VOL 96 : 02 April 25, 2018 torchonline.com
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Professors concerned over stolen books in st. john hall
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INSIDE THE ISSUE
News: Racial vandalism on St. John Hall poster prompts investigation page 2
TORCH PHOTO/NICK BELLO
News: New Inclusivity Resource Center expected to launch in the fall
Features: An inside look on the newest DTW location Limerick, Ireland
Poster Vandalized in St. John Hall Word ‘Black’ visibly scuffed, Public Safety investigation underway Nia Douglas Public Safety is investigating two instances of apparent racially motivated vandalism of a poster in St.John Hall, according to a university spokesman. Last week, a graduate student sent the Torch photos of the damage done to the word ‘black’ in a series of Research Month posters on display on the building’s first floor. The student, Michael Gaughran, said he noticed that the word “black” had been scuffed up on the poster last month, then saw the poster had been replaced with a clean one a week later. Then, when he walked by the poster two weeks later, he saw the same word scuffed up again on the replacement poster. The second scuffed up poster was still on display as recently as Monday. Brian Browne, Executive Director for University Relations, said both incidents of the vandalism had already been reported “by staff from nearby offices” and added that it remains “an active investigation.” TORCH PHOTO/NICK BELLO This incident comes at the end of a tumultuous school year in the realm of race rela- A poster in St. John Hall was vandalized for the second time in three weeks, Public Safety is investigating the situation. tions on campus. After students walked out of President who presented their findings and studies at The following week, however, Graughran Amber Reese, president of Spectrum, the Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw’s Town Hall the annual St. John’s Research Month activ- found himself staring yet again at a vandal- LGBTQ+ community organization on cammeeting in February at what appeared to be ities held throughout April, and one of the ized picture of Xavier Buck holding Black pus and an avid supporter of the protest the climax of weeks of on-campus protest- posters features a photo of St. John’s Alum- Power with a distinct line carved through movements on campus, said she was “not ing, Gempesaw assured students in an April nus Xavier Buck buck holding a copy of a the word black. surprised at all.” She added that Gempesaw Torch interview that he understood their book entitled Black Power. “Someone specifically did the exact same is “soft on these issues that have been persistconcerns “as an immigrant and a person of “There was specifically a line right through marking on the exact same word,” he said. ing since before he even got here.” color.” the word ‘black,’” Gaughran said. “I was sur- “None of the other [posters] were touched. “I see the Task Force for Diversity and Gaughran first noticed the scuffed up post- prised, so I took a few pictures of it. It didn’t Someone was clearly targeting this.” Inclusion getting a ton of things done so it er on his way to his Tuesday evening class on have any lead or ink mark; it was like someGraughran then reached out to the Torch looks like things are getting better,” Reese March 27. one took a razor blade to it.” saying that he was “disturbed.” However, he said. “But as you can tell from this inci“I noticed a dent,” Gaughran said, referHe added, “I was going to report it to wasn’t the only one on campus who noticed dent, the campus climate hasn’t necessarily ring to the collection of Research month someone. I just sort of didn’t get around to this act of vandalism. healed.” posters displayed on the first floor. “As I got it and it seemed like a random thing.” Students of Consciousness drew attention Browne, the university spokesman, said up closer, I saw that it looked like an X or A week later, Gaughran returned and to this act on their Instagram page on Tues- Public Safety’s investigation is open. something, and it was right through the cov- found that the poster of Buck was replaced. day by posting a picture of the vandalized “If students have any information that will er of Kwame Turre’s Black Power.” “There was a whole new poster put up,” poster with the caption: “The racism that St. help this ongoing investigation,” he said, The set of Research Month posters features Gaughran said. “Obviously someone had John’s University allows will no longer be “they are encouraged to contact the Departa number of St. John’s students and alumni noticed it and fixed it.” tolerated! #NoJusticeNoPeace.” ment of Public Safety.”
Final SGI Meeting Held With New E-Board Obermeyer gives final President’s report to students Alexis Gaskin The final SGI meeting of the year was held on Monday April 23, featuring final reports from the 2017-2018 eboard, a recap of Relay for Life and final events taking place on campus. Graduating senior Frank Obermeyer gave his final President’s report to the general body, congratulating everyone on a successful year and wishing the 2018-2019 e-board good luck before he handed the gavel and meeting over to President-Elect Atemkeng Tazi. Obermeyer also congratulated the Relay for Life committee for surpassing their goal of $150,000. Continuing with the Officer reports, Treasurer-Elect Henry Stitzel went through
the end of the year budget, highlighting leftover funds for the representatives for programming and the funds allocated for the Spring Concert, which will be held on Thursday, April 26. This number consists of funds received from SGI, Haraya and Campus Activities. Among the last few events of the year is the Freshman Representative-led Basketball Tournament. It will be held this Sunday at 3:00 pm on the residential strip. This event is for freshmen only and the cost to play is a donation of canned goods, toiletries or other non-perishables. Tazi also discussed the upcoming private Awards Banquet being held for SGI members next Monday at 5:00 pm in the DAC Ballroom.
Within the committees, there were reports from the Budget Committee, School Spirit and Student Services Committee. The Budget Committee approved expenses for upcoming events on campus including an event for Gamma Kappa Alpha. The School Spirit Committee highlighted upcoming games and activities being held at the games, including free T-shirts at the men’s Lacrosse game against Georgetown. Student Services discussed the pushback of construction to the lobby of the library until the summer of 2019. In terms of “old business,” the Sustainability committee amendment attachment to the constitution was voted on. This amendment would recognize the Sustainability committee as an official standing
committee within SGI. The Sustainability committee is officially recognized as a standing committee by SGI after a unanimous vote by the members present. A St. John’s student informed Tazi of posters featuring a St. John’s alumnus reading a Black power book. The word “Black” was scratched and crossed out from several posters in the corridor of St. John Hall. After much discussion from the members, it has not yet been decided as to if SGI will report this incident to Public Safety. The meeting concluded with the reminder that Spring Concert tickets can be purchased at the Campus Concierge desk for St. John’s and non-St. John’s students.
String of Thefts Leaves Professors Concerned Questions remain after books, electronics go missing Derrell J. Bouknight A string of thefts in St. John Hall has professors concerned for their valuables and personal items. According to three employees stationed in the building’s basement, the issue has carried on for years. Aaris Sherin, a 13-year University art and design professor, said she discovered numerous copies of a book she authored were missing on April 11, just days after she brought them into her office to give to her class and present at the annual faculty book reception. “I went to get one, and they weren’t there,” Sherin recalled in an interview. “The whole stack. Sixteen books were not there.” She spent a few minutes trying to gather her thoughts and find the books before accepting that they were gone. She immediately told her administrator, who called Public Safety. She was referred to an officer who dealt with issues of theft. “I would have noticed if it would have been a couple of weeks,” Sherin said. “I’m not in my office every day, so I don’t know which day [they were taken].” As he wrote the report, the responding officer told Sherin that incidents similar to hers were not uncommon in St. John’s Hall. “I think the thing that I found most troubling was that the Public Safety officer who came over said, ‘Yeah, this building is hot. We have a huge problem with theft in the faculty offices, especially in the wings,’ which are in this part of the building,” she said. In a statement released by Public Safety to the Torch, the department said the case is ongoing and they are working with members of the University to prevent more thefts. “Public Safety is investigating this matter and is coordinating with faculty on best practices in an ongoing effort to keep their belongings secure,” said Executive Director for Public Safety Denise Vencak in a statement sent on Tuesday. Sherin said she would like more communication between faculty members based in the basement and Public Safety as part of their investigation to find the source of the theft. She said she’s made an effort to inform her
TORCH PHOTO/DERRELL J. BOUKNIGHT
Professor Aaris Sherin’s office with the 16 books that she discovered missing on April 11 were stacked atop this bookshelf.
