Tag Archives: rita mcneil

Professor Bryan Whaley’s New Book on Communication in Healthcare Goes Beyond Good Bedside Manner

Rita McNeil
Contributing Writer 

USF Communication Studies Professor Bryan Whaley was in the oncology unit at the Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland back in 2004 with his then nine-year-old daughter, facing a situation he never thought possible. His daughter had been sick for weeks, and Whaley was told she might have colon cancer. As he sat in the waiting room, he watched as another young girl went in for chemotherapy and thought to himself, “I don’t believe I’m living through this.” Continue reading Professor Bryan Whaley’s New Book on Communication in Healthcare Goes Beyond Good Bedside Manner

ASUSF Senate Offers Anti-Hazing Resolution for On-Campus Organizations

Jennifer Echeagaray participated in a photo shoot put on by Greek Council to take a stand against hazing. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Barcher)
Jennifer Echeagaray participated in a photo shoot put on by Greek Council to take a stand against hazing. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Barcher)

In an effort to prevent hazing throughout the USF community, the Associated Students of the University of San Francisco (ASUSF) Senate passed the Official ASUSF Senate Charges Against Hazing document on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

The initiative was spearheaded by sophomore Jennifer Echeagaray, a member of Senate, Greek Council, and Delta Zeta Sorority. The document was compiled in a joint effort among Senate, the Peer Advising Team (PAT) and Greek Council.

The policy was created on the basis of prevention rather than punishment, Echeagaray explained. She said it’s easy for organizations with new member processes to fall into practices that can be defined as hazing and “Senate felt really strongly that we should take action to prevent that.”

The document outlines the definition of hazing, according to California State Law, stating that hazing is “conduct which causes, or is likely to cause, bodily danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to another person in the course of the other person’s pre initiation into, initiation into, affiliation with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization.”

Chibnall said a lot of times hazing is occurring even when students don’t realize it.

As Senate doesn’t have the jurisdiction to enforce the policy or impose sanctions on perpetrators of hazing, the document currently functions as an educational tool and invitation for organizations with new member processes.

Johnny Chibnall, ASUSF Senate President and member of Pi Kappa Phi, stressed that the document doesn’t strictly apply to Greek communities, but all organizations, which will be invited to anti hazing events such as new member education and campus events during national hazing prevention week.

Both Chibnall and Echeagaray were pleased to discover that Senate became so involved with the creation of this document. “It was really interesting to see how many Senators in Greek organizations and not [in greek organizations], really cared about this. It was really cool to see,” said Chibnall.

The difference between this document and policies set forth by specific Greek organizations is that those groups usually follow policies suggested by Fraternal Information and Programming Group (FIPG), which have direct consequences such as a probation period or expulsion, according to Echeagaray. She went on to say, “whereas with this it’s more of like, here are the tools we are giving you so that this doesn’t happen.”

Chibnall said a lot of times hazing is occurring even when students don’t realize it. The document states that the rationale behind hazing can be “based on the principles of seniority or superiority,” and can serve as a rite of passage. “It’s really easy to rationalize, and so hopefully this will be able to allow students to say that this is actually happening to me and can ask for help or know how to deal with it,” said Chibnall.

Chibnall went on to say, “We just want to create a space where people can feel like they can have this education and report it and be aware of all their rights as students.” Even though student senators can’t be the ones to enforce it, they made this policy so that, “Senate can do as much as they possibly can within their powers to ensure that anti-hazing education or hazing prevention is given to as many students as possible,” said Chibnall.

As this document serves as a means for Senate to take a stand against hazing, the document states, “ASUSF Senate does not believe that hazing, in any form, will unite a group in a positive or communal manner…. ASUSF Senate urges all student organizations as well as departments with new member policies and periods to reevaluate those policies in order to eradicate hazing from their practices.”

