Volume 94, Issue 18

Page 1

VOL 94 : 18 March 22nd, 2017

Stacking up


The independent student newspaper of St. John’s University

comparing SJU's meal plans to 21 schools

SJU among most expensive most mandate meal plans on campus Hofstra, pace require commuters to buy plans See the story on pages 6 & 7 TORCH PHOTO/ GINA PALERMO

A student prepares food in a kitchen in St. John’s townhouses.




SGI debate talks advocacy, accountability

Candidates discuss what they want to do for the student body, organizations BEVERLY DANQUAH

Staff Writer

Student Government, Inc. (SGI) held a debate on Monday during common hour to consider the ideas and goals of the candidates for the upcoming school year. More than 100 students were on hand at the D’Angelo Center. At least one student from all the organizations as well as faculty and administration were welcomed to listen to what the candidates had to say. Members of the R.E.A.L. (Realizing Excellence through Advocacy and Leadership) ticket along with those running as independents presented their plans and views on issues that are important to students. The Torch’s own Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Ciechalski moderated the debate. She asked standard questions regarding plans the candidates outlined in their applications, what candidates would like to see on campus and why they were running for their respective positions. To start off the debate, ticket candidates and the independent candidates introduced themselves to the audience. “We believe advocacy is the biggest part of SGI and it should always be the biggest part,” Frank Obermeyer, unopposed candidate for president, said. He also said he looks forward to having

Carl Edward-Fetiere, independent candidate for treasurer.


Student Government Inc. held a debate between candidates on March 21 in the D’Angelo Center.

a purpose section in SGI’s mission statement passed by the SGI floor. “I know I’m not running against anyone, but I’m going to earn this position either way,” Obermeyer said. The R.E.A.L. ticket’s three tenets are to improve the student experience, empower student leaders and strengthen the St. John’s community. The ticket plans to execute these goals by voicing student concerns, better engaging the student body and exemplifying the hard work of on campus organizations. Candidates were also asked to reiterate their qualifications for their desired positions. Carl Edward-Fetiere, independent candidate for treasurer, wowed the crowd when he explained to his past experience in finance. The junior is the budget committee co-chair for SGI, a financial consultant at his own tax firm, previously worked at Liberty Tax Firm and also spent a summer as a Northwestern Mutual intern. His opponent, Teresa Ehiogu, also laid out her accolades to attendees. “In SGI, I’m a co-chair for budget com-

mittee and for event review,” she said. “Outside of SGI, I’m manager of operations, I’m an RA at Hollis Hall, and I’m a manager of the women’s track and field team on campus.” Ehiogu is also a part of the future healthcare leaders on campus. Independent candidate for junior senator, Anthony Savino, proposed a more informative MySJU to help students better navigate the site. “Using MySJU to get the message out is messy right now,” Savino said. “We have a lot of different committees in SGI right now … we can really use them to see what the student body is thinking.” His opponent, Atem Kazi, rebutted his statement, stating that MySJU was already doing its job, and there wasn’t much left to do. Kazi also proposed a junior ball, something audience members responded positively to. Candidates also talked about ways to improve OrgSync, a campus engagement network that allows organizations to relay information easier and connect with stu-

SGI changes constitution


Assistant News Editor During Student Government Inc.’s (SGI) last floor meeting on Monday, March 13, topics such as new adjustments courtesy of a new SGI constitution, the treasurer’s report and special allocation requests were discussed. Some of the changes proposed were a reduction in qualifications to run for all positions within SGI; a simplified removal process in the case of an elected member not “meeting the needs of their role,” according to SGI President Chiara Miuccio and a reduction in quorum, the set percentage of SGI members whose presence is necessary in order to conduct business. When met with the proposal to reduce quorum, there was some initial resistance and confusion over its potential ramifications. The minimum percentage of SGI members required to be present would be reduced from its current 70 percent, to 50 percent of voting members plus the presence of one additional individual. “Everyone’s vote counts,” Miuccio said in response to concerns over whether this

would lessen the value of votes. On the issue of possible neglect of colleges whose representatives are not present at a particular meeting, the e-board was in agreement over holding representatives accountable. “It is the responsibility of the reps to represent their colleges. High quorum numbers are inhibiting us,” Frank Obermeyer, SGI secretary, said. An agreement was eventually reached in favor of the change. The addition of a non-discrimination clause was not objected to, nor was the proposal to change the GPA requirement for SGI participation from a set number to the University’s definition of being in “good academic standing.” SGI Treasurer Clement Anozie then passed out his annual report, which indicated that SGI is in good financial standing. Lastly, SGI candidates took the floor to briefly discuss their platforms, including independent candidates Tahmir Williams and Anthony Savino, as well as the entirety of the REAL (Realizing Excellence through Advocacy and Leadership) ticket. The next SGI floor meeting will be held next Monday, March 27 in DAC 416 AB.

