Nothing stays the same, campus life is no exception

I’ve been at Skyline for four and a half years. That’s way too long. As a result, though, I’ve gotten to share in on one of the secret pleasures usually only the senior faculty get to see. I’ve watched this campus change, for better, and for worse.

Skyline has been nothing but a success story for me. I had no direction or drive when I took my placement test one foggy Saturday afternoon. Within a year, something reached out and gave me a nudge. When I nudged back, I got a push. So I pushed further And so on. Without knowing it at the time, one of the signature features of the Skyline campus had left it’s mark on me. The atmosphere, then, encouraged me. There were no closed doors. Everyone I bumped into turned out to be a sign post with a smile. With my own two feet, I followed those signs to where I’m at today. There was no bullshit in my way, no stress outside of my fight for grades, and it was great.

Four years later, it has become harder to find that feeling on campus. We certainly have more people, and the resources to guide students to the places they’re supposed to want to go have only upgraded. But somewhere in the progression, something significant got lost. A torch not passed, perhaps snuffed then re-lit.

I’ve tried to place my finger directly on the source, but can’t. Many of the faculty that once defined my campus back then are gone: Deamer, Westfall and Harer, to name a few. But then, many are still going strong, such as Case, Bowsher and Freedman. The students have certainly changed, but goals and ambitions are still the same. The classrooms have just as many bright-eyed achievers as wash-out dreamers, as many slide-by schemers as straight-laced believers.

From my time serving behind the scenes, both through my involvement around student government and learning programs, I’ve directly felt the bureaucratic shift in the winds. Ever since the big academic assessment two years ago, all of the “i”s are being dotted and the “t”s crossed. Programs had to redefine themselves in legalese, which put the clamps on the practices of an awesome lot of people who might have been overly comfortable with the way things were. At the same time, an awful lot of new faces pop up on each semester’s “New Staff and Faculty” list. Certainly this is a symptom of a successful college expanding, but I have to wonder if the supersaturation of new blood doesn’t dilute the strength of what had been before.

Maybe it’s nothing. Certainly only those who linger too long would even be able to feel the differences, and to linger isn’t the purpose of a community college. Students and teachers are still coming and going through Skyline at a measurably consistent pace. As long as a fresh batch of grads walk across the stage every spring, a shift in atmosphere from year to year is all a part of the plan.

By Nick Major
TSV Staff Writer

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Young Thug is here to stay

Maybe you’ve heard of Young Thug by now. He had a breakout hit last year, “Lifestyle,” featuring Rich Homie Quan and a regal blessing from Cash Money Records impresario Birdman.

His intro-verse on the T.I. banger “About the Money” is still a mainstay on Bay Area radio.

Get used to the name, because we have a lot to look forward to from the 23-year-old.

His singles have gotten all the spins, but the back catalogue of this daemonic Atlanta stylist can match up with that of many rappers half-again his age. The three mixtapes in the “I Came From Nothing” series (1, the incredible 2, and 3), hosted by DJ Swamp Izzo, introduced the world to a monster, who somehow, through a combination of pain and exuberance, could break your heart with the words “green eggs and ham,” and heal it again with, “I’ll eat you alive.”

The array of bizarro ATLiens with featured verses on Young Thug songs from the past four years would serve as an introduction to the obvious byproducts of something slipping into Georgia’s water supply: Peewee Longway, Jose Guapo, the group Migos, and lesser known affiliates of Thug’s own, including Ola Playa and Bloody Jay. The personality-based aesthetics of this subgenre, if it can be called that, defy ordinary critical categories. We call the damn thing swag and go back to singing the lyrics, shoulders in motion.

Thug has it in great supply, but unlike Guapo and some of the other rappers mentioned he is more than just a weirdo: He is a weirdo with an unusual range of traditional rap skills. He can speed up, slow down, chop up a word into pieces and reconstruct it, all at the robotic will of digital presets. Jay-Z did rap a great disservice by branding the auto-tune a nuisance. Like Lil’ Wayne, his acknowledged precursor, Thug’s tears sound better, more celebratory and angelic, otherworldly even, with some added juice from the mainframe.

Wayne is the father, Thug the son, and let’s go ahead and beg your leave to call Rich Homie Quan the holy ghost. He is the right-hand man on the best album of 2014, Rich Gang: The Tour, Pt. 1, as well as the sequel it spawned this year. Rich Homie deserves a separate post; suffice it to say that the two together, RHQ and Thugger, more than deserve the former’s immodest self-praise that they are the “best duo since Outkast.” It’s a safe bet that for now, they are one and two in the running worldwide, at least until Gucci Mane gets out of prison.

Because Gucci is a legend who has proven himself as a historical standard for rap with thousands of songs, each one bearing his distinctive stamp. It’s a protean body of work, critically underappreciated, with an unsurpassable influence over everything we hear on the radio and in the streets from any rapper. Thug is a rising star, not in the cliché industry sense of star, but in the astrological sense. We will continue to watch him burn higher and higher toward the zenith, expecting in time to see him either flare out in the atmosphere or earn himself a permanent zodiacal spot.

