VOL 96 : 05 OCTOBER 3, 2018 torchonline.com
The award-winning independent student newspaper of St. Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s University
SJU HISTORY IS MADE: INCLUSIVITY CENTER opens see the story on page 3 TORCH PHOTO/NINA PROCOPIO
Students find mold in dorms see the story on page 4
TORCH PHOTO/SPENCER CLINTON
Haraya celebrates 50 YEARS see the story on page 5 TORCH PHOTO/JILLIAN ORTIZ
NINE STUDENTS ARRESTED IN FRAT BURGLARY | Story on Page 4
University Introduces New Inclusivity Center Dayra Santana The Inclusivity Resource Center’s grand opening was held at Sun Yat Sen Hall this past Friday. The newly renovated building, previously home to the Office of Global Studies, is now home to what the Office of Equity and Inclusion hopes will be a place where marginalized students will feel welcome. The Inclusivity Resource Center, or the IRC, is just one of the steps the Equity and Inclusion Council, formerly known as the Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion, has taken in the past year in an effort to institutionalize practices of inclusivity. Faculty members, alumni and several students were in attendance for the dedication ceremony. Speakers included Chief Diversity Officer Nada Llewellyn, who described the commitment St. John’s has dedicated to this. Llewellyn recognized the many student groups, protesters, petitioners and everyone else in the St. John’s community involved in pushing for this space to be created “through their courage and sacrifice” in the past year. Student Government Inc. president Atemkeng Tazi also spoke about the “emotionally charged” year, particularly for “minoritized” students, that led to the creation of this space. Tazi is confident that this is now a top priority for the University. “This space is a representation of the fact that St. John’s University is taking steps to move in the right direction,” Tazi said. “While there are still prevalent issues regarding diversity and inclusion, I am more than confident that this is a top priority now, and even more so confident in the individuals who have been directly and indirectly charged with finding the solution to this problem.” Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Simon G. Møller and University President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw also spoke at the event. “A great university is never content with the way things are… it seeks to be better,” Gempesaw said. “One of the ways we want to be better is by making St. John’s a welcoming place for all. Today we’re taking a huge step towards reaching our university’s inclusivity
TORCH PHOTO/NINA PROCOPIO
SGI President Atemkeng Tazi, far right, stands with several University members involved with the Inclusivity Resource Center.
mission of institutionalizing practices of inclusive excellence to ensure that we welcome, and to celebrate the intrinsic work of all members of our community.” Gempesaw also said that he hopes the IRC goes down in history as a step in making St. John’s more inclusive and welcoming. Despite problems, Gempesaw said he knows there is more the University can do to improve the experience of its students. He said that the school’s emphasis on diversity will improve. “We recognize that real equity, diversity, and inclusion is a very huge challenge,” he said. “But it also presents itself as a tremendous opportunity to build a better, respectful, and welcoming St. John’s community.” Alumnus Kevin Saunders, who graduated in 2002 with a degree in hospitality management, attended the ceremony. “I’m very excited. This wasn’t even a vision when I was a student here, so to see it actually coming to fruition is amazing,” said Saunders, a longtime member of the Pan-African Students’ Coalition, Haraya. “We’ve come a long
way and we definitely have a long way to go, but this is a step in the right direction. I’m real proud to see this.” Among some of the students who attended the open house was Kendra Patrick, a junior and member of student organization Eden, a Christian organization that focuses on merging faith and creativity. Although excited about the new center, Patrick did express some reservations. “I just hope that this space is used in the best way,” Patrick said. “I see a lot of people taking pictures, and there’s food, and there’s alums… but what happens six months from now? I think that that’s what we’re most worried about right now. Are these people still going to have this same energy and involvement?” The office of Equity and Inclusion acknowledges that there is still work to be done. “Today’s celebration is not that of a job well done or a mission accomplished,” Llewellyn said in her address at the ceremony. “Today we celebrate that we’re beginning.” Students are invited to spend time in the new
center, whether it be doing work, hanging out or engaging in dialogues with their peers on important issues. The building will offer counseling for students and include two gender-neutral restrooms. Discussion groups for men and women of color and opportunities for members of LGBTQ+ communities to meet in the center several times throughout the upcoming months are some of the initiatives that the center will offer. Some of the Diversity Peer Educator training will also take place in this center. “It’s a positive change for the University,” said Selina Mangaroo, a sophomore Diversity Peer Educator. “It’s motivating when you have a place like this, because… it’s a foundation you can grow on.” “I really hope that it’s helpful,” Llewellyn said. . “And [that] it’s a space that students can use and feel comfortable and engage in some of the conversations that we need to be having as a community.”
Students Walk Out Amid Kavanaugh Senate Hearing Spencer Clinton Eight students stood in the rain to protest Friday morning in the wake of Supreme Court-nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s contentious Senate hearing a day earlier in which he defended himself against sexual assault allegations. The student walkout, which took place in front of St. Augustine Hall, was organized by senior Kennisa Ragland and was one of two that took place on campus that day. At the Senate hearing, psychology professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party in college 36 years ago. Kavanaugh forcefully denied her claims at the hearing. After listening to Kavanaugh’s repeated dismissals of Ford’s accusations under questioning from the various senators, Ragland said she decided to organize an on-campus walkout to stand in unity with women and sexual
assault survivors everywhere. “I believe the act of lying about sexual harassment and or violence is horrible,” Ragland said. “But, people overwhelmingly don’t lie about this. And they don’t forget it, as much as they might want to.” Ragland organized the walkout via Instagram, announcing that they would listen to the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Friday and follow with a moment of silence. Ragland wasn’t discouraged by the small turnout. “Even though there weren’t that many people I know, there were a lot of people here in spirit,” she said. “I know a lot of people wanted to be here. It was an early morning, it was last minute, and the vote came so quick after the hearing.” Ragland also read a prepared statement to the other seven students who joined her. She said placing Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court following these accusations “would be
TORCH PHOTO/SPENCER CLINTON
St. John’s students, led by Kennisa Ragland, showed support to Dr. Christine Ford.
another mistake.” “And it would be a bad one because people are more aware today, and that’s the whole
thing about that [awareness]; you lose trust when people know what’s happening in their government.”
Mold Prompts Student Concerns, Complaints Jillian Ortiz and Samantha DeNinno Recent findings of suspected mold within residence halls on the St. John’s campus have caused some students to fall ill and, in at least one case, leave their dorm. Colleen Greaney, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, attributed the students’ reports of mold to the recent stretch of humid weather, adding that she has never seen anything like this during her time here. “I’ve been at St. John’s for over 17 years, and this is the first time I’ve encountered this issue,” she said in a statement to the Torch. “New York City has experienced the most humid summer since 1970. The weather has been such a real factor, and an anomaly, that other colleges and universities in the region have also been affected.” Greaney said “all the [air conditioners] in the Res. Village” last week received maintenance and tuneups, including a surface cleaning. She said this issue is not unique to St. John’s, noting that both Mount Saint Mary College and The New School have had similar mold problems. ABC7 reported last month that more than 200 students were displaced at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y. and more than 100 students were forced from their dorms at The New School in Manhattan. At St. John’s, freshmen Matthew Greiner and Gregory McNamara of Hollis Hall attribute recent respiratory symptoms to what they believe to be mold in the bathroom of their suite. Greiner said he was diagnosed with pneumonia last weekend and added that one of his suitemates, who did not speak with the Torch, “went home for a week and had a respiratory problem.”
TORCH PHOTO/JILLIAN ORTIZ
Colleen Greaney said the she does not anticipate more mold since summer is over.
Greiner and McNamara, who live with three others, said they noticed the mold on their bathroom ceiling a few weeks ago and attempted to remove it with their own cleaning supplies. Despite their attempt, the mold came back quickly. “We noticed that there was some black stuff on the ceiling of our bathroom about three weeks ago, and at first we decided just to wipe it off,” Greiner said. “It slowly started seeping, then we’d clean off the ceiling and it’d come back the next day,” McNamara added. They realized the severity of the issue when a different colored fungus appeared on their ceiling, following their showers. “There’s like oil droplets on the ceiling that form when we were taking hot showers in the morning,” McNamara said. “They’d drip down onto the floor - it’s gross.” Besides the mold that stretches almost four
feet across the ceiling, they say black spots are also visible within the ventilation unit in their bathroom. “It looks like, where the air-conditioning vent is, if you can look past the slots, it kinda looks like there is mold in there. Like in the AC vents, so the air that’s coming in has mold in it, and we are breathing in that air,” Greiner said. They said Resident Assistants confirmed the presence of mold a few days after they reported it during a routine room-check. Greiner and his suitemates were told that Facilities Services would be addressing the issue, but they said no one has checked their dorm as of Tuesday. “The RAs came in and looked at our rooms and said, ‘Yeah, you guys have mold, we’re going to send someone down,’” Greiner said. “No one has come to our room by the way.” Four students who live in Century Hall
also spoke with ABC7 about mold issues in their dorm, and complained about the slow response time after reporting it to the University. When asked about the delay in dealing with specific reports of mold, Greaney said, “We are looking at the reporting process that took place in this situation in order to correct any breakdown in communication that occurred. “We make it a priority to ensure a clear and easy reporting process for the University community, and we continually strive to improve upon it wherever necessary.” Hollis was not the only residential building where mold has been discovered. One student said she recently noticed mold on the ceiling of a fourth floor hallway in Century, adding that it was gone the next day. “On behalf of the Century Hall Council, we are stating that the problem was being handled prior to the formation of the current council and all further problems that have arose are being handled by the proper people, being the SRA, the RD and Campus Facilities,” Mary-Kate Badalamenti, publicity chair of Century Hall Council, said. As the humidity dissipates, Greaney anticipates the potential for more mold growth will. But she said there are actions residents can take in order to prevent further occurrences. “During a several-day stretch of high heat and humidity, it is advisable for students to keep their windows closed, so as to prevent outdoor humidity from entering their rooms,” Greaney said. “At the same time, it’s advisable to run the room A/C units, as air-conditioning naturally lowers indoor humidity levels.”
