Volume 96, Issue 15

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VOL 96 : 15 march 20, 2019 The award-winning independent student newspaper of St. John’s University


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" i t's i m po rta n t to k n ow t h e v i ct i m s by n a m e " Muslim students association organizeS new zealand vigil TORCH PHOTO/spencer clinton

Student org spotlight: vietnamese student association Story on pAgE 9 PHOTO courtesy/norman chuk

SJUbb dances inTO NCAA TOURNAMENT | Story on Page 15




MSA Hosts Vigil to Honor Christchurch Victims At least 50 dead after mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques


The Muslim Students Association held a vigil, led by President Mohammed Wasi and VP Umar Syed, in front of DAC on Monday in remembrance of the 50 killed in New Zealand.

Dayra Santana About 40 students and faculty gathered at the D’Angelo Center Plaza on Monday, March 18 for a vigil organized by the Muslim Students Association (MSA) to remember the 50 victims of two mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. The two shootings, which took place at two separate mosques on Friday, March 15, made for the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand’s history, according to the Washington Post. CNN also reported that 34 victims remain hospitalized and 12 are in critical condition. MSA led about 30 students from St. John Hall to DAC and distributed flowers to those in attendance before the vigil began, with a prayer from MSA Vice President, Umar Syed. “The attacks on New Zealand was not just an attack on the people of New Zealand, it was not just an attack on the [50] souls that were taken that day, and it was not just an attack on the families of the people who have passed away,” Syed said during the vigil. “It was an attack on all of us, and that’s why we all feel the pain.” Behind Syed was a poster collage with the names and photos of the victims of the attack on display, above a basket of flowers and messages of empathy from students. The attack was done by a lone shooter and took place on Friday, March 15 at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, during Friday Prayer. Sophomore events planner for MSA, Aleeshah Zahid said she was “shocked” to hear the news. “I was definitely shocked, just because it’s like something that was unexpected,” Zahid said. “You would never think that someone is going to pray and then they get shot there. That’s supposed to be a safe space, especially for Muslims.” E-board members leaned on one another for support as they recited names and stories of the victims. MSA President Mohammed Wasi wanted the crowd gathered at the vigil to remember those who died as more than

just what happened to them. “My first thing was definitely doing it the right way and doing justice by the victims,” Wasi said. “It’s important to know the victims by name and by their stories, not just by a number. If you hear [50] Muslims died in New Zealand, yeah it’s big, but it’s a number and you don’t know who those victims were, you don’t know their lives, their stories.” Tasmi Imlak, former public relations chair for MSA, hopes that Muslim students continue to feel safe on campus.

It was an attack on all of us, and that’s why we all feel the pain. - Umar Syed

“There are a lot of people in our group that wear hijab, that are outright and you can tell they’re Muslim,” Imlak said. “So I think for people like them it’s really important for them to feel like they have a home outside of their home.” He added that it’s important for the community to feel safe. “We have a prayer room where they can pray, we have events that we hold where everyone can talk about their own feelings,” Imlak said. “I think we do need a space where we’re able to talk about the kind of experiences that we have and know that there are other people in our community that have the same experiences, and that we’re not alone.” Wasi said the support from Campus Ministry, Multicultural Affairs, club advisors and other religious organizations on campus is empowering, making him feel safe. “Outside of campus, it doesn’t always feel safe you know,” Wasi said. The collage and flowers will remain in the DAC living room until Friday, where students can leave their messages of support for the victims.




University Website Gets A New Look Beverly Danquah The University has revamped its website, www.stjohns.edu, in an attempt to become more mobile-friendly and accessible to visually impaired students. “Website design came about for a couple of different reasons,” a spokesperson for the University, Brian Browne, said. “Since the backend content management system was updated, the site needed to be updated.” The University uses a backend content management system called Drupal, and with yearly updates to the system, they try to keep up by making appropriate changes to the site. This is the first complete makeover for the site in about six years. The site is also now scales from small to large, as opposed to previously scaling from large to small. “We wanted to make the site more mobile-friendly and accessible to like visually impaired student,” Browne said, adding that most visitors to the site are prospective students who are viewing the site on their mobile devices. “Most students start their college searches on their phone,” he said. “Most St. John’s students are using mySJU.” The website still has the same copy and content, it just has a “much more user friendly experience.” As most students recall, the old site had visually-pleasing moving images, but when you would click on them, they wouldn’t go anywhere. Now, there’s a more interactive experience. “This design site creates a call to action,” Browne said. “It’s easier to click to get places.” The site features two methods of searching: traditional


The new University website shows a sleeker look for a more user-friendly experience at www.stjohns.edu.

We wanted to make the site more mobile-friendly and accessible to visually impaired students. - Brian Browne University Spokesperson

search and an in-guided search. The in-guided search helps visitors better navigate their needs. “In the in-guided search, there’s a drop-down menu

that says ‘I am a… and I’m looking for… take me there,’” Browne said. The changes to the search are based on an analysis of what visitors are using the site for. This is only the first version of the site and the University aims to make changes based on user feedback. Freshman student Catherine Pham likes the new site. “I think it’s a lot more helpful, everything is easy to access,” she said. Freshman student Adam Kacperak thinks the website is “super clean.” “It’s just hard to work,” Kacperak said. Sara Rodia contributed to this story.

SGI: New Policies and Updates Alexis Gaskin The general assembly meeting for Student Government Inc. was held last Monday, March 11 in DAC 128. This meeting was the last one before the official start to SGI elections at the next meeting on Monday, March 25. This past meeting ran as follows: There were no reports from the SGI President, Atemkeng Tazi or Vice President, Christopher Stevens. Treasurer Henry Stitzel reported no drastic changes with the funds and urged all committees to keep spending their budgets. Stitzel discussed how there wasn’t a lot of spending in the last couple of weeks due to spring break. Junior Senator, Johnny Wiley reported that St. John’s is looking to change the Demonstration Policy. “So basically, Jackie Lochrie along with the university has created a new demonstration policy and I along with members of Spectrum have been asked to give feedback,” Wiley said. Sophomore Senator Hannah Sesay is working to get a classroom to get a town hall together for students. Academic Affairs There will be an off-campus event for students to attend that will be hosted by Top Chef judges. The deadline has since passed to RSVP, but the committee hopes to create more events like this for the future. One of the Co-Chairs brought to light the desire to have a uniform program be used for science majors instead of multiples that are costly. These different programs being Wiley, WebAssign and McGraw Hill Connect amongst others.

This conversation was tabled for a future meeting. Budget Committee Two proposals were pre-approved by the executive board prior to the meeting since there was not a meeting for the representatives to vote on the proposals. Both special allocations were approved, one being from the African Student Association (ASA) and one being from UNICEF. UNICEF and ASA requested $11,107.89 for their African Children’s Gala and were approved for $8,122.47. ASA requested $48,704.00 for their Annual Fashion Show and was approved for $23,704. The artist was not funded. Elections The committee is gearing up to work on the upcoming election and noted that the meeting on March 25 will be when the candidates will be announced. All positions are up for grabs including representatives, committee chairs and e-board. Philanthropy Relay for Life is only a month away; on April 12 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and the committee is working to bring events to campus that will highlight the main event and urges people to sign up if they haven’t already. The goal for this year is to raise $150,000. Sustainability A change this year, instead of hosting a singular event for Earth Day, the committee is working with Earth Cub to bring several events throughout the month to celebrate.