colleagues about her stolen books so they can the stolen books and recovered them. safeguard theirs when they’re not in their ofHe did a search on “Amazon.com: Used fices. They all wonder who’s the culprit. Books” and got a hit for one of the books “There’s a lot of talk back and forth about that was stolen from his desk. What struck whether or not it might be people who have him was the description of the book. keys,” she said. “Sometimes these doors are “The description, according to the used left open ... My colleague has an office next bookseller, was that the name had been door and sometimes she’ll text me and say, blacked out, and that it had a dedication,” ‘are you here?’ I’ll say ‘no,’ and she’ll say, Rivera said. That matches the exact condi‘well, your door is open.’” tion his book was in when it was stolen. With $850 He tracked that used bookworth of books seller to a bookstore in Manmissing from hattan. When Rivera went My colleague has an her office, Sherin there, he walked around the office next door and said the departreligion section and came sometimes she’ll text ment has reimacross six other books of his. me and say, ‘are you bursed her and He knew they were his behere?’ others who have cause they also had his name Aaris Sherin crossed out. had items stolen either with monHe told the owner that his ey from the Dean’s department or money store was in possession of stolen books. After from her department’s budget because there a brief discussion, the owner told Rivera he is no insurance, which she heard from the could take the books back home. chair of the department. Like Sherin, Rivera filed a report with PubBut Sherin isn’t alone in the problem. lic Safety, who took this complaint to the Dr. Robert Rivera, whose office is across local precinct. While he said he hasn’t had the hall from Sherin’s, also had items taken anything else taken from his office since, Rifrom his office, he said. Two years ago, about vera said that there have been other instances 21 books were taken from his desk. of theft within those two years. Incredibly, he successfully tracked some of “It’s a systemic problem,” he said. “Col-
leagues have had valuable books and computers taken from their offices. There’s a measure of vulnerability in this space that it’s open-ceiling, and there’s always the potential for someone to reach over or to climb over [the partitions separating the offices].” The books that were taken from Rivera were mainly for research and worth more than $100 each, he said. On occasion, he has experienced suspicious activity in the hallway. He said he has been approached by men in their late 20s or early 30s who have asked him if he wants to sell his books. During one encounter at his office, a man asked if he wanted to sell his books. Rivera asked for his card and gave it to Public Safety for them to follow up. When asked if he had heard anything from Public Safety after that, Rivera said, “no.” Another issue, according to Sherin, is a lack of video surveillance by the professors’ offices. She believes the only cameras nearby are in the area by the bathrooms. While Public Safety says it’s investigating the theft, Sherin’s loss of 16 books earlier this month still stings — and she wants answers. She added, “I think there should be more a substantive effort to figure out who is doing this and stop that.”
St. John’s Files Motion to Dismiss Bent Hall Suit Suzanne Ciechalski The University last month asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit that accuses St. John’s of reneging on an oral agreement to keep an alumnus’ name on Bent Hall forever. The motion, filed on March 28, asks for the complaint to be dismissed entirely. Bruce R. Bent, an alumnus of St. John’s, said in his lawsuit, filed in January, that St. John’s “agreed to convey the naming rights to the Building, including prominent signage reflecting the naming rights throughout the Building” to him in 1981 in exchange for his $500,000 donation. Previously, the building in question — home to the Peter J. Tobin College of Business — had signage attached to the front of it that said “Bent Hall.” Following major renovations to the
building this past year, that signage was removed and replaced with the college’s name. However, “Bent Hall” is still written on the side of the building and the University maintains that the building itself is still named Bent Hall. Bent is suing for damages worth $9,896,000 according to court documents — he alleges that this is the present-day value of his original donation. Joseph Oliva, a vice-president for administration and general counsel for St. John’s, submitted an affirmation in support of the lawsuit’s dismissal on behalf of the University last month. In it, he acknowledges Bent’s donation to the University, and that the building was named after him in recognition “of his pledge.”
“This was not a purchase of naming rights, but a tribute to Plaintiff, who was then described as a loyal alumnus and a talented member of the University’s Board of Trustees,” Oliva said, according to the document filed in March. Additionally, Oliva said that an “exhaustive search” was conducted for a document granting Bent the naming rights. In the suit, Bent alleges that the naming rights to the building were confirmed to him in writing, in perpetuity. But in a statement to the Torch, Bent’s lawyer confirmed that the agreement was oral — not written. “The agreement was oral, not written, as Mr. Bent trusted St. John’s to be true to its word,” his lawyer John Dellaportas said in January. A copy of that Torch story has been sub-
mitted as evidence in the case. Oliva said Bent acknowledged that there was “no written naming rights agreement” in a phone call between the two during the winter of 2016-17. Brian Browne, a spokesperson for the University, said when the lawsuit was filed that Bent was presented an opportunity to be involved with the renovation of Bent Hall, but declined to do so. “The only document that mentions a naming right granted in perpetuity is described as “a draft of a possible gift agreement,” which was created in 2016 as a possible settlement of the dispute that developed into this lawsuit,” Oliva said in his affirmation. A decision is expected as early as next month.
Task Force to Open New Center for Inclusivity Sun Yat Sen will be home to the new center, which will open in the fall Jillian Ortiz As the 2017-2018 school year draws to a close, the St. John’s University Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion has seen the actualization of some of its initiatives. On the heels of the 2018-2019 academic year, the Task Force has a new measure underway. The Task Force’s new Inclusivity Resource Center is expected to launch during the fall 2018 semester, aiding in an effort to foster a more inclusive campus environment. This follows the Task Force’s recent distribution of a Campus Climate Survey, which was intended to “measure how ... students experience St. John’s from an inclusivity perspective,” according to the University website. The Center will be located in Sun Yat Sen Hall and will serve as a space for students to create, engage and foster “authentic and informed” dialogues. Additionally, the Center will hold monthly workshops that will focus on inclusivity and equity. The purpose of the center is “to provide a safe space for [our] students of color and other marginalized identities, but also to address the fact that there is another concern that there is a lot of segregation on campus and there’s not a lot of talking amongst [student] populations,” Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer Nada Llewellyn said during a Task Force meeting on March 5. As a resource to students, student groups will also have the opportunity to use a space within the center. This includes groups, “that address the needs of historically marginalized groups and have missions that are consistent with that of the University,” as stated on the University website. The Center will also include two gender neutral bathrooms, according to Llewellyn.
TORCH PHOTO/RACHEL JOHNSON
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall will house the Diversity Task Force’s new Inclusivity Resource Center that is set to open in the fall.
“It acts as an opportunity here for there to be the dialogue for diversity that [doesn’t] happen across campus and we’re hoping we can start to foster it through formal programming and, hopefully, eventually informal [means],” Llewellyn said. Student Government, Inc. (SGI) is one of the organizations on campus accredited with aiding the Task Force in its planning and execution. In light of the recent Diversity and Inclusion Org Congress survey responses, newly-elected SGI President Atem Tazi said she looks forward to addressing some students concerns, particularly Asian students. “Some of the Asian students on campus feel like they have been neglected on campus,” Tazi said. “In my candidacy for Stu-
dent Government, I plan on reaching out to those communities on campus and seeing how exactly we can support them.” She added that it is important to her to address this, as she doesn’t want any student to feel like their “voices aren’t heard.” “Rosa Yen, the director of Multicultural Affairs … has reached out to me in the past about setting up some kind of forum where I could speak directly to students of that community so that’s something that I will be doing between the end of this semester and the beginning of the next semester,” Tazi continued. The Inclusivity Research Center at St. John’s University is similar to other initiatives seen at institutions across the United States, such as SUNY Cortland, University
of Wisconsin River Falls and the University of Minnesota. These schools also feature centers that aim to improve their respective campus communities. “I think it’s a really great thing to have on campus because this school is so diverse that there needs to be someone who… makes sure that everything is actually diverse and people are being included,” freshman Rachel Armstrong said. She added, “I think students will definitely take advantage of it… a lot of students who are from minority groups don’t feel like they’re represented here, so I think this will definitely help with that.” Angelica Acevedo contributed to this story.
