Volume 95, Issue 6

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VOL 95 : 06 october 4, 2017 torchonline.com

The independent student newspaper of St. John’s University


Story on page 5

inside THE ISSUE

The St. John’s community reflects on the Las Vegas tragedy

Students debate taking a knee for the National Anthem

We interview those behind the Twitter account @overheardat_sju

see the story on page 3

read the opinions on page 8

see the story on page 10




Students Network at Career Fair Erin bola

that making industry connections is the most important benefit of the Career Fair. “I think that what students really miss is that this is a huge networking event,” Obermeyer said. “If you build that relationship with employers early, it is a great conversation starter and you’re setting yourself up for success when you do that.” The Spring Career Fair will take place on Thursday, Feb. 15. University Career Services will also hold a series of workshops, such as the Law School Insider on Oct. 2, to inform students of their options for life after college.

Co-Social Media Manager More than 100 companies attended University Career Services’ annual Fall Career and Internship Fair in Taffner Field House on Thursday, Sept. 28. St. John’s students were able to speak with the wide array of companies about internships as well as full-time positions upon graduation. The fair is an opportunity for students to network with potential employers and make connections that could lead to professional opportunities in the future, whether it be next semester or after they have finished their studies at St. John’s. Companies at the Career Fair represented a multitude of different industries and included organizations such as CBS News, New York Life Insurance and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Recruiters from several branches of the military also spoke with students about service and enlistment. Representatives from St. John’s Graduate Admissions were on hand to promote the many different graduate programs the university has to offer once students have completed their Bachelor’s degree. Additionally, professional photographers were available to help students take free headshots for their LinkedIn profiles.


The annual Career Fair give students the chance to talk to possible future employers.

The Career Fair has proven to be a successful platform for students to begin their careers, according to some students. Addie Ancona, a recruiter for Discovery Communications, is a St. John’s alumna who landed an internship at the Career Fair while she was a student. Her internship eventually led to a fulltime position with Discovery, she said. At the fair, Ancona emphasized the importance of showing employers that you are dedicated to finding an internship. “Make yourself as visible as possible. Showing up to the Career Fair shows us that you are a proactive student,

and that is the kind of stuff that we like to see,” she said. University Career Services urged students to increase their networking opportunities by displaying their new partnership with Handshake. This website allows St. John’s students to connect with potential employers and find internships as well as part-time and full-time job opportunities targeted towards their specific majors and goals. Even if students walk away without any job offers, Career Peer and president of Student Government Inc. Frank Obermeyer insisted

Silencing the Past: Volume of the Present JILLIAN ORTIZ

Contributing Writer Last Thursday’s “Silencing the Past: A Discussion on Confederate Statues, Race, and Historical Memory” event, which took place in St. John’s Hall, was centered on U.S. history in light of the recent events in Charlottesville. The discussion, held by Assistant Professor Robert Bland and Professor Lara Vapnek of the History department was initially supposed to be held in Room 247 in St. John Hall; however, an overwhelming amount of student attendees quickly filled the room and the location of the discussion was moved to a much larger classroom.

Even after the relocation, every seat in the classroom was occupied and some individuals had to line up along the back wall in order to participate in the discussion. The discussion, which lasted approximately one hour and 15 minutes, consisted of presentations created by the professors, and intermittent question and answer sessions with the audience. Rather than the forum being a direct conversation between a student and professor, students were encouraged to interact with one another and to further develop each other’s opinions. The topic of conversation was generated by the question, “[Why] are the monuments an issue now?” This question opened the floor to discus-


Professors Bland and Vapnek allowed students to speak up during the discussion.

sion; some students noted that since the issue is now gaining recognition, “it is an issue that cannot be silenced,” and thus it speaks volumes in the present. “It made you think a lot more… In the media we’re not provided with everything that we’re provided here,” first-year student Jillian Spreckels said. Many students said they did not feel the need to censor themselves or call themselves victims of censorship. The circulation of propaganda as well as censorship were prominent issues throughout the Civil War era, and this was also addressed during the discussion. “I was born and raised [for the most part] in Virginia, which was a border state during this time,” freshman Abby Turese said. “It was cool to hear other people’s opinions about [the subject].” Students raised other points, such as relocation and potential demolition of the statues and how conversation should be generated outside of the classroom. The students’ strong feelings about the subject matter was obvious. Many vocalized that some course of action needs to be taken to rectify the issues at hand. “I’m from Virginia— Charlottesville is on my mind. I thought it would be a good idea to have this discussion on campus,” Bland said. Although the discussion was held to serve more of an educational purpose, Bland stated that he would not be averse to students taking action. The students in attendance agreed that before any action is performed, there needs to be a forum to discuss the subject and this event proved that the conversation has already begun here at St. John’s.

R.I.S.E.’S Fall Mixer Open to All

Bre’anna grant

Staff Writer

Nearly 100 students, professors and faculty gathered in the D’Angelo Center for the annual R.I.S.E. Mixer on Thursday, Sept. 28. They had the opportunity to network with other R.I.S.E. mentees, mentors, faculty and administrators in different departments. The R.I.S.E. Network which stands for “Reach, Inspire, Succeed, Empower” is a scholar’s empowerment network that provides Black and Latino freshman students with skill-based development, support and opportunities to enhance their overall academic career at St. John’s University. The goal of the program is to retain Black and Latino students all four years of undergraduate study at St. John’s. “It’s important for students to connect with one another and faculty to be able to get to know each other. I believe in the power of mentoring and the opportunities to impact lives through mentoring,” Sharod Tomlinson, Director of Student Development and R.I.S.E. Mentoring, said. “The energy of others is so rich and the wealth of knowledge people have make this program a great opportunity for students focusing on succeeding academically and socially.” Leonard Breton, Associate Director of Student Development and R.I.S.E. Mentoring, spoke on the fact that R.I.S.E. is not meant to be geared towards only Black and Latino students. “R.I.S.E. isn’t exclusive -that’s not the purpose of what we do,” Breton said. “If you look at the statistics, Black and Latino students are the most at risk out of all demographics for not completing college. St. John’s is trying to be proactive and target that population to increase retention rates in that demographic.” R.I.S.E. is open to everyone and is a place for all students, according to Breton. Mentors learn the basics of mentoring and how to be effective leaders not only in the St. John’s community, but also in the real world. “I signed up for R.I.S.E. because I feel that it will provide me with great opportunities to network with other students,” Jasmine Batacon, a freshman, said. “Also, I want to grow not only as a person and a student, but learn a lot from my mentor.”