ASA and UNICEF Gather at First Annual Gala The money raised will go to disadvantaged children worldwide Crystal Simmons The African Students Association (ASA) and the St. John’s Chapter of UNICEF teamed up this past weekend on Saturday, March 16 to raise awareness on issues affecting communities in Africa and the people within the diaspora across the globe. That night they raised $450 to be donated to disadvantaged children worldwide. ASA hosted its annual gala in collaboration with the St. John’s chapter of UNICEF, making this the first time that ASA and UNICEF have collaborated on this event. ASA serves as an organization to raise awareness and educate the St. John’s community about the African continent, as does UNICEF. Globally, UNICEF works in 190 countries to bring food, healthcare, and various services to disadvantaged youth. St. John’s founded their chapter of UNICEF in 2015. This year’s theme, “The Royal Kingdom” was meant to serve as a reminder to those of African descent of their regal origins. It was also an event that shed light on African cultures and customs that some people are not aware of. “Us Africans we like to celebrate, we like to party so we’re hoping people ate well and enjoyed themselves and they see Africans for who we are,” Toby Chukwura, president of ASA said. “We are a very jolly people and we like to entertain. As black people we are regal and we’re not at the bottom and we have a history that goes longer than anywhere else.” Students and guests were encouraged


Members of ASA and UNICEF came together to celebrate as well as raise awareness.

to wear traditional African attire to celebrate the vibrant and colorful fashion that is colloquial to the different countries throughout the continent. While students danced their way to the musical stylings of DJ Don, they also experienced traditional

African dishes such as Jollof rice and Puff Puff, a Western African snack made from fried dough. In addition to showcasing African cultures, the gala highlighted various organizations that serve their communities and

uplift the younger generations through their work. The Gambian Youth Organization was awarded a certificate for their service to children and adolescents in the west Bronx. In addition, Sending Her Essentials (S.H.E.) was recognized for their service to women across the world by providing menstrual health management products, education and advocacy. Many students got to enjoy the dance performances by the ASA dance team and LIVE dance crew, but this event also inspired them to do more for their communities. The gala has also connected various student leaders who are interested in making a difference. “You see how much we do together,” sophomore attendee Carolyn Guity said. “I always say as black people we cannot rise alone. Having an event like this definitely shows us that we are not alone and if you want to do something for your community you don’t have to do it alone.” Guity was not the only one who was moved by the collaboration between ASA and UNICEF. “I thought that it was really interesting because I had never been to any of ASA’s meetings before,” Sarah Nourdeen, a member of the UNICEF chapter, said. “It was interesting seeing their culture and how we could work together to empower Africa,” she added. “I hope that people realize that there are humanitarian crisis happening all over the world,” UNICEF President Victoria Joseph said. “I hope people gain awareness of the pertinent issues concerning children and do something about it.”

Sara Rodia The St. John’s History department and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies welcomed Dr. Robyn C. Spencer on Monday, March 18 for a special Women’s History Month Lecture. Spencer is an Endowed Chair in Women’s and Gender Studies at Brooklyn College. She started her college career as a pre-med student before switching to a history major and eventually taking an interest in the Black Panther Party. During her lecture, Spencer spoke about her process of writing her book, “The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland,” and, specifically, the importance of women in the Black Panther Party. When she began her research, Spencer went to Stanford University in California to work her way through 90 boxes worth of material on the 1960’s and 1970’s Black Power Movement. “I had to figure out: What is the story that I want to tell and what is the story that these archives want me to tell?” Spencer said. “I was first struck by the organizational history that was embodied in the Panthers,”

Spencer said. “[They] were never presented to me as an organized group. They were emotional, they were angry, they were more likely to be on the streets marching than typing in an office the minutes to meetings — yet what I found were tons of minutes to meetings.” She found that the Black Panther Party was a highly organized group, which is different than the ideas that most people have about the Black Panther Party. Her research brought her further into the Black Power Movement as she began to interview members of the Party, with a focus on the women in the group. “I wanted to elevate the role and importance of Panther women,” she said. According to Spencer, women first began joining the movement in the spring of 1977. She interviewed numerous women who were members of the Party and gave them an opportunity to tell their stories. She had many questions she wanted answered, including, “How did panther women define themselves for themselves? Is it that they were hidden? Is it that we didn’t see them, even though they were always there to begin with?” Many panther women played important


Women’s History Month Presents Dr. Robyn C. Spencer

Dr. Robyn C. Spencer spoke on the long, thought provoking process writing her book.

roles, doing things such as starting their free breakfast program, taking care of the children and raising the next generation of Black Panthers. Spencer left students with a resounding

comment, “Woman’s stories totally transform how we think about these moments in history, they just get added in as a little extra flavor — but they change the story.”




“Growing Pains: Stigma and Mental Illness” Four faculty members from the Rhetoric, Communication and Theater department sat in the former Debate Room in St. John Hall to listen to Dr. Sanae Elmoudden discuss her research on mental health: “Growing Pains: Stigma and Mental Illness” Monday. If a person meets someone with cancer, they ask about the healing process and praise their progress towards wellness, but they view people with mental illnesses as broken, Elmoudden said. Elmoudden began studying mental illness after learning about her son’s depression and also began conducting an autoethnography, a type of qualitative research that ties personal experience into the wider culture. She drew from her personal experiences in the presentation of the research as well, sharing a vignetteshe wrote about her son called, “One Hour at a Time.” “Not one day at a time because what happens right now might be different than what happens later and also how you solve the problem right now is completely different than how you’re going to solve the problem in the next minute, even though it’s the same problem,” Elmoudden said.


Sami Wanderer

Dr. Sanae Elmoudden showed off her mental health research to faculty and students.

This hourly difference and case-by-case difference is important to understand about mental illness, Elmoudden stressed. She used depression as an example, saying each person is affected by depression differently. Any person can be affected by mental illness, but Elmoudden said most people still talk about it quietly or not at all.

“They lower their voice as if this is something that needs to be shamed all the time,” Elmoudden said. Mental illness can affect people of all backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, races and cultures and Elmoudden’s research explains why intersectionality should become a part of the conversation. The intersections

of different oppressions like race, sexuality and religion also interact with the stigma mental illness brings, she said. “For instance I am black, and I also happen to be a Muslim so I am at the intersection of black and Muslim,” Elmoudden said. These interactions cause mental illness to be looked at differently across cultures. Mental illness in the Muslim community is more stigmatized than in other communities for example, she said. Elmoudden emphasized using terms like “brain diversity” to remove the stigma from mental illness discussions. She said the term “neurodiversity” is already used in the autism field and believes all mental illnesses should be talked about this way. She presented a chart showing a timeline of different categories of mental illness, neuro-diversity, hormonal, emotional and neuro-transmittal, and how they connect to identity, agency and mental-consciousness. The stigma around mental illness is at the center of Elmoudden’s research. Her research attempts to provide a vocabulary normalizing mental illness. People should be aware of mental illness, not blind to it, she said.

Black & White Ball Shows Off ‘Haraya’s Playhouse’ Crystal Simmons From Ella Fitzgerald to Langston Hughes, the Harlem Renaissance was a movement that embraced the reality of black life in America. During the 1920s, an intellectual, social and artistic explosion of black creatives offered new and unique perspectives on the black experience. The theme for this year’s annual Black and White Ball was an act of homage to this significant period of American History. On March 2 “Haraya’s Playhouse” transformed the way this event has been hosted in comparison to previous years. Students were no longer subjected to wearing shades of white like cream or black, with slight hints of color. This year’s theme was not only was a nod to the renaissance of 1920s Harlem, it was also a way to acknowledge a new wave of black creativity and excellence. While this annual event signifies the end of Black History Month activities on campus, it also gave students and faculty the opportunity to come together and celebrate their achievements. With an emphasis on excellence, this event was curated to create a sentiment of the Harlem Renaissance. “I feel like this year was important to me especially,” Dionté Williams, vice president of activities for Haraya, said. “The world has been showing how they truly feel about black culture and people. Every day I want to communicate and express our power, our excellence, our love, our strength and our intelligence. When I was tasked with spearheading Black and White Ball, I just knew that I wanted to pay homage to everyone before us.” Every element of the renaissance was tailored to the event. From the elegant fruit

