Reacting to inflammatory speech

Published: The California Aggie. June 11, 2017. View here.


While at the Silo, Pete Srivarom overheard a group of individuals vocalizing inflammatory and discriminatory messages. One of the preachers began to personally attack Srivarom on the basis of his ethnicity and sexual orientation.

“He asked me if I was gay and I said yes,” Srivarom, a first-year environmental science and management double major, said. “He said, ‘Oh, were you a child prostitute living in poverty and some young American gay molested you?’ What kind of person does that?”

Michelle Occhipinti, a first-year communications and managerial economics double major, decided to post in the Freshmen Class of 2020 Facebook Group and share her thoughts on how best to react to these potentially hurtful messages. Her post received over 157 comments and 165 reactions.

“Many people were personally targeted and that is not okay, but attacking them back doesn’t help,” Occhipinti said. “They’re not going to change their mind if you call them mean names or if you insult them the same way they insult you. Do something to spread a positive message to counter it.”

Occhipinti’s Facebook post resulted in a slew of separate discussions, some more contentious than others. Srivarom was one of the individuals who commented their disagreement with Occhipinti’s opinions.

“She was saying that we should give respect to him, but he’s not giving respect to us,” Srivarom said. “Saying we should take the high road and attack the idea not the person, but why doesn’t that apply to him?”

UC Davis is one of many colleges nationwide grappling to find the proper response to repugnant speech on campus. Responses by UC Davis students and faculty to the controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ scheduled speech earlier this year included reserving tickets to the event, protesting outside of the reserved building and writing a letter demanding a cancellation. Dr. Jeffrey Weiner wrote an op-ed about reactions to the event, which was ultimately shut down due to safety concerns.

“Now we’ve gotten to the point where we have the regressive left that controls not just this university but every university [and] they don’t allow people they disagree with vehemently to come,” Weiner said. “That’s a real problem, because it teaches students that the response to things that are distasteful is to shut it out. [Instead], you may go to Milo Yiannopoulos’ event, […] walk out and say, ‘What a jerk, but at least I listened.’”

Weiner said he advocates for open dialogue in the face of offensive speech. The UC-wide “Principles Against Intolerance,” which was adopted by the Board of Regents in 2016, promotes fighting “abhorrent” speech with “more speech.” Daniel LaBolle, a first-year wildlife, fish and conservation biology major, also supports open discussion.

“Even if other people’s views are possibly factually wrong, to hear them and understand why they’re understanding the things they’re saying is essential,” LaBolle said. “If you’re going to convince someone and actually really change their mind, you have to first hear their view and then respond to it.”

However, fourth-year history major Elly Oltersdorf said that there is a time for open discussion, but not in response to hate speech.

“When it comes to someone who holds completely open white supremacist views, transphobic views or Islamophobic views, to engage in a dialogue with that is just to validate something that is, at its base, completely irrational and not defensible,” Oltersdorf said. “When people hold views that invalidate the existence of somebody else, then it’s not appropriate to engage in a dialogue with them. Even by stepping into a dialogue with [that] opinion, you are giving it a sense of platform and legitimacy.”

In the case of suppressed speech, both Occhipinti and Weiner warned of potentially dire consequences.

“When people can’t express their opinions, when they can’t express their ideas, that’s when a lot of conflict comes,” Occhipinti said. “It’s very limiting. That’s not the kind of campus that we should be, it’s very hypocritical.”

Oltersdorf was one of the students who was able to infiltrate the interior of the building Milo Yiannopoulos was planned to speak inside of and risk arrest in efforts to help shut down the event. Oltersdorf said they make a personal distinction between what reaction is appropriate in response to individuals informally making inflammatory comments and individuals who are given a platform to make such comments.

“In the case of Milo Yiannopoulos, I am actually of the opinion that the school shouldn’t have allowed him to speak, specifically because he had targeted students,” Oltersdorf said. “There were rumors of him giving out lists of undocumented students. You’re pretty much directly inciting violence against those individuals and putting them up for target. I think the school should have stepped in and I was really proud of our ability to shut him down.”

In the face of deciding how to respond to the presence of such pointed and upsetting speech on campus, first-year undeclared student Adriel Ramos said he believes the university should be doing more to ensure students make informed choices.

“We need people to tell the students […], ‘Let’s take action, but let’s do it in a proper way,’” Ramos said. “We need more knowledge, more education on this situation. A little more push from our faculty. Maybe UC Davis can have students volunteer [to hold] a discussion about it.”

Additionally, Weiner has been pushing for the establishment of more first-year seminars centered around contentious topics which he said would provide a place for students with different mindsets to openly discuss without fear of backlash.

“Making these kinds of talks part of the university curriculum is important,” Weiner said. “There is an opportunity for the faculty to talk to students […about] how is it that you engage with somebody who you feel is antithetical to who you are. You’re 18-22, you don’t even know yet what your political positions are […] so it’s foolish to react in such a strong, emotional way.

At UC Davis, a three-part discussion series open to students was held to discuss the legality of protected speech on campus. The title of the third installment in the series – “Hate Speech, Free Speech, More Speech or Less Speech: The Quad as Free Expression Zone or Safe Space?” – poses an important question.

“Free expression and safe spaces can definitely exist in tandem,” Oltersdorf said. “So many spaces that I’ve been a part of at university where people are trying to be mindful of larger, oppressive systems are full of disagreements […] and yet people find a way to express themselves [in a way] that’s not condemning someone for their existence. Ideally, a university should be a place where we strive to challenge each other but we’re real about the commitment to inclusiveness.”


The efficacy of environment-related activism

Published: The California Aggie. May 27, 2017. View here.


At a recent Fossil Free UC Davis (FFUCD) meeting, the ten students in attendance planned for the next steps in the movement to demand that the University of California (UC) divest from corporations tied to fossil fuels. Spirits and hopes remained high despite the meeting which had occurred a day prior with UC officials who, according to group members, repeatedly deflected questions, and despite the sheer magnitude of the 2.5 billion dollars that UC has invested thus far.

“I just felt like this was a campaign that could really shake up the UC and make a big statement,” said fourth-year evolution, ecology and biodiversity major Cameron Clay. “Right now is a really important time for the UC to step up and make this divestment. It just seemed like such a clear connection: UC claims to be a climate leader and it also has 2.5 billion dollars invested in fossil fuels. It’s time to break that relationship.”

FFUCD’s divestment movement is working in conjunction with Fossil Free groups on other UC campuses and recently four chancellors have come out in support of the movement, including Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter.

On the UC Davis campus, there is an array of politically-active, environment-related groups attempting to effect change. The success of such groups or specific movements can be hard to measure, according to Clay.

