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STEP TOWARD DIVERSITY FACULTY'S EQUITY & INCLUSION CENTER OPENS
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University Opens Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion Cassagnol credits student activism for new opening Jillian Ortiz St. John’s University’s latest diversity initiative, the Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion (ACEI), opened its doors on Monday, Oct. 8 on the fourth floor of St. Augustine Hall. The new space comes on the heels of the opening of the Inclusivity Resource Center, which opened last month on Friday, Sept. 28. The goal of the ACEI is to “foster personal and institutional accountability for the University’s mission of ‘respect for the rights of every person’ and advancement of the global common good,” according to the University website. As the Inclusivity Resource Center serves as a resource center for students, the ACEI serves the same purpose for faculty. It is a faculty-led initiative that seeks to work towards the incorporation of pedagogical practices that strive toward equity and inclusion in the classroom. “This provides a space where I’m centralizing equity and inclusion and you’re (faculty) here also centralizing equity and inclusion, you’re bringing this work forward, and now I am able to see what you’re doing and ways that we can probably collaborate and think about things,” Manouchkathe Cassagnol, director of the ACEI, said on the role of faculty in the ACEI. “Even though this is a faculty development hub, there is an arm in that -- that we first of all need to align ourselves with students that are advocating for change. That’s been the tradition of this group, the faculty that
sit in these spaces that have been part of the working group,” Cassagnol said. Sophomore Dana Livingston likes the idea of faculty collaborating to educate each other on pertinent issues, particularly equity and inclusion in the classroom. “Who are the people responsible for building the students that are going to be future leaders? The teachers. I think that it’s cool that they have a place to go to learn, and not to speak from a place of ignorance,” Livingston said. The Grand Opening took place over the course of several hours, beginning with a ceremony in the D’Angelo Center Living Room followed by faculty poster presentations of their work towards equity and inclusion, a session titled “Pass the Mic,” where TORCH PHOTO/AMANDA NEGRETTI professors were able to speak further on the pedagogical practices that they instill in the The ACEI opened days after the University introduced the Inclusivity Resource Center. classroom. The session featured 10-minute presenta- says, ‘gotta hear both sides,’ cannot disrupt to think about, ‘Okay, well how do we operationalize this?’ So, the next step is going tions about inclusive pedagogy by St. John’s that dynamic.” After the “Pass the Mic” session, there was to be putting the people in place so we can professors Vibhuti Arya and Joanne M. Carroll of the College of Pharmacy and Health a brief faculty poster viewing followed by the operationalize the strategic plan,” Cassagnol Sciences; Olga Mariella Bonilla, Jeremy V. evening symposium, the concluding portion said. The opening of the ACEI, although a mileCruz and Judith Ryder of the St. John’s of the event, which included a discussion College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Liz with Tommy Orange, author of the book stone in SJU history, was the easy part. Go“There There.” ing forward, Cassagnol knows there is more Chase of the School of Education. Arriving at the opening day of the ACEI work to be done to achieve the desired reCruz noted the importance of bringing was not an easy process, it was an idea that sults. different discussions regarding equity and “The real work is about to start, but I inclusion through different pedagogical ap- took two years to come to fruition. “We did do a benchmark analysis, we did feel very confident that I have the support proaches into the classroom. do a SWOT analysis [Strengths, Weaknessof the University’s leadership in moving us “I’ve really been looking at the limits of es, Opportunities and Threats; a strategic forward, and certainly there’s a coalition of liberal arts education and its capacity to challenge insurgent racism, xenophobia, sex- planning technique], we did a faculty cli- faculty who really are fully invested, and they ism, fascism,” Cruz said during the session. mate survey which will be published on our have been,” she said. “Now we have a space “A pedagogy of neutrality or a pedagogy that website, we did a strategic plan. We sat down to operationalize that investment.”
Student Government Inc. Holds Second Meeting Derrell J. Bouknight In its second assembly meeting of the semester, Student Government Inc. invited members of the University community to the D’Angelo Center to offer their thoughts on events and to use the two-hour period as a time to share ideas on ways to improve campus life. The meeting, led by SGI president Atemkeng Tazi and other members of the executive board, focused primarily on news from several cultural organizations around the university and provided insight into upcoming events that are in the works. Kevin James, an assistant dean in the College of Professional Studies, delivered a brief presentation on “Pitch Johnny,” a competition that allows students to craft and present an innovative entrepreneurial idea to a group of industry professionals. Participants will receive feedback and can win a cash prize of up to $1,000. The deadline is this Friday. After James spoke and following financial updates from the budget committee, members discussed an initiative from Oxfam Hunger Banquet, a nationwide, volunteer-led group that focuses on raising awareness of hunger and food insecurity. Katie Sheldon, a member of SGI, said during the meeting that Ox-
fam reached out via email with an idea to collaborate on a project. Oxfam goes to events and has participating members pick a card out of a basket. Each card represents either low, middle or upper class status. The meals that participants eat are based on the card they draw. “It’s very enlightening to see how you would live or how you would eat for just one meal based on your economic status,” Sheldon said. “We discussed how we’re going to incorporate this next semester and get everyone involved,” she added. Sheldon also said that there will also be a food pantry coming to the school in the near future, and that preparations have started to begin running it. Moments later, Tazi spoke on the issue of food insecurity at the university. Dr. Kathryn Hutchinson, the school’s vice president for Student Affairs, said during an advisory meeting that there are ways that students who struggle to provide food for themselves can seek help. “The university does have some services reserved for students who are going through trials and tribulations,” Tazi said. “They have particular services within departments, whether it’s with health, food insecurity or housing. The school can give you subsidized services for a particular amount of time.” According to Tazi, the issue that often arises is how students misclassify a food insecurity by using money they receive to buy prescription medicine or other items, leaving them with little money to feed themselves. The school, she said, can accommodate students by offering them a “copay” instead of paying market price for food and personal items.
“If you know anybody that is going through anything, please let us know,” Tazi said. “We now have the ability to report that upward and get that person the help that they need.” One student said that the program can be found on the first floor on the right side of Newman Hall. Its location is set to where students can walk in without fear of shame or embarrassment. Another student also mentioned Campus Ministry, saying that they are a good resource with knowledge of other programs and ways to help. Before the meeting ended, Torrent Cannon, the chair of Student Services, addressed some of the concerns students have recently brought to his attention, including server connections with WEPA printing stations across campus and gym hours being expanded. Cannon said that facilities complaints that included concerns about mold had been handled for the most part, and that expanded parking for townhouse residents would be brought to the attention of Public Safety within the coming days. Seniors James Wheatley and Ally Villa were voted in as representatives for St. John’s College and the College of Professional Studies, respectively. “There are things I love about St. John’s and things I don’t love about St. John’s,” Wheatley said when speaking of his college experience. “I thought that joining SGI would really help in turning the page.” Monday’s meeting was the final public gathering before this Thursday’s Common Hour Social, a chance for the student body to meet and network with members of SGI. It will take place in room 215 in the D’Angelo Center at 1:45 p.m.
Students React to Global Citizen Festival Shooting Scare Alexis Gaskin Two St. John’s students were among tens of thousands of people who experienced fearful, panicked moments during the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park Sept. 29. The sound of apparent gunshots caused a scene that the students described as “a swarm” of people frantically running to exit the park. The cause turned out to not come from gunshots, the NYPD said, instead citing a fallen police barrier. The New York Times reported the sound came from an attendee stepping on a popping bottle. Regardless of the trigger, the result was a scene of mass hysteria, according to sophomores Courtney Monahan and Charlotte Sather. The two St. John’s students attended the festival together and were excited to see their favorite performers and to be part of a large global event. “I was very excited to see Shawn Mendes and Cardi B, but also to be a part of this bigger well-known event that was supposed to [be for] the betterment of humanity,” Monahan said. Sitting near the back of Central Park, Sather recounted how she and Monahan saw a couple of people running toward them. Then the entire crowd began rushing toward them. “We were in the back middle,” Sather said. “So I assumed it was the front middle where something happened because everyone in the middle just started running. Unsure of what actually occurred, Sather and Monahan confirmed that they didn’t hear any noises or gunshots but assumed that the volume of people running was the result of a mass shooting.
