VOL 96 : 10 December 5, 2018 torchonline.com
The award-winning independent student newspaper of St. Johnâ€™s University
W h at a m azo n i n qu een s m ea n s fo r st. j o h n's
PHOTO COURTESY/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
see the story on page 10
get to know this prof: Dr. marie-lise gazarian TORCH PHOTO/CECELIA GERMAIN
Rev. Barber's thurs. lecture Canceled | Story on Page 3
NAACP Hosts Discussion on Gun Violence and Terrorism Kenneth Carter
TORCH PHOTO/ZOE GOLDEN-JOHNSON
The NAACP at St. John’s University held an open discussion titled “Gun Violence and Domestic Terrorism,” on Thursday, Nov. 29. NAACP President Tamia Morris and Educational Chairwoman Sloane Walker ran the event. To start off the conversation, they presented information about two shootings that have impacted the country in the past decade: Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 and Stoneman Douglas High School this February. Ever since the senseless shootings took place, the people that were directly affected by them have taken steps to ensure that they don’t happen anymore. The parents of the children killed in Sandy Hook started the Sandy Hook Promise foundation in 2012, whose mission is to, Sloane Walker, pictured, is St. John’s NAACP chairwoman and ran Thursday’s event. “Prevent gun-related deaths due to crime, suicide, and accidental discharge so that no where high schools across the country or- gun violence in the United States were preother parent experiences the senseless, hor- ganized their own walkouts and organized sented. Facts presented from the Gun Viothis year’s national protest, March For Our lence Archive included a statistic that four rific loss of their child.” in 10 people live in homes with guns, and The students from Stoneman Douglas Lives, to call for change. As the discussion went on, more facts on that in 2018 alone, there have been 13,314 High School sparked a national movement
gun related deaths and 323 mass shootings. These stats led to a passionate discussion among audience members about what can be done to stop gun violence, not only mass shootings but the everyday killings that happen in communities across the country, particularly the African American communities. The common solution among attendees was to stop merely talking about what needs to be done among one another, but to go out and make sure that the people who hold the legislative power for change are held accountable. Toward the end of the discussion students shared stories of how gun violence has affected their lives thus far and how those stories have inspired them to become advocates for change. One of the first stories shared was about a girl named Jamahri Snyder from Washington, D.C., who was struck and killed by a stray bullet as she was driving in August of 2017. She was supposed to start college only a few weeks later. At the end of the discussion, Walker made it a point to state that the NAACP at St. John’s University is, “not pro or anti gun, just anti people dying.”
ROTC Students Rank Among the Top in the Nation Lieutenant Colonel Eric Feteke hopes to continue the trend Alexis Gaskin St. John’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program is one to watch this year, according to Lieutenant Colonel Eric Feteke. The Red Storm Battalion on the Queen’s campus has led over 700 officers to the United States Army. Currently, there are 72 cadets in the program and among them, six have been recognized as Distinguished Military Graduates. Every year, students who are ranked in the top 20 percent of Army ROTC graduates nationwide are recognized for this distinguished status. Cadets are rated on a 100 point scale based on academics, physical and leadership criteria. Of the more than 5,500 cadets ranked in the top 20 percent, six from St. John’s are part of the Red Storm Battalion. Three are included in the top 10 percent and one participant is ranked seventh out of all students PHOTO COURTESY/UNIVERSITY MEDIA RELATIONS nationwide. Under the guidance of LTC Feteke, the LTC Eric Feteke says he wants the school to acknowledge his cadets as part of the St. John’s University community. Professor of Military Science is very excited rissa Fenn, Maria Asencio-Vargas and Ty- serve. enlist with just a high school diploma or for this group. McPhatter is the only one who will not be equivalent. “We’ve got a large group of special talent shay McPhatter. In the top 20 percent are cadets Fenn, serving on active duty, as he will be in the Feteke discussed that he, along with staff this year,” Feteke said. He is currently in his Asencio-Vargas and McPhatter; with VansCyber sector of the Army Reserve. The reMaster Sergeant Jonathan Alexander and second year at St. John’s with the Red Storm Battalion, having previously worked at Ford- lyke, Dibble, and Morin being in the top 10 maining five will be in active duty but with Sergeant Chris Lumpiesz, hope to have more percent. different placements. of a presence on the St. John’s campus inham University. Vanslyke is ranked number seven in the naVanslyke will be in the Infantry, Dibble stead of being seen as separate. “I’ve never seen that many distinguished in the military police with a branch detailed “I know that we see the students who pass students in one program,” he said about the tion on the order of merit. All six students are graduating seniors and to Field Artillery, Morin in Cyber, Fenn as us on the great lawn doing workouts,” he students at St. John’s. He went on to explain how this achieve- are contracted per their ROTC agreement a Quartermaster and Asencio-Vargas in Ar- said, “But we want to have more of a presence on campus.” ment is the result of all the cadets and their to enlist. The ROTC program is open for mor. anyone to join. In a student’s freshmen and The students, along with other students With hopes to expand the program to the hard work. “In my three years that I’ve been in ROTC, sophomore year, they are not contracted to who complete the ROTC program, will au- Staten Island campus and other campuses in I’ve never seen anything like that come out serve, but during the junior and senior years, tomatically be at officer level when they enter the area, Feteke sees a bright future for the service since they have already been trained ROTC program especially one that has disof Fordham’s program or here,” Feteke said. eligibility to become contracted arises. Of the six students, five will be serving in through their undergraduate years. tinguished members and national recogniThe distinguished students are CDT Nick This honor sets them apart from those who tion. Vanslyke, Jacob Dibble, Jordin Morin, Ma- active duty while one will be in the Army Re-
Rev. Barber’s Second Appearance Canceled Due to Illness Derrell J. Bouknight What was supposed to be Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II’s second address Thursday as part of his “It’s About Right and Wrong” lecture series has been called off due to an undisclosed illness first reported to the Torch by Rev. Patrick Griffin, C.M. “We just received news from Bishop Barber’s office that he is very ill and will not be able to come this Thursday,” Griffin said by phone just before 5 p.m. Tuesday evening. The event was still listed on the University calendar online Tuesday night. Barber is a progressive Protestant minister and the President and Senior Lecturer of Repairers of the Breach. He is also Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and accepted the role of 2018-2019 Vincentian Chair of Social Justice at St. John’s for the academic year. “The position of a ‘Chair’ can be filled each year depending on resources and candidates,” Griffin said. “The appointment of the Chair happens through the Executive Vice President for Mission at St. John’s. That is Fr. Bernard Tracey, C.M. The position is maintained through the Vincentian Center for Church and Society which is part of the Mission area.” Those who hold the position are expected to deliver four lectures, Griffin said. Barber’s second would have been Thursday night. In his second talk, Barber planned to address November’s historic midterm elections
in a discussion entitled “Reading the Signs of the Times: What Does the November Election Say about America?” The Torch attempted to reach Barber for comment on this story, but a St. John’s spokesperson said last month he was unavailable due to scheduling issues. In late October, Barber began his lecture series by offering a speech that was described as “a moral critique of the country.” Advocating for social change, Barber said that America “has always had a hard time with living up to who she says she is on paper,” according to a video of his speech on YouTube. “We need to have some moral articulation and dissent, because our deepest faith and our Constitutional tradition have been hijacked to serve greed, racism, and lies,” Barber said. “We must raise our voices. Silence is not an option.” Barber has served as President of the North Carolina State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People since 2005, according to the group’s website. “I had seen Bishop Barber numerous times on television before he was asked to be Chair,” Griffin said. “This was most true during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Bishop Barber may be seen to assume Dr. King’s mantle as he works to re-establish the ‘Poor People’s Campaign.’ My hope is that he will inspire our University community around issues of justice as they touch the people of our country.”
PHOTO COURTESY/ST. PHOTO COURTESY/UNIVERSITY JOHN’S UNIVERSITY MEDIA MEDIARELATIONS RELATIONS
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II will complete his tenure at St. John’s in May 2019.
Barber, who is also the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, N.C., will receive $625,000 over five years as a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant,” according to Yahoo. He, along with the other 24 recipients, can use the money as they desire. During his appearance in October, Barber previewed what he planned to address in his second trip to St. John’s. In speaking of the 2016 presidential election, Barber, a registered independent who said he “serves a God who is neither democrat or republican,” questioned whether sworn political leaders make decisions for
the greater good of the people or for themselves. “What saddens me [about the 2016 presidential election] is not that Hillary [Clinton] didn’t win and not even that [President Donald] Trump won, but the immoral factors that decided the election and said something about America,” Barber said. “And uncovered realities and fights that my momma and daddy were fighting when I was born 55 years ago.” As of press time Tuesday, a possible reschedule date had not been announced. His Spring appearances are slated for Feb. 6 and March 21, according to Griffin.
Phi Sigma Sigma Hosts Final Blood Drive of Semester Byron Campbell Phi Sigma Sigma collaborated with the New York Blood Center to host their last blood drive of 2018 on Monday. If you were wondering why the red mascot was on campus, New York Blood Center stationed their blood drive at
Donating took a little bit of my time. I just wanted to help people that are not as fortunate. Michael Yacik
Taffner Field House located by Gate 1. Center account manager and coordinator Madeline Lo said one initiative is to encourage students and faculty to donate blood to save the lives of cancer patients, burn victims, newborn babies, surgery patients, transplant patients and others in need. The process is simple. Make your way to Taffner Field House and bring a donor card -- if you do not have a donor card, then registration is quick and free. Walk-ins are welcome. While they waited to donate blood, students had to take a questionnaire, which the staff used to tell them their blood type. The transfusion process typically takes 10 to 15 minutes, and participants wait in a chair for their names to be called. Lo wants students to donate and change the stigma of long waits and worthlessness people may have toward blood transfusions. According to the Center, one pint can save three lives. At that rate, 40,000 pints are transfused each day in the United States. 4.5
million Americans receive blood transfuTORCH PHOTOS/ALEX YEM sions each year. Sophomore Michael Yacik donated blood to help patients in dire need of it. The transfusion is harmless, according to Yacik. “Donating took a little bit of my time,” he said. “I just wanted to help people that are not as fortunate.” Lo believes that giving and supporting those who are not privileged is part of the Vincentian core at St. John’s, and so do the Spanish organizations, that helped promote awareness of the event on campus. Phi Sigma Sigma sponsored and led this year’s blood drive to help increase the turnout. According to a report from Community Relations, it was suggested that 550 pints were donated this year. The blood drives are a University-wide initiative that take place on both the Staten Island and Queens campuses. St. John’s has been awarded the Platinum Award from the NYBC as one of the top blood donors in New York for the past six years. St. John’s commitment led their initiative to be recognized as the top Catholic college for donations by Bishop Dimarzio. The New York Blood Center encourages students to donate blood each year. Lo and the staff hope that the following semester just as many students St. John’s University students helped the cause in donating more than 550 pints of blood throughout 2018. will donate.
