Gender & Identity Life

8 tips on how to make time for activism in college

If you are a college student, chances are that you are somewhat idealistic. As we age, we tend to become bogged down in responsibilities and lose our political fervor. College is the perfect time to begin organizing, but busy schedules can prevent students from doing almost anything outside of studying.

I’m here to tell you that yes, you do have time to go to that protest. Or even to organize that protest. You can, in fact, make time for activism. Here is how.

1. Start early in the semester

Student GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

We all have more time early on before the midterms hit us full force. Take advantage of the first few weeks to join two or three activist groups, on or off campus. Starting early also allows you to know exactly what roles you will set for yourself early on, so that you can get involved in exciting projects as soon as the planning process begins.

2. Organize with other students

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Don’t set your sights on exclusively off-campus organizations. They will naturally take up more time because of commuting. Student activist groups are great because all members will be just as busy as you are, and will be more understanding of slip ups.

3. Don’t take on too many tasks at once

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You have your own skillset, connections, and resources. Take on tasks that allow you to make use of what you have. Avoid overloading yourself with projects that have nothing to do with what you, in particular, are good at.

Sometimes a busy schedule can make you feel like you’re being left out the real action. But remember, you can always build an organizing reputation on the little help you add here and there, which is better than taking on something huge and failing.

4. You won’t be able to go to every protest, but go to a couple

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I get it, you have to study and can’t be out in the streets every day, or even every week. But big actions, and ones that you are personally passionate about, are important formative experiences. Mark your calendar with two or three protests per semester that you can try your best to attend.

5. Find a support group

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Organizing is so much easier when you have a tight knit group that you can rely on for resources, and also for fun. This will be easy once you’ve joined a couple groups on campus.

Also, activist types make the most supportive friends.

6. You can take breaks—and jump right back in

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Once you have your support group filled with like-minded college students, you now have several people who can pick up your slack if you need to drop off the radar for a sec. Don’t feel bad about taking a step back from the next project: College is hard, and we all need to, at some point.

When you’re ready, don’t ever think it’s too late to jump right back in.

7. Expect to be disappointed

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When “fighting the power,” sometimes the power fights back (or just refuses to do what you want them to). This is super expected but still difficult to deal with, especially if you’ve expended time and energy organizing around an issue.

Have a game plan to quickly pivot to the next issue, or apply more pressure if needed. You can be idealistic, but never idealize the institutions that you are trying to change.

8. Be sure that you can always make time to help others

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Extracurricular activities are a normal part of any student’s life. It may not seem like you have anytime to organize, but if you treat activism like an extracurricular, it suddenly makes sense to fit it into your life.

It’s important to take a break from student life, something that demands a tireless devotion to your own ambition and future pursuits. Everyone needs a healthy balance of selfishness and selflessness, especially in a society that prioritizes the former.

Put your books down, and make some time to stick up for others.

Politics The World

This is exactly why you need to strike on May 1st

Last night, I was reading an article, lamenting the lack of student strikes in the U.S.

A line stood out to to me. According to historian Angus Johnston, “There has never been, in the last 40 years, a large scale, coordinated, national—or close to national—student strike.”

40 years is a long time, but this Monday, it could all change.

Immigrant workers build our cities. Immigrant artists shape our cultures. Immigrant students attend our universities.

Immigrants are always giving to our great nation, but what have we gotten in return? A president who built his political movement on calling us “rapists”. A former president, widely praised by those who claim to support us, but who deported more of us than any other. Policy makers, who, time after time, refuse to provide permanent protection for the 11 million undocumented people in this country.

We have given to this nation, but it has taken so much from us. In order to fight for our dignity, immigrants are planning to show just how much we contribute to our beloved American institutions. Without our labor, industries shut down. Without our presence in universities, we can no longer be ignored.

What is stopping you from supporting your fellow immigrant students on May 1st?

There are many valid answers to this question. I will try to address all claims, questions, and concerns about May 1st below:

What is the symbolic value of a strike?

In short: halting business as usual.

I’ve heard the word “complicit” a lot recently, mainly referring to Ivanka Trump’s white house antics. But it is not only wealthy elites such as Ivanka who are complicit in harmful things such as ICE raids, undignified labor, vigilante border patrol, and the other issues that plague immigrants. When we participate in American institutions, we are all complicit.