Nine Arrested in Off-Campus Frat House Fallout Isabella Bruni Nine St. John’s students have been arrested in relation to an early morning off-campus incident a week ago in which they are accused of stealing a fraternity’s Greek letters. All of the students face felony burglary charges, according to Queens Criminal Court records. If convicted, the minimum sentence for a second-degree burglary charge is three and a half years, according to state sentencing guidelines. New York City Police say the incident took place in a house on 178th Street near Utopia Parkway in Flushing at about 4:15 a.m. on Sept. 26. All but one of the students who were arrested have ties to Tau Kappa Epsilon. The fraternity is not recognized on campus this year after failing to meet the university’s accreditation requirements. The home invasion happened at a house where multiple former members of Kappa Sigma live, according to media reports. According to police, the students who were arrested are Nicholas Crocco, 19, Anthony Vithayathil, 19, Brandon Wong, 19, and Sebastian Williams, 22, all of whom were arrested following the incident on Sept. 26. Police said five more students were arrested
on Oct. 1: Patrick Brown, 21, Derek Chiesa, 21, Matthew Cerniglia 19, Paul Holze, 18, and Jefferson Espinal, 20. Their next appearance in court is Nov. 26 at Queens Criminal Court. According to the Tau Kappa Epsilon member directory, all arrested were members of the former St. John’s recognized fraternity except Holze. “We are concerned about the report that several of our students were involved in an off-campus incident between two non-sanctioned fraternities,” said University spokesperson Brian Browne. “The University is cooperating with law enforcement and the students involved will be subject to disciplinary action under the University’s code of conduct.” This incident come on the heels of five St. John’s fraternities no longer being recognized on campus after failing to meet the university’s accreditation requirements, per Jodi Cox, executive director of Student Development and Engagement. Tau Kappa Epsilon Inc., of which eight of the nine arrested have ties to, and Kappa Sigma Inc. are among those five. The Torch attempted to reach out to the nine students who were arrested to give them the opportunity to comment. They did not
TORCH PHOTO/ISABELLA BRUNI
The frat house that was robbed last week sits in Flushing, just minutes from campus.
respond. Dominick Pintavalle, president of the Interfraternity Council, expressed his discontent about the incident to the Torch. He hopes Greek life can be viewed in a bet-
ter light in spite of this incident. “This is a situation where a group of a few is not necessarily making it easier for those who are doing what they’re supposed to do,” Pintavalle said.
Haraya Celebrates 50 Years at SJU The night featured performances and a chance to reflect Derrell J. Bouknight
to teach and his commitment to academics. In front of alumni, student leaders and His inspiration led to her enrollment at administrators, Haraya-the University’s Teachers College at Columbia University to Pan-African Students’ Coalition-celebrated obtain her doctorate in higher education. its 50th anniversary in Taffner Field House McKenzie first came to St. John’s in 1986 Saturday evening. and serves as the school’s vice provost for Dozens of attendees joined this year’s ex- academic support services and faculty deecutive board to celebrate the group’s evo- velopment, just a few of his many titles lution since its founding in 1968 and to and accomplishments. Departments at St. reflect on how far the group has come in John’s that McKenzie oversees include the the years since. honors program, writing center and student Christian Terrell Romeo, the 48th presi- development for athletes. dent of the organization, opened the night “Having the opportunity to work with and welcomed guests. While speaking of the Haraya and its membership over my 32 strides Haraya has made over the years, Ro- years at St. John’s has been one of the meo spoke of the Civil Rights Movement of most rewarding aspects of my working the 1960s and the early years of the group. here,” McKenzie said. “I have witnessed its “Here at St. John’s, black students were achievement, its challenges and its growth, the target of violent assaults simply be- not just in membership numbers but also in cause they were scope and focus black,” Romeo in its activities said. “As the and programstory was told ming.” to us, the Unithe Having the opportunity to Before versity’s public began, work with Haraya and its night safety gathered a membership over my 32 alums who consmall number of years at St. John’s has been vened outside of black students one of the most rewarding Taffner spoke of in a classroom aspects of my working here. their memories to protect them. of Haraya from From there, Dr. Andre McKenzie the early 1970s. Haraya was Harold Dow, a born. founding mem“We do not know what was said,” Romeo ber of Haraya and a graduate of the class of continued. “However, the individuals in 1973, said the group gave black students on that room believed in the equity and the campus somewhere to go. equality for all and laid the foundation for Dow stood with classmate Clifton Stanthe Haraya that we now see today.” ley, both of whom recollected memories After a performance by Voices of Victo- of St. John’s. Before the D’Angelo Center, ry and original pieces of poetry by Raven Haraya held its meetings in Marillac Hall. Jackson and Phoenix Johnson, Dr. Corlisse Dow said it started out as a small group Thomas, a former assistant dean of student to represent the 14 black students on camdevelopment at St. John’s, introduced Dr. pus before evolving into one of the campus’ Andre McKenzie, the recipient of Haraya’s largest student groups. Lifetime Achievement Award. Thomas said “When we came here, we were the low she was inspired by McKenzie’s willingnes- man on the totem pole,” Dow said. “It’s
TORCH PHOTO/SPENCER CLINTON TORCH PHOTO/SPENCER CLINTON
Haraya’s e-board stands together at the beginning of its 50th Anniversary Dinner.
just amazing how St. John’s has turned it around...You get a nice education. In my case, we created a business out of it. For a lot of us, it started right here in 1971 when we gave our first event.” Stanley went on to say that guests such as Muhammad Ali came to campus to speak. The University would not let Haraya promote his appearance, but he traveled from Cherry Hill, N.J. to talk, sign autographs and interact with black students. Like Dow, Stanley thanks Haraya for set-
ting him up for the years that followed and for its continued outreach, including inviting alumni and continuing the tradition of engaging minority students. 50 years later, Stanley says his life is for the better, all thanks to Haraya. “With this organization, all my friends and all these St. John’s people throughout the years, I was able to become who I am now. See pictures from the event on Page 6 of this issue.
New Librarian Joins Staff, Anticipates New Digital Changes Sara N. Rodia The St. John’s University Library has many new institutions and initiatives in store for this academic year, including the introduction of its newest employee, Lusiella Fazzino. Fazzino is the new assistant professor and eScholar repository librarian. In her position, Fazzino will be tasked with creating St. John’s digital repository. The goal of this is to feature more research, articles and dissertations from both faculty and staff. According to Fazzino, the website used to access the digital repository is scholar. stjohns.edu. On this website, students and administrators can search any item in the re-
pository, look at the most recent additions, see the paper of the day and several other functions. The website says that “research and scholarly output included here has been selected and deposited by the individual university departments and centers on campus.” One of the journals Fazzino has most recently worked on uploading to the website is the Journal of Archaeology. She says that she still has a long way to go in terms of journals and dispositions to upload, but is excited to continue her work. As of September, the website has 51 papers, 4,005 full-text downloads and 3,065 downloads in the past year. This repository will aim to raise the national academic profile of St. John’s.
The library is also launching three new apps for St. John’s students this year, which will allow students to look up services and hours, find and self-check books and perform research. An official date for the launch of these apps is still to be determined. Fazzino earned her MA at Goddard College in Vermont and her JD from Suffolk University Law School. She began her work at St. John’s in July and has enjoyed her experience thus far. “I really enjoy the campus and the community feel of St. John’s,” Fazzino said., “Everyone is very supportive and helpful. The students are very engaged, there’s a lot of activities like campus ministry, and I really enjoy my time.”
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Photo Gallery TORCH PHOTOS/SPENCER CLINTON
(Top Left) Justin McGriff and Voices of Victory opened the night through powerful song. (Top Right) Darria Credle captivated the audience with a silent, yet compelling dance. (Middle Left) The first performance of the night featured upbeat dances and drum beats. (Bottom Right) Alissa Anderson performs last dance of the night. (Bottom Left) Dr. Andre McKenzie was recognized as Harayaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
Flames of the Torch Breaking the silence Managing Board XCVI
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 Entertainment Editor Beatriz da Costa Opinion Editor Erin Bola Chief Copy Editor
Jillian Ortiz Assistant Copy Editor Spencer Clinton Photo Editor Nick Bello Social Media Manager Morgan Mullings Outreach Manager Jim Baumbach Adviser
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Nia Douglas Byron Campbell Alex Yem Dawson Bielecki Nina Procopio Prof. Sean Murray Prof. John Swan Dr. Greg Wilson
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.
The Torch is the official, independent student newspaper of St. John’s University. The Torch is written, edited, designed and produced by students of the University. The Torch is published on most Wednesdays, with approximately 20 issues throughout the academic year. Copies are distributed for free on campus and through mail subscriptions.
