Love to the Class of 2018

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Crystal Vega, Urban Studies and Critical Diversity Studies ’18, was awarded this year’s Leo T. McCarthy Award. Below is her commencement speech. 

Dear Class of 2018, I love you. You, the first generation students who paved the road for so many to come. You, the nonbinary and trans students who are constantly pushing the university to be a more gender inclusive space. You, the Black and Brown students who will not rest until this university makes everyone feel at home. You, the Pacific Islander and indigenous students who reflect the beauty, bravery, and courage of your communities. I am honored and humbled to be speaking in front of so many student leaders and activists. And lastly, I love me, the queer Chicanx with two jobs, two majors, one minor, and three years of college under their belt. I love you: I don’t use these three words lightly. And I’ve definitely never said it to a few hundred people but I believe it serves as a crucial last lesson.

Some of you in the room may be uncomfortable right now. Having a physical reaction to the word love. It’s okay, I was the same way. There was a point in my life where I stopped saying I love you to my friends and family. I started to feel weighed down by stories of trauma and my own experiences with misgendering, microaggressions, and discrimination. So I stopped. It wasn’t until I started a romantic relationship with my current partner of three years that I finally started using the words again. He helped me to see love as personal and interpersonal healing. Although I didn’t learn about love at USF, I did start to practice revolutionary love while in a classroom. I saw Valarie Kaur’s Ted Talk on revolutionary love and watched as she reclaimed love as “…sweet labor. Fierce. Bloody. Imperfect. Life-giving. A choice we make over and over again” and our greatest tool for social justice.

Throughout our years at USF, we have heard the phrase change the world from here. But what this phrase does not suggest is the burnout that happens after we resolve to do this. This is why we need to center ourselves in gratitude and love: a love of ourselves, for others, and for our opponents. Love not only allows me to envision a world of equity and inclusivity but can also empower me to run for local office and make that world a reality. Love can drive your passions whether they be in the public sector, reinvesting in low-income communities and improving our public transit systems, or in the private sector, reimagining how people connect to one another or innovating medicine as we know it. When someone says you can’t, when you tell yourself you won’t, center yourself in love. Wonder what you are capable of, value the humanity of others, and acknowledge those who see you as different because love wins. Congratulations Class of 2018!

Preview the 2018 Capstone Symposium

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The University of San Francisco Master of Arts in Urban Affairs and Master of Public Affairs invites you to join us for the 2018 graduating classes’ capstone presentations on May 14th and May 15th.  The capstone project is the final requirement for the completion of their master’s degree and includes a well-researched analytical paper that applies the knowledge, skills, and methods of the program, in addition to an oral presentation. We are incredibly proud of our graduate students and believe their research will inspire positive changes for the common good.

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Rebecca Charlton, PublicAffairs ’18

That’s Not Our Job: Individualism and State Responsibility After Welfare Reform

In 1996 President Bill Clinton overhauled our nation’s welfare system with drastic spending cuts and new work requirements. This capstone will explore the legislation’s cultural framework, punitive impact on low-income women, and offer a policy re-write to lift single mothers out of poverty.

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Maya Chupkov, Public Affairs ’18

Care and Cash: Addressing San Francisco’s Homelessness Crisis With A Basic Income

Maya is exploring the intersection between basic income and preventing homelessness in San Francisco. She situates her research with a case study of Care Not Cash, a measure passed in 2002 that altered the homeless delivery system. She performs an in-depth analysis of San Francisco’s current homelessness problem, including the preventive strategies that could be strengthened with cash assistance models.

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Amy Dundon, Urban Affairs ’18

Finding “Free City”

Finding “Free City” retraces the story of the City College of San Francisco, a public two-year community college, through its recent troubles and eventual resilience. In the span of five years, the college went from nearly closing its doors to offering classes free of charge to San Francisco residents. The research offers a critical analysis of the recent historical educational and economic policies that have shaped City College. Through the frame of class struggle, Finding “Free City” grants insight into community building and labor union organizing, questions normative economic systems, and evokes a new interpretation of the right to the city.

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Leslie Gordon, Urban Affairs ’18

Building a Better Map: Imagining Racial Equity in Oakland

Leslie’s research investigates visions of racial equity among institutional and grassroots actors who have a role in shaping Oakland’s urban space. As the city of Oakland works to codify and institutionalize racial equity through several initiatives, including the formation of the Department of Race and Equity and a new downtown planning process, how do we imagine a racially equitable Oakland? How would such a city look, feel, and function?

