PRACTICING LAW

CSULB Moot Court prepares law students for real trials

Story by Karrie Comfort   Contributor

Not many people ask to stand on trial. However, the people in moot court are a little different.

To be fair, they aren’t standing on trial for a crime. They are instead in front of a panel of judges, presenting a case for an issue. In short, moot court is appellate advocacy.

Students compete in teams of two by presenting a hypothetical case involving two constitutional issues. 

The petitioner of the team then presents these cases to the judges. The respondent team they compete against then has an opportunity to present their side of the issue. 

The trial proceeds back to the petitioner, who has an opportunity for rebuttal. The judges are permitted to ask questions at any time during the trial.

“Sometimes the judges just look at you,” said competitor Justin Adofina, “So you just have to say the same thing over and over.”

Although the cases are fictional, all of the case law is from real past decisions and represents real precedent, adding pressure to competitors to be concise and knowledgable about their cases. 

Adofina currently represents the CSULB moot court along with his partner, Julieta Hernandez. 

Adofina and Hernandez competed in the Upper Midwest Regional Tournament, one out of 10 regional tournaments. Their team took the runner-up position, which qualified them for the upcoming tournament nationals.

Adofina accredited his team’s success to the class POSC 417-Legal Practices: Moot Court, taught by Dr. Lewis Ringel.

“He’s the reason we’re doing so well,” he said.

Although Adofina and Hernandez hope to win the national title here at home, Adofina is especially proud of Long Beach State’s good reputation.

“Gracious in defeat, humble in victory…and we always shake hands,” he said. 

But so far this season, they have only had to be gracious once.  The moot court national tournament will be held on campus on Jan. 15 and 16. 

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'WHY IT HURTS'

Entire department remembers Nohemi Gonzalez

Story by Katie Cortez   Editor in Chief

On Friday, Nov. 13, the design department at California State University, Long Beach was shaken to the core. 

Hundreds of people gathered on campus, Sunday, Nov. 16 to mourn the loss of 23-year-old design  student, Nohemi Gonzalez, who was fatally shot during the Paris terrorist attacks. Since her death, the design department has been been in a state of shock and deep sorrow at the loss of one of their most treasured students. “In this department we are very family-oriented. We are a small department everybody knows everyone,” design professor Matias Ocana said. “I had her as a student, I had her as an assistant, it really was like losing one of my own kids, in a way.”

Gonzalez, a senior, was a teacher’s assistant for three of Ocana’s courses over her time at CSULB: DESN 151 (Design Materials & Tools), 154 (Model & Prototype Technique), and 254 (Production Materials & Technique Processes), as well as the program’s first female technician. She was always “encouraging people to step out of the box,” Ocana said. “She had this quality of recognizing or targeting what the specific problems any student may have and was able to guide them and help them.”  

As a TA, Gonzalez touched not only the lives of the professors she assisted, but her kindness and passion for design was passed down to her students as well. “She was very passionate and organized and liked to keep her shop clean, and she taught us that,” design sophomore Alysia El Nagar, 25, said. “She was a little intimidating, but it was because she was such an awesome  human being.” 

El Nagar fondly remembers a time when Gonzalez helped her learn to use a laser cutter for one of her design projects. “Now, every time I see that dragon with the laser cuts, I think about how it was something she helped me to do,” El Nagar said. “This memory is almost tangible because of that moment.”

In order to cope with the loss, students and professors are joining together to know her and remember the girl they once knew.

“One thing that amazes me is  how one person can have such an effect on so many people,” design professor David Teubner said. “Students knew her as a mentor and a friend, knew her as someone who would stay late and help them with their projects, go the extra mile for them.”

“We’re trying to continue in our lives and move on, but then you hear comments about war. I don’t think any of us are thinking about that,” El Nagar said. “She was taken away from us.”

Some members of the CSULB design community are suffering harder from the loss of Gonzalez than others. One unnamed student cannot come to school because she needs time to process the whole situation. “We want to reach out to her and hold her, but we can’t,” Teubner said. “She can’t deal with it yet.”

The design community here at home is shocked, but it’s much worse for those students who still remain overseas. “We lost one student tragically, but it traumatized our entire building, at least four other students who were there. I’m concerned about them,” Teubner said. One of those students was Gonzalez’s best friend, the other was in the restaurant at the time of the attack. Both students were Skyped into the CSULB vigil via cell phone. 

“We have a lot of students who come and go, but Nohemi was not just a student,” Teubner said. “She impacted everyone at every level. That’s what was amazing, that’s why it hurts. They took someone away from us who was just such an important part of everything we do and everything we believe in.”

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CELEBRATING DIA DE LOS MUERTOS

La Raza celebrates different student cultures

Story and photos by Elizabeth Campos   Contributor

On Oct. 29, the La Raza Student Association held its 40th Dia de los Muertos celebration. 