“Often a movement will appear unsuccessful because it doesn’t necessarily get its goal, despite a lot of public support and hard work,” Clay said. “For our movement, […if] the UC moved to divest those fossil fuel holdings and never reinvest them, that would be an obvious victory. It is tricky when something can feel like a win and when you can feel defeated despite doing really good work.”

One impact of change-oriented groups can be heightened awareness about a cause. Environmental Justice for Underrepresented Communities (EJUC) is a newer group on campus, formed in Spring of 2016, whose work focuses on increasing awareness of and education about environmental justice. The group has been invited to give educational presentations at Black Family Week and Native American Culture Days.

Yajaira Ramirez Sigala, a second-year sustainable agriculture and food systems and Chicano studies major and the publicity chair for EJUC, said starting the discussion is the “first step towards liberation.” Ramirez Sigala is also an ASUCD senator and she said she has noticed a greater incorporation of environmental justice ideologies in senate discussions since the formation of EJUC.

“It’s not just the few folks who are in EJUC — folks are incorporating it into their dialogue,” Ramirez Sigala said. “EJUC [is] opening a space to have these dialogues about environmental injustices […] in our own communities and our own backyards.”

Recently, the ASUCD Office of Advocacy and Student Representation (OASR) partnered with EJUC for the Flint Water Crisis Learning Demonstration event, in which 112 water bottles – each one symbolizing ten days the city of Flint, Michigan has been without clean drinking water – were displayed near the Quad, wrapped in informational labels alongside educational signs.

“It was supposed to be a very passive demonstration,” said first-year political science major and deputy campus organizing director Parker Spadaro. “We were just trying to raise awareness that it’s still fucking happening, it’s still a huge issue [and] it’s not an isolated incident. Knowing is a great jumping point into getting more involved.”

Incorporating environmental justice into curricula is amongst the list of demands included in a letter EJUC sent to the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Science. The organization has been in contact with the head of the department who has proposed a seminar solely focused on environmental justice – one of the stated demands.

Second-year animal science major Edith Ruiz, the record keeper at EJUC, emphasized the importance of engaging in efforts to effect change.

“Part of our education here at a research institution teaches us that nothing new comes out if you don’t challenge it,” Ruiz said. “If everything stays the same, nothing is going to be improved.”

With the knowledge that action effects change, one success of the three day sit-in FFUCD organized at Mrak Hall was raising awareness, according to third-year ecology, evolution and biodiversity major Seth Strumwasser who is involved with FFUCD as well as Strategies for Education and Ecology Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS).

“Environmental issues are, in my opinion, the biggest issue facing our civilization,” Strumwasser said. “It feels super helpless when you look at the scale of the problem. I can become a vegetarian and I can recycle, but that’s not going to make a difference. Even if our actions are not going to totally solve the problem, I think the symbolism of it is important.”

In terms of agency, Clay said “it’s hard to feel like you have a real impact.” However, he remains hopeful that the actions of FFUCD will bring about tangible change, especially in light of Hexter’s support following student pressure. Ruiz also said she believes change is inevitable given enough student action.

“What a student can do is great,” Ruiz said. “We can do great things, especially when we come together, […] agree on something and we see it as a common issue. If it’s something that we feel strongly about, I do think student voices are a big power that we have. Our voices can be heard.”


Walker Hall: historic building will become a new home for graduate, professional students

Published: The California Aggie. May 18, 2017. View here.


On the “UC Davis Memes for Edgey Teens” Facebook group, Carter Johnson posted a well-known meme template listing the much-anticipated opening of the Memorial Union’s Games Area beneath the category “what we really want” while a sketch of the design for the Walker Hall Redevelopment was classified as “what administrators think students want.” Planned to open in 2019, Walker Hall will soon be the Graduate and Professional Student Center, which Johnson, a second-year applied math graduate student himself, said he is genuinely excited for.

“I’ve been wondering when they were going to do something about the most dilapidated central building on campus,” Johnson said. “If anything, I wish it had been prioritized sooner. In my opinion, the school needs to focus more on the needs of the students it already has before trying to attract a larger population.”

Housing the Graduate and Professional Student Center will be the third repurposing of Walker Hall; originally built for the Agricultural Engineering Department, the building last housed Design and Landscape Architecture facilities. Built in 1927, Walker Hall is a historical structure that has been closed since 2011 due to insufficient seismic preparedness.

According to the 2012 proposal for UC Davis’ now-approved Graduate and Professional Student Center presented to then-Chancellor Linda Katehi, a push for such a center began in 2003. However, Carlos Ruvalcaba, the chair of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and a fourth-year in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering PhD program said support for such a center stems from as early back as 1992.

“Other campuses actually already have graduate student centers,” Ruvalcaba said. “Their rationale is […] if graduate students are more aware of their resources and have space that is outside their lab, then, in theory, they should be more effective educators.”

Currently, there is no designated physical space specifically for graduate students or postdoctoral scholars. Marjannie Eloi Akintunde, the Senior Career Advisor for Career Services for Graduate and Postdoctoral Scholars at the Internship and Career Center who received her PhD in immunology from UC Davis, had access to a lab and a professor while she worked on completing her degree. However, she said there was no designated working space while her husband worked on his PhD in geography.

“A lot of grad students don’t have a home or a place [on campus],” Eloi Akintunde said. “Grad students end up floating around. Especially with all of the social science and humanities grad students, after they pass their qualifying exam, they don’t come back to campus sometimes […] so they’ll lose that community. A lot of them start to feel isolated and that can develop into […losing] your motivation.”

Michael Lairmore, the Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine who works with mostly graduate and professional students, said the center will serve as an important space to promote both social and work-based networking.

“We pride ourselves on interdisciplinary graduate programs at UC Davis [and] one way to promote that […] is to have a space and environment that encourages [the] cross-hybridization of ideas,” Lairmore said. “They really are the workforce that drives the research part of the mission of the university. I think it’s important to show them the respect that they need.”

Presently, overgrown trees have partially hidden the “Engineering” lettering at the front entrance to Walker Hall – named after H.B. Walker, a former chair of the Agricultural Engineering Department – and cobwebs cover the sloping door handles at the front entrance. Amanda Steidlmayer, the Strategic Initiatives Coordinator for Graduate Studies who also serves on the project’s advisory committee, has the blueprints and early sketches of the planned Walker Hall exterior thumbtacked to the walls of her cubicle. According to Steidlmayer, the front side of the building, which faces Hart Hall, will be retained while a wood facade with additional lighting will be added to the back side, which faces Everson Hall.

“The idea is to keep the historic front,” Steidlmayer said. “Inside, it is getting gutted – just because it’s had so many lives. As you’re going by from the Silo to the library you’ll be able to come in and there’s going to be a big courtyard and a walking path.”