The NYPD moved to quickly dispel the notion of gunshots, sending out word during the concert that the noise in question was from a police barrier that fell over. The barrier, which was meant to keep the crowd in order, emulated the sound of a gunshot. CBS New York reported that people yelled about a gun and told much of the crowd to get out. “Seeing thousands and thousands of people running at you, you know it’s not for fun. You know some s--- happened,” Sather said. “So, my first thought was that it was a mass shooting.” Chris Martin, lead singer for rock band Coldplay, took the stage with NYPD Assistant Chief Kathleen O’Reilly to reassure fans that there was no emergency. “Nobody is trying to hurt anybody,” Martin said to the crowd. “You’re all safe. I just want to tell you that.” O’Reilly also told the crowd that the police were assessing the situation. During the frenzy people abandoned their personal items to flee the scene, not knowing that it was only a false alarm, the two students said. One person jumped up and followed the crowd, leaving behind everything he brought with him. “There was stuff everywhere. That’s how I knew something bad had happened,” Monahan said. “I saw four people just sprinting down the middle aisle, and I see a guy who just hopped off his blanket, not caring about his stuff and just ran.” Both students recounted the shock they felt before they started to run. “I would have just stood there if Charlotte wasn’t there to pull me back,” Monahan said. “I was in shock. I never experienced
anything like that before.” Sather didn’t think twice. “My first thought was just to run.” According to The New York Times, the panic arose after a loud noise frightened the crowd of attendees and caused the crowds to flee. Those who were there, like Sather and Monahan, thought they were undergoing a mass shooting and followed the crowd. Confusion and fear were common between both friends. They recounted how they were happy to not have lost each other, referencing to many large groups losing people in the crowd. “You could see people grabbing onto each other’s hands like they didn’t want to lose their friends or each other,” Monahan said. “It was really scary because we saw a lot of people yelling each other’s names, I just held Courtney’s hand tighter as we ran,” Sather said. “That was like the only words I could remember, it was like white noise. Just really freaky.” As they left the park and tried their best to calm down, the dread was still prevalent. “As we were coming out, there were uniformed officers on bikes who were saying, ‘Oh I heard something that sounded like a gun,’” Monahan recalled. “There were other police officers rushing in as the crowds were rushing out.” “We kept walking down the street and the further we got the quieter everything was, and it just felt so surreal,” Sather said.“I just wanted to leave the city. I couldn’t stay there any longer.” After discovering what actually happened, Monahan and Sather were angry that the news cycle described the event as a “brief panic,” according to sites such as New York’s
heavy.com, stating the social climate around gun violence. The scare in Central Park occurred at a time when sensitivities over mass shootings are at an all-time high; just over a year ago 58 people were killed and over 800 others were injured by a lone gunman at a Las Vegas concert. It’s the deadliest mass shooting in history. Sather said that not feeling safe shouldn’t be on a person’s mind when they’re in a public setting like a concert. “It just makes me angry,” she said. “There’s something wrong with the country when you hear a noise in a crowded festival and the first thought is, ‘Oh, I’m going to die, I’m going to get shot.’” Monahan reiterated her friend’s words. “It’s just a shame that that’s how society reacts. Even if it was a bottle popping, or something collapsing, you go directly to a gunshot,” Monahan said. “Like they’re just simple little noises, but we’re scared and at this point, we’re trained to think the worse.”
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University Opens New Sanford Cyber Security Lab Rakesh Singh The digital age of today is one that relies on the Internet to provide a constant flow of information, drive commerce and protect the foundation of society that withholds our personal information. Breaches of personal data and the loss of private information have become common occurrences. As the digital culture has spread, so has the potential for cyber crime. St. John’s University has been on the frontlines in educating a new generation of students to combat this new threat with its Bachelor of Science program in cyber security systems and the new Sanford Family Cyber Security Lab. On Oct. 3, St. John’s officially dedicated the lab, which is located in St. Augustine Hall. The lab was named after the family of Linda S. Sanford, 74’ Ed, 98’ HON and former senior vice president and group executive of IBM Storage Systems Group. The state-of-the-art lab allows students to work with software and master techniques for intrusion detection, vulnerability mitigation, network perimeter defense, incident response, network forensics investigation and malware analysis, as described on the University’s website. After a blessing from Rev. Bernard M. Tracey, C.M. to open the ceremony, a rib-
PHOTO COURTESY/ST. JOHN’S NEWS AND MEDIA
Linda S. Sanford, middle, elevated IBM’s storage market share to second in two years.
bon cutting ceremony was held to recognize the lab’s official dedication. In attendance were Sanford and her family, President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw and Katia Passerini, Dean of the College of Professional Studies. Sanford earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University in 1974 and her Master of Science degree in Operations Research from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. She also received an honorary Doctor of
Commercial Science degree from St. John’s 20 years ago and is a member of both the Women in Technology Hall of Fame and the National Academy of Engineering. “I would not have had the exciting career and life that I have had without being here at St. John’s,” Sanford said. “It was natural for me to support this wonderful program that has been created here. The laboratory is beautiful. We have a great leader in Dr. Passerini, who has brought a whole new vision around this. What I love is that it is not
just about the technical, scientific and mathematical aspects — it is about how you solve real-world problems. That has been one of the hallmarks of St. John’s. I have no doubt that you are all going to continue to be leaders, especially in this field.” Students who use the lab were impressed with the new additions, saying it would allow them to do more in their fields. Anish Bashu, a cyber security systems and the co-founder of the St. John’s Cyber Security Club, said the development of the school’s cyber security initiatives exceeded his expectations of what he remembers coming into the program. Now a graduate assistant, Bashu recalls when students were pressed for time due to a lack of technology and a physical setting to complete work. “I never thought my involvement in the cyber security program would have grown to what it is today,” Bashu said, according to the University’s website. “Back when I started, we had to bring in our own laptops and equipment to do these hands-on exercises, and setup time was considerable.” Bashu thanked Sanford and the College of Professional Studies for recognizing that the program was “no longer a club, but a diverse community of cyber security students and alumni who use this lab every week to hone their skills in training sessions run by students for students.”
Flames of the Torch On journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance
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Angelica Acevedo, Editor-in-Chief Isabella Bruni, Managing Editor
Amanda Negretti Creative Director Derrell Bouknight News Editor Brendan Myers Sports Editor Beverly Danquah Features Editor Samantha DeNinno Culture Editor Beatriz da Costa Opinion Editor Erin Bola Chief Copy Editor
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Staff and contributors Cecelia Germain Alex Yem Zoe Golden-Johnson Crystal Simmons Erin Sakalis Rakesh Singh Alexis Gaskin Madeline Mancini Alana Loren Bethea Olivia Mathon
Jenna Woo Brendan Murray Marie Bogue Devorah Satcher Destinee Scott Renee King Sofia Altamura Eduardo Alfonzo Sydney Bembry Nia Douglas
Cara Yesko Anna Boylan Priyanka Gera Natalie Bourkhov Ariel Shomo Arturo Enamorado Sara Rodia Justin Boniello Michael Grullon Atheltic Director Mike Cragg
About the Torch
Editorials are the opinions of the Editorial Board of the Torch. Columns and other content are the opinions of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of the Torch. Opinions expressed in editorials, columns, letters or cartoons are not necessarily those of the student body, faculty or administration of St. John’s University. All contents are the sole responsibility of the editors and the editorial board and do not necessarily represent the views of the administration, faculty or students of St. John’s University unless specifically stated.
