Monthly Archives: April 2017

Mascot history and background

I’ve long wondered about our mascot and it’s association with, well, what matadors do. Apparently, someone wrote to President Harrison with similar questions. I was copied on the response, which I found interesting and helpful. I thus though I’d share it here (with minor edits to make it look a bit less like a letter):

The Matador was adopted as CSUN’s official mascot in 1958 by a vote of the student body. The Matador was partly selected because it reflects the Spanish and Latin roots of the local Southern California region. Over the years, the mascot has become integral to the institution’s history and traditions, particularly our athletics program. More recently, the mascot has gained spontaneous momentum of its own through the number of student organizations and groups that use the identity. In 1994, students reaffirmed their support of the Matador as the University’s official mascot by an overwhelming majority.

We are aware of the controversial aspects of the matador and bullfighting. Over the years, we have downplayed and removed any suggestion of violence related to the mascot. No explicit representations of violence against bulls are ever used in association with the figure or image. Several years ago, for example, we removed a sword that used to be part of one of the Matador visual images.

When we commissioned the Matador statue, which was unveiled in 2011, the process was an opportunity to reach out to students, faculty, staff, and others who might have cause to be sensitive to the identity. Partly as a result of that consultation, in providing guidance to prospective artists, we asked for the piece to emphasize the beauty and grace related to the balletic movements of the matador, and to exclude any suggestion of violence. We believe the courage and grace embodied in this type of representation are positive qualities worth emphasizing as they relate to our mission and goals in service to our students. In addition, in many countries and regions, the practice of killing the bulls, or the sport itself, has been outlawed.

We recognize that the image of the matador is not easily separated from the history and realities of bullfighting. We believe, however, that we have found a way to preserve the Matador identity and to respect the wishes of our students and alumni in a way that does not celebrate or endorse violence, particularly against animals, in any way. Our current student body, which is 46% Latino, and our active alumni support our use of the Matador mascot and retain great affection for it as part of the CSUN identity.

We respect your views and feelings on this matter, and hope this letter shows the efforts that have been taken to consult with and respect the wishes of the broader campus community on this issue.

CSUN students take first place at Chapman University Datafest

Passing this along from an email I received from a colleague. Congratulations to our students and their faculty mentors!

Over the weekend a team of five students from CSU Northridge took first
place at the Chapman University “Datafest”. A “Datafest” is a regional,
intensive event where student teams from many Universities analyze a
large dataset and present their findings to a set of esteemed judges.
Annual “Datafests” were initiated at UCLA several years ago, and having
since been fully embraced by the American Statistical Association, are
now held at multiple universities across the nation. Typically a
company provides both actual (but anonymized) data to the Datafest
host/venue and also several, general, high-level, research questions of
interest. For more information on the Chapman University “Datafest”
competition, see:

The five CSUN students (the “Mean Squares”) who competed over the
weekend were:

Seyed Sajjadi (Computer Engineering, Team lead)
Matthew Jones (Computer Science)
Ian Postel (Computer Science)
Collin Miller (Computer Science)
Jamie Decker (Art)

Five victorious csun students hold up certificates and medals in a hotel conference room

Victorious CSUN students

It should be noted that not only did our students achieve success at the highest
level, they competed with strong teams from other universities such as
CSU Fullerton, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, and USC.

For this particular “Datafest”, the students analyzed corporate-level
“big data” from the travel site “Expedia”. The dataset contained
approximately 10 million data points with information related to clicks,
searches, and bookings.

The judges were senior faculty and industry executives. The judges
indicated that the work done by the CSUN team was “incredible”. CSUN’s
team won “Best Insight” and “Best Overall”.

Our students’ 1), preparatory planning and vision; 2), ability to
navigate nuanced, technical questions and analytic, technology-based
queries; 3), skilled acumen with various statistical learning
methodologies and “data science” software tools; and 4), deep attention
to focused results are extraordinary and exemplary.

Through the looking glass: CA Assembly Budget Committee hearing materials

The Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance will be discussing the following issues:
1) Governor’s budget proposal and CSU funding request
2)  Graduation Initiative update
3)  Enrollment and impaction
4)  Review of outside compensation policy
5)  Review of Equal Employment Opportunity funding from 2016 Budget Act
The state’s views on the CSU’s challenges and what we need to be doing are rather, ahem, interesting:

March for Science with CSUN’s CFA chapter

I expect that most of you will have received this from CFA. But just in case you haven’t…

Dear Colleagues:

I know many of you are planning to participate in the March for Science on Saturday, April 22nd, in downtown LA.

The CFA is a strong advocate for government support of scientific research. As part of its commitment, the CSUN’s CFA chapter will be meeting at 9 AM on the corner of Hill Street and 5th Street in downtown LA to participate in the March for Science that will go from Pershing Square to City Hall.  The CFA will provide picket signs for you to write on and we will be carrying a CFA banner as we walk through the streets.

If you plan on participating, please pick up a picket sign at the CFA office between the hours of 10 AM and 3 PM from Monday-Thursday.  The office is located in Sequoia Hall room 283. You can reach the office at extension 5919.

Please remember to bring a hat, sun glasses, sunscreen and water.  If you have CSUN apparel or a red shirt, please wear those to represent CSUN.

Thanks, we look forward to marching with you.

Please email to let us know if you plan on marching.

Sean Murray

Professor of Biology

CSUN CFA Representative, College of Science and Math


Chancellor’s Office Resources for Undocumented Students

From the Chancellor’s Office

In an effort to provide additional resources for students and campuses, the Chancellor’s Office has relaunched a website on Resources for Undocumented Students. The site can be viewed at

The information includes admission process, financial aid, campus support, legal support services, overview of AB540/2000 and the California Dream Act, systemwide communications, and other resources that include organizations such as the ACLU, National Immigration Law Center, Immigrant Legal Resource Center and federal government agencies.