VOL 96 : 16 march 27, 2019 The award-winning independent student newspaper of St. Johnâ€™s University
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Rev. Barber’s Third Lecture: ‘The Gathering’ Sami Wanderer Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, the current Vincentian chair of social justice at St. John’s presented the third in a series of four lectures in the half-full St. Thomas More Church: “The Gathering: America’s War Economy” on Thursday, March 21. The son of a World War II Navy veteran and minister in a military community, Barber said America is built on militarism and fighting endless wars. America’s military spending is higher than the next seven countries combined. The problem is this money is spent on the military instead of on social programs that could improve the lives of citizens, Barber stated during his lecture. Barber mentioned that some say there are enough nuclear weapons in America alone to destroy the world between five and 50 times. Martin Luther King Jr. warned that this violence and militarism will hurt the country, morally. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death,” Barber said quoting King. King specifically was concerned about the Vietnam War during his life. Before his death, he wrote down 10 commandments of Vietnam, which his wife read three weeks after his death. These commandments include “Thou shalt not believe in a military victory,” “Thou shalt not believe that the enemy’s victory means communism” and ends with “Thou shalt not kill.” The commandments illustrate how the Vietnam War was not about fighting for an honorable cause on the side of the Americans, but that it was about keeping the war economy afloat.
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Reverend Barber delivered his third lecture in his series of four on Thursday, March 21.
Barber spoke about how the Vietnam War was surrounded by lies told by politicians and resulted in unnecessary deaths in support of the government-proclaimed cause. They said their goal was to prevent the spread of communism, but Barber and King believe the war was built on lies. America still operates under questionable military procedures, including committing illegal acts such as the recent bombs on Syria, Barber said. Because the president can order troops without congressional authorization under the War Powers Resolution only if there is an attack on the United States, Barber contends that America illegally dropped bombs in April 2018. Now, Barber said it has been admitted
there is no militaristic solution to America’s current conflicts but troops are still sent. Another problem posed by militarism is the effect it has on minorities. Wars such as Vietnam have disproportionately targeted minorities because these groups typically received lower incomes and were not able to escape the draft by going to college. Barber’s father was drafted into the Navy while it was still segregated. “He was asked to go and fight for the world safety against Hitler, and yet to still suffer because of white supremacy in America,” Barber said. There are two narratives of America: Genocide and enslavement. Genocide began when Europeans settled America, wiped out
and dominated the Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans was woven into the fabric of the nation even present in the motivation for parts of the Constitution. The Second Amendment for example, Barber said, was created to provide slaveholders with guns in case of slave revolts, not as a method of other protection. Barber related militarism to the story of the demon, Legion, who possessed a man and who begged Jesus to put him into a herd of pigs to save himself. The pigs killed themselves and the people of the town told Jesus to leave because they were angry they lost money when the pigs died. Barber pointed out that the people were more concerned about the money than the man’s life, and that this parable relates to the current economy in America. The crowd listened quietly to his analysis of the American war economy and mostly participated in the interactive worship portion that preceded Barber’s sermon. Two members of Sinai, the liturgical dance team, performed after his lecture. Barber and the other event leaders then encouraged everyone to participate in the singing of a worship song. The audience was made up of a large amount of students who attended for class, for their own enjoyment or affiliation with campus organizations. Other members were simply fans of Barber. Two art professors, Julianne Swartz and Ellen Driscoll, traveled from Bard College in Dutchess, New York to attend the lecture. “This is a really special outing for us,” Driscoll said. They have been following his speeches for a while and said they were not disappointed with the one he delivered on Thursday.
Miguel Barnet Gives Talk on Racial Issues in Cuba Jewel Antoine A group of about 40 students and 10 faculty members gathered in the Global Language and Cultural Center in St. John Hall on Tuesday, March 19, to attend the “Racial Issues in Cuba” event, where guest speaker, Miguel Barnet, gave a lecture. Barnet is a world-renowned Cuban poet, novelist, ethnographer and politician. He was awarded Cuba’s National Prize for Literature in 1994 and continues to be a representative of Cuba and its culture. Barnet, accompanied by the Vice President of the Union of Writers and Artists in Cuba (UNEAC), Luis Morlote Rivas, read one of his papers out loud to the audience and engaged in a dialogue about the racism that black people experience in Cuba. The event was hosted by the Center of Latin American and Caribbean Studies in collaboration with the Department of Language and Literatures. Barnet, author of “The Biography of a Runaway Slave” and president of UNEAC, gave his own personal analysis of the roots and effects of racial tension in Cuba and also provided several solutions. He stressed the need for equality in Cuba and highlighted the importance of black people in Cuban society. “Without blacks, Cuba would not be Cuba,” Barnet said, which garnered multiple murmurs of agreement throughout the room. He described many cultural contributions made by black people in Cuban art, music, literature and theatre, as well as
stating that black people’s contributions to the Cuban economy alone is substantial. When addressing possible solutions to racial tension and discrimination in Cuba, Barnet emphasized that government legislation is not enough to fix the problem. “We can have a wonderful, beautiful constitution, green, black, yellow, pink — but if racism still exists in the society it’s like paper that can be thrown in a bin,” Barnet said. He believes that in order to end racism, there must be a constant analysis of the problem, as well as a confrontation of the problem. He stated that when faced with the problem of racism “we must work hard for the ability for people to live comfortably in society.” Barnet also emphasized the importance of representation and said that Cuba needs to see more black families on television. He added that it is important for black people tell their own stories about their everyday life. During the question and answer segment of the event, when asked to recommend more Afro-Cuban poets and authors, Barnet listed writers such as Nancy Morejon and Alberto Guerra. “Miguel Barnet’s lecture was very insightful,” junior Johnny Wiley said. “It was interesting to hear about the United States’ economic sanctions on Cuba and how they affected both racial and wealth inequality.” Miguel Barnet, left, and Luis Morlote Rivas, right, engaged with students in a dialogue about racism.
TORCH PHOTO/SPENCER CLINTON
SJU Addresses Dining Services Updates Lemperle: No plans of making changes to the Diner Dayra Santana In a recent statement to the Torch, Auxiliary and Conference Services Executive Director, Scott Lemperle, expressed their dedication to keeping an open dialogue between them and the student body as they work to find cost-effective ways to provide dining services. In recent months students may have noticed several changes to the dining services on campus. Some of these changes include a rebranding of the marketplace into Montgoris Market, which included new decor and new food options that dining services advertised in a Twitter post such as gluten free bread and vegan cookie dough. According to Lemperle, some new additions include the implementation of a twice weekly “Innovation Kitchen Station” where students are served freshly made meals, a spice rack and more “Teaching Kitchen” seminars hosted in Montgoris Dining Hall. Hollie Schiebler, a resident sophomore student, said she noticed the new implementations. “I’ve noticed the changes, like those weekly stations when I go to Monty’s during the day,” Schiebler said. “I think they’re cool additions but I do wish they were vegetarian sometimes. Obviously the food and service can always be better.” In the Marillac Cafeteria the “Market Express” was also added, where students can grab a quick snack or a Starbucks coffee. “I’ve never seen anyone buy things there but maybe that would be better when you’re in a rush, [since] I know the Outtakes line gets long during break times,” junior Sam Abad said of the new addition to Marillac Cafeteria. In the second SGI meeting of the semester
on Feb. 11, Vice President Christopher Stephens described a recent meeting with Dining Services in which representatives from Chartwells expressed concerns that money is being lost due to students taking plates, utensils and cups from the dining hall. While students may not think taking a fork or cup here and there makes a significant impact on dining services, there are costs that add up associated with replacing these items and maintaining the inventory of utensils in the dining hall. In this discussion, the idea of ending transitioning hours from the Red Storm Diner to Montgoris Hall to keep Montgoris open longer in order to save money was proposed. The Red Storm Diner is considered a staple of St. John’s campus culture and the idea of closing the diner troubles some students. Senior Moriah Gaskill was one of those opposed to the idea of potentially closing the diner, even as her time on campus is coming to a close. “Honestly, how I feel is that the food from Monty’s is unpredictable and the diner’s consistent,” Gaskill said. “And the diner’s also welcoming, especially when it’s late and you have a paper due or something — you think of going to the diner.” SGI meets with Dining Services on the first of every month. According to Stephens, due to spring break, there was no meeting for the month of March to discuss these ideas further. Lemperle explained that the idea of closing the diner was introduced in a “brainstorm manner” and there are no current plans in place to do so. “At this point it was just a discussion and there are no plans of making any changes to the Red Storm Diner,” he said to the Torch. “This is how we continue to make informed
TORCH PHOTO/SPENCER CLINTON
Scott Lemperle said further dining services improvements will be made this summer.
decisions and always look for ways to improve our dining options and service delivery to our students.” Lemperle said that further dining services improvements can be expected this summer and that concepts for a replacement of the existing Library Café are currently being considered. The current Library Café consists of a Red Mango and several tables where students can sit. Sophomore Cameron Smith said he would like to see some updates made to the Library Café. “I am not really a huge fan of the whole café
setup in the library right now,” Smith said. “I mean, I like the Red Mango but I think maybe a new setup, because it feels kind of dingy. I think that would help a lot to make a nicer place to get some work done.” Abad, on the other hand, likes the way the café works. “I like it, I think the workers are nice … and you can pay with your storm card,” Abad said. “I feel like it works the way it is, but I guess it could be improved.” “It’s kind of random because the people there aren’t people sitting there because they got Red Mango, usually it’s people there studying,” Abad added. “It’s not really this designated study break kind of area.”