display to the bustling “mocktail” hour to the thoughtfully cultivated visual presentation of black art and historical figures, the fourth floor of the D’Angelo Center was transformed into an immersive experience for all of its attendees. Students were encouraged to reflect the Harlem Renaissance theme through their formal attire as well. This was a unique phenomenon of this year’s Black and White Ball because attendees were able to really capture the nights essence in their looks. “I like the themed aspect of the ball,” senior Wyett Woodbury said. “I like that it’s different and people are able to express themselves through fashion. I appreciate the theme for what it was, and it surrounds Black History. I feel like PHOTO COURTESY/DIONTE WILLIAMS the theme captured black culture and for those that partici- Savannah Moore and Taizia Sullivan were given the Emerging Leader Award at Haraya’s B&W Ball. pated in it I feel like it was spot on barriers that we have never seen. We cele- keeping it open to wearing any color you and they did what they had to do to really show what black culture is and was brate black excellence all the time, but the want and giving us a theme to experiment Harlem Renaissance was the birthing of all with gave people the opportunity to get crepast and present.” ative.” Many upperclassmen who have attend- that in the U.S.” Other students took note of the difference For the years to come, Haraya’s new vened the Black and White Ball in previous years noticed how this year’s theme stood in decoration from last year’s ball to this ture has the potential to spark a renaissance out from the previous ones. Senior Obono year. Many could see the shift this theme of its own within the St. John’s community. Not only is black excellence being celebrated Mba-Madja attended last year’s ball and ap- had on the overall ambiance of the ball. “The difference I noticed off bat was the throughout the world, people are continuing preciated the way this year’s theme captured decoration,” senior Sieta Leon, who is also to educate and cultivate new and captivating the significance of black success. “I think it was very fitting to have a Har- the president of the Latin American Student ways to express their stories. Like the Harlem lem Renaissance theme. Within the past year Association, said. “They took the theme Renaissance, this year’s ball was a reminder I feel like black people all over the world and ran with it this year and did a great job of the ways in which black people continue have made certain trademarks and broken embodying the Harlem Renaissance with to create and push the boundaries of popular the music and the centerpieces. I also think culture.




Flames of the Torch On fixing our mistakes, and NZ attack’s impact in SJU community Managing Board XCVI


Angelica Acevedo, Editor-in-Chief Isabella Bruni, Managing Editor


Amanda Negretti Creative Director 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 Dara Burke Assistant Opinion Editor

Jillian Ortiz Chief Copy Editor Spencer Clinton Photo Editor Alex Yem Assistant Photo Editor Jenna Woo Assistant Design Editor Nick Bello Social Media Manager Morgan Mullings Outreach Manager Dana Livingston Assistant Outreach Manager Jim Baumbach Adviser



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Crystal Simmons Sami Wanderer Sara Rodia Alexis Gaskin Maggie Moore J.P. Devetori

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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.

Jewel Antoine Sydney Denham Sean Okula Brendan Murray

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In a recent Torch article, we mistakenly are remembered, and are not just a number published a term offensive to the LGBTQ+ in a death toll. community, and also misgendered a memOn March 15, the deadliest mass shootber of Spectrum, the LGBTQ+ organiza- ing in New Zealand’s history occurred, tion on campus. We worked to fix the mis- enacted by the suspect, who will not to be takes online as soon as we were contacted named out of respect for the victims. He and added an apology to the online article. live streamed his journey and arrival at the We would like to, again, apologize directly mosques, televising the violent murders on to everyone we have offended and are avid- Facebook Live. ly working to make sure that mistakes like The attacks have been closely associated these will not happen again in the future. with white supremacy and Islamophobia Spectrum kindly extended an invitation cultivated in an increasingly polarized enfor our staff to attend a Safe Zone course vironment worldwide — visible and supin response to the mistakes found in the ported by statements by Australian Senator article, “The True Fraser Anning, who Cost of Student Acaccredited the fault tivism.” Two of our of the attacks to the e-board members Muslims residing in It is the journalist’s attended the event Christchurch itself. responsibility to be and encourage every knowledgeable of how to Beliefs such as these member of the St. are indisputably indeproperly and respectfully John’s community to fensible and represent refer to all communities. attend the trainings the increasing vilifias well. cation of peaceful Muslim communities We would like to thank Spectrum for around the world. this kind gesture, and as a result, we will These egregious acts illustrate that action take the knowledge gained from this train- is necessary against those emboldened by ing and apply it when handling stories of stereotypes, further pushed by both those this nature and in other realms of our re- in public office and in local communities. porting moving forward. It is the journalLast week’s events have brought to our atist’s responsibility to be knowledgeable of tention that these problems are not national how to properly and respectfully refer to problems but global ones and demonstraall communities — not the responsibility tions of empathy and action, such as New of those same communities to educate the Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s journalist. decision to wear the hijab and commitment Earlier this week, about 40 students and to definitive gun reform, are the first steps faculty organized at the D’Angelo Center to ignite change. Plaza in solidarity and in remembrance of The United States can take a page from the 50 victims of two mass shootings at Al New Zealand’s book as they currently reNoor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre form their own gun laws and analyze their in Christchurch, New Zealand. They want- own prejudices to make sure these heinous ed to make sure that the innocent victims acts do not occur in the future.

MLB Teams Should Stop Overpaying Players J.P. Devetori The 2019 Major League Baseball free agency is loaded with many big-name players and headliners, for example, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are elite ball players, and for the first time ever, they are free agents. At 26-years-old, Harper and Machado seek long term contracts with a contending team. Both players want to make record contracts, along the lines of 15 years and $350 million, enough to break Giancarlo Stanton’s contract of 13 years and $325 million back in 2014. When I look at the price range these players are demanding, I ask, “Are they worth the money?” My answer is “yes” for Harper but “no” for Machado. Both are multi-time All-Stars but differ in how they treat the game. Harper comes across as self-absorbed, but he has strong discipline when it comes to his playing ability. He can hit, run, has a good arm and he was the 2015

National League MVP. Machado is more controversial. He is known to have dirty tactics, such as purposely sliding into opposing in-fielders. A poor attitude and no respect for opponents is a sign that Machado cares more about the money. Teams with high payrolls like the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs were among the favorites looking/ expected to sign either one of the players, or both. Surprisingly, none of the high payroll teams signed either player. The San Diego Padres signed Machado with a 10-year, $300 million contract on February 21 and the Philadelphia Phillies signed Harper with a record 13-year, $330 million contract on March 2. Only time will tell if these deals will turn out to be successful, but at the same time, are teams tired of overpaying ballplayers every single year?

Both New York baseball teams have a history of free agent busts. In 2009, the Mets signed Jason Bay to a four-year, $66 million contract, and he only lasted three years due to injuries and lack of productivity. In 2013, the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract. Ellsbury has yet to live up to the team’s expectations and lost his starting job to teammate Aaron Hicks. This is why the MLB should utilize a salary cap like the NBA, NFL and NHL. The salary cap would help lower the free agent player’s price tag yearly due to the limited amount of teams that have that kind of money. If that happens, then we won’t have to see any more 10-year, $300 million or 13-year, $330 million contracts. That is what the MLB should do — not only would the teams save millions, but it would mitigate the greediness of future free agent ballplayers.