dents. They proposed a reimbursement system, request system and budgeting system. “There are ways that you can work with your treasurer and manage your budget on OrgSync that we have yet to tap into,” Obermeyer said. “If we can give you all the tools you need on OrgSync to keep track of your budget throughout the year, it would be a great benefit to organizations.” Tahmir Williams, independent candidate for vice president, wasted no time referring to the Torch’s past article to rebut the claims of his opponent, William Pugh, three times. Pugh also rebutted William’s claim once. “In an interview with the Torch, you stated that ‘the main way for an organization to succeed is through setting clear standards and goals for each committee to meet.’ Can you explain more on this and give an example of what a clear standard is to you?” Williams asked. Obono Mba-Madja, a sophomore hospitality major, attended the debate to support her friend, junior senator candidate, Atem Kazi. “I was disappointed by the way the debate was conducted because they didn’t allow the students or organizations to ask any questions,” she said. “Since SGI is about empowering the students, they fell flat by not giving students a chance to voice their concerns.” Morgan Bell, a junior government and politics major, is excited to see her peers running for student government. “It’s important to get involved with voting because a lot of people don’t realize that as organizations, we go to SGI to ask for money, support for events, and it’s good to know who’s serving you,” Bell said. “Having my peers run means that when my organization goes to SGI for funding, it’s good to know we won’t be pushed aside as just another org and we’ll have that connectivity because we know the people in office.” Voting will be held on Thursday and Friday in the DAC lobby and online at MySJU.

Students, alumni, faculty marched together at St. Patrick's Day Parade


Many students represented St. John’s University at New York City’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Friday, March 17.




SJU becomes fair trade designated The University has met the requirements set out by Fair Trade Campaigns


Staff Writer

After three years of working toward Fair Trade designation, the St. John’s for Fair Trade Committee has met its goal as of Tuesday, March 14. Working alongside Fair Trade Campaigns, a non-profit organization that designates universities, towns, congregations and schools, the committee has pushed the University to advocate for fair trade. “St. John’s for Fair Trade is excited about helping [the University] become a fair trade designated University. This is a key step in promoting conscious consumer practices and discussions on our campus. We are very thankful to Fair Trade Campaigns for all their support and guidance, plus numerous St. John’s offices and organizations,” Professor Sean Murray, the co-chairman of the Fair Trade Committee, said about the designation. The process required the University to meet five requirements:

• Form a committee and hold regular meetings; • Work with vendors and food service providers to of• • •

fer at least two fair trade products in each outlet on campus; Serve fair trade products in offices and events; Sponsor fair trade educational events on campus and work with faculty to bring Fair Trade into the classroom; Draw up a resolution that reflects the university’s commitment to fair trade and approve it.

Reverend Bernard M. Tracey, C.M., executive vice president for Mission, ultimately signed the resolution.

“The University’s Fair Trade Resolution is an expression of who we are as a Catholic, Vincentian and Global Institution of higher education,” Tracey said. “Catholic social teaching challenges us to ensure that the wages of laborers are fair and just.” “We are called as a Vincentian institution not only to respond to the needs of those marginalized in society, but to study, research and provide solutions to the root causes of poverty,” he added. Kylie Nealis, the national organizer of fair trade colleges and universities at Fair Trade Campaigns, worked closely with the St. John’s for Fair Trade Committee. “By becoming a designated Fair Trade University, St. John’s has shown a real commitment to social justice and sustainable and ethical purchasing,” Nealis said. “The students and staff at St. John’s have worked hard to earn Fair Trade status for the campus—from increasing the availability of Fair Trade products on campus to hosting events to raise awareness around the importance of fair trade.” When asked for their thoughts on the recent designation, many students weren’t aware of what fair trade stands for. Sophomore Paul Espiritu said that he hadn’t heard of it before, but when he learned what fair trade meant he said, “That’s great, it’s good that people around the world are getting help and that we are the ones to help them.” Freshman Emily Inzero, a Fair Trade Committee leader, said the committee will now be setting up a “Fair Trade Fridays” table offering fair trade options during Java Johnnies, in addition to the existing table open in Sodano coffee house every Friday from

12:30-3 p.m. “There have been students and faculty working really hard to accomplish [the designation] for many years now. I, myself, being new to the Fair Trade scene am only beginning to really learn about it,” Inzero said. “I’m excited because it is only the beginning of having more fair trade option on campus.”


4 Entertainment




CASSIDY SEAGREN Contributing Writer


NICKI MINAJ Nicki Minaj fans have anxiously awaited for her response to recent “beef ” with Remy Ma. On March 9, Minaj announced three releases. “No Frauds” was among the first. She partnered with Drake and Lil Wayne of Young Money/Cash Money Records. Even though Ma’s track released more personal information on Minaj, “No Frauds” contained severe verses. “You can’t be Pablo if your work ain’t sellin’/ What the f*** is this b**** inhalin’?/ I woulda helped you out that pit you fell in/ I am the generous queen! Ask Ms. Ellen.” “What type of bum b**** shoot a friend over a rack?/ What type of mother leave her one son over a stack?” In addition to “No Frauds,” her other releases, “Change It” and “Regret in Your Tears” have reached the top 100 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop charts.

Frank Ocean has returned, surprisingly, with a hit before another four year hiatus. That’s a joke for true Frank fans who know the torture he put us through the last four years between his releases of the phenomenal and arguably life-changing “Channel ORANGE” and “Blonde.” Like previous releases, the track is nothing like his previous works. It has a new sound and features simple instrumentals in favor of deep, complex lyrics. He attempts to explore gender fluidity and our changing society. The clever title refers to the Chanel logo of the crossing backwards and forwards C’s and how he “sees both sides like Chanel.” His voice, per usual, is the most gorgeous factor as he showcases his range, ability to back his own talent and uses the perfect extra tools to enhance and add a little experimental feel to his new tunes. After that four year hiatus, Ocean seems to be back for good and he is already throwing out amazing and important tracks.