New Sustainability Major To Be Available This Fall Morgan Mullings When undecided freshmen arrived at the St. John’s College Majors Fair, they encountered an entirely new major: Global Development and Sustainability. After the graduate program for Global Development and Social Justice was approved in 2017, the possibility for an undergraduate addition arose. Dr. Barbara Koziak, the director of the major, with the help of Italian professor Annalisa Saccá, is taking the practical application of sustainability in everyday life and giving it an international perspective. The B.A. was approved in late 2017 and classes will begin Fall 2019. Some young New Yorkers may see sustainability as an urban trend — promoting more green spaces, dropping off compost and shopping with reusable bags — but sustainability isn’t just a buzz-word. The major brings politics, anthropology, economics and international studies together. It has already drawn 10 students to officially declare it as their major. According to Koziak, global development
and sustainability coincide because supposed “developing countries” have been using sustainable practices, such as using food waste for fertilizer, that developed countries can learn from.
The major is the study of how to improve our lives all around the world. - Dr. Barbara Koziak
“The standard [for developed countries] was industrialization, but that has changed,” she said. In this major, she wants to teach new perspectives on what defines a “third world country.” Dr. Jeffrey Fagan, dean of St. John’s College, asked Koziak to be the director of the
major. Her history as a professor at St. John’s speaks to the interdisciplinary approach to the major — she teaches classes on political theories and governments around the world, often with a focus on gender equality. “I would like to see students focus on that aspect of development,” she said. Koziak is a self-proclaimed “proud Czech-American.” She is a refugee in what was then known as Czechoslovakia, the now modern-day Czech Republic. Seeing how much politics mattered in a small country occupied several times by other leaders, she uses her refugee perspective in her teachings. “The major is the study of how to improve our lives all around the world,” Koziak said. She added it will include anthropology, government, language, economics and other disciplines, with a science track and a social science track. Freshman Kya Sykes has not chosen a major but took time to read the pamphlets at Koziak’s table. “I didn’t know it was a new major,” Sykes said. “I think it’s really important to have, the way our world is impacted by global warming.” She added that there
is a need for people who are ready to sustain and help the environment. Tabitha Benitez, a graduate assistant in the English department, said she also had no idea the major existed, but that there are graduate students that she knows are now “pursuing a social justice minor.” When asked about those uninterested in sustainability as it pertains to the current discussion on climate change, Koziak said, “Just look at the reports.” The changes in forests around the world, the recent extreme weather events and the decline in the general insect population are bound to be topics of discussion in class. As a result, Koziak hopes that students can approach a governmental or nonprofit organization with the knowledge to bring global relief. One internship is required for the degree. Post-grad options include the Peace Corps, the United Nations, Catholic relief organizations and much more. She said she hopes students will leave with, “An intimate sense of how people are connected around the world.”
Activists Tell Accounts of Human Trafficking Samantha DeNinno Faculty, administrators and students gathered to listen to the stories and experiences recounted in “Human Trafficking Unveiled: Women Speak Out,” organized by Catholic Relief Services, Ladies of Charity, St. John’s Vincentian Center for Church and Society and Mercy Global Action at the United Nations. “I want to raise awareness and tell the world, that my story isn’t just a story, it’s a reality,” Mely Lenario, an activist and survivor of sex trafficking in Cebu, Philippines, said to those seated in the President’s Room on Tuesday, March 19. As she spoke, several paintings by Sr. Venus Marie Pegar SFX and commissioned by survivors of human trafficking stood around her. The event featured Lenario, University of Southern Philippines Foundation Professor Marietta Latonio and RSM of Mercy Global Action, Sister Angela Reed. From globalization, economics, migration, gender, organized crime, local reasons (for the Philippines, this meant the presence of the American military, sex tourism and the effects of colonization) to human rights violations — each affect how action is taken against human trafficking and are also supported by a media image.
“The reality is that we need to integrate all of those lenses and see that human trafficking is a result of a complex set of circumstances... if [the media image of chains] is the dominant way in which we see it, then we miss the ordinary people who are trafficked,” Reed said. “A lot of the times we hear stories about human trafficking and how it happens, it’s moreso the stereotypical television scheme of events that we kind of anticipate when in reality, as in Mely’s instance, the story originated with abuse in her own home,” freshman attendee Vanessa Cole said. “Those who have experienced trafficking are our best teachers and can lead us to direct policy action,” Reed said. At its core, the advocacy against human trafficking needs to feature the voices and agency of trafficked women. “Four nights a week, I visit different areas to walk with girls, greet them, build relationships and tell them about our programs and services... I would say we have common stories but different experiences of abuse,” Lenario said. Before Lenario told her own story of abuse, which began in her childhood home, she explained that, “Some girls are forced into prostitution to support their children. I [have] seen this lady become a prostitute because her contract in the department store ended.
Young girls support their siblings because their parents are into drugs.” When she traveled to Cebu to study to become a nurse, her and several other students were cocerced by a woman, who promised them laundry work, into sexual labor. St. John’s President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw attended the event and gave his take on the matter in a comment to the Torch. “The problem that she shared is not unique to TORCH PHOTO/SAMANTHA DENINNO poor countries. I think it Marietta Latonio spoke on her activist work to listeners. also happens here in our own country,” Gempesaw ernmental organizations, policy-makers and said. “Within a few miles of where we are, these local leaders. With these and many more, the return rate things could be happening and if there is anything that we can do as a university — of survivors into prostitution could decrease first and foremost to educate people — and from current rates of 80-90 percent. “If only we learned how to listen, then we that if we see someone going through that would be able to better understand them beprocess or experiencing that, that we can cause at the end of the day, what they need reach out and help,” he added. The advocates listed several initiatives that is a chance to be heard and a chance to be need to be taken in order to lessen the reality accompanied through the journey,” Lenario of sexual trafficking — involving non-gov- said.
Consumer Identities & Social Change Symposium Sofia Altamura St. John’s University hosted the Consumer Identities and Social Change Symposium at the D’Angelo Center on Friday, March 22, where panelists covered thought-provoking topics that are relevant to new media and the idea of consumerism in America as it relates to technology. This symposium — organized by Myles Ethan Lascity, journalism assistant professor at the Southern Methodist University, and Dr. Candice Roberts, assistant professor and director of communication arts at St. John’s — allowed panelists to discuss various topics. Those included consumer culture and the boundaries of commerce, minority representation in culture, the shifting ideology to advocacy and action and the changing practices in consumerism. A number of the panelists that presented are St. John’s professors. For instance, Neil Feinstein, an assistant advertising professor in the mass communication division, gave a timely presentation on “Advocacy Influencers in the Age of #activism.” Feinstein discussed the now common practice of organizations seeking to associate themselves with a certain cause, as young people often look to work at companies that have a heart for or are mindful of social justice. He also discussed the major impact and reach that social media influencers can potentially have. This was most recently exemplified by Alyssa Milano who helped get the
#MeToo movement on its feet with a simple post on her Twitter account. Feinstein, as well as the other professors, explained how the concept of consumer identity and connection with the consumer can promote vital social change. In addition to the professors, some of the people that presented are current students of St. John’s. Katelyn Prieto and Daniel Londoño are both freshman that gave presentations entitled “1950s to Now: Youth Culture and Marketing to the Teenager” and “Dear Simon, It’s Not About The Closet,” respectively. Both Prieto and Londoño believe that this symposium was important because the issues discussed and analyzed are extremely pertinent for college students, and are issues that will not go away anytime soon. In fact, they affect each and every one of our daily lives. “Everyone in college is an average consumer about to go into the workforce and so it is important to learn about topics like consumerism in a three-dimensional space,” Prieto said. The theme of consumer identity and social change is one that Londoño said is important for St. John’s to give a platform to. “St. John’s University is full of millennials that are presently building their identities in social media, whether that is Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, so it is critical to take a step back, understand what we are getting into and think about what we are doing,” Londoño said.
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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.
