Mental health services on the rise at SGV private universities

At 7:30 a.m. May 1, University of La Verne junior Rachel Drake wakes up, brushes her short blonde hair, puts in her earrings, does her winged eyeliner and takes a pill from the small orange bottle on her dresser. Before she walks out the door, like she does every morning, she must take her prescription — 20 mg of Prozac.

Today she has an extra stop. Before class, she stops by the stone building on the corner of 2nd and E Street, checks in at the front desk, and takes a seat. She waits for her monthly visit with her school-appointed therapist.

“Therapists at school are accessible and free under my student insurance,” Drake said. “I’m lucky that I don’t have to drive back to San Diego once a month and pay $55 to see a therapist who doesn’t know me or is aware of my university and is assigned to me by my insurance.”

At private universities in the San Gabriel Valley, an increasing number of students are taking advantage of their colleges’ mental health facilities. At University of La Verne, Azusa Pacific University and the five Claremont colleges, full-time undergraduate students have access to free mental health services under their school-issued student insurance.

Compared with other private colleges in the area, the University of La Verne’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has been busier than its counterparts. Eleven percent of ULV’s undergraduates use psychological services compared to 8 percent at APU and 5 percent at the Claremont colleges.

“We understand students on campus become stressed or anxious with college life, so it’s important they are accommodated with an on-campus mental health service,”CAPS Director Elleni Kuolos said.

University of La Verne students who use CAPS’ services attend appointments three times more than students at APU and the five Claremont colleges. However, ULV has the least students and mental health programs to offer compared to the other universities.

“We find that nothing beats face-to-face interaction,” CAPS director Elleni Kuolos said.

Therapists at the five Claremont colleges’ combined mental health program, known as Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services (MCAPS), can interact with students in ways not available at ULV.

“We have an emergency therapist who is available after business hours who can provide counseling over the phone and via Skype,” MCAPS director Gary DeGroot said.

Like MCAPS, APU’s mental health program, the University Counseling Center (UCC), also has 24-hour and emergency services.

Out of the three programs, CAPS is the only one that does not provide 24-hour mental health care through the school.

“If I could change one thing about CAPS is that I don’t have access to a therapist at night,” Drake said. “The night is when I’m alone with my thoughts. That’s when I might need them the most.”

If CAPS students have an after-hours emergency, they must contact local mental health hospitals provided to them through an introductory pamphlet.

“It’s impersonal,” Drake said. “If I have a psychiatric emergency I have to rely on people who don’t know me and don’t know my situation, triggers or issues.”

On May 15, CAPS formally requested funding for a 24-hour therapist to begin next school year, Kuolos said.

Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication and anti-psychotics are prescribed by psychiatrists at all three of the programs, however more UCC students are prescribed medication than by any other service. Eighty-six percent of UCC students are prescribed antidepressants compared to 72 percent at MCAPS and 79 percent at CAPS.

“It’s not our intention to prescribe medication to everyone. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding if antidepressants are the right choice for each student,” UCC Director Bill Fiala said.

Child and adolescent psychologist Joanne Als said she believes college campuses prescribe medication to distance themselves from potential lawsuits.

“Many college mental health programs are quick to prescribe medication because it’s immediate proof that the University is meeting the needs of students,” Als said. “It removes liability if the student were ever to have a psychological break or complete suicide. The University could say in a lawsuit ‘We did everything we could, we even medicated them.’”

Overall, CAPS provides service to more of its student population and a longer-continuing treatment. CAPS students visit approximately 10 times a school year compared to one to two times a school year at MCAPS and UCC.

Kuolos credits this with the University’s therapeutic practices and involvement with multiple clubs on campus that advocate for mental health and sexual assault awareness.

“Depression isn’t just you take a pill or go to therapy once and you’re okay, it’s a process,” Kuolos said. “We try to make students understand this by being active on campus.”

Drake has adopted this motto from CAPS.

“I know that alleviating my symptoms of depression is a process,” Drake said. “I visit CAPS at least once a month, go to group and individual therapy, take my medication and use the coping techniques I’ve learned.”

CAPS, unlike UCC and MCAPS, contacts students throughout the school year and between appointments.

“We encourage our students to come back and send them texts and email reminders so that they know we care, we’re here and we’re ready for them,” Kuolos said.

Convincing students to continue their therapy is a challenge at UCC and MCAPS.

“Our biggest problem is getting students to come back,” DeGroot said. “As of now, they come about once a semester, if that.”

Because of the low return-rate, UCC psychiatrists tend to prescribe medication during the first visit. This contributes to the large percentage of UCC students on medication, Fiala said.

“Students tend not to understand that being healthy mentally is a process, they need to come back more,” Fiala said.

To increase participation, APU is implementing e-mail reminders to UCC students beginning next school year. MCAPS will not implement a contact list as students are from five different colleges, according to DeGroot.

At 8:30 a.m. Drake is called into the office by Kuolos. As the school year is coming to an end, Drake receives her end-of-the-year assessment and summer supply of her anti-depressants.

In Fall 2017, Drake will return and continue her treatment at CAPS. She will continue therapy at home in San Diego during the summer.

“The most important thing is making myself go, I can’t do this alone,” Drake said.

The story above was written as an assignment for my Journalism 300 class. Information and quotes should not all be taken as fact.

“13 Reasons Why” suicide depiction raises concerns

The Netflix original series “13 Reasons Why,” based on the popular young adult book by Jay Asher with the same name, has been the subject of heated online discussion over its entertainment value vs. potential detrimental effects on viewers, since the show’s debut on March 31.