Junior Claire Posel, the Vice President of New Member Education for Delta Zeta, fully agrees with and supports the anti-hazing prevention policy. “As an organization we do not, and have never, supported any form of hazing. Our sorority was founded because six women wanted to form an organization that practiced and taught love, support, friendship, and empowerment of women,” said Posel, who thinks that hazing prevents trust and sisterhood while “contradicting the concept of empowerment.”

Posel said that in her position, she wants to devote herself to educating the women who choose to join and help them successfully transition into the sisterhood. “Our New Member program is based on caring for the New Members and ensuring their success and comfort within our organization,” she said.

Chibnall said that if there were to be any hazing incidents on campus, that is dealt with through the offices of Student Leadership Engagement (SLE) and the Office of Student Conduct Rights and Responsibilities (OSCRR) because they have step-by-step processes of how to deal with such events.

Both Chibnall and Echeagaray hope to see this policy become a requirement for all organizations upon their registration, along with the continuation of anti-hazing measures, such as the social media initiative they took last fall in which members of student organizations wrote “don’t haze me” on visible parts of the body, as well as an on campus forum put on by USF’s newest fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, which was “an open discussion with anyone who came and talked about what hazing really means and how does it affect the greater community,” Echeagaray said.

Posel said she hopes that other schools and organizations will follow suit and enforce anti-hazing policies so that, “the cruel and pointless practice of hazing is successfully prevented.”

The Return of Swine ‘09

In the peak of flu season, a virus that shocked the nation in 2009 has returned. H1N1, also known as swine flu, has been present since the initial pandemic, but this season the H1N1 virus is reportedly emerging at higher levels than ever since 2009.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports, “this is the first season that the virus has circulated at such high levels since the pandemic.”

During the week of Jan. 12-18, 96.8% of the influenza A viruses were H1N1 viruses, according to their Weekly FluView update.

As of Jan. 9, the San Francisco Department of Public Health reported on the death of a flu patient in San Francisco. They confirmed the strain of the virus as H1N1.

One stamp you won’t want to be collecting! Stay healthy during this season’s flu outbreak. (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)
One stamp you won’t want to be collecting! Stay healthy during this season’s flu outbreak. (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

In the past month, the San Jose Mercury reported on eight deaths of swine flu in California — one in the East Bay, one in Santa Clara County, two in Sacramento, one in Orange County, and three people in Stanislaus County.

Professor Chenit Ong-Flaherty of the School of Nursing and Health Professions at USF thinks students are not currently at high risk of catching the virus. “I am not aware of any students with [swine] flu symptoms. Nor any cases around USF.”

Luckily for students, the School of Nursing is part of a national initiative to monitor influenza activity and prevent flu outbreaks in the USF community. Mark Smolinski, MD, of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, partnered with the School of Nursing to introduce Flu Near You on campus.

Flu Near You is a program that tracks flu activity across the nation. Reports are made available to volunteers after they anonymously submit flu-like symptoms, as shown in an ABC 7 newscast.

Judith Karshmer, the Dean of the School of Nursing, appeared on the news report stating, “Flu is something that is really very serious, and is something that we can track and and know how to prevent.”

Professor Courtney Keeler, who led the Flu Near You initiative at USF, recommends using the program to “help an individual remain aware of flu patterns in their own communities. These local trends are important indicators since one’s risk of the flu increases with the incidence of flu in one’s neighborhood,” she said.

Although the risk of H1N1 in the USF community is not currently of paramount concern, Professor Robin Buccheri notes, “A very scary thing about the H1N1 virus that we found in 2009 is that it can be especially serious in children and young adults.”

So why are young adults more susceptible? “The leading theory is that there is something about the flu that resembles the H1 flus that circulated before the 1960’s,” according to Donald McNeil, New York Times reporter and infectious disease expert. “People who were alive in the 1960’s or earlier probably caught it as kids and still have some antibodies and programmed white blood cells floating around that protect them,” said McNeil.