It Is Time Justice is Served For R. Kelly The R&B singer showed his guilt in latest interview Prior to 2019, when one would think of R. Kelly — famous R&B star and pop culture icon — they would be reminded of his contributions to R&B. However, Kelly’s public image has not always been as great as some of his music. Allegations of Kelly’s numerous inappropriate sexual relationships with young girls — most notably with late R&B singer Aaliyah — have been public knowledge since the 90’s. He has since been acquitted of child pornography charges and has settled lawsuits outside of court. Yet his music career has continued to flourish. That was until his performative interview with CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King ruined his chances of ever being appreciated for his music again. This interview was an attempt to clean up the R&B singer’s tarnished image but instead, it uncovered his manipulative tendencies. In January 2019, Lifetime released a docu-series entitled “Surviving R. Kelly,” in which the personal stories of Kelly’s various victims from a span of several years are told. The survivors range from Kelly’s ex-wife, Andrea Kelly, to many other women who were mentored by Kelly in their early to late teens. The docu-series created a social media frenzy, and the “Mute R.Kelly” campaign came about in full effect. As a result, R. Kelly sat down with King for an interview in an attempt to clear his name. The interview consisted of several emotional outbursts, in which Kelly yelled, pounded

his chest and stormed off the set. He claimed that he is completely innocent and is only guilty of having a “big heart.” He also said that the public is “killing him” and that he has been “assassinated” by the media. This interview was Kelly’s last and, quite frankly, futile attempt at controlling the narrative about himself since the release of the docu-series and the resulting outrage. The interview itself felt like a poorly written performance and Kelly’s emotional “outbursts” elt pre-planned and inauthentic. His inability to acknowledge any sort of wrongdoing, as well as his repeated attempts to discredit the stories of the numerous women who have raised accusations against him show that Kelly’s purpose for sitting down with King was to gain public sympathy and play the role of the victim. However, what Kelly fails to realize is that even though society is still working on its method of handling sexual assault and how it treats victims of rape and abuse, we live in a very different social climate than what was in effect during the 90’s. The #MeToo movement has given victims the strength to stand up to their abusers and come forward with their stories. The accusations against him will not be swept under the rug this time. We still stand with and protect these girls, and regardless of his antics. Kelly will face the consequences of his actions in the court of public opinion and hopefully, these young women will finally get the justice that they deserve.


Jewel Antoine

R. Kelly was recently jailed for failure to pay child support.

Features 9


VSA Spreads Cultural Awareness on Campus “It’s definitely a fresh start –– a lot of us actually aren’t Vietnamese. A lot of us are taking the values of VSA [Vietnamese Student Association], the nonprofit organization, and instilling that into St. John’s,” Justin Lee, senior vice president of VSA, said. Justin is of Korean descent and says that the organization’s goal is to spread cultural awareness. “It’s weird when you have so much diversity in a focused culture –– but I think that’s something great about the organization … it’s diversity. In a way it’s like we are learning as we build the organization.” During the spring semester of 2017 the VSA, was created as a nonprofit national organization. The organization stemmed from the Vietnamese Cultural Organization (VCO) which was considered a “dying organization.” VSA was founded by St. John’s alumnus, Norman Chuk, as a different network. When Chuk was a student at St. John’s, he attended an international conference known as the Union of North American Vietnamese Student Associations (UNAVSA). UNAVSA is a non-profit, non-partisan, community-based organization dedicated to cultivating the next generation of leaders who will serve as stewards of the Vietnamese community. “It wasn’t until I realized how big the organization was, did I want to tap into that community. I wanted St. John’s University VSA to be recognized throughout the U.S. and Canada,” Chuk said. With this in mind, Chuk underwent a “complicated process” to create the nonprofit organization on the St. John’s campus. However, persistence led to the creation of VSA. The organization places great value on four pillars: academics, balance, culture and community. According to Justin, the organization makes way to explore and experiment by learning from other VSA organizations located on other college campus such as Binghamton, Stony Brook and Rogers. From networking, the nonprofit present-

ed an annual pageant, which took place on March 2. “It brings the Asian culture together and showcase it,” sophomore Stephanie Lee said. During the cultural walk, contestants submit music that matches their heritage. They walk and pose at designated areas on the stage. They also do a greeting/judge interaction where they bring gifts or anything from their culture to give to the judges. “Miss Asia is es- VSA places great value on four pillars: Academics, balance, culture and community. sentially the cultural talk, game or crowd interactions, talent my culture and grow a great appreciation of tivities, trips, and conferences; 2) To be able portion, evening gown walk, our own VSA it. I’ve also made a few lifetime friends who to take advantage of the vast network VSA performance, and Q&A,” Stephanie men- have had a great positive impact on my life,” has to offer. tioned. “Many people outside of VSA do not reDuong explained. Stephanie is the secretary of VSA and beChuk hopes VSA will give St. John’s stu- alize this but, VSA is the biggest organized lieves being a part of a diverse organization dents two things: 1) Experiences that will Asian, student-run organization in the counhas helped her grasp her own roots. “Being shape them into a better leader through ac- try –– the possibilities are endless.” in VSA opened up my eyes to the uniqueness of each individual culture, especially as someone with Malaysian descent. Seeing the values and similarities in culture made me want to go back and learn more about my own heritage,” Stephanie said. Senior Connie Duong is the graphic designer of VSA who creates graphics and monthly calendars for events. Of Vietnamese and Chinese descent, Duong initially joined the organization to support her friends who were the founders of VSA. PHOTO COURTESY/NORMAN CHUK “I’ve actually never been in touch with my Vietnamese Miss Asia 2019 contestants (Left to right: Miss Vietnam - Thuy Tran, Miss Philippines - Liza Mae roots before, so overtime I Divinigracia, Miss Korea - Amy Shim [winner of Miss Asia], Miss Hong Kong - Evina Siu, Miss Fuzhou was able to learn more about Christine Chen, and Miss Guangzhou - Vivian Kuang) PHOTO COURTESY/NORMAN CHUK

Alana Loren Bethea

Picturesque Places to Snap Your Next Photo in Queens Olivia Mathon Queens is one of the five boroughs that make up what is known today as New York City. Queens has many beautiful places, some of which are pictured in this article. Home to various known venues such as St. John’s University, Citi Field, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, JFK/LGA and so much more, Queens is a picturesque city as long as you know where to look. Stretching over 108.1 square miles with a population of over 2 million, Queens is NYC’s largest borough, and with that title comes great responsibility. As a culturally

diverse neighborhood, Queens is known for its various languages, the outstanding food, shops — you name it — you can find the best of it in Queens. Some of the picturesque places that are worth a visit can be found within a short distance from the University. The World Fair Marina located in Flushing Bay: At this Marina you are able to watch boats coming and going, walk along the designated paths surrounding the river and on nice days there is a clear view of the Manhattan skyline. This is a place where someone can come to in order to clear their head and escape the fast-paced life of Queens.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park is the largest park in Queens and has held two World Fair’s with millions of attendees. This park has it all — from playgrounds to open fields, to museums and gardens, coming here will not disappoint. This Queens park is also home to the iconic globe sculpture. Although the Flushing Cemetery might not seem like a picturesque scene, there is always some beauty in the final resting place for those who have passed. Cemeteries are for the living, so there is a reason they are made so beautifully. A place that is sentimental to most includes an abundance of foliage that adds to the beauty. Some famous figures who

are buried here include Louis Armstrong, an influential figure in jazz music, Bernard Baruch, an American financier and Dizzy Gillespie, another jazz music figure. Citi Park, home of the New York Mets, is where hundreds of people come together to support their team. Hosting various events — some not baseball related — Citi Field is a staple area when thinking of Queens. The mix of the green grass and brown dirt that has not been touched/played on yet is a perfect sight to see. (read more on torchnoline.com)

10 Features


St. John’s Alum Launches Men’s Lifestyle Platform BOND OFFICIAL connects “voices of male culture” Chyna Davis St. John’s Alumnus, Igee Okafor, is on a mission. As the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BOND OFFICIAL, his new, online men’s lifestyle platform, he aspires to connect various voices, empower and inform. “BOND OFFICIAL [is] an online publication dedicated to cultivating parts of men’s culture,” Okafor explained. He and his team want to push realistic images of modern men. Okafor was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. Through educational opportunities, he was able to travel. Eventually his journey brought him to the United States. In 2013, he moved to the city that never sleeps, to attend St. John’s University. He still resides here, after graduating in 2017. At the age of 24, he has collaborated with many known and respected companies from GQ to Grey Goose and Express. You may have also seen Okafor’s name featured in renowned publications such as Forbes, The New York Times, Huffington Post, Paper Magazine and more.