The show centers around high school student Hannah Baker, who makes tapes listing characters and what they did to influence her suicide. One character listens to the story unfold as the 13 episodes progress.

Some critics praised the show for realistically and boldly addressing mental health and suicide in the compelling series.

Some University of La Verne therapists and psychology students, however, claimed the drama romanticizes suicide, and the show’s graphic nature may “trigger” vulnerable viewers.

Viewer discretion essential

“This show is an issue across the board,” said Elleni Koulos, University of La Verne’s Counseling and Psychological Services Director.

CAPS staff member and psychology graduate student Tatiana Kassar, who has also watched the show, said she understands its entertainment value. She said her main concern as a mental health professional is the show’s impact on young adult and teenage viewers.

“The target audience does not have a fully developed prefrontal cortex,” she said. “They don’t have executive function yet.”

The prefrontal cortex controls personality expression, decision making, complex cognitive behavior and social behavior. Executive function includes reasoning, problem solving and control of inhibitions, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.

“We are 100 percent concerned about copy-cats,” Koulos said. “A lot of high schoolers have that ‘I’ll show you’ mentality, and now they not only have a how-to guide, but this unrealistic idea that this is how the aftermath of suicide will happen.”

The prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until approximately 25 years old, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.

“High school was not that long ago for college students, so developmentally college students are in similar stages,” Kassar added.

“Any vulnerable college student could react to the show the same way as a junior high or high school student.”

Another concern the therapists raised was how accessible the graphic content is to children or those impressionable due to mental illness.

“All Netflix does to combat that is when you’re watching it will ask who’s watching,” said CAPS staff member and psychology graduate student Katherine Courtney. “All a kid has to do is click the adult’s profile and they have access to adult Netflix.”

On Netflix, ratings are only available in the show or movie’s overview, which a viewer must intentionally click to read.

According to the Netflix overview, “13 Reasons Why” is rated TV-MA, for mature adult audiences.

Trigger Warnings

The show does provide some trigger warnings, including a screen before the first episode reading: “This fictional series covers several difficult issues including depression and suicide. If you or anyone you know needs help finding support and crisis resources in your area, go to for more information.”

“There should be a much more explicit warning before you even get into the show about what exactly you might see or feel, because a screen is not going to stop people from pressing play once they are into it,” Kassar said.

The other warnings come before episodes that include sexual assaults and Hannah’s suicide.

“It’s after someone has been hooked on this show and may already be triggered,” Kassar said. “It should be at the beginning of every single episode.”

Courtney said that the show can also be upsetting to someone who has lost a loved one to suicide.

“The show does not consider what the effect might be on them in processing their own grief,” Courtney said.

Specifically, CAPS said, parents who watched the show may identify with Hannah’s parents and have a reaction.

“I often think about all the parents who have lost children to suicide and how triggering this show is for them,” Koulos said. “Reliving the blame all over again.”

The reaction of Hannah’s parent is a huge plotline in the show, Kassar said.

“We watch their experience and the scene where they come in, find her body, and that whole process,” Kassar said. “It’s hugely triggering for the family and parents of those who died by suicide.”

Graphic content is explicit

Another concern raised by the ULV therapists and the online community is the show’s use of graphic content, including two sexual assaults as well as Hannah’s suicide.

“I think that you can still talk about these issues without showing the graphic content,” Koulos said.

Kassar added that she felt sick watching the completed suicide scene.

“I think that there’s no need for anyone to ever see that,” Kassar said. “The camera doesn’t cut away, you just completely watch her bleed out. No one can unsee that.”

The CAPS staff said the technical accuracy of the act is troubling.

“In some ways, it’s a how-to guide,” Kassar said, adding that the sexual assault is also gratuitous in its explicitness.

The show includes two plot-lines surrounding the sexual assault of the main character Hannah and supporting character Jessica. The characters react to the assault differently: Hannah spirals into depression and later attributes the assault to her suicide, and Jessica represses the memory and self-medicates with alcohol.

The scenes are shot from a third-person perspective, but also the point of view of the attacker and the victim.

“It could be very triggering for someone who has been raped to see it in that graphic way,” Courtney said.

Staff at CAPS agreed that another accurate part of the show is its portrayal of depression.

“It definitely shows the darkness that someone who is suicidal goes through,” Kassar said. “It doesn’t really glamorize depression, which is good.”

She said the show demonstrates the roller-coaster those with depression experience.

“I think the show explains how a person that presented with really no symptoms at the beginning can go from that point and experience all these kinds of stressors in her life where she does end up killing herself,” Kassar said.

Difficult communication

Another aspect of the show, the CAPS staff criticized is the way the main character Hannah does not reach out for help until the day she decided to complete suicide, when she passively attempts to make her high school counselor, distracted by his ringing cell phone, recognize she needs help. She takes the tape recorder with her to the meeting and even speaks to her future audience as she fruitlessly waits for her counselor to run after her.

“She needed to talk about it,” Kassar said. “A missing piece of the show is that we saw all the things that happened and what went wrong, but we didn’t see much of her reaching out for help. It was, at the end, her last attempt.”

This too may be typical teenage behavior: wanting others to know something is wrong without having to tell them, the CAPS staff said. “A lot of teens don’t reach out,” Koulos said. “It takes a friend or a family member to convince them they need help and to talk.”

Kassar said that it was realistic that even Hannah’s parents, who were involved in her life by often checking in on her, and her counselor, who may have many students and not properly trained, could miss the clear signs of a suicidal person.

In the tapes, Hannah mentions that she wished they had asked her what was wrong one more time.

