Features

Long-form investigative articles covering people, events and issues that affect the student body. If you have an idea for us to cover, contact us at [email protected]

Lending a Helping Hand

It is easy to forget that there is a Third World country a few miles south of us, where living conditions are much different and health care is not an option for most people. Just south of Ensenada, however, lies a small medical clinic that UCSD students organize and run free of charge. In March, I went down with a UCSD group called Alpha Epsilon Delta to document the work that they do south of the border. Exam: A student is shown here guiding Yuvaire Elizabeth Marquez through the process of reading an eye chart. AED is a national honors pre-medical society that UCSD became a part of two years ago, and consists of roughly 300 pre-med students. Though they do many things to educate themselves about the medical field (including organizing the first UCSD pre-med group forum), the main endeavor of AED at UCSD is the medical clinic. AED shares the clinic with another pre-med group on campus that is called the Flying Sams, both of which try to go down one Saturday per month. They bring doctors with specializations that include pediatrics, women’s care and general practice. The patients they get depend on the specialization of the doctor. The students walk the patients through step-by-step. They welcome the patients in and provide the preliminary care, which involves asking the patients what their problems are, taking vital signs such as blood pressure and pulse, and staying with patients until the doctor is done with them. The students do as much as they possibly can but never anything they are not trained for. They treat patients until there are no more to treat, which is usually around 10 to 15 patients per day, though there has been an increase since the beginning of the year as more people learn about the program. Vital: AED president Cal Aboulhson takes the pulse of Luis Fernando Marquez. The students take vital signs of the patients and lead them through a rigorous medical examination. Volunteering at the medical clinic is educational for the students because they get hands-on experience that many feel is not available on this side of the border. Being able to walk the patients through each step, working with the doctors and asking them questions exposes students to many important aspects of medical and patient care. The patients who come to the clinic for treatment are much different than patients you see in the United States, according to Ethan Egan, current officer for campus affairs and future president of AED. “”People down there don’t go to a doctor unless they seem to really need it,”” Egan said. When the group went down in November, about 10 of the roughly 15 patients had serious problems. One of those patients was a baby who was extremely malnourished and had severe breathing problems. “”You could just hear this baby trying to gasp for air,”” said Asal Shoushtari, vice president of AED. It turns out that the baby had severe bronchitis as well as a bacterial infection, which prevented her from being able to absorb food into her body. Fortunately, they were able to treat the baby. “”At the end of the day, to see the relief on the mother’s face was really nice because she had gone to so many doctors and finally someone was telling her what was wrong,”” Shoushtari said. Amanda Lamond, who is in charge of running the clinic, once dealt with a woman who had breast cancer and a pain in her spine that they thought might be a sign that the cancer had moved there. They were lucky to have found a place nearby that was able to give her X-rays, which Lamond then took to the doctor. “”I was shaking when I went into the room with the X-rays,”” Lamond said. When she informed the woman that the cancer hadn’t moved, the lady started crying and thanked Lamond profusely. “”I will never forget that,”” she said. Working at the clinic has really touched the students. It has been a learning experience, not only about health care and medicine, but also about the conditions people live in elsewhere in the world. “”I am gaining an understanding of what health care is like in a Third World country … it’s very primitive,”” Lamond said. “”They don’t have the same opportunities that we do here.”” The locals are very welcoming to the group, according to AED. “”The people down there are so warm and genuine and happy that we’re here to help them,”” Egan said. Once, a lady was so grateful that she brought tamales for everyone. “”These people don’t have much money, and for them to do something like that is very powerful,”” Shoushtari said. AED member Nick Athanasiou was happy to do the work. “”We really are making a difference,”” Athanasiou said. “”We are making this possible for them, and that’s really gratifying.”” The group gets along very well with each other and has become like a family. They are able to work well together, even when there is a lot going on. “”It’s an example of how students can work together and achieve something together,”” Shoushtari said. This has been an integral year for the clinic, as it is the first year they have worked in Ensenada. At the beginning of the year, they moved from Tecate to their current location because the facility in Tecate was not large enough to hold a general practitioner clinic. They are still growing, trying to get more medicine, more doctors and be of more service to the people who need care. AED’s main problem is finding doctors to go to Mexico with them. They currently have two doctors who are willing to come down, but they desperately need more. The doctors are ecstatic about working down there and helping the people out — it is an enriching experience for them as well. AED is planning to create a presentation to show at hospitals to get more doctors involved, and hopefully the number of doctors will increase next year. “”We are all looking forward to the day when we can come back [as doctors] and help out,”” Egan said. fe ...