ST. JOHN'S IMPACT Okafor’s time at St. John’s, during which he studied business and marketing, impacted his start-up when it first began. “[It] prompted my interest in what I consider to be essential knowledge for everyday life,” he said. “Seeing how the tools I learned in my finance and accounting classes now apply to my business ventures makes me happy I took those classes seriously.” He not only used the skills he’s acquired to navigate and make responsible decisions, but also to manage a business on his own prior to the launch of BOND OFFICIAL. At the time, Okafor created content for menswear and lifestyle brands. “I think part of the reason I was able to build and maintain those business relationships was because of what I learned from some of my favorite professors like, Timothy Keiningham, in business school,” he went on. Beyond the walls of St. John’s, he foresaw himself starting a business of his own, but didn’t think it would happen so soon. “I think it all starts with knowing who you are, and what your goals are,” he said. “All of my life, I’ve been a really strong storyteller — visually, and as a writer.” As soon as I enrolled at St. John’s University, I knew I wanted to put that to use so I started working for media publications like The Source, and Jones Magazine immediately while running my own

men’s style blog,” he said. Over the summer, he took on jobs in digital marketing and worked with St. John’s media team during his final semesters. It wasn’t long before Okafor began taking on clients of his own to help solidify their online brand presence, giving him the practice he needed. “I was really eager to learn, work [and do] what I enjoyed, [especially] being creative,” he said.


plained. “The only thing that makes us different is the way we do things.” BOND OFFICIAL is a platform where everyone can equally converse about men’s interests. In a time where women are reclaiming their narrative through movements and work, Okafor shared why it is important that men have this platform to connect and share their point of view. “It always helps when you have a community of people you know can relate to you,” he said. This specific community offers support, encouragement, motivation and inspiration. “As a collective, we still have a long way to go, and with the variety

that allow us to tell that story,” he said. “Then comes in things like financial investments and building a bigger team as the workload increases.” He shared three tips for people looking to start build something from the ground: • “You’re only as strong as the people you have on your team so, if you’re going to build one, make it good.” • “Make deadlines. Scheduling will prove to be your best friend.” • “Make sure whatever product you’re creating serves a sustainable purpose. You’ll be tested, and that purpose is all

BOND OFFICIAL is dedicated to connecting “voices of male culture.” What was Okafor’s inspiration? PHOTO COURTESY/GRANT LEGAN “Funny enough, in a way — women,” he began. Okafor expressed his gratitude, having been surrounded by many women in his life. “What I’ve enjoyed the most about these women seems to revolve around transparency ... how freely they’re able to discuss certain subjects, and how firm and supported they are in their experiences and beliefs regardless of the matter at hand,” he said. “Women have really done a great job at building a community within themselves that embrace dif- Igee Okafor ‘17 credits his business and marketing degree for helping him launch his start-up. ference, and enthusiasm on a broad spectrum in a bold and of voices we hope to represent, we hope to that will keep you going.” unapologetic way.” inspire that breakthrough,” Okafor said. In the years ahead, Okafor hopes to That is exactly what he wants to emuTHE JOURNEY create a sustainable brand. “I believe that late within the men’s space with BOND As Okafor and his team celebrate BOND people like Ralph Lauren, and Tom ForOFFICIAL. While his publication may be unique to OFFICIAL launching one month ago, he have really done a wonderful job creating most, Okafor makes clear it’s not about recounts the challenges he faced prior to a realized brand that encompasses everylaunch. “Our biggest challenge was get- thing from style to grooming, travel, and being unique. “Everything we are doing has been done ting the platform off the ground,” he said. entertainment,” he explained. He would at some point and will continue on as time “We spent a significant amount of time like his brand to follow “a similar DNA” goes by,” he said. “I will say, we have a aligning our voice, our branding, and the of what they’ve done. In the meantime, Okafor will be writing very strong focus on educating the mod- thread of content we wanted to produce.” As the founder, building the right team for his favorite section: Men’s style. “A lot ern man by shedding light on a variety of subjects we may not always feel comfort- was essential to him. Though, Okafor ad- of men do not realize style is a huge part mits he got lucky with a team of collabo- of one’s self-confidence, and if I can help able talking about in person.” coach through this self care as authenticalThrough categories like art, style and rators. Now, they are in the process of adver- ly as I can, I am happy!” he exclaimed. “It politics, this publication is encouraging tising their website. “We are trying to do also [helps] that it’s a subject I consider men to care and be open minded. “We really are all the same,” he ex- interviews like these, and other platforms myself to be well versed in.”

Features 11


SJU Alumna Establishes Nonprofit for Children in Haiti Yendy Cave’s organization aids 700 kids Andreina Rodriguez For anyone who has plans of starting a nonprofit organization, St. John’s alumna Yendy Cave has advice for you. “I would say go for it,” she laughed. “If it’s not with your heart, it’ll be ten times harder and you’ll probably get tired of it quickly. If you can, be passionate about it.” Cave is the founder of the nonprofit organization ‘For the Kids of Haiti,’ and her passion for the kids truly shows. For the Kids of Haiti, or ‘For the Kids,’ was established in 2014 when Cave was struck with the idea of helping kids in an abandoned orphanage by providing them with food and drinks. Cave held a back-to-school event in June of 2014 and was able to supply them with backpacks, notebooks, pencils, pens, pouches and more. Before this, she helped her cousin provide aid to 250 kids at a give-back party in an area of Haiti called Furcy. Everyone in the family found ways to get donations for food, speakers, games, drinks and even gifts to put together. After Cave’s first back-to-school party, she held another event in December that caught people’s attention on social media. She received a message from someone who informed her about an orphanage with 100 kids that was in bad shape. Cave planned another back-to-school event about a year later, with the 100 kids included. At that point, she had provided aid for 140 kids. “It had been a year since I was doing little things here and there and I decided exactly like four and a half years ago to make it official, to do a logo, do a website, and then I started going to structuring and finding help on the regular for them,” she said. “So that’s

how I started and now four years later, here I am with 700 kids.” Every year, about two or three events are planned for the kids. In December, Cave funds an end-of-the-year holiday party for gifts for the kids. In August, she holds the back-to-school events and by April or March it’s Health Day, which is when doctors come in to give general check ups. Additionally, she provides funding for the medicine that the doctors prescribe. “I find doctors who are willing to do it for free,” Cave said. “They check everything from like if you have any type of fever, cold, but also your eyes, ears, everything to make sure the kids are okay.” Cave did not expect to be the founder of a nonprofit organization as she was attending school. She received her Bachelor’s in Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Tampa, and her Master’s in Marketing at St. John’s. In addition to the organization, Cave handles a full time job. When she returned to Haiti after finishing school, she decided to start a company that handles advertising, social media marketing, public relations, corporate events, organizing press releases, booking and more. As she’s handling a whole business of things related to communications, she finds that her biggest struggle with her organization is doing it on her own. “I do everything by myself which is probably not the smartest thing,” she laughs. “I don’t have a team or anything so that’s a lot to take in to do everything by yourself from looking for sponsors, knowing how much food you need, how many kids you have, sending food every month to each place, organizing everything you need for an event, like sound, a generator


In 2014, Yendy Cave founded For the Kids of Haiti.


because there’s no electricity, order a company for entertainment, food, drinks, everything.” Besides doing it all on her own, she finds the biggest challenge is really finding ways to provide for the kids, as it can be very difficult to do so. “The harder part is more finding help on the regular for the kids. Because if I can’t find a way to feed them, then they dont eat,” she said. “I feel responsible because when you’ve been helping them for so long it’s like they’re your own kids.” However, Cave’s not alone, as she finds help from ForTheKids has raised almost $2,000 for their 2018 fifth annual Holiday Giveaway Fundraiser. her family

— her main source of motivation. Through the emotional and financial support, she’s provided with enough to keep a positive mindset. She finds that the kids also play a big role in the grateful mindset she’s developed. “It’s taught me a lot to be grateful for my life in general for what I have and I never waste it because I know the reality of a lot of people so even for myself I always, even if I could, I stick to what I need,” Cave said. “Sometimes you don’t realize how much you have or how much you could lose everything in a day.” From the first time she met the first 40 kids, she fell in love with them and recognized just how much they needed love and affection. Cave has come to realize that there’s been nothing else like the smiles she gets to see on the kids’ faces and the excitement they exude from just seeing her. Although the organization is overseas, anyone is open to help through contact with her Instagram page, @ fforthekidsofhaiti or Facebook page, For the Kids of Haiti. She shares a GoFundMe link whenever money is needed, but people are also welcome to holding their own campaign in support of the organization as well.




