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]

Students Are So Busy Getting Good Grades, They Forget to Learn

I go to school, I study and I sleep. This repetitious loop races on every day of my life. I say to myself that tomorrow is going to be a new day. Is it ever? Not since I’ve been at UCSD. I often hear complaints of the lack of time that we as students have to do something meaningful in our lives. “”I’m too busy studying”” or “”I have so much to do”” are some of the phrases we say to legitimize not having the extra time to go out and make a difference not only in our lives, but also in our society. There is no problem with working and studying constantly, but by doing so, we deprive ourselves of what is rightfully ours — our lives. I know this much from going to this beacon of “”higher learning”” that we call UCSD. As at many top universities, we are trained to study so that we can excel and succeed later in our professional lives. Mark Twain said, “”I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”” Today, we have confused our schooling with our education, in scholastic aptitude and in our daily existence. It’s too bad they don’t teach anything important about life. We are so wrapped up in our academic success that it takes a toll on our emotional well-being. It’s a sprint not only to graduate soon, but also to finish the race on top by a wide margin. In the process, we miss all the stuff that makes life grand. Nobody seems interested in the actual learning, but rather the grade at the end of the quarter. There is such an obsession with studying that all our emotions are blown away by the wind. Educating, tranquility and gratification are all replaced by schooling, necessity and competition. I’m not saying that organic chemistry or econometrics isn’t going to help us in the future, but I do see the fact that we are schooled not to become enlightened thinkers, but rather synonymous robots. We have become a society that values performance in class over actually learning what is being taught. When a student receives a graded midterm, there are only two things in his mind: The first is, “”what’s my grade?”” and the second is, “”what’s the average?”” We fight for every single point so that our grades can be a fraction higher. Grades are important, but knowledge is even more so. Does it really matter what another person gets? Performance should be measured by one standard. Who cares if the class did better or worse? It ultimately comes down to one person: you. Nevertheless, in a university where we are not taught to be our own thinkers, it is a necessity that we do better than the person sitting next to us. Your neighbor is your enemy; you must do better than him if you want to do well in a course. But does it really matter 20 years from now what you got on your second midterm in your bio class? We measure one’s intelligence based on how well he studies or crams. In my years at UCSD, I do not look back upon the great wonders of writing, reading, calculus, chemistry nor anything related to academia. All I remember is a constant feeling of having made certain that I was above the average and that my grade was good. We live in a competitive arena that makes learning no longer a passion, but rather, a blood sport, a sport in which only the strongest survive and everyone else must die. This competitiveness is not only evident in class, but everywhere in our daily lives. Once we graduate, grades are no longer the main objective in our lives. We aim for a higher and nobler purpose: money. This train of thought from college to work hard to be better than anyone else now appears in the workplace. We all think that money is the great equalizer, as if it was the single force in our lives that can fix all our problems and all our miseries. It is as if cash can burn away all our troubles the way it can burn so quickly from our accounts. Having that new luxury car may be nice, but is it justifiable to work night and day for the rest of your life without rest. We know money is a problem, yet we continue to find new ways to have more of it. Money is similar to grades as it defines how successful you are in your endeavors. In a way, it really has no mark on who you are as an individual. Society is not judged by its happiness, but rather its wealth, fame and fortune. Money and grades just state how well you work or study. They have no inherent value except for enabling the purchase of mass quantities of goods. Yet, we continue every day of our lives trying to be better than everyone else. We say that by sacrificing some of our time now, we will receive the benefits later in life. If we are not going to live our life now, when are we? Sixty-five sounds a little too old for me to party all night long. No amount of money can ever replace the years spent at college. College is more than just a time to study and learn, it is an opportunity for understanding, growth and freedom. A wise man by the name of Ferris Bueller once said, “”Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”” Our lives are becoming increasingly complicated and hurried without an end in sight. College, unfortunately, makes us race through every day of our existence. If you were to ask me where I’d be in such a race, you won’t see me sprinting along with everyone else. I’ll just be moseying along and enjoying the view. ...

