Author Archives: Michael Sykes

The 1st Time Theater Arts Has No Main Stage Play

This is the first time ever in all the years since the opening of the Theater department at Chabot College there’ll be no main stage play because of budget cuts.

The college is working to reduce the deficit. According to Dean of Arts, Media and Communication, Deonne Kunkel “I’m working with Vice President of Business Services, Ron Gerhard, also Vice President, Stacy Thompson. The program reviews were just completed. All the different areas put in their request and we are now in the process of compiling all them. We hope that the request for the main stage support will be prioritized high enough.”

Theater Arts Instructor Dov Hassan explained that the main reason we will go without any main stage plays this semester boils down to a lack of funds for technical staff. Technical staff are all those who work behind the scenes. The people who make the costumes and stage sets, who do the lighting, run the box office, publicity, marketing, and who handle and produce the shows.

“There is so much work to be done that we can’t just do this with students alone. We have a class for technical theater, but it’s so intense to build a set for a show that that’s about all they can get done. It’s such a mad dash to get it all done in time, that there’s not much time left for really teaching the subject matter in depth. And there needs to be staff support to direct things. Theater offers all kind of training for other jobs. It helps students learn to work on complicated tasks.” said Theater Arts instructor Dov Hassan

Instructor Hassan explained that a lot of people get the Performing Arts Center (PAC) staff confused with the theater arts program. According to him, the PAC staff is solely dedicated to running the theater for rental use. “They have staff, but we get zero support from them. We are not related to them. It’s a totally separate program.”

The funding has been decreasing slowly and steadily. The theater never had to rely on outside funding like grants. The funding has always been inside the college district budget. The theater program sells a lot of tickets for their shows.

“If we don’t get a certain amount of funding from the district, in addition to not putting on a main stage play we will no longer be able to attend The American College Theater Festival, that we have attended every year. nonetheless, theater arts continues to thrive with tremendous student energy and commitment to new original plays. We need to hire professional people for the whole year, and we don’t have the money for that” says professor Rachel Lepell.

The Deficit is not only affecting the Theater Arts but the whole campus. It’s affecting the theater, music, science, digital media, math, and English department. Every department doesn’t have as much funding for supplies as they did before. The new plan under our new Vice President of Business Services, Ron Gerhard is that the Theater Arts has to rent out Chabot College facilities. Renting out the Facilities also means that the Television station Mass Communications class might have to pay for each student to use Chabot College facilities. When asked about the Theater arts and MCOM classes renting out the facilities Dr. Stacy Thompson was uncertain about it.

The instructors who direct the main stage plays are Joel Mullennix, Margo Hall, and Dov Hassan. Every semester they rotate who’s directing the class and the play. Next semester there’s going to be the main stage play “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare and Professor Mullennix is going to direct it.

Since there’s not going to be a main stage play this semester, emerging works is going to be more ambitious. With six plays, there’s going to be more students in the class that are going to be performing. Emerging works are student’s plays that ran earlier in December.

Vice President of Academic Services Dr. Stacy Thompson added “We had a deficit we’re trying to work out so now the hope is we will be able to fund the performances, and the supplies you need for performances. A proposal was submitted through the program review process we’re hopeful that we are going to have a main stage play next year, and by the end of this fiscal year things would’ve settled down and be put into place. The program will survive, and it will flourish.”

Trash the Ash

For the past ten years Chabot College Nurse Practitioner Tricia Gonsman MSN, FNP has hosted “Trash the Ash.” This event brings awareness to students here on Chabot campus about the effects that tobacco products can have on someone’s body, like cancer. Yes, Tobacco is addictive, but she helps and encourages students to stop using Tobacco.

“What we are trying to get across is that we know that it’s difficult for people to quit, but the goal is we want to be there to support people and our students, yet, try to encourage them to quit smoking and stop using tobacco products. The hazardous effect of smoking is heart repertory C.O.P.D., and breathing problems. They can cause cancers (Lungs, kidney oral and bladder). The fact that it’s expensive and it smells, your fingers can turn yellow also.” Says Nurse Tricia Gonsman.