Students and Expert Talk Concert Safety in NYC isabella bruni

Co-News Editor

Some St. John’s students have expressed fear in the wake of Sunday’s shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. When junior Katie Bagarella heard the news of the Las Vegas shooting, she said she started to cry. “After seeing the videos and pictures people had posted from the shooting, it gave me chills,” she said. “It made me try to put myself in the these people’s shoes, or their families’ shoes, and I cannot even imagine what they went through.” On the night of Sunday, Oct. 1., Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nev. unleashed a rapid-fire barrage of bullets from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel into a crowd of more than 22,000 people, killing 59 and injuring more than 500 concert goers, according to police. NBC News stated that the shooting is not believed to be connected to international terrorism. Festival headliner Jason Aldean was in the middle of performing his set when shots were fired, leading to a chaotic, bloody scene that lasted up to 10 minutes. President Donald Trump called the shooting “an act of pure evil” and Assistant Clark County Sheriff Todd Fasulo told reporters that Paddock was “solely responsible for this heinous act.” New York City is a worldwide hub for entertainment and nightlife, and many St. John’s students attend concerts, music festivals or clubs on a weekly basis. Senior Julia Bennefeld believes the concern for safety is real, and will be for a long time.


“In my last two years of college I’ve been traveling to other states more, going to concerts in Jersey and football games in Texas because I’m young and it’s fun to be in my twenties and be adventurous,” she said. “The Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas is something any of my friends and I could have decided to attend on a whim. I see people from my high school and family friends who were there and it all becomes much more real.” St. John’s Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies and Homeland Security Richard Frankel, J.D. advised students to always be aware of their surroundings at large gatherings. “When you go to a concert or sporting event, just make sure that you know where the closest exit is,” Frankel said. “See what the easiest exit route is, in a sense it may not be the one that’s closest to you. It may be the one that is farther away and has less people in the way. “It’s going to be a mad dash for the door. And you may not be the first one there, but just keep calm and go for the exits.” However Frankel, who is also a Law Enforcement Contributor/Commentator for ABC News, said these events should not keep students from attending concerts. “You know I have kids college-aged, I can’t stop them from going to concerts or anything like that,” he said. “I just want them to be safe.” Bennefeld said her feelings of safety have changed because of recent tragedies. “I go to multiple concerts, big and small, every year,” she said. “Going to concerts, my parents always said ‘have fun & be safe’ but I always kind of brushed it off. Then the attack at the Ariana Grande concert happened and it was a big deal. I thought that was too far from home for me to be concerned and nothing like that could possibly happen at an event I’d go

to. This incident in Las Vegas hit much closer to home.” In recent months a pattern has formed in that music festivals, concerts and clubs are targeted for acts of terror and violence. On May 22, Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman Tour” concert in Manchester, England left 23 people dead and more than 250 injured following an ISIS-claimed bomb explosion outside of the Manchester Arena. On June 12, 2016, just a year before, a gunman opened fire at Pulse Nightclub, an LGBTQ community spot, in Orlando, Fla. in which 49 were killed and 58 wounded. It was later released that the shooter claimed allegiance to ISIS, according to CNN. Before the Las Vegas shooting on Sunday, this was deemed the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in American history. Junior Emily Tramontana attended the Meadows Music and Arts Festival at Citi Field last month and admitted she worries about her safety when going to music festivals. “Even with the increased security at recent festivals and events, there is still a part of me that is nervous. Even though these devastating incidents have been occurring, I will not allow them to prevent me from going to events like these,” she said. Bagarella went to the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park last week and agreed with Tramontana in that the worry for her safety is always in the back of her head. “It was the same thing when I studied abroad in the spring, so many tragic attacks occurred while I was there and sure I always had the worry in the back of my head but at the end of the day you can’t live your life in fear all the time,” Bagarella said.

SJU President’s Response St. John’s President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw highlighted ways people can help in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting tragedy in a statement emailed to the university community on Tuesday. “During these challenging times, it is understandable that one would feel both anxious and helpless. However, as a Catholic and Vincentian University, we fully embrace the call to help those most in need at all times,” Gempesaw said. Gempesaw invited students to support the National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) whose mission is to “respond to disasters such as floods, wildfires, tornadoes and other events throughout the United States. The DSC trains Regional Response Teams as well as individual Vincentians throughout the country to compassionately serve victims of disasters” as well as to donate blood at the school’s next blood drive to show the University’s solidarity with Las Vegas. Gempesaw also mentioned the National Compassion Fund, which helps the victims’ families and the injured in Las Vegas. The fund has previously partnered up with the relatives of victims of disasters like 9/11 and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. “If you or someone you care about is experiencing distress related to recent events, or if these events have triggered memories of past difficult experiences, please contact the Center for Counseling and Consultation. For additional support resources and materials, please visit stjohns.edu/ sjuresponds. Additionally, Campus Ministry is another strong source of support for community members,” Gempesaw said.

4 News


Partnership Provides Aid for DACA Renewals ariana ortiz

Co-News Editor Two DACA application renewal clinics were held this past weekend, and were open to all in the NYC area affected by its repeal. On Saturday, Sept. 28, a legal clinic took place at Catholic Charities Immigration Services in Lower Manhattan. Another was held at the IRC Conference Room at the Flushing Library on Sunday by The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY), the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ), the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF),the New York Coalition for Asian American Mental Health (NYCAAMH), and the Chinese American Family Alliance for Mental Health (CAFAMH). Rosa Yen, Director of Multicultural Affairs, sent out an email on Monday, Sept. 25 alerting St. John’s students of the Sept. 30 consultation in Lower Manhattan. The email included a reminder of the Friday, Oct. 5 DACA renewal deadline and instructed students to secure their appointments by calling Catholic Charities by Thursday, Sept. 28. Yen’s email did not mention the Flushing Library legal clinic--which also billed itself as a “mental health clinic”--although

an announcement on MYSJU was added to further notify students of both resources. The free consultations in Lower Manhattan were the result of a collaboration between the University and Catholic Charities, while the latter legal clinic at Flushing Library was added as a potential resource for students. “I did receive concerns from students who also shared their state of emotion, from being frustrated and sad to feeling anxious, scared and angry, not just themselves but also their family and friends,” Yen said in an email. She added that the information in the email that she sent notifying students of the clinic came from Vice President of Student Affairs Kathryn Hutchinson. Hutchinson, who is also the co-chair of the President’s Multicultural Advisory Committee, said she has been collaborating with the University’s Law School to find qualified legal resources for students in need of support to renew their DACA applications. “One of our adjunct law professors, Mario Russell, is the director of immigrant and refugee services and has been very helpful to our students in the past, so we reached out to him again. He was able to help secure this opportunity,” Hutchinson said, adding that Russell and members of his team were on campus last year to educate the St.


Co-News Editor SGI gathered on Monday, Sept. 25 to discuss issues such as new initiatives, the introduction of the Sustainability Committee, and a meeting with Dining Services. The meeting began with a presentation by special guest President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, who discussed his “four strategic priorities” in leading the University: Ensure Student Success, Recruit Outstanding Faculty and Staff Enhance Learning Environment, Expand Partnerships. Gempesaw discussed how these will continue to shape his efforts to improve St. John’s. This was followed by a presentation on Robert’s Rules of Order by Josh Rich of the University’s Conduct Board, a procedure of conducting meetings that president of SGI Frank Obermeyer previously mentioned would be implemented in the first SGI meeting of the semester. Obermeyer then spoke about a new initiative called The Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program, which entails creating a task force to “promote emotional health, preventing suicide and substance abuse.” Obermeyer then invited interested SGI to join the task force. According to its official website, the program was created in 2014 and “is designed to help colleges and universities...improve mental health programming, reduce substance abuse, and prevent suicide among 18-to-26 yearolds.” Vice President of SGI William Pugh then introduced ILead, an upcoming workshop on Oct. 12 geared toward student leaders on campus. Pugh said its purpose is to “meet with Organization leaders and talk about how we can help them.”