According to Steidlmayer, the center will eventually include features such as large classrooms, a multi-purpose room, a child care room and a lactation room. Resources on campus such as the Office of Graduate Studies and the GSA will be relocated to the center.

“We have three graduate preparatory programs – the McNair Scholars Program, the Guardian Professions Program and UC LEADS,” said Elizabeth Lambert, the Marketing and Communications Manager for Graduate Studies. “Right now, they’re all dispersed through different areas on campus, but we’re going to centralize them within the Graduate and Professional Student Center. It’s not just giving the students a home, it’s giving these programs a home too.”

Both Eloi Akintunde and Ruvalcaba managed to stay socially active during their time as graduate students. However, both said they feel graduate students at UC Davis struggle to find a community.

“Having a graduate center specifically designated to grad students can really help some of the students who don’t have a home place,” Eloi Akintunde said. “It would really help students feel like they have a sense of community and, in turn, I think it will help students enjoy their PhD experience more.”

Taranbir Chowdhury: the smiling face of Raja’s Tandoor

Published: The California Aggie. April 30, 2017. View here.


On a busy Thursday afternoon, during lunch hour, a young woman approached the cash register at Raja’s Tandoor and was immediately greeted by the warm, welcoming smile of Taranbir Chowdhury, the establishment’s owner. Chowdhury asked how she was and, after she returned the question, he seemed visibly moved, and clasped her arm appreciatively.

“Everybody raves about his hospitality,” Chowdhury’s son said. “Everybody loves it. It’s just the icing on the cake – on top of the good food and the good vibes.”

At Raja’s, Chowdhury engages with every customer, which keeps him constantly occupied. In addition to managing the restaurant, Chowdhury has a weakened voice due to medical complications; Chowdhury’s son, who declined to have his name appear in this article, spoke on behalf of his bustling father.

On Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google Reviews, Raja’s is predominantly characterized by the hospitality of its owner – even the official logo of Raja’s is a caricature of Chowdhury, fittingly displaying a wide, gracious smile.

Chowdhury grew up in a small town in Punjab, a state in North India which borders Pakistan. Chowdhury’s son said that the appeal of Davis as a place of residence and business is due in part to it being a small town akin to the place in which his father grew up.

One of four children, Chowdhury’s father worked as a police officer in India and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. At a young age, Chowdhury’s son said that his father’s dream was “to come to America,” which, at the age of 32, he did.

“His sister was already living here,” Chowdhury’s son said. “My mom went [and] my dad decided to come here too for the school district for us.”

Around 2011, Chowdhury saw another dream turn to reality after he took over Raja’s Tandoor from a previous family who had owned the business. Raja’s Tandoor translates to “King’s Clay Oven.”

“Purchasing the restaurant and being able to start that up, that was his dream,” Chowdhury’s son said. “He always wanted to be in the restaurant business. He wanted to have the community try what he grew up on and bring the flavors to the local community.”

Though Chowdhury himself does not do any of the cooking, Raja’s uses his mother’s homestyle recipes.

“He’s gradually made it more authentic, like what he had at home,” Chowdhury’s son said. “[In] homestyle cooking, we don’t use so much cream and oil and butter. That’s what he wanted to implement in this business – the same type of food he grew up on.”

Raja’s markets itself as a healthy dining option which is due in large part to the recipes used to make the food.

“It’s healthier than other restaurants because we’re not using MSG, no artificial coloring [and] no artificial flavors,” Chowdhury’s son said. “We’re not commercializing it, it’s homestyle cooking – that’s why it’s healthier.”

The famous all-day buffet, which runs around $7 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., is an attractive option to college students – keeping Raja’s full around the clock. Chowdhury can be spotted from across 3rd street making his rounds to the tables inside and outside on the elevated wooden patio to check in with customers.

The buffet serves 17 options, 13 of which are vegan. Until recently, Chowdhury himself was vegan, but after suffering a stroke within the last year, his doctor recommended that he include more animal-based protein in his diet.

The Raja’s Tandoor Facebook page uploaded a photo of Chowdhury during his first return back to the restaurant after his stroke. The photo received over 140 likes and comments filled with well-wishes and stories.

One anecdote left on the post by a UC Davis student recounted the student’s “accidental dine-n-dash” at Raja’s in the midst of pre-midterm stress. The student returned to pay after realizing his error, and Chowdhury clasped his arm and told him that the student’s chaos “would soon pass, and that the meal was on him.”

The community support shown in Chowdhury’s time of need meant a lot to him, according to his son.

“There were a lot of good comments from people who were concerned,” Chowdhury’s son said. “It was nothing but love, which was nice.”

Chowdhury’s son said it is important to his father to interact with and give back to the community. Raja’s partners with organizations on the UC Davis campus for over 100 fundraisers a year. However, what Chowdhury loves is interacting with students.

“He loves the students, they’re like his kids or grandkids,” Chowdhury’s son said. “It keeps him young, keeps him going.”

Chowdhury’s real family lives in Davis and his first grandchild is on the way. His future plans are “nothing major,” though Raja’s is planning to open a new location in Sacramento to cater to the UC Davis alumni who have settled nearby, according to Chowdhury’s son.

“It’s important to give back and […] bring good food to the community at a reasonable price,” Chowdhury’s son said.

And, in regards to his father, Chowdhury’s son said “he’s the greatest host in town.”

The history of UC Davis Chancellors

Published: The California Aggie. March 19, 2017. View here.


The University of California (UC) Board of Regents unanimously voted on Feb. 21 to select Gary May, a dean at the Georgia Institute of Technology, as UC Davis’ seventh chancellor.

Prior to the creation of the chancellor position, university affairs were managed by the deans of the College of Agriculture and the Agricultural Extension at the University Farm. In 1958, Stanley Freeborn, who had served as the chair of the division of entomology for ten years, was appointed as UC Davis’ first chancellor. According to “Abundant Harvest: The History of the University of California, Davis,” Freeborn was known for his friendly nature and also as the occasional timer for soccer games, due to his love of university sports.

After Freeborn’s retirement from the position in 1959, Emil Mrak, a food scientist and microbiologist, was appointed as the university’s second chancellor. During Mrak’s decade as chancellor, he oversaw the extensive expansion of the university, as the student population grew from 2,600 to 12,000. In addition to his determined attitude, “Abundant Harvest” writes that Mrak was also known for his hospitality and good relationship with the student body.

In 1969, James Meyer took over the chancellor position, where he remained until his retirement in 1987. Meyer, a former dean of the College of Agriculture, is responsible for the renaming to the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“His biggest strength was his very calm approach [and] his very steady leadership,” said Alan Hastings, a distinguished professor of environmental science and policy who has been a faculty member at UC Davis since 1979. “His biggest fault was that, at a time when there were lots of resources, he did not aggressively pursue those for the Davis campus, as opposed to other campuses in the UC system.”