At the “Trash the Ash” event there were two students from Foothill College on a repository program volunteering. The repository program is an organization which raises awareness for lung disease. Their names are Eliza Tram and Pree Thirao.

“Smoking is a big issue. With the money you’re using on tobacco, you can use it on a vacation or something. With everything going on with the natural disasters and air quality, it isn’t good. Think about all the newborn and children breathing in all that smoke in the air” says Eliza Tram.

With states like, California, Arizona, Colorado, New York and another 25 states that have a statewide smoking ban, there are states that don’t. In states like Texas and Wyoming, there are no statewide smoking and no indoor smoking bans.

According to an article in the CBS NEWS called “Smoking Bans Spreading Butts Some States Still Love Smokers” it had stated that “Some other states have less restrictive laws, like requiring smoking areas with separate ventilation. Only seven states have no indoor smoking restrictions, although some of their cities do: Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

Student Ta’mari Vandross says, “I don’t smoke. I don’t like the smell of it. I do think it’s good that you can’t smoke on campus because smoking affects people’s health and that’s not good for us, not only us but our environment.”

Another student Sallison McCullough added. “I’m a Mother, and I don’t smoke. The smell is nasty, and the stuff that they put into the cigarettes isn’t meant for humans at all. It’s very disgusting. I know someone who smokes, and it’s very addictive.”

The things that are put into cigarettes are harmful and nasty. Formaldehyde (a chemical that is used to preserve the dead), Vinyl Chloride (used to make plastics), Arsenic (used for rat poison), Cadmium (used in batteries), Hydrogen Cyanide (was used to kill people in the gas chamber during World War II in Nazi Germany. There are other harmful products in cigarettes.

For those who smoke know that it’s addictive and it’s very hard to quit. The California Smokers’ Helpline is a program that can help smokers quit. They were founded in 1992. The number is 1-800-NO-BUTTS.

Chabot Now Offering Class on Tupac

For the past five years, librarian and Chabot Instructor Kim Morrison has taught a course about the late, famous rapper and actor Tupac Amaru Shakur. This themed course on Tupac is intended to build student’s research skills. The course isn’t about just listening to Tupac’s music, watching his movies, documentaries and learning his life it’s more than that. It’s about students choosing a topic that he raps about or is associated with him.

Kim Morrison says “Students in this course will choose a topic that relates to Tupac or around him. This semester someone is doing their research on his mother (Afeni Shakur) in prison and how she defends herself. Someone is doing a research project on homelessness. Someone is doing one on Ida B. Wells and how she brought attention to the black men that were being lynched in the south. She was a reporter, and the student is writing about how she brought attention to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, then comparing it” to what Ida B. Wells reported on”

In his songs Tupac covers all kinds of subjects, like teen pregnancy in “Brenda Got a Baby”, social justice and police brutality issues in “Trapped”, being raised and loved by a single mother “Dear Mama”, a person being judged by their race in “Only God Can Judge Me”, a young man joining a gang and peer pressure in “Shorty Wanna Be a Thug” and more topics.

Sean Kain, a Chabot College student, says “It’s good that Chabot has this class on and about Pac because he is one of my favorite artists. I was only two-year-old when he was killed, but I was raised on his music, and it had such an impact on my life. His music was about being black and having black pride, not only black pride but pride in ourselves and in every culture.”

Chabot student Damon Laresca added “I’ve never taken the class, but I’m interested in learning about him and what made him as famous as he was before he died. I like his songs it’s like he can do one song about going to the club partying and having fun like “California Love” Then he can also have songs that make you think like “So Many Tears,” and besides Kendrick Lamar we don’t have that type of artist no more for this generation and I think that’s sad.”