That is why we urge students to not buy, not work, and not study. We encourage you to think, especially if you are not personally affected by immigrant issues, about how things like capitalism, the university system, and your employers can be complicit in the harm caused to immigrants. Who is harvesting the food you buy in the supermarket? Are they paid fair wages? Are they treated with dignity? Are you on an even playing field with the immigrant students you attend class with, even as many of them have to worry about family members being deported?

Halt business as usual, because business as usual means a complicit support of the undignified treatment that your fellow immigrant students have been receiving from this state.

If you are an immigrant student yourself, halt business as usual because the world has not yet seen our power.

Why is it important for students (as opposed to workers) to strike? 

I can tell that students are concerned that they do not leverage as much power over universities as, for example, laborers leverage over their employers. After all, workers quit and the whole operation shuts down. Students quit, and they fail class.

Students may not posses as much power as workers. But we do have quite a lot more potential than we let ourselves believe.

After the National Guard shot and killed 4 students at Kent State, over 450 campuses were shut down by striking students.

In other countries, where student strikes are a far more popular protest tactic than in the US, universities are routinely shut down in response to strikes.

We may think that administrators have the power to dictate the course of our lives, but our institutions have shown that they are often willing to acquiesce to student power.

My parents have made a sacrifice for me to attend college. I am a low-income student, a nonwhite student, an immigrant student. Am I dishonoring this sacrifice by striking?

If we were asking for a strike lasting longer than a day, then yes, you might be dishonoring a sacrifice. However, most likely you have already more than one class for a good, or even a silly reason at this point in the semester. Missing one day of class, in most circumstances, should not be an overwhelming burden.

However, there are times when class simply cannot be missed. Either you have a professor who truly will fail you, or an exam, or a variety of other obstacles. In this case, I urge you to reach out to your professor, and ask them to cancel class.

If this does not work, there are a variety of other, smaller ways to show solidarity.

Find a rally near you that takes place after classes end. Wear a special color or garment in symbolic support of your fellow immigrant students. Donate to those who have organized the strike. Spread the word to others who may be able to strike in your place.

This economic climate may tell us otherwise, but college is about more than studying hard to find a lucrative job. For many of us, college is our only network of solidarity in a hostile world. We, immigrant students, ask this favor of other students, because who else can we ask for unequivocal support other than a group of Americans that has been called “radical“, “idealistic“, “coddled“, “violent“, and “easily offended“, often in the same breath?

Do you know your plans for May 1st? Support your fellow students. Find a strike near you.

Gender & Identity Life

We don’t love immigrants for the right reasons

A popular response to anti-immigrant rhetoric and action in the US is the massive ideological effort to prove how valuable immigrants are to our country.

Celebrities proclaim that immigrants get the job done and are the backbone of our industries.

Trendy t-shirts tell us that it is immigrants that make America great.

If you listen to mainstream liberal pundits, like I do, you will be told that immigrants are these angelic citizens who are eager to work selflessly to build our great nation. In response to conservative talking points that immigrants are criminals, you will be told that they commit less crime than the average native citizen. In response to white nationalist claims that immigrants corrupt our culture, you will be told that they have in fact (again, very selflessly) created what we know as modern American heritage.

Even the institution I call home has taken this principled stand. Shortly after Trump’s first travel ban, my college’s museum removed art created by immigrants, as a way to show how much they contribute to our institution, and the rest of the country.

I have few doubts that the act was well-intentioned. But when we center our love for fellow marginalized human beings around their productivity, what status are we truly assigning to immigrants?

Where does this production narrative leave me, and other second-generation immigrant girls making their way through college?

Our museum was well-intentioned, but I cannot help but think that if I do not do the necessary amount of labor to contribute to this society and this country, I will be completely worthless.

Those who are missing from this mainstream, production-oriented immigrant narrative are the migrants killed by vigilantes while crossing the border. Those who disobeyed the state and ended up on the wrong side of a prison wall. Those who reserve their patriotism for their home countries in Central or South America, or for no country at all.

These are the people who do not view their original cultures as a morsel to be melted into a boiling pot, who do not see their exploited labor yield enough money to feed their families even as they work to fill our supermarkets with produce.