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Nicholas Large, Public Affairs ’18 

Fierce Landmarking: Representation and the Queering of Political Power

This capstone examines place-based organizing for the LGBT community in San Francisco. Comparing contemporary memorializations like the Compton’s Transgender Cultural District and the Harvey Milk SFO Terminal to the Stonewall Inn, it offers a look into the movement behind the places. Operating under a context of gentrification, this capstone asks if it is the story or the place that matters, and what the implications of each are for a rapidly changing community fighting for equity.

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Briana Gonzalez, Public Affairs ’18 

The Invisible Population: Providing Family Services for Single Student-Mothers at USF

Briana’s capstone is on the growing population of single student mothers in academia. She conducts a comparative analysis of several higher education institutions, highlighting the family services they provide. Briana focuses on the University of San Francisco to raise awareness of the lack of family resources on its campus. In her capstone, she demonstrates why USF can no longer ignore this group of students and how the university can implement family resources of its own to assist single mothers in achieving academic success.

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Taking the Initiative: Are Ballot Measures Failing SF’s Homeless Crisis?

Through an analysis of the 2016 San Francisco Proposition Q campaign, this paper will analyze if the ballot measure/ initiative process is the best way to tackle homelessness. In doing so, I will explore why members of the Board of Supervisors continue to use the ballot instead of other legislative processes to correct this major issue.

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Bernice Rosas Belmonte. Public Affairs ’18

Room at the Table: Inviting Latino Familial Support into the Discussion of College Access

Bernice’s research examines modes of encouraging and supporting Latinx first-generation college student families, specifically in Stockton area high schools. Her findings highlight the necessity of bringing Latino families into the conversation of college access in order to further first-generation college students’ higher education goals.

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Justin Balenzuela, Urban Affairs ’18 

Rounding Up Outlaw In-Laws

San Francisco is experiencing an economic boom that’s driving population growth and housing costs. As pressure builds, the accessibility of affordable housing options is constrained, and options are reduced to illegal or substandard housing conditions. Justin’ research focused on in-law units, which can be illegal and include substandard housing conditions, and addressing the conundrum of bringing units up to code without affecting tenants. His goal is to improve unit safety by encouraging the legalization of illegal in-laws, all while preventing the displacement of existing tenants while units undergo renovations.

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Denise Garcia, Urban Affairs ’18

Just Transit: Governing Sustainability in Los Angeles

As more cities experience the detrimental impacts of climate change, the need for sustainable planning implementation increases. Throughout various cities, regions, and the state, sustainability plans have been developed and implemented, but questions remain as to whether their approach or implementation will have the desired mitigating impacts. Drawing from an equitable framework, this paper includes a comparison analysis to critique current sustainability plans developed from 3 different levels of governance.

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Aaron Gordon, Public Affairs ’18 

Do Tech Workers Care About San Francisco? Analyzing Political Engagement

Over the past decade, there have been tensions between the tech Industry and long-term residents of San Francisco. Many people are concerned with the influence that large tech companies have on local politics. But what effect is the average tech worker having on San Francisco politics? This study aims to answer that question.

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Erika Sandberg, Public Affairs ’18 

The Secret Door: Transparency and Privacy in the California Juvenile Justice System

Erika’s research addresses the imbalance between transparency and privacy in the California juvenile justice system, and the effects this heightening of opacity have on judicial and governmental accountability. The rationales for increased privacy are rehabilitation and avoidance of youth stigmatization, yet decades of legislative enactments suggest a shift towards more punitive measures. This research will propose recommendations to optimize the balance between the two competing concepts while keeping the privacy of youths intact, because without insight, who are we really protecting? The children or the institution?

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Jessica Lindquist, Public Affairs ’18 

Protecting San Francisco Residents From The Wolves of Wall Street: A Case Study

In response to the 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal agency responsible for protecting consumers from abusive, deceptive and predatory practices of the financial services industry. The CFPB’s consumer complaint database has been an important resource for the American public for the past seven years. However, the Trump administration has declared its intentions to remove the database from public view, an action lobbied for by the financial services industry. Jessica conducts the first deep data analysis of the public complaints filed to the CFPB Consumer Complaint database by San Francisco residents. Her case study highlights how consumer financial harms are a citywide problem: San Franciscans living at every income level and in every part of the city are struggling to resolve their financial issues with the wolves of Wall Street, the financial services industry.

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Ceaundra Thomas, Urban Affairs ’18 

Reframing Deficit Theories about Black Boys in Oakland Schools

Deficit oriented theories have been used in the United States education system as a means of justifying the disparities we see amongst gender and racial groups, specifically Black boys. Ceaundra’s capstone focuses on how these deficit theories can be reframed to more accurately capture the root of these disparities. Over time, systematic barriers have presented a multitude of obstacles that hinder people of color from receiving the same quality of education as their white peers. By focusing on the African American Male Achievement program implemented by Oakland Unified School District, she antagonizes the master narrative of Black boys underperforming because of their culture, and conceptualize ways that the education system can better serve Black boys.