Horoscopes

Aries (March 21-April 19) Over the next few days, Aries, close relatives or friends may present new career plans or financial proposals. After Wednesday, romantic tensions increase: Expect lovers or long-term romantic partners to be delightfully affectionate and seductive. Don’t disappoint, Aries: Loved ones now need your special attention and romantic focus. Taurus (April 20-May 20) Social belonging, private attractions and subtle group dynamics are accented this week, Taurus. Use this time to expand your social circle and foster new intimacy with loved ones, Taurus: You won’t be disappointed. Later this week, a close relative may require unusual business or financial advice. Long-term security or workplace reputation may be key issues: Be helpful. Gemini (May 21-June 21) Career or financial risks are promising this week, Gem: Although relations with authority figures may have been recently strained, expect new assignments and revised duties. Go slow, Gem: Romantic indecision and vague social promises will be a theme for the next four weeks. Cancer (June 22-July 22) Early this week, partnerships and written agreements may require extra examination, Cancer. Don’t let small details slip by unnoticed. After Wednesday, watch also for unexpected social invitations or family gatherings. Someone close may now be frustrated by powerful feelings of isolation. Offer guidance, Cancer: Your acceptance and social optimism may now help others to resolve past disappointments. Leo (July 23-Aug. 22) Educational projects and past group assignments may require unusual social decisions this week, Leo. Over the next few days, expect previously forgotten duties or postponed deadlines to demand added attention. Late Thursday, a fresh romantic attraction will be compelling: New friendships or short-term affairs are now highly favorable, Leo. Enjoy! Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) Long-term relationships and deep emotional commitments may feel mildly strained early this week, Virgo. Don’t be distracted: For the time being, loved ones may be presenting a more negative view of relationships than is necessary. After Friday, letters, messages and unique phone calls may also be accented: Expect rare communications from forgotten friends or distant relatives. Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 23) Before Thursday, a romantic flirtation may cause minor tensions in a long-term relationship, Libra: Expect lovers or marital partners to now be highly sensitive to social triangles or newly revealed romantic information. Little of this can be avoided: Pace yourself and wait for others to resolve past doubts and social regrets. After Friday, key money documents may require fast changes. Pay close attention to time commitments or long-term expectations, Libra: Don’t hesitate to take quick action. Scorpio (Oct. 24-Nov. 21) Social messages and revised invitations may create unexpected tensions early this week, Scorp: Before Wednesday, watch for friends, relatives or loved ones to require extra support. Respond quickly to the needs and observations of others, Scorp, but reserve judgment: Before mid-June, social promises and planned events will be easily changed. Avoid emotional triangles and mildly unethical flirtations, if at all possible, Scorp: Romantic passions are now highly unpredictable. Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) Romantic gestures and social invitations may be difficult this week, Sage: Expect loved ones to be unusually critical of new friends. Before Thursday, both friends and lovers may publicly challenge the ideas or social needs of others. Don’t over react, Sage: Private doubts or a complex emotional history between friends may be at issue. Next week, group events or planned activities will bring new relationships into your social circle, Sage: Remain patient and watch for valuable opportunities. Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) Before mid-week, Cap, romantic celebrations and private social events are intriguing: Watch for loved ones to openly discuss controversial plans, rare ideas or long-term emotional goals. Some Capricorns may now experience the rapid expansion of a new relationship. If so, Cap, expect a fast wave of social introductions and romantic speculation to also arrive. Later this week, recent financial promises may require quick revisions: Minor debts, misplaced documents and forgotten bills are accented. Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) Social risk and unexpected family discussions may be a theme over the next few days, Aquarius: Watch for friends and relatives to now compete for your attention or issue unusual social ultimatums. Key concerns may involve business schedules versus home obligations or creating extra time for private family events. After Wednesday, romantic attraction also sharply increases, Aquarius: Expect new overtures of admiration and affection from a usually shy or reserved loved one. Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) Quick reversals are accented over the next few days, Pisces: Before Thursday, expect vague social promises and late cancellations. Long-term friends and colleagues may now be feeling introspective or forgotten by the group. Do your best to improve the social outlook of others this week, Pisces: Friends and workmates may now need extra encouragement to change negative habits. Later this week, a past financial restriction will be lifted: Thoroughly document all new debts and partnerships. If Your Birthday is this Week: Next month’s solar eclipse may dramatically change your romantic and social outlook. After June 21, many Geminis will begin an almost three-year long period of deep emotional change in all close relationships: Key issues may involve freedom versus restriction, outdated expectations and/or letting go of past differences. By late September, long-term relationships that are intended to maintain a permanent role in your life will greatly expand: All else will fade. Before mid-November, single Geminis can expect several passionate new proposals. A vibrant and rewarding few months, Gem: Enjoy! ...