What of the immigrants who are not “valuable”, or are indeed “valuable”, so painfully valuable to us that we force them to build a house with a broken leg.

No matter how well-intentioned, efforts to define immigrants by their material accomplishments, such as artwork, legitimize the systems that exploit labor, and our desire to see immigrants become “productive”.

There are better ways to show respect for immigrants. The first step is to understand that human beings are valuable whether or not they contribute to our society in ways we deem acceptable.

The characterization of immigrants as “valuable” to America is a weak argument against white nationalist rhetoric, because the question of immigrant humanity becomes about their level of productivity. The opposition can simply use fake news, or even real instances (however few) of immigrants committing crime or abusing welfare to claim they are unproductive, and therefore subhuman.

When you root a respect for immigrants in their unwavering humanity, productive or no, it becomes much harder to argue for white nationalist policy. What evidence can the opposition use to claim that unconditionally full persons are less than human, rather than pure subjectivity, an approach that would fully expose their racism?

To the Davis Museum: next time there is an anti-immigrant action that requires protest, don’t hide your art. Flaunt it. Conduct a special exhibit on immigrant art, showcasing the real human beings that made these beautiful objects, rather than drawing attention only to the objects themselves.

I genuinely believe that students such as myself have more to learn from immigrants themselves than from their decontextualized labor.

Tech The World Now + Beyond

Here’s what you need to know about the Google ad controversy

What exactly is going on?

Youtube (owned by Google) came under fire recently for featuring ads next to extremist content. Advertisers from powerful companies such as AT&T and Verizon were not happy when they saw their ads on videos promoting hatred and terrorism such as ISIS videos.

Google is poised to lose millions as advertisers pull their content from Youtube. Still, the controversy shouldn’t be too harmful to a company worth almost $500 billion.

Why did this happen?

Advertising used to be a highly selective process. In mass media outlets such as TV broadcasting, advertisers know precisely where, when, and the duration they are being featured.

The internet is different. The nature of the platform is conducive to automated ads, which run according to algorithms alongside pretty much any type of content. The internet is far less regulated than older forms of media, allowing Youtube to host videos as diverse as makeup tutorials, talk shows, and hate speech.

Advertisers have much less agency when it comes to where their branding will appear. This opens the door for advertising alongside some pretty malicious stuff.

What is Google’s response?

Google, as expected, is downplaying the issue. Google exec Philipp Schindler claimed that the problem is ‘very very very small’, and that the amount of ads featured next to extremist content is minimal.

Aside from these statements, Google is taking a number of steps:

1. Cracking down on hate speech by further enforcing or even changing Youtube’s content guidelines.
2. Removing ads from hate content.
3. Giving advertisers more control over where their marketing appears.
4. Giving advertisers more transparency on where their content is being featured.

Some are disagreeing with the effectiveness of Google’s measures, as well as the actual number of incidents of misplaced advertisements. Outlets like the Washington Post are resisting Google’s downplaying of the controversy.

It is extremely difficult to regulate a vast, individually curated website such as Youtube, and, whether or not you agree, there is a moral argument behind leaving certain points of view uncensored. Yet, capitalism has immense power over regulating content, especially content controlled by corporations such as Google.

Hate speech is a problem the internet has struggled with for ages. It’ll be interesting to see how this episode plays out.

Tech The World Now + Beyond

8 times livestreaming was indispensable to activists

Let’s take a second to remember the 2015 Black Lives Matter protests, and the gross misreporting conducted by the mainstream media. For those who tuned into CNN, the coverage consisted of money shots of looting, violence, and Wolf Blitzer’s condescending denouncement of protestors.

The TV news cycle has the ability to shape the opinions of the entire nation. How can activists combat the spread of misrepresentation in the mainstream media, with so few resources in comparison?

With the new outlets social media exposes us to, many have turned to livestreaming to document truths that the mainstream cannot, or will not see. Here are a few of the most remarkable examples.

 1. The Arab Spring

“The Arab Spring Project” blog

During the Arab Spring protests of 2010 and 2011, we witnessed one of the first times social media became a revolutionary tool for activists. When several Middle Eastern and north African governments responded with violent repression coupled with internet blackouts, livestreaming played a central role in documenting injustice outside of traditional media formats.