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As the semester is slowly but surely near- plement even more sustainable practices in ing an end, one of the most important dining services, they are also incorporating events in the year takes place: Student Gov- sustainability in our classrooms. Students ernment Inc. (SGI) elections. This year, we who strive to save the planet, and be more have two tickets, P. R. I. D. E. and L. I. conscious about how they treat our enviT., with one independent senior senator, ronment have welcoming news coming for Christopher Viola. them in Fall of 2019. The Torch was able to get in touch with St. John’s College has introduced a new both tickets in order to learn about their major for the fall semester: Global Develplatforms. opment and Sustainability, B.A. It offers P. R. I. D. E. and L. I. T. have both in- a unique understanding of global change corporated inclusivity, accountability and while also providing a professional experistudent wellness into their campaigns, but ence. only time will tell if students will see the With global warming and the rapid depromised initiatives come to fruition. pletion of fossil fuels, strategic implementaWhile calling for inclusivity on campus tion of those initiatives in developed counregardless of race, tries is imperative. religion, gender Future graduates of identity, and sexuthis major will be al orientation is P. taught to develop R. I. D. E.’s camSt. John’s is offering its strategic solutions paign platform; L. students the opportunity for challenges such I. T.’s platform is to be at the forefront of as shifting to renewthe improvement resolving the developing able energy sources of student experiand repurposing crisis. ences through inbyproducts such as clusivity. food waste. On Monday, Learning sustainApril 1, the candidates will share more of able practices is an important step toward their plans during the SGI debate in DAC providing global relief, and St. John’s is Room 206. We hope to hear more details offering its students the opportunity to be on how they wish to execute their goals the at the forefront of resolving the developing coming year. crisis. Another issue we reported on in this Global Development and Sustainabiliweek’s issue, was the recent updates to St. ty will distinguish itself from the existing John’s dining services. Although St. John’s Environmental Studies program by incorhas made recent changes to the dining op- porating cultural, historical and political tions on campus, such as cooking seminars instruction. This difference emphasizes the in Montgoris Dining Hall, we found stu- need for well-rounded individuals who can dents still feel that more can be done in make informed decisions on global efforts terms of offering more vegetarian options for a cleaner planet. Hopefully, this well-inand generally being more inclusive of all tentioned major takes off with incoming diets. freshmen and promotes a campus-wide efIn addition to St. John’s working to im- fort toward greener practices.
The Greater Consequences of the ‘Page Not Found’ Maher S. Maher Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a practice that puts St. John’s talented digital marketing and IT majors on edge whenever it is mentioned. SEO is the marketing of a brand or a company to capture consumers on platforms like Google or Bing — which is needed in this digital age. Every year, companies collectively pour billions of dollars into specialized marketing firms to maximize their search engine standings because of how profitable of a marketing tactic it is. Our online presence, the stjohns.edu domain, was first activated in September 1991 — five years before the Google web crawler began to change the world by indexing it. Any specific resource pages from St. John’s, or most other universities’ websites are indexed to be accessed right away by the general public. Instead of having to hunt through the website, students can instead search on Google queries like “St. John’s Ron
Brown Program” to find such important pages. Those decades spent climbing and maintaining our top-result status on Google for almost every single page on our website were completely thrown out by our beloved web developers. They instead opted for a half-baked redesign, which makes the website a useless (but at least pretty) gimmick, completely disregarding the end-user experience. Now every time a student, a prospective student, an educator or a parent goes to search for most of our informational pages on Google, they are greeted with a “page not found” error. The website’s lackluster update also kicked off in January, at a time when high school students across the country are wrapping up college applications and current students are back for the spring semester. St. John’s carefully crafted image, which it uses to market itself to the world, has been damaged severely at the worst possible moment.
In the real world, as any Tobin student can tell you, judgement of adequacy depends on presentation. A sloppy, poorly-put-together website sends a less-thanideal message about what this University thinks of itself. Two months later, after the most critical collection of months out of the year for colleges, we’ve failed to meet the mark. The fact that St. John’s cannot hold itself down to correct such major mistakes will certainly be noted by those who are going to put us on ranking lists and the high-quality people we just pushed away due to this University’s actions. Hey — at least the site looks elegant. Functionality, practicality and our representation of being run by professionals can all take a backseat. St. John’s and the people that run it are dedicated to their jobs and are intelligent enough to not allow such a blemish on our likeness. I hope this piece can serve as an example to them.
Earlier this month, dozens of Hollywood stars, top business leaders and other elites who make up the top one percent of wealth distribution in America were charged for allegedly participating in a college admissions scandal. Millions of dollars were spent in order to grant their children admission into top undergraduate programs at Yale, Stanford, the University of Southern California and other big name schools, according to the New York Times. In addition to paying off colleges for admission, these bribes were used to better their children’s standardized test scores and forge essays to submit to the college admissions board. We asked our writers what they felt about the issue as current college students.
As a college student who suffered through months of SAT prep classes and worked tirelessly for my transcript to be good enough to get into college, this scandal deeply angers me. However, it does not surprise me. Last semester, I became aware that colleges are more or less run like a business, and they have changed over the recent decades in order to gain profit for themselves by minimizing how they expend their funds. One of my professors gave me insight into this phenomenon by describing why so many adjunct professors are being hired: Colleges do not want to pay for full time professors — instead preferring to optimize profit from tuition dollars. I find it appalling that this is something that happens often in colleges, and as a prospective law student, I have become paranoid about how this practice will impact my admissions process. If the quality of one’s education and opportunities is dictated by wealth, then what are the future leaders of our country going to look like? If our future lawyers, doctors, politicians and other leaders are basically buying their qualifications, then how much do they really value the ideologies that are the foundation of those careers that are based on upholding morals and serving others?
This situation has created an uproar among poor and middle-class families and students. For years, wealthy families have been bribing and scamming their way to dominance. These parents may have cared deeply about their children receiving a greater education, but have they ever considered that their actions may affect someone who actually deserves a position at these schools? Their actions may have robbed a truly worthy student of the chance to attend the school of their choice. This concept makes inequality in the admissions process even more infuriating. Life is not easy, and it takes a lot of hard work and determination to get into college the proper way. One must study for standardized tests, apply to numerous colleges pay application fees and complete several other tasks before they arrive at the admissions process. Some people will go to great lengths to get ahead, and this is truly unfortunate.
This college admissions scheme should certainly be a wake up call for America. When you type in “college admissions scandal” into Google, you get pages of articles telling the same story. They all entail a similar combination of cheating, bribery and favoritism. In spite of how the media is fixating the scandal around celebrities and the elite, there is a real underlying problem that should be brought to our attention. The college admissions scandal is a result of structural inequality: Elite schools were designed to favor the wealthy. It is time to recognize that access to education is a civil right that is guaranteed to all. We need to promote social mobility by providing a quality education that is accessible to all, regardless of social status. But it is not enough to reform the current admissions process. As we reflect on the recent scandal, it is evident that success can be achieved by all. Elite universities need to reimagine their mission and role within the admissions process, as it should not be determined by one’s wealth or status. Every student should be given an equal opportunity.
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What Are You Giving Up for Lent? J.P. Devetori Giving something up for Lent may sound easy, but it’s harder than you think. Some Catholics and Christians who practice Lent give up the basics, such as chocolate and soda. Other people choose to improve themselves by giving up habits that lead them to sin. For the last several years, I haven’t given up anything for Lent because I gave up basic vices like sweets. This year, I am giving up snoozing. It’s a habit most of us have, because school piles us with so much that we need sleep more than anything. The reason I chose to forego the little morning siesta is because I want to make good use of my time. The only thing that is helping me through this Lent is caffeine. Without it, I would have failed Lent 2019 already. The reason why we have to give up certain things is because Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. During his fast, Jesus was tempted by Satan three times. The temptations were: To make bread out of stones to end his hunger, jump from a pinnacle and rely on angels to break his fall and worship Satan in return for all the kingdoms of the world. Once Jesus denied all three temptations, Satan departed him. The vices we give up for Lent are our temptations. Once you give something up, you may have temptations to do it. I have temptations to nap after my alarm but I made a promise to myself that I
must improve and end this habit. Fasting is done by many observers of Lent, but the most common is the abstinence of meat on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays throughout Lent. Abstaining from meat once a week is also not an easy task. As we get older, we try to challenge ourselves to overcome habits and temptations like Jesus did in the desert. When fellow St. John’s students were asked what they gave up for Lent, their
As we get older, we try to challenge ourselves to overcome habits and temptations like Jesus did in the desert.
answers ranged from social media to sleep and sugar. I will not give up social media because that is where I get all of my news from. Sugar is a tough one to give up because it’s in everything that I like to consume, like Starbucks’ Strawberry Acai Refresher. Jesus challenged himself for 40 days and Satan tempted him with three offers that seemed too good to be true. But Jesus had total confidence in God and ultimately denied Satan’s temptations. My questions to you are: What are you giving up for Lent, and how are you doing with it?