Students Get Entrepreneurial

Two UCSD sophomores have created a unique Web site that helps students selling and buying used books to find each other online. Jeremy Jung and Jordan Brinkman, roommates and co-founders of StudentListings.com, saw a need on campus for a simple and cost-effective way for buyers and sellers of books to find each other. A little over a month ago, Jung and Brinkman were talking about the flyers that they always see posted outside classrooms and in bathroom stalls that advertise students’ books for sale. “”All the tabs at the bottom were always ripped off,”” Brinkman said. “”It’s ridiculous.”” The solution was simple. StudentListings.com is an online medium for students to buy and post books for sale. Contrary to other sites of this kind, such as the online bookstore ecampus.com, there is no risk involved. Posting books for sale is free and sellers can set their own prices. The Web site requires only a five percent surcharge from each sale. Since the exchange can be done in person, there are no shipping costs or taxes. For these two entrepreneurs, creating the site was a challenge, but a fun one. “”It was more work than we originally thought,”” Jung said. “”New challenges kept popping up.”” The entire process took the two computer science majors a month and a half. Designing the Web site took the bulk of their time. Both partners have had extensive experience in computer programming. Jung’s resume includes work at Microsoft as both a software test engineer and a software engineer. Brinkman has worked for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on a project called the Human Energy Saver, a tool for planning more energy-efficient homes. “”I had a lot of fun creating the site,”” Jung said. “”It was the business aspect that was quite an experience.”” The process of creating and registering their business was done entirely over the phone and through the mail. “”It took more time to actually figure out which forms to fill out than it did to process them,”” Brinkman said. Indeed, there were many details to cover, such as getting a business license, registering with the Internal Revenue Service and registering StudentListings.com as a legal business name. Jung and Brinkman posted their site on a separate location, http://www.Readyhosting.com, to ensure reliability and accessibility at all times. The service that their company provides is not restricted to UCSD students, but they’re only marketing to this university. In theory, students from different universities could still use the service to post and buy books by simply exchanging them in the mail. There was very little financial risk involved for the two students. “”There is some start-up capital, but compared to a brick-and-mortar business, it’s minimal,”” Jung said. Aside from bank fees, legal fees and processing fees for forms, the major investment was time. “”We’ve definitely put a lot of time into it, but it’s been a great experience so far,”” Brinkman said. They both feel that it will be worth it in the end. “”If it all works out, then we’ll be very happy,”” Jung said. In talking with their friends and fellow students, Jung and Brinkman have received positive feedback on their idea. Registering on http://studentListings.com is simple, requiring basic information such as your name, e-mail address, user name and password. Books for sale are organized by class, department, condition and price, all for the buyer’s convenience. “”As far as we’ve looked, we haven’t found a service with the same or cheaper prices,”” Brinkman said. The two roommates have found working together to be a positive experience. “”It’s nice to have a small company because you can just run to your partner and make a corporate decision right there,”” Jung said. Jung and Brinkman have heard of similar business ventures going on at UCSD, but for the most part, they seem unorganized. For others thinking about creating their own online business, Jung and Brinkman suggest planning to spend a lot of time on the design of the Web site, as this was the area that required the greatest amount of time and effort. “”Come up with an idea, design it, implement it, and you’re done,”” Brinkman said. After testing and perfecting their site’s design, Jung and Brinkman project minimal need for daily upkeep. Also, designing and ordering advertising materials takes time. StudentListings.com plans on using word-of-mouth as its main form of advertising, coupled with T-shirts, pencils and flyers. “”We just want to get the word out because we provide a great service that people should know about,”” Brinkman said. ...