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When prominent Saudi Arabian journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who in the past criticized the reign of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, disappeared after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, the story struck some as familiar. In a world in which secrets are power, journalists, working as truth-seekers, sometimes go missing or are killed by the groups they attempt to uncover. Since Khashoggi’s disappearance, senior Turkish officials stated that within the two hours after he arrived at the Consulate, Khashoggi was killed by a team of fifteen Saudi agents, who flew in that day, dismembered him with a bone saw and took him out of the consulate. However, Saudi officials, including the Crown Prince, claim no part in the disappearance, and on Oct. 3, even stated “We have nothing to hide,” and Turkish investigators were free to search the consulate. Although Turkey has always been at odds with Saudi Arabia, it is important to note that this skepticism does not answer the question of where exactly Khashoggi is. Given that information on Khashoggi’s whereabouts could be corrupted by these disagreements, readers understandably have a hard time following along. But in the event that concrete evidence is found on Khashoggi’s apparent death, readers around the world will feel the gravity of daring to uncover the truth. The journalist is not treated as a noble hero in other countries, and rarely seen as virtuous in today’s United States — but we have to consider the result of Khashoggi’s work if he had not disappeared. Through his reporting work and commentary on Saudi leadership, including his column in The Washington Post, he has shown his dissent for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; a man who is known for putting dissenters in prison. Khashoggi is well aware of those who have been killed
or imprisoned while fighting for truth. He knows the risks, he understands that people aren’t going to like what he publishes and he resonates with activists around the world. Yet, he never chose to stop working for the sake of his protection. That’s because his work protects the freedom of decision-makers all over the world. President Donald Trump’s response to this alleged murder has been met with deserved criticism, from Democrats and Republicans. “Here we go again with you know you’re guilty until proven innocent,” Trump told the Associated Press, comparing the allegations against Saudi Arabia to the allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Instead, he believes “rogue killers” killed Khashoggi, “a feeling” he from speaking with the king Salman of Saudi Arabia. “He said he and his father knew nothing about it. I spoke to the king yesterday, the crown prince, today wanting to know what was going on, what was happening, and he said very strongly that he and his father knew nothing about it but ... they’ve already started a major investigation to find out,” Trump said. This dismissal of the gravity of such an act reflects Trump’s own view of the media and journalists as a whole. A slow and muted response by Trump and his administration, coupled with his anti-press verbiage — “enemy of the people” — fails to recognize the ever-needed purpose of a journalist. For a journalist’s job is to serve as the fourth estate of democracy, a bridge between the people and the government, serving as a key check on the powers of local and national communities. Even in countries in which a democratic state is not established, journalism serves the same purpose: To ask the questions the people need the answers for.
Letter to the Editor: From SJU’s New Athletic Director Dear Editor, Today is a day that I have dreamed about for a long time. It is an honor to write this letter on my first official day serving as the Director of Athletics at St. John’s University. First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire University community for the warm welcome that was extended to my family since we first stepped foot on this beautiful campus. Yesterday, we began this exciting new chapter of our lives with a 500-mile drive from Durham, N.C., to our new home, New York City, the greatest city in the world. During the journey I reflected on many exciting things I look forward to in my new role at St. John’s. Of all the thoughts that crossed my mind, the one that stood out most was my deep appreciation for our new family in Queens. I admire the tremendous culture and rich history of the institution, as well as the passion of all of those associated with our global University and its athletic programs. From the day I was afforded this opportunity, it didn’t take me long to realize that the people of St. John’s are what make
it such a special place. The love and togetherness of this institution remind me of my former family at Duke University, where I spent the last three decades as an administrator. At Duke, I had the opportunity to work with so many special people – from student athletes to coaches, administrators, faculty, staff and of course the students. It was the aforementioned who together helped create championship moments, because of their collective support for our teams and student-athletes. I look forward to starting a similar bond with my new family here at St. John’s. On Friday at Red Storm Tip-Off, I witnessed first-hand how powerful the backing for St. John’s Athletics can be. There was an electric atmosphere inside Carnesecca Arena not an empty seat to be found, as we celebrated our men’s and women’s basketball teams that will tip off the 2018-19 season in just a few weeks. Please continue to show your support by coming out to games this season and give our teams one of best home court advantages in college basketball.
My sincere appreciation goes out to the all of those members of our Athletics staff and volunteers who contributed to making Red Storm Tip-Off a memorable experience for all. At my introductory press conference, I mentioned that I would like to help us imagine what we can accomplish across all of our sports programs and the shared successes we can celebrate as a family. So that is what I am going to leave you with today. Imagine what we can achieve together, the St. John’s way. It starts with the people and how we serve, support and care for each other. What I saw on Friday is a testament to what can be achieved. It takes a village, but together we can imagine the championship moments we will surely celebrate. Sincerly, Mike Cragg Athletic Director St. John’s University
The U.S. Has Taken an Unnecessary Risk with Kavanaugh Erin Sakalis It’s an honor and a privilege to become one of the nine people who make life-altering decisions on behalf of all US citizens. Therefore, nominees should be held to higher standards than the average job applicant. What does it say about the United States when two of the six male Supreme Court Justices were confirmed, despite having been accused of sexual assault or harassment? It’s unlikely this would occur had it been a different job yet for some reason, when confirming a Supreme Court Justice, we decide to risk it. Just because Brett Kavanaugh is now a Supreme Court Justice does not mean that he is innocent. It means that he hasn’t been proven guilty. That’s a crucial distinction, considering the nature of the case. We don’t have access to concrete evidence, such as video footage or DNA from the night in question. Character witnesses are also unreliable, considering that the party occurred 36 years ago in a setting where people were intoxicated. It’s unrealistic to expect conclusive proof on either side. To those who say that it was reasonable to confirm Kavanaugh because we have no proof that he did it, I say that it was unreasonable to confirm him because we have no proof that he didn’t do it. It’s more dangerous to confirm somebody who may be guilty than it is to deny somebody who may be innocent. The stakes are too high and the job is too prestigious to risk whether or not it’s fair to Kavanaugh as an individual. The promotion of one man does not surpass the rights of the American people to have a Supreme Court free of sexual predators. It would have been best for President Trump to nominate somebody else, if only because this nomination was already so tainted by partisan narratives. If Kavanaugh’s nomination was rescinded, it would not have proven him guilty. He would not have been labeled a sex offender and he would not have been unemployable, considering how many
PHOTO COURTESY/FLICKR COMMONS/CHRIS GOODWIN
Pro Choice supporters protesting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court in Denver, Colorado.
fellow politicians and citizens jumped to his defense. The only thing that he would have lost is a job that he was not entitled to in the first place. Trump would have nominated another conservative judge, and the GOP likely would have been satisfied with that candidate. Why did it have to be Kavanaugh? If anything, we would all be better off had it not been Kavanaugh. Confirming Kavanaugh despite the allegations could impair his ability to judge. Now that he has experienced (and vehemently denied) accusations of his own, will he be positively biased towards defendants when judging cases? Will he let his personal experiences interfere with his decisions?
Will he try to retaliate against the Democrats with his votes? The fact that we don’t know the answers to these questions is enough of a justification to replace him. At this point, Kavanaugh hasn’t even his begun work and he’s already had a profound effect on the American people. Even in the case that Kavanaugh is innocent, certain attitudes displayed towards Dr. Ford contributed to the trivialization of sexual assault, as well as to the perpetuation of victim-shaming. As if it wasn’t already difficult for victims to come forward, the fact that the accused has become a Supreme Court Justice amidst allegations will make it all the more difficult. It’s unlikely that this much controversy and uncertainty would have accompanied a different nominee to the bench, but still, America took that chance.
Kavanaugh: Innocent Till Proven Guilty Sara Rodia Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for Supreme Court has officially been approved by the Senate after a very controversial hearing regarding sexual assault. There are many people that approve or disapprove of this nomination. I personally don’t have an issue with it. Don’t get me wrong, I support women and the #MeToo movement. The problem with Dr. Christine Ford’s case was that it was weaker than a “he-said, she-said” case. Sexual assault cases are always wildly difficult to form an opinion on because they’re simply a matter of each person telling their own versions of a story. I normally tend to lean toward the side of the woman in cases of sexual assault. However, I just find it difficult to do so when there is so much inconsistency in the testimony. For one, according to a memo released by Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor hired by the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to conduct questioning, there are numerous flaws in Dr. Ford’s case. One major issue with her case is that no
PHOTO COURTESY/WIKI,MEDIA COMMONS/OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
Recently nominated Brett Kavanaugh and Vice President Mike Pence together in D.C.
one can corroborate that there was a party the night that Dr. Ford claims the assault happened. Another issue is that she has not provided a consistent account of the events that transpired. These are among multiple other issues,
which I encourage you to look up on your own as they might change your opinion on the matter. Sexual assault is a major issue that women faced in the past and continue to face today. While we should certainly take these allegations seriously, we should not automat-
ically believe them without hard evidence. We cannot always blindly believe the woman in the situation. Especially when their story appears flawed or inconsistent. I honestly feel that faulty accusations of sexual assault cause problems for real cases. If one person can simply make up a story and be believed by many, who’s to say there’s truth to any of the other stories that come out? There has to be a point if the case is proven to most likely be false that we have to let it go. Regardless, the Supreme Court is destined to face backlash now from this trial. A large array of people still believe Dr. Ford’s case and are fighting this nomination. However, the fact of the matter is that he’s innocent until proven guilty — Kavanaugh has not been proven guilty. In fact, the investigation into Kavanaugh just disproved Dr. Ford’s case further, due to the findings stated above and numerous others. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with Kavanaugh’s nomination for Supreme Court Justice as the facts clearly lean toward a false accusation of sexual assault.