The U.S. Needs New Zealand’s Gun Laws Eduardo Alfonzo The event that occurred in New Zealand earlier this month was an absolute tragedy. Not only were the lives of 50 innocent people taken away, but it became what is now considered to be the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand’s history. In my opinion, there are two reasons, aside from the main one being a horrific, xenophobic man, why this tragic event occurred: a lack of awareness that the crime would occur beforehand and a lack of gun control. The assailant behind the shooting, who will remain anonymous as he desires fame for his crime, had been following several hate groups and terrorist attacks before the shooting. Not only that, but the suspect’s opinion on immigration reportedly changed during his trip to Europe. “The media is saying he’s planned it for a long time, so he’s obviously not of sound mind I don’t think. It’s only since he’s travelled overseas that that boy has changed completely from the boy we knew,”Marie Fitzgerald, the suspect’s grandmother, said in an interview with Aljazeera. According to The Washington Post, the shooting was planned two years ago in a 73 page manifesto that was posted on social media. Bob Parker, the former mayor of Christchurch where the shooting took place, questioned why security agencies hadn’t been aware of the suspect’s posts on
social media. “There does seem to be a significant amount of information that was put online sometime before this attack took place, and it does not seem to have rung alarm bells in the right places,” Parker said in a statement to Aljazeera. I am one hundred percent in agreement with Parker. Had the New Zealand government immediately took this post as a threat, then the lives lost in this horrendous event could have been spared. Instead, they ignored it and 50 people lost their lives. This is completely unacceptable. Days after this event, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that gun laws in New Zealand will be changed. “There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017. Now is the time for change,” she said. This is the right step to take. In recent years, especially in the United States, a lack of gun control has allowed many violent individuals to take advantage of gun laws and exploit them for selfish and destructive reasons. With the rise of hate-crimes and white nationalism, it’s time for the world to understand that these threats, whether online or in public, should be taken seriously. If these threats are increasing, then maybe it’s time to think about changing gun laws to make sure that events like these don’t happen again.
TORCH DESIGN/ALEX YEM
New FDA Approved Postpartum Depression Drug Won’t Be Accessible For Most Women Destinee Scott For the first time ever, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a postpartum depression drug, which experts say offers new hope to women and physicians — but the cost of it is a huge chunk of the salary of an average American. The intravenous infusion of the drug, brexanolone, which will cost $34,000 per patient without insurance and will be sold as Zulresso, which is said to work much faster in treating symptoms of postpartum depression with longer lasting results. Not only is the treatment a hefty price, it also requires time and effort; women who receive the treatment are required to receive an infusion drip for 60 hours under medical supervision. Possible side effects range from headaches and dizziness to excessive sleepiness and sudden loss of consciousness. Still, many believe that the new drug will be a game changer for the 1 in 10 new mothers who experience postpartum depression after childbirth. Dr. Tiffany Far-
chione, the acting director of the Division of Psychiatry Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a press announcement on Tuesday, “Postpartum depression is a serious condition that, when severe, can be life-threatening. Women may experience thoughts about harming themselves or harming their child.” She continued,“Postpartum depression can also interfere with the maternal-infant bond. This approval marks the first time a drug has been specifically approved to treat postpartum depression, providing an important new treatment option.” The medication is expected to be available in June through a restricted program called the Zulresso Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) Program that requires the drug to be administered by a health care provider in a certified health care facility. Many women are still balked by the price being that the childbirth process itself is already expensive on its own even without complications. Untreated, postpartum depression can last for months and even years, according to the National
Institute of Mental Health. Luckily, insurance companies can help cover the burden of the treatment cost by determining whether it can be covered and/or what the out-of-pocket costs would be. “It’s going to be very important for insurance to cover it in order for it to be accessible,” Samantha Meltzer-Brody, a reproductive psychiatrist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill and the lead scientist of the drug’s clinical trials said. “I’m hoping that will be the case.” But insurance coverage isn’t always a possibility, and not everyone can afford to pay $34,000 out-of-pocket for an optional treatment. So, although brexanolone may be right for some mothers who experience postpartum depression, it’s clear that it will only help a small percentage of those who suffer from this condition. So, yet again, medical advancements in maternal health have left out those who are most vulnerable — those who are of low income, of color and without insurance.
Alana Loren Bethea
Student Government Inc. (SGI) elections are underway, and two tickets, P.R.I.D.E. and L.I.T., are running with a few common initiatives –– inclusivity, accountability and student wellness. In anticipation of the SGI debate between the candidates, which will be held on Monday, April 1 at 2 p.m. in the D’Angelo Center Room 206, the Torch has reached out to all the members to learn about their platforms. Christopher Viola, who is running as an independent candidate for senior senator, did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication. Whether it be race, religion, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, socio-economic status or ethnicity, P.R.I.D.E. believes campus climate should be as inclusive and appreciative of other identities as possible. “St. John’s University consistently promotes itself as diverse but never want to address how divided the student body is or the lack of support for marginalized students,” P.R.I.D.E. said in a joint statement. On the other hand, the L.I.T. ticket’s mission is to improve student experiences through inclusive advocacy and consistent communication, by ensuring accountability and establishing a healthy relationship with administration through “effective communication.” “We plan to collaborate with various departments and student leaders to productively promote awareness of resources and information, as well as develop and see through initiatives to promote the physical, mental, and emotional well being of all students,” L.I.T. said in a joint statement. The candidate running for president on the P.R.I.D.E. ticket, Matthew Macatula, has been heavily involved on campus since his sophomore year. “Currently, I serve as a Resident Assistant within Century Hall catering to sophomore residents. I am also a manager for the Operations division of Student Affairs, I have served and worked with so many organizations and have gotten to know and build close relationships with members of the St. John’s community,” Macatula said. Macatula is a Catholic Scholar, which enables him to serve the greater Queens area. He also sits on the Asian Alliance Discussion Panel, where they attempt to breakdown and understand the underrepresentation of the Asian community at St. John’s, formulate new ways to continue to strive for representation and work on how to advocate for themselves and other minority coalitions. “My greatest accomplishment while serving the students here at St. John’s has been my time as Chair of the Organizations committee, I was able to work very closely with the current E-Board to bring on 6 brand new level 1 organizations to St. John’s; furthering the growth and success of our students,” Macatula said. The candidate running for president on the L.I.T. ticket, Johnny Wiley, and candidate for secretary, Hannah Sesay, have had leadership positions throughout their undergrad years as well. Both spent this past year on SGI’s executive board, working with Public Safety to advocate for students and find ways to improve their department from the student perspective. Additionally, they began tackling issues that were brought to light from #SurvivingSJU, helping build the foundation of the newly formed Equity Committee of SGI in efforts to advocate and work toward an inclusive environment. When asked about the issue of inequality on campus, both tickets addressed the lack of inclusivity among the diverse student population. “The only way to truly create an inclusive environment here is to consistently communicate with students in ways that allow them to express their concerns and educate leaders on how they can help them have a better experience here at St. John’s,” L.I.T. said in a joint statement. The secretary candidate for P.R.I.D.E., Nnaemeka Ifeajekwu, believes there is inequality on campus due to the lack of cultural education.
“There is no cultural training or University-sponsored event that lets people know that they can agree to disagree,” Ifeajekwu said. “There can be institutional changes, however, in the long run, everyone must take ownership of the way they perceive things.” The vice president candidate of P.R.I.D.E., Clyde Drayton, believes students and faculty should actively work together to achieve equity on campus and provide opportunities for students to develop themselves: Academically, personally, mentally, emotionally or professionally. “I would change the relationship between faculty and students or student organizations. No matter how you look at it, faculty last longer in their positions than student leaders do — and because student leaders change so fast, there needs to be a legitimate network between faculty and student leaders or student organizations,” Drayton said. L.I.T. believes there is an abundance of issues at St. John’s that need attention. “One that would strongly benefit our university is if St. John’s became a more sustainable campus,” they added. While many people understand sustainability from the environmental standpoint, the L.I.T. ticket wants to bring forth the deeper meaning behind sustainability. “Creating a sustainable campus not only means developing a green campus but also continuing to create change towards a balanced environment,” the L.I.T. ticket stated. “We want students to go about their day knowing that their identities are appreciated and catered to. One way this can happen is with improvement in communication between the student body and administration.” According to L.I.T., more work needs to be done to lessen the “animosity” between various administrative departments on campus and the student body. “[With] departments like Public Safety, students, often minorities of all sorts, don’t feel safe or comfortable going to public safety with certain issues and a big part of that comes from past experiences and lack of representation,” they said. By providing students with more opportunities to voice their concerns, as well as holding administration and themselves accountable on the changes, L.I.T. believes they can create a balanced and inclusive environment for all, “not just in regards to race, but all other identities, such as sexuality and religion.” A point L.I.T. is pushing as a ticket is that many of their initiatives are not what they are “going to do,” but what they are “already doing,” using this platform to evolve their goals. “Change will always happen when a new set of eyes are looking at an issue, but it’s the right set of eyes that will allow the change to be a positive progression,” the L.I.T. ticket stated. “This is what the student body will get with the L.I.T. ticket as we ‘Lift Individuals to the Top.’” P.R.I.D.E. also believes that the work their members have already done will speak for itself, and that student government should be filled with people who have the desire to work. “A pack of lions is called a pride and we embody this because we believe that everybody should have the right to feel empowered and valid,” the P.R.I.D.E. ticket said. “We aren’t just running for the students — we’re running with them.” Elections will take place on Thursday, April 4 and Friday, April 5.