Meyer’s replacement, Ted Hullar, proved to be an extremely different leader than Meyer was. Unlike his predecessors who had previously worked within the university, Hullar served as the chancellor of UC Riverside before he was appointed chancellor of UC Davis.

“One [difficult factor] was having somebody from outside UC Davis who did not understand UC Davis,” said chemical engineering professor Robert Powell, a faculty member since 1984. “There was also a feeling of, […does] this devalue Riverside? People here were just calling all of their friends at Riverside and finding out that they were really happy for him to leave. That was a bad decision.”

Hullar was one of the most, if not the most, widely criticized chancellors among UC Davis faculty members, according to Hastings.

“His was a fairly short and tumultuous reign,” Hastings said. “I think he certainly was somewhat polarizing in a way. There was a sense that he did not do enough planning in order to carry out the programs he was working on.”

According to Powell, under Hullar, research became more monetized. However, Linda Bisson, a professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology and faculty member since 1985, said that Hullar had an additional long-lasting impact.

“I’m a real fan of change agents,” Bisson said. “You have somebody coming, opening doors and windows and [saying], ‘This is what we’re going to do.’ You might not like what they say […but] now there can be a dialogue.”

After almost six years as chancellor, Hullar was transferred by then-UC President Jack Peltason to a temporary job in Oakland. Meanwhile, Larry Vanderhoef was appointed as interim chancellor in May of 1993 and officially named the fifth UC Davis chancellor in 1994.

“Larry was a real nuts-and-bolts budget [and] money guy,” Bisson said. “It was a change. He brought a practicality with him that was, I think at the time, welcomed. Not so visionary, but day-to-day, the place is going to run.”

According to Hastings, Vanderhoef enjoyed interacting with students and would meet informally with student body presidents and faculty members by taking walks with them. Powell, who served as the special advisor to the chancellor from 1996 to 1999, remembered Vanderhoef as having a more holistic perspective than Hullar.

“He was much more in tune with what was going on in the campus,” Powell said. “The year 1990 started the bad budget year, […and] Larry led this budget-cutting exercise that we had to go through. He led the beginning of the recovery from the budget cuts and how that would be structured. He had to play a much more organic role of leading the campus.”

Under Vanderhoef, the main entrance to the campus was shifted to the south side, and his goal to create a world-class performing arts center manifested into a reality with the Mondavi Center in 2002. Powell also said one underappreciated legacy of Vanderhoef’s was the addition of UC Davis to the Association of American Universities.
Vanderhoef retired in 2009 and was succeeded by the university’s first female chancellor, Linda P.B. Katehi. According to Powell, the majority of faculty members strongly supported Katehi throughout her time as chancellor because of her ability to understand “quality research.”

“One top priority [for Katehi] was definitely to increase the research profile of the university,” Powell said. “A priority that came out of necessity was to create a stable financial model for the university. She definitely wanted to increase the international profile of Davis [and] she wanted to increase the national profile of Davis. Definitely a priority for her [was] women in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics].”

However, Katehi came under fire in November of 2011 when campus police pepper-sprayed student protesters under her reign. Ph.D. candidate Amory Meltzer previously served on the Graduate and Postdoctoral Scholar Welfare committee, where he became familiar with the Reynoso Task Force Report that assessed the pepper spraying incident.

“Reviewing some of the Reynoso Reports […] certainly made me very aware of the chancellor’s role or lack of a role,” Meltzer said. “That was my first moment of becoming aware of Chancellor Katehi’s presence, and it certainly wasn’t positive. I think, over the years, until she was removed, that definitely hung over her. I would say that for my part and for most other graduate students, I think she was often a non-presence. She didn’t seem to be part of the community [and] wasn’t directly engaged with students.”

After the incident, Katehi was met with mounting media and student backlash as details came out about her role in the usage of university funds to scrub the internet of photos from the pepper-spraying incident. Katehi also faced charges of conflicts of interest — including nepotism — and acts of poor judgment, which led to her resignation in August of 2016.

While Meltzer saw most students in support of her resignation, Powell said the majority of faculty were in support of Katehi and wanted her to remain chancellor. Elizabeth Picazo, a second-year neurology, physiology and behavior major and ASUCD representative for the Preparatory Education Committee, said tensions continue to run high after Katehi’s resignation, even almost a year later.

“[Her resignation] did leave a lot of grey area,” Picazo said. “It left a lot of anger and distrust of the people who are in charge of student academics and student affairs here. There’s still that distrust [for] a lot of students because that situation had gone on for so long with very little resolution during her time.”

Bisson, who worked closely with Katehi as a member of the Academic Senate, which assists in governing the university as part of the shared governance model, believes Katehi was the chancellor who understood “the heart and soul” of UC Davis the best.

“She had a lot of community support, far more so than I think any of the other chancellors,’” Bisson said. “I think [she] did a lot for the issues on campus — hate crimes, microaggressions, all of those discussions.”

Bisson, Powell, Meltzer and Hastings are pleased with the appointment of Gary May as the seventh chancellor of UC Davis.

“One thing which I think is great is that he’s spent his […] entire academic career at […] one institution, which is a commitment that’s very, very positive,” Hastings said. “He appears to have […] the right kind of personality — somebody who is going to be open, maybe willing to acknowledge different viewpoints and to really listen to the diversity of views across the campus, which is a real challenge. I’m really excited for the future.”

According to Powell, although the same sort of echochamber created during Katehi’s time as chancellor has already started to form around Gary May’s outside income, it is important that the university has an open mind in light of the transition to the new chancellor.

“I think he will bring a lot to the campus,” Powell said. “And we have to be accepting of what he brings.”

The transformation of Wyatt Pavilion Theatre: 110 years of history

Published: The California Aggie. Nov. 2, 2017.


The closing song from The Band Wagon radiated across the arboretum from inside Wyatt Pavilion Theatre. Students in Drama 116 were inside watching the 1953 movie musical which was released almost five decades after the theater inside of which they were sitting was built.

“If we had to represent Davis as a building, I think Wyatt is a great choice,” said fourth-year biological sciences major Teresa Gonzalez. “There’s nothing more ‘UC Davis’ than a converted barn.”

Wyatt Theatre is the oldest building on the UC Davis campus at 110 years old. It was originally incepted as the Judging Pavilion in 1907 and used to judge livestock at the east end of the Quad but, in the 1930s, was moved to where Rock Hall is today. Fred S. Wyatt, the theater’s namesake and special assistant to former Chancellor Emil Mrak, provided the monetary funds needed for the building’s updated interior design and transformation into a theater in 1963, as well as for the structure’s third and final move to its present location near Old Davis Road.