CHARLI XCX Pop songstress Charli XCX has a penchant for saccharine sweet tracks, as evidenced by 2014’s “Sucker.” On her mixtape, “Number 1 Angel” the singer delves into the sound from the “Vroom Vroom EP.” Charli XCX takes control of the reigns, working with A.G. Cook of PC Music. Collaborators are relegated to features and production with fellow singer MØ on “3 AM (Pull Up),” with rappers like CupcakKe. The mixtape is relatable lyrically, covering material from subjects like love, lust, drugs and excess. On the track “Emotional” she gives a glimpse of her opening up romantically. The cheeky “eh-eh-X C X” at the beginning of each track becomes a catchphrase to further solidify the persona as a pop star dabbling in the rap world. Charli XCX steers back in the direction on her first major record “True Romance,” but trades the aesthetically crafted sound to go lowest common denominator, trap influenced pop. With “Number 1 Angel,” Charli XCX takes her place as one of pop’s most lucrative songwriters, finding a niche within an ever-changing landscape. Where she adopted a nonchalant persona with her previous records, this mixtape gives a new depth to Charli XCX.

New “Kong” movie is epic Disney’s remake lacks magic ANGELICA ACEVEDO

News Editor

The much anticipated “Beauty and the Beast,” although visually and melodically enchanting, felt, at times, rather awkward in its pacing and storytelling. The tale of a beautiful and bright young woman, Belle (Emma Watson), taken prisoner by the Beast (Dan Stevens) in his enchanted castle, who eventually fall in love, received a contemporary plot this time around. The screenwriters attempted to add dimensions to otherwise simple roles by giving many characters a new background story. They incorporated modern themes, such as interracial couples in the delightful castle’s staff (and cast), female empowerment (with Belle as the inventor instead of her father) and even a few gay characters—raising eyebrows among conventional viewers, of course. Yet, the plot didn’t quite fulfill the high expectations it set out for itself.

The movie tried its best to bring nuance to the story, but it just felt unnecessarily jam-packed. Although casting Watson seemed like a no-brainer for this particular Disney princess, her performance wasn’t fully convincing. Perhaps because her real-life persona overshadowed Belle’s? However, she looked and, with subtle help from auto-tune, sang the part fairly well. The other cast members did a phenomenal job of bringing the charac-

ters to life; the extraordinarily animated, moody Beast and ostentatious Gaston (Luke Evans), my personal favorites. The score, created by the original composer, Alan Menken, was exquisite, including new songs that were just as memorable as the old ones. One thing’s for certain, this live-action rendition of the “tale as old as time” is enjoyable, merely for the sake of nostalgia.



Contributing Writer King Kong, the eighth wonder of the world. Ever since his inception in 1933, Kong has become one of the most iconic monsters in the movie industry and is considered America’s Godzilla. “Kong: Skull Island” is the latest reboot in the franchise. The movie follows an expedition to, ostensibly, chart Skull Island, a mysterious and sinister place located in the Pacific Ocean. It is set in 1973, during the end of the Vietnam War. The expedition consists of a group of scientists led by U.S. Government Agent Bill Randa (John Goodman) and a squad of American soldiers led by Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a man whose disillusionment with the war has festered into a twisted sense of vengeance. Also on the expedition are the cynical former Captain Jack Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and a pacifist photojournalist, Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). Viewers are thrown almost immediately into the action. The expedition encounters Kong immediately after landing on the island. The movie blends spectacular visuals with very relevant themes about war. Like any Hollywood movie that involves war, it makes the audience question who the real monsters are (spoiler alert: it isn’t Kong). The amazing cinematography, set to a fun and upbeat soundtrack, makes “Kong: Skull Island” hook you from start to finish. This is an exciting introduction to a highly-anticipated summer movie season.

Entertainment 5


“Wizard of Oz” wows the audience ARIANA ORTIZ Assistant News Editor This past Thursday and Saturday, the Chappell Players Theatre Group (CPTG) staged their own version of “The Wizard of Oz” in The Little Theatre. The show, directed by Anthony Pound, successfully prevented a classic story from feeling too familiar. Its Saturday showing at 2 p.m. was heavily attended by families and children, and had a comfortably short running time of a little over an hour and a half. The show was pared-down in many aspects, from its simple yet vibrant costumes—including a fun interpretation of the mythical ruby slippers: glittering, almost shin-length silver sneakers— to its overall staging, but went all out where it truly mattered. The set design consisted of wooden platforms painted in a light shade of green and a jutting, multicolored gate that opened to reveal characters such as the Tin Woodsman and the terrifying incarnation of the Wizard of Oz himself. Rather than taking up time with dizzying set changes, the lighting served as the chief determinant in settings. The soft green lighting of the set intensified during scenes in the Emerald City and took on a more neutral yellow tone in Kansas. How-

