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SFSU faculty experts available to comment on aspects of
hurricane aftermath




SFSU Office of Public Affairs & Publications
(415) 338-1665

Denize Springer
(415) 405-3803

Matt Itelson
(415) 338-1743


Press Release published by the Office of Public Affairs & Publications


SAN FRANCISCO, September 23, 2005 –- Members of the San Francisco State University faculty are available to provide analysis of the effects of natural disasters from a variety of perspectives. Below is a list of professors who are closely following events in the wake of such tragedy and can provide timely commentary. For additional assistance in locating an expert, call the SFSU Public Affairs office at (415) 338-1665.

Economic impact:
Michael Bar, assistant professor of economics, is an expert on macroeconomics. "The indirect cost of the hurricane is the loss of production caused by the inability of workers to go back to work, loss of life, interruption in energy supply, and reduction in port activity," Bar said. "This indirect cost is much greater than the direct cost of damage to property. Past experience with disasters suggests that shortly after the disaster, the regional economies will get a boost from reconstruction work. The U.S. economy prior to the disaster experienced a healthy growth that is likely to continue. The combined production of Louisiana and Mississippi is less than 2 percent of the national GDP, and although the impact on those economies is horrific, its significance for the national economy is small." Bar can be reached at (415) 338-3026 (office) or

Environmental impact:
Carlos Davidson, associate professor and director of environmental studies, is a conservation biologist and an expert on ecosystems. "Wetland ecosystems between New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have been depleted by poor urban planning (and ironically, the levees protect the city)," Davidson said. "When the hurricane hits, the height of the swell depends on the amount of wetlands, which serve as natural protection against storms and rising sea levels." Davidson can be reached at (415) 405-2127 (office) or

Historical/cultural perspective:
Cristina Ruotolo, associate professor of humanities, is an expert on the arts and culture of New Orleans. "Culture in New Orleans, perhaps more than in any other U.S. city, lives and breathes with its people, not only during the major tourist seasons of Mardi Gras and JazzFest, but throughout the year and throughout the city's neighborhoods where jazz, funk and hip hop thrive, and brass bands regularly claim the streets for music and dance," Ruotolo said. "The music, of course, will play on, and this tragedy will surely expand the New Orleans musical diaspora. But what becomes of such rich local traditions as the Mardi Gras Indians,
with their year-long dedication to creating uniquely flamboyant costumes, or the social aid and pleasure club parades and jazz funerals, depend entirely on what becomes of the people -- the neighborhoods, homes, jobs and communities -- who bring them to life." Ruotolo can be reached at

Media coverage of the aftermath:
John Burks, professor and chair of journalism, is an expert on trends and issues in news reporting. "I've been absorbed and transfixed with first the broadcast cable networks, then with citizen journalism," Burks said. "No newspaper can contend with the defining coverage of MSNBC, CNN, NPR, Pacifica and other cable and alternative news venues. Then there are the blogs -- particularly those providing first-hand, up-close observations and experiences as survivors who rode out Katrina and are eking out their existence day by day. We see little in the newspapers that so effectively connects us with these brothers and sisters in their ravished world. I give them much greater credibility than the professionals -- no matter what their pedigree." Burks can be reached at (415) 338-2663 (office), (650) 355-7169 (home) or

Philip Kipper, professor and chair of broadcast and electronic communication arts, is an expert on news in the electronic media. "Media coverage of the hurricane has been excellent with exception of a few showboat reports during the actual storm when some reporters risked their lives to show what it looks like to stand out in a 130-mph wind," Kipper said. "Perhaps most notable about the coverage and commentary has been its outspoken quality. For example, New York Times editorials critical of the president and the administration were as blunt as any I can remember. Some television coverage has been equally hard-hitting." Kipper can be reached at (415) 338-1788 (work), (415) 664-0968 (home), or

Political landscape:
Robert Smith, professor of political science, is an expert on American politics, the presidency and African American voting patterns. "Katrina, Iraq and the budget are the Bush agenda for the rest of his term (assuming there is not another terrorist attack); Social Security reform, immigration and tax reform will gain little traction in Congress or with the public," Smith said. "Iraq, Katrina and the budget are likely to create fissures in the Republican Party, and cause vulnerable Republican congressional candidates to distance themselves from the president in 2006. The president and the Republican Party chair have been aggressively reaching out to blacks. The immediate response to Katrina has damaged this effort. The president's speech was a first step in remedying this damage, and a recovery program that visibly includes minorities could repair the damage." Smith can be reached at (415) 338-7524 (office), (510) 222-7273 (home) or

Reconstruction (labor and fair practices):
Sheila Tully, lecturer of anthropology, labor studies and human sexuality studies, is an expert on labor issues, cross-cultural aspects of sex and gender, histories of terror, and motherhood, marriage and family "While an estimated 400,000 jobs have been lost, the White House has suspended the Davis-Bacon rules, in effect since the Great Depression, which require that workers on federal contracts be paid the prevailing wage," Tully said. "As the displaced wait
in shelters for housing vouchers, FEMA has awarded lucrative contracts to private firms with close ties to the White House. You can be certain that they will not be rebuilding public housing projects. … Possibly most troubling, and ignored so far by the mainstream media, are first-hand accounts of the intense militarization of many poor neighborhoods in New Orleans and elsewhere." Tully can be reached at (415) 338-7497 (office), (415) 752-3815 (home) or

Sociology, race relations:
Andreana Clay, assistant professor of sociology, is an authority on youth culture, social movements, race and ethnic relations, cultural studies, feminist theory and ethnography. "Despite the important work of movements like the civil rights movement to better the lives of African Americans, the treatment of poor African Americans in cities like New Orleans --but also in cities nationwide -- indicates that race and class divisions continue to influence the ideology and actions of the state and individuals," Clay said. "These are divisions that people of color, academics, journalists, teachers and young people of the 'hip-hop generation' have been trying to articulate for several decades." Clay can be reached at (415) 405-2480 (office) or

Social welfare (displaced children):
Felicia Law Murray, Licensed Child Social Worker and project coordinator of SFSU's Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Project, was a social worker with Alameda Family and Children's Services for seven years and is a native of Louisiana. "There are no words to describe what the children held in shelters hundreds of miles away from home who do not know what happened to their parents or guardians are going through," Murray said. "They may be in shelters, but further harm or violence can happen there as well." Murray can be reached at (415) 405-3482 (office) or

Social welfare (public health, homelessness, community recovery):
Roma Guy, instructor and program associate of health education is serving her third appointment to the San Francisco City and County Health Commission. She is a former director of the San Francisco Homelessness Project and founder of SFSU's Stay-in-School Family Resource Center. A former Peace Corps volunteer, Guy has been a community activist for more than 30 years and is one of 1,000 women nominated for the next Nobel Peace Prize. "The Gulf States crisis highlights the strengths of kinship and family relations and what is required to restore health and stability. In the face of disaster both public and private civic leadership must restore what was taken away and imagine, then implement what is socially just." Guy can be reached at (415) 338-1938 (office) or



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