Supreme Court Ignored Public Sentiment in Its Ban of Medicinal Pot

Recently the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on marijuana usage, arguing that the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 leaves no loopholes for medicinal marijuana usage, even in doctor-prescribed cases. The ruling’s impact on California law will be undoubtedly widespread — 56 percent of this state’s voters approved 1996’s medical marijuana initiative, also known as the Compassionate Use Act and Proposition 215. Medicinal marijuana clinics took root in various California cities as a result of Proposition 215, and the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative, in particular, became a prominent player in the tug-of-war this initiative ignited between state and federal law — the federal government sparked the soon-to-be Supreme Court case in 1998 when it began seeking an injunction against the Cooperative. Several thought-provoking and sometimes disturbing circumstances surround the United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative decision. First, consider the overlap in jurisdiction that inevitably exists here. Federal judges, who are well-schooled in law, not medicine, have eliminated the ability of doctors, who have years of training and experience in various medical fields, to prescribe marijuana to their ailing patients. It is highly unlikely that Americans turn to their lawyers when they are ill and in need of sound advice as to what sort of treatment might cure their sickness. Here, the court has taken it upon itself to serve as every American’s physician, yet the justices’ areas of expertise reside in a far different domain than that of the physician. In short, the court has left no room for doctors to engage in an individual-based interpretation of needs. Furthermore, consider the freedoms with which doctors may prescribe other drugs, such as morphine and valium, even though these are considered rather addictive, longer-lasting and generally stronger than marijuana. It is ironic that doctors are trusted to divvy out these intense narcotics to pain sufferers or panic attack victims, yet the justices feel that AIDS and cancer patients tolerating any number of painful, unbearable conditions may not be trusted to truly need marijuana’s effects or really deserve them. It seems almost laughable that the justices are allowing surgery patients continued intravenous access to opiates while denying the chronically ill access to a drug that they — and their doctors — claim is equally essential to their comfort. Also worth consideration is the 1980s-style ideology espoused by this ruling: It states “”Drugs are bad.”” However, America’s half-assed war against drugs is simply a dead topic, especially now that we have elected a former cocaine addict as president. More importantly, drug usage is considered “”bad”” or deviant only because it has historically been correlated to violent criminal activity. Labeling drugs as the cause of violent crime, and then launching a campaign against medical marijuana (which users argue is one of the most calming, mellowing drugs available) is a lamely constructed, roundabout way of throwing stones at high crime rates. While it is true that violent crime may accompany drug use, and it is agreed that fighting violent crime is a worthy cause, it is not true that all drug use instigates or accompanies criminal behavior. Thus, it is not logical that banning access to medical marijuana will have any effect upon the fears that lay at the heart of the Supreme Court’s decision and at the heart of most bans on drug usage — fears of violent crime. While it is acknowledged that this point might be too large a pill for most readers to swallow, at the very least, the unanimous ruling should present this question for discussion: Is the court removed from public opinion when it interprets the law, as was intended? It may be argued that the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative ruling proves that the court is isolated from public pressure, as it overruled medical marijuana usage even though Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington all have approved such laws. However, it seems that America’s high court ignores public sentiment sometimes, but not all the time, and that its isolation from the outside world seems to depend on the nature of the case being heard. ...

Students Practice Their Crafts

Nestled next to the Student Center among the eucalyptus groves lies the UCSD Crafts Center. Inside its walls, jewelry is crafted while pottery wheels spin into the night. The glass blower heats a small bit of glass to hundreds of degrees, allowing it to be blown into fantastic shapes. Heating: Matt Evans heats up his bit of glass to hundreds of degrees Farenheit in order to make it workable. Behind the Crafts Center, the rhythmic pounding of metal sounds as students practice blacksmithing. At the same time, golden sparks shower the area around the welder as he joins two pieces of metal together. The Crafts Center has students of all ages. Many UCSD students find that it is an enjoyable outlet for their artistic abilities, as well as an excellent break from their intense studies. The upcoming spring craft sale is the culmination of students’ work from the past quarter. Students will be selling their art pieces June 5 through June 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Crafts Center. Sculpting: Roberta Cruz plays around with her clay, getting her hands dirty and having fun at the same time. For more information on the Crafts Center, call (858) 534-2021, or visit its Web site at http://www-crafts.ucsd.edu. ...

SpotLight

Car Show: Sgt. Lorimor shows Shora Mobin everything she wanted to know about a Light Armored Vehicle (LAV-AD) at Thursday’s Revelle Car Show in Revelle Plaza. ...