“There are scenes that show the audience what could have been done differently, but that’s not the case,” Kassar said. “She needed to reach out. You can’t be passive with your own mental health. It’s okay to talk about it, it’s okay not to be okay.”

Romanticizing suicide

The show follows Clay, Hannah’s friend, as he tries to come to terms with her death and reacts to the tapes. He often acts out against those listed in her tapes, even before reaching his own.

“This show casts all blame on those in the tapes, but the reason she killed herself is because she killed herself,” Kassar said. “That was a choice. Suicide is a choice.”

Kassar said the title of the show is indicative of blame.

“When someone in their lives kills themselves a lot of people sit with the ‘Did I cause that?’ feeling,” Kassar said. “To say “13 Reasons Why” implies causation.”

The title itself is where CAPS thinks the controversy that the show romanticizes suicide comes from.

“I think I would say it romanticizes suicide because of the 13 reasons component,” Kassar said. “It’s a very accurate representation of suicide itself, but it’s also very fictional because who, realistically, is going to make 13 tapes?”

CAPS staff explained the making of tapes, although not impossible, is not what a suicidal person would do.

“It’s an inaccurate representation of the mindset of someone who is actively going to kill themselves,” Kassar said. “To think that ‘I am absolutely going to do it, but first let me sit down and record these tapes and make a map and essentially avenge my death,’ is not realistic.”

The tapes can be interpreted as Hannah’s final act of vengeance.

“I do think the cognitive ability of some high schoolers is that (suicide) is a way to get back at people,” Koulos said.

CAPS staff stressed that suicide should not be interpreted that way.

“If you kill yourself, that’s it,” Kassar said. “You have no idea what’s going to happen and all of that information may never come out, so the show does romanticize the aftermath of suicide.”

According to Kassar, viewers get the feeling that Hannah, since she is narrating the tapes and therefore part of the show, is watching over the characters from death.

“The narration makes us think she’s watching and she’s not, or at least we don’t really know if she could, so that is very romanticized and fictional,” Kassar said.

Suicidal people are focused on the act, a reason there may not be a note with suicide attempts.

“This is a character who really detailed all the people who hurt her and it’s not always like that – a clear picture of why someone chose to end their life,” Courtney said. “Often times there isn’t a note or explanation, and even if you have those reasons, it doesn’t take away the pain of losing someone.”

Not for the vulnerable

The CAPS counselors do not recommend the show to anyone, especially those suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts or mental illness.

Kassar said that she would not recommend the show to patients or friends, but if someone told her they were going to watch it, she would give them a severe trigger warning.

“The show made it seem like suicide is the only solution, but it’s not, so in that way the show was very narrow and not as inclusive as it could be,” Kassar said. “If we could learn anything as a campus is that there are resources and people you can reach out to instead of trying to deal on your own.”

Courtney agreed that the show, although bringing to light sensitive subjects, should not be seen as realistic or a good step toward awareness.

“Overall, I don’t think the show is necessary. It’s not representative of someone who is actively suicidal. You cannot avenge your own death, and you can spread awareness without this triggering content,” Courtney said.

Koulos said that despite CAPS’ negative review of the show, they are using it as a platform.

“I think the problem with the show overall is that you can spread awareness in other ways, like educating people,” Koulos said. “It doesn’t have to be that explicit and graphic. The good thing that came out of this is that we can use this to start a conversation about mental health and give people 13 reasons why not,” Koulos said.

Kassar said that bullying, sexual assault, depression and other issues Hannah had could be dealt with by seeking professional help.

“So many people have gone through these issues and not committed suicide, and I wish it showed more of that,” Kassar said. “We may have all kinds of experiences, positive and negative, but how are you going to use that to make yourself better or others better? Suicide is not the only solution.”

CAPS helps over 300 students annually. The program has over 3,000 appointments a year and does both individual and group appointments.

“If Hannah were at ULV, I’d tell her to come to CAPS,” Koulos said.

To make an appointment, students can call CAPS at 909-448-4178 or visit the CAPS office at 2215 E St in La Verne, located at the corner of Second Street and E Street. Concerns about the mental health or safety of an individual can be submitted through a Behavior and Wellness Referral Report via the CAPS webpage at

CAPS recommends contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network at 1-800-656-4673 for 24-hour and weekend emergencies.

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.

ELD System raises concerns

As 9:30 a.m. rolls around, 11-year-old Juan Aguillar anxiously stares outside the window from his plastic blue chair, bouncing his leg and tapping his pencil on his desk as he watches as the overcast sky dims the jungle gym outside. He watches the third and fourth grade students having recess. His teacher has reminded him to read his book, Mr. Frog and Mr. Toad, three times within the last 20 minutes.

He chose the book from his teacher’s library based of her two sticker system. The top sticker indicates the grade level of the book, the bottom sticker on the difficulty. Aguillar always chooses a book with a top sticker reading six and the bottom sticker reading one.

Despite his teacher’s sticker system, he still has difficulty reading the book written in English. At 12-years-old, Aguillar is not fluent in English, and has known the language half of his life. His parents, a migrant farm worker and a cleaning woman, brought him to the United States from Mexico at 6-years-old.

The Spanish-speaking student spends his Friday mornings in an English Language Development, or ELD, class with eight other students. At his third through sixth-grade school, sixth-grade ELD students spend Fridays with a bilingual teacher, trained to help students whose second language is English.

Since the early 2000s, California Elementary School has had an English as a Second Language, or ESL, program. Bilingual teaching aides were assigned a child to provide one-on-one help the whole school day.

In 2006, the school’s ESL program catered to a record 28 kids, a more than 50 percent increase from the previous school year.