Undergrad Commencement Speaker Pick Shows Pattern
Seniors discuss how ‘relatable’ continuous religion-related speakers are Isabella Bruni St. John’s announced last week that the His Eminence Luis Antonio Gokim Cardinal Tagle, D.D., S.Th.D Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila will serve as the 2018 undergraduate commencement speaker on the Queens campus, adding him to St. John’s long list of religion-related speakers. Last year’s speaker was His Eminence Peter Kodwo Appiah Cardinal Turkson, the year before Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Diocese of Brooklyn and in 2015 The Most Rev. David O’Connell, C.M., Bishop of Trenton. Some graduating seniors at St. John’s question the University’s continuous choice for speakers related to the Catholic church, especially because the Staten Island campus does not always have these same types of speakers. Senior Gab Staniszewski said she acknowledges the Cardinal’s importance, but does not see him as relevant to all students. “Not to discredit people’s stories, because I’m sure all of the commencement speakers
will have something insightful/meaningful to say, but seeing someone relatable in a successful position can give you hope and and inspire you to be just as great,” Staniszewski said. “Cardinal Tagle has worked to become an important voice around the world for the poor and vulnerable,” President of St. John’s Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw said to SJU News and Media. “He is steadfast in his responses to the global refugee crisis, and is known for his humility and for his gift of communicating with young people a message of hope—a timely theme that will deeply resonate with our newest alumni as they embark on the next chapters in their lives,” he continued. Saint Pope John Paul II appointed Cardinal Tagle to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission in 1997, appointed to his current role by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 and named to the College of Cardinals a year later, according to SJU News and Media. He also serves as the President of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s worldwide fed-
The archbishop seems more relevant to the interests of the university and not the students Joseph DeRege
eration of relief and development. The Staten Island campus’ 2018 commencement speaker is Lt. General Michael A. Rocco ’83CBA, Deputy Commandant, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, United States Marine Corps. Last year’s speaker was Lois T. Nicotra ’77NDC, ’83GEd Chair/Owner, The Nicotra Group LLC. Rosanna Scotto, Host of Fox 5’s “Good Day New York” was the 2016 speaker. “The archbishop seems more relevant to
the interests of the university and not the students,” senior Joseph DeRege said. “As a Catholic leader he would be a good role model for the university but most students are not going to be priests.” DeRege discussed the St. John’s law school’s choice of commencement speaker Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, also a political choice. “Preet Bharara was the U.S. DA [District Attorney] for southern Manhattan. So he’s incredibly relevant to the law school,” DeRege said. Other universities in the city have a mix of these speakers. NYU recently announced Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as their undergraduate commencement speaker and last year Fordham University, a Jesuit school, had two commencement speakers — Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, a Cardinal from Honduras, as well as Sen. Chuck Schumer. “I think it’s hard to find a speaker that can relate to all majors,” Staniszewski said. “We are a Catholic school so it’s not surprising.”
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About the Torch
Editorials are the opinions of the Editorial Board of the Torch. Columns and other content are the opinions of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of the Torch. Opinions expressed in editorials, columns, letters or cartoons are not necessarily those of the student body, faculty or administration of St. John’s University. All contents are the sole responsibility of the editors and the editorial board and do not necessarily represent the views of the administration, faculty or students of St. John’s University unless specifically stated.
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Today, student newspapers across the directly concern the student body. It would country will stand in unity to promote the be a disservice to the University community importance of independent student-run for us to stop delivering news that matters. media on college campuses. In light of an Many college publications have also sufemerging national distrust in the media, fered from lack of funding. The Torch is no now more than ever is the time to protect stranger to this dilemma, since we are finanthe voice given to college students through cially independent from St. John’s Univerthese publications. sity; our fundraising campaign to #KeepThe #SaveStudentNewsrooms campaign TheTorchLit last summer raised $4,190 to was started by the editorial board of the help with debt and printing costs. Independent Florida Alligator at the UniOther student newspapers have not been versity of Florida. as fortunate, however. According to CNN, Hundreds of other The Daily Campus student publications at Southern Methwill also be participatodist University in ing in editorial pieces Texas was recently The need for news and on social media. forced to re-affiliate coverage unrestricted It is our collective goal with the university by the influence to show readers why due to lack of fundof university student journalism ing. administration will truly matters. This is a precedent never go away On Support Stuthat could jeopardize dent Journalism Day, the integrity that is it is especially importso important for inant to recognize how student journalism dependent student publications. can affect the University as a whole. Our nation can’t afford to lose indeOur cover story on a lawsuit over an al- pendent student journalism. The need for leged reneged oral agreement over the nam- news coverage unrestricted by the influence ing rights of Bent Hall, written by our Ed- of university administration will never go itor-in-Chief Emeritus Suzanne Ciechalski, away. was used as evidence in the university’s moThere will be those who do not undertion to dismiss the lawsuit. stand the importance of the work we do, We have also written numerous pieces but we cannot let that stop us from fulfillon the lack of diversity in the Universi- ing our journalistic duty to the University ty’s faculty and administration, due to the community. concerns raised by students who have lead The student body deserves unbiased news various protests on campus this academic coverage, and we at the Torch are dedicated year alone. to delivering this every week. The Torch has experienced its fair share The Torch stands with its fellow indepenof opposition in the past. Despite backlash, dent student newspapers across the counwe have stayed dedicated to producing try. We hope you join us in the campaign quality unbiased journalism on topics that to #SaveStudentNewsrooms.
Letter to the Editor: Students Are the Key to Gun Reform Melvin A. Benarde, Ph.D. Dear Editor: As a retired academic I wholeheartedly support the nascent #NeverAgain Movement! I’m an old guy, but still ready for a good fight. These mass killings must stop. What’s needed now is a ban on military-style weapons, AR 15s and AK 47s along with high capacity magazines; denying guns to the mentally challenged; background checks on those purchasing guns and raising the age for gun purchases to 21. These are hardly impositions on gun enthusiasts and hunters, and don’t infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights. These modifications can best be accomplished by voting, and only voting. The millions of university, college and high school students across the country must register to vote, then turn out to vote in the November elections. University students have traditionally left voting to others. That must change. The huge
number of university students hold the key to unlock Congress’ silence and shameful inaction on passing gun-safety legislation. You all must literally turn out in huge numbers to overcome the Republican gerrymandering that has guaranteed gun-safety obstructionist legislators seats in the House and Senate (and local legislatures as well). It’s vital that silent obstructionist legislators who ignore the will of the people in favor of the intractable gun lobby be replaced by sensible people who do not genuflect at the knees of the NRA. Consequently, voting is essential as it is the only way to rid the country of the undue influence of the NRA and the current crop of Republican members of both Houses of Congress who prefer NRA dollars to the safety of our children. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has taken $820,375 from the NRA; Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, accepted only $61,401, while his Wisconsin neighbor, Senator Ron Johnson, took home over a million.
Even Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA), himself a recent gunshot victim who received $36,210 from the NRA, has been an opponent of sensible gun regulations.
You — and thousands like you — can remedy this with your votes. Our broken system can be fixed
Senator Marco Rubio told students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, that he’d try to help them, but has repeatedly voted against gun control measures and pocketed more than a million NRA dollars. What are these elected officials thinking when they take this black money and vote against any type of gun control? Are kids just collateral damage? SJU students have friends at schools across
the country. You need to contact them, setting in motion a campaign that will spread, motivating hundreds of thousands students to vote in November. It’s critical that these NRA-enthralled Republicans standing for re-election be roundly defeated and replaced by those with no attachment to the NRA or similar organizations that value corporate profits over children. Again, only voting will ensure it. The time for “thoughts and prayers,” inaction and empty promises are over. The current system has failed us — especially elementary and high school students. You — and thousands like you — can remedy this with your votes. Our broken system can be fixed. Parkland must not occur again. Your votes will make the difference! Sincerely, Melvin A. Benarde, Ph.D. Princeton, New Jersey Former Graduate of SJU
Trump and the Syria Airstrikes, Explained Shabib Afzal On April 14, President Trump tweeted about how a “perfectly executed strike” occurred the night before in Syria. This strike was done in response to a chemical attack that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad committed against his citizens earlier. Done in collaboration with the United Kingdom and France, the 105 missiles fired targeted three facilities responsible for building chemical weapons. In Parliament, Theresa May stated that ISIS “does not have a presence in Douma [one of the cities attacked],” but that this has occurred because it is “our national interest to do so.”
Assad can only become more infuriated at our actions as a result of these bombings.