A representative from Witness, a group focused on training activists in livestreaming, claimed that live video during the Arab Spring prevented the world from ignoring the important struggles that were taking place.

2. Occupy Wall Street

AP/Seth Wenig via Current

Soon after social media activism exploded internationally during the Arab Spring, we saw a strategic use of livestreaming here in the US.

For many activists, mainstream media coverage was a source of extreme frustration. Livestreamer James Woods claimed to have seen CNN deliberately avoid covering the arrests of protestors. As a response, Occupy protestors had to take truth-telling into their own hands.

We can thank Occupy Wall Street livestreamers for really making this form of media what it is today. One of Occupy’s channels,, apparently became so threatening to the established powers that they were arrested in their Brooklyn studio.

3. Ferguson Protests

Getty Images via The Wrap

Protests against police brutality, for obvious reasons, are especially dangerous hotbeds for police versus activist conflict. Nonetheless, livestreaming “citizen journalists” entered the fray and filmed alternative views of the Eric Garner demonstrations in New York, as well as protests in Ferguson.

During a Ferguson protest, livestreamer John Ziegler recorded a cop pointing a rifle at a protester and shouted “I will fucking kill you!” The ensuing footage got the officer fired.

During these protests, faster LTE networks facilitated livestreaming, compared to the slow 3G networks of the Occupy days.

4. Police Brutality


We all remember the chilling death of Philando Castile. That alone is a testament to the power of the more modern tools of livestreaming, which go beyond sites like Ustream to permeate everyday social media such as Facebook and Instagram.

Zuckerberg may not have predicted that his latest feature would be used to document incidents of racial violence, yet with both the deaths of Castile and Alfred Olango, Facebook live has been cemented as an activist tool.

5. Standing Rock

Avery Leigh White via Rolling Stone

Livestreamers at Standing Rock had two battles to fight. While the #noDAPL activism was underreported by mainstream media, it became the responsibility of individual protestors to document the events.

At the same time, livestreamers had an obligation to film incidents of extreme police violence against protestors.

6. Anti-Trump protests

AP/Ted S. Warren via Komo News

The aftermath of the election and the inauguration led to mass protests, as well as the usual citizen journalism and livestreaming seen in previous protests.

What was unique was the use of livestream by celebrities such as Michael Moore to promote protests on an even larger platform, as well as Shia Labeouf’s use of livestreaming as an artistic medium in his anti-Trump stream titled “He Will Not Divide Us.”

7. Women’s March

The Huffington Post

The Women’s March was likely the largest protest in US history. Instead of being primarily used to document alternative media, livestreaming technology adapted to this massive scale. Video streaming professionals amplified the march even further by recording the entire event for all those who could not make it.

This new approach allowed everyone with access to the internet to be part of the movement.

8. And onwards

Stephanie Keith/Getty via Rolling Stone

As the Times reported, airport protests erupted “out of nowhere” after Trump’s executive order banned refugees from certain countries. While it is unclear the exact role of streamers in mobilizing protestors, small gatherings quickly turned into massive crowds in airports across the nation as word spread quickly through social media livestreams.

Livestreams are still indispensable for activism today. But what exactly is their future?

They are increasingly being co-opted by more powerful outlets, such as celebrities and the media. Yet the technology is at the same time becoming more and more accessible at the grassroots level, through networks such as Facebook.

Livestream technology is still a powerful presence in politics, and most likely will continue to grow.

Tech Now + Beyond

What happens when you can buy your way into outer space?

Here on Earth, we have a system where you receive certain privileges and human rights only if you can afford them.

And if you cannot, you can say goodbye to your education, healthcare, even your happiness.

And if this wasn’t enough, we might be starting to rebuild the same flawed system in space too.

Take SpaceX’s “moon mission” as an example. Elon Musk’s private space exploration enterprise is planning to send two paying customers around the moon by 2018. The price is a secret, but some estimate it to be as high as $175 million dollars per seat.

What happens when we make space exploration so wildly exclusive, in the interests of rapid innovation? For one, we short-change the human race. If, in the future, only the elite, the .0001% of humans have the opportunity to experience the world outside of ours, it is almost as if no one does at all.