By Bullseye.
 

Edumacation

I suppose that on this first blog, (ughh), I should talk about something introspective and fancy, like the growth and development of my brain. But that’s not the first thing that comes to mind. I’ll use this first blog to get right down to business (bitness!) and tell you what I wish someone had told me before I transferred.

College is ridiculously hard.

An obvious point, it would seem. Duh, college is work. Any lab chimp with sign language skills could’ve told you that, right? Yes and no. A chimp could not give you the kind of extensive, detailed blathering that I can. Besides, chimps are jerks.

The first finals week I ever went through in college was terrifying. Let’s be truthful: some of you just kind of mosey through some of your finals. They could be tough, but they pale in comparison to finals at a university. Community college finals are moderately stressful. University finals are like being in the middle of a week-long disaster.

During finals week, the UC Davis library looked like a civil war hospital (minus the severed limbs/gangrene). People actually lived in the library; they would sleep on tables or in cubicles. It wasn’t unusual to see someone, usually sciencey types, break down and cry. And that was what it was like at Davis. I’ve heard terrible things from my friend in Berkeley. All she did was wake up/cram/take a test/consume ungodly amounts of ramen/repeat until a breakdown.

Finals week was hell, but on a daily basis college also provided a hearty, much needed bash to my educational ego. You, prospective transfer student or whomever, may fancy yourself something of a pajamaed cat in the field of academics here at community college. “Film class? Ha, they may as well just hand me an A!”

Enjoy that feeling now, because it’s going to end soon. There are no easy upper division classes in a university.

I made that mistake when I took film theory at UC Davis. The professor was an incredibly funny, delightfully crass old guy with spectacular taste in movies (Cowboy Bebop!). The material, however, was nightmarish. On day one, we began applying linguistic theories of semiotics onto film. Derrida, Lacan, essays breaking down the structure/perception of language and communication, as supplied by dead French dudes. By now I can roll with a lot of the linguistic stuff (notice I did not say all), but at the time it was absolutely battering. I had to work like hell to get a survival C in that class.

I don’t mean to scare you into applying to DeVry or something (not that there’s anything wrong with DeVry, even though there obviously is, but wah wah waaaah, everyone’s a winner, it’s 2015). Those feelings of being cowed are a life-affirming sign (thanks Greg Graffin!). Everyone suffers in the transition from community college to whatever university you may choose. And, really, it’s nothing you can’t handle—it’s just a matter of getting over the shock of the intensity of the work and realizing that your brain is totally capable of processing Kant’s essay on the subjective tastiness of artistry, or something.

Matt Pacelli
TSV Staff Writer

Classmates first, friends forever

The semester has started, and already students have adjusted into the new life they will have for the next few months.

If you haven’t already noticed, the first days of any new semester are crowded. I’m talking full bus, loud cafeteria, busy hallway, crowded.

But then, miraculously, the clouds of people scatter, dispersing into their niches and schedules gracefully.

With the second week in full swing, that has obviously happened to our campus. People have figured out when they actually need to be here and when it’s fine to sleep in for a few more minutes.

There’s also the fact that classes will be dropped or added by students within the first week. The faces you see on the first day of class hardly ever stay the same for the entire semester. But fret not; it’s probably safe to say that the cute kid sitting next to you now is there to stay.

Now that you’ve got two weeks under your belt, you can start learning the names of the people you’ll be seeing multiple times a week, or, if you’re feeling brave, get to know them.

That’s one of the interesting circumstances of school semesters-semi-temporary friendships. It’s quite the phenomenon to be around someone nearly every day for a handful of months with the possibility of never seeing them again once it’s over.

The idea of a semi-temporary friendship shouldn’t be intimidating. It should be an inspiration to take the time to get to know these humans who are going through the same class and same homework and same concepts with you. It’s a connection that you don’t have to personally force or mold because it is already built when you enter the classroom.

There is a sort of camaraderie established in a classroom, which is natural and genuine. People rely on each other for aid and affirmation. A sympathetic smile when someone walks in far too tired and burnt out, or the reassurance that you aren’t the only one who didn’t understand a section of the reading can mean a lot.

There is an undeniable connectivity when struggles and successes are shared among students.

So take the time to get to know those neighbors. Go ahead and get to know the people you’ll be rubbing shoulders with for the next four months.

By Erin Perry
TSV Staff Writer

What Happened for being Thankful for Family and Friends?

Yes it’s about that time in the year where family and friends gather at the dinner table and reflect on a deep appreciation for life. That’s what Thanksgiving tradition used to be but now, Thanksgiving has become more about cheap deals and taking hard working people away from there families on Thanksgiving for greed. It has now become the main objective of the holiday appreciation to force people to work hours and hours of non sense and forget the true meaning of this holiday.