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Activism against sexual violence and sexual assault is perhaps in its greatest era of necessity. One of the nominees for the highest court in the United States, Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, is currently under investigation by the FBI and facing a trial of public opinion for allegations of sexual assault. This is no time for any individual to keep silent. As members of a University where we hold truth, love, respect and excellence close to our hearts, silence is not an option. Last Friday, in the midst of the falling rain, some students gathered in solidarity with sexual assault victims. Last night, nearly 300 students marched through the Residence Village in solidarity against sexual violence during the annual “Take Back the Night” event. Although the message of this event is aimed particularly at the prevention of sexual assault on college campuses, it cannot stop here. In the most recent Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, there were four rapes reported on the Queens campus in 2017. In 2016 there were four reported, and in 2015 only one. Only 12 percent of sexual assault cases that occur on college campuses are reported, according to the University’s website. Experts may say this indicates that there is a new level of comfort in reporting these incidents. The Torch will be reporting fur-
ther on the University’s data in upcoming issues. The solidarity that has been demonstrated by students on the St. John’s campus during the past week highlights the need to not only advocate against sexual assault, but to listen to and believe survivors. This campus should be a place where such heinous acts will not be tolerated. As a Johnny, it is truly “On Us.” Although the University has certainly seen a great amount of progress from a student standpoint — as we see have seen social justice and multicultural organizations and joining forces to speak out for the needs of the students they represent — within the last 30 years, it still has a long way to go. And it starts with us, the students. There is an indisputable need for responsible activism. Failing to take a stance when given the opportunity is simply negligence. Our generation is responsible for instituting the change that we want to see. With the New York State General Election just over a month away, it is important to make sure that you are registered to vote. The ability to vote is one of our greatest democratic freedoms, and it is foolish to let the opportunity pass you by. Call your representatives and speak up. If your elected officials are not enacting enough legislature to compensate for the gravity of an issue that you believe in, then it is your duty to break that silence.
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Letter to the Editor: Importance of Fair Trade Brand Alta Gracia Professor Sean Murray Amidst the red sea of St. John’s apparel filling up our bookstore, there’s one brand that stands apart: Alta Gracia. Based in the Dominican Republic, Alta Gracia is the only apparel company in the developing world that is independently certified in paying a living wage. This living wage, or “salario digno,” is over triple the minimum wage in DR and enables workers to make ends meet. Moreover, the company collaborates with a union to ensure a safe, humane working environment. Given the rock bottom wages and appalling conditions that predominate the rest of the garment industry, Alta Gracia’s code of ethics places the company in a class virtually all by itself. Here at St. John’s, we’ve hosted live web conversations with Alta Gracia workers for the past two years. During these conversations, workers related how their lives have been transformed thanks to Alta Gracia and students learned how their consumer choices carry a real impact. Hanoi Sosa – the translator for the events and a union activist throughout Latin America – has encouraged the St. John’s community to work with our bookstore and administrators to increase the number of Alta Gracia products available. Additionally, toward the end of our most recent web con-
versation this past spring, he invited anyone interested to visit Alta Gracia. With Easter break approaching, I decided to take Hanoi up on his invitation and was soon on my way to DR. Hanoi acted as my personal guide, driving me from Santo Domingo to the factory. As we pulled up to the building, draped with Alta Gracia’s “Life Changing Apparel” banner, I could make out the sounds of bachata music drifting from the factory. Sporting my dark gray Alta Gracia St. John’s tee, I was eager to go inside and meet the people who made the shirt on my back. Union representative Eduardo Cabrera gave us a tour, introducing us to workers and explaining the various cutting and sewing steps that go into completing a shirt. As we continued moving through the work stations, I noted how the general atmosphere was filled with efficiency and had comfortable, positive vibes. Some workers had affixed small “Jesus Senor de Alta Gracia” (“Lord Jesus of Alta Gracia”) signs to their tables, giving a powerful, spiritual dimension to the work that happens there. Based on my brief but educational tour, I definitely saw evidence of a safe and healthy workplace and the right of workers to be treated with dignity and respect on the job. But perhaps the most moving part of my visit came after we left the factory. Two employees, Clary Santana and Maria
Flores, traveled into town with us to show how their work at Alta Gracia has impacted their lives. Our first stop was a laundry business that Santana opened with her husband, thanks to her living wage. Just like the factory, her laundry site was abuzz with activity – and extra money for Santana’s family. From there, we drove into a residential neighborhood, where we visited the house Maria bought for her family with her Alta Gracia earnings. Both women were brimming with pride and gratitude for their accomplishments. Thinking back on my trip, I am reminded of St. John’s mission “to search out the causes of poverty and social injustice and to encourage solutions that are adaptable, effective, and concrete,” so the fact that our bookstore carries a variety of Alta Gracia shirts is a perfect fit. Moving forward, my hope is that students, staff, and faculty will press for even more Alta Gracia products, as well as prominent signage that educates shoppers about the ethics of the company. Additionally, I would love to see a book about Alta Gracia entitled “Sewing Hope: How One Factory Challenges the Apparel Industry’s Sweatshops” integrated into relevant courses. Ultimately, I am confident that Alta Gracia can get our community thinking deeply about the producers of the world and the ethical implications of our consumer dollar.
Not All Reviews Are Equal Most college students far and wide know the power behind the ratings on Rate My Professor. The question is, is Rate My Professor reliable enough to base your college classes around it? By Beatriz da Costa
“If used with caution, RateMyProfessors can be a useful tool. The most important thing to remember is that different student reviewers have different priorities. Some students want easy A’s, some seek to maximize their education and some prefer to be entertained.”
Dr. Greg Wilson, Professor English Literature
“I do think if you are a freshman especially, it would be helpful to consider some of the ratings just because you’re new to the environment. Just because a person says not to choose a certain professor because of what they gathered from their semester does not mean that professor isn’t worth taking. Every student is different and could actually enjoy the class.”
John Swan, Advertising Professor
“The only problem is that sometimes the people who comment on RateMyProfessors are the ones who are either really angry or really happy. So, you don’t get as much of the people in the middle and the people in the middle are the ones who are most helpful to me.”
“Although RateMyProfessors is often accurate, ratings should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. As an eager college student trying to get the most out of my education, I start off by picking my professors based on who I will gain the most knowledge from (there’s a reason I’m paying $40,000 a year).”
“Obviously being in the field of communications, I think that anybody should use any communication they can to make informed decisions.”
“If you’ve yet to try using RateMyProfessors to form your schedule, I would certainly attempt doing so — I know I will continue to use it. I was once given a piece of advice on a college tour where I was told to choose the better professor over the better day or time.”
St. John’s Held Onto My Heart and Didn’t Let Go Choosing St. John’s was easy, but the path to it was difficult Ariel Shomo St. John’s University has been my dream college ever since I was in middle school. I had no real reason to attend the university besides the campus being beautiful and near Manhattan. When it was time for me to graduate high school things didn’t go as planned. Like most high school students, I did not take my grades seriously and did not get accepted to St. John’s which resulted in me attending the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Conn., for my freshman and sophomore year. I enjoyed my time at UB and made plenty of friends but academically, they had nothing to offer. When you begin your journey as a college student, the institution you attend reflects you as a student. You want to attend a school you can benefit from in the long run, from career opportunities to alumni connections and most importantly the academics. The University of Bridgeport is one of those schools you attend because your grades were subpar in high school, but you didn’t want to attend community college. UB lacked resources that SJU possesses, such as internship opportunities. I’ve already received two internships in Manhattan through Handshake and I am in my third semester here. Due to Bridgeport being a small, rural area, most of the professors did not have many connections in New York City. Due to this reason, I felt Bridgeport wasn’t offering me much besides an empty bed. During my junior year at University of Bridgeport I decided that I wanted to end my journey with the school. I did not want to continue spending thousands of dollars at a place where I was not gaining anything from it. My GPA was above a 3.0 and I figured: why not apply to St. John’s once again? Fortunately, I got accepted and I was truly proud of myself. I entered as a junior in the fall of 2017 and my experience
TORCH PHOTO/ANDREINA RODRIGUEZ
St. John’s University mascot, Johnny, dancing on the Great Lawn during the September 2017 Multicultural Mixer.
at St. John’s University has been remarkable so far. Although there are students here who do not enjoy their experience, I am grateful to have a positive one. I chose St. John’s University because of the environment and being native of Queens I wanted to be closer to home. I knew that St. John’s being a well known institution would be beneficial once I graduated.
Whenever I tell people that I attend St. John’s University, they become overjoyed and impressed, I must say that getting that type of feedback is thrilling. Getting to where I am now, being a student at the school I’ve wanted to attend to since I was in middle school is the best feeling ever.
The Highs and the Lows of Latinx Heritage Month at SJU Arturo Enamorado Latinx Heritage Month is a special time for many members of the Latinx community, which lasts from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. It includes not just Spanish speakers, but all Latin Americans. Its start date is significant because that was when the five republics of Central America declared their independence from Spain, starting the wave of revolutions in the region. In the past, St. John’s University has done rather well in ensuring that there is representation for members of the Latinx community. They accomplish this by ensuring that the Kickoff and other events created by the university show the significance of our culture through food, dance and history. Unfortunately, this LHM has seen a rather difficult start. The issue started long before the initial mix up on executing this year’s Kickoff. This stemmed from the mixed reaction of combining the activities fair with the LHM Kickoff due to weather issues causing the former to be moved. The issue with this year came from the restructuring of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the move to have all heritage months operate under the newly founded office of Equity and Inclusion. On paper this seems like a good idea. The principles of the Equity and Inclusion Office match the ideas of the heritage months’ agenda to not only create spaces that represent the individual cultural communities but also educate those not a part of them. Unfortunately the mix up and change of the traditional
organizations caused growing pains. This, matched with a severe budget cut to the OMA limiting the scope of what could be done makes an already difficult situation worse. Lastly, the fact LHM was the first of the heritage months made this new structure difficult to run smoothly. So, to answer the question if St. John’s University has represented LHM well, the answer is complicated.
So, to answer the question if St. John’s University has represented LHM well, the answer is difficult. In the past it was done rather well, however, this year it has been worse.