NASA has provided this country with a tradition of government-sponsored space programs. While the agency does not send ordinary Americans to the moon, their voyagers are extremely well-trained professionals. This makes more sense than to send amateur rich people out into space with, at best a year of training, and a hope for the best.

Of course, NASA’s approach doesn’t make financial sense. NASA does not rely on external funding; with a government lacking passion for exploration, and in favor of pouring funds into other areas such as defense spending, the agency cannot compete with its private competitors.

As a result, a bastion of space research is now being eclipsed by companies that fund joy-rides for the rich. Some want NASA to step aside and permit the flourishing of the free market. Adam Minter on Bloomberg urges the government to accept that “the private sector will always have an advantage” in terms of lowering costs. This is the same logic used to argue for privatized human needs, such as healthcare.

None of this is to say that private space start ups should disappear. At their best, these enterprises fill in for NASA’s lack of funding through frequent collaborations, their importance shown by NASA’s blog dedicated to SpaceX.

Private space companies are not ideal, but they have proven helpful. Instead, the problem lies with how the private and public space exploration sectors are being positioned against each other. In this battle, the underfunded and bureaucratic NASA is no match. We cannot afford to let it step aside and be replaced by an entirely privatized space industry. We cannot risk having important research projects decided entirely on the whims of the free market and the personal benefit of the rich.

Also a problem: the perpetual underfunding of NASA. And under Trump, it’s not likely to get better.

Unless these problems are fixed, we are poised to enter a future where even outer space travel is divided by class.

Tech The World Now + Beyond

Should we trust Wikileaks?

During the election, Wikileaks contributed to Trump’s ammunition against Hillary Clinton by leaking those emails. Respected members of the US government have denounced the website. European authorities once arrested Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief, for sexual assault.

There is a lot to not like about Wikileaks. Especially if you supported Clinton in the election. Indeed, in the wake of the CIA leaks, some have even resorted to defending CIA espionage in order to denounce the website.

Yet Wikileaks is pushed into the limelight with every new data dump. Almost every outlet has covered the most recent leaks. Many media companies have teamed up with the website, as shown by the website’s extensive partners list. Wikileaks is the primary source for journalists writing about government overreach. And perhaps more importantly, it is an essential tool for anyone who wants to engage in activism or dissent. Here is why:

The recent CIA leaks provide a rare glimpse into reality.

Shortly after the leaks, there was a frightening attempt to downplay their contents by the media. The Washington Post wrote that the CIA is not conducting “mass surveillance,” rather, it is spying on individual devices (which are, in fact, mass produced & distributed).

In reality, what the leaks reveal is nothing short of terrifying. We have known about government surveillance for a while. But it is easy to forget, in our day to day lives, that the government has this enormous, undemocratic ability to access our private information. This leak has reminded us.

This is really bad. The CIA, tasked by Obama to reveal software vulnerabilities so that they can be fixed, has instead exploited these weaknesses for its own advantages. Your phone, laptop, or television can be accessed through security flaws, effectively bypassing message encryption apps. The government can access your microphones and cameras. And, if these software loopholes exist, any rogue hacker, even outside of the CIA, can exploit them.

Do not be worried about a partisan allegiance.

It’s true, election night was a disaster, and Wikileaks may or may not have contributed to Donald Trump’s win. But that does not mean the website has stayed loyal to any particular candidate. In addition to targeting the Clinton campaign, Wikileaks has expressed interest in publishing Trump’s tax returns.

During his campaign, Trump claimed to “love” Wikileaks for its supposed damage to the Clinton campaign. After the most recent CIA debacle, his opinions are changing.

Wikileaks is more anti-secrecy than anti-Democrat. And what was revealed in the Clinton, DNC, and Podesta emails is also extremely important. We learned of the DNC’s effort to undermine Bernie Sanders. We learned of attempts to legitimize Trump in order to bolster Clinton. The emails may have spawned a weird internet child porn conspiracy, but keeping both sides accountable is worth it.

Good journalism is whistleblowing.

In 1971, the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret history of the US’s role in Vietnam from the Department of Defense. The papers contained information unknown by the mainstream media as well as part of the government itself. The leak was exemplary journalism, demonstrating the true power-checking purpose of the press. It was also very illegal.