Salimah “Mrs. Makaveli” Shabazz says, “It’s awesome taking the Tupac class. I almost know everything there is to know about Pac already, but my career goal is to teach a class like Ms. Kim. I want to bring awareness to social justice issues through Tupac’s music and videos. Tupac had a tremendous impact on me. Everyone calls me Mrs. Makaveli. I have a Tupac tattoo and a 21-year-old son name Shakur. How much more aspiring can he be to me to name my son after him? If you haven’t seen a movie with Tupac in it, I would suggest “Poetic Justice” because that’s one of the most positive black movies that he was in.”

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). For ten years at Chabot College Nurse Practitioner Tricia Gonsman MSN, FNP. Has hosted the National Breast Cancer Awareness event. The event covers the topic of breast cancer. She educates students about breast cancer, chemotherapy, mammograms, and more.

Nurse Gonsman also works at the Student Health Center located in Building 2300. Nurse Gonsman stated, “I’ve been doing this for ten years. I want to educate people about breast cancer and how very serious it is. I do it to bring awareness, not everybody knows about the symptoms and signs of breast cancer. Both men and women get breast cancer.”

NBCAM was founded in 1985 in October as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and AstraZeneca (the producer of several drugs used for breast cancer treatment). In 1993 Evelyn Lauder founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and began using the pink ribbon as their symbol. In 1991 the Susan G Komen Foundation handed out the pink ribbons to the participants in the New York City race for Breast Cancer Survivors.

Rose-Marie Henderson a family member of mine and a breast cancer survivor described what it was like having breast cancer three times. She stated, “In 2006 I had a lump in my left Breast, and it was getting very painful. I went to get a mammogram then my doctor informed me that I had breast cancer. I had a biopsy and took chemotherapy. Because of the chemotherapy, I was sick, weak, and lost my hair. Then in 2013 it came back. The doctor told me my cancer had spread to my sternum bone (Breastbone). I took a chemotherapy capsule that cost over $10,000 for 21 tablets. I’ve been taking it for two years now, my cancer came back and spread to my thighs. It didn’t spread anymore, and now it’s stable.”

According to the Susan G Komen website “Women in the U.S. have a 12 percent lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. This means that for every 8 women in the U.S. 1 will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.”

Breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cell’s DNA. The risk factors are drinking alcohol, and having a family history of breast cancer.

The symptoms of breast cancer for women is a change in how the breast and or nipples feel. There are many breast cancer symptoms that go unnoticed. It is important to get a monthly breast exam, from your physician.

25th Anniversary of “A League of Their Own”

This year marks the 25th anniversary of “A League of their Own” starring Geena Davis, Madonna and Chabot College’s very own Tom Hanks. The movie takes place during World War II.

The movie is loosely based on the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) active from 1943-1954. The Rockford Peaches, Kalamazoo Lassies, and the Racine Belles are some of the famous teams in this film.

The movie tackled the issue of sexism in sports. During and after this league’s existence it did not get a lot of attention coverage like the MLB (Major League Baseball) did, because they were women.

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is another example of sexism in sports. The WNBA doesn’t get as many viewers or attendees as the National Basketball Association (NBA). In 2015 the average attendance for WNBA games was 7,318.

The average viewership of an NBA game is 1.5 million, and the number gets higher (over 3.5 million) during the playoffs and the finals. “I don’t necessarily have a preference I think both of the WNBA & NBA are just as athletic as the other. People don’t watch the WNBA because they don’t like to watch girls play basketball. We need more recognition for how hard the woman players go out there and play. I played basketball in High School so from my perspective girls are just as good as guys.” says Chabot student Jada Moses.

According to The Washington Post, about 40 percent of American athletes are female, but media coverage of female athletics makes up only 4 percent. “The WNBA doesn’t get a lot of attention like the NBA does which I understand because the media focus more on men than women. Nobody that I know watches the WNBA” says Chabot student Shavonee Porter.