INDEPENDENT Christopher Viola Senior Senator
Junior Senator Nicolas Bautista
Sophomore Senator Natasha Yangthito
PHOTO COURTESY/PRIDE AND LIT TICKETS TORCH DESIGN/AMANDA NEGRETTI & JENNA WOO
SJU Alumni Found 9/11 Compensation Firm Chris and Matt Baione push for ‘Never Forget the Heroes Act’ Isabella Bruni The terror attack that consumed New York City on Sept. 11, 2001 still lingers within the lives of New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs, and two St. John’s alumni have made it their mission to bring justice to those still suffering. Chris Baione (‘09) and Matt Baione (‘11) are both graduates of the St. John’s Staten Island campus who later went on to study law at Seton Hall and Benjamin N. Cardozo, respectively. The brothers applied their law degrees to become the founding partners of the 9/11 compensation firm, Pitta & Baione LLP, whose focus is to obtain health and compensation benefits for victims of 9/11 toxins exposure. Their firm came to fruition in 2016, and just celebrated its three year anniversary. The Baiones didn’t think this was where their career would take them, but after working at another compensation firm together they agreed that they could do a better job of helping people because of how close they were to the cause. Their firm has represented 1,200 people, and counting. The Baione brothers credited their Staten Island roots for their passion to help the people and families that were affected by 9/11. “Being that we are from Staten Island and have friends and family who were directly affected by the attacks and therefore have a better understanding as to what went on and what people are going through,” Chris said. “I was personally affected by this just being a New Yorker and watching the smoke over the landfill from where we used to live.” Many times the job gets personal, as well as emotional, due to working so closely with people living with cancer and other diseases caused by toxins in
the air from PHOTO COURTESY/MATT BAOINE 9/11. “These are 55 to 60 year old people who should [be] about to enjoy retirement and instead they're in the hospital in chemo or they’re in really bad respiratory health,” Chris said. He added that he has had to buy many boxes of sympathy cards because their clients are dying on a weekly basis. “ So m e t i m e s we’re the last people that they ever Brothers and SJU alumni Chris, left, and Matt Baione, right, founded their 9/11 compensation firm in 2016. speak to betice. the Heroes Act,” a federal compensacause they’re so Despite the difficulties faced, Matt tion fund to support victims. The fund worried about what’s gonna happen to their families,” Chris said. “It’s our jobs and Chris agreed that their job is more is running out of money and cutting to assure them that we’re still going to fulfilling than they ever thought it could claims by 50-70 percent. “This act would basically undo these have their backs and even if they're not be. “It’s fulfilling in the sense that we’re problems and extend the fund indefiaround, we’ll do our best to take care of bringing justice to people who really de- nitely, match the funding and roll back their families in their absence.” Matt said that although nothing can serve it and although nothing could give the cuts,” Matt said on the fund, which undo victims’ health problems, provid- them back what they lost we are respon- is expected to close by December 2020 ing compensation for the wrongdoings sible for kind of giving them peace of if changes are not made. “The entirety of America has to come of the government, like when former mind,” Matt said. The words “never forget” are always together on this,” Chris added. Administrator of the Environmental More information for the “Never ForProtection Agency’s (EPA) Christine at the forefront of 9/11 remembrance, Todd Whitman said the air was safe to but there is currently a crisis for victim get the Heroes Act” and Pitta & Baione breathe in 2001, causing victims to not compensation. The Baiones are advocat- LLP can be found at www.911benefits. evacuate the city, gives them some jus- ing for the renewal of the “Never Forget com.
Seven Women-Owned Brands to Recognize This Month Dayra Santana Women’s History Month is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some last-minute steps you can take to give female-owned businesses some extra love and support. This month, we are showcasing some of the best female-owned cosmetic brands that students need to get their hands on. Here are some you may not have heard of that are owned by a diverse group of women who have all brought their own unique touches to the world of beauty.
The Lip Bar: In 2012 Melissa Butler began making lipsticks in her kitchen out of frustration with beauty standards in the cosmetic industry. She took her products to the Shark Tank stage in 2015, only to be ridiculed by judges who did not take her colorful lipsticks seriously. Three years later, Butler’s lipsticks have gone from her Detroit kitchen
to the shelves of Target stores nationwide. Her vibrant, non-toxic vegan lipsticks are designed to make every wearer feel confident in any shade, from nude pink to bright green.
PHOTO COURTESY/YOUTUBE JACKIE AINA
Beauty Bakerie: “Better Not Bitter.” That is Beauty Bakerie’s motto. When Cashmere Nicole started Beauty Bakerie it began as exactly that — a way to better her life as a single mother on welfare, while studying to be a nurse. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Nicole pushed on, deciding to use her brand to raise awareness for the disease. Beauty Bakerie products include “Blending Egg Beauty Sponges” that come in a mini egg carton and their best-selling setting powder that is packaged in a mini “flour” bag. Not only are these makeup items long-lasting and great quality but they are also absolutely adorable. (continued on pg 11)
Beauty entrepreneur Jackie Aina reviews Beauty Bakerie products.
CPS Students Network the WISE Way Beverly Danquah Riley Parker and Brittany Shoughi were excited to enroll in ‘Current Issues in Sports’ their freshman year. In a course that discusses the state of organized athletic activity in the United States, Parker looked around the classroom and noticed that there were very few women around her. After class, the duo met at DAC Coffeehouse where Parker shared her vision for WISE (Women In Sports and Entertainment) with Shoughi. “Riley said to me ‘let’s take this idea and make it big,’” Shoughi recalled. Parker then went on to share the idea with her father, who helped her map out a business plan. “As women in sports, they already say it’s going to be hard to find a job,” she said. “This is the glass ceiling that we have to break through — what’s better than doing that together?” WISE is a newly SGI-recognized organization on campus that aims to unify and prepare women who aspire to work in the sports and entertainment industries. WISE seeks to equip members with the skill set required to overcome the hurdles they’ll encounter and foster unity among students. This is not to be confused with Women in Sports and Events, which sports the same acronym. For their informational general body meeting, about 20 students were present to learn more about what the organization has to offer. Men and women alike witnessed the unveiling of WISE’s plans for establishing themselves on campus. “I feel like we’re in a field where women are underrepresented and there’s not many organizations that cater to women in sports,” Parker, president and co-founder said. “There’s Women on Wall Street, there’s Feminists Unite.”
(continued from pg 10)
Ayele & Co.: Ayele & Co., formerly known as Bahi Cosmetics, was created by 21-year-old Ivory Coast native Danielle Bahi. In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Bahi said that if your skincare product has ingredients you can’t pronounce then you shouldn’t be putting it on your face. This is why Bahi used ingredients she found at local farmers markets when she first started out making skincare products.The best-selling Sunflower Sweets Serum comes with flower petals floating in the bottle and is meant to clear pores, reduce breakouts and even skin tones with its natural ingredients.
The Crayon Case: New Orleans native Raynell Steward created The Crayon Case in 2017. Not only does she own this brand of fun makeup products that include the Box of Crayons eyeshadow palette, but Steward is also the owner of an entertainment company called Watch My Smoke Entertainment — a podcast host
Networking TORCH PHOTO/SPENCER CLINTON ensued subsequently as prospective members signed up with their emails to receive updates and WISE-related news. Parker, a sports management major, credits her ambition in part to her experience as a manager of the Women’s Basketball team. “A lot of the coaches of the women’s team are men,” she said. “There were about eight managers and only two of them were women. Even though it was an all-women team, it was dominated by men.” Left to right: Molly Dekkers (Social Media Chair), Nishara Holmes (Secretary), Raven Jackson (Public Relations She also credits and External Events Chair), Riley Parker (President), Brittany Shoughi (Vice President). WISE’s inception to an instance in tion are to branch out into other uni- ley is looking forward to joining WISE. one of her classes where she and the only versities. “As part of this demographic that’s other female students were grouped to“I’m really looking to work with Tem- largely underrepresented in sports, megether for a class project on the WNBA ple [University], because I know a lot of dia, and entertainment, I’m excited (Women’s National Basketball Associa- people in the marketing department,” to see WISE at SJU. It’s important for tion). Shoughi said. “I also want WISE to be women to uplift each other in and out of Parker has future ambitions to be a more involved in the sports department the office and creating such an network sports agent. [on campus].” at SJU will definitely be beneficial for Shoughi, the vice president and One of Parker’s main goals is to expand years to come,” Stanley said. co-founder of WISE, is a TV & Film stu- WISE’s presence on campus. Parker encourages interested students dent with minors in sports management “We want to make sure that WISE to connect with WISE on Instagram. and business administration. She aspires stays on campus, stays active and stays “If you have a passion for anything to be a sports broadcaster. known.” sports and entertainment related, we acTheir current goals for the organizaSports management student Zoe Stan- cept anybody.”
and a social media personality. She has been featured on vibe, BET, Essence and Fader for her viral videos. She created The Crayon Case for amaeteur makeup artists who will be inspired by the exciting range of colors and playful makeup products.
Drunk Elephant: Non-toxic skincare line Drunk Elephant was created by Tiffany Masterson, a mother of four from Texas. After a lifetime of disappointment with skincare products that never seemed to fulfill their promises, Masterson set out to create an effective and safe product that would get rid of her “sensitive” skin once and for all. Drunk Elephant has risen to one of the most popular skincare lines in recent years and can be found selling out on Sephora shelves.