Lately, with a few exceptions, large media companies such as the New York Times have been less willing to take these risks. Wikileaks is picking up their legacy. There will always be a need to keep our government responsible, whether or not our favorite party is in power.

A treasure trove for activists.

Government mass surveillance and US military expansion are important issues, but they do not receive the attention they deserve in the mainstream news cycle. Thanks to Wikileaks, activists have a rallying point to begin to tap into ordinary people’s outrage over government wrongdoing.

Leaks are a key tool for the resistance; they reveal problems that could never have been covered otherwise, because the information did not exist. In the ongoing fight for justice, we can use this evidence to our advantage.

Politics Race The World Policy Inequality

Here’s what to do if ICE agents show up at your door

“The U.S-Mexican border es una herida abierta where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds.” -Gloria E. Anzaldúa

This administration is taking extreme measures to terrorize an already highly marginalized community in this country. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) have been conducting raids across the country this past week. Hundreds of undocumented people have been arrested.

There is a lot of psychological pain and distress that comes with being chased down, terrorized, and displaced by the state. The ACLU published a list in both Spanish and English to tutor those who may be targeted by ICE raids in the near future.

There is no need to open the door.

In fact, it is better not to. It is harder for ICE agents to force themselves in if you keep the door closed. They have no legal right to enter without your permission, without a special warrant. However, you must also be aware that they may break this rule and enter anyway.

With the door closed, you should ask if they are ICE agents. You should also ask what they are here for. (You can even ask for an interpreter.)

ICE needs a warrant signed by a judge to enter.

With the door still closed, ask the agents if they have a warrant signed by a judge. If they do not have this document, you have a right to refuse them entry. Even if they have a warrant that is not signed, you can also refuse to open your door. (Again, they may enter anyway.)

If they do have a warrant, you can ask them to slip it under your door.

Once you have the warrant, examine it closely. Examples of warrants that do not grant ICE agents entry into your residence are:

Not issued by a court. The name of the court is usually at the top of the first page.

Not signed by a judge. Check the signature line in the document.

Issued by the Department of Homeland Security or ICE. Again, the warrant must be issued by a court!

Signed by a DHS or ICE agent. In terms of deportation raids, these signatures do not have to same legal authority as a judge’s.

If you find the warrant to be invalid, do not open the door.

ICE agents may force their way in.

As we have seen, police officers, immigration agents, and government officials in general are not above breaking the law. If ICE agents do force their entry into your home, ask to see a lawyer immediately and remain silent. The ACLU suggests you say, “I do not consent to your entry or to your search of these premises. I am exercising my right to remain silent. I wish to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.” 

Art by Alberto Ledesma via Buzzfeed

Being undocumented in this country is an exhausting political act, one that requires enormous resilience. No matter where you are, we are your allies – and will continue fighting for your rights and visibility as the new administration moves backwards with its human rights violations.

Policy Inequality

Here’s what you need to know about California becoming a sanctuary state

It looks like California might just become the first sanctuary state in the United States. SB 54, which was introduced in the Senate early December 2016 , includes provisions that would aptly categorize California as such, and immigrant groups are heavily pushing for its approval.

SB 54, also known as the “California Values Act,” would “prevent the use of state and local public resources to aid ICE agents in deportation actions.” This bill comes on the heels of President Trump’s fierce crackdown on immigration in the United States. Senator Kevin De León (D.) of California was the first to introduce the bill, along with fellow California Senator Richard Pan.

So, what’s this bill  do? 

Mercury News
  • California law enforcement officials (both statewide and local) cannot carry out deportations.
  • ICE would be prohibited from entering public areas such as schools, courthouses, and hospitals, and would require California agencies to update and uphold confidentiality policies. This is an effort to encourage undocumented people to seek out public services as needed in a non-threatening environment.
  • The state would take positive measures to protect undocumented immigrants from federal reach.
  • However, ICE would be able to carry out a deportation if they obtained a judicial warrant.

What’s this whole “sanctuary state” thing about?

California could become a sanctuary state

Chad Zuber on Shutterstock

Opponents of the bill have complained that it might make California a “de facto sanctuary state”. But will it? That depends on how you define a “sanctuary”.

By the mainstream definition, the California Values Act would, in fact, make California a sanctuary.  “Sanctuary cities” define themselves as places that limit the power of ICE in their jurisdictions by not cooperating with ICE officials. IF SB 54 passed, California would fit that description perfectly.