St. John’s Law Among Top Schools For Bar Exam Passage Cara Yesko St. John’s University’s School of Law has earned a new accolade. This November, the New York Law Journal released rankings which placed the law school fifth on a list which ranked the percent of first-time pass rates for the July 2018 bar exam for New York law schools statewide. With an 87 percent pass rate, St. John’s Law now stands at five percentage points above the statewide average rate of 83 percent for accredited universities, and not far behind some of the state’s best law schools, including Cornell and Fordham. In 2018, they had first-time pass rates of 94.1 and 89.1 percent, respectively. St. John’s Law’s fifth place ranking is even more noteworthy when considering the decline in Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)
scores within New York and nationwide in recent years. According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, the drop in the score results has reached a 34-year low. This trend may be due to a decreasing standard of qualifications among applicants who are being admitted to law schools, or from a change in the MBE test-format. Despite this decline, Susan Landrum, the Law School’s assistant dean for academic achievement, went on to note that St. John’s Law students are again among the top in the area and have thrived in its rankings above other schools in the state. Fostering a supportive and accommodating learning environment for law students during June and July as they prepare for the bar exam is at the forefront of this mission, according to St. John’s website. In a revamped bar preparation curricu-
lum, students have benefited from: • Study tips distributed via newsletters, • Practice tests given under realistic test-taking conditions, • Individualized exam strategy counseling and • Mealtime study breaks during the week (thanks to donors). The University’s administration has been active in this progress as well. Students had the chance to participate in group activities, such as “Bar Exam Jeopardy,” that were organized by the Dean of St. John’s School of Law, Michael A. Simmons, and bar exam related topical workshops taught by Professor Robert A. Ruescher. These initiatives are implemented throughout the course of the three to four years of a student’s education, according to
the University’s website. “Our graduates have responded positively to this extra level of support,” Landrum said on the University’s website. “They have the camaraderie of their classmates, a familiar and comfortable study environment, and a wealth of resources that we offer to help them achieve on the bar exam. At this most vital time on their professional path, they know that we’re here for them every step of the way.” St. John’s School of Law is tied with Brooklyn Law for an 83rd place ranking in the 2018 ‘Best Law Schools’ list published by U.S. News and World Report. They also have a large list of alumni that includes former New York governors Mario Cuomo and Hugh Carey, former Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and Screenwriter Terence Winter.
Flames of the Torch
Finals, Holidays, New Year Managing Board XCVI
Angelica Acevedo, Editor-in-Chief Isabella Bruni, Managing Editor
Amanda Negretti Creative Director Jenna Woo Design Assistant Derrell Bouknight News Editor Brendan Myers Sports Editor Beverly Danquah Features Editor Dayra Santana Assistant Features Editor Samantha DeNinno Culture Editor Priyanka Gera Assistant Culture Editor Beatriz da Costa Opinion Editor
Erin Bola Chief Copy Editor Jillian Ortiz Assistant Copy Editor Spencer Clinton Photo Editor Alex Yem Assistant Photo Editor Nick Bello Social Media Manager Morgan Mullings Outreach Manager Dana Livingston Assistant Outreach Manager Jim Baumbach Adviser
sju torch productions
The Torch, St. John’s University O’Connor Hall - B Level 8000 Utopia Parkway Queens, NY 11439
Staff and contributors Brendan Murray Nick McCreven Anika Seoparson Alana Loren Bethea Sara Rodia Rakesh Singh Byron Campbell Kenneth Carter
Alexis Gaskin Cara Yesko Asia Cureton Renee King Cecelia Germain Zoe Golden-Johnson Kayla Alarcon Maggie Moore
Dara Burke Destinee Scott Eduardo Alfonzo Amber Borden Crystal Simmons Anna McFillin Daniel Perez
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.
Contributions All letters submitted for publication must include the author’s name, email and affliliation to St. John’s. Limit letters to 350 words. Submissions may be edited for clarity. Please submit letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
Advertising To advertise in the Torch, contact email@example.com. Advertisements are subject to space limits and must be submitted by 12 p.m. the Tuesday before publication for the issue of placement. A list of rates and publication dates is available online at torchonline.com/advertising.
As the semester comes to an end, we can’t help but reflect on moments from the year while simultaneously finding ourselves in a state of high stress that coincides perfectly with the holiday season. December is the month where deadlines loom, temperatures drop and we retreat to our preferred study nooks to pore over textbooks and notes for hours. On top of this buildup of academic “excitement,” the official end of finals week is just about five days before Christmas. As tough as it can be to focus on finals when holiday movies are on and festive music rings in the air, we can also take it as a welcomed relief from the inevitable stress that comes with the end of the year. However, we should also use the holiday season as motivation to do our best this semester in order to truly enjoy our winter break. This past year, we have seen the winter Olympics, tensions rising on the U.S.-Mexico border, a Red Sox World Series win, an Eagles Super Bowl victory, historic midterm elections, multiple mass shootings and much, much more. From the killing of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi to CNN’s public battle with President Donald Trump, it is safe to say this year has also been a crucial year in the world of journalism. Even within the Torch, as we
have reevaluated how we approach our work. We are more transparent than ever and even more aware of the important role that we play as St. John’s University’s independent student newspaper. It is one that we don’t take lightly. This year has taught us all many different lessons, and as we go into 2019, we take our hindrances in stride to make the coming year better in every way we can. As the new calendar year approaches, it is important to keep personal goals in mind. Keep following up with the people from your dream internship, continue building relationships and, most importantly, find ways to better yourself mentally and physically. The Torch, like other student organizations on campus, has much to look forward to in 2019, including our annual Torch Alumni Panel, our continued work “Igniting Unity” with the Poynter College Media Project and, of course, the election of a new editorial board in April. During the break, we will continue to update our website (torchonline.com) throughout the winter break — after all, the news never stops. We wish our St. John’s community good luck on final exams and safe travels home for the holiday season!
Want to write a letter to the editor? Email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
mail to 8000 utopia pkwy o'connor hall b-level jamaica, ny 11439
The Home is A Dangerous Place Destinee Scott Troubling headlines that no one saw coming appeared on Monday, Nov. 26 when a new report found the home to be the “most dangerous place” for women. According to the 2018 report on the gender-related killing of women and girls conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), out of the estimated 87,000 women killed last year, more than half of them — 50,000 — were killed by someone they knew or trusted. “While the vast majority of homicide victims are men, women continue to pay the highest price as a result of gender inequality, discrimination, and negative stereotypes,” UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said in a statement that accompanied the report. “They are also the most likely to be killed by intimate partners and family.” With Asia having the highest number of women killed
by partners or family members last year (20,000), followed by Africa (19,000), the Americas (8,000), Europe (3,000) and Oceania (300), one thing is clear: Domestic violence and abuse are very real and as a result, women are dying in the hands of people they know because of the lack of help and protection from services and organizations. As a woman, I know how important it is to feel safe in any environment, especially at home. But we are constantly having to second guess the people we love and trust, because according to the UNODC report, they are the ones that are taking our lives. The UNODC knows this is a problem and have called for a series of measures through their Global Study on Homicide report. They have asked the police, the criminal justice system and health and social services to step up and help prevent violence against women. They believe that if everyone gets on board, it can ensure victim safety and empowerment as well as obtain accountability from
the offender. They also think that men’s involvement is critical in addressing the problem. “In order to prevent and tackle gender-related killing of women and girls, men need to be involved in efforts to combat intimate partner violence/family-related homicide and in changing cultural norms that move away from violent masculinity and gender stereotypes,” the report said. I believe this is the right direction, to preventing violence against women. Men need to become educated and aware of the ugliness and wrongness of abuse and domestic violence. Women have the right to feel safe and shouldn’t have to constantly look over their shoulders. So, I think the UNODC got it right, it’s about time that organizations stepped it up and did something that can help women across the globe. It’s time for women to take back their homes.
Looking Back on Rev. James Martin’s Talk There’s still no bridge for the LGBTQ+ community and the Catholic Church Dara Burke On Nov 8, Jesuit priest Reverend James Martin, who was appointed as a consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications by Pope Francis, visited campus to give a talk. During the lecture, titled “Building a Bridge: Reaching Out to LGBT Catholics,” Martin discussed his similarly-titled book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity.” The talk, and the book, are an attempt to alleviate the long-held tension surrounding LGBTQ+ people within Catholicism. As someone who was raised Catholic but is no longer involved in the religion, I was intrigued and decided to attend the lecture. Based on the things I heard throughout my time in the faith, I could not imagine what could possibly be said to close a divide so massive. And by the end of the speech, I believed that Martin is part of the problem. The talk centered around the idea that LGBTQ+ people are human beings who actually have talents, feelings and full lives outside of their sexualities (who knew?). Martin encouraged Catholics to be kind and respectful to LGBTQ+ people, as everyone deserves to feel welcome. My question is: Why did Martin decide to give an entire lecture to say that Catholics should practice basic human decency and treat people like people? The fact that Martin saw the need to spend 40 minutes reminding Catholics to be nice to people who are differ-
ent from them is troubling. At this point, it became clear to me that Martin simply wants to put a band-aid on an issue that is rooted in the faith’s anti-LGBTQ+ rights ideology. At the end of Martin’s lecture, which almost entirely consisted of talking points reminiscent of middle school anti-bullying campaigns, he opened the floor for questions. One audience member asked if Martin believed the Church would ever recognize same-sex marriage (it won’t). This prompted him to assert that he does not go against church teachings on gay marriage or “activity.” The fact is that society is becoming increasingly accepting of LGBTQ+ people. An institution that does not even support gay marriage, and in which many members struggle to treat the LGBTQ+ community as equals, will naturally appear outdated and bigoted to many. I am not saying that Catholics are obligated to believe things that conflict with their religion. But I am saying that they cannot pretend that their faith is truly open and accepting of LGBTQ+ people when they can’t even marry in the eyes of the church. Most LGBTQ+ people do not want to be part of a religion that says they can have certain feelings about themselves or toward others but can’t actually be gay or trans. If the goal was to bring me back to mass, it was not accomplished. I left the auditorium feeling the same way about the church’s treatment of this community as I always have: Hurt, confused and angry.
TORCH PHOTO/ALEX YEM
Rev. James Martin speaking in Marillac Auditorium.
My Catholic Response to Reverend Barber Maggie Moore A Catholic church is where the most holy, sacred and beautiful event takes place — the sacrifice of the Mass. It is when bread and water become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is nothing short of a miracle, and it is one of the central mysteries of the Catholic faith. Imagine then, the outrage and disgust that Catholics would feel when their sacred space is defiled and used as a pulpit for hateful and divisive rhetoric. Imagine the necessary offense to be taken when their beliefs are ridiculed just feet away from the Tabernacle, where the body of Christ is housed. Such was the case on Oct. 25, when the new chair of Vincentian Social Justice, Rev. William Barber II, was introduced to a hero’s welcome, as he gave his first of four lectures in St. Thomas More Church, entitled “America, America, What’s Going On? A Moral Critique.” What was called a moral critique was, in my eyes, a diatribe about the state of American politics, which involved a shallow call for unity at the end. This would have been fine in the lens of a moral critique of America. The current state of politics is abysmal, and there is much to criticize. It wasn’t that the speaker spoke tirelessly on the issue of racism. Racism is a true evil which divides people and it is rightfully called out as such. Although Barber may have stretched the theme at times, citing racism as the main driving force in politics and public policy since the dawn of this nation, his debate on its influence in American politics allowed for little recognition of the nuances that shape our world.