Mental Health Needs to Be Taught in More States Jillian Ortiz Within recent years, the conversation regarding mental health has only increased in volume. Individuals of all ages are actively becoming more aware of the importance of the subject. In fact, the New York State and Virginia Department of Education have set a precedent for all of the other schools in the United States to follow: they have mandated the instruction of mental health literacy. This is a monumental step. From kindergarten up until your senior year of high school, you experience some of the most transformative years of your life. Whether it’s great times at high school football games or being bullied inside the middle school locker room — or anything in between — these are the experiences that will mold your mental map forever. It is time that students are informed about the severity and importance of the issues they face by learning about it in the classroom, rather than learning about misconceptions outside of it. It’s truly great that the conversation regarding mental health is brought into classrooms. I remember the first health class that I took in eighth grade; The focus of the class was primarily on physical health and disease. Not once did it touch upon aspects of mental health, such as anxiety or bipolar disorder. But now what? How long will it take for the other 48 states to follow suit? The bill was introduced to the New York State Assembly in
PHOTOCOURTESY/FLICKR COURTESY/FLICKRCOMMONS COMMONS MENTAL MENTAL HEALTH HEALTH CONCERNS CONCERNS PHOTO
Advocates of mental health protesting for more concern for mental health in the U.S.
2014 but was not made effective until July 1, 2018, according to the NYS Assembly website. Simply put, it took four years for this to come to fruition, and that is just in one state. It is crucial for young students to learn about mental illness and other aspects of mental health so that they can identify the signs that they may experience, but so that they are better prepared to recognize the signs and symptoms those around them. “Fifty-percent of mental illness begins by age 14,” according to the American Psychiatric Association.
By that point most students have gone through the entirety of their elementary and middle school careers and are about to enter high school. Students have already encountered half of the struggles of growing up and are about to face even more challenges. Two states are not nearly enough; the implementation of a mental health curriculum needs to be on the national level. The conversation surrounding the importance of mental health will never subside, and it is time that both the national and state governments work together to educate the public on this universal issue.
Mocking Women is Trump’s Hobby President Trump’s mimicking of Dr. Ford is nothing new or surprising Justin Boniello In yet another instance of President Trump condoning sexual violence against women, he was recently seen mocking Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a rally in Mississippi last week. The objective of the president’s “Make America Great Again” rally in Southaven, Miss. was to discuss economic issues and its effect on Mississippi, and to endorse Republican candidates for the upcoming midterm elections. But President Trump, as usual could not refrain from embarking on yet another one of his rambling diatribes. This time, the target was Dr. Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. “Thirty-six years ago this happened. I had one beer, right? I had one beer … How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know. Where’s the house? I don’t know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember,” he said. Abhorrent. Reprehensible. Typical.
How To Stay Pepped for Midterms and Ace Exams
It was an appalling spectacle to watch the leader of our country verbally attack an alleged sexual assault victim while thousands applauded and hooted with laughter. It’s a narrative that has become all too familiar: Donald Trump utters something inane at one of his political rallies and his supporters, those blindly loyal to the demagogue, guffaw.
It’s a narrative that has become all too familiar: Donald Trump utters something inane at one of his political rallies and his supportrs, those blindly loyal to the demagogue, guffaw.
But this was no laughing matter. President Trump was not merely “stating facts,” as press secretary Sarah Sanders erroneously asserted. He was underplaying and denigrating Dr. Ford’s experience as an alleged sexual assault survivor. That the president made a mockery of her testimony was an affront to every in-
dividual who has ever experienced the anguish of being a sexual assault survivor. But Trump’s remarks shouldn’t surprise anyone, given his own history of denying and dismissing the multitude of sexual misconducts he’s been accused of. As CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin suggested “it’s in his nature to not believe women who accuse men of sexual harassment or assault.” Lest we also not forget when the president defended Republicans’ nominee for last year’s Alabama Senate race, Roy Moore, after he was accused of sexually pursuing teenage girls. And what was Trump’s rationale for standing by his nomination? Moore said he didn’t do it, which was apparently enough for the president to exculpate someone of a sexual assault accusation. Trump’s crude mockery of Dr. Ford’s wrenching testimony was contemptible. Sexual assault accusations are nothing to scoff at. They must always be taken seriously, regardless of whether an allegation dates back to 36 years ago or to yesterday. President Trump, suppose your daughter Ivanka, recently informed you that she was sexually assaulted during her adolescence. Would you deride and dismiss her, too?
Time’s up! Midterm season is finally upon us, so bust out those heavy textbooks you probably haven’t opened since you purchased them. Studying for midterms is always a stressful time, especially if you’re hardly passing the class. Your professor just told you the midterm is in-class and they barely gave you a study guide. Well, I have a few study tips that can help you stay focused and pass with ease. Quizlet Like most college students, Quizlet has been my knight in shining armour. For my entire college experience, I have used Quizlet and it has sufficiently helped me get good grades on all my exams. I insert my own definitions into the Quizlet app or desktop versions and use the “learn” mode. I use this for about an hour each day until my exam approaches. Write it out! Re-writing your work also helps you remember it better. I like to re-write definitions and/or math problems to help me remember my work better. Do not pull all- nighters Statistics show that all-nighters are not an effective study method. Your brain needs time to relax and re-energize itself. It is not good to strain your brain for consecutive long hours, you will see no results. Eat brain food Studying for hours can result in junk food cravings. Most people assume that junk food will help them stay awake due to the excessive amount of sugar. This is false, as sugar actually slows your brain down, which will result in you getting tired and not remaining focused on the task at hand. Eat more brain foods like fruits and nuts. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Avoid the Parties Parties become a distraction and will allow you to continue procrastinating. The party isn’t going anywhere and there will be plenty more to come, your grades are much more important! I’ve been dedicating my time before exams to following these tips. They allow me to keep my study sessions stress-free, with minimal tension on my brain. Take some time out of your day and try to study for at least two hours between activities and classes. This way you’ll be fitting a mini study session into your schedule but in a way that is healthy and feasible.
The Dying Wish of a Sex Educator
Comedian uses her final months to continue her life’s mission Olivia Mathon Maria Falzone is a sex educator who uses comedy to reach the minds of today’s young adults regarding sex and everything that comes along with it. She told the Torch in a recent interview that her ultimate goal is to make sex a regular topic of conversation between parent and child — for the betterment of everyone. Falzone says she was diagnosed with terminal liver bile duct cancer this summer and was given four to six months to live. But she has not let her prognosis affect the energy she has for her work. If anything, she’s become more emboldened in spreading her message. Her advice to parents is that, “you make sure your children are safe when learning to drive with driving lessons, same thing goes for sex.” Falzone, who has spoken at hundreds of universities during her career, says the long dreaded ‘sex talk’ needs to instead be embraced by families as an actual conversation covering consent, love and protection. In order for parents to teach their children about sex, “they need to first understand themselves and what sex means to them,” Falzone said. As a mother of an 18-year-old daughter, Falzone is open about sex with her daughter, and vice versa. They discuss birth control methods and feelings that come along with sex, but only when her daughter is ready. After parents feel like they have educated their children sufficiently
about sex, their job is done, Falzone said. “I don’t know if my daughter is having sex, and don’t care,” she said. “I know that I have prepared her though, when and if she makes that decision.” Raised with the mentality that sex was bad, Falzone went on to spread the opposite message: To be accepting of everyone, no questions asked. The conversation surrounding sex over the past 20 years has changed drastically. She says the culture of sex today is so inclusive, whereas in the past it wasn’t. People were not able to feel safe in their own skin. Today there has been a powerful change throughout the way people encourage others. “I never thought in my lifetime, [homophobia] would end, but it did,” she said. “I’m in love with your generation, you guys are going to make the changes.” Falzone began her career in comedy 30 years ago, starting in theater with the intention of becoming an actress. After auditioning for various roles and not getting the parts due to her appearance, she said her roommate encouraged her to attend a stand-up comedy class with comedian Ron Lynch. After one class, she was hooked. She then moved to San Francisco at the time when Robin Williams was on his rise to stardom. Establishing herself in one of the nation’s comedic capitals, she began touring not long after. After getting into the comedy scene, Falzone felt like she wanted to make her voice heard and started in the sex educator scene, first as a way to make money, but then as a passion she’ll never give up. Combining her love for sex ed and comedy, she began doing standup shows and spoke at colleges.