“We had to hire more aides, and even then they had two students instead of one,” ELD teacher Amber Spina said.

As a result, at the start of the 2007-2008 school year, the school began its ELD program. ELD students in each grade have a specified day for an ELD class.

Although ELD students only make up 7.57 percent of the school’s students, the school spends 30 percent more on ELD students than non-ELD students.

“The technology we provide for them is more expensive than non-ELD students,” Spina said. “The school provides ELD students with laptops during the school day and an individualized Rosetta Stone program.”

Despite ELD teachers’ efforts at the elementary level, the district has noticed a downhill trend in students graduating from the ELD program. From the 2012-13 school year to the 2015-16 school year, 7.5 percent points less students were redesignated as English fluent, or students no longer in need of the ELD program. The decreasing amount of students graduating from the ELD program has become a trend in the last decade. Seventeen percent less students tested out of the program at sixth-grade in 2016 than in 2006.

“This decrease has inspired us to implement an individualized Rosetta Stone program than a general one, and we’re in the talks of reintroducing the one-on-one aides,” Principal Lori Wildes said. “But with that, comes the need for more funding, which means the gap in what we spend on ELD students and what we spend on non-ELD students is growing.”

At 9:45 a.m. the bell rings, notifying fifth- and sixth-graders that their 15-minute recess begins. Aguillar immediately perks up, drops his book, and runs to the door. Before he gets out the threshold, Spina reminds him to push in his chair and return the book to the library.

He turns around and does as he’s told with a sense of urgency and quickly runs out the door for recess, straight to the jungle gym.

Freshmen weigh in on freshman 15

The “freshman 15” is the 15 pounds freshman are expected to gain – in theory or reality – in college due to stress, dining hall food, drinking and lack of exercise. Students here, however, debate whether it’s really a thing.

In a recent informal survey, 15 freshman were asked to weigh in on it.

Ten said they believe the weight gain is real, two said they do not and three didn’t know. Six of those surveyed said they actually gained 15 pounds freshman year.

Participants cited independence, boredom, stress, party culture, budget constrains and the ULV meal plans as the main reasons for weight gain.

Despite not gaining the 15 pounds himself, freshman computer science major Dylan Villanueva said he still believes the freshman 15 is real.

Isaac Gomez, freshman business administration major, said that although he eats healthy most of the time, he only exercises about one time a week and has gained the freshman 15.

“There’s a lack of nutrition structure that comes with being independent,” freshman psychology major Jamie Finegan said. “The main reason people gain the freshman 15 is because you get to college and you start drinking beer and partying.”

Freshman sociology major Briana Villarreal said the freshman 15 is not inevitable, but rather an excuse to not take care of oneself.

“People … see it as normal to gain 15 pounds, so they eat unhealthy,” Villareal said.

Freshman business administration major Caroline Zanteson does not think she gained weight.

“It depends on the person and whether they know how to control themselves,” Zanteson said. “Some people don’t have self control, so they learn it over time.”

Freshman computer science major Jussy Bi said many students gain the freshman 15 because they eat out of boredom rather than to maintain their health.

“Usually when you have classes all day and there’s a gap where you have nothing to do, you search for food,” Bi said.

Freshman psychology major Alexa Withers said the freshman 15 is caused by college tensions.

“People eat a lot when they’re stressed,” Withers said.

Freshman chemistry major Itzel Jauregui, who commutes to ULV, attributed the freshman 15 to the lack of affordable healthy options off-campus.

“I think it’s because of our budget,” Jauregui said. “Am I going to get a $4.99 salad or a $1.69 bag of chips and an 89 cent drink from Circle K?”

Three students said they believe students who live on campus are more susceptible to the freshman 15.

“I think dormers gain it because they have the meal passes,” freshman kinesiology major Sabrina Hernandez said. “For us commuters, we have what we can make from home.”

In a 2008 study of 131 students who live on campus in at private colleges, the Journal of American College Health found the average weight gain after the first year of college was 2.7 pounds.

Half of students gained weight and 15 percent lost weight with men gaining more than women, the study found.

“(Still) people who dorm can eat all they want, three times a day, every day of the week,” said Freshman business administration major Evan Monterroso. Monterroso, a water polo player, said he eats healthy about half the time, but works out four to five times a week.

“In my experience, the freshman 15 only applies to people who don’t play sports,” Monterroso said.

Jauregui added: “In my spare time or when I’m not studying, I go to the gym and get 30 minutes of cardio. I drink water all day and before I go to bed.”

Other students said that they naturally did not gain weight during their freshman year.

“I’ve seen it happen to other people, but I haven’t gained… It’s just my metabolism,” freshman Karla Lucarelli said.

Freshman math major Taylor Francis said she did not gain the freshman 15 because of her eating habits.

“I actually like healthy food and I enjoy eating it because it makes me feel better,” Francis said.

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.

20 Things That Happen When You Have Resting Nice Face

You’ve heard of Resting Bitch Face or RBF, the self-diagnosed term for people who look mad all the time (And if you don’t know what RBF is, find out here.) A lot of people identify with RBF, but here’s your education on “Resting Nice Face.” Life with RNF, I would argue, is even more annoying than RBF. And here’s why.

1. You’re always asked for directions

At Disneyland. At the mall. People think you’re a map.

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2. You’re always the photographer

And you wonder why strangers at Disneyland trust you with their iPhones.

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3. You’re the walking coat rack

“Hold this, I’ll be right back!” -friend while you’re out

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4. People assume you work there

“Do you work here?” *Not in any uniform*

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5. You’re always the shoulder to cry on

Even if you’re not talented at comforting people.