Educating America's Youth

Dance culture has seeped inescapably into mainstream culture over the last decade. Whether it’s a commercial trying to sell a Ford Focus by making allusions to Detroit techno, or “”60 Minutes”” covering drug use at raves, the national focus has turned toward the analysis — and sometimes the deprecation — of dance culture and everything remotely connected with it. As the media sounds a cacophony over all things rave, some work in the background to ensure that those in the middle of the tug-of-war get the information they need to make informed decisions. DanceSafe answers to that description. DanceSafe is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to harm reduction and education in the rave and club scene. Its members distribute potentially life-saving information at parties, giving partygoers an objective and nonjudgmental source to which they can turn for assistance. Headed by a national office in Oakland, Calif., DanceSafe chapters around the United States and Canada establish their presence in various cities, working to make the rave scene safer for people who choose to compliment their experience with substances. DanceSafe representatives go to parties and clubs, handing out free information and resources ranging from substance information and earplugs to candy bracelets and condoms. The emphasis is on peer support and education, and all work is done by volunteers. Though DanceSafe has been notorious in the recent media for its pill-testing services, members of the organization do much more than spend all night at raves telling 16-year-olds what their pills contain. However, DanceSafe has ridden to phenomenal success based upon the usefulness of this service, especially since MDMA, a psychotropic substance commonly known as ecstasy, has shot into popular use, and the fact that it is the first truly nationwide organization that effectively provides harm-reduction education to people. New chapters spring up all the time. According to the organization’s Web site, http://www.dancesafe.org, chapters have recently opened in New York City, Philadelphia and Calgary. Last summer, DanceSafe gave its name to a chapter in San Diego. The chapter began as an organization called San Diego RaveSmart, covering its first event in July. In October, the group received approval to carry the DanceSafe name. Since its inception, the San Diego chapter has met with success and positive reactions at every turn. Director Melissa Martin attributes this triumph to the chapter’s warm reception from the rave community and law enforcement. “”The rave community in San Diego has opened [its] arms and embraced us,”” Martin said. “”We have become an integral part of the rave scene in San Diego. Out of all the chapter directors that I’ve spoken with around the country, we have had the most welcoming and easiest time of it. We’re so grateful to the rave community in San Diego for that.”” Law enforcement, too, has been welcoming to the group, showing temperance in spite of the recent hyperbolic media frenzy over the rave scene, particularly concerning substance use at parties. “”Law enforcement has been nothing but supportive of DanceSafe, and we have not had any negative experiences with them [in San Diego],”” Martin said. “”They understand that we’re on their side. We’re there to help them do their job.”” The San Diego chapter covered its first event last July after approaching a rave promoter, who responded favorably to the idea of having a DanceSafe booth present at the event. Subsequent DanceSafe coverage has been prompted at the request of the promoters themselves. “”We have to be invited,”” said San Diego chapter Event Coordinator Lance Kett. “”We can’t just go to a party and say ‘Hi, we’re San Diego DanceSafe. We’re going to set up now.’ The promoter has to want us there.”” The chapter typically covers one or two events per week, but its activity level depends on the activity level of the San Diego rave scene at any given time. “”It really depends on how the rave scene is going,”” Kett said. “”Sometimes you’ll get a lot of raves going on, sometimes none for three weeks.”” In its busiest weekend to date, Kett said, the chapter covered four parties on four consecutive nights. The challenges in maintaining a successful DanceSafe chapter, both in San Diego and nationally, have come in trying to eradicate stereotypes and misconceptions associated with the work that DanceSafe does. In the last two weeks alone, “”The New York Times Magazine”” and “”U.S. News & World Report”” have run lengthy pieces dealing with ecstasy usage, and tangentially, the rave scene. In the last six months, “”60 Minutes,”” “”48 Hours”” and MTV have covered the rising trends of the use of ecstasy. The media has promoted awareness and misunderstanding alike. Due to heightened interest in the trends surrounding ecstasy use — U.S. Customs officials seized 2.1 million tablets in Los Angeles last summer in a highly publicized bust — more heads are turning and more fingers are being pointed. As an organization squarely in the middle of some of the most heated controversy, DanceSafe has had to clarify its position on more than one occasion, due to false impressions spread by the media. “”There are a lot of misconceptions about DanceSafe out there, like that we condone drug use, that we enable drug use, that we even promote drug use,”” Martin said. “”We don’t. We are a public health education organization. We are there because we’re the only ones around who are giving kids the information they need. Not only do we give them the information they need and want, we give it to them at the place where they need it the most — a party or a club — at a time when they’re most willing to listen.”” DanceSafe volunteers place emphasis on the fact that they educate the public, but they are not there to make decisions for people. Volunteers will test pills for substances, but they will not tell pill owners what they ought to do with that information. “”We’re not there to tell them, ‘Don’t take drugs, they’re bad,'”” Kett said. Martin addressed the common controversy that surrounds the organization. “”The controversy comes in the fact that we give the pills back prior to doing the test,”” Martin said. This action ultimately leaves the discretion with the pill owners, who can decide whether to take the pill — ecstasy-like or not — based on the results of the tests and their own judgment. In fact, testing methods are not specific enough to reveal many aspects of a pill’s composition. Testing will determine whether a pill has an ecstasy-like substance, but these also include MDMA’s cousins MDE, MDA and MDEA. Testing will not reveal how pure a pill is, nor whether it is safe to take. DanceSafe volunteers can tell people the facts about their pills, but they cannot decide for anyone whether to take the pill. Pill testing has put DanceSafe at the forefront of a media storm, especially due to recent deaths across the United States associated with people who took a pill they thought contained an ecstasy-like substance but which was, in fact, something else. Two common adulterants include DXM, a constituent of cough syrup, and PMA. Though some people enjoy the highs these drugs can provide, those who take them and expect an ecstasy-like reaction can run into difficulties taking care of themselves. The body’s reaction to these drugs is different than that of MDMA, and an unknowing user may face dangers such as heat stroke. Even more dangerous is the ingestion of MDMA and one of these substances simultaneously. Pill testing can help determine whether a pill contains a drug like PMA or DXM. For those who do not venture out into the rave scene but who stand to benefit from the information DanceSafe provides, its Web site is a wealth of nonjudgmental assistance. Sheets decorated to look like flyers, available on the site, give factual information about the effects and legality of many substances, legal and illicit. These include substances from the commonly available on upward, such as MDMA, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, GHB, ‘shrooms, LSD, nitrous oxide, speed and cocaine. Information is also available detailing the effects of drugs marketed as ecstasy, such as DXM and PMA. DanceSafe sponsors a nation-wide pill testing service. Users can mail in a pill anonymously and legally, and it will be tested by a Drug Enforcement Agency-approved laboratory. The results of these tests, which include a photograph, pill dimensions and substance content, are regularly posted to the Web site. For a donation of $25 or more, visitors can have a pill testing kit mailed to them. ...

