Monthly Archives: March 2023

A Street Closure

Due to major flooding from February’s storms, many roads in the Bay Area have been closed, including A street in Hayward. The road has been closed since late December last year and is scheduled to reopen sometime in the middle of March 2023 according to the Hayward Police Department and the Public Works Agency of Alameda. 

The recent storms in the beginning of this year have had different side effects on the state of California. An increase in potholes on the streets and flooding has caused multiple roads to be closed as well as causing sinkholes to open up across the Bay Area. 

One of these sinkholes, which opened near San Lorenzo Creek in Castro Valley, is what caused A St. to collapse after a storm on New Year’s Eve. The soil that stood against the creek was oversaturated with rainwater and eroded away, causing major damage to the street as well as people’s homes and backyards that were adjacent to it. 

Michelle Smith, a Castro Valley resident, had this to say when asked by reporters at KRON: “I’m worried about the roads and the properties and the people that live near it. There’s a lot of houses that have their backyards against this creek.”

Smith’s concerns are valid according to meteorologists, who say that residents should remain cautious as most of the soil is still extremely waterlogged and at risk of flooding. “The ground is still saturated. There’s still going to be plenty of chance for runoff and localized flooding,” says Colby Goatley, a National Weather Service meteorologist, who urges people to keep paying attention during this time.

Street view of sink hole closed off with fencing. Residents home on the other side of fence. Trees and yard demolished by sink hole.

Similar to what happened on A St., a situation occurred on Faircliffe St. in Hayward in mid-January where a large section of the hillside eroded due to the heavy rainfall. While no roads ended up being affected by this, the mudslide caused by this erosion left at least one house on Faircliffe uninhabitable. 

More of these incidents have occurred since January as California has continued to experience heavy rainfall and has caused a lot of problems for the city administrators as well as its citizens. Besides A St. being closed, the following roads near Hayward are under construction and will be closed until further notice according to the Public Works Agency of Alameda: Foothill Rd., Lake Chabot Rd., Kilkare Rd. and many others. 

Fortunately, as of Mar. 6, many of these roads have been reopened — especially those in Castro Valley — including Crow Canyon Rd., Eden Canyon Rd. and Redwood Rd. which also suffered from a large sinkhole in early January of this year. However, residents on A St. will have to wait a little longer for things to go back to normal in their neighborhoods.

Fenced off section divides A St. to keep drivers and pedestrians safe from sink hole. Cars having to navigate around the structure.

Historic Bay Area Weather

Top of snowy hills in Fremont, looking down towards the East Bay. Hiker seen in the distance.

On Feb. 23, East Bay residents woke to a rare sight of snow covering the surrounding mountains. This historic snowfall left many Bay Area residents shocked and filled with excitement. Despite the snow slowing down traffic, many Bay Area residents still went out to experience the snow for the first time.

“I thought it was crazy. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought it was Christmas. It was spectacular. People were playing in the snow, and I felt like it was something out of a dream,” states Angela Tafur, a Chabot College student who visited Grizzly peak.

East Bay resident Benjamin Barretto also heard the news and headed toward Mission Peak in Fremont, “My immediate thoughts were those of excitement. This type of weather doesn’t happen often in the Bay Area, so I definitely wanted to take advantage of it and experience it for myself.”

Benjamin in red winter coat, black snow pants, and two hiking sticks posing in center frame, snowy hills behind him.

Despite the excitement from many Bay Area residents, others issued concerns regarding the rare snowstorm. “It makes me concerned because this is not regular weather for the bay area. This is very abnormal, and I am concerned for more drastic weather changes in the future,” states Chabot College student Kevin Medina. 

Benjamin wearing a red winter coat and ski mask at the top of a snowy Mission Peak, posing with a Ukraine flag.

Benjamin also shared his concerns, “Once I got to the top of Mission Peak, I realized I felt like I was in a completely different place and that this severe weather change should be a cause for concern. It was weird to be completely surrounded by snow and hit with 50 mph winds only to be at work an hour later.”

Chabot College Celebrates Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, clubs geared toward students of color hosted events during February.