The main way young adults can stay protected then, is immunization. “The flu shot this year, which all nursing students are required to have updated annually, covers H1N1,” according to Professor Kimberleigh Cox. “Immunization and thorough, frequent hand washing, along with rest, sleep, fluids, and adequate self-care are the most important prevention tools,” said Cox.

Flu shots are no longer available to students on campus, but immunizations are free at the St. Mary’s Student Health Clinic on 450 Stanyan Street if students have the USF-sponsored student health insurance plan. Appointments can be made at 415-750-5995 and must be requested at least 24 hours in advance.

     Students interested in participating in the Flu Near You program, can learn more and sign up here


If You Don’t Have Haters, You’re Doing Something Wrong

Community Organizers Discuss Activism Principles 

If you don’t have haters, you’re doing something wrong.

This sentiment, speaking to the idea that there must be opposition to produce change, was a primary focus of Javier Reyes, Bay Area activist and hip hop producer, who spoke at last Thursday’s panel, “Activism: Then and Now.”

Reyes was one of three panelists that have been agents of change for numerous causes, joined by Shanell Williams, Student Trustee at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) and Phil Hutchings, who was involved in the Freedom movement of the 1960s and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Newark, New Jersey.

The evening’s speakers focused on topics including the accreditation conflicts at CCSF, the Occupy Movement, the “selfie movement,” and what we can learn from the Civil Rights Movement.

After the panelists explained their positions and gave insight into the workings of social movements, the evening progressed into an open forum where the audience asked questions. The event was moderated and organized by senior Victor Valle, who asked the speakers how they thought activism has shifted since the rise of technology.

“We can’t have success without successors, which essentially means we have to pass on these lessons and stories to the next generation, which now is us.”

Although all three speakers recognized some pros of rapidly developing technology, they agreed that there is less of a human connection now. “We need to get back to sitting around the table and having dinner together, that’s where the magic happens,” said Williams. Hutchings agreed, saying that we need to figure out the most effective way of using technology while “increas[ing] the human part,” he said.

Reyes recalls when the flipped camera feature on iPhones first came out, allowing “selfies.” “When did it become about the self and not about the we,” he wondered. He thinks technology should be used not to promote self-righteousness, but righteousness. Until then, “no one is moving together,” he said.

Williams commended USF for being an institution dedicated to getting out in the community, reminding students to use the heart. Reyes added, “don’t be academic without having the compassion of spirit. You think you’ve made it after getting a degree, you haven’t made a damn thing until people are free.”

The speakers left a lasting impression on Valle. “We can’t have success without successors, which essentially means we have to pass on these lessons and stories to the next generation, which now is us. I’ll definitely remember that one forever,” he said.

Another topic brought up throughout the evening was the Accrediting Commission for Junior and City Colleges taking away CCSF’s accreditation, which refers to “the quality of education or training provided by the institutions,” according to the U.S. Department of Education, but Williams said they were focusing more on financing governance than quality education. Williams explained that absence of accreditation basically means the school is one step away from shutting down completely. She spoke about the recent efforts of CCSF to appeal the decision of the Accrediting Commission for Junior and City Colleges.

She wants to preserve affordability because “we want to keep the community in community college” rather than conform to the agenda of their opposers -“a neoliberal agenda that says only a certain few can have the opportunity to education.”

Explaining how students are best positioned in any fight for change, as they are on the forefront of the job market, Williams gave students insight into how the Occupy Movement could have been better so as to create a framework for future causes. “There has to be a clear leadership and organization,” she said, adding that spirituality is essential in spurring change because “it is a part of the human condition. It’s all about changing people’s hearts and minds.”

These factors are part of what made the Civil Rights Movement so successful and could have made the Occupy Movement stronger, Williams explained.

Another important factor for successful social change, according to Williams, is for the marginalized communities to be at the forefront of the movement. This is one thing Occupy was lacking, she explained. The Civil Rights Movement had solidarity among marginalized communities, as well as a commitment to nonviolence. Whereas with Occupy, “There were individuals who were aggressive with the police, they thought radical mass action was all there is,” she said, adding, “that’s what killed the movement.”

