Essential California Week in Review: After claims of rape, silence at SDSU

A building is shown surrounded by palm trees. In the foreground, a sign says "San Diego State University, Established 1897"
An alleged rape involving San Diego State football players is under investigation.
(Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, June 4.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week

Claims that five SDSU football players raped a girl were followed by months of silence. Claims spread among San Diego State athletes last year that five football players had raped an unconscious girl at a house party off campus. “I am very scared and worried that nothing is being done about this,” one student-athlete told university officials in a message sent through an anonymous reporting system. The university said it held off investigating at the request of police, who say their inquiry into the alleged October incident involving a minor is ongoing.

Even with less severe illness, California’s new coronavirus wave is still disrupting lives. The surge is taking shape as California slogs into a third pandemic summer with far fewer hospitalizations and deaths but still significant disruptions. Some schools, including UCLA, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Berkeley’s K-12 public schools, have reinstituted indoor mask mandates, and concerns are growing that hospitals may soon be asked to care for larger numbers of coronavirus-positive patients. Alameda County issued a new mask mandate in most indoor public settings that took effect Friday, and L.A. County moved closer to a possible mask requirement later this month.

Despite a state law, more than half of California community colleges have refused to drop dead-end remedial courses. The 2019 law requires the colleges to direct students away from remedial education — which often does not count toward degree or transfer credits. But more than half of the state’s 116 campuses have not made the change. Advocates who want to largely do away with remedial education in California and in a handful of other states say many students can handle college-level work if given the opportunity, especially when they get help from tutors or supplemental classes.


Asian Americans are stereotyped as successful students, but a new report found “incredibly disconcerting” gaps. The report detailed stark differences in academic achievement among California’s Asian American and Pacific Islander subgroups, including qualification for UC and Cal State admission, completion of community college degree or certificate programs and attainment of bachelor’s degrees. The failure to recognize various challenges faced by subgroups has led to an assumption that they have few problems and to their “invisibility” in many equity conversations, said an official with a college advocacy organization.

Asian Latino families represent California’s future. California is home to more Asian Latinos than any other state in the U.S. — at least 250,000. But that’s still a tiny slice of the nearly 40 million people who reside in the Golden State. As the Asian and Latino populations continue to grow, mixed offspring will become increasingly common. They offer a glimpse of California and the nation’s future, with all its complexities of language, culture and identity.

Some water districts in L.A. and Ventura counties say watering restrictions could increase the threat of wildfire. They’re asking state water officials to allocate more water under the health and safety exception for drought rules, using the rationale that it should include the mitigation of wildfire risk. But some drought and wildfire experts question the wisdom of such a move. They say the best strategy for reducing wildfire risk is to build fire-hardened homes and clear large areas of defensible space around structures.

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$8.05 for a gallon of regular at an L.A. gas station. Say what? There are many reasons why California has higher average gas prices, including more stringent clean energy regulations, inflation and Russia’s war against Ukraine.

A long-dead proposal to flood a bucolic valley north of Sacramento for a massive reservoir for thirsty Southern California is finding new life amid the effects of climate change and worsening drought. The plan is also meeting with stiff opposition. The Sites Reservoir project, conceived in the 1950s, was abandoned in the 1980s, the twilight years of America’s big Western dam-building projects. Now, a Southwestern megadrought and historic water restrictions in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties are fueling renewed interest in the plan, much to the dismay of environmentalists.


There’s suspense in California’s June 7 primary. You just have to hunt for it. Among down-ballot races are contests that could sway the balance of power in Congress and the future of state criminal justice policies. Among the more intriguing twists in statewide races is the emergence of candidates shunning affiliation with any political party, including a top candidate for California attorney general. Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert, a career prosecutor who shed her GOP registration in 2018 and switched to “no party preference,” hopes to finish in the top two in the primary. If successful, Schubert would face off in November against Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta, a Newsom appointee known for his liberal stance on criminal justice.

Does California have enough water for lots of new homes? Yes, experts say. To some, though, it may defy logic. California is in the middle of a punishing drought, yet many of the same elected officials urging water conservation are pushing for the construction of millions of new homes. But experts say there is plenty of water available for new Californians if the 60-year trend of residents using less water continues and accelerates into the future.

Nipsey Hussle’s alleged killer is headed to trial. But conviction won’t bring closure to Crenshaw. Eric Holder is about to stand trial in the killing of beloved rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle. The Crenshaw community that loves him is focusing on his legacy.

Endeavour will be displayed with its nose pointing to the stars. The Los Angeles home of the retired space shuttle broke ground on a permanent museum, which ultimately envisions the spacecraft displayed as if ready for launch. Endeavour will be fully attached to the last remaining authentic orange external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters.

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

They want to rebuild Greenville, Calif., so that it survives the next wildfire. The Dixie fire — the second-largest wildfire in California history — decimated the town of about 1,000 people. The Dixie Fire Collaborative has embarked on a multi-stage process to gather community input and create an architectural plan for the downtown. Above all, they say, they want to ensure a tragedy on this scale will never happen here again. “Most people want to go fast,” said Sue Weber, a former nun and co-chair of the collaborative. “Just to rebuild back as opposed to really stopping and really intentionally looking at what’s the best way to build back that’s healthy and helpful for everybody.”


A far-right insurrection aims to take over this Northern California county, at the ballot box. Far-right activists, including members of a local militia, led a successful recall campaign in February against a Republican Shasta County supervisor. Now the newly formed “Liberty Committee” is backing an all-male election slate to further consolidate power. The group’s website declares that “our country is under assault. It’s time to take it back, one state, county and city at a time.” The election is being watched as a harbinger of rising radicalism in local government, particularly because the recall contingent has touted its playbook as a national model.

Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Amy Hubbard. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to

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