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6. Random strangers will tell you about their whole day

And you sit and listen as not to be rude.

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7. People ask you for favors all the time

No. Just no.

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8. Guys assume you’re flirting

It’s just my smile though.

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9. And won’t take ‘no’ for an answer

No matter how many times you say it.

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10. You’re carded everywhere

No one believes how old you are. Even with the laminated government proof.

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11. No one takes you seriously

Literally, no one.

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12. Especially when you’re mad

“You’re cute when you’re mad.”

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13. People don’t expect you to be opinionated

Like we don’t all have them.

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14. Or to cuss

It surprises everyone.

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15. Or to be coniving

Not sorry about it.

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16. Babies and animals follow you

Everywhere. They love you.

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17. The touching

Hugs. All the time. People want to hug you, even without asking.

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18. You get harassed at the mall

If they’re selling something, they’ll ask you

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19. Everyone thinks they know you

No, I don’t think we’ve met.

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20. Or you remind them of someone.

Thank you for letting me know I look just like your niece that I’ve never met.


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It’s a struggle having RNF, but we’ll get through it.

This story was originally published by Her Campus, La Verne.

10 Ways To Be Kind Every Day

The week of Feb. 12 to Feb. 18 is known as “Kindness Week,” a week where people are encouraged to perform random acts of kindness to bring about positivity and good vibes. Kindness Week is a great reminder that there is some good in everyone, but why limit the caring gestures to just one week? Here’s a list of easy things you can do to be kind every day.

#1 Call your parents

We’re college students. There’s always a test, an assignment, a class, or a social event we’re stressing about or attending. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own lives we forget about the people who got us here. One way to spread the love and be kind is to give your parents a call!

#2 Pay it forward

We all know that college can be stressful and the days can be long. Those two things together always equal coffee. Try paying it forward. During your next coffee break at Starbucks or Circle K, ask the cashier if you can pay for a drink that they can pass along to the next customer. It’ll make someone’s day.

#3 Clean your dorm

If you live on campus, you know that sometimes livingin close quarters can get messy. Clean up after yourself. Plug in or spray some air freshener. Most RAs have provided whiteboards on the doors, take advantage of that and write your roomie a note or leave a little doodle. Make the room more inviting.


#4 Smile

A lot of people keep their heads down or wear headph
ones as they walk, making the cross-campus trek lonely and quiet. Try unplugging, walking with your head up, and giving someone a smile and a “good morning.” Not only will you be adding some positivity to a stranger’s day, but smiling, even if you’re faking it, can boost your mood and decrease stress according to this Penn State study.

#5 Leave a printing card

It’s happened to all of us. You get to the library, you’re in a hurry, and suddenly realize you forgot your printing card. Printing cards in the library are 50 cents, and a lot of people don’t know that. The cards are little and can easily slip your mind, especially when you’re running late for a class or printing in a hurry. Next time you spend all that’s on your printing card, leave it for someone to find and save them 50 cents.

#6 Hold the door

It’s a small gesture that can go a long way. Holding the door for someone behind your or who is coming around the same time you are is a small act of kindness you can any day.

#7 Fill out a comment card

Those men and women who work at Barbs and Davenport? They’re people too. And the student workers take shifts along with their school schedule. If one of them has gone out of their way to serve you or make your day better, return the favor and let their supervisor know. Grab a comment card at the register and leave a good review.

#8 Bring your professor a snack

Three hour classes can be brutal, and not just on us students. A lot of professors have other jobs and work at other schools. A lot of them sit there and chill while we take our little break during the halfway mark. Make their day by bringing them a little snack they can have just like everyone else is doing.

#9 Leave a comment

One way to spread the love every day is leaving a comment on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat. Did your friend just post a fire selfie? Tell them! It’ll make their day and boost their confidence.

#10 Leave a sticky note

One of my favorite ways to spread the love is leaving a sticky note for someone to find. Maybe write a quick love note for your boyfriend or roommate to find. You can even write one for a complete stranger. You’ll make someone’s day.

This story was originally published by Her Campus, La Verne.

Events leading to Kristallnacht discussed

Photo by Kathleen Arellano

On the evening of Oct. 27, 1938 the Grynszpan family along with 12,000 other Polish Jews were herded like cattle onto train cars headed for the Polish-German border. When they arrived, they found themselves stuck between armed Polish soldiers on one side and armed German soldiers on the other. Every single one of them had been stripped of their Polish citizenship and German residence visas. If they tried to escape, they were executed.

The story of the border standoff made headlines in France where the youngest member of the Grynszpan family, Herschel Grynszpan, lived illegally. He had escaped Germany with the help of his uncles outside the country and intended to get to Palestine, but ended up in Paris.

Eleven days later, on Nov. 7, Herschel Grynszpan bought a revolver and took the train to the German Embassy in France. He told the reception desk he had important papers to deliver to the ambassador. Instead, junior embassy official Ernst Vom Rath entered to receive the papers. Grynszpan shot Vom Rath five times in the abdomen.

Vom Rath held on for two days. In the early evening of Nov. 9, Vom Rath died. Within hours Nazi Germany launched the pogrom against the Jewish in what is known today as Kristallnacht.

This was the story Jonathan Kirsch, author of “The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat and a Murder in Paris,” told an audience of 100 in the Campus Center Ballroom Nov. 13. The 6th annual Kristallnacht Remembrance Lecture recalling the tragic event that happened 78 years ago was attended by students, alumni, the Jewish community and members of the Jewish Federation of Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.

Before Kirsch’s lecture, President Devorah Lieberman discussed the meaning of the Jewish concept of “tikkun olam,” which is generally translated to mean “repairing of the world.”