Junior Senator Atem Tazi said that she and Obermeyer recently met with the University’s Chief Diversity Officer Nada Llewellyn, and had a conversation about campus-wide diversity concerns and microaggressions. “We want to host a diversity inclusion training session as an organization congress date for students to come and learn about this.” Tazi said. “[Llewellyn] would host an active session similar to those done by Jane Elliot who she used to work under.” The Budget Committee Report consisted of an allocation request of $1,150 by the African Students Association for their “Rep Ya Flag BBQ” which took place on Sept. 25; the allocation was then voted on and passed. Expenses included those for food and a DJ. Alexander Cheung of the Research and Development Committee said the committee would be meeting with Dining Services on Sept. 27. He said the discussion would include proposed initiatives such as “satisfaction button” data, students being able to pre-order food from their phones, and a sustainability survey. Christian Mercado of the Student Services Committee added that the discussion would also concern a new mac and cheese bar, Za’atar in Marillac Food Court and Green Street Grill in DAC. The Sustainability Committee, a new addition to SGI headed by Carissa Herb, then made its introduction. “The Sustainability Committee targets to strengthen on campus environmental actions through student government, departments, and recognized campus organizations.” Herb said. “This committee makes sure to represent students’ desires to have more environmentally focused projects and options here at St. John’s.”

John’s community about potential changes in DACA and provide guidance on how students could adequately prepare. Hutchinson said that the members of Catholic Charities Immigrant and Refugee Services are “experts in immigration law and provide guidance to individuals on filing the proper documentation” and would “help those with complex cases determine the best course of action.” Social Justice Exchange (SJE), a grassroots organization that seeks to provide a platform for student growth, education and civic engagement, said in a statement to the Torch that its members are “glad that the university is taking necessary steps in helping undocumented students.” SJE added that they believe “the University’s efforts are showing the campus community that not only are undocumented students welcome here but that their right to stay will be protected.” “We know that there is a DACA for Dummies meeting coming up, and we believe that this is a great next step in continuing to educate the campus-wide community about DACA and why it is so important in the lives of people who came to this country as kids and have no recollection of any other home but this one. Lastly, we want to say to any

undocumented students on this campus that we see you, we support you, and we will continue to fight for you.” However, Melissa Lozano, treasurer of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), criticized the University for sending the legal clinic information to students so close to the renewal deadline. “Even while taking a clear stance against the repeal, the university’s first message fell short because it did not offer direct methods of support and resources for students who could be affected,” Lozano said. “The fact the university has yet to offer sanctuary shows a lack of commitment. The fact they offered legal clinics and consultations, but with little promotion and only days before renewals were due, shows a lack of commitment. With such a time-sensitive crisis, the university definitely should have acted with more urgency.” Hutchinson said that in terms of any other resources pertaining to the DACA repeal that the University plans on providing, the “critical time for action is now” in light of the DACA renewal deadline. The DACA for Dummies event, described as an educational discussion on what DACA is and its impact, takes place Oct. 16 at D’Angelo Center room 312 at 1:50 p.m.




Visa CHANGES Lead to dtw SWAP



Instead of Seville, Spain, students participating in the Discover the World study abroad program at St. John’s will be visiting a new destination this spring: Limerick, Ireland. The Office of Global Studies says the change is in response to complications regarding obtaining visas for multi-site programs. “The configuration for Discover the World: Europe (DTW) will adapt in the spring 2018 semester in response to recent changes in the way consulates in New York City representing Italy, France and Spain issue visas for multi-site programs,” Matthew G. Pucciarelli, associate provost for the Office of Global Programs, said in an emailed statement to the Torch. Pucciarelli told the Torch that Ireland is not subject to the new restrictions that Spain is, hence the change in location. The policy in question is related to Schengen visas, according to St. John’s Office of Media Relations. Schengen visas can be used for travel in 26 countries throughout Europe known as the “Schengen Area,” including Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Switzerland. Over a 180-day span, visitors traveling on a Schengen visa can only spend 90 days in Schengen-area countries, according to the Schengen visa information site. Traditionally, Discover the World gives students the opportunity to spend five weeks of study at three different locations: Seville, Spain, Rome, Italy, and Paris, France, for a total of 15 weeks. Now, students will study at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) in Ireland, rather than

the campus in Spain. “All the hallmarks of the Discover the World: Europe program will be maintained, with the added advantages of a close affiliation with a local university in an English-speaking country,” University Provost Robert Mangione, Ed.D, said last week in an university-wide internal communication announcing the change. University President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., echoed Mangione’s words in a statement issued by the Office of Media Relations. “St. John’s University’s Discover the World: Europe program and our new strategic partnership with Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland will open many new exciting opportunities for students of both institutions to live and learn together,” he said. While University leadership expressed optimism regarding the location change, the decision has been met with a mixed response from both students who plan to go abroad in the future and students who are already participating in the program. “I think the change is really unfortunate,” said junior Anisa St. Cyr, who’s currently wrapping up her five-week rotation in Seville. “It’s a beautiful city, the hostel location is close to multiple bus stops, cheap & good food, convenience stores & a doctor’s office-all the essentials.” St. Cyr told the Torch that she feels lucky to have made it to Seville before the change went into place, adding that she’s spoken to students from another university in the Boston area studying in Seville for the semester who also referenced visa restrictions. According to her, the students said their program was planned for 89 days to meet the 90-day rule.

“So I think St. John’s was looking for a way to stop having this problem,” she said, “But I think Spain should be fought for. It is so so worth it.” St. John’s has campuses in Rome and Paris, and those spots remain part of the program. According to the “Apply for a Visa” page on SJU’s website, U.S. citizens studying abroad through the Discover the World program do not need to obtain visas as long as the students haven’t traveled in the regions covered by the Schengen territory for 90 days before the semester abroad begins. However, most students who are not U.S. citizens need to obtain both French and Irish visas to study abroad through the DTW program. Sophomore Miranda Escobar, who’s going abroad in the spring, said she’s disappointed by the change because she’s wanted to study abroad in Spain for years. “It was really annoying to find out so last minute and realize it wasn’t even an option for me anymore,” she told the Torch. Escobar believes the school should have given students more advanced warning so that they could have made arrangements to study abroad in the fall while Spain was still an option. Nevertheless, she said she’s still excited to go to Ireland, and will be visiting family in Madrid when she has time. And she isn’t alone. Several students who spoke to the Torch said they’re happy about the change. “I honestly was so excited about the change I was shaking when I found out,” said sophomore Meghan Ames. She’s going abroad next semester, and told the Torch that she feels “blessed” to have the opportunity, adding that studying in Ireland has been a dream of hers.