Whatever legitimate political reasons there are for this attack, it can only be more harmful than beneficial in the long run. One concern for this strike is the econom-
ic cost. Sixty-six Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched by the United States. These missiles alone cost $92.4 million. The United States has built a reputation for spending more than any other country on our military. Sometimes there are justifications for this kind of spending, but this seems fiscally irresponsible considering the potential consequences. More important than the economic costs are the political ones. I cannot see the outcome of this being more beneficial than harmful. Assad can only become more infuriated at our actions as a result of these bombings. It also does not help that Syria and Russia are allies. An event such as this only strengthens the tension between the United States and Russia. This escalation will most likely result in more funding for the Syrian government by Russia, leading to even more involvement in the war in Syria. And what exactly are we still fighting in Syria for? It’s almost as if we have not learned anything from our past interventions; that intervening in conflicts in such a manner only makes them worse. Yes, there are legitimate reasons to intervene concerning human rights and the brutality of the Assad regime, but who deals with the consequences of both Assad’s disregard for human rights as well as our intervention? The civilians of Syria,
President Donald Trump tweeted on April 14 about the Syrian airstrikes.
who are entangled in a civil war that has practically destroyed their country. Seventy people were killed in the most recent chemical attack which we bombed Syria for. We will face certain political consequences, but nothing like what the civilians of Syria have dealt with and will continue to deal with. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with intervention on the basis of protecting human rights. The way in which we have gone about it is what I would disagree with. Our retal-
iation towards the Syrian government will lead to more of the same. The time where intervention may have been justified in this conflict is long gone. It is wrong to claim “mission accomplished,” like our president has when the goal isn’t clear to all Americans. We cannot expect ourselves or our allies to fix this, especially in the way we have gone about doing so.
Modern Day Slavery in Libya Needs Attention
Sharing pictures, articles and educating others is needed to raise awareness Ajifanta Marenah On Thursday, as we were wrapping up class, I asked my professor what his thoughts are on the trafficking of human beings in Libya. To my disappointment, the professor responded that he can not comment because he was not aware of the situation. I looked around the room to see if anyone else was shocked or ready to explain what was happening in Libya, and no one said a thing. In fact, no one showed any interest in that I just said that there is slavery occurring in Libya, where humans are being sold for as little as $400. Everyone rushed in their usual routine, packed their books and left. My heart bled in silence. I have been following the brutal treatment of African migrants in Libya for at least two years now. I first started paying attention to the issue after reading a Human Rights Watch article, written by Jim Wormington, that stated that most of the migrants were from Gambia and Senegal. The article featured the story of a young female soccer player who left for the “backway” journey, and was never heard from again Her family believes that she died on the journey. Most of the young individuals that embark on the journey plan in secret and hide their plans from their families until they leave. Thousands of Sub-Saharan African youth go on the risky journey in hopes of getting to Europe by sea from the coast of Libya and other North African countries, such as Mo-
rocco. Most are never heard from again. Families automatically assume that the person has died at sea if they do not hear from them; however, a new video posted on CNN brought to light one of the most disgusting and atrocious acts of humans against other human beings: human trafficking. African migrants that were unable to pay for the rest of their trip to Europe were chained from their hands to their legs, put in cages, starved, whooped and auctioned off as “merchandise” to buyers. As students, we study history, its impact on the present and how to stop the mistakes from repeating. Since middle school, we’ve learned about slavery, how brutal it was and how unjust it still is.
...We must start taking action on issues now even if they do not directly harm us
We’ve learned about genocides such as the mass ethnic cleansing of Jews in Germany, the Rwandan genocide, the horrendous bombings of the blacks in South Sudan and more. We are told that we learn history to prevent it from happening again because it is proven that history repeats itself. So I can not stress enough how urgent and significant it is for St. John’s students to be
aware of the modern day slavery occurring in Libya. As a university built on acceptance of all students, and a university that constantly speaks out whenever it sees unjust and inhumane actions that isolates and demonizes the minority, it is unacceptable that some of the students and faculty are unaware of the crisis occurring around the world. When we learned about slavery in the past, we got angry, we wondered why it went on for so long and how could the world have watched that happen. Some of us created scenarios of how we would react if we were there. Now is the time for us to take those actions. Now is the time for us to become the change we want and now is the time for us to bring out those angers and show the evildoers that there is no place for slavery in our world. We are going to be the leaders of tomorrow, but we must start taking action on issues now even if they do not directly harm us. As an institution that constantly preaches about the Vincentian mission, St. John’s should make sure that its students are educated on human rights issues around the globe because only then can students be able to understand the value of giving back and the importance of treating every human as an equal, despite their skin color, religion, sexuality or economic status.
The university promotes global studies, our students travel around the world to learn about issues, and work with the vulnerable, therefore it breaks my heart when such a huge crisis that is against everything we stand for as an institution is occurring and most of the student body and staff are not aware of it. I am begging every student, staff and faculty member to take action in any way possible to raise awareness about the issue. We can take action such as sharing pictures and articles about it, teaching people about it and why it is wrong. Even donating to organizations that are working to rescue them, tweeting and emailing non-governmental organizations and the leaders of the world would be helpful. Do not stop posting and tweeting just because it stopped trending. The suffering, torture and enslavement of these human beings continues even after the stories stop trending.
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Limerick, Introducing dtw 's new destination TORCH PHOTO/BEVERLY DANQUAH
TORCH PHOTO/BEVERLY DANQUAH
PHOTO COURTESY/TAMARA GARCIA
When Limerick, Ireland replaced Seville, Spain in St. John’s Discover the World (DTW) program, there were many questions buzzing around the decision. Students weren’t sure what to expect, and faculty acted quickly to ensure that Seville’s replacement would live up to what students have enjoyed for years. According to media relations, 198 students spent five weeks in Limerick, a city in the westernmost part of Ireland, as part of their DTW rotation. From a new module to new housing to a new host university, students in the spring 2018 DTW Europe program were the first to experience Limerick, and had a lot to say about the new addition. A typical school day in Limerick kicks off with an Irish breakfast at Tait’s Bar and Grill in Pery’s Hotel, followed by a 24-minute trek from the hotel to the Mary Immaculate College. Classes are held in one of the furthermost buildings on campus, Summerville House. “The campus was very easy to navigate,” sophomore Rachel Fondeur said. “There were always areas to hang out and I enjoyed the people on campus.” Seven professors taught classes ranging from theology, history and architecture. “I think the class schedule and professors need to be changed,” sophomore Elena Napoli said. “I know that attending a different college is a part of the experience and that comes with different standards, but the professors were unaware of the significance of our GPA and grades in terms of our academic standing in college.”
In Ireland, the emphasis on grades is different from American universities, which concerned some students. Other students recall not remembering the names of certain professors because the schedules were “never clear.” Since one professor taught parts of both theology and philosophy, students say they got the two classes confused and were not clear on who would teach what on which days, and who would grade certain assignments. “I didn’t like how unclear the transfer of the professors was,” Fondeur said. “I never knew who the next professor was, what I was going to learn that day — I always felt unprepared because I didn’t know what to bring, I felt like I was speed dating teachers.” Oftentimes, students would walk into the wrong classrooms for class because the schedules were unclear. The practical part of art class was one of junior Victor Jolley II’s favorites. “The art class was a good way to get out of Limerick,” Jolley said. “We took a trip to the Rock of Newcashel and a walking tour of the city.” However, many students expressed distaste with the architecture portion of the class. Sophomore student Grace Burchell said the class wasn’t what she expected it to be. “One teacher taught the kind of art class where you use paint and the other teacher taught the history of architecture in Ireland,” Burchell said. “I would not recommend [the architecture] class for anyone who is doing the DTW program next semester.” Tamara Garcia, a junior English major, says she enjoyed the architecture portion of the class, contrary to her class-
mates’ opinions on the way it was taught. “I thought Dr. [Judith Hall was very passionate and knowledgeable about architecture,” Garcia said. “I learned how to describe building features and better read building plans.” Garcia said that for those who are uninterested in architecture, the class could get a bit boring. After class, some students hung out in the TARA building, which had a lounging area similar to the D’Angelo Center living room in the Queens campus. Others made their way to the cafeteria after classes. “Lunch was really good,” Fondeur said. “In Limerick, I could find variety and it felt like I was having a wholesome meal.” Lunch usually consisted of a main meat dish with one or two sides and water. Students could also opt for a hibachi style stir fry or a wrap. “I think they should look into giving us food vouchers, similar to the ones in Rome,” sophomore Brendan Farrell said. “Food got expensive and serving us only breakfast and lunch didn’t do the job.” Students made use of the facilities on campus, taking advantage of things such as the gym and Mary I student-run shows. “I used the gym at Mary I,” Jolley II said. “The machines were efficient.” Staff at Mary I provided students with hard drives, which had all of the textbooks that students would need for papers and coursework. The hard drive helped students save money and put all of the text they’d need for each course in one place.