Nudestix: Nudestix is all about embracing your natural beauty, which doesn’t always have to mean being makeup-free. Jenny Frankel and her two young daughters, Taylor and Ally, created “makeup stix”
for your entire face as a quick way to enhance your natural features. Their animal cruelty free bronzers and highlights come with brushes attached and their lips colors and blush pencils with PHOTO COURTESY/YOUTUBE JEN LUVS REVIEWS sharpeners, so that you Beauty blogger Jen Luv reviews The Crayon Case’s Box of Crayons can always Shadow Palette. give yourself years of frustration and confusion when a quick glow wherever you are. it came to finding the perfect routine.
Birchbox: A subscription to female owned Birchbox is the monthly pick-me-up every college student needs. Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna created this monthly subscription box to make trying out new beauty products easier after
Birchbox will send you five sample-size products curated for your specific needs and style for only $10 a month.They also offer grooming boxes for men. Try out a new mascara and a hair mask one month and a hydrating moisturizer and rosy blush the next!
Jordan Peele’s Lastest Feature Reviewed: “Us” Jewel Antoine Following his 2017 Oscar-winning film “Get Out,” Jordan Peele released his most recent horror film “Us” on March 22. Known for his psychologically riveting work, Peele’s use of foreshadowing and symbolism cites an episode of “Twilight Zone” as inspiration for the film. The episode “Mirror Image” centered on a woman who sees her doppelgänger and is paranoid that it’s trying to replace her, is expanded upon in “Us.” Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o), her husband Gabe Wilson (Winston Duke) and their children Zora and Jason Wilson (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex respectively) return to their summer home — Adelaide’s childhood home in Santa Cruz. Adelaide’s traumatic memory from her childhood at the Santa Cruz beach resurfaces when she is faced with both her doppelgänger and duplicates of her family in the driveway of their home. “Us” also happens to be Nyong’o’s first lead role, which she executed flawlessly. She manages to play both the character of Adelaide and Red so well that while they are distinct, they also mirror each other. She is able to channel both the fright and terror of someone battling a doppelgänger trying to kill their family as well as the vindictiveness and anger of someone who believes that they have been wronged. Duke’s character, Gabe, offers the comedic relief that is a staple in Peele’s horror films. This film does an impeccable job of building suspense and keeping the audience at the edge of their seats. Peele strays away from a typical horror movie plot and introduces a new terrifying concept, the idea of facing oneself. The film is filled with several twists and turns and as the story unfolds, it is revealed that there is more to these doppelgängers than what
meets the eye. However, under the surface, this film also provides a perspective on the political and social climate of America today. Adelaide’s doppelgänger, Red, says “We are Americans,” when they are asked to identify themselves. The film holds a mirror up to our society and forces the audience to confront the true evil within this country: Ourselves. We are in an age where we are trained by the media to fear the “outsider.” Perhaps the most outPhoto Courtesy/ Youtube Movieclips trailers standing political statement is that the ones Lupita Nyong’o and Shahadi Wright Joseph star in the thriller “Us,” directed by Jordan Peele. we should be the most weary of are the people and to be shown breaking down the barriers of stereotypical that we see when we look in the mirror. Another important aspect in the film is the use of a finan- “black roles.” Peele is an expert at mixing horror, comedy and social cially comfortable, two-parent African American family. The family’s race is not central to the plot but it is still signifi- commentary to make a terrifying — yet psychologically cant — illustrating that black actors and actresses are not stimulating — film that left the audience unsure of whose restricted to only telling black stories. While black historical side they were on at the end of the film. “Us” makes a bold political statement, while, it is still befilms are important and so are the telling of black stories, it is important for black people to be represented across genres ing a terrifying and suspenseful horror film.
50in50: Letters to Our Daughters Andreina Rodriguez
hear. The monologues touched upon several topics, ranging from the teaching of Thus far, Women’s History Month has been self love, telling their daughters how “imfull of an incredible amount of events to perfect” looks good on them, learning to understand when they’re ready to be with keep people enlightened and informed. On March 9, “50in50: Letters to Our someone — that girls break hearts too — Daughters” presented its third annual show- to childless mothers expressing that aborcase at LIU Brooklyn’s Kumble Theatre, tion is an act of taking away a life that co-presented by the Billie Holiday Theatre wasn’t theirs to take. Besides the emotional experience and in collaboration with Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop in what was an inspiring throughout the performance, there were event, that had the crowd on their feet and also many laughs emitted by the audience in response to the amount of sass and overtears running down their faces. all display of motherFifty original monoly wits. One hilarious logues were written piece was the story by different women of a woman who felt across the globe and performed by actressWith their daughters expe- that she lost her vires Marsha Stephanie riencing issues ... it’s easy to ginity during her first pap smear. “I lost Blake, Ebony Joann, forget that mothers — demy virginity to KaiJasmine Cephas spite their age and wisdom ser Permanente!” she Jones, LaChanze, — have and may still go yelled dramatically to Terria Joseph, Cethrough them as well. the crowds. lestine Rae, Angelica It’s amazing to Ross, Michele Shay, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney and Paulette Pear- know how many mothers have shared son Washington, with music performed by the same experiences. With their daughters experiencing issues with identity, self Maritri Garrett. “50in50 emerged out of the shared values esteem, relationships and self respect, it’s of The Billie Holiday Theatre and Frank Sil- easy to forget that mothers — despite their vera Writers’ Workshop to reflect stories by age and wisdom — have and may still go black women, as part of the American the- through them as well. You know the saying, “Mother knows ater,” Dr. Indira Etwaroo, executive director of The Billie Holiday Theatre who conceived best.” Well, these wonderful women and directed the show, said. “We also want- shared their words with such an immense ed to ensure that women from all walks of sentiment of love, it was majestic in all life could have a platform to tell their sto- ways possible. ries.” Their words were expressed with so much This article has been edited for length. love from a mother that every woman must Full version is available for view online.
torchonline.com torch design/ tauhid dewan
Music Producer Brandon Mitchell on Finding Music Everywhere and Anywhere
Torch Photo/ Spencer Clinton
“Honestly, just listening to my old stuff and hearing my new stuff and just being confident in my sound. A lot of people tell me that my stuff sounds different. Because of everything that I put in my beats. Just being confident enough to put myself out there more.”
At 11 on Tuesday morning, Brandon Mitchell and I met for coffee in the DAC Coffeehouse. Mitchell is a junior at St. John’s, studying accounting. He hails from Durham, NC. Disclaimer, Mitchell opted for an Ethos water, as he’s not a coffee drinker. I had a grande toasted toffee nut iced coffee with almond milk. Beverage conversations maybe?
Any examples of what your sound sounds like?
So Brandon, tell me a little bit about what you do.
“Just recently I recorded stuff around the house. Just like, the sink turning on, my brush –– my rubbing my finger across my brush — literally my boot because it was raining that day and I squeaked it across the floor, lighting a match, random stuff I can get my hands on. When I was back home, my friend’s washing machine made a ding noise and I asked him if we can recreate it, and I recorded it and I turned that into a synthesizer and morphed that into something I can use. That’s where I get most of my inspiration, just trying out new stuff. Trying to make the weirdest sound into something that’s tough. That’s fun to me.”
“I produce music, I don’t like [to] sing or rap or anything. I would like to go in scoring. My major used to be film and television because of scoring but then I found out that St. John’s does more of the production side of things and directing. I’ve been producing for three and a half years — it will be four this Christmas. I try to put my unique spin on it while recording live stuff. I’ll literally stop if I hear something I like. Like just the other week on that street right there [Points towards parking lot near Gate 6] — there was rain going into a drain and I just recorded that and I’ll put it into a beat. Some of my biggest influences are Monty Booker, Kaytranada, Frank Ocean, J. Cole, Travis Scott, WondaGurl, just to name a few.”
Top three producers of all time? “Jay Dilla, Pharrell, Timbaland.”
Tell me about your process when you are producing a beat. “Nine times out of 10 its usually just playing stuff until I get something that I like. I’ll play chords, listen to drum hits, but if I do have an idea, I’ll try to play that out as best as I can. I have this instrument, it’s called an OP-1, I’ve been wanting that for two years, and I just saved up to get it. That’s where I find most of my inspiration. I’ll literally sample radio static — a random channel that I find, just anything really. I joke with my friends when I’m making beats with them I’ll just throw whatever in a beat.” Sounds to me like (no pun intended) your inspiration comes from your experiences. Like walking down the block and hearing a sound, how do you mirror that? “I’ll literally just record it and I’ll play around with it in FL studio. It’s not really much to it, I just do it. Shout out to Nike.” So where’s Brandon’s studio? “Uhh ... right behind Double Js.” Wait ... is there actually a studio there or that’s where you live? “That’s where I live.” [Erupts in laughter] Who are your top five producers right now? “Monte Booker, Kaytranada, WondaGurl, Frank Dukes [are some] of my favorites. [Monte Booker] makes a lot of samples you hear, he’s like a producers’ producer. And another personal favorite of mine is BadBadNotGood. They’re actually like a band, but
Where do you think it came from?