Through trial and failure with many different audiences, Falzone soon discovered her best audience was college students. As an advocate for the LGTBQ+ community, Falzone encourages every parent to raise their children surrounded by as much diversity as possible. Whether sex or cultural diversity, she says children deserve to be raised in an accepting environment. Falzone believes we should allow men to be “vulnerable” and girls to be tough. While much progress has been made, Falzone says there’s still a level of taboo surrounding sex that has been around for years. She says what matters most is that everyone involved is okay with what’s taking place in bed. “I am not okay with sexual assault. I am not okay with pedophilia. I am okay with consent,” she said. Facing a terminal prognosis, Falzone says her dying wish “is that we don’t teach sex ed in school.” The reason being that Falzone says it’s far more important for this education to be taught in the house by parents beginning at infancy, by first learning anatomy and through childhood. In terms of the #MeToo movement, Falzone is a believer that social media has been positive because it gives victims an anonymous voice that they didn’t previously have access to. Falzone, a comedic sex educator, is someone confident in how she has spread her beliefs during her career -- and how she continues to do so with the time she has left. “I have made a difference and I want it to continue even after I’m gone,” Falzone said, tearing up.
Making a Difference ‘One Girl At A Time’ SJU student’s nonprofit aims to create a safe haven for women Alana Loren Belthea
PHOTO COURTESY/PRINCESS ADENIKE
didn’t let the disinterest stop Anxious high school students listen them, instead, they decided to to words of encouragement from St. speak to the school’s counselor John’s senior Princess Adenike. Stu- about creating a program to assist dents interact as they discuss bully- the students in getting more ining with the members of One Girl At volved with the community. ToA Time. At St. Francis Prep, Adenike day, they continue to work with along with One Girl At A Time mem- those students. bers, spoke to bring awareness to selfWhen Adenike first generated love, toxic relationships, and consent. the idea for One Girl At A Time, The organization got the gig with the she wanted it to be an event that help of the organization’s outreach co- occurred annually at a park in ordinator, Regina Farrell. New York. “It was an amazing experience,” Ade“At the time, I pictured Roy nike said. Wilkins Park as the setting,” One Girl At A Time is a nonprofit she said. “I wanted there to be a organization that seeks to take a stand bunch of speakers, fashion shows, for rape victims, victims of domestic performances of plays — I wantviolence, bullying and gender discrim- ed upcoming artists to perform all ination. Their goal is to give young for one cause.” women a voice by holding a variety of With a dream to help others, events. Adenike set out to apply for a Having grown up in Jamaica, Queens special events permit. At first, her as a private school student at St. Fran- friends supported her idea. Howcis Prep, Adenike relates to the high ever, they did not know she was school students. At the age of 14, she going to take action, which left knew what she wanted to do with her her mother as her main supporter. life. Her sophomore year, Adenike de“At the time I didn’t think this ‘One Girl At A Time’ is a nonprofit that helps abuse victims overcome traumatic experiences. cided to create the nonprofit organiza- was going to work, so I stopped tion. everything I curred earlier this year. In April, over spoke at the event along with founder A few miles was doing,” forty members walked the Brooklyn of Propelled Media TV, Fabiola Jean, away from St. Adenike said, Bridge in honor of “Denim Day”, a and founder of Face My Abuse and John’s lies one of referring to campaign that brings awareness to sex- former manager of Mike Tyson, Jacthe organization’s giving up on ual violence. Members wore their white queline Rowe. They spoke about their Self-love is knowing when toughest crowds the nonprof- One Girl At A Time t-shirts along with journey of self love as African-Amerito say no. to date — the unit after feeling denim jeans as a visible sign of protest can women in the media industry. The fazed students of against sexual violence. Chanting pow- entrepreneurs also touched on how to Princess Adenike discouraged. Benjamin FrankUntil about a erful words in honor of those who are start up your own business and what it lin High School. year ago, Ade- oppressed, bystanders joined the crowd is like to be your own boss. Different from nike, now 20 as they walked the Brooklyn Bridge When asked how Adenike is able to the private school they visited, the stu- -years-old and majoring in commu- that sunny Saturday afternoon. run a nonprofit organization and be a dents appeared to be uninterested in nication arts, started to invest in her With a successful turnout, Adenike full-time student, she said, “it’s very the program’s message. “It was a ter- dream once more. With a support sys- and her support group set new goals stressful, it’s all about time managerifying experience”, Adenike said. “It tem, she was able to execute the same for the organization. In June, they ment and having a dedicated team.” shows that those students don’t have vision. Their mission, to make a differ- hosted their first event, “Me, Myself, In November, the members plan on programs like that.” ence “One Girl At A Time.” and I: The One Girl Edition.” having a ‘Paint and Sip’, a gathering The members of One Girl At A Time One Girl At A Time’s first event ocThere, freelance journalist Falasha with group painting lessons accompaCampbell was the keynote speaker nied by wine or other beverages, at a who talked about the importance of local restaurant in Queens. empowering young people on a daily Adenike is optimistic about the orbasis. Former Mrs. New York Inter- ganization’s future endeavors, as she national 2015 and the current Mrs. finishes her college education with a Brooklyn America, Marjorie Vail, also Bachelor’s in Science this May.
PHOTO COURTESY/JORDI FOSTER PHOTO COURTESY/PRINCESS ADENIKE
‘One Girl At A Time’ members and supporters after walking the Brooklyn Bridge.
Fabiola Jean, Marjorie Vail, Princess Adenike, Falasha Campbell, Ariel Laura Metayer, Darlene Tejeiro, and Jackie Rowe, from left to right.
torchonline.com torch design/ jenna woo
New York Comic Con 2018
One writer’s experience in the Javits Center’s annual event Nia Douglas After dreaming of attending the New York Comic Con for years, I was finally able to experience one of the grandest celebrations of all things nerdy — and even met a St. John’s icon. It was absolutely amazing, but not without flaws. This year’s Comic Con took place from Oct. 4 to 7, and it was the biggest year yet. Approximately 250,000 tickets were sold, according to Mark Armstrong, the event director of Reed Pop. One of the most iconic parts of NYCC is the cosplay. Since the inception of the event in 2006, the convention has seen some of the most creative renditions of fictional characters. That’s why I started the Comic Con preparations over summer. Since July, my boyfriend and I debated what we would cosplay as. We settled on the Joker and Harley Quinn, with him as Harley and I as the Joker. Our anticipation came to an end, as, the morning of Oct. 6 finally arrived. After gluing a lime-green wig onto my head and painting my face white, we left Jamaica, Queens and embarked on our journey to the Javits Center in Manhattan. We weren’t the only super-villains on the subway. The E train also accommodated fellow cosplayers. Among them was Thanos, who recently destroyed half of the Avengers in Marvel’s “Infinity War,” Killmonger, the villain who stole the show in “Black Panther” and Frieza, the evil colonizing alien from “Dragon Ball Z.” With our Comic Con badges securely clipped onto our St. John’s lanyards, we made our way down to 36th Street and 11th Avenue, where we were shuffled through security rather swiftly.