Now, Wyatt Theatre is managed by the Department of Theatre and Dance and is mainly used for theatrical performances; the inaugural performance was Shakespeare’s King Richard II on the quadricentennial of Shakespeare’s birth. Studio 301, a student-run theater company on campus, occasionally uses Wyatt Theatre for their productions, including Seussical the Musical, Gone Missing, Urinetown and Once Upon a Dream of the last few years. According to Gonzalez, who is also the president of Studio 301, the theater is “a very special place.”

“It’s probably the only space in the theater department that [has] its own backstage area,” Gonzalez said. “Sometimes a director will prefer to use this space because it’s a ‘thrust’ stage, and it’s the only thrust we have here [at UC Davis].”

The thrust in Wyatt Theatre is the portion of the stage that extends out into the audience. Wyatt Theatre itself seats about 200 people and is one of the smaller and more intimate theater settings on campus. Mindy Cooper, the Department of Theatre and Dance’s current Granada Artist-In-Residence, will use the thrust for her production of 39 Steps.

“What appealed to me about the Wyatt is [its] thrust,” Cooper said. “The stage [is] in the audience’s lap. I sort of envisioned the piece playing in a 360 degree way, [where] you don’t just look at the stage, […but] the play happens all around.”

In addition to the thrust, Cooper said the characteristics of the space itself will add to the play.

“The Wyatt definitely has a personality [and] that personality will be a factor in this play,” Cooper said. “I’m inspired by the building’s whole story. It just has so much great history in it and you can feel that when you walk in.”

The space was used from 1991 to 2010 by the Integrated Studies Program’s (IST) annual Shakespeare production. James Shackelford, a current professor and former Director of the University Honors Program that had absorbed the IST, has fond memories of this IST course that used the Wyatt Theatre.

“I went to the Spring performance before I took over the program, just as a spectator, and was so impressed by [the building],” Shackelford said. “The talent that these young people had was amazing.”

Shackelford hired now-retired UC Davis lecturer Eric Schroeder every spring quarter to teach the course and stage the production with the IST students, the majority of whom were science- and math-oriented. Schroeder noticed that many of these students had musical talents and sought permission to stage Twelfth Night, which was so impressive that he continued to teach and stage Shakespeare plays in Wyatt Theatre for over a decade. Every year, on the first day of the course, Schroeder would identify his students’ unique talents that could possibly be used for the production.

“I had one person one year who was really good at roller-skating, so we had a roller-skating character in the play,” Schroeder said. “I actually had [a student] bring his bow and arrow to class and [give] us a demo and he was pretty good. We were doing Much Ado About Nothing and I [staged] them [as if] they were supposed to be out at the archery range.”

According to Arts Marketing Specialist Michael French, the Department of Theatre and Dance plans to capitalize on the space to a greater extent in the future.

“There’s a move for us to use [Wyatt Theatre] more, because a lot of people really like the space,” French said. “The Wyatt is pivotal. It is the oldest building [and] it has a unique history […so] we want to maximize it to its fullest potential.”

Coming up at the Wyatt Threatre is The Pillowman, a dark comedy produced by Studio 301, which will run from March 2 through March 5. Cooper’s 39 Steps, a production based on the film by Alfred Hitchcock, will run in May. The play itself is a murder mystery in which only four people play a myriad of characters in the intimate space of the theater.

“It’s funny […] that we’re doing a Hitchcock play [because] Hitchcock was misquoted [as saying] ‘actors are cattle,’” French said. “He actually said ‘actors should be treated like cattle’ – meaning they have to be herded and they have to be directed. We actually are putting actors in a place that used to house cattle.”

The history of advocacy at UC Davis

Published: The California Aggie. February 2, 2017.


At the Memorial Union, the eyes of important global and local activists gaze upon passersby to remind them that UC Davis students of both past and present have felt compelled to advocate for change. “The Unfinished Dream,” a mural at the MU which depicts multicultural art pieces like Greek and Egyptian busts alongside portraits of activists such as Harriet Tubman, was commissioned in 1991 to celebrate diversity and acknowledge the importance of activism.

“We wanted [to convey] that things were not perfect, that one always has to keep agitating and going forward,” said Kim Anno, an artist who co-created the mural. “This idea of a utopian society, where all people sit around a table, is not yet achieved. We wanted to make something that was triumphant.”

UC Davis’ history is deeply characterized by student-led movements. A 1969 protest which confronted then Chancellor James Meyer in regards to the excessive use of police force at People’s Park was attended by his own children. The 1969 March for Peace at Sacramento, organized by UC Davis, was attended by 6,000 to 8,000 people. In 1970, the Rally on the Quad for Vietnam involved the planting of 500 white crosses, symbolizing war deaths, which were subsequently uprooted and carried to then Chancellor Meyer to demand that the university cut ties with the war effort. After the Kent State shootings and the deployment of US troops in Cambodia, two molotov cocktails were thrown at the UC Davis Reserve Officers’ Training Corps building.

Student gathered in the ‘80s and ‘90s to protest against Apartheid in South Africa, the first war in Iraq, sexism and racism and in support of Affirmative Action. In 1989, students protested the presence of Robert Bork, the rejected Supreme Court Justice nominee who opposed federal anti-segregation laws, who came for a university-funded campus event.

“What the demonstration [showed] to the university leadership and the greater community was that people were not going to be silent and let their rights be squashed to protect the rights of others,” said class of ‘93 graduate William Schlitz, who was involved in the protest. “Just because you have your rights and I have my rights doesn’t mean asking for my rights infringes on your rights. I tell people, ‘What the nation is experiencing now, California went through in the ‘80s and ‘90s.’”

Four students in 1990 began a water-only Hunger Strike which lasted six days and called for an investigation into alleged racism in the Spanish Department against native Spanish speakers, the establishment of an on-campus ethnic and cultural center and the increase of full-time ethnic studies faculty members. Andrea Gaytan, one of the four hunger-strikers and now the director of the AB540 and Undocumented Student Center, said that the effect of the strike was greater than the granting of the three demands.

“The whole gist of the protest […] was really the mobilization and awakening of the community,” Gaytan said. “Afterwards, […] we had a humongous coalition for the anti-war movement. When we had the anti-fee hike protest, students and the campus community mobilized faster. We had members of the community and staff and faculty […who] became more widely-known as advocates and allies for students.”

Shortly after the Hunger Strike, the Office of Student Affairs and the Campus Art in Public Places Work Group decided to commission a piece of art that would both celebrate achievements and inspire further advocacy. This piece became “The Unfinished Dream.”

“The demand and the desire to have a mural was part of showing an unfinished dream [for] real equity and international respect and collaboration,” said Miranda Bergman, who co-created the mural alongside Anno. “[The mural] was combatting Eurocentrism in education and also remembering and honoring both students from the school and people throughout history who took that step to stand up for equality.”