Ireland PHOTO COURTESY/VICTOR JOLLEY II
PHOTO COURTESY/VICTOR JOLLEY II
Pery’s Hotel, located near central Limerick and within walking distance of the bus stations, was the housing available to students studying in Limerick. Students’ rooms came equipped with towels, which are cleaned weekly, refilled hand soap and body wash, tea and coffee. The rooms also came with a kettle, a TV with cable, a few hangers and a blow dryer. Every week, the beds were made, rooms usually vacuumed, with the tub, toilet and sink cleaned as well as the trash taken out. “The washer and dryers were efficient, but it didn’t seem like the hotel was prepared for a large number of people to use it.” Fondeur said. “I never felt comfortable in the laundry room because the basement was a bit sketchy.” Limerick’s climate is classified as temperate oceanic, and according to Weather-and-Climate.com, the average amount of annual precipitation is 999.9 mm (39.37 in). In a day, or even an hour, one could experience varying episodes of rain, wind, warmth and hail. Some students also didn’t like the city at night.
around town. Since the hotel didn’t have a fridge or a microwave readily accessible to guests, students were unable to store food, which some students believed would’ve helped them save money.
One thing that all students wholeheartedly agreed on is that they’d never forget the kindness of the people from Limerick, particularly the Mary I staff, who helped students acclimate to the city.
“Limerick was definitely more expensive in terms of how much money had to come out of pocket,” senior Christelle Joseph said. “Unfortunately, because of the fact that din-
“My first impression of Limerick was that the people are extremely nice,” sophomore Shannon Padgett said. “However, it was quite small and secluded, and the weather was depressing.”
Farrell echoed Padgett’s thoughts, as he said his favorite part of the trip were the people.
If I could, I’d exchange Limerick for Dublin Brendan Farrell
“During the day it was all great, but at night it was uninviting to say the least,” Farrell said, adding that he felt safer in Rome or Paris.
ner was never provided and the lack of food options for the weekends, I spent at least $150, if not $200, on food alone each week.”
Students were offered dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, where the menu changed daily and ranged from breaded shrimp with french fries, duck rolls with fries or a smoked chicken salad. There were also vegetarian options available.
The senior, set to graduate next month, said that Ireland was also the most expensive place in terms of traveling.
Dinner for students was 7.50 euros. Students also had the option of a dessert-of-the-day for 3.50 euros. In a week, students spent about 50 euros on food if they decided to eat in the hotel’s restaurant and in restaurants
“Being that it is in the UK territory and Limerick especially didn’t have an airport, we had to pay for a taxi to drive over to the closest airport in Shannon,” Joseph said. “Because that airport had less plane options and was so far from the EU territory in general, our flight tickets were unnecessarily more expensive than it would have been traveling from Italy, France or Spain.”
“Everybody was just so nice and accommodating,” he said. International Office Director Holly Cowman, DTW Coordinator Breeda Cahill, DTW Administrator Cepta Kennedy and International Relations Executive Ben Finnegan were instrumental in making students comfortable during their stay in Limerick, and were responsive to students’ needs and concerns. “For spring break, I was planning to travel to Morocco and as a Trinidadian citizen, I needed a visa,” Garcia said. “Ben and Breeda helped me by researching different resources and making calls to ensure that I’d be able to go on the trip.” Thanks to the staff, Garcia said she was able to spend part of her spring break in Tangier, Morocco — one of her favorite destinations to date. However, Farrell believed that another destination might have been a better option. “If I could, I’d exchange Limerick for Dublin,” Farrell said. “I was so excited for Ireland but Limerick was so small and secluded, it wasn’t as fun as I think Dublin would’ve been.”
TRIBECA fil PHOTO / DAN ATHERTON
PHOTO / AARON LIEBER
PHOTO / MAGNOLIA PICTURES
PHOTO / RYAN SCAFURO
PHOTO / ESTHER EENSTROOM
PHOTO / GUO PEI
m festival 2018 “JELLYFISH” REVIEWED BY SAMANTHA DENINNO ...For these reasons, the film is not a happy, feel-good one, but it is one with a perspective. Sarah is a child whose pain goes unnoticed until the very end of the film, when she lets everyone see that side of her. However, before she tells them directly, nobody had ever bothered to look into her life or ask her why she acted the way she did, why she was late and so on. As is the case with many children across the world, and not just in the United Kingdom, where this film takes place. As the Tribeca Festival predicted in its slating, “Jellyfish” offers its audiences a different viewpoint, and challenges them to listen to the unheard stories that surround them…
“BETHANY HAMILTON: UNSTOPPABLE” R E V I E W E D B Y A L E S S I A P I S C I OT TA ...Personally, this movie had a narrow window to not be a generic type of biography or documentary. I think with her story in particular it was easier to get there. But even with that, Lieber did well with everything else, like the sort of in-between shots: aerials of big waves and hordes of boats, underwater shots. The film was visually beautiful at a minimum. Throwing in footage of her son Tobias had everyone hooked, if they weren’t already — babies get everyone. I found myself reacting to the movie, like making facial expressions, unconsciously. Yes, it was enjoyable and inspiring but going even further, there were “aww” moments, *gasp* moments and “She’s not really going to do that, is she?” moments…
“NICO, 1988” REVIEWED BY ALEXIS GASKIN ...As a story that is long forgotten by the media and those who were alive, this retelling of Nico’s last few years of life bring a new narrative to a generation that may not know who Nico is. Often she is described as a “piece of history,” by several people in the film.You start to see the overbearing shadow of being a Warhol Superstar cast around Nico. As she tries to reclaim her music and identity, Nicchiarelli shows that this is not a happy story...
“PHANTOM COWBOYS” REVIEWED BY SAMANTHA DENINNO ...All three of these stories were intertwined beautifully from different time periods to different states to different lives, through the work of the director/producer/cinematographer Daniel Patrick Carbone, cinematographer Ryan Scafuro and editor Thomas Niles. The effect is a time capsule, marked by interconnected hazy memories that tell a story all on their own. From the POV shots of the racecars turning corners and upending dust and dirt to the two boys jumping around the burning sugarcane fields in the South, this film will be one to remember…
“TANZANIA TRANSIT” REVIEWED BY SAMANTHA DENINNO ...At its heart,“Tanzania Transit” is a human story, one that exists on a mechanical train overcrowded with life.The overall effect of the documentary is not only a claustrophobic feeling, as the camera never leaves the train even when its subjects do; instead, watching them through the dirtied windows and across the arms of other passengers, but also a cinematically pleasing one. Isaya, Rukia and Peter are three in a billion, but their stories are symbolic of more than themselves...
“YELLOW IS FORBIDDEN” REVIEWED BY ALEXIS GASKIN ...The biographical documentary by Pietra Brettkelly, focuses on Pei and her journey to be a Haute Couture designer and recognized in the exclusive french organization, Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. The film that follows Pei through several years of her journey through different locations, including China, Paris and New York, is described as a “Cinderella Story” by Brettkelly, when in reality Pei is a very wealthy designer who is able to afford her luxuries and to create intricate collections that take 2.5 years because of her husband’s financial help and the sales from her ready to wear stock…
A HISTORY OF THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
Tribeca Film Festival first started in 2001, by founders Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in order to “spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan to a gathering place for filmmakers, artists, innovators and the global creative community,” after 9/11, according to the Tribeca Film Festival website. Ranging from films, TV, online work, VR/AR and music, Tribeca Film Festival combines all forms of artistry in the entertainment field. Comprising the specially curated schedule which includes films from 30 countries are 75 world premieres, five international premieres, nine North American premieres, three U.S. premieres and four New York premieres. Meanwhile, this year marks the highest percentage of female directors in the Tribeca Festival lineup at a whopping 46 percent. Tribeca Film Festival is a melting pot of different voices and ideas, especially new voices that are just beginning to make their mark on the entertainment industry.
DIVERSITY “We are proud to present a lineup that celebrates American diversity and welcomes new international voices in a time of cultural and social activism. Our films succeed in being both entertaining and illuminating which is what you desire from great storytellers,” Tribeca Enterprises Executive Vice President Paula Weinstein said. The lineup is a wide-ranging representation of the new directions of inclusion the industry is taking in order to reflect the world and the people in at large. And our writers have their own take on a selection of these films.