“To truly live tikkun olam we need to know that our sole purpose in our personal and professional lives is to not just repair the world, not just heal the world, but to do whatever we can individually and collectively to make this world better for everybody,” Lieberman said. “If particular groups only focus on their ethnicity, their religion, their group and only advocate for themselves we will not be advocating for everybody.”

Lieberman also described her family’s history in Czechoslovakia and Russia.

“For my family, it was remembering something like this 365 days a year,” Lieber­man said. “I ask you tonight, in coming together for Kristall­nacht, to remember to advocate for one another whether it’s locally, nationally, or internationally. It is our responsibility, it’s our obligation.”

Lieberman then introduced Marcia Alper, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. Alper led the audience in a moment of silence before introducing Kirsch.

Kirsch expanded on the story of Grynszpan and why he believes Grynszpan is a little known historical figure.
“What was the meaning and weight of the decision of this panic-stricken teenager?” Kirsch said.

Through his research, Kirsch found that the opinion many had of Grynszpan was that he instigated what was believed to be the event that started the Holocaust.

“They saved all decorations and honors for SS soldiers for that night,” Kirsch said. “They even telegraphed an approved list of graffiti including ‘Revenge for Von Rath.’”

Jewish property and businesses were destroyed. More than 3,000 Jews were killed, 2,000 synagogues were burned and 30,000 Jewish men were imprisoned.

Grynszpan’s trial in Paris captured the attention of the world, an international legal fees fund was started and famous lawyer Isidore Franckel joined the defense.

According to Kirsch, Franckel suggested that Grynszpan say, “Von Rath was a sexual predator who stalked me on the streets of Paris. He ruined me and discarded me.”

Kirsch told the crowd Gryszpan refused to use the to use the defense as suggesting a gay relationship would shame his family.

Grynszpan was extradited to Germany to stand in a public trial. Hitler invited foreign press to prove Jews started the war.

“The venue was picked. The foreign press was picked. The judge was picked. The verdict was picked,” Kirsch said.

Grynszpan was held in a solitary room until a Nazi investigator came to interview him. Grynszpan told the investigator if he were to testify, he would say, “Von Rath was a sexual predator who stalked me on the streets of Paris. He ruined me and discarded me.”

The testimony, as it would paint Von Rath as a gay child molester, halted the trial.

The audience laughed as Kirsch discussed the hypocrisy that Grynszpan originally refused to use later saving him from trial.

After Kirsch finished his lecture, University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner led the question and answer portion of the night.

Kirsch was asked how he felt about current Holocaust education in the United States. He explained that the education was lacking. He talked about a day when he was to speak at a high school. He described the students as unenthusiastic and bored as they were forced to give up their lunch time to attend the lecture.

Kirsch said he believed the best way to get people to care is to let them know how the group they identify with was also affected.

“The Holocaust was not confined to Jewish victims,” Kirsch said.

For this reason, he began his lecture by mentioning that gays, lesbians, racial minorities, Muslims and the disabled were also among victims of Nazi Germany.

He said the film “Schindler’s List” is revered as the best film about the Holocaust, but is wildly inaccurate, citing scenes that showed water coming out of shower heads when showers were not provided.

“It was, to me, a film that even Holocaust deniers could love,” Kirsch said. “It’s a sacrilege.”

Kirsch then said he praises the film “Defiance” instead for its accuracy and truth.

When given the microphone, La Verne resident Robert Richter continued the topic of Holocaust education and learning from history.

“We have to teach people the events that provided Hitler the means to come to power,” said Richter, who was an 8-year-old in Hanover, Germany, during Kristallnacht.

The event ended after the question and answer period. The audience was free to enjoy light refreshments.

In the back, the Jewish Federation had nine books written by Jewish authors featured at the 18th Annual Jewish Book Festival, continuing through Dec. 4.

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.


Athlete volunteers in South Africa

Photo by Taylor Bolanos

On a gloomy day, a sea of clouds covers what should be a view of Cape Town, South Africa. From the apex of Table Mountain, one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, the fog is so thick taking a picture is a waste, but the surroundings are still a sight to see.

Senior kinesiology major and women’s basketball shooting guard Faye Osburn took the journey of a lifetime this summer to this very spot on her 10-day volunteer trip, teaching young South Africans the game of basketball.

Osburn is currently on her second year as team captain for the women’s basketball team. She has been playing basketball since kindergarten.

Osburn typically spends her summers as a lifeguard at Magic Mountain’s Hurricane Harbor, but this year she took an invitation from Beyond Sport – a charity specializing in bringing the impact of sports to underprivileged areas around the world – to be a coach for its first South African basketball clinics. Beyond Sport partnered with PeacePlayers International for this trip.

Beyond Sport contacted women’s basketball coach Julie Shaw, inviting Faye and two other teammates to join the South Africa trip.

“I think they took a look at our website and saw the stats and whether the player was a junior or senior and took that into account on how they chose who to invite,” Shaw said.

On July 27, Osburn flew from Los Angeles to New York where she met with the 11 other American volunteer coaches. From New York she flew to Johannes­burg, South Africa and then to Cape Town, where two South African coaches met them.

“Johannesburg is what you would expect Africa to be: brown, not very many trees, and animals roaming around,” Osburn said. “Then we got to Cape Town where there were mountains and it was all green. It was very different than what you would think Africa is like.”

The group of 14 coaches stayed at a Cape Town hotel near the beach. The group taught basketball clinics, toured Cape Town, and the female members of the group played in a women’s tournament at the University of Cape Town.