Today, Gaytan said she sees a large difference in modern UC Davis student activism versus the activism of 1988 to ‘92, when she was a student. The AB540 and Undocumented Student center she directs is the result of student advocacy.

“Watching the students originally organize and […] write a plan and proposal for this AB540 Center was so different from what my experience had been,” Gaytan said. “It’s been really full-circle. Davis has made a lot of progress, just for Davis, but we’ve made even more progress compared to other universities in California and across the country. I feel extremely proud of what we’re doing now.”

More recent movements include the Occupy UC Davis movement over tuition hikes, during which students were pepper-sprayed by police. Evan Loker, a 2012 graduate who was involved in the Occupy movement, said that this event resulted in a mobilization similar to what Gaytan described after the 1990 Hunger Strike.

“What made Occupy unique from other cycles of political resistance was that it localized these new connections and energies into a particular territory – traditional political actions like marches and pickets taking place alongside micro-political processes […like] building relationships alongside ideologies and strategies,” Loker said. “The UC movement and Occupy shared a set of political concerns, symbols and tactics [which] created a set of common experiences and images that offered many millennials and older folks an entrance into radical politics.”

Just last year, the Fire Katehi movement resulted in the resignation of former Chancellor Linda Katehi. Even more recently, student protests manifested in regards to the highly controversial scheduled appearance of alt-right Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos, who came accompanied by entrepreneur Martin Shkreli via invitation from the Davis College Republicans (DCR).

“We decided to host Milo in order to allow our fellow students the opportunity to hear about ideas, policies and theories that may be entirely alien to their background,” said Deborah Porter, a fourth-year biological systems engineering major and political director for DCR. “We had hoped that liberals alongside conservatives would attend Milo’s talk with the purpose of pondering his ideas, asking difficult questions and promoting UC Davis as a place where we challenge the ideas set before us rather than blindly accepting them.”

2016 graduate Eric Gudz, who provided support and assistance to protesters who led to the cancellation of the event, said he is opposed to the presence of “hatred and bigotry” and campus.

[Not] having the platform for that speech is not the same as losing your right to be able to conduct free speech,” Gudz said. “[I] wanted to show my support and solidarity to resisting and voicing my concerns over what I see [is the] proliferation of hateful and fearful rhetoric that is becoming more […] normalized in our communities. This provides other communities an example of how [they] can be powerful enough to really counter the spread of hate that’s happening and demonstrate that everybody has that ability to be able to […] stand up for what they believe in and what they know is right […] for the community.”

One day after the cancelled speech, Yiannopoulos and Shkreli returned to campus for a free-speech countermarch, during which the 2011 pepper-spraying incident was reenacted using silly string. The “Shkrelopoulos” event is reminiscent of past UC Davis histories, given that it directly referenced recent student movements and was extremely similar in character to speaker-related protests like the 1989 Robert Bork controversy. According to Porter and the DCR, the re-enactment “especially reiterated” their rights.

“Just as the Occupy protesters had a right to be there, so did we. It doesn’t matter the material they discuss, they have a right to peacefully do it,” Porter said.

According to the UC Davis Policy and Procedure Manual, anybody may exercise first amendment rights, including free speech, on all public university grounds. Symbolic structures are permitted at a designated site on the quad meant for “symbolic speech,” but all acts of civil disobedience are not condoned. Though the manual acknowledges that civil disobedience has played a historic role at UC Davis, it is not Constitutionally protected.

For those looking to get involved in the future of activism on campus, Gudz said he recommends that students join established groups and organizations first before launching their own movement.

“Organizing in this era is going to be critical to move things forward,” Gudz said. “A good first place to start is to check in with those pre-existing activism groups. One of the big keys for activism [and] advocacy going forward is that these struggles are intersectional whether we want to realize them or not. The struggles of all these different groups are […] intertwined and they must be treated as such to be able to advance the causes forwards.”

Teaching Togetherness

Published: The California Aggie. January 26, 2017. Viewable here.


After becoming interested in yoga her senior year of high school, fourth-year clinical nutrition major Megan Settles decided to complete the 200 hours of training needed to become a yoga instructor. Settles, who now teaches yoga classes at the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), said the activity has significantly changed her for the better.

“[During] your first sun salutation […] you’ll probably feel a little tight and not super relaxed,” Settles said. “Once you do a million of them, you’re going to feel better. [You will feel] a sense of strength in your body which will [allow] you to feel strength outside of class. Feeling good can bring out […] confidence. It has this domino effect. You feel really powerful and lifted up.”

On and off campus, students and faculty are engaging others in wellness activities as a means to self-improve and create communal bonds. One pioneer of this is Stacey Brezing, the director for the UC Davis Staff and Faculty Health and Wellbeing Program. Brezing and two student assistants use a small budget and pre-existing resources to organize wellness activities for the campus community.

The upcoming Mindfulness Meditation series, a four week class starting January 31 which will be offered at the Mondavi Center, is one such activity aimed at increasing wellbeing.

“Going back to work after meditation, [staff and faculty are] a little more resilient, [and] able to handle more,” Brezing said. “It [also] decreases stress levels.”

Another event, the 4-part Lunchtime Gentle Yoga series, had 50 slots available and sold out in 20 minutes, Brezing said, with another 70 on the waitlist. From this high demand came the inception of the Meditation Ambassadors and Wellness Ambassadors program. The Meditation Ambassadors program trains those interested in meditation so that they can provide meditation to their colleagues, whereas a Wellness Ambassador is a voluntary position in which volunteers promote wellness activities.
“Especially with [the] Wellness Ambassadors, they can do something as simple as passing on the word about what’s happening on campus,” Brezing said. “It’s kind of a grassroots effort to promote stress reduction and wellbeing.”

According to Brezing, data from surveys given after the meditation series in the fall showed that 94 percent of those in attendance felt their health had improved, 97 percent felt their wellbeing had improved and 83 percent felt their work performance improved following the series.

Engaging in wellness activities can be an individual experience, but can oftentimes shape and create new bonds.

Wellness activities can definitely be communal,” Brezing said. “A lot of groups get together and knit, color, play four square, meditate, bring in group exercise instructors, et cetera. The social aspect of these activities can really help motivate people to make long-term behavior changes. It also increases employee morale.”

One drawback in seeking out wellness activities such as yoga classes is the typical cost associated with involvement. Yoga classes at the ARC can range from around $50 to $70. Due to their own passions for yoga and the desire to bring it to students, fourth-year clinical nutrition major Athena LeMay and fourth-year food science and technology major Ana Skomal co-founded the UC Davis Yoga Club.