In previous it has done fine, however this year it has been worse. Perhaps the major reason is in part due to the invitation of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ICE) this past September and the amount of work the student- run cultural organizations had to do in order to make the heritage month visible. The evidence in this lies in the shift from a school wide calendar of university-sponsored events and student-run events to leaving the work to be done by cultural organizations themselves. The result is a smaller audience that could help in reaching more students.
In having good intentions to shift the level of organization and funding, St. John’s has inadvertently made matters worse. However there is hope that St. John’s University does well to remember that we, the members of the Latinx community are not to be paraded for the sake of diversity. Much like the rest of the people of color that are able to celebrate a heritage month at the University, we want a level of respect and clarity in communication as well as consistency when it comes to representation.
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#WhyIDidntReport is More Important than Trump’s Word Trump may provoke outrage but he’s inspired a movement Eduardo Alfonzo
PHOTO COURTESY/TWITTER DONALD TRUMP
Of all the things that President Donald Trump has said during the first two years of his presidency, the most baffling statement that he has said was in regards to Dr. Christine Ford’s sexual abuse claims against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Five days prior to the hearing, Trump tweeted this: “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn, date, time, and place!” I am at a loss for words. The amount of arrogance that was displayed in his tweet is astonishing. There is a multitude of different reasons why many people don’t report their sexual assault. It just so happens that many sexual assault survivors posted their reasons why on Twitter following Trump’s tweet. Thousands of Twitter users, including celebrities like Alyssa Milano and Lili Reinhart, have shared their sexual assault stories and it was both heartbreaking and inspiring. Their accounts ranged from being traumatized, fearing rejection, to seeing their lives be destroyed and fear of being expelled from school. One of the most popular tweets came from political activist and actress, Ashley Judd. “The first time it happened, I was 7. I told the first adults I came upon. They said ‘Oh, he’s a nice old man, that’s not what he meant.’ So when I was raped at 15, I only told my diary. When an adult read it, she accused
President Trump’s recent tweet concerning the Brett Kavanaugh hearings regarding his sexual assault allegations.
me of having sex with an adult man,” the tweet said. Another popular tweet came from television journalist, Thomas Robert. In his tweet, he said, “I waited over 20 years to report my sexual abuser. Because I was 14. Because it was my hero. Because it was my priest. Because I thought I’d be expelled. Because I feared no one would believe me. Because I thought suicide was easier than telling 1 person.”
At the end of the day, what Trump really did was empower more people to speak out against sexual assault. Due to that, more life was added to the #MeToo movement that was beginning to lose steam. Even though Trump’s tweet was completely appalling and a disrespectful statement that I completely disagree with, it did help strengthen the need to speak out. And as a result, #WhyIDidntReport became another important factor to the #MeToo era.
Living On Campus Makes Your College Years That Much Sweeter Dorming is the icing on the cake that makes your college experience fully complete Nelly Ghansah Your college years are quite an exciting time! However, there are several decisions to make before starting college. One of the biggest decision to make concerns your living situation. Whether you are an incoming college student attempting to make a decision, or a current student looking to make a change, your questions should end here. Believe it or not, living on campus rather than being a commuter student has a lot more benefits than you might think! Students that live on campus tend to be more successful at adjusting to college and thriving during their college years because of how convenient living on campus is. Everything is right at your fingertips. Class starts in 20 minutes and you just woke up? No worries, it is just a quick walk from your dorm! You have a shift for your on-campus job after? No problem, another quick walk. Want to study right after work? The library’s right there. Living on campus is like living in a little town, where everything is within your reach. You do not have to worry about using gas to get around for class, work or other campus activities.
Most times, you do not even have to worry about taking public transit to get the things you need, everything is there for you on campus! Commuter students can easily fall into the habit of coming to campus for the sole purpose of going to class. By doing this, they are probably not interacting with others as much, and not making many friends, which can make them feel isolated from their peers. The sense of community you find is so special, when you live on campus. Everyone is in the same boat as you, and chances are that they are feeling the same things you are. It can be a little tough for everyone; you are in a new environment away from all your friends and loved ones, and you have to learn to adjust. However, one of the best ways to adjust is by making new friends who make you feel more at home. It is like creating a college family. Living on campus, it is a lot easier to make new friends, and you make those connections with people simply because you can all relate to each other by being away from home. As a current freshman at St. John’s, every single friend I have made so far has been through dorming. My roommates and I have grown very
TORCH PHOTO/RACHEL JOHNSON
St. John’s University students walk through Residence Village on a chilly spring day.
close in the short time we have been here, and we’ve all made several friends by doing simple things like hanging out in the lounges in our residence hall, doing laundry in the basement and having lunch on campus. In the dorms, there are always friends to be made when you least expect it. While there are of course cons to living in the dorms, such as the cost, and pros to com-
muting such as staying close to family and saving thousands of dollars, all that matters is whatever makes you happy. Just remember it is important to make the most out of college, and to do your best to make your college experience as great as you can. Nothing can ever be completely perfect, but by working hard enough, you may make your four years pretty close to it.
Nia Douglas Ronald Draper is a 31-year old visual artist and St. John’s graduate. His list of achievements includes being the Director of Contemporary Arts and Culture at Harlem Hospital, co-founding a non-profit organization, opening the first black-artist-owned gallery in the Bronx and having his artwork appear on the television show “Luke Cage,” to name a few — but, Draper thinks none of these things are that big of a deal. Draper, who grew up in Harlem, is passionate about giving back to his community and seems blissfully unaware of the rarity of his innate altruism. Draper says he “speaks for those who can’t speak.” “I can say things a lot louder and clearer than others can,” he explains. Draper’s gift for being articulate is palpable. He has a knack for unraveling serious topics in a manner which compels even the disinterested to care. However, rather than using his rhetoric to convey these messages that he wants to give voice to, Draper uses his distinct text-based artwork to speak for the unheard. “Words have power to me. I always say that I’m a public speaker, but my podium or soap box is just my artwork,” Draper explains. Draper often uses his soap box to speak about issues which affect black people and his community, however, Draper isn’t just preoccupied with sending a message about these issues, he’s also physically working towards helping his community, particularly the youth of color, through his nonprofit organization, #TakeCareofHarlem, his role
as an art educator at Eagle Academy and by establishing an art fellowship for students. “I didn’t get here by myself, no one did,” Draper affirms. Draper founded “#TakeCareofHarlem” in 2013 along with his two co-founders Kells Barnett and Melissa Mitchner. The organization carries out charitable projects for the betterment of Harlem. “Harlem is changing, and people of color aren’t equipped with what they need to stay relevant and in power. We’re just trying to give our people the tools they need,” Draper said. Draper also gives back as an art educator. While in elementary school, when most kids would have birthday parties that featured ball pits and games, Draper recalls his mother, an elementary school teacher, would clean out the garage, buy a variety of art supplies, and Draper and his friends would have the time of their lives making art projects. “I’ve always had an artistic influence in my household. I’ve been in museums and galleries for as long as I can remember” Draper recounts, “Art has always been my thing.” In spite of Draper’s love for art, he explains that he didn’t study art in college or decide to pursue it professionally initially because art school “beat him out of it.” Years later, as an art educator now himself, Draper vows to be different and inspire the artist in every student. “A lot of art educators don’t teach for the whole child,” Draper explains, “So, [for] my students, it’s all about finding what they do and generating ideas and possibilities.” Story continued on page 12.
PHOTOS COURTESY/INSTAGRAM RONALDDRAPER_ART
Meet Award-Winning Visual Artist: Ronald A. Draper
Draper with one of his “LOVE” designs.
10+ layer home decor artwork by Draper.
A ten-foot design created by Draper on a school in Harlem.
St. John’s Hosts Careers in Sustainable Fashion Panel Nelly Ghansah Have you ever taken the time to think about what materials your clothes are made of? Or even who and what is behind the production of your clothes? Well, these were the objectives tackled during the “Careers in Sustainable Fashion” panel discussion presented by St. John’s.The panel, moderated by the chair of marketing, Dr. Iris Mohr, hosted three prominent workers from the sustainable fashion industry: Carla Mota, who has designed her own sustainable clothing brand, C. Mota Studio, Bridgett Artise, the designer of Born Again Vintage and Jane Potter, a fabric merchandising manager from the clothing brand Theory, were all present to speak about their careers in sustainable fashion and the importance of the rising industry. All three women, who decided to go into these fields after becoming more aware of the flawed truth of unsustainable fashion, discussed how harmful the clothes we wear actually
are. For instance, not many are aware of how many chemicals go into the production of their clothes, and how those clothes and chemicals sit against their skin all day. What about when someone decides to get rid of old clothing? At the end of the day, where do the articles of clothing go? What comes to be of the fabrics? Believe it or not, fashion is the second biggest contributor to pollution in the world! Certain fabrics like polyester and cotton not only take a lot out of the environment to make, but can be even more harmful when not disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way. That fur coat you may be thinking about breaking out this fall may seem cute, but in reality, it wasn’t made in an environmentally friendly manner. People often buy faux fur coats thinking they are doing a good thing for animals. However, faux fur is made with large amounts of chemically-overrun polyester fabrics. Adding on to this, the people who produce clothes need to be considered as well, as they play a large role in the ethical issues of the fash-
ion industry. Most of the clothes we wear are mass-produced by factory workers overseas, most prominently in China. Yes, it’s an amazing feeling to find a cute top on sale at Forever 21 for $9.75, or to come across a ‘buy one, get one deal’ at H&M, but have you ever stopped to think about the factory workers overseas who are making as little as a few cents per hour for you to have that shirt? Lots of these workers are barely making enough to support themselves, let alone their families! Artise explained how the problem with today’s fashion industry is that we don’t even have stories about who makes our clothes anymore. In attempt to keep up with all the trends, we have become so detached from the process of fashion. As a result, we have made mass production the norm and it shouldn’t be this way. It would be ideal for the clothing you wear should be unique and special to you; you should be able to wear it, know the designer and where it came from.