An Encounter Leads to Personal Awareness

From time to time, we have all asked, “”Who am I?”” in a desperate search for identity, both in terms of cultural makeup and personality. In a world where national barriers are quickly falling down, globalization is picking up momentum and marriage between people of different ethnicities is on the rise, another question some people may ask is, “”What am I?”” Poet and writer Paisley Rekdal addresses these questions in her book, “”The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee.”” A nonfiction work about Rekdal’s own experiences, the book examines how a person of mixed heritage is viewed through the eyes of native Chinese, Koreans and Japanese people. Rekdal herself is mixed; her mother is Chinese-American while her father is Norwegian. However, she looks almost entirely white. Rekdal’s duality is set against the duality with which she examines her own identity: the micro sense of self-analysis and the macro sense of how the world views her. Rekdal humorously writes on her travels in China, Korea, Japan and the Philippines and critically explores how people in each nation view her. At the end of the book, she comes to a conclusion about ethnicity, about who she is, what she is, and likewise helps us come to our own conclusion. What is most memorable for me is that Rekdal does so through a compassionate and humorous lens, setting her book apart from other, drier, critical ethnic studies literature. She unabashedly retells anecdotes, whether embarrassing or personal. But because of this, the reader’s attention is captured and keeps him reading, even if the book is used in an Asian ethnic studies course or an Asian-American literature course. The book starts off with what the title implies: the night Rekdal’s mother met Bruce Lee. Her mother, still a teen-ager at the time, was working in a restaurant. While the introduction goes on and describes the situation in which her mother met Lee (I’m going to skip it and let you laugh about it yourself). The story humorously continues with Rekdal’s experiences living in China with a group of foreign students. It also talks about her hearing what they think about Asians, living with a conservative Japanese family, teaching English in South Korea, her travels in the Philippines and even in her own bedroom. Again, the narrative shifts back and forth between her own developing views on her identity and how the world views her. Readers are given the chance to witness how she comes to her resolution on identities and how she comes to terms with herself. I am purposefully holding back on much of the detailed descriptions of “”The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee.”” Moreso than with other books, to even hint at what transpires in this book is to give away the meaning of it: how to view oneself. While Rekdal does come to a conclusion on who and what she is, the book must be read on a personal level and the reader must come to his own conclusions. In essence, it is a book that must be enjoyed selfishly. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Asian-American literature and ethnic studies. It takes a different approach to exploring Asian identities and ethnic identity, filled with smiles and laughter. “”The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee”” will keep the reader interested, yet still provide the critical analyses that are found in similar literature. Buried beneath the humor and embarrassing moments are the opinions expressed in many Asian ethnic studies courses on racial and ethnic identities. “”Perhaps I am afraid to become as my appearance suggests — ‘merely white’ — because then I have nothing to distinguish myself,”” she writes, looking at her own identification as white and what it means to be white in relation to other races. If you’re an ethnic studies major, you know exactly what she is referring to. “”The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee”” is a fantastic book that critically examines race and identity in the 21st century, where people of mixed heritage are more and more common. It looks at the same old beliefs of racial analysis through the lens of humor and anecdotes, leaving the reader with a smile on his face, while nodding his head in understanding.”” ...