Female athletes are only paid a fraction of what male athletes are getting paid. For example, the US Women’s soccer team split $2 million for winning the World Cup. Last year the US Men’s soccer team only split $8 million for losing. The average salary for a WNBA player is $72,000, while the medium for an average NBA player is 2.2 million. Same goes for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of that season. Sylvia Fowles the Center for the Minnesota Lynx, and 2017 WNBA MVP. Is only being paid $109,200. While Russell Westbrook 2017 NBA MVP plays Point Guard for Oklahoma City Thunder is being paid $26.54 million.

Art Gallery Closure

The art gallery at Chabot opened twelve years ago, and now it’s closing the doors. According to the art history professor Diane Zuliani, there was no coordination funding and an annual operating budget of zero. Professor Zuliani invested her time in the gallery for twelve years and was never able to institutionalize a funding source. Professor Zuliani stated, “this was an ongoing and protracted shortfall not in anyway related to our new Dean, Deonne Kunkel Wu. It needs to be clear that Deonne bears no fault for this turn of events.”

According to Professor Zuliani the gallery was created  with a grant of $23,000 from Partnership for Excellence, a nonprofit organization. The grant allowed her to convert a classroom into an art gallery. In 2003 she received the grant, and the gallery held its first exhibit in 2005.

The gallery has held over 30 exhibits in the past twelve years. Dean of Arts, Media and Communication Deonne Kunkel Wu recalled her favorite moment was “a poem a student had produced, about how she was in the arts and needed to take an astronomy class. And when she got the class it was just so inspiring to her. It just changed her life and the way she related to the universe.”

Through the art gallery, Diane brought the community together in ways that strengthened us. The gallery has attracted the faculty, students, and the community to see new artwork. It was a place where students could express their feelings through art and the audience could look and relate to the artists. While the art gallery was open the impact that it had on students was motivation. It was the place where hundreds of Chabot students first exhibited their artwork publicly, according to Professor Zuliani.

Katelin Kaiiag, a former art student, said, “art is meant for self-expression and exploration. Not to please others… It’s an important aspect of art that one piece of art could mean more to me than you and vice-versa.”

In addition to the inspirational impact on students, it had a significant impact on the National Association of School of Arts and Design (NASAD) accreditation team. NASAD had this statement about the gallery, “The Chabot Art Gallery exhibition program appears to be ambitious and varied in theme, ranging from student and faculty exhibitions to visiting artists’ work from an impressive variety of media and geographic locations-from local to international.

The gallery has made a tremendous mark in the lives of students, faculty and the community. With the closing of the gallery, it will have a negative impact on the students and faculty. Dean Kunkel Wu added “not having a place to go that draws me to a higher purpose, or elicits an emotional response, that brings healing and connection is a loss to me personally. It is a loss to all students across campus because we are here for students, we are here to help them build their voice. Now, we don’t have that for our community, students or faculty.”

Professor Williams, instructor of Economics, in a campus-wide email stated, “I would like to add that since this program is so fundamental to any school that lays claim to support of the humanities, I have to wonder if there is some unseen strategy on the part of those who allowed this suspension to happen. It seems somehow akin to the idea that all education should be online. I would like to urge all the faculty to not let this issue pass without a fight. Chabot has many small mistakes in the past. This is not a small mistake.”

Erica Mones, a former student who took Zuliani’s museum studies classes, went on to get an MA in Museum Studies and was teaching our gallery classes. She had this to say “In regards to the gallery, I do not blame (Diane). It’s very unfortunate that there has been no support for such an important space the entire time it existed. On behalf of all of the students who took the classes over the years, thank you. Thank you for dedicating countless hours to make that gallery look the absolute best it could…. I have many fond memories there both as a student as well as a teacher. Seriously, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU Diane”

Parking Problems at Chabot

At the beginning of every semester, the Chabot student parking lot is always a problem for parking, and the ticket dispensers don’t work. Sometimes these problems cause students to be late or even drop out of classes.