In a news release regarding the change, SJU noted that Limerick is the third-largest city in Ireland. Students participating in the program will live at a hotel in the center of the city that’s about a 15 to 20-minute walk to the campus. It’s also the first time the DTW program has collaborated with another Catholic college. Sophomore Brandon Farrell, who’s also going abroad next semester, said he was looking forward to going to Spain, “but I think Ireland is going to be a nice change of pace because it seems more self contained than more global cities like Rome and Paris.” He added that his family is of Irish descent, so the trip feels “essential.” “I was excited for Seville, and now I’m even more excited for Ireland,” he said, adding that he believes “the core of the program remains intact and it’s going to be an amazing experience regardless.” Still, even those who are excited about the change said they understand why some might be upset. “I think it’s fair for them to feel misled,” Farrell said. “They were advertised something other than what they’re getting.” With the application deadline rapidly approaching, St. Cyr said she’s received messages from people planning to go abroad in the spring who she said are now “contemplating if they still want to do the program.” The priority application deadline for spring 2018 is Oct. 14, according to the St. John’s website. For students who are disappointed with the change, Ames said she hopes they can be open-minded. “I hope,” she said, “people who are disappointed about the change go into this with an open mind and see all of the plus sides.”

Students Discuss Mental Health at Roundtable YVES NGUYEN

Staff Writer

A student roundtable discussed the state of mental health care on campus at an event Thursday, Sept. 28 that was advertised as being hosted by Social Justice Exchange (SJE) with the NAACP, the Student Psychological Association and Active Minds. LJ Vogel, president of Social Justice Exchange, highlighted that “this event was created to address the lack of resources on and off campus for marginalized and minority students, cultural differences in mental healthcare and education, the lack of proper mental health education on campus and possibly implementing a ‘Buddy Project.’” They also noted that this rounded out SJE’s mental health awareness month. It was a small turnout, and no representatives from the NAACP were present; however an alumnus, Steve Alexander, who graduated in 2012 and continued on to study Psychological Counseling at Columbia, attended and provided a professional point of view.

Many ideas arose from the intimate roundtable. Vogel suggested sending home materials to parents as to lessen the “shame” many marginalized identity students often feel, and to provide a buddy system where peer intervention might be a good thing and take away that power dynamic between counselors and students. This resonated with freshman Journalism major, Garrett Downs. He said, “I didn’t want to feel crazy,” in relation to the stigma behind seeking mental healthcare. In terms of providing the point-of-view of people within St. John’s mental health care, two graduate assistants from Student Wellness came to give their own personal opinions on the state of St. John’s care. “We do have a very diverse counseling center,” Faith Doughty, graduate assistant in Student Wellness and Advisor for Active Minds, said. She noted that there were counselors of different races and genders when Vogel brought up that many students “say they don’t see people who look like them,” and “that’s stuff we should be able to fix.” Regardless of the small attendance, Kayla

LJ Vogel led the discussion at the Thursday roundtable.

Jones and Aileen Martinez, both sophomore psychology majors, felt positive about future developments in mental health care at St. John’s. Jones said that she felt “empowered,” and Martinez said, “We have to be aware of what the actual problem is, and they [the


roundtable] did a great job of pointing out ways SJU lacks in addressing mental illness and how to change that.” Vogel said that SJE “100 percent” wants to do more roundtables, so students and faculty can look out for them in the future.

6 Opinion


Flames of the Torch Transparency issues come up once again

Managing Board XCV



Suzanne Ciechalski, Editor-in-Chief Bryant Rodriguez, Managing Editor



Ariana Ortiz News Editor Isabella Bruni News Editor Derrell Bouknight Sports Editor Dylan Hornik Sports Editor Beverly Danquah Features Editor Michael Ambrosino Entertainment Editor Angelica Acevedo Opinion Editor

Steven Verdile Design Editor Lauren Finegan Photo Editor Courtney Dixon Chief Copy Editor Amanda Negretti Assistant Photo Editor Erin Bola Social Media Manager Angelica Acevedo Social Media Manager Jim Baumbach Adviser

sju torch productions

Staff and contributors Jillian Ortiz Bre’Anna Grant Yves Nguyen Darren Maraj Sean Okula Brendan Myers Gabriella Campos Chyna Davis

Andreina Rodriguez Nina Stefanelli Irene Sakalis Nia Douglas Madelyn Starks Alexis Gaskin Morgan Mullings Amber Borden

Nick Bello Shelly Warren Sieta Leon Tauhid Dewan Alexander Brewington Anastasia Marbuger

Editorial policy

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 news-

Opinions expressed in editorials, columns, letters or cartoons are not necessarily those of the student body faculty or administration of St. John’s University.

To contact the Torch by mail:

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paper of St. John’s University. The Torch is written, edited, designed and produced by students of the University.

All contents are the sole responsibility of the editors

Last week, the University announced a pretty big change in its popular Discover the World program, and we can’t help but feel some deja vu. Rather than studying in Seville, Spain, students will now spend five weeks in Limerick, Ireland while participating in the Discover the World program. This change will be implemented during the spring 2018 semester—and it was announced after students had begun sending in nonrefundable deposits for the program. To us, the move is reminiscent of the meal plan change last year that required townhouse students to purchase meal plans when they weren’t previously required to. That change was also announced after the University began accepting housing deposits for the 2017-18 school year. Both are examples in which students were made aware of substantial changes too late in the process. That’s a problem. While we know that policy or program changes take time, we believe any major changes should be announced before students begin committing to them—especially when it involves mak-

Vincentian View: Being Good FR. PATRICK GRIFFIN, C.M. Special to the Torch

and the editorial board and do not necessarily represent the views of the administration, faculty or students of St. John’s University unless specifically stated.

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

ing nonrefundable deposits For Discover the World, the deposit is $250, which may not seem like a lot of money to some, but can be a significant amount for others. But this is about more than money. It’s the principle of the matter. Events like these lead students to have less trust in the transparency of the University’s decision-making process, and that isn’t good for anybody. Aside from the deposit issue, we still believe there are unanswered questions when it comes to the Discover the World change. One such issue that still remains unclear to us is what specifically changed in the issuing of the Schengen visa that precipitated this change. We reported on what we knew, and clarified what we could for students. But the visa issue at hand is still unclear, and we wish the University had provided more answers for students in its initial email announcing the change. Going forward, we hope the University will be more transparent with students when it comes to major changes in its programs and policies—especially when the changes directly affect students’ pockets.