2018 Brings Conversations

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This February, the McCarthy Center kicks off the inaugural season of a new speakers series, Conversations for the Common Good, co-presented with news media, POLITICO. The McCarthy Center Board and staff have been planning this series in conjunction with the 15th Anniversary of the Center celebrated this past November 9th at the Merchants Exchange Club where Mayor Art Agnos was honored with the first Leo T. McCarthy Award.

Conversations, envisioned as an annual signature series of speaking engagements, will bring local, regional and national figures to share their visions of the challenges of serving the public good. This year, the series invites leading candidates for California’s upcoming gubernatorial election in fall, 2018.

Entitled, The Race for the 2nd Most Important Office in the Country — Who Will be the Next Governor of California?, the series invites five top candidates (with others to be possibly added) including four Democrats and one Republican.

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 Join us in meeting California’s gubernatorial candidates on the Hilltop campus in McLaren Conference Center. Free limited seating is available. Register to attend here.

Questions For John Chiang

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California State Treasurer John Chiang will be our fifth speaker to participate in Conversations for the Common Good, a new speaker’s series that invites inclusive voices to the challenge of serving the public good. Join us in meeting California’s Treasurer, John Chiang and POLITICO’s Carla Marinucci in conversations on Thursday, March 22nd, 5:00 PM on campus at USF’s McLaren Conference Center.

John Chiang has never been one to chase the spotlight, Chiang has been getting the job done throughout every successive tier of public service. He was first elected to office in 1998, as a member of the Board of Equalization. In 2006, California voters elected Chiang to serve as the State’s Controller for three terms. As Controller, Chiang managed the state’s finances throughout the Great Recession and prevented the state’s credit rating from falling into junk status. Chiang also reformed the pension system, and implemented programs to increase the state’s transparency and accountability to the public. In 2014, Chiang was elected as the State’s Treasurer, where he sold bonds, invested state funds, and managed California’s growing cash reserves. Chiang has seen it all throughout his two decades of public service, from financial deficits and budget cuts to California boasting the sixth largest economy in the world, and he now he is running for the state’s highest office, California Governor.

Chiang describes himself as the only candidate who understands how to finance the programs Californians want, which would lead to ideas becoming a reality rather than a talking point. Chiang’s priorities as governor would be creating more affordable housing, investing in the states K – 12 and University systems, and preventing sexual harassment and assault. John Chiang asserts that he is a fiscally responsible leader and as Governor, he promises to make California accessible and affordable for families who dream of a better future.

Questions To Ask:

  • Proposition 13 has limited a city’s ability to fund services. What are the biggest roadblocks to reforming Proposition 13, and how would you overcome those barriers?
  • Divisions exist between California’s inland and coastal communities. Politicians spar over taxes, environmental regulations, and poverty reforms. How would you bridge the existing divides in California as Governor?
  • You have two decades of experience managing the state’s finances. How would someone who has been all about the numbers in California, apply those skills to address the social issues throughout the state?
  • Many middle-class Californians are struggling to purchase homes, send their children to college, and maintain a quality standard of living. What is your agenda to help our struggling families?
  • The impacts of climate change will compound throughout the twenty-first century,  and California will experience harsher droughts as a result. What is your plan to address future water shortages?
  • Many seniors and retired adults live on fixed incomes; every year the cost of food, utilities, services, and housing increase, but their incomes stay flat. How will you address the needs of aging Californians?

This post was written by Justin Balenzuela, M.A. Urban Affairs ’18. Justin will be introducing Treasurer John Chiang on Thursday, March 22nd.

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Questions for Antonio Villaraigosa

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Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be the inaugural speaker to participate in Conversations for the Common Good, a new speakers series that invites inclusive voices to the challenge of serving the public good. Join us in meeting Mayor Villaraigosa and POLITICO’s David Siders in conversation on Thursday, February 1, 5:00 PM on campus at USF’s McLaren Conference Center.

 

A Primer for CONVERSATIONS

Can Antonio Villaraigosa trump the competition?

The upcoming 2018 California gubernatorial race will be loaded with interesting democratic candidates. Amidst political heavy hitters such as Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and State Treasurer John Chiang, Antonio Villaraigosa stands to run on a platform of educational equity. The former California State Assemblyman, who was also the Mayor of Los Angeles, is hoping to fortify a well distinguished political career by winning the vote to occupy California’s top office. Villaraigosa’s reputation is hallmarked by epic civic and municipal partnership building efforts. He is credited with turning around the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)’s poor performing schools with the construction of an organization called the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which works with the LAUSD as a coalition. Additionally, Villaraigosa led efforts that have  resulted in successfully combating spiking Los Angeles crime rates by hiring more police officers.