ever, the most creative touch to the set design was the yellow brick road, which ran through the aisles of the Little Theatre, expanding the space for actors to play in and fully immersing the audience in the land of Oz. Audience participation was encouraged throughout the performance; my favorite part of the show was during its flower field scene, where the main cast struggles to snap out of a hypnotic spell induced by magical flowers. Prior to the scene, ensemble members passed out prop flowers to selected audience members, who held them up as Dorothy and company filtered into the aisles, entranced by their beauty. The Cowardly Lion, played hilariously by Gabrielle Laurendine, pawed and sniffed at the flower in my hand while I tried (and failed) to keep a straight face. The cast, led by a sweet and optimistic Dorothy played by Yuchen Jin, melded well together and made for a fun, lighthearted dynamic. The two characters who were the most difficult to look away from were the Tin Woodsman, played by Aria Laucella, and the iconic Wicked Witch of the West, played by Johnathan Luc. From her first moment onstage, Laucella fully embodied the physicality of the Tin Woodsman, each movement consistently jolting and mechanical. Luc commanded every scene he was in as the Wicked Witch, donning a dramatically towering green wig and all-black

outfit, complete with a flowing cape and impressively sinister cackling. The use of practical effects was underwhelming at first. At the beginning of the story, a hastily crafted paper cutout was meant to represent the house that accidentally kills the Witch of the East, setting some low expectations. It reached a grand high point during the first appearance of the eponymous wizard, whose bumbling human self is later played by Michael Walker. In a dissonant and scattered chorus, groups of cast members created the echoing effect of the Wizard’s thundering voice. Offstage, cast members manipulated the Wizard’s eyes, which appeared to be

floating orbs of light, while a few members onstage operated his giant cardboard mouth, syncing up their movements to the Wizard’s lines. The theatre of otherwise noisy children and babies went completely silent, as everyone present was captivated by the impressive display. While it is difficult to maintain an air of uniqueness when rendering such a beloved story, CPTG’s production avoided almost all the pitfalls of doing so. The production exceeded my expectations of being a cute-yet-forgettable rehashing of the classic story, and its added creative flourishes served to keep it feeling new and engaging.


Student performers on stage at the Little Theatre for the Chappell Players’ “Wizard of Oz.”

The Cost of Food

Meal Plan Comparison BRYANT RODRIGUEZ Opinion Editor

The University sparked controversy among some students last month by announcing plans to require meal plans for those who live in the townhouses beginning in fall 2017. In an interview with the Torch to explain the decision, the Director of Residence Life, Eric M. Finkelstein, M.Ed., said that mandating meal plans is “pretty standard in the industry.” A subsequent comparison by the Torch of St. John’s meal plans with those at 21 colleges and universities— schools with dorms in the New York City area along with Big East schools— revealed that requiring meal plans is in fact a common practice. Although these colleges vary drastically in food offerings, meal plan options and cost, most have selections similar in breakdown to the University’s current meal plan policies.

• Chartwells, which manages St.

John’s dining services, and Aramark were the most common food providers at these schools, each serving six. No other company had more than three schools. All but three of the schools that The Torch reviewed mandate

meal plans for students who reside in traditional-style dorms. The three schools that do not mandate meal plans are: Queens College, The New School and Baruch College. Pace University and Hofstra University are the only schools which require all students, including commuters to purchase meal plans.

According to the office of admissions at Baruch College, the school does not offer any meal plans for commuters or residents. The rationale is that students prefer to eat off campus or purchase food from the surrounding eateries that provide student discounts. A Dining Services representative at Queens College told the Torch that meal plans are not required for those who reside in the dorms. This is due to kitchens being located inside the rooms, however, meal plans are offered for residents and commuters. This seems to be the standard at schools that offer apartment-style dorms; of the 15 that do, only two— Pace University and DePaul University—require residents to have meal plans. The New School did not respond to a request for comment by deadline. St. John’s believes there is value in requiring meal plans in traditional-style dorms. “The university experience is

learning to be more self-sufficient so that you’re prepared to leave here and to get you to that point,” Finkelstein said last month. “The living on campus component, [by] not having a meal plan attached to it, would be incomplete.” The comparison also showed that St. John’s Carte Blanche plan is the most expensive overall unlimited meal plan offered among the schools reviewed by the Torch. The St. John’s plan costs $3,125 per semester and comes with 50 dining dollars. Fordham University, Villanova University and Butler University unlimited meal plans cost more upfront but offer more dining dollars with 550 at $3,273, 160 at $3,275 and 400 at $3,315 respectively. These prices are current for this semester at each school. Freshman plans are mandatory at St. John’s, as is the case at the 18 of the 21 schools that mandated meal plans at their traditional style residence. St. John’s executive director of Conference and Auxiliary Services Scott Lemperle said, “Other meal plans are very similar but there’s more flexibility in points balance,” referring to the larger dining dollar balances included in the residence village and apartment meal plans. “The apartment meal plans, the one for the townhouse, is the lower priced one of all the resident meal plans,” he added. The St. John’s apartment meal plan

Whether students are looking for a quick morning bite before class, or just want to avoid venturing out to the dining hall during a snowstorm, having food conveniently available in their room is an essential. While having a dorm room stocked with snacks is central to a successful semester, maintaining one on a college budget can be tricky. There are multiple different places to buy your inventory, so the Torch decided to investigate the most affordable place to do so. The most convenient place to shop

for resident students is clearly the Marketplace, the small convenience shop behind Montgoris Dining Hall. Just a few steps from the dorms, it’s a quick and easy trip on the way back from classes or after a Montgoris visit. However, convenience comes at a cost. To compare the different options, the Torch compared the prices of seven popular dorm room food products at the Marketplace, 7-11 and a local C-Town Supermarket. The items chosen were bananas, a gallon of milk, a family size bag of Lays potato chips, a box of strawberry Pop Tarts, a Nature Valley granola bar, a box of Hot Pockets and a Yo-

plait yogurt. In some instances, prices were fairly adjusted to account for differences in quantity. Across all seven products, the supermarket was the cheapest option, with products from the Marketplace averaging more than double those prices at $26.28 compared to $12.33. The convenience store 7-11 came in almost exactly between them at $18.20. Some products, such as the potato chips, only costed 25 percent more on campus, but others including milk costed more than three times as much as their supermarket equivalents. The price for convenience is generally attributed to longer turnaround