Mota explained that the first step towards a more sustainable fashion industry starts with the consumer changing their mindset. The average consumer is purchasing one product a week. If consumers were to spend less money on unsustainable brands and more on sustainable brands, the unsustainable brands would have no choice but to change. Right now sustainable brands are more expensive because it takes more to make their clothing. But the more sustainable the industry becomes the more cost-efficient it becomes. For now, if you can’t afford to shop sustainably yet, the panelists’ tip is to challenge yourself. Thrift, recycle and upcycle your clothes! Before shopping, check your closet; make sure you’re not buying something similar to what you already own. Lastly, if you buy something, make it last in your closet for as long as possible by finding new ways to dress it up. A better and more sustainable fashion industry is possible, but it all starts with the consumer.
Students March Amid #MeToo Movement
Almost 300 students gathered in front of Donovan Hall on Tuesday night to raise awareness about sexual assault on college campuses. Take Back the Night is part of a national campaign known as “It’s on Us”, this year’s theme was “reclaiming what’s yours.” This year’s march was especially momentous with the #MeToo movement and the judiciary committee’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh being major talking points. Representatives from Greek organizations on campus led attendees in a pledge to take accountability of actions that contribute to the prevalence of instances on campus. “I think here and now, this is the moment which we’re supposed to like be held accountable for our actions and take responsibility for the things that we do,” Aitana Ruilova-Castro, President of Delta Phi Epsilon said. “The Brett Kavanaughs make the laws for the Brock Turners, who end up becoming like Brett Kavanaugh.” When referring to Brock Turner, a Stanford University student who received a lenient sentence for a sexual assault case, Ruilova-Castro said that in college, it’s
important that students understand the longterm consequences of their actions. “We sometimes think that we’re doing the right thing and we’re not, so doing something like this, especially as a community that is associated with sexual assault, is a way of opening our eyes and the eyes of the people and orgs around us and accepting that we have a part to play in this,” she said. “We have to try to do our best to keep these things from happening.” Students chanted “stop the violence, break the silence” as they marched Students march from Donovan Hall to the D’Angelo Center to raise awareness about sexual assault. from the Residence Village to the D’Angelo Cenlieve them,” she said. “If you’re a survivor refrigerator stickers and an “It’s on Us” ter. Hannah Artiles-Stravers, director of whose been hearing women questioned in t-shirt remind him to advocate for sexuSexual violence Outreach, Awareness and the news, and you come to an event and al assault survivors and to educate those Response Initiatives (SOAR) said that we say we support you, we believe you, around him. this was the largest turnout that they’ve that’s really our message tonight. My “If everyone’s aware, everyone will be ever had. hope is that survivors who maybe have accountable, of not only themselves, but “The importance of the timing was real- never told anyone or maybe feel alone each other.” ly powerful, to let folks know that we be- know that they’re not alone and feel emCaroline O’Brien, Theta Phi Alpha sopowered to get support.” rority member, was happy to see so much Last week, actor Bill Cosby, once love in one room. known as America’s dad, was sentenced “In the age of patriarchy and male domto three-10 years in prison for sexual as- inance, the volume of our voices has never sault. This week, the FBI is investigating been more crucial,” she said. “It is more allegations of assault against Supreme than a civic duty, but our duty as humans Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Ar- is to listen, believe and share with one antiles-Stravers calls this: “a tough week for other.” survivors.” Junior Nick Madonna used the event to Cooper Miqueli, president of Pi Lamb- better understand survivors and how he da Phi fraternity, echoed the same sup- can be a part of the change. port for survivors. “This day in age, it’s really important to “It really is terrible what’s going on and understand from a woman’s perspective the more we’re aware of it, the more we’re what sexual assault is, and not to be afraid talking about it, the more people are con- to come out and say what happened if scious of it,” he said. “You know we’re you were assaulted.” seeing all these stories that came out, it’s Moving forward, Artiles-Stravers said good that we’re building a society where that SOAR is working to change the culpeople feel comfortable enough to speak ture on campus for students. up. It shows the way our country is mov“We want people to know we expect ing so that people who are victims feel you to speak up, we expect you to look more comfortable to come forward and out for each other, to make change on the call people out. We are taking steps as a campus,” she said. We also try to create community to try to better each other.” a safe space for survivors to tell us what Miqueli said constant reminders such as they’ve experienced.”
TORCH PHOTOS/DAWSON BIELECKI
Talking With Draper continued from page 11 However, sometimes possibilities are limited when they shouldn’t be in art, and Draper has taken it upon himself to try and change this. “There are so many young people who are amazing, creative minds, who don’t get to do what they want because they don’t have the money,” he says. Hence, Draper is in the process of creating a fellowship where students are given grants to fund their art projects, and the grant money — a total of approximately $5000 split between the receivers of the grant—will be com-
ing out of Draper’s own pocket. When Draper is asked how he manages a nonprofit organization, being a teacher, owning a studio, curating art for the Harlem Hospital and organizing a fellowship all while creating new work regularly, the answer is simple. “I find the time,” Draper said. Ronald Draper doesn’t just shatter the struggling artist stereotype, he changes the game all together. Not only does Draper project powerful messages through his art, but he also embodies the message like a walking inspiring art installation himself.
Sensación Hosts Salsa Workshop in DAC
Latinx American Heritage Month event unites in spirit of dance Alessia Pisciotta
“I thought the event would be really fun, and it was. I got to learn a couple of new moves and enjoy something different with my friends,” sophomore Ivan Matute said. They began with a basic step that the group caught on to very quickly, then jumped right into dancing to a slow salsa song, complete with counts, for the new learners. They focused on teaching the L.A. “on-1” style. “It’s about feeling the music!” Valeria told the initially timid attendees. They learned transitions, different moves and added stylings. It gradually got more advanced. There was a great turn out so everyone had a partner to dance with.
They were able to meet new people and engage with one another. “This was really fun. I always like to learn salsa, so every time there’s a workshop on campus, I try to come out and support, Joel Colachagua, a member of the Latino fraternity Phi Iota Alpha said. “I leave with more and more than I did the last time thanks to Sensación.”
Amidst the hustle and bustle of common hour, Sept. 27, Sensación Dance Team hosted a salsa dancing workshop in DAC. Many eager students and some faculty showed up to learn some moves, step out of their comfort zone and support this Latinx Heritage Month event. “We’re hosting this event to teach people about salsa and its history. Salsa is one of the things that has touched many cultures, and we wanted people to engage and have fun,” Dina Goodger, a junior risk management major and Sensación team captain, said. The event began with a brief presentation on the evolution Students enjoyed learning how to salsa dance at Sensación’s event on Sept. 27. of salsa and the different styles from Goodger. By her side were co-captain, Valeria Ospina, and treasurer, Giselle Orellana. Originating in Eastern Cuba, salsa branched out into different styles based on their respective communities. There are several styles: “Cali” (Colombian style), “on-2” (New York style), “on-1” (Los Angeles style) and “casino” (Cuban style). Following the presentation, the team members who were present led everyone in a warm up to get loose and prepare for the colorful dancing that was to come.
torch photos/dawson Bielecki
St. Augustine Hall Art Exhibit Premieres
Alumnus Alexander Arpag’s “Yaakaar” on display Renee King
sion, an imaging technologiess company and TFC, The Filipino Channel. In this photo series — labeled “Yaakaar,” a Senegalese word meaning “hope” — Arpag recounts a trip to Senegal taken with his local parish while he was still a student at St.
John’s. It focuses heavily on young people of the villages that he visited and how they interact with the bright colors and organic simplicity of their surroundings. One of the most striking images on display features a child holding a 25 franc coin up to
For this year’s Founder’s Week, many of the University’s departments are hosting events pertaining to the Vincentian values of St. John’s. This year’s theme is “Called to Action.” In one of this year’s closing events, the St. John’s Department of Art and Design set up a quaint photography exhibition on the library’s fourth floor. It speaks volumes even, in such a quiet room. The exhibit features the works of Alexander Arpag, a 2014 graduate of St. John’s, who spent his undergraduate years studying under the Photography BFA program. During his years in school, Arpag worked on a number of humanitarian efforts and came to realize his passion for photojournalism and documentary photography. He was awarded the Wall Street Journal Scholarship for Photojournalism, in 2013 for documenting the recovery process in communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. Upon graduation, he traveled with the Peter J. Tobin College of Business’ GLOBE program to help underprivileged areas in Nicaragua in funding their own local busitorch photo/dawson Bielecki nesses, which he also photographed. He has also visited Moldova, Ukraine, Nepal, Kilimanjaro and India in conjunction A photo on display at alumnus Alexander Arpag’s “Yaakaar” exhibit in St. Augustine Hall. with other projects sponsored by OMNIvi-
the center of the camera. They seem to show a faint smile. It is a look of pure, youthful optimism in a community ravaged by what might appear to be poverty in Western eyes. In fact, every person and object depicted in the series exude a sense of lively energy. Even a plate of traditional food, placed on a purple and yellow-striped tablecloth, jumps out of the display case with such graphic and vivid focus. The collection on display was only a small selection, but it was just enough to reinforce the mood that Arpag approached. The exhibition was Vincentian by nature: an understated showing under just three glass panels, strategically placed between two grand rooms of books, completely silent and not trying to flash the crux of its humanitarian efforts to every person who breezes past. It is also a reminder of exactly what the students at St. John’s could do even before graduation day, so long as they keep the institution’s core values close to heart. The possibilities are limitless, but above all, there can be sacrifices put towards the betterment of others. Even the capturing of these acts, as Alexander Arpag clearly demonstrates, can mean so much to a whole village, or a whole student body. After all, feeling is a major component of doing these works for others, and that feeling can become our call to action.