Any rational person, religious or PHOTO COURTESY/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/TWBUCKNER otherwise, can and should acknowledge the stain of racism on the fabric of our world. Where Barber went wrong was asserting that opinions contrary to his own can be equated to, or are a result of, racism. Barber urged unity against those who do not support “a woman’s right to choose” or who “hate gay people.” Catholics, along with other religious traditions, maintain that abortion — the killing of an unborn child — is a grave evil. Furthermore, Catholics and other religions uphold marriage between one man and one woman, a sacred teaching that serves as the basis of a lifelong partnership. Barber mocked over 2,000 years of Church teaching, Rev. Dr. William Barber speaking at a Moral Monday rally in 2013. and called people who support these ty were meant only for those who agreed with his position. views “religious nationalists,” which he described as a danHe used the classic “us versus them” language that pregerous force in America, and equated these positions with sented his position as flawless, while labeling his opponents the evil of racism. as backwards, racist and hateful. Reverend Barber’s words He said these things amidst a roar of praise from many made clear his lack of knowledge of the people he was atpresent, including those who are supposedly meant to up- tacking, and a disrespect for the religion whose very place of hold the Catholic mission of the University. worship he stood in. Of course, had this lecture taken place outside of St. Students of all creeds should be ashamed at St. John’s Thomas More Church, the material would have been the for inviting a speaker who derides the values of its mission. same. While its location is a great problem, the fact remains Catholic students should be particularly disappointed in the that it was a one-sided political speech. Shallow calls for uni- mockery of their beliefs in their sacred church.
Blackfishing is the New Blackface Diving into the latest Twitter fiasco that is truly skin deep Here is a classic phrase: “Everyone wants to be black, until it is time to be black.” We are living in an age of cultural appropriation, selective outrage and ambiguity, which is extremely dangerous. Earlier this month, Twitter users accused white female influencers of “blackfishing.” Blackfishing, which is more commonly referred on social media as “N-----fishing,” is the enhancement of the body in an attempt to look like black women. This includes skin darkening, lip filling, hair texturizing and wearing traditional black hairstyles such as cornrows. These social media influencers are participating in a modern form of blackface. Even though they are not wearing blackface in the way we understand it (Minstrel Show), what they are doing is still problematic. Not only are black features being exploited for attention and money, but influencers also humanized the look of blackface. As a result of this, there is a streamline of confusion that is fooling a lot of people. We typically see this parade of cultural appropriation around Halloween, but blackface, blackfishing and its defense still occurs beyond social media at other times throughout the year, sometimes garnering headlines. Most recently, Megyn Kelly’s defense of blackface back in October showed the tone-deaf attitudes that still run rampant. Rachel Dolezal is another example. She’s the white woman who spent years pretending to be a black woman and infiltrated the NAACP before resigning in 2015 in disgrace. Some people, including black people, feel that she is not completely wrong because she was fighting for the “movement.” However, she still pretended to be someone that she is not. The social media influencers who claim to be “naturally tan” and are posing as black women are doing the same thing: gaining attention through deception. There have been cases of white people committing crimes in blackface/body. According to the Huffington Post, 26-year-old Cameron James Kennedy, who disguised himself in blackface, was accused of robbing a Las Vegas casino in March.
PHOTO COURTESY/INSTAGRAM/EMMA HALLBERG
Swedish social media influencer, Emma Hallberg, was accused of blackfishing on Instagram.
It should be common knowledge that dressing up to pose as if you are a part of another culture or race is not acceptable. Those who dabble in blackface/blackfishing without viewing it as wrong are perpetuating the phrase aforementioned, “Everyone wants to be black, until it is time to be black.” It may be nice to receive praise for black features, but praise is only a small fraction of the black experience. For those who feel blackfishing is not a big deal and that we black people have “bigger fish to fry” are wrong. No matter how big or small an issue is, it is still an issue.
Blackfishing, blackface and its racist predecessors needs to be addressed and attacked head on in unity. Blackfishing not being viewed as an issue -- especially by those in the black community -- allows for “blackness” to be questioned. Many young black women and men who followed the blackfishing influencers believed that they were black and now feel deceived (and rightfully so), because they innocently supported a caricature of themselves. Brushing off blackfishing as “not that deep” is a fallacy because blackfishing really is that (skin) deep.
President Maduro is Turning Venezuela Into a Dictatorship Eduardo Alfonzo With all the stories that are covered on TV, there are some stories that are too important to be ignored. Whether they happened in the U.S. or not, these stories should be heard — everyone should know the situation happening in Venezuela. Ever since President Nicolas Maduro came into power in 2013, the entire country of Venezuela has gone into a downward spiral. Food has become scarce, medicine is expensive to buy and there’s corruption throughout many parts of Venezuela. All of this revolves around Maduro, who has been called a dictator by media outlets such as The Guardian and Vox. According to the Atlantic Council, an American think tank, 60 percent of Venezuelans placed the blame of the country’s economic crisis and inflation on Maduro and his government. Honestly, I believe that Maduro is turning Venezuela into a dictatorship by doing everything he can to stay in power. Earlier this year, Maduro announced that the govern-
ment would be holding the 2018 Presidential Election in May instead of in December. As a result of the change, many people and several opposition parties felt that this election is unfair and decided to not participate in it, as was reported by the New York Times.
Food has become scarce, medicine is very expensive to buy and there’s corruption throughout many parts of Venezuela.
According to the news publication, before the election, the Venezuelan government disqualified several political parties and candidates from the election because they want to stay in power at any cost.
As a result, many countries throughout the world like the United States, Australia and other members of the United Nations rejected this election and did not recognize the results. I agree with that because this proves that Maduro and his administration are destroying democracy in Venezuela. Before this “election,” the government imprisoned several people, including political opponents, that were critical against Maduro and his administration. During Maduro’s campaign, the government provided people with boxes of food to get them to vote for him. What kind of government would resort to committing these despicable acts to stay in power? A dictatorship that’s what. As someone whose family lives in Venezuela it has become so hard to keep hearing these stories everyday. I haven’t been to Venezuela in four years because of this situation. Several times a year, my family and I have to buy food, medicine, clothes,and other supplies, to send to Venezuela for our loved ones. I just hope that a solution for Venezuela can quickly be found so that I can finally see my family again.
How I Chose the Right Major For Me Dana Livingston I’ve always thought of myself as a risk taker. I love trying new things, exploring new places and seeing where new paths may take me. So when it came time to choose my major, it’s no surprise that I took the same approach. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with reading. I started reading at a relatively early age, and it seemed that once I picked up the skill, all that I wanted to do was read. As a child, my hometown library, Freeport Memorial Library, was my happy place, Scholastic Book Fair Days were my favorite days of the school year and Barnes and Noble was as close to heaven on earth that I ever thought I’d get. As I grew older, this obsession with reading and books in general inspired an interest in the English language.
I wanted to know how these words were me that it was time to get serious and think formulated and what determined their about what I wanted to do with my life. meanings. My guidance counselor told me that I So, in seventh grade, I began to study Lat- should probably start taking some stanin to underdardized stand the oritests. Evgins of some of eryone the words that else was I read daily. telling me When choosing a major, I think it’s imIn high the same school, I startthing: Do portant not to fear turning what you ed to write and whatevlove into a career. edit for the er makes school newsyou happaper. Not py (and only did I get makes you to read the the most works of my peers, which was a new expe- money). rience for me, but I also got to help them So, I put my on Big Girl Pants and had perfect their articles and express themselves a serious conversation… with myself. through language. Well, what does make me happy? What Then came junior year. My parents told career paths will lead me to happiness? I
like the library but, according to Google, becoming a librarian is a lot harder than I thought and would require a lot more effort than I would want to put in. I like Latin, but only because I’m learning more about the English words that derive from Latin words. I love the newspaper, but I don’t think I could ever truly be happy as a journalist because I like editing more than I like writing. No matter what path I tried to explore, my mind always drifted towards reading, editing and language. When choosing a major, I think it’s important not to fear turning what you love into a career because I believe that it’s that love that will keep you passionate about your career. Although I run the risk that comes with turning something you love into work, I couldn’t see my career not being deeply rooted in English studies.
* = Assistant
Amber Borden Hair is something that we all have and may seem frivolous to think about, yet with each strand comes an experience that is unique to the person it grows out of. Natural hair in the black community has a long history that is full of highs and lows, even though its roots define empowerment. Collegiate Curls is working to bring that empowerment to the St. John’s campus. From Root to Tip Collegiate Curls originally started in Charleston, S. C. in 2016 and has chapters within other campuses. Lajahnik Valentine, senior and President of the St. John’s Collegiate Curls chapter, wanted to be a part of an organization but none felt like a good fit at the time. A member of another Collegiate Curls chapter suggested to Valentine that she should start her own chapter at St. John’s. “I care about self health, my hair, I care about how other people feel because no one wants to feel bad, and we all want to shine… So to bring that here to this campus and see that so many people wanted it, made me want to work harder and bring it here,” Valentine said. In January 2018, Collegiate Curls was SGI approved, and it currently has 11 e-board members and 414 Instagram followers. The organization’s slogan, “I am Bold, I am Brown, I am Beautiful, and I Belong,” sheds light on their mission of self-love and empowerment. It is easy to feel discouraged when you are told that your hair is unprofessional, unkempt or
TORCH PHOTO/ZOE GOLDEN-JOHNSON
‘Collegiate Curls’ Celebrates Growth and Roots
L to R: Lajahnik Valentine, Kayla Lucas, Ariel Laura Metayer, Terri Dorsey, Marsean Rice.
doesn’t fit a certain standard of beauty that never reflects you. Collegiate Curls strives to stymie those beliefs through their involvement on campus and as an organization. Junior Jasmine Newman and freshman Johanna Labissiere both share the role of Campus Collaboration Chair. “We reach out to other organizations to collaborate on events and ideas,” Newman said. Events like Curls Nation and the Curly Girl Panel during the spring 2018 semester were a turning point for the organization. Both events had a major turn out and really solidified Collegiate Curls’ presence. New Growth At its core, Collegiate Curls focuses on natural hair, but they are a multicultural organization that supports healthy holistic practices that promote not only healthy hair but also
a healthy well-being. “I love how we are in a PWI [Predominately White Institution] and we give space to and for us. We are more than curls and beauty, our diversity connects us,” Vice President Ariel Laura Metayer said. Along with advocating for healthy hair and living a healthy lifestyle, Collegiate Curls believes that self-care does not have a gender. The organization currently has two male Ambassadors, Marsean Rice and Nnaemeka Ifeajekwu, who serve as the voice for men to know that self-care is just not feminine. “For a long time in high school I was afraid to care for my hair… I was afraid of what people would think if I cared for my hair. I had to become more comfortable with myself and not be afraid of public perception,” Rice said in response to learning to love his natural hair. “Hair is hair and I can appreciate both [waves and afros],” Ifeajekwu said.