TORCH COVERAGE Three Torch journalists: Staff writers Alexis Gaskin, Alessia Pisciotta and Entertainment Editor Samantha DeNinno attended the festival that began on April 18 and will continue to until its end on April 29. To the left are the excerpts of the full reviews that can be found on torchonline.com. Be sure to check out our continued coverage of the festival throughout next week on torchonline.com.
‘#MeToo, Now What?’
New show on PBS with help from St. John’s faculty Rachel Johnson
show, Salbi traveled across America to get as many opinions as possible. She talked to waitresses, businesswomen, #MeToo recently became a popular tag on social media that sent a message: sexual ha- victims of sexual assault and rape, pastors, rassment is extremely common, and it is not male artists whose lyrics use derogatory language towards women and more. She okay. The #MeToo movement started in 2006 also had featured guests, including authors, by activist Tarana Burke, but last year it broadcasters, filmmakers, executives, a sexugained new momentum brought on by a al harassment offender and others. Salbi began the show by talking about the wave of sexual harassment allegations. Hoping to keep that momentum going, Zainab #MeToo movement itself and what it means Salbi, founder of Women for Women Inter- for both women and men in America. “‘Why is this happening now? Where is all national, worked with PBS to create a show about the issues surrounding the #MeToo of this rage coming from?’” Salbi asked. “I think what we’re seeing is generations movement. The show “#MeToo, Now What?” pre- of rage, and I think this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Ijeoma miered in February Oluo, author of “So with five half-hour You Want to Talk episodes, each foAbout Race,” said in cusing on a different response. aspect of the cultural The social opression of The social opissues of how women women is engrained in pression of women are treated. our society. The culture is engrained in our This show is extra of sexual harrassment in society. The culture special and meanAmerica is widespread of sexual harassment ingful to St. John’s in America is widebecause one of the spread and it hapuniversity’s faculty worked on it. Liz DeLuna, a graphic de- pens at some point to every woman, even the signer and Art and Design professor at St. most powerful and successful white women. John’s, was the motion graphics artist for It is astonishing because it took privileged “#MeToo, Now What?” DeLuna executed women speaking out in order for the issue to the design for the show, including the ani- be noticed and taken seriously. For hundreds of years, society has said that mation for the opening title sequence, type women’s bodies are not their own. on screen, the end credits and more. “Women’s sexuality particularly has been DeLuna said she was very excited to work on this project and is passionate about it be- commodified and commercialized,” Salbi cause she has “dealt a lot with feminism… said. Growing up, men are taught, whether diJust the whole idea of the show, to [her], is rectly or through observation, that women fantastic.” The show was made relatively quickly, and are objects to be won. “Locker-room talk” DeLuna described working on it as, “fast especially turns women into a currency that and furious.” “We started in January with a man uses to prove how valuable he is because he “nailed” a certain girl. absolutely nothing,” she said. Some men also don’t stop trying to win This show was incredible because it had uncomfortable yet important conversations over a girl when she has clearly indicated that about a lot of issues and included many dif- she is not interested. One man Salbi spoke to at a college said, ferent perspectives from people of all races and of both genders. While making the “…men view rejection as an invitation to try
harder.” Doing this does not respect a woman’s autonomy. By persisting, the man turns getting a date into a game and the woman is a prize and no longer a person. This mentality, that women are for men, is what leads to catcalling, sexual harassment, assault and rape. This mentality puts men above women. Salbi brought up the idea that a lot of men believe they are not the kind of person that would sexually harass a woman and that they treat women equally. She refers to these men as the ‘good men.’ “The first thing about that is to do away with the idea that you are good. You are socialized and you are a part of the system whether you believe yourself to be outside it or not,” Mychal Denzel Smith, author of “Invisible Man,” said of the ‘good men.’ Salbi also brought up the issue that, now, the men being accused of harassment often lose their jobs and she asked whether we PHOTO COURTESY/ ERIC VAN DEN BRULLE should be concerned Saru Jayaraman, Tony Porter and Joanne Lipman talk with host Zainab Salbi on ‘#MeToo, Now What?’ about this.
PHOTO/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS ALEC PERKINS
“…Right now we have a society where only three percent of rapists see jail time. And…when we just have…a handful of men losing their jobs after decades of harassing women, we’re already saying, whoa, … let’s not push it too far…We constantly talk about the potential of harm to men and we rank that as more important than the actual harm… done to countless women over and over again,” Oluo said. Salbi also talked about the issues of the sexualization of women in industries and establishments such as advertising, gaming, the military, tipped jobs and business. The last episode, ‘Is Patriarchy On Its Way Out?’ was DeLuna’s favorite episode. “I think, to me, it was the most interesting because it was the most diverse...I thought it was really interesting that they spoke about restaurant workers…There was more diversity of footage and diversity of people speaking,” she said. When asked why this show was important, DeLuna said, “I think just to start making people aware of the women’s perspective in the world and the kind of things that we’ve all taken for granted for so long that we’ve probably all gone through and thought that was just a part of being female in society and really making it clear to people that a lot of things that happen are really not okay...” “...I think it’s important that someone starts having this conversation…but, I think this is just the beginning…” she said. This show truly is important. It is extremely eye-opening for both men and women, and #MeToo is an issue that we cannot let die down.
Moments & Movements: The Era of Honest Pastiche Erin Sakalis
Lately, pastiche pieces, or pieces that imitate different time periods, have trended around the late 70’s and 80’s time periods. Three popular television programs that have changed the pastiche game are “GLOW” (acronym for “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling”), “The Get Down” and “Stranger Things.” “Stranger Things” centers around a group of sci-fi obsessed preteens and their teenage siblings in rural Indiana in 1983. “The Get Down” follows young protagonists of color on their journey to break out of the South Bronx in order to pursue their dreams. “GLOW” is about a diverse group of actresses that struggle to find work due to the narrow standards set for women of the time and eventually become wrestlers. These pieces are popular for two primary reasons. First, they are focused on unique plots with underrepresented character types in specific settings that were relatively absent from the mainstream media of the time. Second, today’s pastiche shows give a more accurate account of the times on which they are based. It is clear that these pieces were not inspired by pure nostalgia, because they don’t glamorize the eras in which they are set. Artists now have the awareness and hindsight to illustrate the injustices and social ills of the times they choose to document through their work. “Stranger Things” excludes all of the glitz, glamour and prosperity often retrospectively associated with the 1980s. The fact that the show takes place in a small town serves as representation for most of America at the time (aside from the monsters and superhuman children, of course). Winona Ryder plays a financially struggling single mom with a son whose friend group is relentlessly bullied for their appearances and interests. The subtleness of the background made it all the more engrossing.
“GLOW” portrays 1985 from a drastically different perspective. Set in Los Angeles, the show includes many of the classic 1980s hallmarks that “Stranger Things” excluded — a permed Alison Brie attends an aerobics class full of beautiful women in leg warmers. From the very beginning, however, “GLOW” makes it clear that, although these women were more independent, they still had few options. The main cast of characters (all aspiring actresses) included several women of color, plussized women and women over the age of forty. Because these women PHOTO/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS LEILEIHA had difficulty finding roles, they settled for a Millie Bobby Brown, in “Stranger Things” plays the character Eleven in one of Netflix’s pastiche shows. half-baked, underfunded Brie’s character, Ruth Wilder, entertained In addition, we saw the blatant racism wrestling project headed by a sleazy aspiring sci-fi director. These with a fake Soviet accent as the “heel” of the the main characters faced and imposed on each other. We viewed the vast impact of the women had to learn how to feign wrestling performance. This exemplified the fact that, although Bronx fires, rampant crime and poverty that moves in sexually provocative — and sometimes racist — costumes in order to find this is a time that many reflect back on with many families experienced. great affection, it wasn’t the best of times for Most of all, it showed how difficult it was work. Perhaps the negative aspect of the 1980s many members of society. Racism, sexism, — and still is — for underprivileged people that was most cleverly highlighted in corruption in entertainment and antagonism to chase dreams with a past so heavy tying “GLOW” was the xenophobia and racism towards the “other” were still very much them down. It challenged the narrative of the American Dream that became so characfueled by extreme nationalism, customary of prevalent. “The Get Down” blended familiarity with teristic of the 20th century. the Cold War era. Overall, people appreciate viewing history When casting the women into their wres- unpleasant truth when portraying the South Bronx of 1978. Disco hits played as characwithout rose-tinted glasses. Although it’s oftling personas, each woman of color was forced to comply with a stereotype in order ters in bell bottoms and platform shoes boo- ten easy to look back on the past with fondgied in a club that was owned by a notorious ness, it is important to remember that each to appeal to mainstream America. era had its conflicts. Just because we are now For example, the Arab actress was strapped fictional drug lord. The show made no attempt to conceal the living in the digital age does not mean that with plastic grenades, while a black actress was dubbed “Welfare Queen.” Furthermore, prevalence of gangs, the drug trade and hy- past times were simpler. Sometimes, it was per-sexualization of women and girls. quite the contrary.