No Vendor (5%) Gourmet Dining (14%)

offers 200 dining dollars at $2,150. The lowest required plan for residence village here offers 300 dining dollars at $3,075. In comparison, every school except Butler University offers cheaper mandatory meal plans. The following schools were included in the comparison: From the New York metropolitan area: Pace University, Fordham University, Long Island University, New York University, Queens College, The New School, Adelphi University, Columbia University, Hofstra University, Manhattan College, Monmouth University, Baruch College. From the Big East Conference: Georgetown University, Butler University, DePaul University, Xavier University, Seton Hall University, Marquette University, Providence College, Creighton University and Villanova University. Of all of these schools, Manhattan College has the smallest student body at 3,000 undergraduates. New York University has the most, with over 25,000 undergraduates. St. John’s has about 15,000 undergraduates. Manhattan College was the only school that did not break out their meal plan options from their housing prices.

Shop Off Campus?


Food Vendors at Similar Colleges

times and limited shelving space, but there is still a significant gap between 7-11 and the Marketplace, both of which operate under similar conditions. The Marketplace also offers no sales tax and a 10 percent bonus when more than $250 dining dollars is purchased, which lessens this gap, but doesn’t completely close it. For students looking to save, the research shows that while it is convenient to utilize the Marketplace as a last-minute option when necessary, in order to capitalize on better deals and a larger selection, students should buy as much as possible from large supermarkets in preparation of the long semester.

Price of Minimum Meal Plan for Townhouse-Style Residents (cost per semester) $2200

Aramark (29%)

$550 St. John’s University uses Chartwells as it’s food vendor for campus dining locations. Of the 21 schools we researched, 20 of them offer meal plans, and 6 of them use Chartwells as their vendor.

Chartwells (29%)

University (10%)

(as of Fall 2017)



Sodexo (14%)

St. John’s ($2150)

DePaul ($1032)

Pace ($640)

$0 Out of the 12 schools with townhouse-style dorms, only 3 of them require residents to buy a meal plan. Here is how their prices compare.


How it Stacks Up Take a look at the prices of seven popular dorm products to see how the Marketplace compares to its off-campus competition.



*In some instances, prices were fairly adjusted to account for differences in quantity.



Supermarket Milk (Gallon) Yoplait Yogurt

711 Pop Tarts Nature Valley Bar

Marketplace Hot Pockets Banana

Lays Potato Chips




Flames of the Torch

Substance lacking in SGI debate Managing Board XCIV Suzanne Ciechalski, Editor-in-Chief Gina Palermo, Managing Editor Michael Ambrosino, General Manager Angelica Acevedo News Editor Bryant Rodriguez Opinion Editor Steven Verdile Design Editor Gina Palermo Photo Editor Isabella Bruni Chief Copy Editor Troy Mauriello Co-Sports Editor Carmine Carcieri Co-Sports Editor Reza Moreno Features Editor Michael Ambrosino Entertainment Editor

Rakesh Singh Beverly Danquah Chyna Davis Yuchen Jin





Ariana Ortiz Erin Bola Assistant News Editor Social Media Coordinator Sabrina Lau Alyssa Dugan Assistant Opinion Editor Social Media Coordinator Sahn Choi Jim Baumbach Assistant Editor Adviser Lauren Finegan Assistant Photo Editor Courtney Dixon Assistant Copy Editor Dylan Hornik Assistant Sports Editor Derrell Bouknight Assistant Sports Editor Carissa Herb Assistant Features Editor Yves Nguyen Assistant Entertainment Editor

Staff and contributors Jon Manarang Cassidy Seagren Victoria Lohwasser Crystal Grant

Editorial policy

Kayla McMillan Amanda Negretti

About the Torch

Editorials are the opinions of the Editorial Board of the Torch. Columns are the opinions of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of the Torch.

The Torch is the official, independent student newspaper of St. John’s University. The Torch is written, edited, designed and produced by students of the University.

Opinions expressed in editorials, columns, letters or cartoons are not necessarily those of the student body, faculty or administrations 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.

To contact the Torch by mail:

The Torch, St. John’s University 8000 Utopia Parkway Queens, NY 11439

The Torch is typically published on Wednesdays and publishes approximately 20 issues throughout the academic year. Copies are distributed for free on campus and through mail subscriptions.