The Cut Collegiate Curls does not shy away from commenting on the political aspects of natural hair. In October, the organization hosted “Hairtober,” where e-board members and guests shared their natural hair horror stories and experiences. At the end, guests left with solutions to certain issues and support knowing that they are not alone. Having conversations about the highs and lows of natural hair taps into the strong and continuous history of black hair. The organization is a sounding board for empowerment, no matter where you are in your hair journey. Creative Director Terri Dorsey had a self love revelation when she finally. “The day I did my big chop, I felt relieved. I felt so free, finding my curls, and accepting who I am,” Dorsey said. Head Social Media Chair, Kayla Lucas who works with Co- Social Media Chair, Shadine Cunningham, said she realized she couldn’t do it anymore after having a relaxer and went for a trim. “When you cut something it grows faster,” Lucas said. Coming Together How you feel about your hair and how you feel about yourself go hand in hand. Collegiate Curls reaches to teach “Curl Literacy” for people from all backgrounds. Lucasworks to engage the St. John’s community on social media through a captivating purple theme and pictures highlighting students’ natural hair. “Through engagement, we are giving power through invitation,” Lucas said.
Crystal Simmons For many student leaders, there is a constant struggle of having to balance their campus responsibilities and their lives outside of school. However, one couldn’t use the term “boss” without mastering the art of balance. Dionté Williams, known for his sense of style and his vibrant personality, is a Resident Assistant to students in Century Hall. On top of being a boss RA, he is a mentor, Vice President of Activities for Haraya and a Publicity Intern for the full-service entertainment company, Roc Nation. Originally from Massachusetts and grown up in Atlanta, Williams came to New York knowing that he had a passion to work in the entertainment industry. As a senior public relations major, he has developed an appreciation for his decision to pursue his dreams at St. John’s University. “I just wanted to get away and kind of find myself, and just really dive into what makes me happy as an individual,” Williams said. He believes his genuine connection to New York City is due to potentially being a resident in a past life. Williams mentioned that even before his college career he was always considered a leader, but it has taken on a different form since he has progressed at St. John’s. “I feel like leadership is something that you’re born with, but also something that can be acquired. [And] I feel like it is something that has always naturally been within me,” he said. Williams mentioned that he was not always allowed to let his leadership show, but at St. John’s he has used his experiences to lead by example.
After facing many obstacles during his freshman year, he became an Orientation Leader. Through that experience, he started to develop relationships with his students and became a mentor that they could look up to. “I knew being an OL, I would be able to be my authentic self and help those that contiguously sought it,” Williams said. One of Williams’ residents and also his mentee, sophomore student Alexa Williams, says that meeting him was one of the best things that has happened to her. “Dionte was my OL and during that 2 day experience, he made me comfortable and acclimated to St. John’s,” she said. “However it went beyond that because even though orientation was 2 days, we bonded and formed a what I think will be a lifelong relationship. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have grown as much as a person. He wants the best for me and I appreciate him so much.” Aside from his mentorship, he plans and coordinates activities for Haraya, the Pan-African Students Coalition, while he pursues a career within the entertainment industry. As a Publicity Intern at Roc Nation, Williams’s alarms are going off between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., signaling the start of what could be a “chill” day or a rather hectic one. On a typical morning, he’ll play his music to set the tone for the day. Depending on how Williams feels, some days the mood can range from Mariah Carey to Future or Beyoncé. His outfit also depends on the day’s events. “I always try to be fashion forward in some sense,” he said. He is not one to be concerned about trends, though, stating that if it looks good to him, he’s content. “If I know I’m going to be in a professional setting or going to be an
important day I [kind of] dress it up a little bit or make sure my makeup is more put together and has more detail.” After mirroring his “look” for the day that he expects to have, Williams makes it a point to arrive an hour early to the midtown headquarters. By 9 a.m., he has already checked his social media and had a good laugh to set his spirits in the right direction to contribute to the Roc Nation team. While he says that this internship has been a career defining moment for him, another key experience was his opportunity to be a style assistant for award winning rapper, Cardi B. “Personally that was just a moment for me because that was someone I remember in high school. Being able to pick out not one, not two, but three dresses for her... I was able to be at the set to observe and learn.” His fond memory of this experience and her later recognizing him at a club was a life changing experience. “That was a moment not only because it was Cardi but because it let me know that as a black male in the LGBTQ+ community, that my dreams are possible,” he said. In between his various leadership roles, he sets time aside for self-care. “A lot of people don’t know this, but I love to write poetry, songs, raps — [like] I have bars,” Williams said. “It all stems from my love of poetry. I love to write because I feel like a lot of times writing helps me process my feelings and writing helps me release it and helps me understand why I feel the way I do.” A key piece of advice he gives to those on their leadership journey is to remain true to who they are as individuals. “Different leaders bring different depths and perspectives to things. Every leader isn’t the same, and that’s a good thing.”
TORCH PHOTO/ALEX YEM
Meet ‘Boss’ Resident Assistant: Dionté Williams
Dionte Williams is the Vice President of Activities for Haraya and a publicity intern at Roc Nation.
Amazon Announces Move to Queens, Students React Beverly Danquah A few weeks ago, Amazon announced that it had selected New York City and Northern Virginia as the winners of the HQ2, or, Amazon’s second headquarters in North America. Their plan included a small hub in Nashville. The New York City site will be in Long Island City, a residential and commercial neighborhood located on the western tip of Queens. Some students and faculty members are excited and looking forward to the economic growth that the move will bring, while others frown at the thought of overcrowded trains and potential rent hikes. In a statement about the announcement, Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said, “we are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia. These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come. The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.” In addition, the statement references the 8 subway lines, 13 bus lines, commuter rail, bike-sharing service, and ferries serving the area, which will make a good means for employees’ transportation.
Dr. Robert Pecorella, St. John’s University’s director of the Institute for Core Studies and associate professor with the Department of Government and Politics, Told the Torch that the move was “a big get for New York City and for the community in Northern Virginia.” Pecorella said that students can expect to benefit from the move, as it will bring economic opportunities. “Amazon is one of the premiere corporations on the planet right now,” Pecorella said. With a background particularly in public administration and urban governance, Pecorella said that moves like this happen all the time and that this one is getting so much attention because Amazon is such a big company. “On the face of it, you’re placing a new burden on what can be called an aging infrastructure in the state and city. The subways are in disrepair. This is going to pressure them more. There are plans, however, from Amazon to build a primary or intermediary public school,” he said. “With all business moves, there are benefits and cons.” Assemblyman David Weprin of the 24th Assembly District called the move a “unique opportunity to grow New York City’s employment base.” “I am confident that with an expect-
ed 9:1 return on investment and $27.5 billion in tax revenue over 25 years that the City and the State will benefit from this project. New York must be a leader in the new tech economy and I look forward to working with local officials to ensure that Amazon follows through with its commitments to the public which include infrastructure improvements, job training, and job placement,” he said. Marketing student, Timi Idowu, said he doesn’t think the move will benefit local residents. “It’s definitely going to increase rent prices and I feel like people are already struggling to pay rent. Once rent goes up, people are going to have to start moving out,” Idowu said. Government and politics student Rumman Rafsan also isn’t looking forward to the move. “I don’t feel too good about it. Amazon has too much power and receives too much in corporate subsidies and they’ll be getting about $1.5 billion from New York,” Rafsan said. “I still use Amazon and its services, but I don’t like how they treat their employees and how much influence they have in government.” Rafsan called Bezos’ relationship with the federal government “worrisome.” Senior student Wil Turner echoed a similar sentiment
“I think that housing prices are going to rise, if you look at what happened in Seattle where Amazon is headquartered, the price of living jumped and it’s reflective of the massive inequality that’s been built in this country,” he said. “Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world because he’s exploiting people, just like Long Island City will soon be exploited.” Marketing student Emily Chun said most business students are more focused on corporate mergers. “I don’t think most business majors are focused on this move because Amazon has been consistently expanding,” she said. Business management student Jake Texeira is looking forward to the economic growth that the move will bring to the area. “I think it’s good news that they’re coming because it’s a job opportunity for when I graduate,” Texeira said. “It’s probably going to put a strain on mass transit, but economically it’s going to be good for people.” In a city as saturated in population as New York, Pecorella said “The city is 312 sq. miles and has roughly 8 million people, that’s sustainable if the city and state governments are working towards sustainability.” Amazon is expected to begin hiring for HQ2 in 2019.
Nonprofit Duo Wins Pitch Johnny Competition
“Sending Her Essentials” earns them the 1st place prize Sara Rodia The second annual Pitch Johnny competition was held on Saturday, Nov. 10 and the two winners are Magdelene Barjolo, a junior majoring in health and human Services and Alexandria Ligon, a junior majoring in psychology, with their idea “Sending Her Essentials” (SHE). The competition featured 22 teams composed of 31 students who delivered presentations on their original start-up ideas. The winner(s) received $1000 and a chance to compete next spring in a new startup challenge. Students were given the opportunity to talk to and receive feedback from the guest judges, many of whom were St. John’s alumni and represented wide variety of professions, including: accounting, advertising, business, communications, entrepreneurship, finance, law and television. Contestants were allowed two to three minutes to make their presentations and were evaluated by the judges, who choose Barjolo and Ligon to receive the first place prize of $1000. SHE is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to supplying young women nationally and internationally with necessities for womanhood. They send feminine hygiene products to women between the ages of 10-18 to ensure that they have the necessities they need in order to avoid missing days of school and work because of a lack of these products.
Barjolo and Ligon plan to hold workshops here in New York where they hope to teach young women about feminine hygiene, personal development, self esteem and career guidance. Once they’ve established themselves in New York, they hope to expand into other states. They also aim to be a strong social and political voice for more issues that affect women while being able to donate products to women on a broader platform. They entered into the Pitch Johnny competition hoping to spread the message of their mission and gain practice in communicating about their organization. “We were a little bit nervous,” Barjolo said. “But because we both have strong faith we knew that whatever the outcome was that something great would be taken from this experience.” Now that they’ve won, they plan to use the money to help establish themselves as a nonprofit, secure a logo and for any other fundamental business purposes that they have. “I felt extremely encouraged and optimistic that we could truly start to take our work with SHE more seriously since we now have the money to start officially operating as a registered nonprofit” Ligon said. Ligon explained that prior to winning SHE was important to her, but wasn’t “at the forefront of her mind,” After winning the money, SHE has become her top priority. Both winners had their own personal rea-
PHOTO COURTESY/ALEXANDRIA LIGON
Magdelene Barjolo (left) and Alexandria Ligon (right) win the Pitch Johnny competition with their idea “Sending Her Essentials” (SHE).
sons for starting this company. For Barjolo it was the passing of her cousin Princess Yates last summer. “I felt as if I needed to add purpose to my life and start serving as I believe that is my purpose/calling,” said Barjolo, “The passing of my cousin was definitely a huge motivating factor (for starting SHE).” Barjolo and Ligon are both enthusiastic
to begin the work to establish themselves in New York and spread the positivity of SHE. “I’m grateful that we could have the opportunity to practice our presentation skills and get such great encouragement from the judges” Ligon said, “[they] reaffirmed our confidence in our mission, our brand and our goals.”