torch design/jenna woo
Marjorie Eliot’s Parlor Jazz in Harlem Mother shares the jazz spirit in honor of lost sons Samantha DeNinno
Dressed in a two-piece white lace dress, mint-green headscarf, large sunglasses and small dangling earrings, she made her way over to us standing in her narrow doorway. Soft-spoken, but sharp, she neither wanted to turn people away or have them stand in front of her neighbor’s doors. Gesturing to follow her, she laughed, “You can sit on my
555 Edgecombe Street is not an easy building to find. Hidden behind scaffolding, it has an easily passable entrance. But, on the streets above and below, the sounds of soft jazz can be heard drifting out windows and through buildings. Only after following the deep saxophone notes that echoed on the streets in Sugar Hill, Harlem, was I able to find the historic building and it’s even more historic tenant, Marjorie Eliot, located in Apartment 3-F. Every Sunday, starting briskly at 3:30 p.m., Eliot hosts free jazz concerts in her high-ceiling apartment. For 25 years, she has hosted these concerts only on Sundays, the day with a meaning close to her heart. The concert, originally performed on the lawn of Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights, was a memorial for her son, Philip, who died on a Sunday in 1992. She continued the mePHOTOs COURTESY/youtube Great Big Story morial each year, eventually lap.” becoming a weekly event and Marjorie Eliot with her son, Rudel Dears, holding up a picture of Eliot’s son, Phillip. moving to her apartment the following year. The celebraInside the apartment, high-ceilings accompanied open, tion of life and jazz continued on through the death of another son, Phillip, in 2006, and the disappearance of another white, ceiling-tall doorways with painted-over hinges. A few bare, colored light bulbs washed the room in a green and son, Alfie, in 2011. There is no entry fee, only a basket passed around for donations. It is her other son, Rudel Dears, that accompanies her, the musicians and the dozens of people that line her walls, poised precariously on the pillow-clad fold-out chairs in the ...I cannot be erased hallway, kitchen and living room. Another woman weaves because my memory bag through the aisles and those standing to pass around a cafeis filled with you... teria tray filled with free granola bars and juice. Marjorie Eliot When entering the hallway of the third floor, it became obvious that all seats were filled, as a crowd had begun forming outside the door. That was when Eliot first appeared, looking down the hall- purple light, tinting the smatterings of news clippings referencing her concerts, yellowed sheet music, devotionals, adway at those peering inside.
vertisements for her own plays, numerous clippings of Martin Luther King Jr. and advertisements for the jazz concerts of the 70s hanging on her walls. Throughout the afternoon, musicians took turns playing both soft and jaunty jazz numbers for the audience. Eliot, herself, plays the piano beautifully during some songs, notes seemingly hanging in the air a tad longer than those that surround her. Near the end, Eliot, her son and other actors performed a section of her lyrically poetic play, “In the Quiet Night-Time of My Sleep-less Dreams.” “It was amazing. I walked in a bit late and it just washed over me. I didn’t think it’d be all pink and orange bit. It was such a shock and it was like walking into some underground happy hole, said Nell Hewetson of West London, in New York on a week-long holiday. “I have no idea what I was expecting. My friends told me to come and it was incredible and I walked in when he was singing at first. His voice was so soft but so rich. I couldn’t stop smiling...I was laughing and smiling the whole thing even though it wasn’t funny. So filled with joy. I kept making little noises, it was brilliant.” Many different languages could be heard by the people sitting around the apartment, all traveling far to see the “true” New York. For this is what Eliot and her jazz parlor is. It’s not a curated, meticulous museum exhibit on the Harlem Renaissance and the jazz parlors of the 70s. Instead, it is jazz’s heart living and beating in her soft foot taps to the musician’s notes, and the inhales and exhales of those leaning out of their chairs, attempting to see more of what they could only hear. As the afternoon wrapped, Eliot addressed the crowd, “The miracle is you, it really isn’t me. I get talked about a lot…I can thank you. I can do something about this moment. And we can make this true. It’s powerful that you’re here to be here. And I’ll treasure this and this moment. “I cannot be erased because my memory bag is filled with you. And the generosity of you to allow this moment of learning and discovery and creative expression that connects with all you are. “For us, it’s really mind-blowing that you care enough to be here. I want to thank you and I’ll treasure, I’ll not forget this moment of powerful truth from you to me and back again. And that way we’ll always be connected. Lessons and love.”
torch design/jenna woo
A Look Back on New York Fashion Week
Plus-size models are taking the runway and industry by storm Destinee Scott Remember when it was rare to see plus-sized models on the covers of magazines and on runways? Well, things have really changed as plussize models have been paving the way for some of the fashion industry’s biggest names. Only recently have brands begun to venture out of the “skinny model” norm by casting plus-size models to flaunt their clothing. After all, it is starting to be hard for brands and designers to ignore the fact that most American women are plus-size, but make up less than two percent of all fashion industry images, according to Channing Hargrove, a writer for Refinery29. As brands have expanded their lines to appeal to the 67 percent of American women that are plussize, plus-size models have begun to pop up everywhere — from magazine covers to fashion events, and at this year’s New York Fashion Week Spring shows. About three weeks ago, from Sept. 6 to 14, New York Fashion
Week kicked off its Spring 2019 shows. The amount of plus-size models was said to double this season, which came to a total of 49 plus-size models that walked in 12 different shows, compared to last season’s 27 in eight shows, according to The Fashion Spot’s official diversity report. Among the 12 shows were Chromat, which casted 13 plussize models, and Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty show and campaign, which also represented size diversity by casting 12 plus-size models to walk her Eden inspired runway show, outnumbering all other designers except Chromat. Other designers that were noted for their casting of plus-size models include Christian Siriano, Sies Marjan, Collina Strada, Yuna Yang, Prabal Gurung and Michael Kors. Kors was especially highlighted for its first plus-size model, the iconic Ashley Graham, who returned for her fourth consecutive season at NYFW. Graham, being the most wellknown plus-size model in the fashion industry, has naturally
become the face of the body-positivity movement. Just this year, Graham made her debut in Vogue Italia and became the first plus-size model to appear in Sports Illustrated. She is also now walking alongside the industry’s top models, such as Kendall Jenner and Kaia Gerber in high fashion shows. The 30-year-old has also become the face of brands including Revlon, Marina Rinaldi, Lane Bryant and Swimsuits For All. Throughout her modeling career, Graham has vocalized why the fashion industry must serve plus-size women. She has also shared her journey to self-acceptance, inspiring thousands of women. Another plus-size model that’s taking the industry by storm is Sabina Karlsson, who has walked for Michael Kors and Christian Siriano and has been featured in campaigns for L’Oréal and Levi’s. Times are changing and it’s about time that the fashion industry caught up. Whether it be in size or race diversity, representation is al-
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Ashley Graham is at the head of the body positivity movement.
ways important when it comes to fashion. For decades, we’ve been stuck with the same size zero women with straight hair that appear in campaigns, runway shows and magazine covers.
And to put it quite frankly, we’re tired, we get it, now let’s switch it up and continue to see some real women that we can relate to because it’s what we deserve.
“If Beale Street Could Talk”: Jenkins Strikes Again Sydney Bembry Barry Jenkins, director of the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight,” returns with the film adaptation of James Baldwin’s beloved novel, “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Narrated by Tish (Kiki Layne), the film follows her and Fonny (Stephan James), a young black couple in 1970s Harlem falling in love for the first time, while simultaneously weaving through time to explain why they have since been separated. In both devastating and outrageous events, Fonny is wrongly charged for brutally raping a woman and is sent to jail, ripped away from Tish. To increase the gravity of Tish and Fonny’s unjust separation, Tish soon discovers that she is pregnant with his child. Tish, with the help of her family, must fight to save the love of her life from a doomed sentence while also carrying the weight of
bringing a beautiful life into the world. After delivering such a beautiful piece of art to world with the “Moonlight,” fans would have eagerly waited for any follow-up from Jenkins. Baldwin is a figure so beloved that it was
imperative that this film had to be put in the right person’s hands to give the novel, and its novelist, deserved justice. Within a few moments, it’s clear that Jenkins is that such person. Unlike many filmmakers, Jenkins has the
ability of illustrating love and affection in a way that doesn’t feel patronizing or any less real to the audience than to the characters on screen. He allows for the viewer, with extensive help from the extraordinary actors, to absorb everything in the film — even if it’s something that requires deeper processing — like Tish and Fonny’s enraging situation. We can joyfully grin watching two young people purely love each other and confusingly weep when they bring a gorgeous new life into a world that betrayed them with its injustice. And while they are two very different films set in different time periods, it’s so apparent in every moment that it is a Barry Jenkins film. Just as he did in his previous film, he holds an entire audience like few others can PHOTO COURTESY/Youtube movieclips trailers and doesn’t let go.
torch design/ tauhid dewan
Angelica Acevedo For junior education major Tatiana Nicoll, unapologetically expressing herself has been a consistent trait throughout her life. From dancing to painting, Nicoll has dabbled in many different forms of expression — but one art form that she developed during her time at St. John’s is poetry. When the California native isn’t fulfilling her duties as treasurer of the poetry club, Food for Thought, editing the literary magazine, “Sequoya,” representing the School of Ed’s class of 2020 or mentoring incoming freshman as a Teacher’s Assistant, she’s writing poems. Delving into her thorny past and the unrealistic standards that society forces onto women, Nicoll uses her poetry as a way to heal. While she heals, she’s found that sharing her experience has helped others to do the same.