Omar a student here at Chabot says “I don’t park in the student parking lot I mostly park down on Hesperian I know it’s farther to walk to my class but I don’t have to worry about paying or about being late to class because the time I come sometimes it is packed” In this case many students do not park in the student parking lot but in the parking lot of Quickly, Burger King, or down Hesperian Blvd. just to save money or not to worry about the hassle of the student parking lot.

Campus Safety Officer Moore says, “We have received numerous complaints about ‘there isn’t enough parking’ or ‘the ticket dispensers don’t work’ unfortunately, the amount of parking is not an easy fix, but the complaints of the ticket dispensers are easy to resolve if a student contacts the Campus Safety Department in a timely manner. There’s a lot that we can do to resolve ticket dispensers but nothing for student parking spaces.”

At the start of the semester some students take other alternative transportation to get at Chabot “During the first three weeks I always take A.C. Transit. I live in Oakland and I have to get up earlier but it’s worth not worrying where to park? Or if there’s enough space to park” says an anonymous student. The Campus Safety Department encourages students to use other alternatives like; carpooling, Uber, Bicycles or taking A.C. Transit.

While students still complain about not having enough parking spaces or problems with the ticket dispensers another dilemma students have is the fact that faculty/staff are parking in student spaces even though they have their own. The student parking lot has just over two thousand parking spaces with more than fifteen thousand students attending Chabot, yet the faculty/staff Parking lot has just over 400 parking spaces. Why do they park in the student parking lot? Maybe because of close parking. Some students question this practice, do the faculty/staff members get citations for parking in the student’s spaces? According to officer Moore, “The faculty/staff can park on campus in any parking lot as long as they display a valid parking permit.” faculty/staff has more parking advantages than students.

Canvas Takeover

Beginning this Fall semester, there’s a new program replacing Blackboard, called Canvas. Instructors use Canvas to display their student’s grades, assignments, online tests, discussion boards and more. Chabot is joining the rest of California Colleges who are already using the new program. Canvas integrates with other apps like Note Bowl, Google Drive or DropBox. Any instructor can use Canvas for any subject they’re teaching.

Dr. Scherbart teaches Humanities, Philosophy, Religious Studies here at Chabot College, he stated, “California is not mandating but is offering all of the 100 plus community college districts, a chance to be part of a statewide push and initiative to use the same learning management system.” He is also one of the chairs of the Chabot Committee for Online Learning

There are loopholes in Canvas, nothing major but students and instructors should know. The setup is; go to discussions read everybody responses, but before you can see your response, you have to go through and leave a comment. The Loophole is if you have to post before you can see others’ responses you can post something meaningless as a period, comma or a question mark. Then it will unlock everyone’s comments. Then you can go through and edit your previous response. Prof. Scherbart was unaware of the loophole and will look into it.

Students will have a slim chance to copy someone else’s answers because it would be no use for them. Dr. Sherbart explains, “In the past with my online courses, I could set up quizzes so that questions were put in random order and the default in Canvas is that they’re put into a set order … [In Blackboard] the possibility of having a list of the correct multiple choice answers and if you give it to someone it would be no use because their answers would be in a different order than yours, so their answers might not be the same.”

Since this is a transitional semester where some Instructors are still using Blackboard for their classes. English Instructor here at Chabot Ms. Barbara Worthington is still using blackboard for her classes. “I prefer to stay with the current way of submitting the work. I already have a curriculum setup in Blackboard… I don’t want to rush into it until I know exactly how comfortable I am using it, but also how my students are using it to be able to answer their questions. I plan to attend several trainings for it [Canvas],” she stated. Ms. Worthington will be using Canvas next semester.

If you’re having problems finding Canvas, it is located at the bottom of the Chabot webpage. There’s a link to Canvas right next to Blackboard. If you’re having problems with Canvas, there’s a toll-free number 1-844-600-4956.