This week, we heard Student Government Inc.’s executive board candidates for the 2017-2018 school year debate a number of topics at the annual SGI debate. Candidates discussed accountability, advocacy and increasing visibility, among other things. But one thing the debate lacked was substance. It’s expected that in any type of debate, candidates might talk in circles or not directly answer a question--we saw it just a few months ago when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton competed in the presidential debates. For the most part, that’s what we saw from the candidates Monday. Many of them simply reiterated things that they mentioned in their applications, or in recent interviews with the Torch, rather than demonstrating how they’ll execute what they’re campaigning on. It begs the question of what we want in our leaders within student government. We heard from Frank Obermeyer, an SGI veteran and the current secretary for SGI, who is running unopposed for president. Of all the candidates, he provided the most clear answers, and even demonstrated why he deserves the position, drawing on initiatives he was part of in the past year, such as a student health initiative that the Torch reported on last semester. To us, he’s the definition of who a student leader should be. We don’t want to tear down our fellow students who are running for the executive board--because many of

them are very qualified. But we wish they had spoken in more detail while answering questions, so that students could get a clearer picture of what they’re going to do if elected. The questions asked by the Torch’s editor-in-chief were broad, giving the candidates an opportunity to answer the question with confidence while making it their own to prove the strengths in their campaign and ideas. What we fear now that the debate is finished is that St. John’s students will forget the proposed policies of the candidates and simply vote for the more well-known candidate. But this shouldn’t be a popularity contest. That is why it is imperative for candidates to answer as precisely as possible, so that voting is hopefully based off of the candidate they believe in, and not their friend, or fellow organization member. SGI has a lot of responsibilities, and being on the e-board is an important job. Being a part of student government is not just an impressive title for a resume, it is a chance to represent the entire student body and implement change and policies to make St. John’s a better place, in all aspects, for students. We wish there had been more substance in this year’s SGI debate about future plans, and less discussion about qualifications. We know that the candidates are qualified--but how are they going to use those qualifications to achieve their specific goals? Without more precise responses, students can’t discern the answer.

Vincentian View: Windows on St. Joseph FR. PATRICK GRIFFIN, C.M. Special to the Torch

On many occasions, I have mused on the beautiful stained glass windows in our St. Thomas More Church on the Queens campus of our University. Sometimes, I will go to the Church to pray, and my attention gets drawn to a particular scene. I will then begin to think about the story and where it all leads. In my head, I have created a quiz on the windows which reflects my ponderings. Some of the questions in my quiz reflect the fact that the windows put certain characters consistently in the same color garments. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, for example, is regularly presented in blue and white. This would not be unexpected for her. Many of us would usually envision her in blue as consonant with a tradition of the Church. Jesus is clothed in red and white—except the glorified Lord who appears all in white. Now the question: who else is regularly garbed in red and white?

With a little inspection, I think that one would find that it is St. Joseph. I find that notion very attractive. The idea that Jesus takes after Joseph seems correct, and the windows subtly remind us of that truth. Since Advent, Joseph has been in my thoughts. He has come to the fore in my reflection. When I have been invited to give a talk for some community, I have steadfastly striven to speak about him. On March 19, the Church celebrates the principal feast of St. Joseph each year. In this year, the celebration got moved to this past Monday, March 20, because of the Sunday. The similarity in dress which our windows offers has made me think of the popular expression “like father, like son.” Or said another way “the apple does not fall far from the tree,” or still another way and my favorite (following Wordsworth) “the child is father to the man.” Clearly, few stories involve St. Joseph in the New Testament, but some evoke the recognition of similar traits in Jesus. And some words and actions in the stories of Jesus might be attributed to the influence of St. Joseph. The love of a father for a son and the love of a son for a father, the lessons of carpentry, the words and actions of a faithful Jewish man, the love of Mary and respect for

women, all of these provide material for a rich, honest, reflection on the relation of Joseph and Jesus. I do not know if they wore the same colors, but I do believe that their hearts tended in the same direction. When we had the readings of the transfiguration recently, a thought occurred to me: is it possible that Joseph could have spoken these same words: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Mt 3:17)

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Dining as a commuter

MICHAEL AMBROSINO General Manager “Get Out” is a spectacular modern horror movie and is the exciting feature film directing debut from comedian Jordan Peele, one-half of the “Key & Peele” duo. Essentially a creepy cross between “The Stepford Wives” and “Meet the Parents,” Peele takes his clever concept and manages to both scare us and make us laugh. In doing that, he’s also commenting on racism in America. Impressive, I say. The film follows Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya), a black man, who is a photographer in a relationship with a white woman, Rose (played by Allison Armitage). The two young lovers drive into the country one weekend to visit Rose’s parents and brother, who Chris will be meeting for the first time, and who are unaware that Chris is black. After an unsettling incident involving a deer on the road and a racist police officer, the couple show up, where Chris is immediately placed in an uncomfortable position. Rose’s parents-played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener-are acting overly, unusually polite to Chris, and the two housekeepers are black people who behave very, very... oddly.

What the film eventually builds to is terrifying. Peele ingeniously ratchets up the tension to a visceral, surprising, genuinely involving and satisfying climax. The film’s social commentary on racism is strong and throughout but never is it preachy or obnoxious-it never beats the viewer over the head with it. It’s an aspect of the film that’s very important, cleverly implemented into the story and dialogue. It’s also a breath of fresh air. How often do we see a legitimate horror film that, at the same time, has a few things to say about the world? It could have been a disaster, but Peele handles his material confidently and marvelously. The movie is unsettling and tense, but also very real. There are amazing sequences in which Rose’s mother performs hypnosis on Chris (another important piece of the film-I dare not give more away), which gives us some cool visual moments. It’s a consistently unnerving film with amazing twists that reveal some very scary stuff about the characters. With “Get Out,” Jordan Peele proves two things: he’s a damn good storyteller and a damn good director of horror. If he plans to return to directing, especially horror, he can take my money right now. “Get Out” is an excellent movie.