“Patrick, be good!” That is advice that I heard regularly as I was growing up. I still hear it in my heart. My mother would remind me of my responsibility to be good. It meant all kinds of different things in various situations. When I was going to school, it meant to study and listen to my teacher. When I was playing with my friends, it meant to not fight and to share. When I was going to visit a relative, it meant to say “please” and “thank you.” When I was going to church, it meant to be silent and talk to God without fidgeting. Yes, I was encouraged to “be good” and sometimes it meant to be holy and sometimes it meant to be fair, but it always meant something. This put demands upon me, and demands that made me a better person. It is a phrase which still has real meaning for me, and not just the meaning which a child gives to it. I have gotten into a habit of telling people to be good–and sometimes I do it without even thinking. But if I thought about it, I would still say it and intend it as encouragement. Last week was Founder’s Week here at St. John’s. If you had the opportunity to participate in any parts of it, you would know that we brought many good people to campus. We wanted to highlight the virtues and values of St. Vincent de Paul and the ways in which they become evident in our world. We welcomed Kitty Prager from St. John’s Preparatory to speak about the work of the

Ladies of Charity, one of the groups founded by St. Vincent de Paul. These good women—many of whom are members of our SJU community—carry out effective ministry for those in need with particular emphasis on women and children. For the Vincentian convocation, we invited four men and women—some of whom are SJU alumni—to honor them for the work which they have done for the “strangers” among us. Lori Pompa works with prisoners, Sr. Pat Griffith serves the homeless; Michele Pistone intercedes for immigrants and refugees and David Wood ministers to the sick on our streets. Our own Ching-Wen Rosa Yen was recognized for her attention to our international students in so many gentle and generous ways. When we listened to the stories of these ordinary people, we recognized the compassion and care which each of us can extend. None of them is wealthy or powerful, but each makes a difference with a dedication to everyday goodness. We also had others present on campus during Founder’s Week, some of whom were our own. All deepened our confidence and hope in human kindness. “Being good” may not always be easy, but it is not overly difficult either. It is learning to cooperate with God’s grace, to be open to God’s Spirit, to be willing to make the right choice. St. Vincent de Paul believed in the goodness of people, and that enabled him to carry out his mission with confidence and collaboration. He would recognize that trait in so many of us who make up the St. John’s community.


How Much Does Puerto Rico Matter to the United States? Staff Writer

The recent devastation caused by Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean, particularly in Puerto Rico, has raised some important questions on a national political scale in the American media. All of which seem to imply the ugly truth that Puerto Rico’s true struggle in the wake of the hurricane, is proving that they are American. N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo recently called for more aid to be sent to Puerto Rico, urging the country to treat the overseas American territories as they did Florida and Texas. “The message is simple, Puerto Rico needs help, it needs federal help, and it needs it now,” Cuomo said at a press conference last week. Similarly, President Trump has assured the public that he is aware of the desolation on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He stated that they are one of his priorities by announcing that he will travel to the countries to assess the damage. Although it seems like the current narrative being conveyed in the media is that Puerto Rico matters, the essential problem is that this had to be stated in the first place. Imagine if after Hurricane Harvey, cit-

izens of Houston had to remind everyone in their pleas and that they were American. That their right to receive aid from the U.S. Government was justified. Despite the fact that there was a clear need for coverage and relief efforts in both Texas and Florida, at the very least, those citizens were acknowledged as part of the United States of America.


Whose responsibility is it to ensure that they are given the resources necessary for restoration?

When countries (or territories) such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virign Islands are obliterated, their structures destroyed and their citizens left homeless and hungry; whose responsibility is it to ensure that they are given the resources necessary for restoration? These islands are not independent. They are autonomous, have their own

unique cultures and are in a separate geographic region from the U.S. mainland, but they are American citizens under the jurisdiction of the United States Government. Yet, the president and other legislators’ attitudes towards Puerto Rico almost appears as if Puerto Rico was appealing to the U.S. for help as an allied country and not one of their own. “We’re literally starting from scratch, President Trump noted in recent remarks. “Ultimately, the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort—will end up being one of the biggest ever—will be funded and organized, and what we will do with the tremendous amount of existing debt already on the island.” The President’s way of distinguishing between the government of Puerto Rico and the United States—when technically the Puerto Rican government is the U.S. government—effectively captures the sentiment that Puerto Rico is not the same as Florida or Texas. Consequently, one can’t help but wonder what this means for the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans that are in need, when they are clearly cast aside as the “other” and are citizens of a country who needs to be reminded of their existence in their nation.

Learn To Look Out For Your Friends Contributing Writer

Over the last week, the eerie and tragic death of 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins, in Rosemont, Ill., has occupied my thoughts and so many more on Twitter and in the daily news. Jenkins had attended a party with a set of school friends, in a room of the Rosemont Crowne Plaza, where later that night she was reported missing by those same friends. 24 hours later, Jenkins was found dead in an industrial freezer. Now, there are many theories circulating about what happened to Jenkins. Some have questioned her friends’ potential role, however, Rosemont Police Department released footage of Jenkins staggering around the hotel. They concluded, based on video evidence, that Jenkins had strayed away from her friends and uninentionally locked herself in the industrial freezer, due to her intense levels of intoxication. Regardless of my own opinions and conspiracies about how Jenkins ended up in that freezer, I believe that this story gives an important life lesson on looking out for your friends and checking up on them when you do go out to a party or when they are intoxicated. In my group of friends, I am always considered the “mom” of the group, because I always make sure I know where everyone is, what they are doing and who they are with when we do leave campus. Even when they are out without me, I ask them to share their location and send me a text when they reach their destination, for peace of mind.

Coming into my freshman year at St. John’s, AlcoholEdu and Haven also gave me some really great tips on how I could not only watch out for my friends but also watch out for myself. It may seem like a lot, but just knowing that everyone is safe and sound gives me so much satisfaction and soothes my conscious. I remember one night when my friend was intoxicated and wanted to go meet up with a guy. I knew where this could lead her and I strongly advised her not to go. First, she wasn’t in any state of mind to make any sound decisions or give consent and any guy, who willingly knows this and still pushes to meet up, is dangerous. This situation has made me conscious to check up on not just my friends, but also other females (and yes, even males), who

TORCH ILLUSTRATION/ Annastasia R. Marburger

Madelyn Starks

seem uncomfortable or are putting themselves in dangerous situations when I am out or off campus. However, in being the “mom,” I also have learned to ensure my own safety. Your life should never be threatened because of someone else’s stupidity; make sure your own friends aren’t taking advantage of your kindness. It may seem like a burden now, but your friends have futures, parents, siblings and other family members who love them and who probably gave everything for them to be at this university. Plus, you never know when you’re going to need good karma from a messy night. Regardless of the situation and how annoyed you may be in the moment, it’s better for everyone to come home safe than not come back home at all.