Top three artist-producer collabs?
Brandon Mitchell, a senior music major, discusses his passion for transforming everyday sounds into unique beats with the Torch.
“Biggest advice is to one: Be yourself. Honestly, that’s the only way you’re going to have fun with it. Trying to keep an image and persona that you don’t really enjoy at the end of the day won’t be fun — it’ll start feeling like a job. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Just make sure you’re ready.” they produce for people as well and I like their tracks.”
Smino for a good minute. They came up together.”
Just from our conversation, I can tell that Monte Booker is your favorite ... True?
His mind. Have you worked with any artists?
“Yes.” What do you love about Monte Booker? “Just the way he uses different sounds. That’s honestly why my beats sound the way that they are. Like just listening to Monte Booker and they way he flips his sound. He’ll take a crackle of a plastic bottle and turn that into a beat or honestly just anything. Which is just crazy. His imagination is just ... It’s just out of this world. And I’m really happy right now because he’s finally getting the recognition and more eyes on him. He just got invited to the Revenge of the Dreamers sessions for J. Cole. He’s been producing with
“I’ve been producing on my own for a while. I was trying to hone my sound and fract my stuff. I’ve been working with my friend from back home; his name is Brian McQueen. We’ve just been working on an EP, throwing ideas together and trying to get something solid down before we do it. Nothing too crazy.” Nothing too crazy … why not? “I just now started getting confident in my stuff, and I’ve been saying that like every year. I try to work every day to get better.” Where did the confidence stem from?
“Timbaland/Aaliyah, Monte Booker/ Smino –– they’re going to be big –– and WondaGurl/Travis Scott.” Any advice for students who want to sing, produce or get their feet wet in music? “Biggest advice is to one: Be yourself. Honestly, that’s the only way you’re going to have fun with it. Trying to keep an image and persona that you don’t really enjoy at the end of the day won’t be fun — it’ll start feeling like a job. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Just make sure you’re ready.” How has your friend and family’s reception been to your interest in producing? “They’ve been very supportive. That’s really what I’m excited about. There was no backlash. I want to do this as a career.” Side comment: Oh really, Mr. Accountant? [Laughs] “I want to get into accounting to know the business side of everything. Like, I’ll bring it up with my mom and cousins, they’re not telling me I should do something else. They’re telling me to go for it. They say I should’ve been doing this all along.” How are you going to use your St. John’s experience to fuel your passion? “[I’ve enjoyed] learning about different people from different backgrounds...” The full article and Brandon’s work can be viewed at torchonline.com and on https://soundcloud.com/sandaxcviii.
torchonline.com torch design/jenna woo
Dr. Erika Vause Maggie Moore The sight of a miniature model of a guillotine in a professor’s office might be a surprise for some students, but it always sparks a great conversation. The office in question is that of Dr. Erika Vause, a History professor here at St. John’s University who focuses on Europe from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, with a particular emphasis on France. The model guillotine that she constructed is the perfect size for slicing bananas, which Vause reenacts on the first day of her class on Revolutionary France. Vause incorporates creative methods such as this, role-playing games and choose-your-own-adventure books, into her classes to inspire students to think about the world in which we live through the lens of different cultures and periods in time. It can be easy to take for granted the ideas and institutions normalized around us, but Vause challenges students to think outside of the box.
“Nothing around you is normal,” she explains, “nor has it always been there.” “Nothing around you is normal,” she explains, “nor has it always been there.” A St. John’s student that is not involved with the History department might wonder how nineteenth century France relates to their present-day life, but Vause encourages students to look beyond “Les Misérables” (although that is a classic) when trying to learn more about this time in history. Here are a few suggestions provided by Vause for anyone interested in learning more about French history, or history in general:
"The SUpersizers Go" (TElevisIon Series) Nar. by Roy Marsden In this television series produced by BBC, restaurant critic Giles Coren and comedian Sue Perkins immerse themselves in the culture, fashion and food of a particular location and historical period for a week. Over this period of time, while they tend to sample cuisine that was available to different social classes during a given time, many episodes focus on the extravagant meals present during the era. The show has since been revamped under “Supersizers Eat,” and in season two, episode three Coren and Perkins focused centered on Versailles on the eve of the French Revolution. Vause recommends this show because it reveals what we consider to be unfamiliar and weird today, while drawing attention to the fact that it was completely normal in a different place and time. It presents a lighthearted take on the past and incites the viewer to learn more about a given historical period.
"Lore" (Podcast) Hosted by Aaron Mahnke This podcast deals with non-fiction scary stories, investigating true and terrifying events and the myths associated with those accounts. It is perfect for those who like thrilling horror stories and are interested in hearing about true events of the past. Episodes deal with topics such as witches, canni-
Specialist in Seventeenth through Nineteenth Century France
bals and murders. In episode 8, entitled “The Castle” the podcast explores the serial killer H.H. Holmes, who built a hotel to facilitate the murders and hide the bodies. This particular podcast uncovers the “darkness of human history,” according to Vause, which makes it creepier. Vause advocates for this podcast as a way to get students interested in factual historical events through storytelling.
"A place of greater safety" (Novel) By Hilary Mantel Hilary Mantel’s novel, “A Place of Greater Safety,” follows the course of the French Revolution, focusing on famous leaders such as Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulin and Maximilien Robespierre. Vause explained that a benefit of this novel, in particular, is the personal element, which humanizes the people who were major players in the French Revolution. Mantel does this by recounting the lives of a few key players of the French Revolution, beginning with their childhood to the people they become.
Torch Photo/ Spencer Clinton
Dr. Erika Vause poses with her mini guillotine and speaks with the Torch about her history selections.
"Rashomon" (film) Dir. by Akira Kurosawa Vause recommends the Japanese thriller, “Rashomon,” to help students grasp the “unknowability” of the past. Although it is not historical, it deals with people highlighting different elements of the past for emotional reasons. The plot of the film centers on discovering the truth about a woman who was raped and her husband’s murder. Each character in the movie tells a unique version of the story, which reminds the viewer that when studying history, one must take into account the motives of the people behind the telling of a story.
"Behind the Bastards" (Podcast) Hosted by Robert Evans Another intriguing podcast is “Behind the Bastards.” As the name might indicate, it deals with the worst kinds of figures, such as Saddam Hussein and Joseph Stalin. It un-
covers bizarre facts about different “bad guys” of the past and a few from today. “It investigates surprising parts of their lives,” Vause explained, which leads listeners to learn about different historical periods and understanding more about history’s villains.
"Ancient Aliens" (Television Series) Nar. by Robert Clotworthy As a bonus, Vause suggests the show “Ancient Aliens.” This show examines the belief that aliens visited Earth and influenced past events – diminishing the past achievements of various societies. But unlike the other recommendations listed, Vause warned that this show serves as a guideline of “what not to do” in the historical field. ~~~ Vause’s interesting and thoughtful look at history is portrayed in the pieces of media she selected. With these in mind, she wishes to inspire all students to meaningfully look at the history around them and the perceptions that they may have of the past.
A Steady Progression Behind Rizzi’s Success Sean Okula Try to understand the batter’s plight. At the dish, time has no meaning. Yet, timing is essential. The ball moves every which way except, of course, the right way. Blink, and miss. Think, and miss. What’s the secret to navigating the paradoxical onslaught? “I just attack and swing at the ball when it gets in or near the strike zone,” softball standout Marissa Rizzi said. Right. No sweat. Things have come that easy for the junior this season. Rizzi has homered eight times in 26 games, good for an outrageous .808 slugging percentage. The junior’s 20 RBIs are tied for the team lead, and a .423 batting average is tops in the Big East (among those with more than three plate appearances). Twice has the conference honored her with its player of the week award. She’s produced — and with incredible efficiency to boot. Nine walks to eight strikeouts demonstrates her keen understanding of the strike zone. Generating so much loft often leads to holes in a swing, holes exposed by inflated strikeout totals. Rizzi has consistently put the ball in play and slugged it to all fields — a nicely balanced approach. Her climb has been steady. Sporadic playing time in her freshman year led to mixed results. A steady role last season was key to development, and she made the most of her opportunity. The Manorville native’s batting average rose 50 points and she started to show off the now-signature power, mashing seven homers.