Most of these events were virtual, like the screening of Black Voices from the Ivory Tower that Dr. Khalid White presented on Feb. 3 and a Zoom discussion on the impact of violence on the mental health of African American college students on Feb. 9. The discussion, which was held by Pathway to Wellness, took place earlier in the month.

On Feb. 15, the Umoja Community, named after the Swahili word for unity and one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, hosted a day carnival from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. where students were encouraged to come and celebrate with food, music, and prizes. At the end of the month, there was a Black Scholars Family Night in which Black students that earned a 3.0 GPA or higher in the Fall semester of 2022 were honored and awarded. These events took place in the Event Center in the 700 building and were open to all students. 

If students were unable to attend any of these events or are interested in celebrating Black culture outside of Black History month, the Chabot community provides opportunities to do so throughout the year. The Black Cultural Resource Center, located in room 136 of the 100 building, hosts cultural events and workshops all year long and provides a space for students who identify as Black, African American, and Afro-Latinx to get the support they need. 

This support goes beyond academics as the Black Cultural Resource Center offers services like mental wellness counseling, career counseling, transfer resources, and basic needs support.

Along with the Black Cultural Resource Center — special programs like Umoja, Striving Black Brothers, and My Sister’s Keeper aim to create a space for Black students to thrive by focusing on African American history, literature, and culture. 

By providing the core four courses as well as multiple other transferable courses, Umoja strives to support Black students with their academic goals by promoting “togetherness,” — as described by sophomore Christian Green. Besides their cohort classes, the Umoja program also provides personal counseling for all of their students. Umoja counselor and coordinator Tommy Reed says, “Their ability to build a connection with students and their timely responses are a large part of what makes the program so useful.” 

Outside of academics, Umoja promotes community outreach by hosting events on campus throughout the semester. While they have done less since the pandemic, whereas before, they used to host three to four events per semester, Umoja regularly hosts open mics and partners with the Black Cultural Resource Center to host Chop it Up Tuesdays — in which students are encouraged to come to the Black Cultural Resource Center and discuss whatever topics are on their minds. 

If you are interested in joining Umoja or the other groups on campus that are geared toward Black students, you only need to reach out to the individual programs through the Chabot website and apply. Umoja has no GPA requirement, and all students are welcome to apply.

Russell City The Great Town That it Once Was

Russell City  was once a thriving unincorporated town with homes, churches, jobs, schools, farms, and clubs. Russell City was a town located in Hayward. Before it was an Industrial Park It was the pinnacle for various migrants and immigrant groups like Spaniards, Danes, Germans, Italians, African Americans, and Mexicans. 

Due to racial discrimination in Alameda County, there weren’t many areas for minorities to live and call their home. There were only a few neighborhoods: Fillmore (in San Francisco), West Oakland, Palo Alto, and Russell City (Hayward). 

Russell City mural in Downtown Hayward

Many minorities set up businesses to make a living. Aisha Knowles’ grandfather used to own an automotive shop in Russell City; she stated, “I hear the stories from people who lived there, who had business there, and about what the town meant to them and how special of a place it was,” said Knowles.

On Saturday nights in the 1940’s and 50’s, Russell City was the place to be. People would be dressed in their finest suits and clothes, dancing it up on the dance floor to some of the greatest R&B and Blues musicians, such as; Grammy award-winners Ray Charles, B.B. King, and other artists like Lowell Fulson and Dottie Ivory. People from all over the bay came to hear them perform. There were two clubs in Russell City: the Russell City country club and Miss Alva’s Club.

Russell City Country Club is one of the two clubs that includes live performances for music venues. Russell City Country Club (Photo courtesy of Hayward Historical Society and Dr. María Ochoa)

Dr. Maria Ochoa, Ph. D., is the author of the book Images of America Russell City. She is also a San José State University Professor Emerita of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. The book is based on the history of and dedicated to the people of Russell City.  She mentions how great the well-being of a community in Russell City once was. “I lived in Hayward across the street from Chabot when it was all fields. I remember going to Mass in Russell City as a little girl. I remember it being a place where my parents made friends with Latinos, African Americans, and Whites. The community was together as a whole,” said Dr. Ochoa. 

