It's time for SF State to come together as a community

SF State can seem somewhat socially fractured at first glance. Every week, tens of thousands of students travel to campus from every corner of the Bay Area — and sometimes beyond — go to classes, then return home, leaving behind a school that struggles to define itself as a community.

Some of us come from wealthy backgrounds and never have to worry about how we’re going to pay for school. Some of us need to work, sometimes more than one job, and still subsist on mostly Top Ramen. Many of us fall somewhere in between, able to afford college through loans and grants, but still anxious about what those loans will cost us down the line.

We come as Bay Area natives, Southern California transplants, rural folks from the Central Valley, Northern Californian mountain types and from countless places beyond the borders of our state and country.

Our student body ranges from the wide-eyed freshmen struggling to find their way around campus to the jaded super-seniors who just need three more units to get their diplomas signed.

But on second glance it’s clear that we are bound together by the diversity that defines SF State and turns us into a community. In all the hustle and bustle that is San Francisco and the Bay Area, it’s easy to forget that our University is larger than many towns that make up California, and even the United States. No matter what else is happening in the world, we all come together every week and become SF State.

We will see significant changes this semester and could be impacted by even more. We begin this semester under the new leadership of University President Leslie E. Wong, who has just come to us from Northern Michigan University, and shows a willingness to engage with both students and faculty that hasn’t been seen in this foggy corner of San Francisco for many years. We look forward to what he has to bring to a University in need of such engagement.

At some point during this semester, we are likely to have new leadership of the entire California State University system, as a special committee searches for a replacement for Chancellor Charles B. Reed, who announced his retirement in May. Whoever fills that position will inherit a system of of 23 campuses badly in need of strong leadership, advocacy and empathy. Our chancellor is the most powerful voice we have when it comes to lobbying our state legislators for funds — and we have never needed stronger representation in Sacramento than we do now.

We all face some important decisions in the voting booth come November on the federal, state and local levels. The country will decide who will occupy the oval office for the next four years. San Franciscans will choose their representatives on the Board of Supervisors. But none of that is new. Here’s what we’re keeping a watch on: Proposition 30. It’s perhaps the most important outcome of the elections of 2012 to students. Its passage or failure will have ramifications for the entire state of California and the higher education system that has been a benchmark of our state’s innovation and success for decades.

If Proposition 30 succeeds, our sales tax in San Francisco will increase, as will taxes paid by the wealthy, in an admirable attempt to keep the CSU from sinking further into the fiscal abyss. Failure will initiate a $250 million trigger-cut to a system that has already been slashed to the bone, which is likely to cause the size of classes to grow, their availability to shrink and tuition to escalate even further. What we already think is bad will get unbearably worse.

Other Bay Area newspapers aren’t concerned with the new University president, but we are. We care about student loans, privatization of campus entities and city politics — and what it means for you, our reader and fellow community member. We know it’s a busy life. Xpress is made up of students, people with jobs and significant others, who choose to devote their time to give this campus a voice and inform everyone what is going on.

As the sole news outlet that consistently covers our campus, we know it is our responsibility to present the issues that define us as a community in the context that they occur. While we may not always do it perfectly, we always try our best. Look forward to an exciting semester!