Horoscopes

Aries (March 21-April 19) The emphasis is on you Monday and Tuesday. You’re the star of the show, so put on a great performance. Gather information on your next big technical purchase Wednesday. Think about it Thursday, before you buy. A slight financial setback Friday could change your plans and help you make up your mind. You’re in a pensive mood Saturday, and you’ll want to stay close to home Sunday. A favorite meal with family puts everything right. Taurus (April 20-May 20) You may feel like you’re getting pushed around at work on Monday or Tuesday. By Wednesday you’ll be on your feet again, and on Thursday you could be the eloquent spokesperson for your side. The positive impression you’re making could lead to more responsibility, and more pay, on Friday. Don’t take on the former without the latter. Saturday is also good for making money and finding new ways to save it. You’re apt to be late for a date on Sunday, so set a flexible time. Gemini (May 21-June 21) The plans you make with friends on Monday and Tuesday seem more like fantasy than fact, but that’s fine. On Wednesday and Thursday you’ll be applying the final touches and really getting serious. By Friday you can have a proposal to sell that makes sense, both in terms of vision and profitability. Travel looks good on Saturday, but it’s best to reach your destination by early Sunday. It’s not a mechanical breakdown but an emotional one that could disrupt an otherwise pleasant evening. Be compassionate but firm. Cancer (June 22-July 22) Keep most of your comments to yourself on Monday and Tuesday. It’ll be difficult to get a word in anyway; your boss or teacher wants to do most of the talking. Your opinion will be more highly revered on Wednesday, so save it for then. Help your team find a way around a barrier on Thursday. You could take a wrong turn on Friday, so give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. Saturday is good for visiting a favorite spot with your sweetheart, and Sunday is best for sorting and filing your paperwork. Leo (July 23-Aug. 22) Financial worries fade on Monday as the day progresses. Instead of buying a gift you can’t afford, take your sweetheart on an outing Tuesday. Take care of business on Wednesday, because a strong reprimand from the boss awaits you on Thursday if you don’t. Pay attention to what you’re doing on Friday, too, because the person who signs your paycheck is definitely doing that. You’re so popular this weekend, you may have trouble keeping all your commitments. Save the end of Sunday for personal contemplation. Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) The better you keep somebody else’s money in order on Monday and Tuesday, the better you look. Don’t get too playful Wednesday, or you’ll forget to do something important. That could lead to trouble on Thursday, when work interferes with your playtime. Don’t let your mate’s remark upset you on Friday. Something your mate believes is too hard will actually be easy for you. Help an older person over the weekend. This won’t bring money or even recognition, but it’s good for you. Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 23) Your mate is very directive on Monday and Tuesday. It’ll be fun, provided you can go along with your partner’s suggestions. However, don’t let your mate spend all of your money on Wednesday or Thursday. You might be enticed into making a commitment Friday around dinnertime. Travel and games both go well over the weekend, but be careful. If you hurry, the job may have to be done over again. Scorpio (Oct. 24-Nov. 21) A co-worker’s snide remark could get you agitated on Monday or Tuesday, but don’t despair — it’s going to motivate you. Get a partner to help you solve a tough problem at home on Wednesday or Thursday. This is too complicated for you to deal with all by yourself. If shopping is required, go Friday. With your partner’s help, you can get the very thing you need. Do some of the work yourself this weekend, then go out to dinner to spend what you saved. Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) You’d rather stay home and play with your sweetheart on Monday and Tuesday. Do that as much as you can. The work starts pouring in around Wednesday. There will be complications on Wednesday and Thursday. Misunderstandings and haste makes waste on Friday. Your partner may be in an argumentative mood over the weekend. He or she is so cute, it won’t be hard to acquiesce. And if you do, he or she will think you’re pretty cute, too. Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) A home-based enterprise could be quite profitable Monday and Tuesday. Devote more time to your sweetheart Wednesday and Thursday. Playtime is important to staying healthy, and it’s also important to keep your priorities straight. Love always takes precedence, as you well know. More work comes in late Friday, and that assignment could last through the weekend. But it might be best not to work on Sunday, when a breakdown could make the job take even longer. Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) Dig for the information you need on Monday and Tuesday –you’ll find it. Slow down Wednesday and Thursday, take the time to look for errors. The more you find then, the better off you’ll be on Friday, when your work is put to the test. By Friday afternoon the worst is over, so set up a date for that night. Spend time with your sweetheart rather than with a colleague on Saturday. Chores may disrupt your play schedule on Sunday. Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) You may be worried about money Monday and Tuesday, but it’s not that you don’t have enough. More likely, you’ve found too many ways to spend it. You’ll make it go a lot further by shopping wisely on Wednesday and Thursday. An item you’ve been seeking for your home becomes available Friday. Fixing up your home is the perfect project for this weekend. Don’t wait for another to do for you. Birthdays This Week Jan. 29: Your energy level is high this year, so use it. You’re extremely smart, so don’t hold back. Jan. 30: Others marvel at your prowess this year. Strut your stuff and don’t hold back. You didn’t get this good by accident; you worked at it. Jan. 31: You’re putting down roots, and it’s about time. A goal you’ve been after for ages can finally be yours. Feb. 1: Something you’ve been putting up with at home could become intolerable. Make the changes you’ve been thinking about for so long. Feb. 2: There’s a conflict between career and family. Look at other options in February, then make up your mind in March. Feb. 3: Your romantic fantasies can come true. It’s not quite by accident, even though the way things turn out might be rather surprising. Feb. 4: You’re looking good, and you attract very interesting people. An argument in March narrows the field. ...

While Chivalry May be Dead in America, It Never Existed in Other Cultures

Chivalry is dead. Living in America, we are constantly told about the historic importance of graciousness, and the defense of decency. What we often fail to understand, however, is that in many non-American cultures, chivalry cannot be dead, because it never existed in the first place. In many of these cultures, including my own Indian culture, chivalry is virtually nonexistent. Chauvinism runs rampant among the people of these societies. Listen up, men and women of UCSD — reading this just may provide you with a different perspective on the way in which you live your life. Perhaps it will make you think twice about any preconceived notions you hold regarding the opposite sex. If not, that’s OK too. At least I would have made my point, and hopefully it will lead some of you to look more closely at your own experiences, to see if this applies to you. Some of you are probably wondering where exactly I am going with this whole spiel. Let me be a little more specific. In our seemingly progressive society, one would assume that both male and female individuals would oppose such a gender-specific typology. Unfortunately, the notion of gender roles still exists today. Forget chivalry, even equality among the sexes is considered nonexistent in many cultures. This has become a source of argument between myself and a male friend of mine, who is also of Indian descent. Upon seeing me and my roommate cooking dinner last year, my friend — who is also a self-proclaimed male chauvinist — uttered the four words that would make any woman’s blood boil. “”That’s a woman’s job,”” he said. He then proceeded to tell me his backward, ludicrous notions that a woman’s place was in the home, and that a woman’s job was to serve her husband. Rather than abiding by our instincts and beating our friend over the head with a frying pan, my roommate and I instead rolled our eyes and told our friend that he needed to update his prehistoric views if he ever wanted to meet a respectable girl. He responded by saying that if he was not able to find a woman in America who possessed the willingness to go along with his definition of a “”dutiful”” wife, then he would simply find his future wife in India. I refuted his comment by telling him that what he wanted was a maid/babysitter/ chef, and not a wife. Later that day, however, I began to think about the statements that my friend had made. I began to wonder if his views were representative of other males my age. All sorts of thoughts began to surface in my mind. “”Did these men still possess such absurd views?”” “”Where did these views originate?”” “”Was I the only one bothered by his comments?”” and “”God … I hope that I am not destined to marry someone who possesses ideas as crazy as my friend’s.”” After talking with some friends of mine who are also of South-Asian descent, I realized that the typical Indian male mentality is alive and quite prevalent today. Perhaps I had been naive to think that just because in my own family “”gender roles”” did not apply, that these labels did not transcend into other minority households. Many of my peers have told me that gender roles are an accepted reality in their own families. One friend, whose parents both hold full time jobs, told me that each evening after returning home from work, her mother is expected to cook dinner for. She is also expected to clean up after the rest of the family while her father enjoys leisure time watching TV or reading. I was shocked to find out that her father had never before washed a single dish or done one load of laundry. While I found this behavior very disturbing, my friend had simply accepted it as a way of life. Her description reminded me more of a business than of a family. Author Lillian Bell put it best when she said, “”It is really asking too much of a woman to expect her to bring up her husband and her children too.”” Although I know of no woman my age who would tolerate this way of life, I also recognize that as long as societies continue to promote and tolerate the idea of gender roles, there will always be men who abide by it, and women who put up with it. Here I was, thinking that the days in which women were considered subordinate to men were long gone. Little did I know that these ideas are still alive and well among males of my own generation. Only by refusing to conform to or partake in these silly, stereotypical gender roles, can we put a stop to this inane way of thinking. The problem lies in the fact that the men who possess such silly notions, do so because of the way they were brought up. Most were the typical “”mama’s boys”” who were never given any responsibilities, and who, even at a young age, were treated like royalty. Welcome to reality, boys. If the only thing you want is someone to clean your house, hire a maid. Well, as a sidenote to my poor, foolish friend who feels that he is going to find the “”perfect woman”” who will be willing to cook, clean and abide by her husband’s every wish, good luck. Any woman that puts up with such dictatorship is badly in need of a crash course in being independent. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not a vindictive person, and my purpose is not to lash out at all men — only those who are foolish enough to believe such silly ideas. And to all you males who still think that a woman’s place is in the home, you’d might as well see bachelorhood as a permanent way of life, because the only place you are going to get “”service with a smile”” is at your local Burger King. ...