Russell City public school was located just five miles away from downtown Hayward. The book described Russell High School as a valuable three-story high school with iconic Greek architecture and the nation’s most elegant school. The book also described Russell City public school from the 1st grade to the 8th. Before the high school in Russell City was built, students who wanted to continue their education had to go to Oakland High.

 The classroom experience sometimes included manual labor, and sometimes teachers would take their classes into the fields. Dr. Ochoa stated, “There were cows and chickens in the streets. People had school gardens which were orchards, and vegetables were growing. It was all agricultural.”

Russell City itself was an agricultural town. Gardens were common in residents’ homes. There were a lot of orchards and vegetable gardens. The town had dairies and a pig farm. The smell of hogs was horrible, as described in the book. 

Four stores in Russell City supplied food, cigarettes, aspirin, and other things. There were restaurants in that town that weren’t segregated. The money always went back into Russell City. 

Alameda County never provided services like water, electricity, and sanitation. “It was a difficult situation. They had no roads, no indoor plumbing, and they had no utilities like electricity. People living in Russell City had to get Car Batteries to bring electricity into their homes, schools, and businesses.” Says Dr. Ochoa.

  So, what happened to Russell City? What happened to this thriving minority town? For one: it was an unincorporated town. Two: the residents were still interested in bettering their town. It was that they were denied the opportunity by the government, the county, and by Hayward. Both the county and the city devised a plan to turn Russell City into the industrial park you see today. Residents were forced to move, and businesses were forced to close.

By the late 1950s, the town was in turmoil. Residents were forced to move, and arsonists burned properties to the ground. When the town was expanded to Hayward, the city used eminent domain to remove the last of the residents in 1966 for the industrial park.

“Many who lived in Russell City are in their 70’s and 80s. talking about it can be painful because they remember what they lost when it was destroyed,” said Knowles. Russell City now is a question of “What it could have become” since 1964.

The residents of the once-forgotten community weren’t willing to let Russell City fade in their memories and let it be unknown. Ruby Tolefree-Echols and Henry “Billy” Garron, two former Russell City residents, founded an annual reunion picnic. Echols died in 2002; unfortunately, Mr. Billy Garron passed away some years ago. 

“The reunion picnic was held in 2022 after being suspended during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. It is unclear if the picnic will continue as the people who lived and worked in Russell City are few in number now, largely due to the passing of so many. The people who now come to the picnic have not necessarily lived or worked in Russell City. They have heard stories from their elders and want to learn more,”  said Dr. Ochoa.

Russell City Reunion Picnic participants are looking at a handmade community map. (Photo courtesy of Dr. María Ochoa)

There are tributes to Russell City in Hayward. Russell City is commemorated in the downtown Mural where Hayward had officially apologized. On Nov. 16, 2021, the Hayward City Council voted unanimously to issue a formal apology for the City’s historical role in and the perpetuation of racial discrimination and racially disparate impacts of its past actions and inactions. The property of Russell City today is worth millions.

“One of the things that happened with Institutionalized poverty is that people try to survive, and to face some of the challenges requires having a strong sense of community, and I think people there developed that.” Says Dr. Ochoa.

ChatGPT at Chabot

On Feb. 21 many instructors from Chabot College held a zoom meeting discussing ChatGPT—whether it’s beneficial or not to them and their students. ChatGPT is an A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) chatbot established by Open AI and started on Nov. 22.

Instructor Lester Abesamis who led the meeting, stated, “ChatGPT is an artificial intelligent language model designed to generate human-like responses to natural prompts. You can type in any prompt and what ChatGPT draws from its database. It can remove from famous personalities.”

If you ask ChatGPT a question or give it a prompt, it can respond to you like how a celebrity can. “ChatGPT got some adaptability and changed its style as supposed even to the degree that somebody famous enough like comedian George Carlin, but I told it to give me the same information in a style of a George Carlin monologue, and it did.” Says Abesamis. 