The Torch Has a Chat with Dr. Marie-Lise Gazarian In her small office on the fourth floor of St. John Hall, there is not nearly enough room for all of the books, newspaper clippings and sheets of paper that she has in her possession. Shelves are so full that books no longer fit in a vertical fashion — they must be inserted horizontally on the shelves on top of the others. On top of her desk, dispersed among three separate coffee mugs, stand mini replicas of the French, Spanish and Italian flags. Dr. Marie-Lise Gazarian, despite her extensive collection of all things literary (including some of the works that she has written and published herself), is not an English professor or strictly a professor of English Literature. She is a professor of Spanish and Latin American Literature, director of the graduate Spanish program and so much more. The flag that sits in the middle mug, the French flag, is reminiscent of her native tongue. The fluent manner in which she speaks Spanish would lead you to think otherwise. “If you would call me at my home number, I speak in three languages [on my voicemail]. The first one is Spanish. The second is French. Third is English. Why? I have no idea.” Gazarian began her life in France, a country that she called home for her younger years. It was the first language she came into contact with and a language that she spoke with a bit of a strange flair. “Why has she such a strange accent?” Gazarian recalls the nuns telling to her mother when she was younger. “I don’t know why, but when I was a little girl, for some reason I pronounced [words in] French as if I were from Spain.” Gazarian’s love for the Spanish language has led her all over the world, to countries such as Spain and Chile and face to face with esteemed writers such as Rafael Alberti and Fernando Arrabal. These experiences were never simply handed to her, rather, they were the result of her hardwork and dedication to Latin American literature and her burning passion for teaching. “I have to mention the word passion. I have a passion for the Spanish language, although I did begin teaching both Spanish and French,” Gazarian said. “I love French literature, but Spanish has a special call.” In 2002, Gazarian won the St. Vincent de Paul Teacher/ Scholar Award from St. John’s, a testament to her years at the university and her distinction as a teacher. “The satisfaction of transmitting knowledge and inciting students into the art of writing is commensurate with teaching a child
TORCH PHOTO/CECELIA GERMAIN
Dr. Marie-Lise Gazarian, professor of Spanish and Latin American literaute was honored as a “Profesora Honoraria.”
how to talk, to walk, to live,” she wrote in her award acceptance speech. As the director of the Spanish graduate program at St. John’s, Gazarian leads students to deepen their love of the language through different lenses such as “Exile and Immigration,” “Women in History,” “Translation and Interpretation,” “Literature and the Arts” and “Journalism and Creative Writing.” As she watches students broaden their knowledge and take to the Spanish language, Gazarian says she has one wish: to see a student publish a book. “I guess it is no longer a wish because I have several students who have written books,” she said. The smile that spread across her lips indicated that it was a joy to see her students publish work. She mined through her bookshelves once more to find a copy of “Entre Rascacielos,” a literary magazine full of work done by SJU students in both English and Spanish. Her accolades are not just limited to the fences of the St. John’s campus, however. In October, she boarded a plane to Ecuador, where she was awarded the “Life Path to Educational Excellence Recognition,” by the Ecuadorian government and the Foundation for the Integration and De-
velopment of Latin America (FIDAL) as a testament to her commitment to her students. Earlier in October, Gazarian was also honored as a “Profesora Honoraria” by the Private Technical University of Loja (UTPL) as a recognition for her spreading of the Hispanic culture, her contribution to the hispanic culture, contributions to Fernando Rielo Pardal and her exceptional work and accomplishments in the field of literature. Gazarian has already published more than a dozen books and interviewed notable hispanic writers such as Ana Maria Matute, Isabel Allende and Elena Poniatowska among others. Currently, she is working on three more books in between her work as a professor. She is the director of the graduate program and Vice President for the Northeast chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society. One of the books she is currently working on is her very own memoir, of which she is still trying to discern a title. After moments of contemplation she shared the first that came to mind: “So You Were Listening to Me?” Fitting for a woman who humbly adds outstanding accolades to her continually growing repertoire.
Anna McFillin Zoë Bowen is a junior marketing major at St. John’s, and is taking the fashion world by storm. Fashion Mi Forward, Inc. is the brand she founded in April 2017. Growing up, Bowen watched her single mother not only run her own law firm, but raise her to be an independent and driven young woman. Inspired by her mother’s hard work and success, Bowen was driven to achieve her own, hence the creation of Fashion Mi Forward, Inc. Bowen comes from a West Indian background and coined the phrase Fashion Mi Forward. “Fashion Mi Forward means to seek and elevate your style. To give your sense of style a modern voice,” Bowen said. With that, Fashion Mi Forward’s mission statement is to “bring innovative styles and accessories to the modern woman.” The mass amount of support Bowen received when she first launched FMF gave her the extra motivation she needed to expand her company. “The customers began to anticipate new releases, so I had no choice but to take it more seriously and build upon the foundation I laid,” Bowen said. That
PHOTO COURTESY/INSTAGRAM FASHIONMIFORWARD
St. John’s Student Runs Online Fashion Boutique
Bowen’s brand launches ZENON, its first unisex piece.
is exactly what she did. Bowen has experimented with numerous products and product lines. From apparel, to accessories, to swimsuits, she keeps FMF trendy. “I’m a firm believer in trusting the process,” Bowen said. She described her creative process as trial and error and is dedicated to finding out what works and what doesn’t work for her brand. Her biggest inspiration: Rihanna. Rihanna’s bold, fun and chic style is what Bowen looks up to when she is creating her pieces for FMF. She keeps things edgy, cool and a little distressed. Who doesn’t love a good distressed denim look? When asked what brand is most comparable to Fashion Mi Forward, Bowen replied, “ASOS.” FMF has just began carrying unisex hoodies, and from that, Bowen predicts to have a men’s line coming out in the future. Bowen hopes to collaborate with other established brands, and up and coming brands as well. She proves that hard work pays off, and has already seen great sales, especially this past Black Friday. “Sales were great this year, I’m excited to see Fashion Mi Forward evolving,” Bowen said. Zoë Bowen is a name you want to know, and Fashion Mi Forward is a brand you don’t want to forget.
Prior to Election Day, I reached out to Anthony Pappas, an economics professor running for Congress, in hopes for an interview — I never heard back. But last week I received a handwritten letter addressed to the Torch office, it was from Pappas and he was ready to talk. Despite only seeing a photo from him off the St. John’s staff directory, he was easy to spot in Bent Hall’s newly renovated third floor. In his tiny and bare whitewalled office, he talked about the outcome of the election, his reasons for getting into the political world and his future. He was soft spoken, generous with eye contact and, overall, not as intimidating as a prospective politician is expected to be. Pappas has been a professor at St. John’s since the 1970s, saying he couldn’t remember exactly when he began. He is a graduate of MIT and Yale and is the son of Greek immigrants. He grew up in the Upper West Side, but found home in Astoria. Pappas ran on the Republican line in New York’s 14th Congressional District to represent parts of Queens and the Bronx in Congress. His Democratic opponent was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who beat him with 78 percent of votes, according to The New York Times. Pappas received 13.8 percent of votes — Joe Crowley and Elizabeth Perri picked up the remainder. Pappas entered the political realm after dealing with a 10-year divorce battle, which is where his disappointment in the justice system stems from. He was more than transparent talking about his divorce battle in which he was accused of domestic abuse. He even provided official documents during the interview. He denies the allegations made against him and, according to The Associated Press, his ex-wife was granted a divorce on grounds of cruel and inhumane treatment. His political run came from wanting “to help many of the victims that encounter similar issues” as him.
This “ordeal,” he added, led him to write five letters to Pope Francis over the course of five years, discussing his concerns in the courts system. He recently received a response from the Vatican thanking him for voicing his concerns. “There’s a lot of injustice in the courts system and many people suffer from it and they commit suicide and the suicides aren’t investigated,” Pappas said. “So it’s like dealing with a broken system which can be viewed as like a dictatorship.” The 72-year-old said other than his disappointment within the justice system, other reasons he chose to run included topics like income and wealth inequality, healthcare and education. “As a candidate you try to become part of the political conversation; I didn’t succeed that much because my opponent became a media star -- sort of all the attention shifted to her,” Pappas said. He thinks Ocasio-Cortez has laudable objects but disagrees in terms of how to try and take care of them. “I sort of prefer a lower level of government involvement than she does but you know everyone’s in favor of better health, education and living standards. The question is how do you implement that without the government becoming intrusive and overstepping proper balance?” he said. He was unhappy over the fact that the two of them never got to hold a debate. Although disappointed with the election results, Pappas was not surprised. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district 6-to-1; a Republican hasn’t held a seat since 1920. “Most people viewed it as long shot, but I decided to undertake it,” he said. Pappas thinks if Joe Crowley won the primary instead of Ocasio-Cortez he probably still wouldn’t have had that great a chance at winning because the Democratic population in the congressional district is too strong. “Which is bad from the standpoint it’s not really like a democracy where there is a choice between alternatives,” he said. “It has other bad effects like the incumbents keep getting reelected.”
TORCH PHOTO/SPENCER CLINTON
Econ Professor Reflects on 2018 Congress Bid
Anthony Pappas ran on the Republican line in New York’s 14th Congressional District.
Crowley was the incumbent during the June primary and Pappas noted Crowley lived with his family in Virginia rather than in the congressional district. As an Astoria dweller, he believes the chair should live within the congressional district. Already without a strong Republican population behind him, his candidacy was renounced by the Bronx and Queens GOP, which he said was on the basis of false allegations. “They got a hold of them
without checking with me about whether they were valid and they made an impromptu decision to renounce my candidacy,” he said. Now almost a month after Election Day, Pappas is taking it easy. As for his future in politics, he said he is going to wait and see what happens and get involved in his local community. “I’m still going to try and be on my crusade for moral justice,” he said.