Bearing Questions: Advice on Current Issues

Good fellows, I greet you during the continuance of this great experiment. For the remainder of the quarter, I will attempt to provide you with spiritual and divine guidance, drawn not from the stars, but from the ancient Chinese Oracle, the I-Ching. I undertake this endeavor with the humblest reverence for Fu Hsi, the originator, respect for all the interpreters after him and with sincerest hopes that my labors may be of benefit to you. If you wish to delve further into the Oracle than I am able to here, there are several good volumes available at Geisel and numerous online resources. Feel free to contact me at [email protected] for guidance, or with any question I can ask of the Oracle for you. For the eighth week of the UCSD spring quarter, beginning Monday, May 21, I will continue last week’s inquiry and explore one more. You asked me: Dear Zopyra, every time spring rolls around, I get very nervous about my housing situation. On top of finishing this school year, I have to find a place to live for the next. What can I do? I asked the Oracle: “”What is the best course of action to secure housing in the San Diego Area for next year?”” In response, I received Hexagram 8, the Kua of Holding Together, with an old broken line in the first and second place, both of which will soon become solid and produce Hexagram 60, the Kua of Setting Limitations. This immediately identifies the topic of the inquiry as deserving of careful and conscientious attention. Not only has the Oracle provided a detailed response, it has begun with a judgment that strongly urges active self-examination. Entering into group housing will be highly fortuitous this year for those who do so with great care and caution. Danger comes not from duplicity on the part of potential housemates or landlords, but from within. If you arrange group housing with any devious or hidden motives, great misfortune will befall you. As ever, the I-Ching Oracle provides guidance for the present moment. As with any book of wisdom, it is filled with excellent life lessons, but the literal meaning of the Chinese title, “”The Book of Changes,”” indicates that the Oracle works by revealing the most vital of its lessons and wisdom for the context of the particular moment in which we inquire of it. In this case, the Oracle paints a picture of a group of people just beginning to gather around a leader and predicts good fortune to come. If you can gladly join a group in pursuing housing for next year, do so with haste. Make yourself an ally of the group leader in the argumentative process of finding housing by knowing yourself and your limits well. Communicate clearly and then allow the situation and the group to work things out. This last instruction is drawn from the second half of the judgment, Hexagram 60, or Setting Limitations. The groups that will prevail in the search for good housing in San Diego will be those with leadership. This is not a good year for unbalanced households, for excesses of drinking or studying. A leader who can provide balance and moderation among the group will reap great rewards for herself and all those around her. You asked me: “”I’m too stressed to figure this out for myself — should I drop this class and take a ‘W’?”” The Oracle cannot tell you what to do, only how a certain thing may be done and what to expect from doing it. I asked: “”How should students decide whether to drop a class and receive a ‘W’?”” I received another complex response, this time Hexagram 44, Meeting with old solid lines in the second and fifth places, which will both soon become broken, producing Hexagram 56, The Traveler. As you might suspect, the emphasis of this judgment is on logistical details of who and when, much more than why. The first Hexagram, Meeting, can also be called The Return of The Dark Force, and does not describe a gathering or summit, but rather the arrival of a potentially devastating temptation. This may be the slothful desire to avoid work by dropping a class. Or, if you took on extra classes for pride or other unhealthy motivations, this earlier unbalanced decision may be coming back to haunt you. Which part of you wants to drop and which part wants to persevere? Have you asked others for advice? Some of these motives and some of these people are strong and some of these are weak. You must decide which is which. It may take strength to finish the course, or strength might be required to admit that you are overburdened. If you follow the path of strength, the Oracle assures me that you will prevail. The Oracle has also provided clear wisdom for the timing of your decision: It must be soon. The arriving Hexagram 56, The Traveler, points out that whether you drop or persevere, you must move from your current moment of indecision to one of resolve. If you follow the path of strength, this movement will bring you face to face with difficulty. You are like the judge arranging punishment for the criminal. A prompt decision may be wise or foolish; a firm decision may be harsh or lenient. But delay and facilitating back and forth is always cruel. Do not spend the next few weeks torturing yourself with this decision. Identify the weak or evil inclination; have faith that you are strong enough to contest it and do so. ...