“We never went back to the same place again, there was only one place we went to twice,” Osburn said.

The coaches taught basketball to children ages five years old to high school age. The younger children’s clinics consisted of basic skills and dribbling while the older children learned more skill work. Osburn mostly worked with the younger age groups.

“They were super cute,” Osburn said. “It was fun watching them get so excited about just learning how to do basic things and seeing them get out of their comfort zones.”
However, their age and the length of the clinics sometimes proved difficult.

“It was really hard just making them pay attention sometimes because the camps were a couple hours long,” Osburn said. “At first they were super into it, but you could tell when they got tired or bored of something. The challenge was trying to get a good mix of skills and fun games to play with them.”

Osburn explained that in her experience, South Africa had a lot of American influence. However, constantly going out to eat made her miss a home-cooked meal.

“For the most part, a lot of people spoke English, especially when they were interacting with us,” Osburn said. “Burgers, fries and pizza are a big thing there, so we had that a lot.”

During her time in South Africa Osburn toured Castle of Good Hope, the District Six Museum and went on a safari. One of the highlights of her trip was a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was once held as a political prisoner.

“What was really cool was that our tour guide was a former political prisoner there, so we got a little insight on what it was like,” Osburn said.

On a gloomy day, Osburn hiked the hour long zig-zag path up Table Mountain.

“When you get up to the top of the mountain you don’t realize how high you are,” Osburn said. “You couldn’t see that far in front of you. We tried to take pictures and it was all haze, but it was beautiful.”

Osburn, afraid of leaving the country alone, originally did not want to go on the trip, but was convinced by her mother.

“I honestly didn’t want to go at all, the only other place I had been is Mexico,” Osburn said. “And my mom was like ‘This is the trip of a lifetime, if you don’t go you’re going to regret it. Once you start working, you’re not going to have the time to explore.’ It was just a giant leap of faith. I think the hardest part was going halfway across the world and not knowing what to expect.”

Osburn said communicating with her family was difficult.

“I didn’t have much time to talk to them except when I was at the hotel,” Osburn said. “I would send them pictures whenever I had the chance. I got a couple people in my family these bracelets you buy and the money goes to a non-profit for that cause, like malaria and building schools.”

Osburn returned Aug. 8. She said the down side of her trip was the long plane ride back.

“It’s about a 15-hour plane ride, we were so happy to finally land,” Osburn said. “Between sleeping and them giving you food, you would just stare at a screen and watch movies, but you can only watch so many.”

Osburn described the trip as a life-changing experience that helped her remember why she enjoys basketball.

“Coaching the camps made me realize how much I love basketball and why I started playing,” Osburn said. “It means so much to me to have had this experience since this will be my last season. It was a good reflection on how far I’ve come and how much I can continue to grow not only as a basketball player but in life in general.”

Shaw describe the trip as a learning experience all players should participate in if given the opportunity.

“I think what they did over there makes a good player and a better person,” Shaw said. “This trip gives a great opportunity to learn and see things you never would, like interacting with new people and learning to be humble and thankful. It opens a lot of doors and I’m glad Faye went through this one.”

Osburn said she would love to explore Cape Town and South Africa again if it weren’t for the plane ride, but is still very interested in Beyond Sport’s basketball program in Costa Rica.

“I would definitely want to go on another Beyond Sport trip and just keep teaching the game that I love,” Osburn said. “Africa really made me realize how simply you can live and how much joy you can get out of the little things in life. Seeing the kids’ faces and how happy they were just from us bringing them basketballs showed that we don’t need everything we have here. We have so many things we worry about that we don’t need to.”

Outside of basketball, Osburn is a member of Sigma Kappa and previously was the women’s basketball representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She aspires to be a nurse.

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.


Film professor mixes art, enthusiasm

From getting hypothermia on the Brooklyn Bridge to having sushi flung at him by a chimpanzee in a suit, new Assistant Professor of Communications – Digital Film Production Morgan Sandler has done it all in the film industry.

Very few people in the Hollywood scene were born and raised in the area, but growing up around the industry helped Sandler know from an early age he wanted to be a part of the process.

Sandler is currently teaching two classes on film production –  Fundamentals of Production and Intermediate Video Production – here. In his teaching, he draws on his experiences as a camera assistant, cinematographer and director.

Sandler has done film production for the Disney Channel and hip hop music videos. Most recently he has worked for the website Funny or Die.

In 2014, Sandler won the Audience Choice award at the California State University Media Arts Festival for his work on “The Ballerina,” an independent music video funded by Indiegogo.

In addition to a Master of Fine Arts from Cal State Los Angeles, Sandler holds certificates from various camera companies such as R.E.D. and Arri.

In a recent interview, Sandler discussed his life, his work in the film industry and the anticipation for his newest gig at the University.

What did you originally want to be when you grew up?
I’d say by the time I was 12, I knew I wanted to work in the film industry in some capacity. I don’t think I really understood what that meant or what my role was going to be. My dream was to be a director and I thought that’s what I would spend my life doing.

Who made you interested in film making?
I didn’t have a lot of focus until this one high school teacher encouraged me to write. She thought I was a good writer and from there I turned that into pursuing a film career.

What was your first film making experience?
When we got out of high school a couple friends and I pooled all our money and decided we were going to make a short film. When I started making movies, I became interested in being a cinematographer. That ultimately became my goal. My first job out of college was working on a feature film as a camera assistant.

Who in your field do you really admire?
My favorite cinematographer is a man named Roger Deakins. He shoots all the Coen brothers’ movies. I have two favorite directors – Wes Anderson, I love his quirky, eclectic style. My favorite film of all time is “The Royal Tenenbaums,” he did it. I love his ability to make really dynamic, unique characters. The other director is David Lynch, I really enjoy his ability to tell a story visually.