ICE would still have all the power of the federal government to terrorize undocumented immigrants. The state of California would not be able to put a stop on deportation raids carried out with a judicial warrant. And with widespread recent ICE raids, many concentrated in California, the very possibility of deportations is frightening to many undocumented immigrants still living in the state.

Also important to note: ANY immigrant can turn away ICE for lacking a judicial warrant. ICE does not have the right to carry out a deportation without one. The “warrant requirement” is not unique to this bill at all.

Do we like this bill or not? 


In sum – yes. SB 54 doesn’t completely shield undocumented folks from ICE, as a bill like that can’t possibly exist. It would be openly defying federal law if it did. However, this bill is a huge step in protecting immigrants and de-criminalizing their existence.

If passed, the California Values Act would indeed make California a “de facto sanctuary state”, by all accepted definitions. That is an enormous symbolic step, if not also a severe hindrance for ICE in the state with the largest population of undocumented immigrants in the US.

Great, okay. How is this  bill doing now?

It’s doing well. A state senate committee approved it on February 1st.  The political climate in California is looking good overall, with California lawmakers proposing bills with a similar pro-sanctuary sentiments. Let’s bide our time, and hope this thing passes.

GIF made with GIPHY
Science Now + Beyond

Perfect gifts only math and science nerds in your life will appreciate

Being a college student, I know a lot of talented science majors. Budding scientists study a lot, and need some appreciation to keep on going. What better appreciation than lots of THINGS? Here are some of the coolest science gifts I’ve spotted online:

For your environmentally conscious friend.


Get your friend something to wear for the upcoming science marches. Or a handmade patch and a pin to stick on their backpack on the way to their environmental studies class.

Know any neuroscientists?

I Heart Guts

Theres always the one person obsessed with brains. Get your neuro-major (or zombie) friend some things to cuddle with, like this giant neuron or this brain plushie. Or something to keep the sun out of their eyes as the ozone layer breaks down.

For the future biologist in your life.


Show your love with these anatomically correct heart stickers and badges. If your friend is more of a head over heart person, get them this hand-embroidered skull.

For the chemistry nerd.


We all know that chem majors party the hardest. But when it’s studying time, get your friend some gifts to boost their energy level.

For the astrophysicist.


These travel posters will make your friend leave you to go live on another planet. If you don’t want that to happen, you can always give your astro-nerd friend some nice soap or candy instead.

Science Now + Beyond

Republicans are getting sneakier about ignoring climate change

I’m afraid that there is no “moderate” way to be honest about climate change. The earth is really warming, and yes, humans are really the ones to blame. Any attempts to deny these two facts, however gently, or surreptitiously, are lies.

Recently, some of the most powerful government authorities, who (unfortunately) are slated to decide the future of climate policy, have taken a stealthier approach to protect the Big Oil interests they are indebted to.

Rex Tillerson, the new Secretary of State and former Exxon CEO, says climate change is real, but we can adapt to it.

The truth: Unless we reach zero carbon admissions, we cannot adapt without making living on this planet very uncomfortable for human beings. There is even a risk that climate change will make a vast amount of the Earth uninhabitable for large mammals (that includes us!).

Scott Pruitt, the current head of the Environmental Protection Agency, claims that “the human ability to measure with precision the extent of that impact is subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”

The truth: There might be debate between Pruitt and his buddies, but among actual scientists, there is an overwhelming consensus that humans cause climate change.

Trump himself says he will keep “an open mind” about whether or not climate change is real.

The truth: What is there to keep an open mind about? Even though he once claimed climate change was a Chinese hoax, it has continued to exist and has already begun to affect parts of the world anyway. I can only hope that he keeps an “open mind” about the sky being blue, or an “open mind” about how terrible he is at running the country.

The above statements are falsehoods, yet it is easy for us to read them as a shift in the right direction on the part of Republicans. After all, the GOP has been known to outright deny climate change, so these half-truths must be better, right?

The reality is, there is no reason that this slight ideological shift will lead to any meaningful policy change by Republicans in power. GOP politicians are still funded by the same Big Oil companies as always, keeping them beholden to fossil fuels, which are the cause of human-induced climate change.