This Year Has Had Many Enriching Experiences that Will Last a Lifetime

Well, here it is: my last Editor’s Soapbox as the features editor of the Guardian. I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on this year at UCSD. In retrospect, this has been a solid sophomore year for me that followed an enviable freshman run. The year has had its ups and downs, but has made me a better person overall. (I know this sounds really sappy, but allow me to get nostalgic and mushy for a few lines.) Coming into this year, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I was living with three other guys in an on-campus apartment. For the first time in my life, I was one of the people in charge of maintaining a domicile, including cooking and cleaning. That in itself has brought about some interesting situations. I remember that after I had been in the apartment for just two days, our refrigerator contained only two things: pizza and beer. I happen to think that that situation reflected positively on the residents of the apartment, but my roommates thought otherwise. That brought on a whole new experience: shopping. It’s incredible how funny four guys can look while value shopping at the local supermarket. Four 20-year-old college students arguing about which box of macaroni and cheese is the best deal can be quite amusing to passers-by. We even put a few old ladies to shame with the amount of coupons that we had shamelessly pilfered from another student’s Sunday newspaper. As I began to settle into my apartment, I also had to settle into my classes. After breezing through my freshman year with minimal studying, I was rudely awakened by the hell that is upper-division classes. Entering my sophomore year, I had yet to take an upper-division class. I simply figured that they would be a little more in-depth, but just as easy. Wow, was I in for a treat. For literally the first time in my life, I found myself forced to actually study. It was quite a foreign concept to me. I tried to study in my room a few times, but that just led to embarrassing grades on midterms that clued me in to the fact that I needed an alternative ambiance for studying. That is when I found the place that would become my Mecca for the rest of the year: Denny’s. What other 24-hour, white-trash haven caters to poor college students looking to further their academic enrichment? None, I say. Denny’s is a great place to go and get some serious work done. You can get your grub on and pound endless cups of coffee while learning the area of three-dimensional objects being spun around the x-axis. As I grew accustomed to the rigorous workload of my sophomore classes (I was up to an hour or so of studying per week), I found that I needed to find a social outlet or two for my deep love of women, alcohol and cheap adrenaline rushes. I found parties at UCSD to be exactly what they were my freshman year: few and far between. The good parties cost money and were usually broken up just when they really got rolling. I did notice that the student body seemed to make a more concerted effort to have fun this year, but not nearly enough. I still contend that we should party like it’s Sun God once a week, even though it would probably kill some of us. While I’m on the social scene, I have to take a moment to write a little something about the ladies here at UCSD. Before my freshman year, I basically heard one word to describe the women of UCSD: unattractive. When I got to campus last year, I’ll admit, I didn’t see it as having a gorgeous student body. I’m not saying that everyone here was Elephant-man ugly, but they were attractively challenged. However, since I have been at UCSD, I have noticed a fantastic trend in the girls of the second- and first-year classes this year: they are hot. This year’s freshman and sophomore girls are very attractive. I’ve even noticed quite a few upper-class girls who are looking pretty good as well. In all, I think that the stereotype of UCSD women as generally being ugly is completely outdated. I think that a simple stroll down Library Walk around noon will show that. Another part of my social outlet was taking advantage of the fine Native American gaming establishments that are located so conveniently close to campus. In particular, I gambled at Viejas quite a bit (they should give me a share of the casino for all the money I’ve dropped there). There is nothing better than randomly deciding to take a midnight stroll up to see Dale (lovingly pronounced “”Dah-lay””), Bong, Malachi and the other wacky dealers that are so eager to take your money. With so many other things going on in my life, it’s amazing that I was actually able to hold a job. As the year began, I also had to settle into my new position as features editor at the Guardian. I’d worked at the paper my freshman year but honestly didn’t know what it took to run a section of the paper on my own. Suddenly I was responsible for a full quarter of the paper’s output. My name was on it, so if it looked like ass, I was to blame. It was a lot of pressure early in the year, but I would like to think that I adjusted nicely and did a nice job with the section (I guess that you readers are the final judges of that). I’ve tried to listen to the readers and cover the kinds of things that you wanted to read about. I tried to make the section interesting. I wanted the readers to realize that there was more to the features section than simply the crossword puzzle (which, despite my efforts, remains the most popular part of the section). In the end, I hope that I’ve made it a more enjoyable experience for you guys. Who knows, you might have even learned a thing or two from the articles that we’ve run. In any case, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] with any feedback that you have. I’d be interested to hear what you have to say. As far as next year is concerned, I don’t know what my place in the paper is going to be. I don’t know what my place in this school is going to be, for that matter. My second year at UCSD has been completely unforgettable. I’ve met so many amazing people and had so many more incredible experiences that have made a permanent impact on my life that I can hardly believe it. I’ve heard that these are the best years of my life. Reflecting on that statement, I wouldn’t mind it all too much. I feel that these years have been good to me. I can only hope that the next two years here will be as good as the first. One can only hope. ...