You can ask ChatGPT anything you want. When do you ask ChatGPT what ChatGPT is? The response is: ChatGPT is an AI language model developed by OpenAI that can engage in natural language conversations with humans. It uses machine learning algorithms and neural networks to generate human-like responses to textual inputs. ChatGPT is pre-trained on a large corpus of text data from the internet and continuously learns and improves with each interaction. It can answer questions, provide information, offer suggestions, and converse on various topics.

ChatGPT writes emails, prompts, and answers questions and essays. You can ask it to write essays in the style you want. “It may not be good for essays where you’re providing textual evidence and specific examples. It may not be able to do that.” Stated Abesamis.

During the meeting, Instructor Michael Thompson questioned the purpose of using ChatGPT by saying, “I’m Curious to see if anybody is interested in realistically, they’re going out into the world where this is more and more likely to replace their jobs they have right now. I went to the canvas sight just to see what they said about it, and they basically are saying, ‘well, you can’t block It. We better figure out how to use it, and as I was doing it, a chat box popped up, and then they were saying, ‘what do you do with it?’ just doesn’t seem to be a nuance to me.” 

When you asked ChatGPT about how beneficial they can be to instructors and students, the answer is: As an AI language model, I can help both teachers and students in a variety of ways, such as: Answering theoretical questions: I can provide information and explanations on a wide range of academic topics, including math, science, history, literature, and more, Assisting with homework and assignments Offering study and exam preparation tips, Providing lesson plan ideas and resources, Providing assessment, grading tips. Recommending educational resources. Offering professional development resources Overall, my goal is to provide accurate and helpful information to teachers and students in a timely and efficient manner, so they can achieve their academic goals and succeed in their studies. ChatGPT went into more specific details on how it can help benefit Both Instructors and students.

Debt Relief Is a Priority for Students, but Is It for the Supreme Court?

On Feb. 28, in what has become a growing movement across the country, students and teachers amassed on the steps of the Supreme Court to support legislation that would essentially cancel the student loan debt of upward of $400 billion for more than 40 million students. 

In what has become an ongoing battle within the judicial system growing in filings, proceedings, and public infamy. With organizations like The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and a myriad of state and local governments accompanied by agencies and unions representing millions of student voices. A few conservative judges and states stand in the way of accomplishing this goal for so many. “This court should uphold the lawfulness of Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona’s plan to provide critical relief to student-loan borrowers impacted by an unprecedented pandemic,” written in an amicus curiae brief. 

Publicly there is a lot of determination and effort coming from students as debt relief addresses the hardships and challenges faced during the COVID pandemic period. A difficult time for just about everyone who lived and worked in a metropolitan or communal area; these effects are still being felt today by many as the world has been forced to adapt to what was once a killer virus with an extremely high mortality rate. Work schedules, small gatherings in close quarters, and not seeing a face in public for years still remain to be an issue today in common everyday life. 

The Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, known as the Heroes Act, originates from the 9/11, Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom era. In 2001 the Secretary of Education was granted waiver authority to respond to national emergencies. In 2003 this authority was broadened by a bill put forth into legislation by Rep. Kline (R-MN) passed by Congress and signed into law by President George Bush to provide student debt relief for troops serving overseas. 

“Several provisions of the HEROES Act indicate that Congress intended the Act to confer broad authority under the circumstances and for the purposes specified by the Act. First, the Act grants authority notwithstanding any other provision of law, unless enacted with specific 

reference to this section. Id. § 1098bb(a)(1). Second, the Act authorizes the Secretary to waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision applicable to the student financial assistance programs. Id. § 1098bb(a)(1), (a)(2). Third, the Act expressly authorizes the Secretary to issue such waivers and modifications as he deems necessary in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency. Id. § 1098bb(a)(1). The Supreme Court has recognized that, in empowering a federal official to act as that official deems necessary in circumstances specified by a statute, Congress has granted the official broad discretion to take such action. This authority is not, however, boundless: it is limited, inter alia, to periods of a war, other military operation, or national emergency (id. § 1098bb(a)(1)), to certain categories of eligible individuals or institutions (id. § 1098ee(2)), and to a defined set of purposes (id.§ 1098bb(a)(2)(A)–(E)),” stated in a letter from The Department of Educations General Counsel Lisa Brown to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. 