Student Managed Global Microloan Program Strives to Eradicate Poverty Alana Loren Bethea “I think it’s about giving women their own independence and self-efficiency.” - Nneka V. Anozie Global Loan Opportunities for Budding Entrepreneurs, widely known as GLOBE, is a non-profit program combined with a social entrepreneurship course, which is open to all juniors and seniors. The program creates microloans for self-employed entrepreneurs, mostly women, in developing countries. Associate Dean for Global Initiatives, Dr. Linda M. Sama, founded the program and launched it in spring 2009. She serves as the Program Director, professor for the class and Chair of the GLOBE Steering Committee. GLOBE has given microloans to six countries: Nicaragua, Kenya, Philippines, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Vietnam. They plan to broaden their philanthropy to Guatemala in spring 2019. GLOBE had the privilege of working with
the Daughters of Charity, who overcome countless odds to deliver meaningful services to the poor in their communities, and of meeting many of their borrowers. “Deemed ‘unbankable’ by traditional banks, and lacking the necessary collateral to qualify for a loan, our borrowers – who are mostly women (about 85%), and range in age from 19 to 60 – operate small businesses, the income from which provide a means of feeding their families, sending their children to school, caring for aging parents, and improving their homes for safety and resistance to the elements,” Dr. Sama explained. This fall 2018 semester, the program created a campus campaign called “Generation GLOBE.” The campaign gives thanks to those involved in the program – the Steering Committee who govern the process, the donors whose contributions make the loans possible, the Daughters who administer the loans on the ground, the students who manage this social business, and of course to Pro-
PHOTO COURTESY/NNEKA ANOZIE
From left to right: Jinqi Mao (I.T. team), Ralph C. Tecson (marketing team), Nneka V. Anozie (marketing team), Sonia Raphael (I.T. team), and Gabriella Romano (I.T. team)
fessor Sama. As a first-hand witness, she sees how every single minute devoted to GLOBE pays extraordinary dividends in the lives of others. In October, the campaign did a “Treat for Change” fundraiser and held an annual bake sale, where they accumulated 700 dollars in
loose change and baked goodies. GLOBE students, dressed in Halloween costumes, went around campus giving out candy in exchange for loose change. Story continued on page 13
Student Org Advocates for Animal Rights Dayra Santana Bulletin boards across the St. John’s University campus are always cluttered with flyers advertising different events or opportunities, but if you look closely enough you can find fliers for bake sales, lectures and documentary screenings with the added bonus of vegan food being served. These belong to The Animal Rights Association at St. John’s — but they are not just a vegan club. The Animal Rights Association, or TARA, strives to educate students on animal rights issues such as cruelty and neglect against animals. Some members of TARA also have a vegetarian and vegan mindset and advocate against the exploitation of animals for food or any other purposes such as clothing or hunting. “The best part of being a member of TARA is that it helps spread a positive message to the community, and that this org is not only about fun and games,” TARA President Sofia Yang said. “And there [is] always free delicious vegan food at events as well.” According to the Humane Society of the United States, a non profit animal protection organization, the most common victims of animal abuse are dogs, cats, horses and livestock. While most cases of animal abuse are not reported, it is approximated that upwards of 70 million domesticated dogs and cats are abused every year. Through volunteer opportunities, TARA works to serve some of these animals. They volunteer several times a year at the Lewis Oliver Farm Sanctuary in Northport, New York, where rescued farm animals such as cows, chicken, goats and alpacas are given a home and rehabilitation. TARA also distributes leaflets around
campus, including brochures with information to educate students on cruelty against animals and the effects of animal testing. One of the organization’s most popular events, their annual “Thanksliving” celebration, took place in November. TARA invites students to gather and enjoy vegan versions of popular Thanksgiving dishes. While some members are vegetarian and vegan, TARA wants students to know that being conscious of animal issues and rights does not necessarily have to mean going vegetarian or vegan. Yang thinks this is likely one of the misconceptions students could have about the club. “People think we are all about veganism which is not true. Yes, veganism is a huge and important topic, but we try to emphasize mostly on animal rights,” Yang said. “Students can try to volunteer at non-kill shelters and become foster parents, help out at farm sanctuaries.” Yang, a fifth-year pharmacy major, has been a member of TARA for four years. For students that are interested in becoming vegetarian or vegan, Yang recommends watching documentaries and doing research to stay motivated. “You have to find your purpose and reason as to why you want to be become vegan, this way whenever you’re feeling like you’re going to relapse, just think back to those purposes,” she said. Treasurer Anya Evseev, a senior psychology major, has been a member of TARA since her freshman year and has watched the organization grow over the years. “My freshman year there was at most, like maybe 10 to 15 people that would come to the meetings,” Evseev said. “But now, I think since the whole movement of vegetarianism and veganism is definitely becoming more popular… it’s
PHOTO COURTESY/SJUTARA INSTAGRAM
Members of TARA advocating for animal rights in front of the D’Angelo Center.
bringing more attention to it on campus. I’m happy if people even come just for perspective.” Evseev spoke passionately about the issue and the club’s efforts to work on behalf of defenseless animals. “It really upsets me that people think that it’s okay to exploit animals, it really hurts me. People are becoming more aware of these issues and I really do hope we see a change,” she said. Evseev also believes going to animal sanctuaries will give students perspective on just how much difference proper care can make in the lives of mistreated animals. “[In] the sanctuaries, the workers really are there to give their all. They give
the animals a lot of roaming space, feed them and give them medical checks. I know sometimes in zoos animals can go unchecked,” she said. TARA members want all students and animal lovers alike, vegan or not, to feel welcome to attend a general body meeting or event and learn about what it means to advocate for defenseless animals. “Obviously animals can’t speak, this isn’t a cartoon movie. I see it as we’re basically the voice for the voiceless. For me it’s really about seeing that animals do feel, and acknowledging that. You can’t just ignore how these animals are feeling,” Evseev said. “Animal rights means standing up for those that don’t have a voice.”
GLOBE raises hundreds in fall campaign continued from page 12 Earlier in the semester, an employee and personal friend of Dr. Sama, Guillermo Campuzano (also known as Father Memo), visited the GLOBE class. “One of the perks of GLOBE is that Dr. Sama’s personal contacts and colleagues who work in the world of microfinance or social justice in some capacity periodically visit us as a supplement to our lectures,” senior Ralph Tecson said. Father Memo talked to GLOBE about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which set out objectives for governments to promote environmentally friendly and socioeconomically beneficial policies. Afterwards, Father Memo invited GLOBE to visit his office, and bought them tickets for a guided tour of the UN. Five members of the organization got to attend. “I thought it was a nice change of pace and pleasant opportunity that wouldn’t have availed itself to me if I wasn’t in GLOBE. GLOBE is more than just a class, it’s a social business that constantly provides eye-opening and life-chang-
ing opportunities to its students and loan borrowers alike,” Tecson said. The program has impacted the lives of St. John’s students who take the semester-long class. “As someone who is thinking about going into social entrepreneurship, it has taught me how to organize, event plan, fundraise- these are all things I had no idea how to do before GLOBE. Not only are we learning about social entrepreneurship, but we’re learning how to implement the things that we value into real life- to actually make a change,” senior marketing major Nneka V. Anozie said. “It broadens your horizons,” senior marketing major Christopher Richardson-Byam said. “Me personally, I’m from New York — GLOBE shows you what’s going on in the world. It’s not just skyscrapers and business...people don’t have a lot. People are still stuck in their houses made out of tins. If we could do something to educate or fund the future infrastructure industries, why not.” In late October, the program also received the Spirit of Service award, which is an important Vincentian recognition award at St. John’s.
PHOTO COURTESY/JINQI MAO
Members of GLOBE at their “Treat for Change” in Marillac.
GLOBE has grew from a fledgling idea to a robust program that has provided loans to nearly 200 borrowers in six countries, and has graduated nearly 400 GLOBE managers and students from the program. According to Dr. Sama, GLOBE demonstrates that good can be done in the world with small incremental chang-
es, and through a social business, many of the shortcomings that injustices and unethical business practices that are unleashed on those living in the margins of today’s society can be overshadowed. “It validates my belief in a brighter future for our planet – one that is envisioned and molded by the efforts of our youth.”
“Rush” by Current NYU Student and Artist Eva Rose Renee King Eva Rose is a powerhouse. She recently recorded and released her third single, “Rush,” and is planning on recording and premiering her debut EP within the next few months — before she even graduates from college. A student at the Clive Davis Institute at New York University, Rose cites her father’s taste in alternative music and her respect for bands such as Paramore, Weezer and Wilco as influences on her sound. “I wanted [“Rush”] to be fun and upbeat, but empowering, like a Paramore song,” she said. Indeed, her latest track (which was released earlier in November) has the attitude, vintage-sounding energy and timbre of any great pop-punk artist. Ripped from the pages of her own story writing, it is a breakup song, but in a more positive light. The glittery mixing of her producer and manager, Aidan Schechter, leads into the crux of the snappy, three-minute long anthem. Instead of acting like other songs that moan about heartbreak, Rose turns the negative into positive and frees herself from a rela-
tionship that just does not make her feel anything anymore. Writing from this place of relief invigorates the track even more, along with its catchy hook: “Used to take one dose, now it takes four.” What is even more inspiring than the growth experienced on “Rush” is the fact that Rose is still only a student. She studies the art of music making in her classes, and outside of this, emphasizes her collaboration with other students in the department as well as music video directors enrolled in NYU’s film program. Her advice to other up-and-coming artists? “In a creative environment, talk to everybody and work with everybody and make those connections. It’s so inspiring; feedback will help you,” Rose said. Maybe that sense of communication is something that should be implemented in more real-life relationships like the fantasy written in these lyrics. But in a space where such a young creative wields such energy with her words, perhaps they are best executed in songs of pain and pleasure like this one.
PHOTOs COURTESY/Calliope Music Group
Eva Rose is represented by Calliope Music Group, a management company run by NYU students.
PHOTO COURTESY/Flickr Creative commons/Kmeron
“Sundress” by A$AP Rocky A new era for Flacko?
A$AP Rocky recently released his new single “Sundress,” to critical acclaim.
PHOTO COURTESY/Flickr Creative commons/Chad Cooper
Nearly six months after the release of his latest studio album, “TESTING,” A$AP Rocky returns with a much anticipated single. The two-and-a-half-minute long track, which was released on Nov. 20, already has seven million plays on Spotify and its music video currently has an impressive eight million views on YouTube as of Tuesday night. The track samples “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?” by Australia-natives Tame Impala, whose joint track “Pretty Guy” with A$AP leaked in the summer of 2017 as a snippet. Since that fell into the hands of listeners, “Sundress” is the song that A$AP Rocky fans have been waiting for. Through its lyricism, we are able to picture a love lost. There were the incredibly perfect moments and planning for the future that soon vanished with the downfall of their relationship.
As they lead different lives, A$AP laments that she has “fallen into the wrong hands,” and pursues a “wrong man.” This is brought to life in the track’s accompanying music video, which through flashbacks and vivid scenes in a nightclub, viewers are able to see the dynamic of this once-afire love. As an A$AP and Tame Impala fan, the collision of these two artists should have left me a little more speechless. I was expecting a bit more. As we prepare and hope for another A$AP album to drop in the near future, this single shows us that he is only deviating from the sound that we once knew. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the future of where he is taking his next projects is questionable. Fans may be yearning to hear the grit of tracks such as “Pharsyde” and “Holy Ghost” once more. Until then, “Sundress” will have to satiate the ears of A$AP fans until his next piece is released.
More Sugary Than Your Holiday Starbucks Netflix’s “The Princess Switch” is the newest Christmas film of the season PHOTOs COURTESY/Youtube netflix
Vanessa Hudgens in Netflix’s “The Princess Switch.”
