Campus advocates provide key support to sexual assault survivors — but ‘superheroes’ are in short supply
When Laura Swartzen saw the email from Sacramento State University’s Title IX office, it felt like her heart skipped a beat. Swartzen, the Sac State confidential campus advocate, had spent the past nine months supporting a student who reported being sexually assaulted. Swartzen had listened to the student’s wrenching account, offered to connect them with…
California colleges are applying lessons learned from COVID-19 as they attempt to keep monkeypox from spreading on campuses. Experts say the disease poses a lower health risk than COVID but could keep students from their studies for longer periods.
Free college isn’t a new idea in California. But some community colleges, facing declining enrollment, are waiving fees for more students than ever, and adding on perks like free textbooks, meals and transportation.
The Cal State system graduates Black students at lower rates than other groups. Students, scholars and advocates say the reasons are myriad.
College Beat is produced by the CalMatters College Journalism Network, a collaboration between CalMatters and student journalists across the state.
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Meet the Team
Sindhu Ananthavel, UC Santa Barbara: Sindhu Ananthavel is a second-year student at UC Santa Barbara majoring in Communication. She is an assistant news editor at the student newspaper The Daily Nexus where she covers university news, including both on-campus and UC-wide affairs.
JoliAmour DuBose-Morris, University of San Francisco: JoliAmour is a student at University of San Francisco, studying film and screenwriting. She plans to bring insight and change to the conventional perspective of black identity and black femininity. She has recently done more freelance journalism and has worked with Office Magazine.
Marnette Federis, UC team leader: Marnette Federis is a multimedia journalist based in San Jose, Calif. For more than a decade, Marnette has worked as a reporter, editor and producer in various newsrooms and platforms including print, digital media, television and radio. Most recently, she worked as a higher education and immigration reporter with The World. She has also worked for Capital Public Radio, KQED, KGTV/ABC 10 News in San Diego and the Bay Area News Group. Marnette holds a master’s degree from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. in literature from UC San Diego.
Emily Forschen, San Diego State University: Emily Forschen is a senior at San Diego State University studying journalism and film, covering arts and culture for The Daily Aztec. She is interested in writing about all things pop culture, criminal justice, education and all of their intersections.
Emma Hall, Sacramento State University: Emma Hall is a journalist currently based in Sacramento. Alongside CalMatters, Hall is the first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Editor at The State Hornet, Sacramento State’s student-run publication. Her work has been featured on KQED, The Pleasanton Weekly, High Country News, The Advocate at Contra Costa College and The Inquirer at Diablo Valley College. She is also a proud community college graduate.
Michaella Huck, CSU Northridge: Michaella Huck is a Senior at California State University, Northridge where she works as the Magazine editor at the Sundial. The magazine highlights issues we face as a generation, but her coverage focuses on diversity on campus and breaking news reporting. She loves photography, trying new restaurants and hanging out with her dog. She is also a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.
Sonali Kohli, CSU team leader: Sonali Kohli is an award-winning journalist based in Los Angeles. A product of Southern California, Sonali grew up in Diamond Bar and graduated from UCLA, then reported at the Orange County Register and Quartz before covering education and breaking news for The Los Angeles Times for six years. In 2020 Sonali was named the best education journalist in the U.S. by the Education Writers Association, then completed the Spencer Fellowship in Education Reporting at Columbia University. She is now working on a young adult nonfiction book about teen activists. When she isn’t interviewing youths or editing college journalists’ stories, you’ll find her baking or in a pottery studio.
Elina Lingappa, Pomona College: Elina Lingappa is a Sociology major at Pomona college, where she is also a new editorial assistant for The Student Life. She works with NGOs and nonprofits, in areas ranging from criminal justice to food insecurity. She is interested in working in the intersection between structural equity and journalism; strengthening visibility and public understanding around international grassroots movements.