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“Captain Marvel” Rachel Johnson I tend to be very critical when it comes to films, but “Captain Marvel” is one of the few films that I’ve seen where I am left with zero complaints, I’d go so far as to call it perfect. “Captain Marvel,” directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, follows the origin story of Carol Danvers, a Kree warrior, as she attempts to piece together her blurry past while fending off evil Skrulls — the villains — who want the same information she is after. This film surpasses expectations for Marvel fans in this solo expedition, while also connecting simultaneously to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though the movie is set in the 1990s, the release was timed perfectly to give fans the last bits of information needed going into “Avengers: Endgame.” “Captain Marvel” was filled with countless badass superhero moments and incredible fight scenes. Captain Marvel is an incredible superhero — powerful enough to rival any of the Avengers — and possibly even Thanos. Her powers are beyond amazing and the strength in her character is even more so. At one point, Danvers single-handedly takes down over a

Photo Courtesy/ Youtube Marvel Entertainment

dozen Skrulls while she’s handcuffed and can’t use her powers. The fact that this film comes in the midst of an age of modern feminism is no coincidence. “Captain Marvel” is the first female-led Marvel movie, and it was well worth the wait. This film is an impeccable representation of how women ought to be represented in media. Throughout the film, Danvers’ incredible power never has to be justified. Any comments doubting her abilities are immediately disproven. At one point in a face off against one character, the person she is fighting challenges her to prove herself and her power against them. Before they even finish four sentences, she blasts them and shuts them up, walks up to them and says, “I have nothing to prove to you.” Danvers is powerful, brave, smart and all-business, but she is also empathetic and kind. She allows the Skrulls to speak and tell their side of the story. This kind of representation of women in film — especially in a superhero movie — is incredibly empowering and is the kind of depiction we ought to be seeing more of. “Captain Marvel” could be one of the best and most important films for Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers in Marvel’s first fefeminism and Marvel, possibly, ever. male-led film.

“Five Feet Apart” Alessia Piscotta

Photo Courtesy/ Youtube CBS Films

Cole Sprouse stars in “Five Feet Apart” as Will, a teenager battling cystic fibrosis.

Allow me to preface by saying that the trailer gave me very high expectations going into this film. I was prepared for what was probably going to be a predictable teen romance film; a passionate, yet tragic love story between two ill teenagers, something along the lines of 2014’s “The Fault in Our Stars” — in many respects, it was. But the unfortunate twist in this story is that the characters could not get any closer than six feet apart because it would literally kill them — these characters agree to compromise on five feet apart instead. Directed by “Jane the Virgin”’s Justin Baldoni, “Five Feet Apart” follows Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will (Cole Sprouse), two teenagers with cystic fibrosis, who meet at Saint Grace Regional hospital. Individuals with CF are not allowed near each other at the risk of cross-infection, and on top of that, Will also carries the b. cepacia bacteria, an antibiotic-resistant complication of CF. This endangers Stella further, so you can imagine the complications that come into play with falling in love under

Netflix’s “Queer Eye” Rachel Johnson When it was first announced that “Queer Eye” would premiere as a reboot on Netflix, many noticed the omission of “For the Straight Guy” from the original Bravo title, “Queer Eye For the Straight Guy.” This distinction implied that the show would no longer feature makeovers strictly restricted to heterosexual men, and season three of “Queer Eye” has certainly delivered on this promise. The original show focused on a group of impeccably dressed and multi-talented gay men, “The Fab Five,” instructing heterosexual men into the areas of fashion, interior design, cooking, culture and grooming. The new series has been more inclusive, with season three being the most inclusive season of all. Not only were “straight guys” transformed, but the Fab Five also worked their magic on women, as well as people of different sexualities and social circumstances. This was instrumental in facilitating discussions about traditional notions of masculinity and femininity, in addition to

LGBTQ+ culture that is different from the Fab Five’s own experiences. Season three was also filmed in Kansas City, Missouri, which allowed for a different social climate and different variety of locations as opposed to those used in previous episodes. One episode took place at a summer camp, while another took place at a BBQ joint, providing for an eclectic mixture of scenery, characters and projects. While this season included its fair share of identity politics, it generally steered clear of the more controversial, politically-charged discussions characteristic of previous seasons. The first episode feebly attempted to challenge gun culture, to no productive avail. Nonetheless, the season’s diversity allowed viewers to hear a number of voices and journeys, some of which are less visible in the mainstream media. It also encouraged deeper conversations about acceptance, friendship, self-care and being true to one’s self. Overall, it was a well-curated and diverse collection of stories, all of which ended in life-changing transformations inside and out.

such circumstances. The film brings about an awareness of CF. During production, many members of the CF community were involved for reference. However, mixed reviews were received from advocates, many of which thought the film misrepresented the disorder. For example, realistically, CF patients wouldn’t be allowed to be around each other without masks, as it showed in the film. Put simply, the film brought me on one of the most adorable — yet incredibly emotional — roller coasters I have ever been on. I ugly-cried three times in an otherwise silent movie theater. The actors did an amazing job at humanizing the experiences of those with CF that not many people may know about. Watching Stella and Will’s relationship grow was beautiful to watch because it was genuine. They couldn’t form a physical connection, so that gave the film room to showcase a stronger, more emotional one. That is what differentiated this movie and gave it the “ugly-cry” potential. The fact that they were forbidden to touch was a dark cloud over an otherwise epic love story. Photo Courtesy/ Youtube netflix

Tan France, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Karamo Brown and Jonathan Van Ness are the “Fab Five” on Netflix’s “Queer Eye” reboot.

Culture 13

torchonline.com torch design/jenna woo

The Apollo Theater’s WOW Festival Teen Summit The Torch attends “No Shade” panel on colorism Alexis Gaskin In honor of Women’s History Month, the legendary Apollo Theater and WOW Foundation partnered to bring the “Women of the World Festival.” This festival which ran from March 12-17, included workshops, programming, performances and panels with a variety of topics that discussed prevalent issues that affect women, women of color and teens based in NYC. On Sat. 16, a discussion titled, “#NoShade,” was held and featured diverse conversations on the heavy topic of colorism. From the very beginning, the event was one that brought a light-hearted tone to the serious topic as the Apollo Theater was filled with young students from all five boroughs, and attendees were urged to use social media to post and comment during the discussion. Hosts Malcolm LaVaughn Robinson and Ken Fredericks described the panel to the audience as one that, “will explore the impact colorism on a global scale and its influence on local communities.” “Unfortunately shade representation and colorism in the media both traditional and modern has been a challenge for what has been too many years to count,” explained LaVaughn Robinson. At the start of the program, duo Nia and Monica Soyemi, known as The Soyemi Sisters, performed a mash-up of songs that evoked respect and love of their black features and identity, featuring songs such as Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair.” The panel was moderated by Torch Features Editor and St. John’s University student, Beverly Danquah, who is also a Young Producer at the Apollo Theater. Among the panelists were; Nidhi Sunil, Valencia D. Clay, Tori Elizabeth and Janel Martinez, all young women of color who represent various industries ranging from education and fashion to advocacy. The panelists all spoke on varying personal stories of colorism from different perspectives of the Asian, African and Latinx community. Often times, the ideals of colorism and hatred toward one’s features in the community are taught at a young age. “A lot of times we grow up as people of color being taught that we’re not enough, being taught that our features aren’t beautiful, things that we are naturally born with,” explained Tori Elizabeth, founder of “The Colored Girl.” Clay, a Baltimore Design School teacher stated similar concepts in what she saw in her young students when they were too afraid to speak in their native languages. “Somebody told them not to do that because they were taught to assimilate, but what happens when we teach our children to assimilate, we teach them to hate themselves, and they don’t know that they’re hating themselves, so they project that on others. So now we’re building self-hate on top of self-hate.” Learning herself, Clay described how she was so upset to see how her students were acting toward their own identity and shared that a friend of hers guided her, saying, “You can’t be mad at what they don’t know, you have to teach them.” The Harlem-raised teacher encourages the conversa-