Finding a Middle Ground

By now, every UCSD student is aware of the complaints. Upon arrival, most students are almost immediately disappointed to find that our campus is a little different than others. The whole college-town feel that characterizes colleges of myth just does not seem relevant within our cozy locale of La Jolla. Mike Coggins Guardian Meaning “”the jewel”” in Spanish, La Jolla continues to dazzle newcomers and students alike with its natural beauty. It is not uncommon to hear it described as “”the most beautiful place in the world.”” UCSD is lucky to have such a delightful place as its backyard. Unfortunately, while many students are very content with the academic climate of UCSD, they still manage to be considerably discontent with our college’s social environment. The complaints about nothing to do on campus are rampant and indeed, unjustifiable. However, the community surrounding UCSD is another issue altogether. Ask almost any student what they know about the “”city”” they attend school in nine months out of the year, and nearly everyone would give you limited information, at best. Or even worse, many students simply subscribe to the most popular stereotypes about La Jollans. A group of rich, snobby, uncooperative people is probably what your average UCSD student would have to say about them. But exactly how true is this statement? What are the residents really like and how has it affected the social dynamics of UCSD? Read further to find out … A Community of San Diegans Officially, La Jolla is not even a city, although most students are probably unaware of this. According to Barry Benintende, an editor of The La Jolla Light and unofficial expert on all things La Jollan, La Jolla is actually a township. “”It’s a community of San Diegans; very rich San Diegans,”” Benintende said. Benintende added that La Jolla has representation in the San Diego city council and carries out its civic functions in the form of multiple councils and committees. The history of UCSD is a good place to start when trying to understand why the campus is set up the way it is. As for the complaints that there are not enough things that cater to college students, the origins of the university are an appropriate avenue to explore, also. La Jolla was a very well-established community before Roger Revelle first presented to UC regents in 1959, the idea for a university on land that previously belonged to the U.S. military. Residents initially feared the great change that the then proposed UC La Jolla could possibly inflict on their small community. Although over the decades, La Jollans have adapted to the change, and indeed in some cases, residents have embraced the university, some things have never changed. “”There is a comfort level in [La Jollans] lives that they don’t want a lot of change,”” Benintende said. “”It’s not that the people here are snobbish it’s just that they may not reach out to UCSD students as a whole as much as they could.”” For him, however, it could be a two-way street. Students should be just as involved with the community if they have complaints, he said. If the students want to be more involved, he added, they should do more volunteer work and get in touch with the community. According to him, most students might be surprised to find how responsive the La Jolla community would be if they made an effort to reach out. “”Most residents, I would figure, are very receptive to students because most of them have children,”” Benintende said. “”The supposition that La Jolla is anti-college may be true in some cases, but I think most of the residents are reasonable to know that there’s something to be gained from embracing the students. I’d say it’s a 50-50 mix as far as people that really look at UCSD students as assets and who realize that the university is here to stay.”” The dot-com boom in recent years has caused a surge in the number of young millionaires moving into the area, according to Benintende. The Residents “”I would venture to say that [newcomers] want to provide for their families,”” Benintende said. “”A lot of La Jollans are family people, while a huge chunk is the senior citizen population. If you factor in the senior citizens and students, that’s the high and low end of the age bracket. The more sympathetic crowd toward college students tend to be the small bracket of young adults who might be just out of college.”” La Jolla is no stranger to “”new money”” and newcomers from all over the country continually move into the area because of the allure La Jolla offers, particularly for new families raising children. The Scarbroughs, who just arrived from Utah less than a year ago with their infant son, described how warm and friendly La Jollans have been to them. “”I think they’re pretty friendly, actually; quite outgoing and very laid back,”” said Nicole Scarbrough. “”[They are] very helpful, usually quite thoughtful which is nice.”” Most students have the idea that a typical La Jollan would be almost impossible to approach. The wealth many of these residents possess is almost enough of an intimidation factor to stop even the bravest students from striking up a spontaneous conversation with an average resident. Out-of-towners like Jared Scarbrough think the situation is not as black and white, however, especially in comparison to other parts of the country. “”I think in Utah it’s easier to get to know people and make a connection,”” he said. “”But I think here once you make the connection it’s a stronger connection [because] they’re more friendly, helpful and more genuine. Once you break down that initial barrier they’re very open and kind people but I think on the outside, there’s that barrier that you need to break through.”” Ralph Nedelkoff, a resident of La Jolla for only 6 months, originally from New Jersey, has found the community very welcoming. “”It’s a wonderful community,”” he said. “”Everybody I’ve met, whether they’re students or not students.”” Newcomers from around the world are also common within the community of La Jolla. Fresh from St. Andrews, Scotland, is young couple Tom and Sharon Henley. According to the two, the social climate of La Jolla is not entirely unique. “”Probably Scotland would be a wee bit more warm and people who moved in next door would have you come around or say hello,”” Tom Henley said. “”I guess it’s like any big city really; London would be the same — you wouldn’t know your next-door neighbors.”” Why No College Town? An all-too-familiar complaint is that we lack a college town or any semblance of a college-town community. The most popular comparisons would have to be universities such as UCLA, UC Berkeley and SDSU. True as it may be that each of those colleges might have an edge over ours in terms of more college-friendly establishments surrounding their campuses, some would argue that UCSD and La Jolla needn’t change at all. For instance, Naureen Nayyar, an ex-SDSU student who is now in her second year at Mesa College, is quick to point out the benefits of UCSD being situated in an area like La Jolla. For instance, she points out how she prefers the quiet and peacefulness only La Jolla can provide. In addition, she is more optimistic about UCSD’s social milieu. “”I have a lot of friends who go to UCSD, and they have a lot of fun just partying in their dorms and stuff, too,”” she said. “”I mean, you can make any place happen if you want it. College life is what you make of it. It’s not just about partying — there are people who like to just chill.”” Nayyar went on to express how she feels UCSD students should take more time to appreciate what they already have. “”I think a lot of times when people go, ‘Oh I want it more like a college town,’ they’re not thinking, ‘Oh I want more places for kids to just hang out after 10,'”” she said. “”They’re talking about places to party and stuff, like PB. [In PB], everybody’s just drinking everywhere and it’s so loud, I mean I live in PB right now and sometimes it’s kind of annoying how every day is a party.”” Mandeville Special Collections Library Director Lynda Corey Claassen believes the reason to be mostly circumstantial. The area surrounding UCSD is predominantly residential instead of commercial. It is important to note that UCSD is situated on a hill, conveniently tucked away from the rest of La Jolla. Unlike places like Westwood for UCLA or Berkeley for Cal, UCSD never developed in a student-friendly area that was contiguous to the campus. On top of that, our university is a far younger school and has not had as much time to develop and mature into a thriving college community, in the traditional sense. The culture of La Jolla has managed to remain intact, however. According to Claassen, it is a dynamic mix of art, culture, social events and social interaction. Distance From the Community Perhaps the biggest culprit, as far as UCSD’s distance from the community, is the geography itself. The relationship between UCSD and La Jolla was and is tentative. As a university, it is primarily concerned with the education of students and maintaining a certain standard of excellence. On the other hand, because of their perpetual concern for geography and land, most La Jollans find little in common with the university. Exceptions most definitely exist, but generally speaking, each entity has its own specific interests, and tends to not understand each other. Nancy Groves, director of academic advising at Revelle and a resident of the area for 37 years, mentioned that La Jolla has tried to respond to the location difficulties UCSD students may come across. For instance, La Jolla Village Square only became as student friendly as it is today in recent years because the local businesses realized that providing more services to the massive student population was the only way to survive economically. UCSD Student Perspectives and Making the Most of It UCSD student Shiloh Talley believes La Jolla’s natural splendor to be one of its greatest assets. “”La Jolla is one of the most beautiful places in the United States with the most beautiful people around,”” Talley said. She, like many others, endorses a more proactive approach to alleviate the common complaint that there is nothing to do on campus. “”I think you have to make your own fun, but as UCSD students we’re all capable of doing that. Otherwise we wouldn’t have come here,”” she said. “”We came here for the beauty of it and there’s so many beautiful things to do that we should be satisfied.”” Some students like Revelle sophomore Ben Mayes are hardly concerned with connecting with La Jollans outside the university . Being a student is of utmost priority for students like him. “”Our problem isn’t all that unique, really,”” Mayes said. “”You can’t expect the community to be involved with us. I mean there are variations, some colleges will interact more with the community than others but all in all you kind of don’t expect it because [students and La Jollans] live such different lifestyles.”” UCSD senior Bobby Potruch works at one of the many booths at UTC. Dealing with all sorts of people every day, Potruch attests to the claim that La Jollans are a very diverse group, despite most stereotypical perceptions of them. Like many other students who deal with La Jollans on a regular basis, he remarked how labeling the entire community as one thing would be inaccurate. Potruch maintains that La Jolla, like any community near a big city, is a mix of all ages and types of people who surprisingly are a varied mix even from an economic standpoint. In other words, not everyone is filthy rich, although most are. In response to claims that UCSD or La Jolla lacks a college-town feel, Potruch recites a familiar sentiment shared by many students. According to him, for anyone who’s ever been to a college-town, UCSD is “”definitely no college town.”” As examples, Potruch cited how the conservative nature of UCSD neighbors prevents there from being action such as parties on campus which are not almost immediately broken up. Much like students before him, Potruch remains far more optimistic about the opportunities UCSD has to offer socially. He poses the challenge that all students look within themselves to change their attitudes before whining about how UCSD lacks yet another thing. “”If you’ve ever spoken to mostly anyone, they’re always looking for something outside their town,”” Potruch said. “”Their town is boring, their school is boring, there’s never anything to do; it’s always trying to get out of your local environment. And it seems like the popular thing to say is that there’s nothing to do.”” Instead of blaming the lack of parties, Potruch thinks in many cases, it is the students themselves who never really learned how to have fun because of the academic nature of UCSD. “”It’s a very competitive school where people spent a great deal of time in their high schools worrying about their grades to get into a prestigious school,”” Potruch said. “”Now that they’re in college, they’re looking to party and they don’t know how to do it. They don’t know what it is. They’re partying and they still don’t know they’re partying. They think you have to be at some rager with five kegs where you can’t move and that’s a party; that’s technically a party but also partying is going out with a few of your buddies and hanging out. You don’t have to stay out till 3 a.m. to be classified as a cool person who had a good time.”” Potruch agrees. “”You can bring fun to almost any town,”” Potruch said. “”It’s not that much to search for, you’ll go your whole entire college life searching for it and it was sitting right in front of you the whole time and you never knew it was there.”” ...