Poet & Painter Tatiana Nicoll on the Healing Power of Self-Expression
I thought of a little rhyme, and I was like, ‘Oh, I kind of want to write that down,’ and so I did. And then I just started. Any time I’m overwhelmed or I have a lot going on, it’s when [it all] comes out. Each poem that I write, it’s like everything comes full circle.” Are there any topics in particular that you gravitate toward the most? “I think one of the hardest things for me is, I was best friends with my mom, and then we had a big falling out in the middle of high school. So I noticed that a lot of my poems refer back to her and that bond, our relationship, everything we’ve gone through and where we are now. My poetry is a lot lighter
made a lot of mistakes.” Do you feel like going through hardships makes your art deeper? “Definitely. [Food for Thought] had a mental health awareness event last semester, and I was [going to go] to the event and perform, but I didn’t really connect with the theme because I never really identified myself as having mental health problems. But then once I was there, I was like, holy s---. We all feel the same. Like anxiety, depression...everyone’s in that boat and no one really wants to come to terms with it. But I think that’s the point of poetry, to come to terms with your own problems and read them, and face them, and fix them.”
So why’d you decide to come to New York City? “I just wanted to experience something different. If we’re being really honest, I had a boyfriend [at] the time, and I was like, ‘Let’s do it.’ I didn’t know about St. John’s or anything. We lasted maybe a semester and then that was it! But everything happens for a reason, and I’m glad I’m here.”
or angry.” How do you respond to people that would say that about your work? “We are mirrors, and you go around and you’re talking to mirrors — so anything that someone says to you is just a reflection of themselves. So if they’re coming at you, they’re just threatened by you. So I say, [they can] stand up and [they can] keep being angry and keep yelling, because it doesn’t matter what they think.” Are you working on any big projects at the moment? “I’m writing a poetry book. It has a lot to do with my mom, it’s kind of like a coming of age little poetry book. Basically, I went through all my journals from when I was 14-years-old till now and I found the main points in my life where it was a lot -- and I made poems out of them. The whole process, honestly, has been a lot. Because you have to go back into those moments and relive it. It can get hard, you know. But it definitely is rewarding almost finishing everything and being like, ‘Oh my god, I’m kind of done with that part of my life.’” Is that also part of your healing process? “Definitely. It’s honestly just one big healing process. I also paint.”
When did you get involved with Food for Thought? “I joined poetry club at a very hard time in my life. He was gone, I was out here by myself. I felt kind of lost. And I remember my first days in poetry club, I was just a wreck. But it was exactly what I needed. I needed that outlet to really express myself and get my feelings out there. Becoming honest and vulnerable is what changed everything. Because before you really admit all of your mental health problems and heart break, and everything, it’s hard to get better. So going to poetry club really made me get out of my shell and really come to terms with everything that’s going on in my head and in my heart. And now I’ve never been better, honestly. It’s really changed my life.” That explains your poetry, because it does feel like that, like you’re constantly growing. “Yeah, and that’s why I love poetry because you can go back to a poem you wrote a year ago and be like, ‘Wow, that was raw. That was what I was really feeling in that moment and now a year later I’m here and I don’t feel that way anymore.” What is your creative process like? “I started out just journaling. Journaling everything, every day, since I was like maybe 11 or 12-years-old. Just last summer
So you’re an all around artist. “No, I can’t sing!” You also perform your poetry. Do you ever feel scared? torch photo/Spencer Clinton
now that we’re good!”
Those poems where you mention mother’s are very impactful. What do they mean to you?
Is there any poem in particular that you’re most proud of?
“Yeah, I actually wrote this poem, it’s called ‘Beauty Is.’ It’s basically tearing down the beau“When I ty industry and was in high how society has school she re...I think that’s the point of molded us into lapsed with poetry, to come to terms these creatures drugs and it with your own problems that are there just broke my and read them, and face to please men. heart. I moved them, and fix them... When [in reality], out of my I’m wearing my house … and then I didn’t see her for four years. Just this red lipstick right now because I love my red summer I saw her for the first time, like lit- lipstick. I’m not trying to impress anybody. erally a few weeks ago. It was intense, but it Anything I wear, anything I do — it’s not was honestly so beautiful and the sincerity of for you. But yeah, that poem is about being true to yourself and if you want to wear that, her and our talk just fixed everything.” you wear that.” You’re giving me chills! One thing that never fails to come up “It healed me. It’s just what I needed...con- when women express themselves like you firmation that love is still love and a mother do is the people who say “it’s just boys can still love her daughter even though she being boys,” or “you sound mad or bitter
“Oh my god, yeah. When I performed at Java Johnnies last semester, I was so scared. Food for Though has poetry slams for competitions too. The first one I did I was so scared, I was shaking, and I didn’t think I was going to make it anywhere, but I made it all the way to the semi-finals. I made it so much further than I thought I was going to. It’s scary but it’s so fun!” Favorite line from any poem you’ve ever written? “The book I’m working on is called ‘Daughter of the Universe,’ and I have this poem, like the main point of it, and [some lines are]: ‘I am the daughter of the universe and the universe itself, you are all the starts and dust in just a human shell.’” This interview has been cut for length. To view the full story, visit torchonline.com Tatiana’s work can be viewed at torchonline.com and on Instagram @yourgirltat
Skage Simonsen Seeing Success
The freshman from Norway has been a kickin’ force for the Red Storm Brendan Murray The countdown is over. The clock on the scoreboard resets to 45 minutes. The game is about to kick off. The first player that stands out on the field of the starting 11 is one of the tallest on the field. The starting midfielder, Skage Simonsen, towers above the opposition. Simonsen stands at 6 feet 3 inches, 185 lbs. He is a freshman from Bergen, Norway, who, despite his youth and inexperience in the United States, is a budding star for the Red Storm. Growing up in Norway and making the transition to living in the United States has been a tall order, but not one that Simonsen is afraid to take. “I liked growing up there [Bergen] everything is kind of different, school, soccer, and the weather are all different from the United States,” Simonsen said in a recent interview with the Torch. Simonsen credits his father Bjorn for his love of soccer. “My father first of all, everyone played when we were little. It is the biggest sport in Norway growing up,” he said. Simonsen acknowledges great soccer players such as Ronaldinho and Paul Pogba as players he enjoyed watching when growing up. They provided the blueprint for Simonsen on what it takes to become a great player. Simonsen describes himself as big, technical and aggressive in the attacking third of the field. While Simonsen is known as a chance creator, he doesn’t forget about his responsibilities as a member of a team. Playing for a coach like Dr. Dave Masur, who prides himself on his team’s abilities to stay orga-
nized and defend, Simonsen has learned that defense must be a focus for any player on the
I want to win as many games as we can in the Big East. Skage Simonsen
St. John’s soccer team. Simonsen noted the impact that Dr. Masur has had on him in his first year. He recalls speaking extensively with Masur before the season started to train and prepare himself for the challenges of a long season. “I spoke a lot with Coach Masur before I got here about training and running. After that, I just listen to those who’ve been here for a few years now,” he said. As showcased by his play on the pitch so far this season, Simonsen’s toughest opponent hasn’t been anyone who he’s played against. It’s something far beyond his control. “I remember the first day of practice here [at St. John’s], I almost didn’t make it,” Simonsen said. When training began in the middle of the summer the humidity that he encountered was unlike any weather he was accustomed to in Norway. The other challenge for Simonsen has been the language barrier that he is improving on every day with his teammates. The closeknit atmosphere of the team has made living in the United States and playing together and winning games much easier for him.
No matter the adversity of a new language or the new environment, none of that has stopped him from being one of the Red Storm’s top players on the field this year. Simonsen has made an immediate impact for the Red Storm both offensively and defensively. So far, Simonsen has totaled three goals and two assists for a total of eight points on the season. Simonsen’s presence on the field is clear. He shows his ability to get in on the attack with his teammates. His patience under pressure from defenders is a quality uncommon with such a young player. In the Red
Storm’s last game, Simonsen was all over the field intercepting passes and pushing forward in the attack. Simonsen is having a great season for a freshman and will only get better as he matures into his role on the Red Storm. With the regular season moving past the halfway point, when asked what his goals are to end the season, Simonsen kept it simple. “I hope that the team makes the [Big Easat] tournament first of all, I want to win as many games as we can in the Big East,” he said.
TORCH PHOTO/NICK BELLO
Skage Simonsen has been a key member of the team’s strong freshman class.