“The Yoga Club offers free classes and workshops every week,” LeMay said. “We have guest teachers and provide a variety of all sorts of yoga styles. We have worked with sororities […] and the new Manetti Shrem Museum [on their] opening day. The Yoga Club also offers hikes for building community and relationships with fellow yogis.”

With almost 300 “yogis,” or members, on their Facebook page, the Yoga Club’s activities are addressing the student demand. However, Skomal said that they aim to provide more than just yoga.

“The simple mission of the Yoga Club is to provide a safe community for students to relax, meet new people and practice the art of meditation and yoga for free,” Skomal said. “For being a fairly new club, I believe we have engaged many students to start and continue their yoga journey in the midst of the college environment. Each yoga class or workshop is beginner-friendly and all levels are welcome.”

In addition to the Yoga Club, Skomal has sought out additional ways to teach others about yoga. In addition to instructing donation-based yoga classes at a studio in Davis, in which all proceeds went to Wind Youth Services for homeless youth, Skomal also taught mindfulness and meditation classes at the Center Against Sexual Harm in Oak Park.

“I made a commitment to continue on my path of yoga outreach,” Skomal said. [I want to] create a community within the UC Davis campus where yoga is available to all students who are interested in starting and continuing their yoga journey.”

Maria West teaches a variety of yoga classes, including several at the ARC. West taught yoga at the Juvenile Detention Facility in Woodland and says yoga can bring personal growth and much-needed reflection.

“The practice of yoga encourages letting go of thoughts that do not serve you,” West said. “I remind my students [that] this is where [they] are today […and] nothing is permanent, so tomorrow might be different. Tomorrow, [they] just might be more steady in this pose, or not. We’re all trying to do our best. Yoga is also the unfolding experience of humility.”

Both Skomal and West share a passion to use their yoga expertise as a way to give back to the community.

“Initially, it was not my intention to teach, [but] after I taught my first class, I was hooked,”  West said. “There’s something about teaching that feels like a privilege – [a] privilege to serve and give back, to encourage, to break through walls and help someone feel good, not just about their body but about themselves.”

Brezing said that after meditation or other engagements in wellness exercises, workers are invigorated. Similarly, Settles said that over the course of the ten-week period she spends teaching yoga to students at the ARC, she sees a definite change. A change which brings positive results.

“If you can find five minutes to lay or sit and meditate […] just with yourself and try and focus on your breath […], I feel like that would have so many benefits on this campus,” Settles said. “I think an awesome aspect of [yoga] is community. We’re not all like-minded […] but we’re all here, together, in that time, practicing the same thing. There’s such a powerful, almost magical, experience to just feel so connected to so many people.”

Meet the Meat Lab

Published: The California Aggie. January 24, 2017. Viewable here.


As a second-generation butcher, Caleb Sehnert’s roots have been in the meat industry since before he was born. Sehnert works with and teaches students how to humanely slaughter and process animals for consumption as part of his job as the manager of the UC Davis Meat Lab.

“I really, really like my job,” Sehnert said. “It’s a really rewarding and fun job. I get to work with our researchers and facility managers when they bring animals in and help collect certain tissues and data, [I] get to teach the whole process of slaughter and processing to our students and then I get to help our students prepare it all and sell it to our customers.”

Serving a multitude of functions, the Meat Lab is equipped with a kill floor, processing and cutting rooms and classrooms where students in classes such as animal science 49G (ANS 49G) learn the entire process of meat production. A part of the Department of Animal Science, the Meat Lab has been processing and selling fresh, local meat to the community since the 90’s and is the only one of its kind in the UC system.

Krista Leili-Marrazzo, a fourth-year animal science student, is a self-proclaimed butcherette who has a close relationship with the handful of other student workers and interns at the Meat Lab.

“We spend a lot of time together because if we’re not in class, we’re probably at work,” Leili-Marrazzo said. “I’ve learned so much more than I thought I was going to at this job, so that has been really rewarding.”

Similarly, fourth-year sustainable agriculture and food systems major Geoff Koch, who worked at the Meat Lab for about nine months, said his experience was both enjoyable and extremely rewarding.

“I don’t come from a farming background, so it was another way that I [learned] a whole lot about what it takes to get food to our plates,” Koch said. “I had a really excellent experience working at the Meat Lab. I made some really good friends and I got to be involved in a lot of events on campus with the Animal Science Department.”

Yearly, the Meat Lab processes a total of 600 to 800 cows, pigs, goats and sheep, all of which are raised at UC Davis. Weekly sales are Thursday and Friday from 1:00 to 5:30 p.m. in the Cole C Facility. Additionally, meat products are also ordered by restaurants from the community, departments on campus, local butcher shops and, occasionally, the dining commons.

“We do sell to campus catering quite often when they do events,” Sehnert said. “The G Street WunderBar in Downtown Davis [uses] our bacon, ground beef and pastrami on some of their burgers and sandwiches. We also sell lots of carcasses to other local butchers [because] they know they can get fresh, consistent, good animals here.”

In addition to sales, the Meat Lab workers also compete with the five other collegiate meat labs in the state at the annual California Association of Meat Processors (CAMP) competition. Leili-Marrazzo, who was awarded the CAMP scholarship, said that each student is allowed to enter a sausage that they have created which follows the CAMP requirements for that year.  Last February, the UC Davis Meat Lab took home top honors and student-specific awards.

“Each year there’s a different requirement for the sausage, so last year we had to have a pale ale in it […but] this year it’s an Italian sausage,” Leili-Marrazzo said. “I know in past years they’ve had to have an apple ingredient or a weird candy, so this year is not too bad. We’ll spend about a month experimenting and perfecting our own sausages. If you win the award, [then] something you invented won.”

Last year, second-year managerial economics student Denelle Flake was awarded grand champion for her sausage, “The Bangkok Banger.”

“The annual convention provides great networking opportunities with potential employers and fellow college students,” Flake said. “It opens your eyes to the many components of the meat industry.”

The Meat Lab sales room is covered with plaques, noting the many achievements from students of the past and present. However, the most important factor to workers at the Meat Lab is that the livestock is cared for and eventually slaughtered in as a humane way as possible. Sehnert said that most people are not aware that an inspector from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is present for every slaughter.

“All these animals are very well taken care of at our facilities,” Sehnert said. “Our inspectors are always complimenting us on how healthy our animals are, so we’re pretty proud of that. Without humane handling, if you’re not handling the animals properly, you’re going to have a poor product.”

Involvement at the Meat Lab, in classes such as ANS 49G, allows students to receive a hands-on interaction with the entire meat production process. Leili-Marrazzo said she thinks that the opportunity for hands-on learning clears away misconceptions about the meat processing industry.

“I think it’s cool for students to see that everything is done very humanely and the animals [are] really taken care of beforehand and even during the slaughter process,”  Leili-Marrazzo said. “I like [for] students to have that realization of, ‘Oh, this isn’t such a terrible industry and the animals aren’t suffering.’”