Being a commuter is pretty difficult at times­—extracurricular activities, the hassles of public transportation and carrying all your belongings everywhere you go. One challenge is deciding to dine on campus or bringing food from home. So the question is: lighten your load or save money? It’s tough to keep food cold. I know from experience that using a lunchbox can get quite annoying because the food only stays cold for roughly four hours and it gets to be a real nuisance carrying it around all day with everything else that you may have. I was here on campus from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days last semester, so lugging everything around was annoying and heavy. Plus, taking the shuttle and train, I felt like I was in the way and had overpacked, mostly because of the unnecessary textbooks that I thought I would need. Those with cars have it a little easier because they can leave everything in it until they need it. Buying lunch from school is a good option because it’s so much easier, however, it’s costly. Cheaper options, like Burger

King and Taco Bell taste good, but much of the menu is unhealthy. Therefore, you want to go to Subway or Freshens. Yes, $8 isn’t that much for a filling entrée or meal, but if you’re eating on campus three days a week, that’s almost $30 a week. Adding on breakfast can cost up to $150, especially if you’re on campus more than three days. I can have lunch and breakfast for an entire week for roughly $30 by going to my local Stop and Shop. You definitely get more bang for your buck by bringing food from home. I recommend bringing breakfast or snack options like chips, fruit, granola bars or anything in a plastic baggie. For lunch, microwavable meals are possible options. These items are all lightweight and easily disposable. Sometimes, I bring a salad or sandwich in a disposable container and include an ice pack or two. It’s easy to carry and you can stuff the bag with the ice packs in your backpack when you’re done. Treating yourself to lunch on campus once a week saves money. If you need a coffee in the mornings like me, treat yourself, but bring your breakfast instead. So commuters, whether you lighten your load or not, make sure that you are eating something nutritious and filling. Find something that works for you and enjoy eating on campus or not.

10 Features


What it’s like interning for Vogue CRYSTAL GRANT

Staff Writer

Strutting down campus in high heels and a perfectly tailored, eccentric outfit, even in the mites of rain, sleet and snow, Lalisa Wongchai is always a sight to behold. Anyone can see that she clearly has the ‘Vogue’ look, so it’s not shocking to learn that she has already made a name for herself at the cutthroat and dazzling world of Vogue. Wongchai is the assistant/intern to the editor of Vogue Thailand. The St. John’s junior is truly a jack-of-all-trades as she works in journalism, public relations, showroom and model agency bookings for her boss. This has been a dream come true for Wongchai, who has been interested in fashion most of her life. Over spring break, she accompanied her boss on a business trip to Paris, France for Paris Fashion Week to help organize and assist in a Vogue dinner party for up and coming Thai designer, Angley Balek. She first fell in love with the city while participating in the Discover France program in the spring of 2016 through St. John’s. “I like to live a full life of aesthetics and there’s something about Paris that fits me so well. It is an elegant city full of art and rich history,” Wongchai said. Though she was happy to be back in Paris, she had no time to lollygag since she played a critical role in organizing the events. She was in charge of managing the guest list and inviting celebrities, models and key figures in the fashion industry to the event. She worked closely with Elite and Women Management modeling agencies and was able to get A-listers like Sara Sampaio (Victoria’s Secret Angel), Sonia Ben (face of Dolce & Gabbana), Jazmine Sanders (In-

stagram “it girl’) and many of the Bulgari girls to attend the event. Backstage she worked to help some of the major attendees get fitted to wear the designer’s clothes for the dinner. “One of the people I got to fit was rapper Azealia Banks,” Wongchai said. When she wasn’t running around trying not to break her ankle in her signature heels while live reporting the dinner party on Vogue Thailand’s Instagram at #voguexangellys, she was mingling with elites in the fashion industry, including several Vogue editor-in-chiefs from around the world and celebrities like Kat Graham and Jackie Cruz. “It honestly felt like I was living in a dream. To be able to taste this different world… I never thought I would be able to experience it, at least at this age,” she said. “I had so much fun, but it was hectic at times especially getting back the sample clothes from the guests attending it was challenging because during fashion week response time is extremely slow and I only had a few days to get the clothes back before rushing back to NYC for class,” Wongchai said. She clearly works hard and she said she owes much of her success to her boss who also works to mentor her. “My career thus far, I owe it to my boss, she has inspired me and took far beyond my boundaries,” she said. As anyone trying to break into the fashion industry would know, it is rough trying to get a foot in the door, but Wongchai said she would advise people not to give up on their dreams and keep working to make those key connections. “Keep putting yourself out there. No matter how many times you feel like giving up, don’t let anyone stop you from dreaming,” she said.


Lalisa Wonchai, 20, walking around in Paris, France during Paris fashion week over spring break.

Jasmine Sanders, Sara Sampaio (Victoria’s Secret Angel), Angelys Balek (designer), Sonia Ben Ammar (model), Helena Gastby (cousin of Leonardo DiCaprio), Kat Graham (actress) were the celebrity guests at the Angely Balek’s dinner party hosted by Vogue Thailand.