In opposition is a clique of Republican-dominated states, Kansas, Arkansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and South Carolina, and a cabal of individuals, represented by two Texas residents who would not fully benefit and claim to be injured parties for the purpose of a lawsuit. The Department of Education v. Brown, No. 22-535, is the case for Myra Brown, whose debt is held with the commercial industry. Alexander Taylor, who did not receive a Federal Pell Grant, is only eligible for half the relief. 

This meets the precedent of “standing,” a requirement that must be met to maintain a case against ruling in favor of student debt relief. Called “one of the nation’s most ambitious and expensive executive actions in the nation’s history,” and believed to be a violation of the separation of powers by Justice John G Roberts. That is the separation of the legislative branch, the judiciary branch, and the executive branch. Indicating that the President does not have executive authority to overreach in this judicial case that has become highly controversial.

Although in the previous administration, President Donald Trump had evoked this act during his term in office in March 2020. President Donald Trump had already declared that COVID was a national emergency and took action to pause student loan requirements.   

Furthermore, “the major questions doctrine” has been stated as being applicable in this case, which means that any initiatives with significant political consequences for millions of Americans should be decided with congressional authority. Justices Roberts and Thomas both became very focused on the exact meaning of the text when observing the word “waive,” stating that the text does not specify the waiving or cancellation of loan balances. 

In recent Supreme Court cases, this same doctrine was used to narrow and restrict the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to take any official action on climate change. A similar ruling followed soon after, again using the doctrine. This time it was restricting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from upholding a moratorium on evictions as well as standing against any requirements for employers to have their employees vaccinated.  

The administration disagreed and indicated that the HEROES Act does state this express authority previously given to the secretary of education to accomplish legislative action for this exact purpose, which is to take action on behalf of students in the face of a national emergency.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, fully supporting the president’s plan, compiled a report made up of feedback from students and organizations. Some of the organizations are the Debt Collective, NAACP, the National Young Farmers Coalition, and the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. The senator personally stated that “if the Supreme Court fails to apply the law as it is written and uphold Biden’s student debt plan, it’s the most vulnerable Americans who will be harmed most. It’s incumbent on her and others to push the Supreme Court to do its job and allow the president to cancel student debt.”

What is the current state of the case?

With oral arguments having ended, it is time for deliberation, which can take up to three months to reach a decision. With over 40 million students awaiting $ 20,000 worth of loan forgiveness, the Education Department sent a mass email to students reassuring them that the administration would continue to provide support. 

“Our administration is confident in our legal authority to adopt this plan, and today made clear that opponents of the program lack standing even to bring their case to court. While opponents of this program would deny relief to borrowers who need support as they get back on their feet after the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. We will continue providing updates and notify borrowers directly before payments restart. Payments will resume 60 days after the Supreme Court announces its decision. If it has not made a decision or resolved the litigation by June 30, payments will resume 60 days after that,” wrote Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. 

After observation of the loan process during the years of COVID, the warning is dire; if debt relief is not utilized there could be “a historic rise in delinquencies and defaults,” according to the Department of Education. June is the projected date for the court’s decision while millions of students across the country wait it out as their futures and quality of life hang in the balance.

Chabot College Football

The Chabot College men’s Football team finished their 2022 season with a disappointing record of 2-8. Many of the players expressed their sadness about how the season unfolded.

Despite a disappointing season, head coach Eric Fanene was still satisfied with his player’s continuous development. “This season, we put in a new offense and defense, so obviously, there is going to be a learning curve. We definitely got better on both sides of the ball. We built on our success and worked better. Obviously, it didn’t reflect on our record, but the main thing in junior college football is to allow our guys to move on from here. 