Villaraigosa has stated publicly numerous times that if elected to office as California Governor,  he would defy President Trump if his administration were to order the deportation of undocumented persons, including DREAMers. Villaraigosa has also said that he is not in support of building a wall to keep out immigrants from our southern border. Given his policy stances on immigration, Villaraigosa will no doubt find himself bumping heads with one America’s most controversial president. On the campaign trail, Villaraigosa will find himself challenged with the daunting task of unifying the Mexican-American vote which has been sharply sliced by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. As the campaign season begins to ramp up, it will be very fascinating to see how Villaraigosa energizes his base.

Questions to Ask

  • In what ways do you feel your experiences as State Assemblyman have prepared you to govern California?
  • What measures can be implemented in the State Assembly and Senate to ensure transparency and fairness regarding the investigation into claims of sexual harassment in the state legislature?
  • Given the current socio-political impact of the #MeToo movement, is there a credible need for comprehensive re-training on sexual harassment as well as cultural and gender sensitivity issues within the state legislature?
  • What strategies can be used to protect California’s coastline against the ongoing threat of offshore drilling?
  • Can we legally protect California as a sanctuary state with minimal federal disruption?
  • What are your thoughts on allocating cannabis tax money towards the implementation of a state-wide cannabis equity program?
  • In what ways can California restore its educational system to its once highly regarded status?
  • Given the current lack of bipartisan participation in Washington D.C., how are you prepared to discourage that type of political climate in the state legislature?

 This post was written by Calyn Kelley, Urban and Public Affairs ’19. Calyn will be introducing Mayor Villaraigosa on Thursday, February 1 in the opening event.

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“Success” in the Western Addition

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Michael Anderson, Campus-Community Liaison / Engage San Francisco 

At any given moment we suffer the curse of being banished to the present. The totality of human beings on the planet right now are given no option other than right now. At no points in one’s life is an individual least cognizant of this fact than in their childhood and their early twenties. One appears to be the most alive and yet they are alive without context. Influences behind decisions go unanalyzed. Tomorrows go unplanned and yesterdays are quickly forgotten.

It is within this vortex of the “hyper-now-ness” that I reflect on my short time with the Leo T. McCarthy Center. The time lapse between my first day and today feels almost negligible in length. Still the value I extract from this time is more than invaluable. I don’t want to be cliché here. I have never experienced this much personal and professional growth in such a short span of time in my entire life, so valuable that I fear the threat of passively experiencing. I constantly take time out to reflect and write down everything.

I sit on staff at the McCarthy center as a member of the Engage San Francisco Initiative. I am the second AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) to assist at the McCarthy Center, and one more will follow once I leave. I spend most of my time working off-campus at the Success Center San Francisco. On the surface level my workplace helps people get back into the workforce and attain their G.E.D. Beyond the surface is a community-rooted family that not only strives to help the Fillmore community, but heal it simultaneously. The word “success” holds no empty, income-based, meaning. At the Center, there is a more holistic view of the word. This view includes life at work, home, school, and beyond. And the people carving out this road to “success” for the community are born of the same soil.

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I am not of San Francisco soil. My stomping grounds are a continent away in the heart of New Jersey. So this leaves me with the task of deciphering my role within a community based organization while having no direct roots to the community.

I can say that the day-to-day stories that walk through the doors of the Success Center are not far from a wider national story that I know on an intimate level. It is from this personal intimacy with the heartbreak that accompanies financial hardships that I am able to draw my empathy.

Still, there are wounds specific to the Fillmore area that I am still acquiring a sensitivity for. Whether it’s two redevelopments, displacement, or public housing mismanagement, the after-effects show themselves through the stress our clients carry into the Success Center. The heavy heartedness is complemented by the overarching optimism and will to change their circumstances that also accompanies our clients as they cross our threshold.  

The McCarthy Center has proved itself to be an extended family member of the Success Center. As I become a more active participant with the Engage San Francisco (ESF) Initiative, I learn what it takes to cultivate a productive, community-centered, partnership. The level of engagement– sad to say– is stunning. Whether it’s the entire ESF staff attending the bi-monthly community led meetings at the Hayes Valley Community Center, or McCarthy Center staff showing up to lead just one faculty with the same vigor they bring to crowds on their multiple walks around the Fillmore district—the commitment to hearing the community and acting on what’s heard  is evident.

In both spaces I’m still growing and observing. The staffs at both centers have embraced me and challenged my thinking. I’m looking forward to the remainder of this year of service and to further collaborations with the community.