Opinion 7

Here’s To the Ones Who Dream STEVEN VERDILE Design Editor

In the Oscar-winning film La La Land (2016), Emma Stone captures the audience in her final audition, commending struggling actors as she sings, “Here’s to the fools who dream / Crazy as they may seem.” This romanticized message is consistently seen across pop culture, but on the grounds of a college campus, you only hear its antithesis. College comes with a hefty tuition bill, but too often a degree is seen as a financial investment. While education may lead to jobs with high-salaries, the actual purpose of higher education is to allow people to explore and to learn. If your career-path ends in a difficult job market, such as theater or art or philosophy, it does not mean your education was less valuable. Nor does it mean that your money has been wasted. To all of the parents out there that want their kid to major in engineering or premed, I get it. It’s a tough blow to find out your child is passing up on the lucrative STEM fields and accruing debt to become an English major—but that is their choice and you should be proud to support them. They are fully aware of the obstacles ahead of them, but they’re still ambitious enough to pursue their passion. I find that far more admirable than choosing an undesired path that ends in a guaranteed and unsatisfying job, regardless of how many zeros could be printed on their future paychecks. If you’re a student considering a new major, and you want to go after that uphill dream, do it! I’m not suggesting that you immediately stop, drop and roll to Hollywood, but every job field has openings and there’s no shame in rolling the dice. Regardless of what other people may think, those dice are yours to roll. I don’t want to contradict myself and be a buzz kill, but please do not throw those dice haphazardly. Chasing your dream can take a lot of money, time, and energy and it is important that you acknowledge that. It is your responsibility to research the best way to achieve your goals, and to take the steps that will get you closer to them. It is also your responsibility to accept the possibilities and to have a plan for the worstcase scenarios. If you’ve thought it all out and you still have the spirit to go be a crazy fool who dreams, I applaud you and I encourage you to go after them. I hope your classmates, family and friends do too.

8 Opinion


Taking a Knee During the National Anthem Kneeling in the Right Direction Janan Razzaq-Premdas

Contributing Writer

Recently, President Donald Trump has directed his attention to NFL players who kneel during the national anthem. He said that if the NFL keeps allowing players to protest, the league’s business is “going to hell.” I believe these players have absolutely every right to protest and their reasons are solid for doing so. I think the misconception over the protest is that these players are protesting the anthem. However, the anthem is not at the center of the protests; the social injustice is. Black people have been mistreated for as long as this country has existed and if kneeling during the anthem will draw attention towards the everyday occurrences in America, then why not? These players have not turned to violent means to express themselves. Instead, they used the platform made available to them to raise awareness. They are well within their rights, therefore the President has no authority to tell them that they cannot kneel. In fact, I believe the subject in general is irrelevant to Trump and see it all as a diversion from the current issues, such as natural disasters and threats from North Korea.

Shabib Afzal

Contributing Writer Ever since Donald Trump has been elected, it is seemingly impossible for almost anything to not become politicized, regardless of what that thing is. Sports are no exception to this. While the national anthem protests started with Colin Kaepernick while president Obama was in office, these protests have become even more prevalent. The topic itself is discussed within the media to the point of absurdity. Personally, I do not agree with kneeling during the national anthem. I feel as if the gesture is disrespectful and while it may start a discussion on topics, such as police brutality, I do not view this as the best way to bring awareness to said cause. That being said, I do not view these protests as anti-American. One could even argue that these players are being patriotic in practicing their First Amendment rights. My biggest gripe with these protests has nothing to do with the protests themselves, but rather the outrage that these protests have caused. Trump going on twitter to state that

NFL players should be fired for practicing their constitutional rights is insane and worrisome. Some are even upset at teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers for not being outside during the anthem. This is despite the fact that their head coach stated that their reason for doing this was because they wanted to remove themselves from the situation, which, in itself, is now seen as a political statement. Something I’ve observed from this situation are the similarities in the outrage that some people have shown. While many—mostly those against the protests—have called for boycotting the NFL, rapper and St. John’s alum J. Cole ranted on Twitter about his dissatisfactions with the NFL and called for the same thing because of their treatment of Kaepernick. Do I think boycotting the NFL, regardless of why, is going to be effective? Absolutely not. Nor am I stating I think these protests should continue or not. I just wonder if the reaction that they have caused is furthering their cause, or polarizing us so much so that it almost seems comical. PHOTO COURTESY/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS Keith Allison

Instead of bashing on these players who are trying to reform some of the major issues in this country, why not make efforts to show them and others that they are being heard? These players respect this country and protest because they see the potential for change. In addition, I feel that Kaepernick shouldn’t face the consequences of his efforts to protest. His intention was never to come off as unpatriotic. Rather, it was to show his disdain for the reaction to Black people. While he is recognized as the “face” of the protest in the NFL, there are several other players who have done it for years. Malcolm Jenkins of the Eagles has opted out of the anthem for years but no one has noticed. Kaepernick had every right to kneel in a stadium where people could see that he was consciously taking a stance. Overall, I think more people should support these players. Black people are not the only group to experience social injustice in this country. Women, the LGBTQ community and Muslim-Americans should start kneeling in support of these players. There is strength in numbers and I would be absolutely honored to kneel alongside any of these athletes, in order to get the ball rolling on the path to reform.

It’s Disrespecting Our Anthem

Why Immigrants Do Not Have to Be Justified Co-News Editor Sept. 15th marks the beginning of “National Hispanic Heritage Month”— also known as “Latino Heritage Month.” Per its governmental website, this month-long celebration honors the “generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.” It is important for us to celebrate ethnic and racial minority groups, whose innumerable accomplishments are often excluded from textbooks and otherwise erased. However, when we speak of and praise these groups, our arguments for their worth seem rooted in exhaustively listing their accomplishments and contributions. “Don’t hate them,” we plead desperately with people whose ideologies center on a border wall. “They contribute to this country!” And contribute they do. But largely due to the American obsession with productivity and the “bootstraps” narrative, it seems that here, an immigrant of color’s existence can only be justified by their wealth or intelligence or work ethic, or whatev-

er arbitrary requirement we’re now imposing. President Trump declared this past August that he would like to implement a “merit-based system” of immigration, and introduced the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, according to the Washington Post.


We are forgetting the most important reason we should all be pro-immigration: humanity.

According to a Time magazine article, the act “favors people between the ages of 26 and 30 with a doctorate, high English proficiency and a job offer with a high salary.” An attached quiz informs you if you would qualify for immigration to Trump’s America using criteria such as English fluen-

cy, ownership of an Olympic medal or Nobel Prize, and highest level of education. (For the record, I only received a score of 24 out of the required 30.) I have witnessed allies—some of whom proudly call themselves pro-immigrant, anti-racist activists—try and defend Latino immigrants’ presence in this country in this same “merit-based” manner. We are forgetting the most important reason we should all be pro-immigration: humanity. Latinos are not valuable because many of them pick the food we serve to our families (and are woefully underpaid in doing so), or their income tax, or because some of them are CEOS or great filmmakers or saved an old lady’s cat from a tree once— they are valuable because every human life is valuable. I urge everyone of every political tendency to remember this. Latino Heritage Month should not be a month-long justification for why immigrants of color should be allowed to exist here. Rather, it should further signify a commitment to welcome and celebrate their presence and to see them not as strangers, but as our brothers and sisters—especially during a time in which so much is uncertain.