The event took place in the USU Ballrooms from 5-9 pm and was open to the students as well as their family and friends.

The room was decorated with colorful picador (traditional Mexican paper folk art), banners created by La Raza, a big screen with a slideshow explaining the importance of Dia de los Muertos, and altars put together by La Raza and other student organizations.

The event started with a procession led by the American Indian Student Council to the Puvungna land on campus. Following the return of the procession, the group presented traditional Native American songs and dances to the audience. 

Vendors, from outside the school and CSULB students themselves, had the opportunity to showcase their talents in jewelry making, painting and embroidering. 

Throughout the event, some La Raza members did traditional face painting and participated in a craft table, where attendees were able to decorate sugar skulls.

CSULB's Grupo Folklórico Mexica peformed different traditional Mexican songs that turned this event in to a more fun and dynamic celebration.The dancers performed an Aztec dance ritual that transformed the ambiance of the event to a very intimate celebration. 

Incense, chants, drums, music, food, color and history gave the Dia de los Muertos celebration a chance to share Mexican culture with the event goers. 

La Raza’s Dia de los Muertos celebration honored both Mexican and Native American cultures and shared them with those present. There is no doubt that it will do the same next year. 

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HOW GRADE APPEALS WORK

Story by Karrie Comfort  Contributor

It ruined your GPA. 

That one B, and let's be real, you're still pretty bitter about it. And it wasn't just you, it was all the sad, sorry students on RateMyProfessor, not to mention all the other people who did even worse than you in the class.

It's time to appeal your grades. This little known benefit for students isn't well-known or often-used, but it is possible to argue yourself a better grade.

ASI Associate Justice Justin Adofinas said, “It's a resource many students do not know they have... and it's one that is very beneficial for those who believe they've been graded in a capricious or prejudicial way.”

The process is simple: File an appeal of a final grade and then participate in a hearing in the appropriate department. 

These committees then provide written accounts explaining their decisions, and if the student feels like the committee represented them unfairly, they can appeal to their college, and, as a last resort, the university.

Now, this isn't meant in any way to undermine professors’ authority, nor is it an easy way out for those of us who just didn't study until an hour before the midterm.

“But the burden of proof lies entirely with the student, so simply not agreeing with your grade isn't grounds for an appeal,” said Adofinas.

A grade appeal is a serious process that can really help check the power of a professor that perhaps has graded you in an unfair or prejudiced way, and ASI is hosting a workshop on how to file for one on Nov. 17. Check it out!

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PARADISE ON CAMPUS

Little-known CSULB hangouts for the wandering student

Story and photos by Steve Lime Contributor

There are several often overlooked spots on campus that are just too cool or unique to ignore. In my time here, I’ve made it a personal mission to discover little-known areas on campus. These new areas can be fun to show off to new friends or just be new places to appreciate. 

The McIntosh Building Bathrooms

I had heard rumors that the bathrooms on the highest levels of the Mac building were the most austere and well-decorated of all the campus bathrooms. My passion for finding a good, clean bathroom aside, I just wanted to see if they lived up to the legend.

The Mac building is the tallest on campus at nine stories. And strangely enough, each floor can only hold one bathroom. So, every other floor has a single-gendered bathroom. All of the men’s rooms are on odd floors and all of the women’s rooms are on even floors. 

This building houses mostly offices, but I can only imagine the inconvenience of literally having to go to a different floor to use the restroom at your own office.

The first time I went to the ninth floor of the Mac building, I wanted to earn it, so I walked up all the stairs. 

I will never do that again. 

When I approached the bathroom, I expected trumpets to blare or something, but nothing of the sort happened. Instead, I was greeted with a great view of campus and the surrounding area. 

A person could literally sit in the stall with the door open and have a sea of green and blue fill your vision. 

A gentle breeze came in through the large window, reminding me of how high up I was.

From then on, whenever I had a class over by the Mac building, I took every excuse to ride the elevator to the top and relieve myself in style.

The Student Art Galleries

Between FA2 and FA3 are four student art galleries that, during the school year, display new, original installations. Even if you don’t care about art, there’s always something interesting on display.

In fact, a friend and I made a little game out of it. Each week, we’d stroll over to the art galleries and decide which was the creepiest. One of the four galleries would always be made up of the most disturbing or scary pieces. 

One week, we thought there would be no creepiest art gallery, and then we walked into the last one. 

When we opened the doors, we were treated to a floor covered in cotton and white drapes hanging from the ceiling. In the center was a series of Victorian children’s toys. Wind-up dolls and music boxes were playing. 

But something was very off. 

Next to the toys and jewelry were small animal bones. Some of the dolls had animal skulls instead of heads. And there were mice and hamsters in formaldehyde jars. 

Winner, winner.

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