Shortly after clearing security, we found ourselves in a herd of people outside the doors of the Javits Center. When they said doors would open at 10 a.m., they really meant it. On the hour, the newly opened doors were met with a round of applause and a mob of heroes and villains of all ages rushed into the building. The first thing on our agenda was to check out the Funko booth. The Funko Pop figurines have been recently taken off, becoming widely known and attracting a huge following. There are Pops for almost every fandom out there. From Disney princesses to NBA players, Funko has a miniature version of almost anyone and anything. That’s why the Funko booth, loaded with exclusive NY Comic Con Pop figures, was quickly met with a door-busting line and ran with a degree of efficiency where fans were ordered to stand against the wall and representatives discouraged anyone who wasn’t making a purchase to vacate the area. The environment around the booth was a bit too hostile, so we decided to check out neighboring — slightly less commercial — vendors to see whether they had Pop figures. Surprisingly, almost every booth had Pops, even the advertised Comic Con exclusives. After we realized this, it made the chaos of the Fun-
ko booth and its scary line seem effectively pointless. After we gathered enough Pop figures to start a small army, we headed to the “Dragon Ball Z” exhibit. This was another anticipated feature of NYCC and was advertised as the Dragon Ball North American Tour. Shenron, the dragon floating above the exhibit couldn’t have made me, a Dragon Ball fan since second grade, any happier. In this section, fans could get their hands on exclusive Dragon Ball merchandise, take pictures with their favorite characters and even ride on Goku’s flying nimbus. It was exciting, and I readily took a million pictures with Vegeta, but it seemed the exhibit’s extravagance was poorly masking the fact that it lacked any exciting features besides photo opportuDouglas and her boyfriend attended this year’s NYCC as the Joker and Harley Quinn, respectively. nities. After leaving the Dragon Ball section, my boyfriend sifted through bins of vintage comic books, while I checked out some of the other cosplayers and even posed for some pictures myself. The friendly culture at Comic Con and the sense of comradery among people with mutual interests is an incredible experience. After my boyfriend found “Nightwing #1” and “Justice League of America #1” for a good bargain, we headed to Artist Alley. Artist Alley was tucked away in the basement level of the Javits Center, but compared to the chaos and unnecessary grandeur of other exhibits, it was the gem of
torch photos/nia Douglas
New York Comic Con. Rows of original artwork and arcane comic series filled the floor. Not only were my boyfriend and I able to take home some cool artwork of our favorite characters, but we also got to meet the creators of the graphic novel “Black,” and ran into celebrity and St. John’s University alumnus, Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC. McDaniels, who is an icon in both the hiphop and comic book industries, was happy to speak to St. John’s students. When asked how students can get into the comic book industry, McDaniels said they need to have a “hip-hop mindset.” “You can create something that you give away. It don’t have to be a main story, create a throw-away story. Circulate it so people can understand what you’re trying to present to them,”” McDaniels said. He then explained that he adapted this approach from the hip-hop scene. “The reason I say that is, before Drake and Jay-Z and Run DMC and Grandmaster Flash existed, we hip-hopped in the park for free … think of who you want to see and experience your universe and create something that you can give to them so that when you do put it up for sale, they come,” McDaniels said. After our haul at Artist Alley, we returned to the main floors and attempted to check out the South Park Escape Room, but were discouraged by the massive line. Other big booths and exhibits had a similar feel to the Dragon Ball tour; the physical appearance of the exhibits was spectacular, but was all they had to offer. After experiencing the top-level exhibits and trickling down to Artist Alley where I thoroughly enjoyed myself and met some great people within the industry, my assessment of this year’s NYCC was that the main attractions were somewhat overrated — but compensated for through the energy of the cosplaying community and the splendor of Artist Alley.
The Women Who Rule Classic Story With New Spin Sydney Bembry Director Yorgos Lanthimos, best known for “The Lobster” and “The Killing of the Sacred Deer,” returns with his new film, THE FAVOURITE starring Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Coleman, as the highest monarch. Set in eighteenth century England, PHOTO COURTESY/Youtube Foxsearchlight
Lady Sarah (Weisz) is the pathetic Queen Anne’s right-hand woman, challenged by her cousin Abigail’s (Stone) arrival as a servant. Like his previous films, Lanthimos’ directorial style is easily captivates an audience, but the three fine actresses’ magnetic performances will draw the masses into this monarchical tale. Weisz’s turn as a manipulative and protective friend to Queen Anne is equally enraging and sweet. Few others would be capable of showing the character’s tough and strong-willed nature, and exude her genuine care for the queen. Stone serves as a compatible sparring partner. Her cunning performance allows the audience to trust the servant at one moment and be entirely suspicious of her the next. While it becomes clear that Stone is the lead, Coleman’s performance as the persuadable, dim-witted Queen Anne is a total knockout. The well-known British actress gives a delightful comedic performance matched by her pitiful, heart-wrenching moments. The film portrays three women in positions of power, though in different contexts for each. The actresses portraying the women do so with such skill and eloquence that will surely charm moviegoers and, potentially, Oscar voters.
Good Times at El Royale Samantha DeNinno
her monologue to Hemsworth’s Billy Lee even more memorable for audiences Clocking in at two hours and 21 min- watching. Bridges plays her sparring partner the utes, BAD TIMES AT EL ROYALE, is a punchy, yet long exercise on the decon- majority of the film, in both words and struction of the crime thriller, neo-noir blows, and as always, plays him brilliantly. Hemsworth, arguably having the most genre, made famous by directors such as fun in his role, brings a swagger to his Quentin Tarantino. Despite its length, director and writer Charles Manson-like character in a role Drew Goddard, of “Cabin in the Woods” not atypical of the actor. However, the long run-time might be a and “The Martian” fame, successfully crafted a smooth film that subtly address- concern to those watching. While infused with beautiful es the dilemma of faith cinematography and belonging in the by DP Seamus late 1960s, in a quirky, McGarvey and violent manner. a great score, Anchored by a strong there are points cast, including Jeff in which the stoBridges, Cynthia Eri...a smooth film that ry begins to feel vo, Dakota Johnson, subtly addresses the thin and in need Jon Hamm and Chris dilemma of faith and of a slight push. Hemsworth, seven belonging in the late Sometimes this strangers — including 1960s, in a quirky, vio- push occurs but not limited to, a lent manner. with an act of priest, a vacuum salesviolence or conman, a soul singer and a hippie — meet at the once glorious, El fession and sometimes it doesn’t. Not all questions are answered by the Royale motel, curiously resting on the end of the film. border of Nevada and California. We never find out who killed the first The strangers pick their rooms and one by one, we are let into both their present man, who the federal agent was looking and past through the use of flashbacks, for, or who exactly was in that film; however, there was a certain pleasure in being revelations and mysterious windows. Erivo in particular shines in her role able to follow every line with a “waitas Darlene Sweet, a down-on-her-luck what-just-happened?” reaction. From the first crack of a well-aimed soul singer, whose voice is used beautifully throughout the film. The Broadway wine bottle, “Bad Times at El Royale” actress injects a quiet strength and pow- makes for a great time at the theater and er into her spine and her voice, making well worth a rewatch.
Eduardo Alfonzo With Halloween around the corner, everyone is in the mood for something scary to watch. Once again, Netflix has provided us with great content: THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. Made by the creators of the Netflix film “Gerald’s Game,” another great piece from Netflix, “The Haunting of Hill House” is based on the classic novel by Shirley Jackson. Instead of faithful adaptation of the source material, Netflix has put a unique spin on the story that actually works in its favor. The story centers around the Crain family moving to an old mansion, known as Hill House, where they experience paranormal activity that forces them to move out and never look back. Years later, following a tragic event, the Crain family must come together and face the inner demons that have haunted them for many years. The show shifts back and forth between the past and present, which can distract some people, but it actually helps with the story. We see how the characters were affected by the mansion at a young age and what mental and emotional repercussions it might have had on them years later. Carla Gugino (as Olivia Crain), Michiel Husiman (as Steven Crain) and the rest of the cast have done a terrific job at making the characters feel unbelievably flawed, yet
relatable. The Crain family are not the best people, especially as they grow older, but once you see their past, you understand how they became the way they are. While the show can feel slow at times, it’s not enough to ruin the entire experience. Through great acting, genuine scares and a complex narrative, “The Haunting of Hill House” is easily one of the most entertaining shows of this year.
PHOTO COURTESY/Youtube netflix
torch design/ jenna woo
Brooklyn’s DIY Music Scene and Rough Trade NYC Renee King Everyone moves to Brooklyn, specifically millennials with tattoo sleeves and thrift shop fashion senses — or so people like to say. While they are the punchline of many jokes, the creatives of this borough work together to form a blossoming underground art community, a thriving DIY music scene for all. Williamsburg and Bushwick boast plenty of concert halls, each one just as unique as the next. Baby’s All Right serves a great brunch restaurant, Brooklyn Bowl doubles as a retro bowling alley and venues like the former Silent Barn sprawled for what seemed like unending city blocks. They are the second homes of an endless collective of indie rock and hip-hop musicians with down-toearth lyrics and innovative, sonorous harmonies. The Silent Barn in particular was a safe space for droves of artists and young supporters. An article from Pitchfork details the immensity of the venue: A three-story gallery, performing arts space and music education charity, plagued for years by exorbitant maintenance costs. That is, until a notice posted on their website on Mar. 13 detailed their inevitable closure in April. In its conclusion, the letter said, “When we shut these doors for good, the community that has been forged around the Silent Barn will not be gone.” And thus, the performers of the Brooklyn scene moved on to other spaces. What else could have the eccentricity, intimacy and the
PHOTo/flickr creative commons Moodyman
Rough Trade NYC offers records and live music on 64 N 9th St, Brooklyn, NY.