Of course these politicians want to mislead the public about human involvement in climate change. It is their last ditch effort to protect fossil fuel interests, since outright climate denial draws too much ridicule to further benefit companies such as ExxonMobil or Koch Industries.

The Republican Party has a history of creating policy based on their Big Oil donations. And the current Republican administration has direct links to the fossil fuel industry. The president has owned shares of several big oil companies, including those funding the Dakota Access Pipeline. Rex Tillerson has headed ExxonMobil, a company infamous for funding climate denial groups and more recently has neglected to include the Paris Climate Agreement into its financial plans. Rick Perry, the new Secretary of Energy, sits on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners, the company in charge of building DAPL.

Fossil fuel interests have found a cozy seat at the table with Trump’s presidency. Current republican flip-flopping on climate change does nothing to change that.

Statements by Trump and his cabinet, as well as any Republican who continues to avoid the truth of human-caused climate change, are falsehoods. They are nothing but a brilliant example of the government lying to the people about a proven fact. We live in a world where those appointed to protect us refuse to address an issue that could ruin our health and make huge swaths of the planet unfit to live in.

Climate change is the biggest threat that we face, with the potential to ruin the planet more than a nuclear war. Any attempt to be a “moderate” on the issue delegitimizes the government, and its purpose of protecting the people. We cannot forget this as we move forward, or be charmed by Republican half-truths.

Science Now + Beyond

This is what you need to know about Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson was recently confirmed as Secretary of State. Other news sources have been frantically discussing what he means for international relations, but few are wondering what this former oilman could mean for the future of the environment.

Before his nomination, Tillerson was complicit in actively undermining environmentalist efforts. The company he formerly headed, ExxonMobil, has an ongoing interest in disproving climate change. ExxonMobil is probably the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Big Oil: the international company is one the biggest and most profitable in the world. And to protect its main product, it has a record of funding climate change denial groups and deceiving investors about the real impact of climate change.

The latter infraction gave birth to the hashtag #Exxonknew, and dug up evidence that the company knew about climate change since the 60’s, yet still claimed uncertainty and sowed doubt. And these are only some of the shady things the company has done (i.e. TORTURE.)

Yet, Tillerson has voiced some seemingly responsible opinions as far as climate change denial goes. He doesn’t outright deny climate change, and seems to acknowledge its threats in some ways. As a result, some journalists have praised him as a good “moderate” as opposed to the other folks in Trump’s cabinet.

Don’t be fooled, Tillerson might be the worst pick in this entire administration. His ties to Big Oil underline a terrifying trend in US Politics: putting powerful business interests above the safety and wellbeing of the American people.

Climate change has the potential to destroy major cities with rising tides, exacerbate the existing drought & wildfire problems, and make life much more difficult for Americans. The HUMAN-caused warming of the planet should be treated like national security threat that it is, yet Tillerson is running in circles around the issue.

Although he may not seem as brazen as Trump in regards to climate change, none of what he is saying about climate change is even remotely true. He claims that “Our ability to predict [climate change] is very limited”, yet this is a falsehood. Scientists are in fact able to predict the warming impact down to the degree. He claims that climate change is something that we can adapt to, instead of trying to directly prevent. Yet there are threatened communities around the world that are already unable to adapt to a rise in wildfires, deforestation, drought, and other adverse environmental impacts.

No, The Washington Post, this doesn’t mean that he “sees climate change primarily through the eyes of an engineer, as something that must be solved largely through innovation and ingenuity.” Tillerson is trying to downplay the imminent threat of climate change to protect the business interests he is directly linked to.

While Tillerson was CEO, he did little to back up his so-called moderate position on climate change. He expanded Exxon’s funding of climate denial groups. Under his leadership, Exxon has harassed nonprofits and contributed to the re-election of climate denier Lamar Smith. While in office, Tillerson will have a vested interest in rejecting the Paris Climate Agreement, as Exxon’s finances have no plans for it.

His lack of outright climate change denial seems less threatening, but in fact, in makes him all the more dangerous. If we were to take a good, equitable look at the people around the world (and even just in this country) who are already suffering, we would see that global warming and environmental destruction are among the biggest threats we face. His promise to downplay these effects will only keep us complacent as the tide continues to rise.