPhones too much?

Public relations major, Alina Bulgakova, believes that many people buy the iPhone because of the mass media’s influence.

“The media has a big effect on the people. They claim that it’s the best thing and people want it because the media tells them that it’s the coolest thing around and that you have to have it,” says Bulgakova.

Psychology professor Gayle Pitman says the constant use of iPhones and smart phones alike are easily replacing person-to-person communication.

“I think we’re already seeing the major effects of Web technology on our culture.
Even though we’re more ‘connected’ than ever, with e-mail, Facebook and text messaging, people are increasingly more isolated and lonely,” Pitman says.

According to psychology professor Grace Austin, one can be addicted to anything,
even an iPhone. She says that she has witnessed students’ reliance on their iPhone and the instantaneous connection to a person and the internet.

“Do I think some students are addicted? Yes,” says Austin.

However, she believes it’s up to the person to control this behavior.

“In psychology, we know that there is a level of maturation that suggests you need to be able to control your impulses. And you can’t do whatever you want to do all the time,” says Austin.