WSJU Radio, Haraya and NAACP Host J. Cole Listening Party Keyah James On Monday April 16, artist J. Cole announced a free event in New York City on his Twitter that exclaimed : “No Phones, No Cameras, No Bags, No Press List, No Guest List.” Within the next half hour, the line at the Gramercy Theatre grew by the hundreds. No one knew what they were in line for, but they all knew who they were in line to see. J. Cole isn’t a stranger to announcing free shows for his fans just an hour or two before. However, the next day, it was revealed that this was not just any regular concert. It was a private listening party and performance of KOD, J. Cole’s fifth studio album, which was released on April 20. In celebration of the announcement, WSJU Radio, Haraya and NAACP partnered up to bring the listening party right here to campus. From 6:30 to 9:00 P.M., the DAC Coffeehouse was filled with not only J. Cole fans, but music fans in general. While DJ Marco’s set began, pizza and wings were served and discussion ensued. Conversations regarding Cole’s top three albums, the meaning behind “KOD” and the best tracks on the album began, making the event that much more entertaining. The
beauty of music is in its interpretation, and how everyone can see something different in it. However, when the album began to play and the lights dimmed, silence fell across the room. The next 45 minutes were for bobbing our heads together and hearing every word PHOTO/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS KIRSTENMGREENE
and sound. Even after two or three listens prior to the event, there were things many had missed, which is why it’s so important to digest an album before forming a concrete opinion on it. As the last track, “1985 - Intro to “The Fall Out,” came to a close, everyone applauded.
It’s one thing to listen to an album alone, but another to hear it through speakers in a room with other fans. It’s special. “KOD,” which stands for “Kids on Drugs,” “King Overdosed” and “Kill Our Demons,” has already broken records. Only one day after its release, it was announced that it set a new record on Spotify for the biggest opening day with 4.2 million streams; a spot previously held by Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” with 3.8 million streams. The album currently holds the number one album spot on iTunes and has received praise from both fans and peers. Throughout the album, Cole warns today’s artists against following fleeting trends. Fame, money and relevance all tend to be shortlived. But as a whole, “KOD” expresses the effects of depression and the dangers of addiction. Cole lets us know that even he is not immune to the coping mechanisms that control many people in today’s society. So instead of shaming or pointing fingers, he shines a light on a problem that many of us are blind to and tells us all to “choose wisely” when it comes to how we deal with stress and pain.
A YEAR IN REVIEW 2
TORCH PHOTO/AMANDA NEGRETTI
the team to two of the biggest wins of the college basketball season.
the change was that students were able to secure visas more easily.
1) Gempesaw interview
4) Protests on campus
6) Union Turnpike Safety Concerns
President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw sat down with our former Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Ciechalski in April to discuss various aspects of St. John’s University — among these were the issues of hiring, fundraising, basketball and education. He also touched upon the protest and town hall that took place on the Queens campus in February, and said, “as an immigrant and a person of color, I fully understand where they’re coming from.”
Student-led protests began in November with an impromptu demonstration of more than 40 students who marched to Gempesaw’s office because they said the University was indifferent “toward the needs of its marginalized students, including students of color, LGBT and disabled students.” In February, another student-led protest with more than 150 students gathered at the Little Theatre to speak to administration about racial encounters that have taken place on campus took place — this was organized due to racist messages from a white, female SJU student and a Nassau Community College student that were sent to black, female SJU students. In March, Gempesaw organized a town hall so students could address their grievances to him and other administrators. It ended with various students walking out, followed by Gempesaw and other administrators.
In March, our Managing Editor Isabella Bruni wrote an investigative piece on safety concerns along Union Turnpike in the wake of several accidents in recent years outside the University’s gates. Most recently, a man leaving a St. John’s basketball game in January was hit by a car and killed. The New York City Department of Transportation is looking at potential pedestrian safety enhancements, Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) said.
5) Study abroad
8) Faculty hires
St. John’s Discover the World study abroad program ended operations in Seville, Spain as of January 2018 — one of the program’s staple destinations. During the fall, the University had announced that Limerick, Ireland would be a substitute for Seville in the University’s popular DTW program. A major reason for
The number of new, diverse faculty hires was considerably higher this year compared to years past. This development comes on the heels of a years-long student discussion about a lack of diversity among the ranks of faculty. Provost Dr. Robert Mangione and Chief Diversity Officer Nada M. Llewellyn said
2) PLUG ticket wins SGI elections In April, the PLUG ticket swept the Student Government Inc. (SGI) elections. Junior Atem Tazi became the second black female president in SGI history. PLUG, which stands for personality, legacy, unity and growth, was led by Tazi who beat out Roderick Jackson on the SEED ticket 1314 votes to 929. 3) Red Storm upset No. 4 Duke and No. 1 Villanova In February, the Red Storm snapped an 11-game losing streak with consecutive wins over top five teams Duke and Villanova. Led by 33 and 26 points, respectively, sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds propelled
7) Bent out of shape In January, Bruce Bent, the alumnus behind the name of Bent Hall, accused the University in a $10 million lawsuit of reneging on an oral agreement to keep his surname attached to the building forever. As of March 28, the University filed a motion to dismiss the complaint entirely.
AN O/AM HOT
the increase is due to the University’s recent efforts to accommodate the student body’s concerns, and as a direct response to Gempesaw’s second strategic priority, which is to “recruit, recognize and retain the best faculty, staff and administrators.” 9) Callisto In September, St. John’s University was introduced to Callisto, an upstart online sexual assault reporting system. The University became one of 13 schools in the nation to have partnered with the program, which said it’s having success nationwide in increasing the rate of documented incidents that lead to investigations. 10) Multicultural experiences This year, multicultural organizations hosted a myriad of events to showcase the diversity in the student body, such as a series of talks called “How Africa Connects Us” sponsored by the Caribbean Student Association, the Latin American Student Organization, the African Students Association and the Haitian Society. In September, Gempesaw responded to the Trump Administration’s controversial decision to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by reminding the St. John’s community that he is among hundreds of college presidents who called for the DACA program to “be upheld, continued and expanded.”