Cara Yesko Netflix has yet again whipped up a Christmas original movie and this time, it’s a sugary concoction that plays on the doppelgänger and princess themes that Hollywood loves so much. It’s called “The Princess Switch” and features the beloved former Disney star, Vanessa Hudgens, as the double lead. The film follows the story of a baker from Chicago, Stacey Denovo, and her trip to the fictitious and fake-snow filled “European” country of Belgravia for a holiday baking competition alongside her best friend/ assistant chef and his daughter. It’s at the prep-day for the prestigious competition that Stacey bumps into her doppelgänger: British-accent sporting and supposed distant cousin, Lady Margaret Delacourt of Montenaro, who’s set to become the new Belgravian princess through her forthcoming marriage to Prince Edward. Their encounter is underwhelming in its shock factor and passes without screams of surprise or even little more than some short-lived amazement on the part of Hudgens and her blatantly obvious body double. What ensues after their interaction, however, changes the course of the women’s lives romantically and otherwise, as they quickly decide to switch roles prior to Christmas for a chance to experience how the other half lives. Like many Christmas movies that feature the word “princess” in the title, the cringe factor of the story-line doesn’t disappoint. Yet the overly unrealistic set and random images of Brussels thrown in to validate the
mystical “European” country of Belgravia can be offset and maybe even slightly forgiven by the silly humor and generally comedic nature of the plotline. “The Princess Switch” meets more than a few Christmas movie clichés, from hot cocoa drinking and snowball fights to the inclusion of an old and mysteriously magical man, superfluous gift shopping and the improbably rapid development of love-interests. And while — spoiler ahead — both of Hudgens’ characters end up with their dream man, the sacrifices and strife that would naturally be associated with upending your life in the way in which Stacey and Margaret did, is barely mentioned. It’s also important to note that Netflix has taken product placement and shameless plugging to new heights this season by including scenes within its own movies of characters watching other Netflix originals with their new “boos.” In “The Princess Switch,” last year’s “A Christmas Prince” was given a shout out — the final scene even brought Duchess Margaret to gentle tears. Though “The Princess Switch” likely won’t be your new favorite film of the year or win any Oscars, it’s worth a watch if you’d like to absentmindedly indulge in some shamelessly questionable Christmas cheesiness frosted with romance, gorgeous ball gowns, your favorite Disney gal and all the aforementioned clichés. But then again, maybe your time would be better spent re-watching a tried and true classic and ditching a plot that will leave you envying Meghan Markle just a little bit more.
This Season at the Met Opera: “La Bohème” Samantha DeNinno
drug abuse and homosexuality in New York City during the 1980s. The key difference between the two lies in the time frame for each act. Larson’s rock-musical, obviously longer as it was crafted for the Broadway stage, differs from the many intermissions and breaks between acts of an opera. Because of this, the opera felt less like a complete story but more so
short vignettes featuring the same characters over a period of time. The night of my attendance, Mimi was played by Ailyn This season’s Metropolitan Opera has brought “La Pérez, Musetta by Angel Blue, Rodolfo by Michael FabiBohème” to the Lincoln Center stage. Originally comano and Marcello by Lucas Meachem. Each role was brilposed by Giacomo Puccini with librettists Giuseppe Giliantly portrayed through sharp and gentle operatic notes acosa and Luigi Illica, the opera is set in Paris, 1830, where that echoed throughout the theater. French artists lived without support of mainstream society. However, the set design was really what stood Over the course of four acts, and the seasons that out. Designed by Franco Zeffirelli, Act I and Act encompass them, “La Bohème” follows two couIV’s set was a cross-cut of a Parisian apartment, ples through sickness, health and the small sentiset against a moody background and other roofmental objects found throughout. tops, illustrating the economic situations of these Rodolfo and Mimi. Musetta and Marcello. The artists. Act III’s set involved a snowy courtyard in plot mainly focuses on the first couple mentioned, front of an inn — perfect for the somber tone of who have a prominent role in all four acts. Rothe scene. dolfo first meets the sweet-hearted Mimi when It is Act II’s set that inspired me the most and, she happens upon his door asking for a light for based on the gasps heard as the curtain opened, the her candle. Act I and Act II focus on their bloomaudience as well. A Parisian street on top, complete ing, undying love; however, Act III and Act IV with street lamps and store faces, a wide staircase shift tone as Rodolfo and their friend group reckmoving downward on the left side of the stage and on with Mimi’s worsening sickness. a cross-cut of a cafe with numerous waiters and The B-plot couple weaved through the four acts tables. The set was packed with dozens of ensemin mention and song are Musetta, a chronic flirt, ble members each acting in their own individual and Marchello, the man who wishes she wasn’t. stories, complete with a passing horse and donkey. This plot may sound familiar to theatre-viewers. For me, the set is what made the story what it was. For those who aren’t aware, “La Bohème” was the I would recommend “La Bohème” to first-timinspiration behind Jonathan Larson’s “Rent.” Larers like myself, as its spectacular sets, familiar stoson fleshed out the gaps between the opera’s acts, PHOTO COURTESY/Youtube Wikimedia commons Bengt Nyman rylines and great voices make this an opera easy to Americanized the names of the characters and enjoy and appreciate. placed the story in the timely context of AIDs, “La Bohème” at the Met Opera in 2014 with a set similar to this season’s.
torchonline.com torch design/jenna woo
In Previews Now: “To Kill A Mockingbird” Priyanka Gera “Remember it’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird.” Harper Lee’s words have resonated with millions who have read her all-time classic novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” published in 1960. The novel’s characters are literary legends, and they can now be seen on the Broadway stage at Shubert Theatre on 44th Street. Playwright Aaron Sorkin translated the Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece into a live-action recap of the novel. The cast includes Jeff Daniels starring as Atticus Finch, a prominent lawyer and member of the Finch family in Maycomb, Alabama; and Celia Keenan-Bolger (Scout Finch) alongside Will Pullen (Jem Finch). Similar to the novel, the play is narrated primarily by Scout, with the aid of Jem and Dill, as a flashback to the summer that Dill came to visit and Tom Robinson’s case was summoned to court. With a humor-infused introduction of each of the three naive children, the play delves into the adventurous yet tragic events of the summer of 1934. A crucial component of any stage adaptation is the diverse scenery. This play focused on events that took place in the courthouse, outside the county jail and on the porch of
the Finch residence. All of the set pieces were rolled on and off of the stage in the background by every cast member. Doors and windows descended from the flyaways above, and the chairs and porch were rammed into the spotlight from the wings.
It was a very active set, which kept the audience on their toes about what would come next. In Lee’s original story, the narrator, Scout Finch, is the young daughter of Maycomb County’s most reputable and well-off law-
PHOTO COURTESY/Youtube 60 minutes
Jeff Daniels stars in a new adaptation of “To Kill A Mockingbird” at the Shubert Theatre.
yer. She recounts the events of one vivid summer in particular when she was forced by a bigoted society to confront racism and prejudice at such a tender age. Tom Robinson, an innocent black man who was accused of raping a white woman, was brought to court to bring justice to the victim. The circumstances of this tense trial are supplemented with the account of Scout finding the good in humanity through the actions of her neighbors, such as Boo Radley. The recently settled lawsuits that were filed on this $7 million production surrounded the controversy of Sorkin’s artistic license for his depiction of Atticus Finch in the script. Skeptical critics arrived at the previews to judge for themselves how drastic the differences between the book and the play are. Did Sorkin grant a rather notable role to Scout, Jem and Finch in the play? Yes. On stage, however, the narration from the children’s point of view is a more suitable manner to emphasize the loss of innocence and other notable themes. Did Atticus’s character change at all? No. The character Sorkin drafted in his script remains faithful to the original Atticus Finch. I loved this play and believe that every detail was caught in the webs of translation and perfectly executed on stage.
Hallmark Missed the Mark: Realism in Christmas Films Cara Yesko December has just begun, but the Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” has long since started. Every year from mid-October to January, the Hallmark Channel airs its holiday-themed feature films. They are sappy Christmas creations that portray one unrealistic plot line after the next. In 2017, over 80 million Americans nationwide tuned in to watch the stunning, perfectly styled actors and actresses with their bleach white smiles perform their questionably written lines. As a channel that is otherwise forgettable during the better course of the year (except maybe to our grandmothers), Hallmark earns a spot as one of the highest grossing cable networks within these critical winter months. Yet, an unsettling truth lies in the wake of its success. The Hallmark Channel thrives off of the Christmas ideal that it portrays — one that lacks practicality, but more importantly, lacks diversity and representation within its cast. The sets are picture perfect and covered in fake snow. The houses are large. The innumerable presents under the trees are better wrapped than those at your local mall gift-wrapping stations. The relationships
are unrealistically rushed and gender-normative. The women are slender and fairskinned. The men are buff and also fairskinned. The fictitious towns show no signs of poverty, but rather, of prosperity. The kisses exchanged under mistletoe are plentiful. Okay, this may not always be the case. There may be a few exceptions to this long list of traits. Hallmark has attempted to integrate a more diverse cast into this year’s selection of movies, following a rise in media attention over its evident lack of diversity in last year’s “Countdown to Christmas” features. Yet these efforts were in fact minimal, with the overwhelming majority of the films featuring practically all-white casts with strikingly similar body types and gender identities. Simply scroll through the results of a Google image search titled “Hallmark Christmas movies” and you’ll see what I mean. For an industry that is at the forefront of the most influential social justice campaigns of the day — from the “Me Too” movement to the increasing push for representation of people of color and the LBGTQ+ community in feature films and award ceremonies — Hallmark stands as sugar-coated, artificial snow-covered proof that there
PHOTO COURTESY/Youtube hallmark channel
Lori Loughlin stars in “Homegrown Christmas” on the Hallmark Channel this month.
is still a lot of work to be done within the realm of entertainment. More Christmas movies need to be produced that give you the warm and fuzzy feeling, while better representing the diverse American population and not shying away from portraying the potential struggles or grim realities that so many others’ experience during a time of year where joy, cheer and shopping are advertised everywhere in bold print. The holiday season looks different for everyone. If Hallmark portrayed this
more accurately, their movies would gain a level of depth that’s not expected, but deserved. Stronger female leads could inspire more young women and girls. A greater understanding could be obtained for viewers living in ethnically homogeneous communities. A more holistic and gratifying product would result and it would better embody the core value of togetherness and love that are so critical to the Christmas season in the first place.
torch design/jenna woo
Underrated Netflix Gems for Winter Break PHOTO COURTESY/Youtube trailershd
PHOTO COURTESY/Youtube jhorge settler
“Babylon Berlin” pictured left and “What Happened to Monday” pictured right.
When most people think of Netflix, they think of the shows and films with large cult followings like “Stranger Things,” “Black Mirror” and “Orange is the New Black.” However, there are some more obscure films and TV shows that deserve just as much recognition and praise.
Netflix has some of the best selections of international TV series among all of the major streaming platforms. “Babylon Berlin” is a German crime-drama TV show, with the first 16 episodes available on Netflix. The show follows a police detective attempting to dismantle a complex crime ring in 1920s Berlin while he copes with some inner turmoil. You don’t have to be a German minor (like me) to appreciate it. There is plenty of sex, violence, political turmoil, drugs, crimes and Ragtime music to enjoy. This show will have you hooked the entire time.
If you’re like me, then you were probably a loyal watcher of “Orange is the New Black” during its earlier seasons, but slowly stopped watching as the series progressed. Not interested in “Orange is the New Black” anymore but still want that “women in prison” plotline? Then “Wentworth” is the show for you. “Wentworth” is an Australian television drama that follows the lives of women living in the fictional Wentworth Correctional Facility. “Wentworth” is basically “Orange is the New Black’s” grittier, darker sister. With five seasons available to stream on Netflix, it is definitely worth the watch.
"What Happened to Monday" Remember that novel “Among the Hidden?” It was about a fictional future where families were limited to two children to quell overpopulation, and if there was a third child, they had to hide to avoid capture and execution. “What Happened to Monday” is very similar to this. It follows the lives of septuplets who must avoid detection by the government — which has limited the number of children a family can have to just one — and search for their missing sister, Monday. This film is an absolute thrill ride, and you’ll be holding on to your seat from start to finish.
