Alumni Spotlight: Anita Seline

By Mahira Dayal and Roy Kamineni, Development Staff

Anita Seline ’84 worked at the Daily Cal during all four years of her undergraduate career at Cal, majoring in English. She was editor in chief of the Daily Californian during her senior year. After graduating, she received a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. Anita worked at the Hartford Courant for eight years, where she met her husband,  Michael Remez. She then moved to Washington, D.C., where she recently hosted one of the Daily Cal’s 2017 East Coast alumni reunions in her home. Anita still does some writing and editing, but has channelled her time into volunteer work in the last several years. We caught up with her about her time at the Daily Cal and experiences through her career.

c4381511-3b50-4f47-99d2-d13ac602011c

What was your favorite part of working for the Daily Cal?

“It was so real — not goofing around and playing with journalism, it was real. Having been in the Daily Cal newsroom and then going to other newsrooms, it didn’t seem different at all . It was not amateur hour, people took their work seriously and that was inspirational! People were so careful, and so meticulous and took such pride in their work. There were so many smart people and everyone was so put together, which made an impression on me.”

What were the most exciting articles you worked on at the Daily Cal?

“When UC President David Saxon resigned, there was a big job search for who was going to be the new president. We broke the story about finalists for his successor. We scooped everyone, as I recall.

“Martin Luther King Jr. Day was not a state holiday or federal holiday when I was at the Daily Cal, and there was a movement to make it a campus holiday. I covered the activism pretty fiercely and the group prevailed and got the campus to recognize it as a campus holiday. Back in the ’80s this was considered a pretty big deal, certainly before Dr. King’s birthday became a federal holiday.

“Another great memory was the 1982 Big Game, which Cal won in the final seconds when the Stanford Band came on the field thinking the game was over. A few days later, the Stanford Daily replaced all the Daily Cal newspapers and put out a spoof Daily Cal that said that the play had been reversed and Stanford had actually won the game! That was something I’d never forget, I remember my friend Dan Woo, who was my predecessor as editor in chief, just looking at the newspapers like “oh no!” Hats off to the Stanford Daily for doing it, and for the fact that they could pull that off — it was quite impressive! We also grabbed of bunch of the fake papers and sold them.”

If you were to make a return to journalism, are there any subjects or themes you’d be interested in covering?

“It’s a tough world right now, and journalists are such reviled people — which shouldn’t be, because they do such important work. The work I see in the New York Times and Washington Post and different newspapers has such good stuff — it’s so impressive, I don’t know what I would cover if I went back right now, or if I’d fit into that world anymore. There’s definitely good work to be done in other ways!”

Can you talk a bit about your experience at the Hartford Courant?

“I started off in the bureau system and then worked my way up to cover City Hall. I was there a good eight years. Thinking about covering City Hall in Hartford and all the different characters, politicians and shenanigans that I’d seen all before at Berkeley and the Daily Cal — it was definitely familiar territory for me, which was good preparation.

Berkeley was, and still is, left-leaning.  Hartford had a similar political makeup. There were very similar types of issues, so covering those were definitely interesting!”

Do you have any advice for current Daily Cal staffers?

“I’m struck by how things have changed. It used to be ‘go out, report the story, come back, type it up and give it to your editor.’ These days it’s ‘go out, report the story, write a couple of emails, tweet something, post something on Instagram, make sure the YouTube channel is updated’ — I think you have to be really, really flexible and be ready to take on new things. You have to be ready to try different modes of communication, and I’ve am reminded  how much more complicated things have become, even though we have so many different ways of reaching people. Everyone wants to be reached in a different way and having to do it all is challenging, but also seems to be the thing that will give you the edge.

“The thing about the Daily Cal was that you can get really really wrapped up in it, to the point where people stopped focusing on school or dropped down to one class. That was actually never my goal, so I was a bit unusual in that respect! It’s important for the young adults working in the paper to strive for balance and not lose sight of getting a degree. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the feel of the place, the work and the camaraderie, but it’s important to remain balanced.”