Horoscopes

Aries (March 21-April 19) Get an adversary to put in a good word for you to the boss on Monday, but make sure the payback is something you’ll be able to afford. Ask for the raise on Tuesday and reimbursement for past favors. Put the final touches on your plan with teammates Wednesday. Thursday’s stop and go all day, as you find last-minute problems. Get your priorities into order over the weekend, with love, of course, coming first. Taurus (April 20-May 20) Set a practical theme for your travels on Monday and Tuesday. You can make that excursion tax deductible and still have a fabulous time. You can benefit from changes at the top on Wednesday and Thursday if you play your cards carefully. Remind the boss how trustworthy you are and cause your resources, as well as responsibilities, to increase. Everybody wants into your pockets on Friday and Saturday. Save up, instead, for a worthy cause you’ll find on Sunday. Gemini (May 21-June 21) If you brown bag it on Monday and Tuesday, you can save enough for a nice excursion on Wednesday. Let a fascinating foreigner talk you out of your dull routine. You’ll be in the mood to do the same on Thursday and Friday, but there’s almost too much confusion. Work interferes with play, but play triumphs, at home. Don’t go far on Friday, or Saturday, either. Provide what an older person needs, and you’ll be generously rewarded on Sunday. Cancer (June 22-July 22) Your partner’s kind of bossy on Monday and Tuesday, but don’t put up much of a fuss. You could reap heretofore unimagined benefits. Research a likely investment on Wednesday, so you can move quickly when the time is right on Thursday. If you know what you’re doing, you can make a sweet deal. Don’t let a gossip ruin your plans on Friday. Trust your intuition instead. Sleep in on Saturday. Traveling early isn’t a good idea anyway. Postpone your trip until Sunday, and it’ll be much more relaxing. Leo (July 23-Aug. 22) Friends think you’re the best one for the job on Monday and Tuesday, so prove them right. Make plans with your partner on Wednesday, but don’t get rigid. There are bound to be surprises on Thursday and Friday, and not all pleasant. Take them one at a time, and don’t worry. The overall outcome looks positive if you mind your manners. Save your receipts on Saturday. Odds are good you’ll get something you later decide to take back. Sunday you’re more likely to get what you really like, but you don’t mind going into debt then, either. Better take your analytical friend’s advice, instead of following your own whim on that one. Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) A romantic connection is worth the trouble to get there, on Monday and/or Tuesday. Sure, the work is piling up, but that’s OK. Wednesday and Thursday are about nothing else, anyway. A project you’ve been anticipating finally starts and stops and starts, in fits and spurts. Schedule a relaxing conversation with your favorite listener for Friday, close to home. Something you thought you had figured out could backfire Saturday, but by Sunday the bugs should all be eradicated. Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 23) Love beckons on Monday and Tuesday, but you’re not quite ready yet. Finish household chores and decoration, so you can relax on Wednesday. Plans you’re making show great promise then, but difficulties are encountered on Thursday and Friday. Keep talking, and you’ll figure out how to fix just about everything together. You’ll lose patience on Saturday if costs run higher than expected. Keep shopping until Sunday, and you’re more likely to find the perfect thing. Scorpio (Oct. 24-Nov. 21) It’s back to the books for you on Monday and Tuesday, to fix an annoying problem at home. You may be pleased with your success on Wednesday, but don’t gloat. It’s too likely you’ll find more trouble on Thursday. Ignore a minor disagreement with your mate on Friday. Love triumphs quite nicely that day, much to your mutual delight. Be careful on Saturday to not break something expensive. Make playing with your sweetheart the top priority for Sunday. Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) Help out a friend and earn a bonus on Monday and Tuesday. Study up on Wednesday for the test that’s coming Thursday. And, don’t believe everything you hear on Friday. Do your own investigation and get more of what you want. You’ve got a mess on your hands Saturday. Don’t avoid it, just do the best you can, and you’ll have a snuggly nest to relax in by Sunday. Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) A friend thinks you can do it on Monday and Tuesday, so let yourself be convinced. The money looks too easy on Wednesday, and the problems start showing up on Thursday and Friday. You’re kept hopping, but you’re up to the challenge. Don’t bother to run errands on Saturday. Save them for Sunday, and you’re more apt to find what you’re seeking. Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) Gather up the resources and information you still need on Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday you should be almost ready to launch. There will be delays, you can count on that. It could be late Thursday or Friday before you actually get going. This is as it should be, so don’t push. You might break something. You might also get disappointing news late Friday or early Saturday. An older person is making more demands, but that’s also OK. You’ll have a better result when you’re finally done. Use some of that bounty you’ve recently acquired to fix up your place on Sunday. Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) A close friend and a distant one both have good advice on Monday and Tuesday. Listen to them. Don’t completely ignore your inner voices, just don’t be intimidated by them. And, don’t believe Wednesday’s job will be as easy as it looks, either. It gets complicated on Thursday and Friday. Plan carefully and be prepared for just about anything. Complying with an older person’s whims is a whole new challenge Saturday, but the tide’s in your favor. By this weekend, you can be resting in the lap of luxury. Birthdays This Week Jan. 22: The pressure’s on, but it’s your own decision. Push hard to make a fantasy come true. Jan. 23: You’ve got the talent, that’s obvious. Now, prove you’ve also got the common sense. Follow an older person’s advice. Jan. 24: You’re creative, confident and powerful this year! Be compassionate, too, and you’ll take home all the prizes. Jan. 25: You’re facing a few tough puzzles, but don’t even worry. If you didn’t have a challenge or two, you’d get bored! Jan 26: You can win the respect you deserve and the money to go with it. Don’t let a setback stop you; come back with the facts. Jan. 27: Shrewd planning and extensive research are required. Don’t take anything for granted, and success can be yours. Jan. 28: You’re blessed with a combination of mental and emotional energy. You’ll be both analytical and compassionate if you’re wise. ...