Eric continues, “We hang our hat on putting the athletes first and winning second. We’ve had a lot of coaches come to recruit our players here. One of our players, Esa Pole, is one of the state’s top OL (offensive-line) recruits. He has offers from Cal Berkeley, Washington State, Nevada, Fresno State, and BYU.”

Coach Eric states that some improvement for next season could be to tweak the roster a bit, considering that the senior class will be graduating from Chabot. Perhaps recruitment from local Bay Area High Schools may come in handy. “We’re recruiting players year-round. Especially now at the end of the season when we go harder and look for new players to add to the roster.”

Chabot Celebrates Lunar New Year

The Chabot College Lunar New Year Event kicked off on Feb. 2  hosted in the 700 building. The celebration was presented by the Asian Pacific Islander Education Association (APIEA) and was in collaboration with the Association of China Club and the Movement Learning Community.   

A few people came to speak and say a few words at the beginning of the event. Chabot’s President Susan Sperling attended the event and spoke, she voiced that it is important to recognize all of the people for whom Lunar New Year is celebrated. She then thanked and and gave a shout out to various individuals for supporting the event altogether. 

The President of the Association of China Club spoke as well. She stated the facts and traditions of the Lunar New Year that occur in China and thanked the audience for coming out to show love and support. 

Fong Tran, a spoken word poet, educator, and public speaker shared a beautiful poetry during the event. For example, one of the poems titled “I Hate” conveyed Tran’s battle with accepting his ethnicity and who he is. The series of spoken word poetry was very powerful, it seemed to have quite an impact on the audience.  

To end the event, there was a fun activity the audience could participate in. At the beginning of the event, the people flooding in were required to take an envelope from the entrance table, that envelope would contain a scratch card in it. This card however, would not win us the lottery, but 10 special cards would let us know if we won a prize that varied from a gift card to a large squishmallow. 

The event was attended by a series of different people who wanted to learn more and were interested in the program. The overall goal was about sharing space and culture within the community, and creating a safe space for people to feel comfortable within themselves.

Hayward Library’s Lunar New Year Celebration

Lunar new year is a time for big celebrations for many people all around the world. On Jan. 21 2023 at the Hayward Library, we had an astonishing Lunar New Year celebration. The Hayward Library is a seemingly recent library, with it being built in 2019, this event was the first that the Hayward library has hosted and was well attended.

Library guest, adults and children circled around Lunar New Year performance.

More than 300 people came to observe and participate. The celebration’s hosts, Librarian Wenny Wallace, and Jayanti Addleman, the Director of Library services, wanted to bring the community together with performance art in dances and singing to make people feel comfortable just the way they are.  

The Lunar New Year is a celebration of the arrival of a brand new Lunar calendar year, the holiday honors the heritage and brings people, both young and old, together from many different Asian cultures and backgrounds. In an insightful interview with Wenny Wallace, she says “This is to bring the community together. I saw some people start to talk to each other. That is the reason why I feel Lunar New Year is important, one, to keep the heritage, and two, is to bring together the whole community, not only small communities like Chinese, Korean, or Vietnamese communities. Bring all of them together.”

Traditional dancer dressed from head to toe in bright yellow and red, dancing with flags at the Hayward Public Library

 Lunar New Year celebrations are not the same everywhere. For example, in some places, people would visit their families and stay with them, eat various foods, and have a good time. While in America, celebrations are likely a community event. The holiday isn’t only celebrated in Chinese culture, many festivities take place in Korea, Vietnam, and more.

Lunar New Year traditions, which have a history of about 3,500 years, in the words of Wenny Wallace, are “Like Christmas,” where you take your time to visit family and friends. These traditions and elements hold different significance. For example, 2023 is the year of the rabbit on the Chinese Zodiac calendar, and that represents peace and prosperity. Also, the importance of the color red is a key thing to mention, which represents luck/good fortune. Firecrackers also play a big role in Lunar New Year celebrations used to scare away bad luck and bad energy from the year prior. 

With the event’s big turnout, a monumental moment for them, so much so that they are open to doing another one next year. In the words of Wenny Wallace, “You should feel proud about your own culture.”