Photo Courtesy/ Ruby Tull @rubyshoots

(Left to Right): Valencia D. Clay, Nidhi Sunil and Beverly Danquah discuss colorism at the “No Shade” panel event.

tion on colorism, stating that the need for better education and the discussion of these issues need to be included in the curriculum. A model and philanthropist, Nidhi Sunil described how being born and raised in India, she saw a lot of colorism toward the darker-skinned people, and she sees this type of colorism with her work in the fashion industry almost every day. “It has to be said that the idea and concept of beauty for the longest time has been white, and you see this a lot growing up in Asia. We have a unique problem where we hate our own skin color and one of the biggest markets in India is bleaching products. Being brown or black is not inspirational.” Sunil originally started as a litigation lawyer, and she gained interest in the fashion industry because, “on some level I knew it was easier to do fashion than dealing with the men, I’ll get to them later.” Still working in law, Sunil fights to work with young women in India to prevent the many instances of murder caused by most families’ burden of raising their daughter — including dowry for marriage. A common theme among the panelists and discussion was how to love your skin color and avoid self-inflicted colorism. Martinez, the founder of “Ain’t I Latina,” detailed how she grew up in a household that embraced their black identity and saw the “flip side” in society outside her home, from magazines to television.

She later described how the use of social media and creating online content has shown companies and brands that dark-skinned people of color and those who aren’t represented will do it on their own. “It’s people with their phones, people who are saying, ‘Oh you don’t want to cover us, bet;’ they are going out and doing it on their own. This causes mainstream media and advertisers to pay attention to one of the largest demographic that there is and that’s black folk.” Having worked with women of all different backgrounds and ethnicities, Elizabeth urged the audience to find beauty themselves: “The advice I would give is find the things you love about yourself and celebrate those, come up with affirmations, when you look in the mirror, come up with ‘I am beautiful I am enough, I am loved.’ These things will then change your mindset so that you no longer feel as if you are not enough as a person.” The panel showed that the battle of colorism is something that is seen throughout many communities and is a battle worth fighting. Especially at an event that had such an intense focus on young dark-skinned students of color, the need to love their identity and features was necessarily pushed. Clay vocalized to the crowd to repeat after her and said, “You are enough. You matter. And whatever you want to define as enough, is up to you.”

14 Sports


Women’s Basketball Misses Out on Post Season Play TORCH PHOTO/NICK BELLO

Sean Okula Tenants of Carnesecca Arena will see March rear both its heads. There is, of course, the madness. But often forgotten is the mundane fate of most. The St. John’s Women’s Basketball team (15-16, 7-11 Big East) wasn’t invited to the postseason for the first time in 12 years. It’s the first losing record in that same span. Coach Joe Tartamella’s string of six straight tournament bids to start his head coaching career is over. The season was played to a helter skelter tune. Five out of six wins, six out of seven losses, four more wins in a row. Thirteen games decided by less than two possessions, seven of which ended in defeat. Things did start with a flourish. Only perennial powerhouse UCONN could derail the Red Storm in their first six games, and only barely. St. John’s held a late lead over the Huskies before the eleven-time champs staved off a colossal upset. Top preseason freshman Kadaja Bailey scored double digits in three of her first six collegiate contests. Alisha Kebbe and Qadashah Hoppie led a deep collection of scorers. The Johnnies held the opposition to 52 points per game, and stood 5-1 after November. Stagnation set them off course. 5-1 became 6-2, then 7-3, and 8-5. Consistency was lacking and conference play was on the horizon.

Joe Tartamella’s squad will not be playing in any postseason competition this March.

If the Red Storm was staggering, the Big East knocked them down. A five-game conference losing streak in January meant an uphill climb for any postseason salvation. The struggles were accentuated by a crushing weekend at home in the middle of the month. Facing showdowns with ranked

DePaul and Marquette in the coming week, victories over Providence and Creighton were crucial. The Johnnies battled back to force overtime with the Friars, but ultimately fell by a single point. When they again erased a six-point deficit on Sunday, the Blue Jays struck the final blow en route to

a 65-63 win. Slumping spiraled into a 2-7 conference record come February. Despite Hoppie’s best efforts with a career-high 24 points, Butler handed another home overtime loss on the first of the month. That, seemingly, was the breaking point, and Xavier took the brunt of St. John’s frustrations. A 29-point victory over the Musketeers sparked a run. Home losses to Providence and Creighton were vindicated in their respective buildings, and a win over No. 8/7 Marquette tied together a nifty four-game win streak. Still needing wins in bunches as the season barreled toward the finish, late game misfortune struck again. First, it was a failed comeback bid against Georgetown. A 13-point fourth quarter deficit was trimmed to one, but would budge no further in an 82-80 Hoya victory. On the regular season’s final day, the Red Storm blew an 11-point lead of their own and fell to Seton Hall. They returned the favor with a blowout win over the Pirates in the first round of the Big East tournament, but advanced no further. Marquette silenced a red-hot Tiana England, and the Johnnies bowed out without a whimper. Late-game luck hamstrung the 2018-19 women’s basketball team. Luckily, talent is a perfect remedy. St. John’s will be lucky to welcome Kebbe, Bailey, England and Hoppie all back for 2019-20. Fortune doesn’t seem far off.

Softball Has Strong Weekend Showing Sydney Denham The St. John’s University Softball team faced Hofstra University, Wagner College and College of the Holy Cross this past weekend during the St. John’s Invitational at the Red Storm Field. The Johnnies opened their first home series of the season with a 9-3 loss to Hofstra. Hofstra’s offense was consistent throughout the game, securing an early lead in the first inning. Courtney Scarpato rocketed an RBI single to left field, followed by outfielder Madison McKevitt’s sacrifice fly to right field to drive in their second run by Megan Giordano. St. John’s scored their first run of the game in the second inning with a groundout by Laura Delgado, bringing Peyton Cody home from second base. McKenzie Murray kept the second inning alive when she singled to bring home Kaitlyn Lologo. The Pride gained four more runs in the top of the seventh, beating the Johnnies on their home turf. But the Johnnies didn’t let the loss keep them down, as they rebounded with a 13-9 win over Wagner. St. John’s found out where they went wrong, as they topped off a back-andforth battle against Wagner with a win. Lologo opened up the scoring in the second inning with her second home-run of the season, while Cody doubled with a hit down the left field line, leading to Melendez’s home-run bringing in two runs.