Women’s Soccer Splits on Midwest Road Trip As Big East play continues to heat up, the St. John’s women’s soccer team picked up a key win on the road at Creighton before falling at home against Marquette last Sunday. After dropping their first conference game of the 2018 season at home to Georgetown, the Johnnies needed to pick up some results on the road to avoid falling behind in what is shaping up to be an extremely competitive Big East conference. The road trip started with a vital 2-1 win over the Creighton Blue Jays. The offense started out slow for the Red Storm, but Samie Scaffidi broke the stalemate early in the second half. An own goal from the Blue Jays gave St. John’s the insurance goal they needed in order to take three points, despite Creighton’s late game comeback attempt. Creighton registered more shots and corner kicks than St. John’s, but the Red Storm took their opportunities to escape from Nebraska victorious. From there, the team’s brief Midwest journey moved north to Milwaukee for another game against an evenly matched Marquette squad. Despite putting up a total of 20 shots, the Red Storm were stunned by a strong right-footed strike from Marquette freshman Alyssa Bombacino to give the Golden Eagles
TORCH PHOTO/NICK BELLO
Samie Scaffidi scored a key goal in the Red Storm’s win over Creighton last week.
the 1-0 win. St. John’s hasn’t beaten Marquette since 2015. Looking back now, the importance of the three points gained against Creighton cannot be overstated. Had that game gone differently, the Red Storm would be sitting second to last, or even tied for last place with winless Seton Hall. Instead, they sit in the cluster of the middle of the table and very much within striking distance of the four
teams that have better conference records. For her performances last week, redshirt sophomore Meredith Reinhardt was named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll. The native of Scottsdale, Ariz. made 11 saves and saved 84 percent of the shots that came her way. With the two results against Creighton and Marquette, the Johnnies currently sit tied for fifth place in the conference standings. Prov-
idence, Xavier, Creighton and Marquette all have three points in Big East play. Providence and Xavier own the tiebreaker over St. John’s with better overall records than the Johnnies. Georgetown and Butler are unbeaten in the conference with nine points each, while Villanova and DePaul both have six points. A series of consecutive positive results can really poise the Johnnies for a chance at the postseason. Their chances will be enhanced by the fact that, to close out the regular season, St. John’s plays four of the last six matches within the confines of Belson Stadium. At home this season, the Red Storm hold a 4-1 record. Conversely, the team has really struggled to a 1-6 record away from Queens in 2018. In order to make that run, however, St. John’s will need more production in the attacking third. Only three players have scored more than two goals during the season. Only two players have registered more than 10 shots on goal throughout the season. The team has shown they can score in bunches, as evidenced by a 5-1 over local rival Stony Brook and a thrilling 3-2 win over the University of Delaware. The Red Storm return to Belson Stadium on Thursday night for a crucial showdown against Providence with kick off set for 7:00 p.m.
Welcome to The “Belly Fam” TORCH PHOTO/NICK BELLO
Nick Bello The term “Insta-famous” refers to those who have achieved a somewhat celebrity status online via the app Instagram. Kodiak Simpson, a recent St. John’s graduate, obtained this status of internet fame in an interesting fashion over this past summer. Simpson went viral when a video of him dunking was posted by Cole Anthony, one of the top high school players in the nation. Simpson has used his platform as a way to promote his weight loss journey. In a recent post, Simpson shared that he had gone from 327 pounds to 275 pounds in one year, inspiring many. “All of a sudden my phone starts going nuts,” Simpson said as he described the moment the video was posted. “I had over 200 notifications from my phone just sitting there.” Simpson’s love for basketball started at a young age. In fact his life has practically been centered around basketball, since his father played professionally. “I’ve always been around the game,” Simpson said. “I can remember having the Little Tikes tiny hoop in my house, and I’d play in my basement for like six hours a day.” Simpson went on to play basketball in high school, which was when he was first able to dunk. “My first dunk was when I was a freshman in high school,” Simpson said. “I did it one time, I was so hyped up about it.” Although he was never able to dunk consistently in high school, that didn’t stop him from trying. Simpson recalls one moment where he almost dunked during a game, however, a referee had called a foul seconds before he was about to stun the crowd with a dunk. “I go down, I get about to the freethrow line and I’m about to dunk it, and the ref blows the whistle and calls a foul,” Simpson
said. “I remember I turned around to my coach and go, ‘I was gonna dunk that’.” Although Simpson never received any scholarship offers to play sports in college, he was still looking to be involved with college athletics in some way. As a result, Simpson joined the St. John’s Women’s Basketball team as a manager his freshman year. “I told myself if I wasn’t going to be a division one athlete, I was going to help out in some capacity,” he said. Fast forward to this past summer: Simpson and a friend are at Lifetime Athletic, a popular gym among among athletes and celebrities in New York. That day, it just so happened that Cole Anthony was there working out on the opposite end of the court with his trainer. “I’m down at the other end of the court just shooting, and the ball rolls to me,” Simpson recounted. “And I just go up and dunk it.” Simpson remembers that the mood suddenly changed in the gym. He was then asked to do it again as Anthony filmed it and put it on his Instagram story. Later on, the video was uploaded to Overtime, a popular Instagram page that showcases highlights from athletes all around the country. The video went viral, garnering over 750,000 views on the social media platform and Simpson became famous in an instant. Simpson saw this as an opportunity to promote other videos he had made in the past. Before he went viral, Simpson made videos for both YouTube and Instagram frequently. The contents of these videos ranged from him singing to cinematic footage of him and his friends. “I had this whole background of a bunch of stuff that I could just start sharing right then,” Simpson said. “People were able to come and see immediately that I was an interesting person and that I do many differ-
ent things and have many different talents.” As Simpson’s fame grew, so did his platform on social media. Maintaining that platform and status on social media is no easy task, as Simpson had to come up with creative and new ways to promote himself and his brand. As a result, the Belly Fam was born. Simpson and others created a highlight page of heavyset people doing impressive things as well as heavyset people getting back into sports or other activities. The page took off and now has over 12 thousand followers and counting. Although what Simpson has done is promote positivity towards heavyset people, there has been some negative backlash. On “First Things First,” a sports talk show on
Fox Sports One, TV personalities Chris Carter and Nick Wright mocked Simpson for a video of him dunking with his shirt off. Simpson became determined to turn all of the negative energy directed towards him into positive energy. “I felt that everyone really coming at me with messages of positivity and [to] keep going has really helped me,” Simpson said. As of right now, Simpson is looking to grow his brand. He already has a clothing deal and has plans to grow his brand even further by finding a way to monetize it and creating events to help support his campaign. “We think it’s a great platform to share different talents of people,” he said.
• Oct. 4: Women’s Soccer vs. Providence, 7:00 p.m. • Oct. 5: Volleyball at Providence, 6:00 p.m. • Oct. 5-7: Women’s Golf at Yale • Oct. 6: Men’s Soccer vs. Creighton, 7:00 p.m. • Oct. 7: Volleyball at Creighton, 2:00 p.m. • Oct. 7: Women’s Soccer vs. Butler, 1:00 p.m. • Oct. 8-9: Men’s Golf at Health Plan Mountaineer Invitational, Bridgeport, W. Va
SPORTS OCTOBER 3, 2018 | VOLUME 96, ISSUE 5 | TORCHONLINE.COM
torch photo/ALEX YEM
From St. John's to CBS Sports Cragg named athletic director Isabella Bruni St. John’s new Athletic Director Mike Cragg was officially welcomed into the St. John’s community on Tuesday, Oct. 2, the seventh athletic director in program history after spending three decades at Duke University. He replaces former Director of Athletics Anton Goff. During his 30-plus years in North Carolina, Cragg served as the senior administrator for the men’s basketball team since 2000, and most recently served as the Blue Devils Deputy Director of Athletics and Chief Operating Officer. He oversaw facilities and planned for all 27 of Duke’s athletic programs. He also played a vital role in shaping Duke’s historic men’s basketball program. With his introduction to the Red Storm Cragg talked about his history, some of his goals and his key three factors for success, family, imagination and care. The press conference, held in the President’s Lounge of Carnesecca Arena, featured many familiar faces including former St. John’s coaches Lou Carnesecca and Jack Kaiser, in addition to current men’s basketball Head Coach Chris Mullin. President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw
kicked off the event introducing the Washington state native along with his satisfaction on the new athletic director pick. Cragg started off with telling what drew him into St. John’s — the warm sense of family. “As you can see today we are family first,” Cragg said. “It was clear right from the first time we stepped on campus how much people love St. John’s. Not just like it, they love it.” Cragg’s wife of 30 years and two daughters were in attendance, whom he thanked for coming from California for his induction into the St. John’s family. He proved to his listeners that family is his biggest support system, but admitted that what made everything feel “official” was talking on the phone with Lou Carnesecca. He joked that he got Carnesecca’s phone number from Chris Mullin. “It’s always been my dream to be AD, and to see you’re still here and coming to the office and still working is an inspiration to all of us in college athletics,” Cragg said of former AD Jack Kaiser. Cragg credited his mentor Dr. Kevin White for instilling in him “imagination.” Dr. White is the Athletic Director at Duke. While in the process of interview-
ing for athletic director positions, Cragg said White’s advice to him was to imagine he was at the press conference. “I’ll tell you the secret is every time I was talking [in interviews] I was imagining this
It was clear right from the first time we stepped on campus how much people love St. John’s. Mike Cragg
day, and so dreams come true. My imagination led to good things,” Cragg said. “That’s the beauty of college sports, one can dream and imagine.” He made sure to mention St. John’s vast history of success in collegiate athletics. “Whether it’s fencing, lacrosse, soccer there’s a great history here and I want to be part of that imagining of championships in the future.” Cragg then explained the need for caring in his field. He said he feels this role makes
him a caregiver for St. John’s, that everyone needs someone there for reassurance. “The kid business” is his way of saying he’ll be there for every St. John’s athlete. “That’s been a part of our life whether it’s been teaching, girl scout leaders, coaching, we have cared for each other and we care for the community we’ve been a part of,” Cragg said. “That’s who we’re going to be caring for St. John’s.” “I’ve been surrounded by people that believe in me...I will never forget that and we will always be good custodians and caregivers to St. John’s athletics,” he continued. Anton Goff, who announced his leave from St. John’s in June due to family reasons. Goff held the position for just about two years. Despite the unexpected search for a AD, Cragg comes to St. John’s with much support from the University community. “The Board of Trustees is committed to the success of St. John’s athletic programs,” said William L. Collins, Chairman of St. John’s Board of Trustees per an athletics press release. “I believe Mike possesses a deep and varied skill set that will allow him to foster the strategic growth of the Department of Athletics moving forward.”