inclusivity of the Silent Barn without burning through the budget? Perhaps the answer to this question lies not in a replica of the venue, but rather in the New York City incarnation of London’s Rough Trade: It is the city’s largest record store, and so much more. A statement from the store describes their place in the scene: “Rough Trade first opened in 1976, [in] West London, on the doorstep of punk. Fundamentally, our stores provide creative, independent minds a shared place of discovery and congregation.” It makes sense that this foreign export is monumental enough to schedule performances of all genres touring from around the world. In billing their opening acts, however, they take great care in recognizing up-and-comtorch design/ jenna woo
Sofia Altamura Mellifluous music, captivating story-lines and breathtaking dancing — these are all the components that result in a wonderful night at the ballet. On Oct. 10, the New York City Ballet put on “Short Stories,” which included three performances: “Fancy Free,” “Prodigal Son” and “West Side Story.” The first performance, “Fancy Free,” was about three sailors on leave during World War II. While at a New York City diner, they end up in a competition over a few girls that come and go from the diner. This witty and playful ballet, featuring lively music and impressive pirouettes and leaps, transported the audience to a common occurrence on the American home front in an entertaining way. This ballet was also the inspiration for the great Broadway success, “On the Town.” The next performance, “Prodigal Son” (based on the biblical parable) transitioned into a more dramatic tone. When a son
ing Brooklyn Bandcamp sensations and Silent Barn regulars alike. Take gobbinjr for instance, a Wisconsin transplant whose frontwoman, Emma Witmer, has been a name in the scene since her first release in 2015. On Oct. 7, she and fellow female-fronted indie group, Daisy the Great, acted as openers to a show by headliner Sidney Gish, a New Jersey-born, Boston-based singer-songwriter. Gish has already established herself as an artist on the rise among many collegiate DIY communities by performing the brutally honest pop tunes that she first penned as a high schooler in this very metropolitan area. Playing the catchiest songs from her breakthrough record “No Dogs Allowed,” her re-
latable lyrics about Generation Z loneliness and world-weariness resonate in the form of undeniable ear worm hooks (see “Sin Triangle” and “Impostor Syndrome,” two textbook examples of the genre). But what made the night’s set complete was the amount of admiration all three acts shared for each other. Beginning with Daisy the Great, lead singers Kelley Nicole Dugan and Mina Walker utilized their jazzy vocals, folk sensibilities and fun stage dancing as teasers of their upcoming album. Their chemistry as a group tied into the passionate words of songs like “Company.” Right after, gobbinjr came out with a vengeance, dedicating glittery, innocent-sounding tracks “Politely” to the likes of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh: “The only gaze of a man that I’d like to meet is that of a man who has respect for me.” But she held the utmost respect for her touring band and the other performers of the night, a self-proclaimed Gish-head. In essence, the Brooklyn DIY scene is efficacious and all about love and tolerance. Every musician who played shuffled back and forth from stage to merch booth, selling their work, hugging every fan who complimented them, making a point to connect and converse. They transform the space around them, wash the crowd in emotion and make a huge shop like Rough Trade seem miniscule. It usually only takes a small donation or a 20 dollar ticket, but it is not just for a concert — it supports a community that deserves to survive.
Short Stories at the New York City Ballet
receives his inheritance from his father, he leaves his family and squanders it all on an extravagant lifestyle. Once he realizes he spent everything he has, he decides to re-
turn to his father. Instead of reprimanding him or turning him away, his father welcomes his son back and celebrates his return. The audience could feel the emotion PHOTO COURTESY/Youtube NYCBALLET
The New York City Ballet sings and dances in the West Side Story Suite.
when the son, broken down and in despair, returns to his father, who receives him with a loving embrace. It is the ultimate lesson of acceptance and redemption, which was quite moving. The phrase “saving the best for last” can certainly be applied to this show. The last performance was the “West Side Story” suite. Arguably one of the greatest films of the 20th century, this classic story of star-crossed lovers and divided families truly came to life. Even after seeing the film numerous times, I was on the edge of my seat as the feelings of love, the excitement of the dances and the tensions of alienation permeated the theatre. The theme of divisiveness is still prevalent in today’s time, so it was inspiring to see the different ending that this take on the story provided — in a bright, sky-like setting, Tony and Maria looked forward to the future. Leaving the theatre with the idea of hope in my mind was not what I had expected when I walked in the Ballet, but was what I found.
torch design/ jenna woo
The New Black Renaissance
The Current Golden Age of Black Television Devorah Satcher Society is currently witnessing a cultural phenomenon, a new Black Renaissance, on television screens. Since 2014, there has been a rise in television series that are created, produced, directed by and/or star a primarily black cast. A few of the most popular and successful ones currently on television are “Blackish,” “Atlanta,” “Insecure” and “Empire.” The emergence of these shows are revolutionary because the last time the public saw anything like it was during the last golden age of black television, spanning from the late 70s to the late 90s. The current golden age of black television was birthed during a time of civil unrest, much like the previous age. Several black television shows emerged while the Black Lives Matter movement was becoming mainstream, and many used their time on air to bring attention to the movement. The most well known example is from the hit series, “Black-ish.” The episode titled “Hope,” which aired in 2016, is the highest rated episode, according to IMDb, from the show’s series and the one that hit close to home for many. The episode portrayed a black family spanning three generations gathered to-
gether, watching the news, waiting to hear the sentencing of a white police officer who shot and killed yet another unarmed black person. From the grandparents’ fed-up attitude toward seeing this repeated throughout the decades, to the parent’s disagreement on whether or not to expose the horror of the events to their youngest children, all the way to the eldest children breaking down and expressing an utter sense of hopelessness. “Black-ish,” though sometimes in a questionable manner, addresses various current issues relating to social justice (particularly racism) more than just about any other show. Interestingly enough, this was the series, along with “Empire,” that pioneered this resurgence of black television in 2014. These shows and various others, such as “Dear White People,” “Queen Sugar,” “Black Lightning,” “Greenleaf” and “Luke Cage,” are undoubtedly entertaining — which is why they are being renewed and constantly expanding their audiences. However, the entertainment aspect is not the sole reason these series have such high ratings. It is the way that they resonate with the audience members who look like characters
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Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross and Laurence Fishburne star in ABC’s “Black-ish.”
on the screen and the way they satisfy the need for representation that black Americans have had to fight and plead for. That is something I can personally attest to as a black woman.
I also see this golden age of TV as only the beginning, as there so many black creatives, consistently bringing forth new concepts and visions, that they are pushing to reveal to the world through a television screen.
The Campaign for Self-Examination and Body Love Serena Williams ad sparks conversation for “I Touch Myself Project” Destinee Scott We’re going into the third week of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there’s something that Serena Williams wants us to remember. On Sept. 29, the tennis pro posted a video of herself posing topless while singing the Divinyls’ 1990 hit song, “I Touch Myself.” The video came days before Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicked off and it aims to encourage women to regularly examine their breasts. “This Breast Cancer Awareness Month I’ve recorded a version of The Divinyls’s global hit, ‘I Touch Myself’ to remind women to self-check regularly,” Williams wrote on Instagram. “Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it’s an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world. Early detection is key — it saves so many lives. I just hope this helps to remind women of that.” William’s music video is a part of the “I Touch Myself Project,” which was created in 2014 in honor of Divinyls’s lead singer, Chrissy Amphlett. In 2013, at 53-years-old, Amphlett died of breast cancer while also
battling multiple counts of sclerosis. When she was alive, Amphlett was passionate about spreading the importance of early detection and she wanted the hit song
“I Touch Myself” to become an international anthem for breast health. The “I Touch Myself” project has made it a mission to fulfill Amphlett’s wishes by
Tennis player Serena Williams sings Divinyls’s hit “I Touch Myself” shirtless in new ad.
PHOTO COURTESY/Youtube guardiansport
creating educational forums that remind women to “touch themselves.” This year, the organization has asked women to pledge to “touch themselves” by taking a picture that shows them holding their breasts (naked or clothed) then tagging their pledge to “#ITouchMyselfProject” and sharing it on their social networks. They’ve also encouraged women to change their profile pictures to their pledge photos for the month of October in unity with the campaign. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, in their lifetime, making it the most common cancer among women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among the group. With the body positivity movement on the rise, women around the world are learning to accept and appreciate their bodies. When it comes to the early detection of breast cancer, being open to exploring your body and going to the doctor plays a huge role. As women have begun the process of self-examining their breasts they’ve also been able to confront their bodies and develop a body positivity mindset like never before.