What do you think is the most interesting thing about digital film production?
The entertainment industry is so accessible to everyone now, anybody can tell their story. When I was growing up, if you wanted to make a movie you had to have money. In the 1980s, 1990s, or early 2000s you had to have money to buy film, processing and a large experienced crew. Cameras are so affordable now. You can make a movie on your iPhone. And it looks better than the $100,000 cameras did just 10 years ago.

What’s the hardest thing about doing film production?
I think so often new film makers and film students rely on the technology. They think everything is about the technology, but to me if you don’t have a strong story none of it matters. If you can’t write a good screenplay you’re not going to have an interesting film.

What advice would you give an aspiring film producer?
The biggest advice I can give any student, especially someone looking to get in the film industry, is just to have dedication and perseverance. It takes so much work to break into the film industry. Here in Los Angeles so many people want to be a part of film. The one thing I could say is if you stick with it, you’ll make it, but you have to give 110 percent and keep your heart in it.

What are your most notable works?
I’ve shot a lot of commercials for companies like Absolut Vodka. When I lived in New York I shot music videos for people like 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes. I used to shoot a show called “This is Who I Am” on the Disney Channel. Lately I’ve been shooting a lot for Funny or Die, the website.

What is one of your favorite memories from working in the film industry?
We were shooting a music video for “Grey’s Anatomy” on the Brooklyn Bridge in the middle of a blizzard. It was freezing. They sprayed the road with a fire hydrant and they sprayed all of us on accident. It froze over instantly. They were trying to make the road wet, but we all got soaked and it froze over on our coats. We all ended up getting hypothermia. In retrospect it’s a fun story, but at the time it was awful.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on set?
We were shooting one of those Superbowl commercials with the chimps that were on like five or six years ago. One of the chimps was supposed to be the head of a TV network, so he was dressed in a suit. He was supposed to look like a wealthy executive so he had a plate of sushi in front of him. I was behind the camera and he didn’t like me so he kept throwing it at me. I still love chimpanzees, they’re one of my favorite animals. Just not in a suit. He could’ve thrown something worse than sushi at me. Maybe it was a good thing he was wearing that suit.

Other than being a professor, how do you spend your free time?
I spend most of my free time with my wife, Jillian, and my daughters Stella, who’s 6, and Eleanor, who’s 3. Right now I’m coaching Stella’s tee-ball team. Every now and then they’ll come down to a set. My daughters are both obsessed with it. They’ve been on a few shoots. They love getting behind the camera with me. Stella is getting into photography, she has her own camera and loves to take pictures. She says a lot that she wants to become a film maker or a professor. I told her she can do both.

Do you have any hobbies?
I play golf terribly. I’m a big baseball fan, I love the Dodgers. Photography is my main hobby, I like to shoot anything that has an interesting landscape. The beach is always a nice landscape or the desert. We like to travel so I always take my camera with me. We just got back from Hawaii an we’re going to Greece next year. I shoot on Leicas, I have digital and a film Leica. I’ll also shoot on my Hasselblad, the kind where you look through the top. I collect cameras. I actually have a couple older ones I plan on bringing here and putting out on the shelf as display pieces.

Where do you develop your film?
I develop my own film, I do it in my kitchen. It’s gotten so much easier, they make these little tanks for the chemicals and you don’t have to be in a dark room. I develop it and scan it myself. It’s a lot more fun that way, a lot cheaper and it’s actually pretty easy.

How did you begin teaching?
Ten years ago I taught my first class. When I moved from New York to Los Angeles I didn’t know anybody out here so I taught one class at the Los Angeles Film School. My biggest fear in life is public speaking, I hate public speaking. I had almost a full blown panic attack while I was beginning teaching that class. I called my wife panicking like ‘I can’t do this,’ and she said ‘You have to go back in, just relax.’ I did and I started to really enjoy teaching. I knew from that moment on that’s what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Film really has become almost secondary to me. Being a professor has become my passion.

What brought you to ULV?
I was teaching at Cal State Los Angeles previously. I live in Redlands and I was looking for something closer to home, but what made me decide to take the job at La Verne was the sense of community. As soon as I came on campus and saw the sense of pride the students and the faculty have, I was simply hooked. I was offered another job the week before at another university and had accepted it because I hadn’t heard back from La Verne. As soon as La Verne called I called the other college back and told them I was declining and I accepted the position here.

How are you enjoying ULV so far?
I absolutely love it here, it’s incredible. The whole community has been so welcoming. Dean Potter’s been amazing. I was pleasantly surprised to see the quality of the students, everybody is really passionate about what they’re doing and excited to be here. For me, being on the tenure track is an incredible thing. I’m so excited because I’m looking to be a part of the La Verne community for the rest of my teaching career, this is where I want to be.

What’s your teaching style?
I was an awful student in high school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I always sympathize with the students who are still trying to figure out what their path is. My teaching style is incredibly laid back. I like to have fun in the classroom. I spent too many years in school with professors talking at me to ever subject my students to that. I like to be interactive and have a conversation. It’s not chemistry, this is an art form. More than anything, what we’re talking about is interpretative. I’ve always found if students are laughing and having a good time they’re a lot more engaged. My teaching philosophy has always been that students will rise to the instructor’s level of enthusiasm. If you’re excited about your subject the students will get excited about your subject as well. If you couldn’t care less and you’re dry and boring the students will probably reflect that.

(Photo by Janelle Kluz)

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.