Sports 11


Red Storm advance to WNIT Sweet 16 CARMINE CARCIERI Co-Sports Editor

In a year that was expected to be a rebuilding campaign after losing their two leading scorers and two of the best players in program history, the St. John’s women’s basketball team is on their way to the WNIT Round of 16 following two home wins over the weekend. The Johnnies blew out Sacred Heart, 7243, in their opening round match-up in Queens on Friday evening and continued their success on Sunday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena as they squeaked out a 6257 win over Harvard. Against Sacred Heart, the Red Storm was sensational on both ends of the floor in the second half to pull out a blowout victory. NCAA Women's Basketball 03/17 ST. JOHN'S


nine in the fourth) while Jade Walker (18 points on 9-of-19 shooting and nine rebounds) and Akina Wellere (18 points) led the way on the offensive end of the floor. “It was a tale of the second half,” head coach Joe Tartamella said to RedStormSports.com. “I thought the first quarter we were able to do some good things. I thought we kind of got out of not playing for a bit, trying to get our feel and our rhythm. “I was really pleased with how we came out in the third quarter and scored 29 points and held them to nine points in both the third and fourth quarter, that was a testament to our players and their ability to come out with better focus.” In the second round of the WNIT, the Johnnies faced a tougher task in the Harvard Crimson.

performance given the fact that their leading scorer, Walker, scored just six points and recorded zero rebounds. Next up for the Red Storm is a Round of 16 match-up against Michigan on the road on Thursday evening. The Wolverines are led by former SJU head coach Kim Barnes Arico and are the number one seed in St. John’s portion of the bracket.

NCAA Women's Basketball 03/19





However, it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. St. John’s led just 16-12 at the end of the first quarter and by just two at the break. They struggled to shoot the ball, making just 31 percent of their shots in the second period and 25 percent of their three pointers. But the game completely flipped in the second half. They held Sacred Heart to just 18 second half points (nine in the third quarter and

their part and we have to get this win.” Lewis led the Johnnies with 16 points on 4-of-11 shooting, eight assists, five rebounds and just a single turnover in 40 minutes of play. The Red Storm also received solid production from Maya Singleton (13 points and nine rebounds) and Wellere (nine points on 4-of-13 shooting). St. John’s has to be pleased with their

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St. John’s led by just six points at the break and 55-53 with just under three minutes left in the fourth quarter but they responded to the adversity by outscoring Harvard, 7-4, in the final 2:30. “I noticed it was a close game in the fourth quarter. In my head, I was just saying it’s time to get it done,” Aaliyah Lewis said via RedStormSports.com. “We have to get everybody on the same page and come together, everybody play


Aaliyah Lewis scored 29 points and dished out 16 assists in the Red Storm’s two WNIT victories over Sacred Heart and Harvard last weekend.

SPORTS March 22, 2017 | VOLUME 94, ISSUE 18 |


SNOWED OUT Winter Storm upends Red storm weekend

DYLAN HORNIK Assistant Sports Editor While most in the New York City area hunkered down, preparing for what was supposed to be the biggest snowfall of the winter, a few St. John’s coaches stood face-to-face with some season-altering dilemmas. Although Winter Storm Stella spared Queens from the worst of its terror, several Red Storm teams had their games blown away by the blizzard-like conditions. With Jack Kaiser Stadium and the Red Storm Field left unplayable due to the snow, a total of nine games were canceled between the baseball and softball teams. The softball team had to cancel the St. John’s Invitational, a weekend-long tournament featuring the Johnnies and four other teams from the New York City area. Five Red Storm games were wiped out, including matchups between the four other teams. Head Coach Amy Kvilhaug said that she monitored the storm for several days leading up to the weekend. “Being a softball coach means also being a part-time weatherman,” Kvilhaug said in a phone interview. “Whenever you’re hosting something, I think it’s important to almost over-communicate… I want to give [other teams] a say.” Canceling the invitational was the last resort, Kvilhaug said. She was open to relocating the games if it meant her team could get on the field, so she spoke to colleges and universities as far as Delaware. “We tried so many different options and kind of kept striking out,” Kvilhaug said. “Then I said, ‘Okay, this is not going to work out.’” Once Kvilhaug pulled the plug on the weekend’s slate


of contests, Kvilhaug revived the Red Storm’s weekend by agreeing to a pair of games at Radford University in Virginia, where she coached softball for four years. “We finally got in touch with Radford by the advice of one of my pitchers who is from Virginia,” Kvilhaug said. Kvilhaug also managed to fit in a game against Maryland on Monday, cutting their workload from five games in three days to three games in two days. For the softball team, the imperative is to play. “We don’t want to be up here twiddling our thumbs when it’s the middle of the season,” Kvilhaug said. “The tough part is you don’t have a set number of games to play. People don’t get as much work in as you head into the Big East.” The Red Storm baseball team was supposed to host NYIT on March 14, but those plans quickly changed with the blizzard set to begin that night. The storm front caused the Red Storm to cross out a weekend three game series against Holy Cross on top of the March 14 cancellation. Fortunately for St. John’s, though, they found a temporary home. The ninth-ranked baseball team in Division I traveled to Norfolk for a makeshift tournament against three other teams who had their schedules altered due to Winter Storm Stella. The lacrosse team, which nearly upset the mighty Syracuse Orange last week, faced a tricky dilemma too, but the Red Storm pressed on with their matchup with Drexel on March 18, with the snow shoveled into mountains on either side of the field. March came in like a lion this year, unforgiving in its ice-cold demeanor. With the storm safely behind them, the Red Storm can look forward to ending the month with the same intensity that Mother Nature had last week.

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