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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

New semester brings new challenges as SFSU community returns for spring

Students and faculty return to a changing campus on first day amidst campus buzz, contract controversy and arrest
People+walk+through+the+quad+and+interact+with+tables+at+SFSU+on+the+first+day+of+school+on+Monday%2C+Jan.+29%2C+2024.+%28Dan+Hernandez+%2F+Golden+Gate+Xpress%29
Dan Hernandez
People walk through the quad and interact with tables at SFSU on the first day of school on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. (Dan Hernandez / Golden Gate Xpress)

The first day of the spring semester was officially underway at San Francisco State University on Monday and the campus community returned with new activities and uncertainties.

Malcolm X Plaza was filled with new and returning students roaming around tables that displayed information about the unique clubs, sororities and fraternities at SFSU.

Homan Yu, an international student in her senior year, said SFSU was the best fit for her because she was able to transfer her test results directly from her previous school in Hong Kong. The Bay Area and her interest in the technology field also drew her in.

Yu is taking four classes this semester, three in-person and one online. Since returning to campus, she has seen a change compared to her first year at SFSU.

“I have spent two years here already,” Yu said. “I’m glad that I’m seeing more and more students here and then I feel like it’s getting better and then good vibes.”

The new Science and Engineering Innovation Center’s projected unveiling date has been pushed back to the Fall 2024 semester.

SFSU’s Science and Engineering Innovation Center is under construction on Jan. 25, 2024. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress) (Neal Wong)

It could be completed as early as April, but completion wouldn’t mean the building would be open to the public. It would allow the faculty and staff to have a more leisurely move-in period.

The project was originally set to open by Jan. 15. SFSU’s principal inspector, Gareth Beilby, says the delay was caused by several factors.

“The things that are holding it up aren’t things like [safety]. It’s more vagary issues, materials and equipment that didn’t arrive on time. A snowball effect,” Beilby said.

While new buildings are being built on campus, new friendships and communities are also in process at Malcolm X Plaza.

Zachary Weinstein is a computer science student in his last year at SFSU. He and a friend were in the plaza promoting San Francisco Hillel, a community-oriented, faith-based organization that serves multiple colleges across San Francisco.

“We try to provide Jewish students a community when on campus, different events, programming and Shabbat dinners,” Weinstein said. 

Along with faith-based organizations, culture and social justice-focused organizations were also in the plaza, making connections with like-minded students.

Tablers place snacks and answer students’ questions in front of Burk Hall on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. (Dan Hernandez / Golden Gate Xpress) (Dan Hernandez)

Geneve Nguyen is an apparel design student minoring in Asian American studies and Queer and Trans Ethnic Studies. Nguyen represented the League of Filipino Students and the National Democratic Organization at SFSU.

According to Nguyen, LFS’s main goal is to promote the general liberation of Filipinos in the United States and the Philippines.

SFSU also houses several sororities and fraternities, many of which celebrate students’ cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Yvette Ortiz-Rivera, a criminal justice and Latina/Latino studies student, represented Lambda Theta Nu Sorority Incorporated, one of the few Latina sororities on campus.

“Turning girls into women, Latinas into professionals, and students into graduates; our main goal here is to have all our sisters graduate and pursue higher education,” Ortiz-Rivera said.

The sorority hosts fundraisers to support and promote Latino studies and literacy at SFSU and within the San Francisco community. According to Ortiz-Rivera, fundraising and community events are the backbone of Lambda Theta’s activities. 

“Between classes, I saw a man being escorted out from the bathroom with handcuffs,” said JJ Blecha.

Campus police arrest a person with no affiliation with SFSU for possession of drug paraphernalia in response to a possible drug overdose on Tapia Drive in front of the Humanities building on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. (Dan Hernandez / Golden Gate Xpress) (Dan Hernandez)

At the Humanities building at around 1:15 p.m., a person was arrested. 

“Officers responded to a report of a male subject that was suffering from a possible drug overdose. The subject was also found to be in possession of suspected heroin and drug paraphernalia,” SFSU police emailed. “The subject is not a current student, staff or faculty member at SFSU.

The person was relocated to a hospital in San Francisco for treatment, according to SFSU police. 

As events unfold on campus, the CFA is facing conflicts of their own, declaring this week as “Red Week” to display support for faculty during their recent contract updates.

The California Faculty Association and California State University administration reached a tentative agreement on Jan. 22. This agreement, which has yet to be voted for approval by CFA members, came following a planned week of statewide strikes by CSU faculty members, which instead lasted just a single day.

“Generally the CFA is not happy with this,” said Kaeden Fleischer, a member of the Young Democratic Socialists of America. “It was very short-sighted. I think union leadership thought that union membership couldn’t support a campus-wide strike. They caved early to proposals that had already been given to them that they had already declined. They didn’t have faith in the power of their organizing.”

This sentiment was shared by James Martell, a political science professor, who believes that union leadership settled for a weak settlement.

A plush alligator and a California Faculty Association flag are seen between students interacting at the Young Democratic Socialists of America table at Malcolm X Plaza on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. (Dan Hernandez / Golden Gate Xpress) (Dan Hernandez)

“We wanted a 12% raise which would’ve caught us up to inflation. Now we have to organize ourselves to oppose the tentative agreement,” Martell said. “They extended our agreement for a year without our permission.”

The rift between union leadership and union members is forcing faculty members to “fight a war on two fronts.”

If the CFA votes to accept the agreement, it will extend the contract until July 2025. Until the contract expires, CFA members of any chapter will be unable to legally strike.

With both the student union planning a walkout on Feb. 28 and the possibility of the tentative agreement not passing, resulting in another CFA strike, SFSU seems to be en route for a politically busy semester.

“It was a game of chicken and we blinked,” Martell said. “This makes us weaker, but there’s a large sleeping giant in the faculty.”

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About the Contributors
Dan Hernandez
Dan Hernandez, Visuals Editor
Dan Hernandez (he/him) is the Visuals Editor for Golden Gate Xpress, majoring in journalism and minoring in business administration. He is an award-winning multimedia journalist, applying his skills in both news reporting and press photography. He got his start in journalism at 15 years old as a staff writer for The Advocate at Contra Costa College before becoming editor-in-chief as a high school senior. Outside of journalism, he is probably camping on a road trip, playing water polo, riding his bike or dancing at concerts. He also goes by the nickname “Biscuit.”
Neal Wong
Neal Wong, Co-Copy Editor
Neal Wong (he/him) is a third-year journalism student and minoring in urban studies and planning. He was born and raised in San Francisco and attended Washington High School. He has photographed and written for Golden Gate Xpress first as a contributor, then as a photographer, and now as a copy editor. His photos have also been published by the San Francisco Bay ViewSan Francisco Public Press, Mission Local, and Xpress Magazine. Neal has also created and taught four SFSU Experimental College courses. His hobbies include traveling, cooking, and reading.

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