Lowell High to change admissions process / UC Berkeley students under strict lockdown

It's Wednesday, February 10th.

Good evening, San Francisco. 

I don’t have a whole lot to say and there’s some important news today, so let’s get right into it… 

San Francisco’s school board voted 5-2 on Tuesday to permanently do away with Lowell High’s performance-based admissions process to curb “pervasive systemic racism” and a lack of diversity at the school. The process, which had been in place for over 50 years, took grades and test scores into consideration and helped Lowell become one of the top academic public high schools in the country. Now, students will be assigned to attend Lowell through the same lottery system that other schools in the district use. 

“Why is the idea of diversifying so terrifying?” asked Lowell freshman Hannah Chikere at a student rally last week. “People want to protect Lowell from what? Black people?” Lowell's current student population is 2% Black compared to an 8% districtwide average and less than 12% Hispanic compared to 32% districtwide. Still, Asian American students make up 51% of Lowell’s student enrollment compared to 29% across the district and only 18% of Lowell’s students are white. Thirty-five percent of Lowell’s students come from socioeconomically disadvantaged families, meaning they are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school OR have parents/guardians who did not earn a high school diploma. 

“We absolutely need to combat racism, but removing merit-based admissions at Lowell is not the way to achieve these goals,” said Lowell alum Nancy Yuan during last night’s meeting. “I support diversity of all types, but let’s uplift our underrepresented students in effective ways.”

(If you went to Lowell High School and/or have any thoughts on the matter, I’d love to hear from you. Just click reply to this email.)

After a series of recent attacks against elderly Asian Americans across the Bay Area, Mayor Breed held a press conference on Monday in Chinatown to condemn the violent acts. “Don’t come to our city with that,” Breed said, accompanied by District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Police Chief Bill Scott. “We won't tolerate it.” 

Late last month, 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee died after being shoved to the ground in the Anza Vista neighborhood. A teenager is facing murder charges for the incident. Separately, on January 31st, a 91-year-old man was assaulted while walking down the street in Oakland’s Chinatown. An arrest was made on Monday for that attack. Both instances were caught on film. (A warning, as they are quite disturbing.) 

While authorities are not investigating the cases as hate crimes, San Francisco is assigning more police to Chinatown this week during the Lunar New Year holiday. “I don't want people to be afraid in this city,” Breed said. “I want to be clear. We are here to support our Chinese community and their safety.” 

UC Berkeley students living in school-sponsored dorms are under strict lockdown after new Covid cases on campus rose last week. The quarantine mandate, which is scheduled through February 15th, only allows students to leave their rooms to get tested for Covid, receive medical treatment, use the bathroom, or grab food from the dining commons. An “increased UCPD presence” will help enforce the restrictions, which also include “solo outdoor exercise,” according to a recent email sent to students. Failure to comply with the quarantine mandates could lead to students getting kicked out of the dorms or suspended from school, the email said. (Daily Cal)

Quick bits:

  • 🛢 Around 600 gallons of a “petroleum-water mixture” from the Chevron Refinery in Richmond spilled into the Bay on Tuesday. Chevron said employees recognized the issue when they saw a “sheen on the water.” (SFist)

  • 🤷 When the vintage Coca-Cola billboard along the I-80 was taken down last year, Supervisor Matt Haney asked the company if it could be preserved. Coke gave Haney the “C,” but now he doesn’t know what to do with it. (Chronicle

  • 🍩 ¿Café y conchas? Yes, please! Check out Norte54, a new Mexican pastry and coffee window in the Mission. (Eater)

  • 🏀 Steph Curry revealed on a podcast this week that an unexpected call from Tiger Woods helped ignite his 2015 playoff run when the Warriors won their first championship in over 40 years. (Chronicle

And finally… SF Gate reporter Tessa McLean tackles the important question of why so many houses in San Francisco have “split bathrooms,” or a toilet in one room and a sink and shower/tub in another. Hypotheses vary among experts, McLean found. One theory is tied to the Victorian-era’s obsession with hygiene. “The idea was separating where you clean yourself and where you defecate,” one person said. 

Whatever the reason, the set-up has actually proven functional over 100 years later with Victorian homes in the city now crammed with roommates. “Loved it,” one person said in response to McLean’s split bathroom inquiry on Twitter. “Only 1 bath for 3 roommates, yet rarely waited for ‘important business.’”

That’s all for today! Thank you as always for reading and we’ll see you tomorrow. - Nick B.

Thanks so much to our friends from Candor for sponsoring this edition of The SF Minute. Candor has a newsletter of its own (focused on tech careers) that you don’t want to miss. Check it out!