Somehow we have allowed a holiday that was supposed to be about remembering how much we have to be thankful for, in good and even in bad times, and morph it into a holiday about what we don’t have. Forget pass the turkey, we might as well just pass the coupons.

It started with Black Friday. The stores kept opening earlier and earlier. And sadly, shoppers kept coming. I was one of them last years, working with Macy’s at 2am and the tons and tons of people there just rushing through to get anything and not even care about the workers.

I get it, as a college student and a society we do things in such a rush that its hard for us to blink and talk at the same time. Yet we need to remember why we have the things we have and not just to wait till 12 A.M. to go buy the cheapest thing.

Yet in the last decade, we have allowed America’s retailers to co-opt this day for their own greed, just as they have with almost every other holiday. And at who’s expense is all this happening? the workers who have to leave their families at midnight to work all day for low salary. You would think that Memorial Day and Veterans Day, created to be deep moments of national reflection about the cost of our freedom, were just extra days to shop.

But Thanksgiving was always sacred. The only people working were emergency types, hospital staff and sports journalists. Shoot! Even grocery stores closed. Now Thanksgiving is increasingly feeling like any other day of the year. Before we all go nuts on Christmas.

Kids’ first instinct is often to use what they have, not to go to the store for the latest toy. Yet somewhere along the way, we forget that and can’t wait to go buy, buy, buy.

I’m not going shopping on Thanksgiving Thursday nor Friday. I’m staying home and going to try to focus on all that I do have, even in these tough times. But frankly, it might take legislation to save this last great American tradition from being gobbled up by greed.

Shaquill Stewart
TSV Staff Writer

School Spirit?

Being at Skyline for 2 years, I noticed that when there is an event on campus no one shows up for anything. Where’s the school pride and togetherness that brings everyone together. Increasing school spirit is difficult, but important, and we must let the students own it. Whether you graduated from college 2 or 20 years ago you cannot know everything that students today need to motivate them. The concept of school spirit and school pride is very confusing in nature and therefore is a bad idea to many students looking to become individuals, yet we need the idea of school spirit to be a radical change. If you have the right group of students to lead the charge and be willing to let go then the campus will jump off. To be successful you must plant several ideas and guide them as they make the decisions.

One way to promote School Spirit in a community college on campus is to create a sense of exclusivity and belonging. What I’ve seen in clubs and other colleges that groups who are open to everyone are often smaller and less productive than groups who have capped their membership. Students want to perceive a higher value when they feel as though they are a chosen from an select few. So if you are going to start a traditions, join our Student council.Then when you are in the Student Council you will have that voice to begin to brainstorm ways to change the culture on campus to get more students involved and the focus should always be on pride.

Not all ideas are as successful as these. I’m not saying you should give up on clubs or Councils or anything that gets you involved before they have had a chance to work. Some take time to catch on and some will simply fail. We have an opportunity as Students to make a difference and a change to make people think. Yet the only way we can do that is to show up. I know that’s hard but we must show up and be prepared. As you will never know how good an event might be or even a meeting that brings that rising artist to your campus. But we must get involved, college at the end of the day is supposed to be fun. It’s the most enjoyable experience you will ever have so enjoy it now and don’t just walk past it when you see something.

Shaquill Stewart
TSV Staff Writer

Skyline librarians are friendly and helpful

Oh, the library. Not having had other experiences to base my perspective, I thought the Skyline library was pretty typical. Oh no, not at all. It doesn’t have the monolithic tomes of a state, the miles of catalog like a UC, but our library does have one big thing that the others lack: amazing librarians.

I remember the first time I’d ever walked into the library, which in itself shows something special must have happened. I was an ignorant, confused college kid who’d been sent into the library to join my class for a research project. I wasn’t standing for more than five seconds when the research librarian came up to me and said, “You’re one of Westfall’s, aren’t you? Here, the workshop is over here.” She then walked me to the room; she didn’t just sit behind her desk and point, she got up and walked me over. It seems insignificant, but it was just the tip of the iceberg for future moments to come.

College writing was a completely new ballgame for me, fresh from high school informality. I’d never heard of MLA citation, I’d never done research outside of Google, I’d never written more than five pages on a paper: all of these things I learned through the efforts of the librarians. Evelyn Posamentier, who is no longer at the library, took great length and effort with every student who ever came asking questions. I remember something as simple as “I need stuff to use for my speech about ghosts” turned into a half-hour hunt for the most academic, credible, scientific studies on paranormal phenomena.

Being a tutor in the Learning Center, I’ve also sent many a person up to the library to use their services. Most people never even realized a library can do more than just check in and out books. Even for those people who had apprehensions about asking a librarian for help, I’d hear them return talking about how wrong they were. “I can’t believe I didn’t want to go. They were so nice!”

I’ve never left the library without having had most of the questions I’d had get answered. But not just answered, answered in depth by a friendly person who genuinely wanted to help me succeed. I can only imagine how many people never knew what an amazing service we have on campus.

Nick Major
Special Projects Manager