St. John’s Basketball and Sheck Wes Rock Tip-Off Fans packed into Carnesecca to preview SJU Basketball Nick Bello
Electricity was in the air Friday night as the university community filed into Carnesecca Arena for Tip-Off, the annual extravaganza that celebrates the start of the college basketball season. To “tip-off” the evening’s proceedings, alumni from different generations of St. John’s basketball took the court for the annual alumni game. Following the conclusion of the game, this year’s men’s and women’s teams were introduced to the Carnesecca faithful. The loudest roar of the night came as junior guard Shamorie Ponds was introduced after testing NBA waters this past summer. The 6 foot 1 inch junior guard from Brooklyn looks to have yet another outstanding year in a Red Storm uniform. After redshirt senior Marvin Clark II was entered the arena to the popular song “Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott, it was time for the coaches to take center stage to address the thousands of fans in the arena. “You [the fans] give us energy,” Head Coach of the Women’s Basketball team, Joe Tartamella, said. Tartamella then handed the mic off to senior Akina Wellere, who urged St. John’s fans to give a warm welcome to new Athletic Director Mike Cragg. Next up was men’s head coach and St. John’s legend Chris Mullin, who made a short speech before handing the mic off to Clark.
“I know last year was a long season,” Clark II said. “We got a great group of guys here.” Then came the long awaited red and white scrimmage, where the talent from the men’s basketball team was on full display. The star of the show was junior college transfer L.J. Figueroa, who dazzled the crowd with three amazing dunks, including an off the backboard alley-oop to himself. Figueroa has been raved about by the coaching staff this preseason and many have him as a starter on this year’s team. Another player who stuck out was sophomore Bryan Trimble Jr. who lit it up from outside. Trimble proved himself last year as he earned a lot of minutes off the bench for the Red Storm. One thing that was noticeable immediately, however, was the fact that Mustapha Heron did not participate in warm-ups or the scrimmage, despite the announcement of him being cleared by the NCAA coming later that night. The status of his health is unknown, as no injury was reported before or after the event. As the night drew to a close, rapper Sheck Wes, a native of Harlem, rocked Carnesecca Arena performing his hit song, “Mo Bamba” not once, but twice. Video of Wes’ performance went viral the next day on Bleacher Report, further helping to promote the fact that big things are happening in Queens this year.
TORCH PHOTO/SPENCER CLINTON
TORCH PHOTO/SPENCER CLINTON
Sheck Wes and Qadashah Hoppie hyped up the crowd at Tip-Off last Friday night.
Baseball Slides Past Swedish National Team Brendan Murray
The chill in the October air couldn’t cool down the hot Red Storm bats against the Swedish National team Friday night, when the baseball team beat the Swedes 26-0. The Red Storm, playing in their first exhibition of the season, were able to make quick work of the Swedish opposition with Nick Mondak on the mound. Mondak impressed, pitching three innings, allowing one hit and striking out three with no walks. He made one start his freshman year in 2017 and has battled injury problems ever since, making this season one of great importance for Mondak. “It feels nice to be back out there, my arm feels good, I feel pretty confident in my stuff. I’m just happy to be back,” Mondak said. “You have to trust what the doctors are telling you, if you just come in and do what they tell you to do, and don’t take any days off, you will come back fine sometimes even stronger than before,” he said. Mondak also participated in the New England Collegiate Baseball League over the summer to help his progress. “It is hard to simulate the game with live hitters.” Mondak said. He will look to be a big factor in a strong Red Storm rotation this upcoming season. “It looked good to see him out there. He broke the ice,” Head Coach Ed Blankmeyer said.
TORCH PHOTO/MARIE BOGUE
“I try to come in early and stay late. I think that putting in the extra work will get me to where I want to go,” Antico said. Blankmeyer will be challenged this year, with a large portion of his squad from last year leaving and now having to put together a team that hasn’t played a lot with one another. “It’s no secret we have a veteran pitching staff along with an inexperienced team. It’s going to take these guys a while to gel a little bit,” Blankmeyer said. Blankmeyer continued on to say that these scrimmages and inter-squad games are what helps him evaluate the team. “A night like this can build a bit of confidence and I think is good for us,” he said. No matter the adversity that Blankmeyer and his players face, he says the goal never changes. “There is only one goal. This team plays for championships.”
Left-hander pitcher Nick Mondak returns to mound in 2019 after constant arm injuries.
Junior outfielder, Mike Antico, ended his sophomore season with a .308 batting average, but is looking forward to the 2019 season. “I think we are going to be a scrappy team, we got a lot of guys that can run and hit the ball well. We are going to have to be a tough team, but I think we can compete,” Antico said. Antico, the “quarterback” of the outfield in center field, will have to help
his new teammates adjust to Blankmeyer’s system. Antico believes is up for the task. “We just need to work, a lot of communication while we are out there. I try to talk to them between every pitch whether to move in move out. I think after they get a lot of reps they will be fine,” Antico said after the game against Sweden, where he had a walk and RBI double. Antico isn’t resting on his successful sophomore season.
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SPORTS OCTOBER 17, 2018 | VOLUME 96, ISSUE 6
TORCH PHOTO/AMANDA NEGRETTI
in the clear
From St. John's to CBS Sports ncAA RULES MUSTAPHA HERON ELIGIBLE FOR 2018-19 Brendan Myers Just hours after an energetic night at St. John’s Basketball’s annual “Tip-Off” event, Head Coach Chris Mullin received the news his program was waiting for. Auburn transfer guard Mustapha Heron became immediately eligible after being granted a legislative relief waiver by the NCAA. The news, first reported by Adam Zagoria of The New York Times, gives St. John’s one of the strongest backcourts in the Big East conference. “I’m incredibly thankful that the NCAA has decided to allow me to play right away closer to home,” Heron said in a statement released on Saturday morning. A native of Connecticut, Heron wanted to return to the northeast so he could be closer to his mother, who has been battling health issues. Normally—as is the case with many players currently on the team’s roster—when a player decides to transfer, they must sit out a year before they are eligible to play. After finishing his sophomore season at
Auburn, Heron tested the NBA Draft waters in March. Once he decided that another season in college was in his future, he immediately transferred from Auburn and began looking for a school closer to home. Heron announced his commitment to St. John’s back in May, and the biggest question surrounding the program since then has been whether or not he would be granted the waiver to play in the 2018-19 season. Many analysts see Heron as the final piece of the puzzle that will allow Mullin to make a major jump in his fourth year in charge. Immediately after the news of Heron’s waiver broke, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein tweeted, “St. John’s now has the most talented roster in the Big East.” Legendary ESPN commentator Dick Vitale said that with the news, it will be a big year for Mullin. At St. John’s Media Day on Tuesday, Mullin said that the biggest thing Heron brings to the table is experience. “He played in big games, played big minutes, played on a great team at Auburn,” Mullin said. “I think his presence each and every day, the way he approaches pratice, his
daily routine is important, he is a leader.” Heron started all 64 games that he appeared in during his time at Auburn. The 6 foot 5 inch combo guard scored a team -leading 16.5 points per game during his sophomore campaign. However, his most important contributions might not come in the scoring department. Last season, he averaged 5.3 rebounds as a guard. His willingness to rebound should be a key factor, as the glass has been one of the struggles for St. John’s in the past few seasons. Heron’s effort on the glass will be matched by Justin Simon, another strong rebounding guard, and an improved front court with players like Josh Roberts, Sedee Keita and Marcellus Earlington. He’s incredibly efficient on the offensive end, connecting on 43 percent of his attempts from inside the arc last season. The southpaw showed he can score in a multitude of ways, whether it be slashing to the basketball or stepping out for deep jumpshots. From behind the arc last season, Heron shot 33 percent. As a team, St. John’s shot 32 percent from three point range last
season. On the defensive end, Heron’s length will certainly be a problem for opposing players. The Red Storm return most of their core players from last year, including Shamorie Ponds, Marvin Clark II and Simon. With now eligible players like Keita and Mikey Dixon, in addition to a strong freshmen recruiting class, Mullin has depth that he hasn’t had yet. At times, Mullin was down to seven scholarship players last season. According to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, Assistant Coach Matt Abdelmassih recruited Heron when he was a five-star recruit coming out of Sacred Heart Academy. Borzello continued on to say that Abdelmassih kept strong relationship with Heron’s family during his time at Auburn. On Tuesday afternoon, Heron was named to the Jerry West Award Preseason Watch List, which goes out to the nation’s top shooting guard. Heron is the only player from the Big East conference to make the award’s preseason watch list.