Opinion 9


Don’t Let Fear Limit Your Travels

To live and travel without fear is to remove power from the hands of those who seek to terrorize us IRENE SAKALIS

Staff Writer

Nearly 40 percent of St. John’s University undergraduates study abroad during their time here through a variety of programs SJU offers. Although European vacations have long been among the most coveted and romanticized, there have been concerns about violent attacks in countries including both Spain and France—the former included in St. John’s Global Passport program. Since 2014, there has been an increase in violent attacks across Europe, and recent incidents resonate with students. On September 17, 2017, four American college students were splashed with hydrochloric acid in a Marseilles train station in the south of France. The attacker was deemed mentally unstable and authorities lack proper evidence suggesting that it was terrorism. Terrorist attack or not, people have reacted.The amount of terrorist and non-terrorist violence occurring in Europe at present has alarmed both travelers and students alike. The students could have been any of us, we think. But it’s not that simple. We have a few factors to consider before deciding not to study abroad due to such incidents. First, we attend school in New York City. Crimes occur daily and while it is among the

safest urban areas in the United States, we are never completely safe at home. For example, in 2015, a man wielded a hammer at four women on the streets of Manhattan. Despite horrific episodes like these, we continue to walk in public because it is necessary. Second, the world we live in is unique to all of documented human history. The human mind is not made to process as much suffering as we are exposed to daily, or hourly, through our ever-vigilant media. We are provided with 24/7 coverage of events ranging from Hurricane Maria’s destruction of homes in Puerto Rico to the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar and finally, to these brutal attacks occurring worldwide. We are all perpetually stressed because we, as a global society, are constantly being made

cognizant of every possible thing that could go awry. The fear is a natural reaction that hinders us in our daily lives. It’s important to take a step back and realize that we are now witnessing sparse events that occur in a community of nine million people. The last factor to consider is that we, as humans, believe we exercise some form of control over our circumstances, when in reality we know nothing and control very little. Deciding not to study abroad is not going to guarantee anyone a long and healthy life that is free from harm. Every day, people fall down the stairs, crash their cars, and are diagnosed with lethal diseases.

One of the worst tragedies in American history was imposed on people who were just arriving at work. To some, the attacks are justification not to travel to Europe. To me, that indicates that the attackers were successful in their goals—terrorizing people. Beyond inflicting pain on individuals within their immediate scope, terrorists seek to intimidate people worldwide. In essence, life is random and we might as well have adventures while we can. Life is short, and by deliberately missing chances, we may find that we have ultimately lost. To live and travel without fear is to remove power from the hands of those who seek to terrorize us.

TORCH ILLUSTRATION/Alexander D. Brewington


10 Features




Anonymous Twitter Account Becomes the Talk of the Campus


Co-News Editor

They call themselves a “legitimate news source” that works to “bring you the best of the best, from the worst of the worst.” If that phrase sounds familiar, you may be among the students keeping up with one of St. John’s most talked about Twitter accounts: Overheard at SJU (@overheardat_sju). The students who run the Overheard at SJU account say they tweet snippets of actual conversations overheard on campus and includes an on-campus location so followers can picture exactly how a conversation played out. Students can direct message submissions they find funny, ridiculous or shocking, and the account might tweet them out. The account is not affiliated with the university. The founders, who asked to remain anonymous, said they can’t post every submission they receive because they get so many in a day. The day of they spoke to the Torch, they received five submissions, which one founder said was just mildly representative of what they could receive in a day. The Twitter account is known among students as “Overheard” and has 1,233 followers as of Oct. 3— which isn’t too shabby for an account that has yet to turn 1-year-old. According to one of the account’s founders, Overheard was born on Halloween of 2016 at a table in the D’Angelo Center by a group of friends. “Someone mentioned, wouldn’t it be weird if somebody else overheard us talking?” one of the founders said. “It started from a place of total egocentric nonsense where we were like, everyone should hear what we’re saying,” another founder added. “And then we’re thinking wait we’re not special, everyone feels that

way so it was almost like everyone should hear what everyone is talking about all thetime.” Some of their favorite tweets, which they admitted were difficult to choose, included one about St. John’s student newspaper, the Torch. “[Winter Carnival] ‘THE MEDIA IS CORRUPT’ ‘...the torch is corrupt?” as well as one that is pretty timely, “[the spirit rock] ‘i don’t get it.’” The brackets in the tweet show the location of where the conversation was overheard. However the tweet that is pinned on their account is what they believe to be epitome of St. John’s: “[168th St] circa 3:45 AM ‘Are you okay man?’ *moans incomprehensibly* ‘We need to get to Double J’s fast.’” “It’s hysterical, I laugh every time and think about someone saying those things in front of specific buildings,” said senior Natalie Chacon, who is not involved with the account but follows it on Twitter. But there are potential pitfalls to anonymously tweeting others’ conversations. Adjunct Assistant Professor of Media Ethics Martin McGloin read through the tweets at the request of The Torch and said his main concern surrounds its anonymity. “Being anonymous people can say anything and can defame someone,” McGloin said. “The fact that the person is not mentioning the source, which may be harmless in some respects, is also a concern.” McGloin also emphasized the need to fact check anything you publish. “You don’t have proof these are actual quotes from someone,” he said. “Ethically, there is no fact checking. It could be made up.” He said one could argue that a private conversation could be said in a public space, then blurring the lines of what should and should not be said based on location. Sophomore Kelsie Jenkins-Johnston, a follower of the account, said she isn’t both-

ered by that criticism. “I think it’s cool that it’s becoming more popular, it’s funny so I don’t see why not,” she said. Overheard’s quick rise to popularity surprised the founders because, as they said, it all started from a group of friends messing around on Halloween. “We expected max 20 people to follow us,” one founder said. “We’re exactly like Batman. We’re the hero St. John’s deserves, but not the one it wants.” “People want to hear what we say, but what we say is what other people say. I walked by somebody and they were talking about overheard, it’s weird to me that people know it,” one said. They made the point that Overheard is just an account — it’s the students that make it what it is. “There’s that line in ‘The Office,’ when you put a group of people in front of the camera, they’re bound to do something stupid… You’re going to get something really funny out of it,” one founder said. Senior Tshala Pajibo called the account “inventive” and said one of her conversations had been “overheard” and featured on the account. “It’s a very ‘millennial,’ for lack of a better word, way of creating a funny space for everyone regardless of where they are or even if they’re still a student here or not,” Pajibo said. “I know some grads who keep up with it too.” The founders shared exclusively with the Torch that Overheard might expand to a new social media platform, Instagram perhaps. Other universities have similar accounts, like NYU who has a “Snaps of NYU” facebook page, and Overheard wants to aim to be the best one around. The founders ended their interview with some advice for students: “Speak louder, we can’t overhear you if you’re quiet.”