Wagner fought back in the third, where they scored a whopping five runs. Lologo and Cody came back for the Johnnies with back-to-back base hits to start off the bottom half of the third. Melendez brought them home when she delivered a two-run single, giving the Red Storm the lead. Two more runs were scored when Ditolvo hit a home-run to left center, giving St. John’s the lead with a score of 7-5. Wagner squeezed in two more runs in the top of the seventh just before Saric secured her third win of the season. Along with her strong pitching performance, Melendez’s six RBI tied the Softball program’s record for the most in a game. The Red Storm continued their winning ways with a convincing 7-1 victory over Holy Cross. Rizzi and Murray reached base in the bottom of the first with a hit by pitch and a walk. They would both later score, giving the Johnnies a 2-0 lead after one inning of softball. St. John’s would go on to add three more in the bottom half of the third inning. Murray shortly found herself going from second to home when Rizzi homered to right field. Two batters later, Cody also homered to right field, leading the Johnnies to go into the top of the fourth with a lead of 5-0. Gabriella Conc, of the Red Storm, singled in the bottom of the fourth and crossed home when Murray singled to left field. St. John’s continued to pile on the runs in the fifth when Rizzi singled up the middle, bringing home Gretchen


Madison Morris (20) has a team leading 3.59 ERA in 15 starts so far this season.

Bowie, who doubled earlier that inning. Bowie’s walk early in the bottom of the first led to a run when Rizzi and Murray’s hits advanced her around the bases. Both the top of the first and second innings were three quick outs for the Johnnies. Saric had two strikeouts in the second inning, keeping Holy Cross from finding contact with the ball. Bowie scored again in the bottom of the third with Rizzi’s home-run to right center, putting the Johnnies up by two. Cody and Melendez also scored later that inning after Kamryn Tiumalu doubled down the left field line. The game remained 5-0 until the bottom of the fifth, when St. John’s scored

three more runs. Cody was the first to do so when Tiumalu singled, advancing Delgado to second and Anna Freveletti, pinch-running for Melendez, to third. Finally, Bowie doubled to left field, leaving Tiumalu and Delgado to score the last two runs for St. John’s. For the final game of the weekend, St. John’s secured their third win, 8-0. St. John’s opened up their first home series with a win to improve their overall record to 11-13 on the season. The St. John’s University Softball team takes a few days off this week, as they play again here at the Red Storm Field next weekend in a three-game series against Big East Conference opponent, Providence College.

Sports 15


St. John’s Squeaks Way Into NCAA Tournament Brendan Myers Despite stumbling into post-season play, St. John’s is headed back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2014-15 season after receiving one of the final at-large bids to head to the NCAA’s Big Dance. Albeit last minute, but St. John’s will be playing Arizona State in one of the First Four games. If they beat the Sun Devils, they will then take on Buffalo. “We didn’t end the season the way we wanted to but this is a new opportunity,” Marvin Clark II said after the NCAA Selection show on Sunday evening. The Johnnies breezed through non-conference play with a record of 12-0 before an ultimately disappointing conference season, finishing with an 8-10 record in Big East play. After finishing in seventh place in the conference as a result of a late-season skid, the Johnnies picked up one of the most vital wins of the season on Wednesday night of the Big East Tournament against DePaul, finishing with an 82-74 scoreline. The team then had a chance to bolster their résumé with a third victory against Marquette, but fell short. A signature win against Marquette would

have allowed the Red Storm to be more this season. comfortable heading into Sunday’s NCAA St. John’s and Arizona State played last selection show, but fans were forced into al- year in Los Angeles with Arizona State commost three long days of waiting. ing away victorious by a score of 82-70. The Johnnies were helped by a slew of Shamorie Ponds and Clark II were the bubble results in other conferences to help only two players from St. John’s to score in St. John’s squeeze into the tournament. double-digit figures that day that are still on Favorites Bufthe Red Storm falo took care roster. Tariq of tournament Owens scored hopeful Bowl17 points in ing Green in that contest “We didn’t end the season the but has since the Mid-Ameriway we wanted to but this is a can Conference transferred to new opportunity,” semi-finals, and Texas Tech for victories from his graduate - Marvin Clark II season. Houston and Cincinnati over The Sun bubble-dwellers Devils come Memphis and in with a reWichita State undoubtedly helped St. John’s. cord of 22-10 overall and 12-6 coming out The biggest factors in favor of St. John’s of the Pac-12 conference. Led by Luguentz proved to be their two regular-season vic- Dort, who averages just over 16 points per tories over Marquette and one victory over game, fans can expect an up-tempo affair. the recently crowned Big East Tournament The Sun Devils score almost 78 points per Champions, the Villanova Wildcats. What game, compared to the Johnnies’ 77.5. was worrying for St. John’s fans was a comSt. John’s will also need to be wary of bined 1-5 record over Butler, DePaul and the Sun Devils’ cerebral point guard, Remy Providence — the three teams that finished Martin. The sophomore floor general was in the bottom three of the conference second in the Pac-12 with an average of 5.9

Women’s Soccer Opens Spring Season Brendan Murray Spring sports have begun to start up but that doesn’t mean that fall sports take a back seat.That being said, the Women’s soccer team is scheduled to play seven spring games over the course of March and April. The first matchup took place against Sky Blue FC at Sportika Sports in Manalapan Township, New Jersey. Sky Blue FC is a member of the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League), who call New Jersey home. Sky Blue FC features not only professional soccer players, but they have Olympic pedigree prowling the net mouth with Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who plays for Team Canada in Olympic competition. Sheridan and the 4-4-2 formation that Sky Blue FC rolled out on Saturday would prove to be too much for the Red Storm, as they fell six-nothing, giving up five goals in the first half. While most matchups of this kind tend to give the advantage to the professional side, the main objective of the game is to compare yourself and your game to how a professional team conducts their team and their play style. The score itself was not pretty, but for the players, having the opportunity to go up against some of the best soccer players in the world is a moment that they can take with them for the rest of their life, be it in soccer or outside of it. Coming off of a solid season that saw the Red Storm finish nine wins, nine losses and one draw with a conference record of five wins, three losses and one draw coming against Providence, the Red Storm are looking to get an early start to the

2019 season. Some subtractions from the Red Storm include Forward Christina Bellero and Midfielder Claudia Cagnina. Both Students were recognized not only for their play on the pitch for St. Johns but both sported GPA’s in the 3.6 range. Both earned spots on the All-Big East second team and were recognized by the United Soccer Coaches Division 1 Women’s Scholar All-East Region Second team. The Leadership and skill that both Cagnina and Bellero demonstrated are hard to replace, but the Red Storm was made some new additions to account for the empty spots on the roster. The Johnnies were quick to begin the process of acquiring new players for the 2019 season by signing four high school players and Fairfield transfer Alex Madden. Madden is the most interesting because of her experience in international football, playing with Leicester City Women’s FC Last season. Madden was a standout at Fairfield and she was named to the All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference First Team in her first year of play. She will be counted on to be a key player for the Red Storm as so far she has been the biggest addition to the team for the 2019 season. The Red Storm will have Zsani Kajan of the Hungarian Olympic National Team return for her Junior season. Kajan had a busy start to 2019 as she appeared for the Hungarian National team in the Cyprus Women’s Cup. Kajan will continue to play a major role for the Red Storm in the 2019 season. The Red Storm play their next Spring Exhibition game on March 20 against FC Girondins de Bordeaux.

assists per game, while averaging less than two turnovers per game. Who the Johnnies need to focus their attention is on Zylan Cheatham. Cheatham averages a double-double (11 points and more than 10 rebounds per game). The 6-foot-8 transfer from San Diego State led the conference in rebounding over the course of this season. Arizona State likely fell in seeding as a result of a stigma against Pac-12 basketball this year, but Head Coach and New Jersey native Bobby Hurley’s squad is battle-tested. They own wins over fellow tournament teams Utah State, Mississippi State and Washington and a marquee victory at home over Kansas in December. The Sun Devils, much like St. John’s, dropped games that they should have won. They lost at home to Princeton and lost to Washington State, who finished 4-14 in the Pac-12 by 21 points. St. John’s last played in the NCAA Tournament in 2015 during Steve Lavin’s final season at the helm in Queens. The Red Storm received the ninth seed but ultimately fell to San Diego State.The Johnnies have not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2000.

SPORTS March 20, 2019 | VOLUME 96, ISSUE 15



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