Political Zipper Problem Proves far Better than the Alternative

I would like to propose a mild brain teaser for all the semi-awake, loyal readers out there who are waiting with baited breath to flip to the personals section of this newspaper. Our nation, which has tried time and time again to legislate human morality, is amoral. Believe it: Sex, drugs and violence are still “”the American Way.”” The Reverend Jesse Jackson — Rainbow Coalition posterboy and spiritual advisor to former President Clinton — has a 20-month-old illegitimate child, and meanwhile, Texas’ electric chair is regularly being filled with flesh to deep-fry unpopular members of our own species. Floridians still think their votes were fairly counted, and we all still have a 50-50 chance of divorcing. Forget the fact that I’m not being inaugurated into anything; this is my inaugural address. The rampant zipper problem plaguing public officeholders of the male genre has many Americans embittered. Those who know me will also know that I too have been a sucker for a man in power, and thus I offer the following advice to the Monicas of this nation: Run to the media, ladies — we will embrace your stories of size and style whether you’ve been sleeping with congressmen, reverends or first ladies. By spilling it all, you may gain a little of the power that was handed to those men just because they were born with penises. My advice comes with one reservation, however — just don’t go to Larry Flynt. As for the death penalty, I point to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Endangered Species Protection Program, which obliges the government to protect species from pesticides. The poison-filled needles that our government has so subtly and endearingly nicknamed “”lethal injections”” certainly qualify as pesticides meant for the pestlike members of the human species. Any analytical thinker can see that through the electric chair, we’re letting the D.C. boys break the very laws they’ve made regarding preservation of species. Not to mention the fact that, somehow, women and whites are mysteriously avoiding death row in comparison to the number of black men, who are the favorite contestants for execution, that are on death row. I support affirmative action — does that mean I’m a proponent of opening up a few spots for the women and white men who keep getting excluded from death row while African American men occupy all the slots? Not exactly. I’m not arguing for a diversification of death row; I’m arguing for an elimination of the whole idea in general. I don’t care if people want to strap each other down with leather belts as long as it isn’t about death. If all that doesn’t convince you, consider this: Government-endorsed and government-enforced murder doesn’t seem like a good idea when we’ve got people like Dubya calling the shots. Wouldn’t you be a bit miffed if that moron, who recently told Barbara Walters that he is unsure if Russia is a friend or a threat, ordained your execution? I guess the cocaine and booze must have caused him to miss more of the ’80s than we originally thought — the guy still doesn’t realize that the Cold War ended. Another problem plaguing “”the union”” is sketchy voting procedures. The fact that Florida is filled with nothing but prune juice consumers and people who earn their income by parading around Fantasy Land as mice, chipmunks and princesses should have caught our attention a long time ago. No wonder the butterfly ballot confused them — they either work at “”The Happiest Place on Earth”” or they haven’t had contact with anyone but the Rite Aid pharmacist in over 30 years. Obviously, they’re a bit removed from the rest of the country. Perhaps equally frightening is the trouble I encountered upon trying to vote in Del Mar. Instead of being handed a ballot and a ballot-punching machine in which to insert my ballot, I was given a ballot-punching machine that already had a ballot inserted into it. Excited about voting and late for class, I didn’t give the situation much thought, nor did I check the ballot before I began punching away for the leftists. What I realized once CNN began attacking the Florida situation was that the Gucci-clad, tanning booth-veteran poll worker who grimaced upon seeing my UCSD sweatshirt easily could have punched a few holes through my ballot before sticking it into the machine and handing the contraption to me — which would have immediately disqualified my ballot. It seems like I’d fit in in Florida more than I would like to think. The true indicator of our nation’s status, however, is the popularity of Fox’s “”Temptation Island.”” We already know that we only have a 50-50 chance of establishing a lifelong marriage. We also know that about 40 percent of people cheat on their significant other. Yet FOX seems to think we might not comprehend these facts even after all those “”Jerry Springer”” reruns we’ve watched, so the network has decided to use “”Temptation Island”” to reiterate that sometimes love really isn’t enough, and humans probably are just lustful fiends like every other animal on this planet. Bonobo female chimpanzees, which constitute our closest relatives by sharing 98 percent of our genetic material, are known to detach male chimps’ penises and scrotums if the mood is right. I swear I saw the same thing going on between a human couple on a 1 a.m. “”Jerry Springer”” episode last week, and I would do the same thing if my boyfriend fell victim to a “”Temptation Island”” cutie. “”Temptation Island”” also proves that Americans’ voyeuristic tendencies can no longer be denied — more couch potatoes watched the opening episode of “”Temptation Island”” than any other FOX series in history … but to see what? Stable relationships crumbling away as primal attraction triumphs over emotional commitment, and men and women admitting to themselves that love will not necessarily find a way is apparently now entertainment. Meanwhile, here comes President Bush to force Christian concepts of family down our throats (i.e. male-female lifelong marriages). I think I prefer Clinton and Jackson with their zipper problems — at least their lifestyles reflect pop culture. ...