Hutchings also outlined lessons for social change, all of which he learned through his involvement in events of social rebellion in the 60s.

“There are more people in the 21st century motivating for change than there were in the 60s, but the focus was stronger,” said Hutchings, explaining how the movements then were more specific, focusing on causes such as anti-draft, women’s liberation, anti-Vietnam, and civil rights, whereas Occupy was much too broad.

Hutchings also noticed how more recently, successful movements have been more to the political right, whereas in the past, movements that made significant changes had more of a liberal focus. As for where the left stands today, “the thrust now is trying to hold on,” said Hutchings.

But these activists have no intention of backing down. “We work better when we are in a conflict zone versus a comfort zone,” said Reyes. “It doesn’t matter where you start, it matters where you’re going and where you wind up.”

After starting his own theatre company at 19, Reyes eventually started teaching at UC Berkeley and later worked with youth. He recalled when he was a child, one of his teachers told the class, “you’ve got to be willing to die for what you have to say.”

He said that was when he knew his purpose, standing up for what you believe in.

This idea was of crucial importance among the speakers, as Williams quoted the words of MLK, “a man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”

USF Law Students Bridge the Gap

Second year law student Ashley Oddo interned this summer as a Law Clerk at the Washoe County Public Defender’s Office in Reno, Nevada. As an aspiring Deputy Public Defender, she was immersed in the field of criminal defense and said the job was “the most valuable experience in my life to date.” Oddo attended jail visits, court hearings, and worked on research projects in addition to writing briefs and motions.

Second year law student Ashley Oddo interned as a Law Clerk this summer after receiving one of USF's grants to work in a public interest job. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Oddo)
Second year law student Ashley Oddo interned as a Law Clerk this summer after receiving one of USF’s grants to work in a public interest job. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Oddo)

Oddo was one of many USF law students that were awarded grants to work in a public interest job; a large part of funds granted to students this year will come from the auction put on last Friday by USF’s Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF).

PILF is a student run organization that seeks to allow students to work in the public service sector. Last year, the funds provided by PILF’s Annual Gala, among other fundraisers, raised over $40,000: enough to send 20 students to work with $4,000 grants each in Summer of 2013. Totals for funds raised by last week’s gala are still being calculated.

This past summer, students were given hands on opportunities to assist communities in jobs that deal with issues within the justice system. Students worked for organizations inside and outside of the Bay Area, including the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the National Health Law Program in Los Angeles, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, numerous public defenders’ offices, and many other influential institutions.

Service to the public is a large part of USF’s traditions, according to the dean of the Law School, John Trasviña: “We serve the public sector. We serve those who might have have access to an attorney, access to education, or access to medicine.”

Oddo finds this tradition to be crucial because “people from all walks of life need representation and assistance navigating through the complexities of the criminal justice system,” said Oddo, who visited two alleged murderers waiting for their trial. She realized these clients are “just ordinary people, with families, thoughts and feelings.”

The job reinforced her desire to be successful in the public interest sector. Being successful however, does not always amount to winning each trial, said Oddo. Success means “fighting hard for my clients and advocating zealously to protect their constitutional rights.”

PILF gives out an award each year for excellence in the public interest sector; this year granted to Chief Justice of the CA Supreme Court, Hon. Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who accepted it on behalf of the Judicial Council, 2,000 judges in California, 19,000 employees, and an array of others who work under intense time constraints with little revenue.

Echoing the words of Mother Teresa, the Chief Justice stated, “the reason we don’t have peace is because we have forgotten that we belong to one another.”

That is what public interest is, according to Cantil-Sakauye. It is “giving yourself to the voice of the public that don’t have the voice to that themselves,” which is something that not only California is a beacon for, but USF as well, she says. She expects great things from USF’s students, she says, as “you have leadership in your veins.”