Attention Quasi-Marxists: Let's Try Critical Thought for a Change

I was walking to my Tuesday afternoon political science class at Peterson Hall the other day when I saw something truly amusing. As I made my way across the winding cement paths in front of the Sun God, I saw what appeared to be a life-sized paper mache army figure toting a bazooka over its shoulder. It appeared to be taking aim at the Sun God and was sporting a T-shirt with something to the effect of “”UCSD Administration”” painted on the back. Surrounding the figure was a series of golf tees and holes, essentially trying to convey that student fees are being funneled into the already rich pockets of the regents and administration. A similar anti-administration protest took place during Admit Day. I was showing my brother around the campus and decided to attend the “”Welcome to UCSD”” lecture offered on the hour. Just before Vice Chancellor Joseph Watson and others were set to begin speaking, the stage was rushed by a protester. Before a crowd of hundreds of potential students and their families, he explained that the administration was a greedy, cold-hearted beast that cared only for its corporate interests and not for students. He also asserted that UCSD was a “”very political campus.”” I had trouble containing my laughter. This diatribe was followed by a brief chant with fellow protesters scattered throughout the audience. “”UCSD equals corporate greed,”” they half-heartedly repeated, sensing that the crowd of anxious parents was getting agitated by the outburst. They eventually left, allowing the lecture to continue. So why do I bring these two instances up? Is it because it’s the most political activity UCSD has seen since the 1960s? No. Is it because paper mache army men give you something fun to look at on the walk to Peterson? Not exactly. More than anything, I’m prompted to write and address the idiocy of these events. Over the past month, there have been protests and articles in this newspaper damning the administration and any form of bureaucracy as the tool of capitalist greed and corporate manipulation. Come on, are we really that foolish? Let’s take a look at where this all begins — Marxism and the undeniably profound work of “”The Communist Manifesto.”” The 1848 treatise is effectively Marx and Engel’s critique of 19th century European society. The manifesto was written in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, when the interests of the manufacturing elite were continually adverse to those of the workers. It was, as Marx put it “”shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”” It seems, however, that these modern readers of the manifesto have discounted the context of the work. Taken aback by the passionate prose that invokes a spirit of indignation and self-righteousness, they have effectively attempted to transpose Marx’s world to the one we live in. This isn’t to say that we should walk through life with the naive belief that corporate interests serve those of the population. A cautious skepticism of all faceless, power-welding entities — whether corporations or government — is a healthy practice in any free-thinking society. What these protests illustrate is the tendency of anti-corporate leftists to adopt a catch-all ideology, such as class struggle, in place of critical thought. Clearly, it is easier to demonize capitalism than to search for explanations that more effectively address the issue. Instead of rudely disrupting hundreds of parents and students on Admit Day and discouraging enrollment at UCSD, these protesters could have found a more rational and credible approach. If you want to be mindful of the administration, form a watchdog group of concerned students and monitor the cash flow of the university — UCSD is a public institution and all records have to be disclosed. If there is something fishy going on, write a letter to the Guardian and create some commotion with your evidence. Sure, it’s not as easy as making paper mache dolls and a nine-hole golf course in front of Muir college, but researching the hard truth shouldn’t be. I respect Ralph Nader for this very reason. I can’t recall a TV or radio appearance where Nader unleashed a criticism of corporate America using archaic, Marxist maxims. His concerns over the excessive money and corporate interests in our political system have always been based on solid, well-reasoned arguments. Say what you will about his politics, at least his criticisms go deeper than an ingrained hatred of the establishment. This contrasts what happened during Admit Day. Upon interrupting one of the speakers, a protester was told that he could address the audience at the conclusion of the current speech. Rather than articulate the position of the protest in a credible and diplomatic manner, the protester denied the invitation and shouted anti-administration slurs as he was booed out of the Price Center Ballroom. Not only did the protest fail to garner support, it created a backlash against it and its fundamental ideological base. Marx’s critique of 19th-century Europe was an innovative and thoughtful examination of a society amid rapid change. The criticisms recently expressed against the administration embody a similar form, but lack the substance and circumstance of their predecessors. These pseudo-Marxists scream to the heavens against corporate evils, administrative greed and the exploitation of students, but denounce the opportunity to engage in discourse over these concerns. Instead, they formulate arguments composed of lofty rhetoric and simpleton art projects. Because I am an employee of the Guardian, these people are likely to write off anything I say about their activities. After all, the check I receive for this article will come from the university, the oppressive and malicious entity that has been keeping us all down. I’m just a propagandist of the administration. Let me offer a more thoughtful explanation. This Editor’s Soapbox is a contribution to the dialogue and free exchange of ideas on this campus, not a four-word protest chant or an oversimplified view of a complex issue. I’m not writing this because I’m a “”wage slave,”” or because I’m being exploited by the university. It’s a matter of expressing ideas in a constructive and thoughtful way. If you disagree with what I’ve said, write a letter to the editor; don’t just show up at the Guardian office with a paper mache effigy of me with “”dumb”” written on it in crayon. This is a university — we should be able to do better than that. ...