After eight years in Hartford, Anita moved to Washington with her husband, Mike, who had been promoted to the Courant’s Washington bureau. Anita freelanced for numerous publications — including the San Francisco Chronicle — until their first child was born in 1994. Anita was an avid ballet dancer, and all three of her children followed in her slippers. Her older daughter, Marisa Remez, is a recent Princeton grad with a certificate in dance who hopes to go into arts and dance management and development.Her son, Nathaniel, is a dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. Her younger daughter, Elena, dances and is the visual content editor for her high school newspaper, the Wilson Beacon

These days, Anita is focused on an underlying mission of social action and social justice. She is active in her church, working on building relationships with different parts of Washington DC. She is a part of her local high school’s Diversity Task force, which introduced an Honors for All program for freshmen to close the achievement gap. She also fundraises for her local PTA and the Maryland Youth Ballet. She was also recently co-chaired the 50th anniversary gala for her local nursery school, raising $50,000 for a new playground and sending the existing one to Haiti. Anita says that she applies many of the skills she developed as a journalist — starting at the Daily Cal —  to the work she does for causes.

 

Dick Hafner: From Sproul Hall to vineyards

unnamedDick and Mary Hafner (center) with the Hafner Vineyard family and crew.

By Sanam Patel, Development Staff

Driving  a vintage flatbed truck between rows of grape vines, Dick Hafner ’50 might seem a world away from Sproul Hall, where he served as a university spokesperson from 1961-86, but his  Healdsburg ranch, grape cultivation and wine making are as much a part of the California story as Cal.

Hafner was one of the thousands of World War II veterans pursue a college degree after the war. Cal’s academic program was tough, and he described how he was lucky to earn a “Gentleman’s C.”

“That’s a phrase from out of the past,” he said. “A Gentleman’s C meant that they were people who just got C’s because they were busy being gentlemen — carrying on and having fun. They weren’t serious scholars, and they spent a lot of time pursuing social pursuits.”

When he was at the Daily Cal, Hafner worked his way up through multiple positions from freshman editor, to senior night editor, and eventually the editor in chief. “The Daily Cal  introduced me to the university and the ideas of the university at an intimate level. The other thing it did was that it really gave me a lot of my early journalism training.”

He met and married Mary Hagar, the daughter of Gerald and Ella Barrows Hagar. Her family resided in Berkeley for well over a century and was closely involved with the University. Mary died in 2017.

Hafner, 92, worked at the Oakland Tribune, the Hayward Daily Review and as a freelance reporter in Southeast Asia.

In 1961, he returned to the university as a public affairs officer. His relationships with the media, including the Daily Cal, were legendary. “Sometimes it was negatively, and many times positively,” he said. “We had battles over the editorials and their viewpoints. Occasionally, we had battles over news stories that we felt were inaccurate, as we were representing the administration.”

Political rallies were almost unheard of when Hafner was a student in comparison to the crowds they draw today. In 1949, his senior year, the Board of Regents ordered a loyalty oath from the faculty in response to perceived Communist threats. The loyalty oath essentially made faculty swear their allegiance to the state constitution and deny any support for organizations that wanted to subvert the U.S. government and its democratic structure. Rather than physically participating in these protests, Hafner reported on this issue and wrote anti-oath editorials. He particularly recalls the day the Board of Regents decided to not take action against those who refused to sign the oath. On this day, he recalled Regent Lawrence Mario Giannini standing up and banging of the table and saying to the Regents, “Gentlemen, the flags will fly in Moscow!”

“That was wonderful,” said Hafner. “Mr. Giannini was afraid the Communists would take over.” Giannini was the son of Bank of America founder A.P. Giannini.

Hafner reminisced about the memory of UC President Bob Sproul introducing the new football coach as an “SOB” which he then clarified to be “son of a bishop” to a crowded Greek Theater.

He also spoke with excitement about the card stunts organized by the Rally Committee in the football stadium. “Some of them got pretty complex,” he said, “They went to where they could have people change cards, which made horses gallop and ducks swim and things like that. It was pretty snazzy.”

Hafner also recalled the day President John F. Kennedy spoke at Charter Day.  “It filled most of the stadium except for a number of sections that the FBI closed off to prevent snipers.”

Hafner’s 51-year-old winery has become a California institution, with his sons, daughter-in-law and granddaughter actively involved.

He’s an Old Blue, but he keeps his distance. “I’m busy raising wine grapes in Sonoma County,” he said, “The vineyard is a long way from Sproul Plaza.”