St. John’s Baseball Sweeps Georgetown
The Red Storm uses strong pitching to increase their win streak to 12 Led by one of the strongest pitching staffs in the country, the St. John’s baseball team extended its winning streak to 12 games after a three-game sweep of Georgetown at Jack Kaiser Stadium this past weekend. The Johnnies (26-10, 9-0 Big East) only gave up five runs across the three games, winning 6-3, 9-1, and 2-1 (F/10). In game one on Friday, Sean Mooney continued his solid sophomore campaign by punching out seven over five scoreless frames. With the win, Mooney improved to 8-1 on the season. Manager Ed Blankmeyer relied on his bullpen to protect the lead. Blankmeyer called on left-hander Joe LaSorsa to start the sixth. The 6-foot-5 sophomore surrendered three runs on five hits in three innings of relief. Turner French earned his first save of the season, striking out one in a perfect ninth. In 15 appearances, the junior left-hander has yet to allow an earned run. Third baseman John Valente continues to swing a hot bat. The New Rochelle, N.Y. native went 3-5 with an RBI, extending his on-base streak to 49. Second baseman Josh Shaw also collected three hits for the Johnnies. Designated hitter Robert Boselli III drove
TORCH PHOTO/MARIE BOGUE
Robert Boselli III’s home run swing in the team’s 6-3 win over Georgetown on Friday
in two runs for the Red Storm. The senior power-hitter launched his second homer of the season to lead off the home-half of the seventh. The Red Storm led the Hoyas 4-0 heading into the sixth. However, Georgetown (14-21, 2-4 Big East) drove in two runs in the top-half of sixth. But the Red Storm answered, scoring runs in the sixth and seventh innings to extend its lead to four. In game two, St. John’s star lefthander Kevin Magee pitched six scoreless innings. He only surrendered five hits, walked none
Postseason Awards for Basketball Sean Okula
Shamorie Ponds might not hear his name called on Draft Night, but he sure is padding that NBA résumé. He and fellow sophomore guard Justin Simon were recognized by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association with a pair of All-Met honors on Monday. Ponds earned a spot on the First Team for the second straight year, while Simon picks up Second Team honors after his first season in Queens. The National Invitational Tournament and MBWA team up to honor the best ofthe-best in the New York collegiate hoops scene with a series of awards every year, the All-Met Team honorees among them. Last year, Ponds was named the metropolitan area’s Rookie of the Year following his sensational freshman campaign. The two join a long line of St. John’s alumni to receive an MBWA accolade. Coach Chris Mullin won three Haggerty Awards, given to the best New York area player, in his four seasons in Queens. This year’s Haggerty Award winner will be announced Wednesday afternoon. Off of a Big East scoring title, Ponds is quickly filling up his trophy room. During the season, he picked up a pair of Big East and National Player of the Week awards. March brought him an All-Big East First Team honor, and once the season concluded he added an All-American Honorable Mention, a spot on the NABC Division I All-District Second Team, and First Team All-ECAC honors. The Brooklyn native set the school’s sophomore scoring record with 21.7 points per game, while adding 4.7 assists and 2.3 steals per contest, both good for top-five on the Big East leaderboards.
The uber-athletic Simon might have gone under the radar in 2017-18, but the California native’s advanced skill set made he and Shamorie a deadly backcourt combo. The Arizona transfer used quick hands to lead the Big East with 2.5 steals per game, and his lanky frame led to nine double-doubles and a team-leading 7.1 rebounds per matchup. The pickpocketing guard started all 33 Red Storm contests, shooting 47 percent from the field to the tune of 12.2 points per game. His average of 5.1 assists was good for second in the conference. Ponds, having conditionally declared for the NBA Draft, will soon turn his focus to the Draft Combine coming up in midMay. Pending a good showing in Chicago, Ponds will decide whether or not he will return for his junior season. He is currently a longshot to break into the first round.The newly-minted backcourt staple Simon is expected back for his redshirt-junior season come next fall. On the women’s side, Maya Singleton was named to the All-Met First team, Qadashah Hoppie landed on the second team and Alisha Kebbe was selected for the third team. Singleton led the team in both points and rebounds in her senior season. Hoppie was one of three players on the team to average in double-figure scoring, while Kebbe chipped in more than nine points a game and five rebounds. The three players honored on the women’s side were key pieces in the team’s run to the WNIT Quarterfinals. The players are set to be honored Wednesday at the NIT/MBWA All-Met Haggerty Awards in Tarrytown, New York.
and struck out seven en route to his third straight win. Through more than 57 innings, Kevin Magee has yet to give up a home run. Magee now owns a 5-3 record and a 1.57 ERA after Saturday’s outing. Blankmeyer then turned to Gavin Hollowell in the top of the seventh inning. The sophomore retired all six batters he faced. wAfter not being able to get on base in four at-bats in game two, Valente knocked a double to extend the streak to 50. Valente leads the team in batting average (.390) and hits (55).
The Red Storm went to work in the bottom of the seventh. Five and six hitters Anthony Brocato and Luke Stampfl homered back-to-back, putting the Johnnies up 7-0. Brocato now has seven homers on the season. Stampfl had three hits on the afternoon and drove in a run.Wyatt Mascarella also went a perfect 4-for-4. The first two games came in lopsided fashion, but Georgetown gave St. John’s all they could handle on Sunday. Both teams only could muster up one run apiece in regulation and remained tied at one heading into the bottom of the tenth before Jamie Galazin laid down a bunt with John Greene sitting in third base. Greene found himself caught in a rundown, before avoiding a tag and sliding into home plate safe for the game-winning run. Michael LoPresti pitched six innings while only giving up one run. Hollowell then pitched an inning and a third only giving up one hit and got the win on the day. Hollowell now has a 2-0 record on the season. The other run of the day came off a sacrifice fly from Stamfl, which drove in Boselli III. The series sweep is the Red Storm’s third conference sweep of the season. The other two came against Villanova and Creighton. The team will now take a break from conference play when they take on LIU-Brooklyn at home on April 25 at 3 p.m.
SPORTS April 25, 2018 | VOLUME 96, ISSUE 2
PHOTO COURTESY/ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS (PHOTO COURTESY/ FLORIDA LAUNCH)
Kieran Mcardle reflects on SJU Lacrosse Brendan Myers If you take a quick glance through the St. John’s lacrosse record book, there’s one ubiquitous name. Kieran McArdle’s name is inked on nearly every St. John’s offensive record. In his four seasons in Queens, he amassed 264 points (the total number of goals and assists). The next closest player registered 219. “The coaching staff really just showed a lot of interest in me,” McArdle said of his choice to attend St. John’s in a recent phone interview with the Torch. “I wasn’t that high of a recruit until my senior year.” McArdle came to Queens without garnering a ton of attention before putting St. John’s lacrosse on the map with the help of his teammates. He flew under the radar until his senior season at Connetquot High School on Long Island. McArdle came out of nowhere to finish second in all of Suffolk County with 112 points in 2010. He remained one of college lacrosse’s best kept secrets until his sophomore season when he broke out with a three goal, four assist performance against Notre Dame. The program’s last winning season came in 2013, McArdle’s junior season when the Red Storm went 9-4 and registered a win over top-ranked Notre Dame for the second straight season. Later that season, he was named a USILA All-American, the first time in school history.
After a 7-7 record in McArdle’s senior season, the program was put into a state of rebuilding. “My senior class had a ton of success, and it’s tough to rebuild right away,” he said. Between McArdle and his teammate Kevin Cernuto, the program suddenly had to replace two players that combined for 235 goals and 194 assists in their four years on the field. The rebuild that the program’s been undergoing for the past two or three seasons has finally turned a corner in 2018. St. John’s lacrosse beat No.18/19 Hofstra at home, and
My senior class had a ton of success, and it’s tough to rebuild right away. Kieran McArdle
has a shot to finish the season with a .500 record for the first time since McArdle’s senior year. The team currently sits with a 6-7 record with one game left to play on Saturday against Georgetown. But for McArdle, his success at St. John’s carried over to Major League Lacrosse when
he was drafted fifth overall in 2015. He led all rookies with 49 points in his rookie campaign, good enough for him to be named MLL Rookie of the Year. Since October of 2016, McArdle has expanded into indoor lacrosse, when he was signed to the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League as an unrestricted free agent. During the MLL season, which lasts from mid-April to August, McArdle will travel on the weekend to play games. “It’s a lot of travel, but I just love the game,” he said. He hasn’t been able to attend many games since he graduated from St. John’s in 2014, but McArdle is excited about where the program is right now. “Every day we competed, it didn’t matter if it was fall ball or the spring,” McArdle says of the type of culture that the team had when he was a player. “It starts with hard work, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the field.” He was on hand to watch St. John’s play at Stony Brook in a tough 8-6 loss on April 3. Through the rain-obstructed vision, McArdle saw that culture in the St. John’s players. Senior attackman Jason DeBenedictis has been a crucial part of the rebuild for reasons that have nothing to do with how many goals he scores or how many assists he throws out. “Anytime you have a leader like that, he’s spread his game out to be more of a dodger and a passer,” McArdle said of DeBenedictis. Despite being years removed from the program, McArdle says he still talks with Coach
Miller and the staff once a week to talk about how their respective seasons are going. However, this is the first season for McArdle where no players on the Red Storm’s roster are former teammates of his. He’s done lacrosse camps with the Madsen brothers and speaks sometimes with sophomore Matt Oehl. Both Oehl and McArdle graduated from Connetquot High School. He believes that more players on Long Island should consider St. John’s as a place where they can flourish. There is an almost universally considered belief that Long Island is the hotbed for lacrosse. Seventeen players on the 2018 St. John’s lacrosse roster alone are Long Island natives. “I think that some kids will go to some schools, not get playing time and then end up kicking themselves when they didn’t pick a school like St. John’s.”
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