Intuition might lead one to believe a 2019 breakout was inevitable. It took a little fine-tuning to make it a reality. “I worked with Coach Guerriero to help me stop extending my front elbow when attacking,” she said. “Going forward, I would like to stay consistent throughout the rest of the season.” Maintaining her current pace could scare some school record holders. With a little less than half of the season remaining, Krystal Puga’s recently established home run record (19 TORCH PHOTO/SPENCER CLINTON in 2018) is within shouting distance. A Marissa Rizzi of the SJU softball team has been awarded Big East Player of the Week twice this season. late-season hot streak could also push her justments need to be made, I will definitely walks as strikeouts (22). She’s drawn 12 over the batting average and slugging per- work non-stop to be prepared.” apiece in 2019, but the power has curiously centage marks. Growth potential is hard to spot for Rizzi. slipped with her batting average, down to All of that is hardly in focus at the mo- Collectively, the offense could draw from .238 from .347. ment. Big East play is on the horizon. After her powerful stroke. Rizzi’s eight homers Mechanical issues could contribute to a bowing out in the semifinal of last year’s comprise a third of the team’s total. At their 100-plus point drop off, but simple random conference championship, the time has current rate, the bats would blast 39 longvariance might also wreak havoc. If the hits come for reacclimation with the best of the balls over the full season, a far cry from the start falling in for the junior, a power surge nearby competitors. 62 homer frenzy in 2018. might soon follow. “At this point my preparation will not be Misfortune explains part of the outage. Conspiracies be damned, the Red Storm any different for the upcoming conference Gretchen Bowie went deep 15 times a year will welcome Georgetown for a three game games,” the first baseman explained. “If ad- ago, while drawing the same amount of conference set over the weekend.
Baseball Continues Hot Streak with Hofstra Sweep Brendan Murray Wacky weather was no match for the St. John’s Baseball Team’s winning streak, which reached seven games with a doubleheader sweep of Hofstra this past Sunday. On Saturday, rain forced the cancellation of the Red Storm’s opener of a three-game set against the Pride. Strong wind gusts dropped the temperature into the 20s, forcing the first game to be canceled. It was not able to be immediately rescheduled because the Johnnies were already set to a play a doubleheader the next day. When Sunday finally came around, the delay had no effect on the Red Storm. The Johnnies swept the Pride in convincing fashion, winning the first game, 9-1, and the second, 9-0. The Red Storm outscored the Pride 18-1, showing not only their deep lineup but their veteran-heavy pitching staff. The Johnnies went right to work to open up the doubleheader with a five-run second inning and junior Sean Mooney going strong for six innings, allowing only three hits. This win is Mooney’s second of the season and moved him into a tie for fifth in St. John’s program history for wins with his 21st career win. After the strong performance, Mooney’s season ERA is down to 1.51 in his six starts. The New Jersey product has also pitched in a team-high 35
2/3 innings in his junior campaign. Junior Mike Antico hit for a career best 4-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and a stolen base. Some other notables in the hit parade on Sunday were sophomore outfielder Brandon Miller and junior infielder Carson Bartels, who both went 2-for-4, driving in two runs each. The second game of the doubleheader was more of the same, with the Red Storm waiting until the seventh inning to begin their run barrage, scoring five runs in the inning and not looking back—ultimately winning 9-0. Bartels had the hot bat and continued to mash the ball in the second game, going 3-for-4 with one double and driving in two runs for the Red Storm. Junior southpaw Joe LaSorsa pitched five innings of four hit ball without allowing a run and striking out two. In a display of domination, junior Jeff Belge could not be touched after coming in for relief for LaSorsa. The Syracuse native pitched three innings facing 10 batters, striking out eight of them while allowing only one batter to reach on a walk. The Johnnies revived what has become a lost art in the game of baseball: Stealing bases and forcing the defense to tighten up and make accurate throws when the pressure is on. In the first and fourth innings of the second game the Red Storm were able to get
the leadoff man on base with a single then get to work on the base paths — Bartels stealing second in the first inning and advancing on a throwing error. Antico was also able to steal second in the fourth and advance on a throwing error and eventually score on a sac fly, making for a case of déjà vu for the Red Storm. The Red Storm struggled out of the gate this season, opening with a record of 3-9 in their first 12 games. While the Johnnies struggled in their opening 12 games against stiff competition on the West coast, the Red Storm have charged back on this recent stretch of games back home on the East coast. Since March 13 the Johnnies have played seven games and won all of them, with three wins against Kansas, where they outscored the Jayhawks 15-4. The return to the East coast has helped improve the Red Storm’s overall record for the season to 10-9, bringing them a confidence that has them scoring runs in bunches and pitching lights out. St. John’s is a perfect 6-0 at Jack Kaiser Stadium for the 2019 season thus far. The Red Storm’s next matchup will take place against the Fairfield Stags in Connecticut on Wednesday night. Fairfield comes in with a 8-12 overall record. After the one game tilt with Fairfield, the Johnnies will head out to the midwest for a matchup with Saint Louis.
• March 27: Softball vs. Stony Brook 2:30 p.m. • March 27: Baseball at Fairfield, 3:00 p.m. • March 29-30: Women’s Track & Field at Stanford Invitational • March 30: Softball vs. Georgetown, 12:00 p.m. • March 30: Women’s Tennis at Seton Hall, 1:00 p.m. • March 30: Lacrosse vs. Providence 1:00 p.m. • March 30: Baseball at Saint Louis 3:00 p.m.
SPORTS March 27, 2019 | VOLUME 96, ISSUE 16
torch photo/nick bello
From St. John's to CBS Sports Year Four in the Books Brendan Myers Year four of the Chris Mullin era will always be looked at through a foggy lense. This was a year of progress, but also a year of “whatifs?” Was it a successful year because they got back to the tournament for the first time since 2015, or was it a let-down because they were in the play-in game, the last-team selected in the field of 68 and appeared to be one of the most inconsistent teams across all of Division I. The answer lies somewhere in between. “I would say this year was a great season,” Shamorie Ponds told reporters after the NCAA Tournament play-in game loss to Arizona State. “We achieved a lot. I’m not satisfied, but I’m happy.” With the 75-64 loss to Arizona State in Dayton last Wednesday, St. John’s finished 2018-19 with a record of 21-13 (8-10). That record is by far Mullin’s best, but the team’s inconsistent play marred the positives. In the regular season, the elation of two regular season victories against Marquette and a comeback win over Villanova might have been exceeded by a combined 1-5 record against DePaul, Butler, and Providence, the three teams at the bottom of the Big East Conference.
As the season is now over, there are some major questions for the St. John’s roster that need to be answered. Marvin Clark II, one of the most dependable scorers over his two seasons in Queens and an unquestionable leader, is graduating. For a Red Storm roster that’s had its struggles with depth, Clark’s 10.5 points per game this season is a sizeable gap that will need to be filled in. Ponds and Mustapha Heron both still have a year of eligibility left, but they will certainly be on the NBA Draft radar. As Zach Braziller of the New York Post reported earlier this year, Ponds’ father, Shawn Ponds, stated that there will be a definite decision regarding Shamorie’s future. Last year, Ponds tested the NBA Draft waters to receive feedback about his game. He will not go through that process again, according to Braziller’s report. St. John’s fans will know definitively whether or not the Brooklyn native will be back to Queens for his senior season. After the NCAA Tournament loss to ASU, Ponds responded with a “no comment” when asked if he could see himself playing another year at St. John’s. At this time, less is known about Heron. The native of Waterbury, C.T. came to St. John’s after two years at Auburn in order to be closer to his mother. Heron averaged 14.6 points per game. Those numbers don’t
jump off of the page, but Heron scored 20 or more points six times this season. Due to the team’s lack of depth in the front court, Heron often found himself in foul trouble as, at times, the guard by nature was forced to play at the power forward position. That lack of depth in the front court was on full display against DePaul and Providence. For the Blue Demons, Femi Olujobi gave St. John’s trouble, and Nate Watson did his damage for the Friars when the played St. John’s. Across the team’s two meetings, Watson averaged nearly 20 points and seven rebounds en route to two comfortable wins for Providence. Four regular season losses to DePaul and Providence drastically affected the way St. John’s was seeded in the Big East Tournament. In addition to David Caraher and Eli Wright, who sat out this year due to NCAA Transfer Regulations, the Johnnies are scheduled to have three more players coming to Queens. The team continues to make a splash in the junior college route, with Cam Mack and Valdir Manuel. Manuel, who will be immediately eligible and Ian Steere, who will be eligible at the conclusion of next fall’s semester after transferring mid-season, will add two more formidable front court bodies to be able to combat a player such as Nate Watson from
Providence. Mack, the #2-rated junior college prospect, should fit in nicely into the backcourt with Justin Simon and Heron, should he decide to stay. At- 6foot-3, Mack is another long guard who fits into the team’s defensive mold of being able to switch on ball screens and disrupt the passing lanes. Despite limited minutes, the three freshmen on the Red Storm roster all showed promise when given an opportunity. Greg Williams Jr. saw the most minutes of the freshmen, but Josh Roberts also showed aggression in the paint on both ends of the floor that had Red Storm fans excited. However, Williams Jr. and Roberts only combined for an average of about 14 minutes per game. After the signs of promise, fans on social media criticized Mullin for not giving his freshmen more playing time to allow the starters to catch their breath on the bench. Albeit in a small sample size, Marcellus Earlington shot 46 percent from the field. None of the three freshman saw playing time in the NCAA Tournament play-in game against Arizona State. It might sound strange to be critical of a season where St. John’s did make it back into post-season play for the first time under Chris Mullin. There was progress, just not as much as many had hoped for.