Student workers at the Meat Lab are often working while ANS 49G students use the facilities for class. Koch said that while he worked to process meat, students in classes would observe and absorb practical information.

“We get the opportunity to teach by showing what we know,” Koch said. “I got the opportunity to relay the knowledge I had in the short time I was there to some students, but I was also learning myself. You learn by experience.”

According to Koch, every Thursday and Friday when the Meat Lab is open for business, the lines stretch out the door. Sehnert said there are dedicated customers that come every week, rain or shine. But for Sehnert, the Meat Lab is not about profit.

“We’re not really here to make money or lose money,” Sehnert said. “Everything that we sell or produce here is a byproduct of teaching and research.”

Additionally, Leili-Marrazzo said she thinks many students are not aware the Meat Lab exists.

“It’s on campus, it’s so close and I think more people should know about it,” Leili-Marrazzo said. “It’s a nice way to get really local and fresh meat and it’s very humanely slaughtered and processed and we’re really proud of what we do. It’s like the hidden gem of Davis.”

Hart Hall: A Hearty History

Published: The California Aggie. November 27, 2016. Viewable here.


Newspaper clippings displaying images of advocates including Malcolm X and Angela Davis and articles documenting UC Davis protests adorn the walls of George H. Hart Hall. The hall is included in the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the earliest-constructed buildings on UC Davis’ campus.

“If someone just walks through, I don’t know if they pick up on [a] vibe, but it’s here for sure,” said Veronica Passalacqua, the curator for the C.N. Gorman Museum currently housed in Hart Hall. “People in this building are extremely passionate about their ideals.”

Hart Hall was originally known as the Animal Science building since it housed the Animal Science Department — the only department of its kind in the UC system. The building was renamed in 1983 to its present title in dedication to George H. Hart, a former chair of the Department of Animal Science who helped bring it to international fame.

Hart Hall is currently home to the ethnic studies as well as other departments and programs including American studies, the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, Gender, Sexuality and Women’s (GSW) studies and Human and Community Development.

Asian American Studies professor Sunaina Maira credits student activist movements to the creation of ethnic studies programs at UC Davis. Both Maira and Chicana/o studies professor Natalia Deeb-Sossa led the creation of the UC Davis Race Projectwhich hangs in the hallways of Hart Hall. Showcasing a culmination of images and copies of Third World Forum newsletters, the project displays a history of social struggles and is a prominent feature of the building.

“The Race Project document[s] the history of the [UC Davis] student movements,” Maira said. “We wanted to […] create an archive and also a public exhibit that would try to educate the campus community about the long history of activism [at UC Davis, which] is not very well-known. Davis was actually […] a really important [place] for […] social struggles and student movements from the 1960s and ’70s on, and those movements led to the creation of ethnic studies programs that are housed in Hart Hall today.”

Additionally, Nicki King, chair of the Department of African and African American Studies housed in Hart Hall, said that a similar exhibit will be opening during Winter Quarter.

“The [African and African American Studies] Department, along with the other ethnic and cultural studies programs in Hart Hall, will be sponsoring an upgraded Third World Forum exhibit,” King said. “The concepts of equity, social justice and empowerment are important for the advancement and recognition of all underrepresented groups, and we want our students to understand that there is a strong historical precedent for their involvement in these causes.”

After an $8.9 million renovation in 1992, departments such as Native American Studies (NAS) moved into Hart Hall as well. The NAS Department is one of only two departments of its kind in the country that offer graduate programs.

“We’re the only [department] anywhere that offers a hemispheric perspective to the study of indigenous peoples,” said Inés Hernández-Ávila, NAS professor. “[This] approach to the study of indigenous peoples was central to our program from the beginning. It was the vision of one of our founders, Jack Forbes; he truly believed in this perspective — it is his legacy to us.”

Hart Hall is also home to research studies programs including the Self-Esteem Across the LiFespan Lab (SELF Lab), which researches the influences and factors related to self-esteem.

At the head of the SELF Lab is Kali Trzesniewski. Trzesniewski is an associate cooperative extension specialist in the Department of Human Ecology, who works with both undergraduate and graduate students, including Michelle Harris, a sixth-year graduate student of self-esteem and personality development in the Human Development Ph.D. program. Harris said she enjoys working in Hart Hall because it has a sense of home and community. She helps to conduct research, design surveys and publish data.

“Our most recent paper […]  is validating a new survey that we created that can measure global self-esteem,” Harris said. “This new survey […simplifies] existing surveys so kids can understand them a little better, and we found that their responses are reliable and valid. [The] survey works and it can be administered across the lifespan.”

Another noteworthy feature of Hart Hall is the C.N. Gorman Museum, founded in 1973. The museum, which displays contemporary Native American and Indigenous artwork, has been housed in Hart Hall since 1992 and has displayed over 200 exhibits. It is named after Navajo artist Carl Nelson Gorman.

“[C.N. Gorman] was really inspired by the students [who] were here,” Passalacqua said. “He soon amassed quite a big collection very quickly, [and] because he had this collection […] the university officially dedicated it as a museum in his name. We’re a university museum and we’re dedicated to teaching and research, but […] there’s no other venue like ours until you get to Arizona and New Mexico.”

The C.N. Gorman Museum’s next exhibit in January is entitled ‘Protest and Prayer’ and will display photographs of protests including Standing Rock and the Idle No More Movement. The exhibit fits into the air of social justice and advocacy evident in Hart Hall. Hernández-Ávila, who also worked as co-director of the UCD Social Justice Initiative, said she hopes people associate Hart Hall with social advocacy.

“I teach what matters to me,” Hernández-Ávila said. “I hope that the way that I teach [and] the way that I carry myself shows all students that  […] I want to contribute to awareness, consciousness, social consciousness [and] an understanding of social justice in a way that is inclusive of everyone. I think most of my colleagues in this building do the same thing.”

King, who has worked in Hart Hall for a number of years, said that the building’s location signifies what it represents.

“I have always felt that its location, right on the Quad and in the physical ‘heart’ of the campus spoke volumes about our commitment to be a vital part of the life of the university,” King said. “I can look out of my office window and see every demonstration on the quad, so it puts us right in the middle of what the students are thinking and feeling, especially about issues related to social justice.”

Although the departments in Hart Hall function separately from one another, Hernández-Avila said that faculty members from the ethnic studies departments, as well as the American studies and GSW studies departments, try to stand with and support one another.

“Historically, we’ve always worked in solidarity with each other,” Hernández-Avila said. “If one of the programs needs support from the other, we usually come forward and support them. I like the idea that the name of the building is Hart, because I think of it as the other, h-e-a-r-t.”