Well Endowed

Looking around, some would argue that students at UCSD are generally apathetic and a bit disdainful of their undergraduate experiences. After all, we are not a Division I school. We don’t even have a football team. But look a bit deeper, and you will find that student involvement is making UCSD one of the top-ranked schools in California and in the nation. In fact, as a public institution, we place seventh in U.S. News and World Report’s 2001 college ranking. UCSD is also the third-ranked college in the UC system and, at 31st, one of the youngest colleges to make the top 50 in the nation. As a research institution, UCSD is even more impressive. We recently took one of three major $300 million state grants from UC Berkeley, which is perhaps a telltale sign of more to come. These statistics are made possible in part by the involvement of students, like the members of the UCSD Student Foundation, the donors that support this group and the inspiration of people like Vice Chancellor James Langley, who initially came up with the idea for the group. Conception The UCSD Student Foundation is an idea carried over from Georgia Tech by Langley, who, as vice chancellor, is in charge of external relations. It is the first in the UC system and stems from the philosophy that when given the opportunity to become involved and invested in the betterment of their own education, students will rise to the occasion. The idea took off in early 1999 when UCSD graduates Marc and Patricia Brutten agreed to donate $100,000 to start the foundation. The Bruttens have a history of donating money to UCSD, specifically to the Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, and saw this as a chance to encourage student participation and to enable students to make a difference for themselves. The money established a means of “”reaching out to aspiring students with business acumen and offering them a way to connect to the University,”” according to the Foundation’s Web site, located at http://www.studentfoundation.ucsd.edu. The main goal of the UCSD Student Foundation is to build a strong student community that understands the role of philanthropic acts in a society. Written directly into its bylaws is this statement: “”The purpose of the UCSDSF is to promote, facilitate and perpetuate the philanthropic spirit among the UCSD student community.”” Langley has described the Student Foundation as an opportunity for friends and supporters of the university to interact with students, a mechanism for the student body to support fundraising efforts and a way for students to give to each other by way of scholarships. It isn’t that difficult for one student to make a difference, according to Carolyn Muhlstein, a graduate student at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, and member of the Student Foundation. “”The founders of the UCSD Student Foundation understood that when individuals begin donating money to philanthropic organizations at a young age, this habit stays with them later in life,”” Muhlstein said. “”The founders also understood that it is important for all members of society to make contributions of any size to philanthropy, regardless of personal wealth. As students, most of us are financially strapped, but by giving a little, and seeing how our resources can be pooled to make a difference, we gain a very real understanding of our ability to positively influence the lives of those less fortunate.”” According to Ping Yeh, an engineering graduate student and the current president of the Student Foundation, the “”philanthropic spirit of UCSD”” means an awareness of how lucky we all are. “”We have more than an opportunity to get an education at UCSD,”” Yeh said. “”Once we realize we have such gifts in life, we have seemingly a moral obligation to take action to improve our university, our communities and our earth. Making daily efforts to strengthen our relationships with others, with UCSD and ourselves, will bring us all closer to the way of life that brings respect and caring for each other and our environment.”” Structure The Student Foundation is modeled after the UCSD Foundation, a committee of 50 people entrusted to manage the university’s endowment fund of over $200 million. Trustees have designed a formal mentoring program to help the members of the student foundation manage their endowment and work more efficiently. It is important for the Student Foundation to be patterned after the foundation in order for the trustees to better advise the student trustees. “”If the organization is committed to the same guiding principles and has the same structure, it’s easier to provide counsel and to serve as a model for students to observe,”” Langley said. “”Also, we hope that the student trustees become involved alumni and ultimately aspire to a place on the UC San Diego Foundation.”” The students also appreciate the knowledge that the members of the original Foundation provide. “”As with the creation of any new organization, our learning curve is incredibly steep,”” Muhlstein said. “”Since members of the original foundation have been through many of the same challenges we are experiencing, their expertise is invaluable.”” Currently there are 12 Student Trustees, including several graduate students and one student studying abroad. The full board is a diverse group, representing all five colleges, that meets weekly to discuss current projects and foundation development. The foundation is organized into three formal committees. Development focuses on “”increasing the Student Foundation’s endowment through gifts made by students, faculty, and friends of UCSD,”” according to the Web site. The Investment Committee provides the main source of growth for the committee by managing the investment portfolio of the group. The Nominations Committee is responsible for helping to select new trustees, publicizing the foundation and interviewing and recommending potential trustees to the Board of Trustees for final approval. According to Yeh, the group is in the second stage of a four-stage process that began at its 1999 conception. During the first year, Student Trustees focused on building the infrastructure of the group, including creating a mission statement, establishing bylaws and a Web site. In the second stage, student trustees are beginning to focus on outreach programs to involve staff, faculty, alumni, the community and especially students in the improvement of UCSD. Yeh feels that the Student Foundation has an advantageous position in this particular stage because the members, as students, know better than staff and administration what works and what doesn’t work with students. The third stage is to work with the students to generate donations for important causes around campus. Here students will have the opportunity to donate both time and money to a cause of their choosing. Yeh hopes that the foundation will serve as a facilitator for philanthropic service among UCSD students. The fourth stage is to help to change the rhetoric surrounding UCSD student apathy. The hope is that students, upon discovering their own power to instill change in this community, will carry that philosophy throughout their lives and continue to give in their lives to their communities and to UCSD. “”I think the students of UCSD should be proud that we have the only student foundation in the UC system,”” said Yeh. “”We have an organization that is a teacher and facilitator for our own peers. That feels great to all of us.”” Current Projects Although only in its second year, the Student Foundation is already working to initiate change in the UCSD community. The group is currently focusing its energy on two projects. The first, titled “”Change for Change,”” is designed to help the Preuss School students, and the second will benefit UCSD students directly. “”Change for Change”” pits the five colleges against one other in an effort to see which one can raise the most money by throwing extra change into bins located around campus. Each college is in charge of the strategic location of its own bin. Although the Preuss School was recently completed, the construction funds fell short of including items such as lunch tables, jungle gyms and other standard middle school equipment. Money from “”Change for Change”” will be used to purchase lunch tables for the students, who currently sit on the ground and on grassy areas during lunch time. The tables will also be used for tutoring, a service that some UCSD students currently provide. This competition is being sponsored by the UCSD Alumni Association. The Association has agreed to match donations up to $2,000 in an effort to improve the Preuss School. The tables will be inscripted with plaques reading, “”From current college scholars to future college scholars.”” The competition goes until Feb. 2, and the money will be counted at Spirit Night. The college that wins the competition will earn a free movie night at the Price Center Theater, with the discretion to pick the movie and night. UCSDSF’s second project is in conjunction with the University Center Advisory Board to develop a “”Wall of Student Excellence and Philanthropy”” for the Price Center. The UCSDSF is working with Sony to have a flat-screen television donated, which, if garnered, will be hung alongside several awards in the A.S. offices. The television will be used to advertise UCSD activities and projects and to highlight the efforts of UCSD students. The wall will also highlight UCSDSF scholarship recipients. In addition to raising money for UCSD projects, the Student Foundation has also made financial contributions to UCSD. The most generous would be its $3,000 contribution to the Chancellor’s 5K, a run designed to raise money for scholarships. The money donated to the fund is matched by the Chancellor, resulting in six $1,000 scholarships for incoming UCSD students. The Student Foundation also donated 1,000 bottles of water to the UCSD Un-Olympics during the first week of fall quarter, as an effort to reach out to incoming students. Getting Involved Currently students can help by contributing to their colleges’ bins to support the Preuss School. In the future, students will be able to go online to donate to a specific cause or to the general pool of investment principal that only goes towards scholarships. Applications to become a student trustee can be found online. UCSD undergraduate or graduate students of any major who are in good academic standing may apply. “”Applicants should have experience in and/or be motivated to learn about philanthropy, fund raising and investment management,”” states the Web site. ...