Ryan Loyola, UC Santa Cruz: Ryan Loyola is the City Desk Editor at City on a Hill Press, the student-run weekly at UC Santa Cruz. A third-year politics major and legal studies minor, he reports on the Santa Cruz community, local government, and general campus news. This is his second year as a member of the College Journalism Network, previously working as a contributor for the 2020-21 CJN cohort.
Itzel Luna, Stanford University: Itzel Luna is a freshman at Stanford University, planning to study political science and journalism. She is an incoming staffer for the Stanford Daily and previously interned for KTLA, a Los Angeles based newscast. She is particularly interested in politics, breaking news and investigative journalism.
Felicia Mello, College Journalism Network Editor: Felicia Mello has covered higher education for CalMatters since 2018, focusing on affordability, equity and innovation. A UC Berkeley graduate, she was a finalist for the Education Writers Association’s beat reporting prize in 2018.
Julian Mendoza, Chico State University: Julian Mendoza is a Chico State student who is interested in investigative reporting. He’s covered politics, higher education, policing and more. You can find most of his work at The Orion, Chico State’s student newspaper. He wants to report on what’s going on in the North State and hold authority accountable using journalism.
Colleen Murphy, Private colleges team leader: Colleen Murphy is a Minnesota-raised, D.C.-dwelling freelance editor and writer. She spent five years learning about everyone’s favorite topic — taxes — as a reporter, editor, and ultimately deputy team lead at Bloomberg Tax. She overhauled breaking news coverage and, in 2021, steered a story about daily fantasy sports that won two SABEW awards. She is a graduate of George Washington University, where she was editor-in-chief of the independent student newspaper, The GW Hatchet.
Omar Rashad, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo: Omar Rashad is a senior fellow at CalMatters covering higher education. He frequently reports on homelessness, housing, education and state legislation and is most interested in exploring how those topics intersect with culture and religion. Rashad attended El Camino College in Torrance, CA for two years and was the editor-in-chief of its independent student-run newspaper, The Union. He attends Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as a student in its undergraduate journalism program.
Matthew Reagan, Program Manager: Matthew Reagan is a journalist and the Program Manager for the CalMatters College Journalism Network — a collaboration between CalMatters and student journalists from across the state to produce high quality, student-centered coverage of higher education in California. Reagan was a Fellow and intern with CJN beginning Sept. 2020 where he covered the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on students, state higher education policy and the 2021 California recall election.
Zaeem Shaikh, Fresno State University: Zaeem Shaikh is a senior at Fresno State majoring in political science and digital journalism. He is the editor-in-chief of The Collegian, the university’s student newspaper. He is interested in writing about higher education, criminal justice, and state and local politics. In his free time, Zaeem loves playing the acoustic guitar and chatting about the NBA.
Oden Taylor, American River College: Oden Taylor is the former Editor-In-Chief and current student worker for the American River College Current. Taylor covers politics, climate change, criminal justice reform, LGBTQ+ issues/events, and entertainment, among many other topics. He is currently serving as the Student President of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges, as well as being a volunteer for Journalists in Classrooms.
Julia Woock, UC Riverside: Julia Annette Woock is a Latina born in Tijuana, Mexico, raised in a binational borderlands community by a single mother. She is majoring in political science at UC Riverside and looking to pursue political and investigative journalism. She is a non-traditional neurodivergent transfer student and the first in her family to go to college. She holds associate degrees in Italian, journalism, economics and liberal studies with an emphasis in math and science. Woock is the former Editor-in-Chief of America’s #1-ranked community college newspaper, The Southwestern College Sun. She was an Associated Collegiate Press National College Reporter of the Year finalist in 2020 and 2021.
Madalyn Wright, Sierra College: Madalyn Wright is a journalism, women’s studies, and ethnic studies major at Sierra College. Wright is currently Editor-In-Chief of Roundhouse News & Review. They largely cover working-class issues/events and are interested in writing about assistance program accessibility, climate change, criminal justice reform, and stigmatized workplaces.