"The Firefly" “The Firefly” is another example of Netflix’s amazing selection of international content. In the LGBTQ+ Mexican film, Lucia struggles to come to terms with her estranged brother’s sudden death. While she grieves, she begins to bond with her brother’s fiancee and finds herself falling in love with her. As someone who hates romantic films, this film was completely absent of the usual cliches present in most romantic films. If someone as cold-hearted as I could enjoy this film, you certainly can.
"Train to Busan" “Train to Busan,” a Korean action-thriller, takes place on a passenger train headed to the city of Busan during a zombie apocalypse. The film is centered on a single dad and his young daughter as they struggle to survive the outbreak. When I first sat down to watch this film with my sister, I was positive it was just going to be another zombie film — I was wrong. I was so wrong. This film has it all, from impressive zombie kills to surprising character development. I promise that no eye will be left dry-eyed by the end of this film.
“The Firefly” pictured below.
PHOTO COURTESY/Youtube lesbian lips
Men’s Basketball is 7-0, but Room for Improvement Remains Brendan Myers The St. John’s men’s basketball team has taken care of business thus far, as they currently sit 7-0 and one of the last 10 or so undefeated teams in all of America. The non-conference schedule hasn’t been immensely difficult and all the wins haven’t been pretty, but the team is getting its job done. But the performances on the court haven’t seen the Red Storm live up to their potential. After opening up with a rout of Loyola (Md.), the Johnnies had a scare at home against Bowling Green and have already had four games this season decided by four points or less. There’s two ways to look at the close margins of victory. On the positive side, this shows growth from year to year in Head Coach Chris Mullin’s fourth season. The team is showing poise in close games and when they are down late. In the second half against Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets led by as many as 16 points, but the Red Storm stayed composed, took it one basket at a time and eventually closed and surpassed the gap to remain undefeated in Miami. The team’s experience and poise on the floor is reflected in its turnover margins. Good teams take care of the ball. St. John’s is only averaging 10 turnovers per game while forcing their opponents into 17. The negative side of the team’s up and down play this season lies in looking ahead to the future. With the remaining non-conference opponents, the Johnnies can easily
TORCH PHOTO/ALEX YEM
TORCH PHOTO/DANIEL PEREZ
St. John’s is undefeated, but they haven’t reached the level of play they are capable of.
use their athleticism to overcome a slow start to head into conference play 12-0. But once the Big East games start? Not so much. After an ugly start, Villanova is beginning to find its form. Seton Hall has outplayed expectations. Marquette, led by Markus Howard, looks like they can score at will. Creighton just gave top-ranked Gonzaga everything they could handle. Slow starts can’t be avenged like they are right now. One of the bigger questions that remain concerns freshmen Josh Roberts and Greg Williams. Both earned high praise in the preseason, but haven’t had those compliments translate to playing time. Williams is averaging just under six minutes per game while Roberts is averaging just under five. Zach Braziller of the New York Post tweeted that Mullin said Roberts needs work, but remains optimistic that the freshman forward will improve. Sticking with the theme of the front court, one of the drawbacks of Sedee Keita’s injury is that Marvin Clark II has been forced to play out of position. He’s spent a lot of time in foul trouble. Clark II provides a nice scoring option, but with him on the bench, the team loses a lot of leadership on the floor. With the strong performance against Rutgers and the comeback heroics against Georgia Tech, the Red Storm passed their two most significant non-conference tests. They’re undefeated, but still far from reaching their potential.
Women’s Basketball Starts Strong Brendan Myers Without playing a home game within the confines of Carnesecca Arena until last Thursday, the St. John’s women’s basketball team opened up the season strong, winning five of their first seven games in convincing fashions. The team’s only two losses are to undefeated and national power house UConn and ACC opponent Wake Forest on Sunday. Of the team’s seven games so far, only one has been at home, so the Red Storm players have had to get used to life on the road. “When you’re on the road, you’re spending more time together,” Head Coach Joe Tartamella said after the team’s 82-44 victory over Delaware State last Thursday. “Having success and winning on the floor helps that bond even more because some more buy-in to what you are doing.” One thing that Coach Tartamella’s roster has bought into early in this season is defense. At Big East Media Day in October, sophomore Qadashah Hoppie said that defense will always be the identity of the Red Storm, no matter who the opponent is. No team, even the feared UConn Huskies, has been able to score more than 70 points on the season against the Red Storm. St. John’s is the only team that has kept the Huskies under 80 points on the season. In the team’s two losses, they’ve only given up 65 and 64 points, respectively. The tone for the Johnnies has been set with the strong backcourt play of Tiana England and Hoppie. England’s impact of
the game might not show up on the stat sheet with her 9.7 points per game, but her ability as a floor general allows the team’s offense to open up. Her assist to turnover ratio is over 3:1 and she’s only turned the ball over 15 times in seven games, while averaging over 37 minutes per game. Her ability to spread the floor allows for players like Akina Wellere (9.7 points per game) and Hoppie (12.3 points per game) to get uncontested shots and let the offense flow. After Maya Singleton and Imani Littleton graduated in May, a lot of pressure was put on sophomore Kayla Charles and newly eligible player Curteeona Brelove. Both have delivered. In the game against Delaware State, both registered double-doubles in a dominant performance on the glass, when the team outrebounded the Hornets 56-28. Charles secured her double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds in just 12 minutes of action, which Tartamella called “sick” after the game against Delaware State. Brelove, a transfer from VCU, has averaged nine points and six rebounds on the season. The team only averaging 64.1 points per game might seem concerning, until realizing that they’re only giving up an average of 55 points to their opponents. Early on, it’s been hard not to be impressed with the team’s defense. As the team continues to grow, and players like freshman Kadaja Bailey get acclimated to the system, the offense will come. For now, however, the Red Storm’s foundation is tenacious and in-your-face defense.
TORCH PHOTO/ALEX YEM
Alisha Kebbe shot 71 percent from the field in the team’s win over Delaware State.
Volleyball Loses in First Round of NIVC The Red Storm finish with a final record of 23-12 in 2018 Brendan Murray A historic season for Red Storm volleyball ended with a bitter defeat to the College of Charleston in Atlanta. The Red Storm were unable to continue their run of dominance this season at the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC). This defeat should in no way take away from the incredible season they accomplished. The team finished with a 23-12 record, their most wins since 2007, and an appearance in the Big East semifinals for the first time since 2012. Coach Joanne Persico had another award-winning season at the helm of the Red Storm. Persico and her coaching staff were awarded a second Big East Coaching Staff of the Year award. Persico’s leadership and coaching acumen were on full display throughout the season on the court. In Perisco’s 25th season at the helm of St. John’s Volleyball, she put together a team with a mix of youth and veteran leadership. The Red Storm were able to rebound after a tough 2017 season where they finished with a 15-18 record. The key for the Red Storm was consistency. They were able to avoid long losing streaks and always seemed to rattle off wins when they needed to, even when their back was against the wall. The Johnnies finished third in the Big East Conference, only behind Marquette and Creighton. Creighton and Marquette finished the 2017
season in first and second place respectively with little change in their overall record. After a successful regular season, the Red Storm clinched a berth in the Big East Tournament. However, in the semifinal the Red Storm fell to Marquette, who went on to lose to Creighton in the Big East Tournament Championship game. An outstanding first year campaign by Efrosini Alexakou led to her receiving two Big East awards, Big East Freshman of the Year and a selection to the Big East All-Tournament team. A native of Thessaloniki, Greece, Alexakou lead the Red Storm in kills and finished the season ranked fifth in the Big East for kills per set with 3.55. The 6-foot-1 freshman will look to be a key cog in what surely will be a hopeful season in 2019. Freshman Rachele Rastelli, like Alexakou, finished a tremendous rookie season for the Red Storm. The Parma, Italy native finished the season with 333 kills, only three behind Alexakou for the team lead. Rastelli also finished second on the team in blocked shots with 10 and 4th on block assists with 74. The right-side hitter brought plenty of foreign experience to the Red Storm this season with her experience playing for clubs in Italy. With the youth of this Red Storm team shining the brightest in this memorable 2018 season, one can only hope to see what the future of this squads holds for the next three years of Alexakou and Rastelli. Both of them will surely be looked at to help lead this
TORCH PHOTO/ALEX YEM
Erica Di Maulo’s strong junior season landed her a place on the All-Big East First Team.
team back into the competitive seasons that fans were used to seeing in the early 2000s but have been lacking in recent years. Ending a season without a championship and calling it a success in New York is rare. However, after a season where the program returns to the postseason for the first time
since 2012 and was led by two-star freshmen the progress witnessed was encouraging to say the least. This season can be looked at as a success but 2019 will be the year Red Storm fans and players will be looking for this team to take the next step.
Fencing Dominates Brandeis Invitational Nick McCreven The St. John’s fencing team made their way out to Waltham, Mass. this past weekend for the Brandeis Invitational and took home five victories for both the men’s and women’s sides, for a final record of 102. Both teams only fell to Yale but were able to take down Brandeis, MIT, Brown, Cornell and Boston College. Fares Ferjani, Karolina Cieslar and Karolina Kaleta all had themselves perfect days for the Johnnies, ending in 18-0 records all around in saber competitions. The men’s saber put on the strongest performance with 44 wins on the day from Ferjani, Ben Natanzon, Dalton Walker and Sal Centanni. They went 6-0 for the Red Storm. Maxime Tarasiewicz went 13-5 on the day in the foil competition. The men’s foils were the only groups that lost on the day as a whole, but only by two. Men’s epee took home a resounding win in their group, with Ivan Zagoruiko finishing 14-1 and Nathan Vaysberg finishing 11-7. The women’s saber had themselves a spectacular day as the Cieslar and Kaleta were the only two to compete and went 18-0 each, for a final for women’s saber of 36-18. Kasia Lachman and Arianna Pappone were successful in the women’s foil, each going 16-2. For the women’s epee, Andrea Rizzi and Dominique Tannous went 15-3 and 14-4 respectively to lead their group to victory as well.
Their resounding success should help build confidence to carry over into their next invitational at home in January. The
team’s next competition will be from Dec. 14-17 at the December North American Cup in Ohio.
Dec. 5: Men’s Basketball vs. Mount St. Mary’s, 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 6: Women’s Basketball vs. Yale, 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 7: Track & Field at Fordham Lid Lifer, Bronx, N.Y.
Dec. 9: Track & Field at Bill Ward Invitational, S. Huntington, N.Y.
Dec. 9: Men’s Basketball vs. Princeton, Madison Square Garden, 1:00 p.m.
Dec. 9: Women’s Basketball vs. Florida State, 2:00 p.m.
Dec. 14-17: Fencing at December North American Cup, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Dec. 15: Women’s Basketball at La Salle, 2:00 p.m.
Dec. 19: Men’s Basketball vs. St. Francis—Brooklyn, 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 21: Women’s Basketball at James Madison, 2:00 p.m.
Dec. 22: Men’s Basketball vs. Sacred Heart, 8:00 p.m.
PHOTOS COURTESY/ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS
Fares Ferjani and Karolina Cielsar finished with perfect records over the weekend.
SPORTS December 5, 2018 | VOLUME 96, ISSUE 10
Basketball Teams off to To Hot STarts TORCH PHOTOS/ALEX YEM AND NICK BELLO TORCH DESIGN/AMANDA NEGRETTI
Coverage on page 18