Man Shares Story of Growing Up During Political Struggle

There are few books out there that can bring out a plethora of emotions from a person. “”Colors of the Mountain”” is one of these rarities. Sadness and despair, hopefulness and joy result from the experience of reading this book. There are not enough words to describe the varying range of feelings evoked by this true story of a man’s childhood during a time of oppression. “”Colors of the Mountain”” is the autobiography of Da Chen, a Chinese-American who grew up during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and ’70s. Chen focuses on his childhood, from the time he was eight years old until he was in his teens. Growing up in a country that despised his family because his sickly grandfather was successful in business before the Communist takeover in China, Chen and his family were forced to live in poverty. His father was imprisoned and forced to work in labor camps, leaving his mother as the sole breadwinner of the family. This was especially hard for a woman, considering the place and time. As the youngest of the children, there was little Chen could do to help. This being the case, Chen focused all his energy on school and getting into the University of Beijing. As any Chinese student can tell you, the pressure to perform well academically is immense. The weight on his shoulders came not just from his family, but from himself. Chen’s sole desire was to bring his family out of poverty, and he viewed an education at the university as the way to achieve this. Blessed with an amazing mind and adamant will, Chen was successful in dragging himself from the despair that threatened to swallow him. What is amazing about the book and about Chen is the way the story is conveyed to the reader. The Cultural Revolution in China is one of the worst examples of human depravity and sorrow. Yet Chen retells his coming-of-age not with anger-filled words and a mouth filled with spite, but with humor and humility. Lisa See, author of “”On Gold Mountain,”” said it best when she praised the book. “”Born with the wretched political birthmark of being a landlord’s son, he has looked back at his life without cynicism or self-pity,”” See stated. “”‘Colors of the Mountain’ is a book of great dignity.”” “”Colors of the Mountain”” is not merely a coming-of-age memoir. It gives readers an unadulterated window into not only his past, but into China’s past as well. Readers can witness the cruelty of communist China, the mass paranoia of an entire population and the underlying human compassion that is buried beneath it all. It gives us the vantage point of living in poverty and depending on others to survive. And to witness Chen, as a boy, standing above it all and succeeding is quite humbling. Reading the book was a cathartic experience for me, as I am sure it will be for anyone who picks it up and thumbs through the pages. At the time that I was reading the book, I was in dire straits, one might say. The book proved to be the remedy to my ailment. I found inspiration in the book and in Chen’s struggles to support his family and his education. Chen’s ability to look back at his past and simply smile is something I find amazing. I highly recommend this autobiography to anyone, no matter his race, ethnicity or major. Despite our differences, there are some things that connect everyone: the will to succeed and the greatness of human achievement. “”Colors of the Mountains”” epitomizes these characteristics. Those interested in Chinese history will also find this book of great interest. It provides a window into the recent history of the People’s Republic of China and the cultural revolution that shaped the nation. For those with interest in Chinese society, Chen gives a frank look at the traditional Chinese family and the values instilled in it. The importance of education, putting the family first and pride of achievement are all touched on in this moving book. “”Colors of the Mountains”” offers a range of emotions. Like the Pilgrim in Dante’s “”Divine Comedy,”” Chen travels, emotionally and physically, from hell to heaven. The reader is likewise put on this roller coaster of feelings. Even the ending is bittersweet. I won’t ruin it for you, but I will mention that a friend who also read the book was crying her eyes out by the last page. ...