Unpacking LATINX

morgan mullings

Contributing Writer

It might sound weird to say out loud. Latinx (la-teen-ex) is not shorthand for your Latino ex-boyfriend. As many Spanish speakers already know, words that end in “a” in the Spanish language are feminine, while words that end in “o” are masculine. Niña means girl and niño means boy. So Latinos and Latinas are groups of men and women from latin countries, who we celebrate in Latino Heritage Month. But, what about people who are gender-nonconforming? They don’t identify as a girl or a boy. You may have heard the term nonbinary or genderfluid. People part of these groups do not specifically identify with one gender or the other, or identify and express a combination of the two. It’s very real, and while it may be confusing for people outside of this community, it doesn’t take much time to understand when you meet or learn about someone who is nonbinary. Sophomore Raven Skye Jackson, who identifies as Afro-Latina, says “the language in itself is very gender focused, so to have a word that doesn’t focus on if it’s a masculine or feminine word is great for those who are part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum.” Jackson says it’s important that everyone has a right to be proud of the culture, especially when they can sometimes be judgemental. “The older generations want you to live a certain life,” she said, “It is changing but still, slowly.” Basically, if there are nonbinary people, and there are Latino people, there must be nonbinary Latinos. Latinx is their word, created so that they are not forced back into the gender binary by this categorization. Oftentimes this is seen as trivial or even a nuisance -- even from the viewpoint of those of latin american heritage. When you’re someone who doesn’t need the pronoun, it’s increasingly difficult to see the importance of this use. The use of Latinx stems from the push to use gender-nonconforming pronouns. People who identify as a boy use “he” and “his.” People who identify as a girl use “she” and “her.” They’re very specific to gender and if you think about it, these are the only options. If you were a person who didn’t fully identify with either gender, this would present a problem for you. Sieta Leon, Vice President of the Latin American Student Organization says the inclusive word helps “people who choose not to associate with the masculine tense embedded in the term Latino, which has been the general term for us for years.” Gender neutral people benefit from a “neutral way to identify themselves,” she says. What does it mean to be Latinx? It means to be part of a thriving, beautiful community of 20 countries and 6 territories. Some percentage of that is gender-nonconforming. Whether you think Latinx is useful or not, a lot of people appreciate its inclusive nature. Essentially, the word makes the Latinx population an even more diverse family.

Features 11


A Day in the Sun: Meet Project Sunshine amber borden

Assistant Features Editor Think about this: how often do you hear a child laughing while laying in a hospital bed? That imagery is slim to none. In today’s world, kindness is such a rare behavior that when it does present itself, the feeling can be overwhelming. For pediatric patients and their families, that genuine happiness only exists outside of the hospital doors for a majority of the time. But once every so often, Project Sunshine, an international nonprofit organization, brightens their day. It brings light to those children and their families and serves as a ‘sweet escape’ from the realities of their illnesses and the daunting hospital environment. Project Sunshine provides recreational, social, and educational programs to pediatric patients and their families. St. John’s University’s Project Sunshine is one of hundreds of college chapters involved in the nonprofit organization. At St. John’s there are two aspects that make up Project Sunshine: direct service and volunteering on campus. “On campus what we do is we have ‘Sending Sunshine Events’ and that is where we come together to create craft bags and we mail them to local hospitals,” explains Project Sunshine President, Katharina Lemmerz. The National Office distributes the craft bags to Project Sunshine’s international locations in Israel, Kenya, and some third-world countries.



Members of Project Sunshine visit Cohen Children’s Medical Center to engage with pediatric patients and their families.

“For Direct Service, we go to Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park and we volunteer there in the pediatrics department,” adds Lemmerz. The chapter has a set schedule of going to the hospital on Thursday evenings. Depending on the holiday, Project Sunshine volunteers are able to send themed crafts to patients. “Whatever the holiday or season is we base our activities around that,” said Lemmerz. Activities include reading (Book Buddies), nutrition and cooking (Sunshine Chefs), arts and crafts, Star for a Day and a variety of other programs for the children and their families. “Star for a Day is if the child has a big procedure coming up and has been in the hospi-

tal for a while, we will dedicate an entire day just around them,” said Katharina. When SJU Project Sunshine volunteers arrive, it allows the guardian of the patients to have an hour or two “off.” “We have the Caregiver Wellness program that is for the parents, siblings, grandparents, people who are off of work by their bedsides through everything they deserve a break too,” said Lemmerz. Project Sunshine hosts a gala every year in the city. “It is actually pretty intense. We have celebrities like Miss America, are always there and a couple of our volunteers (attend),” Katharina explained. Even though the Project Sunshine gala occurs around the same time as finals, the SJU Project Sunshine volunteers do not let the

timing rain on their parade. Volunteers still go to the gala and help with auctioning and seating, which assists in raising money for the charity. Anyone can join the Project Sunshine chapter. “We are a charity organization, so we appreciate our volunteers,” Lemmerz beamed. To become a hospital volunteer, one must apply and be interviewed. This process is due to only ten volunteers being taken a year. Although there are a few hospital volunteers, students who are unable to attend or volunteer as frequently are still welcomed with open arms. There are approximately 350 general volunteers who are a part of the Project Sunshine organization. Project Sunshine is the epitome of the notion that good things come in small packages. It is not about how grand the gesture, it is about how genuine and how it makes the person feel. Everyone, both the sick and the healthy, deserves a day in the sun.

Sorority Spotlight: Sigma Iota Alpha


Features Editor

Sisterhood comes before anything else in this sorority, which is why they call themselves “hermandad de..” meaning “sisterhood of” in Spanish.

Growing up, sophomore student Erika Madera didn’t have any sisters. However, after getting involved with Greek life on campus, Erika now can’t imagine her life without Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc. (SIA). “I’ve bonded with girls who can understand me and my struggles, especially as a Latina,” Madera said. “But I’ve also gotten to grow with a group of girls from different walks of life that I never would’ve met without joining a sorority.” Founded on September 29, 1990, Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc. started in 4 New York-based universities: SUNY Albany, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY New Paltz, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The Alpha Theta Chapter at St.John’s was founded on Dec. 6, 2004. The sorority’s mission is to strive towards the expansion of the Latino culture, and to their members and the community at large. “We aim to promote sisterhood and leadership amongst ourselves,” the sorority’s president, Amanda Espinal said. “And to serve as models of excellencies academics and achievement among women.” SIA is also big on philanthropy, aiming to give back to their communities and to give back to their native countries. “We have two philanthropies, in particular Camp OneHeartland, which is a camp for children affected with HIV/AIDS,” Espinal said. “We hold fundraisers for this philanthropy and send them money.” SIA also partners with Children’s International to sponsor a child in a Latin country. “We send them money along with letters for communication to see their progress in life,” Espinal said.

One of Madera’s favorite parts of the sorority is her ability to give cultures of Latino heritage” back. Young says that it is important for every member of her sorority to “I enjoy simply knowing that I had the chance to help someone,” understand the importance of Latin heritage. Madera said. “I can help make someone’s life a little easier or more “Being that our organization is predominantly made up of Latina enjoyable I feel like I’ve done a good job.” women of different cultures it is important for every member of our Aside from their contributions to the community, the sorority also organization to learn about the differences in such and know that hosts cultural, social and academic events on campus. When they even though we are all Latina women we each tend to share different have down time, they enjoy traveling to different campuses to meet cultures of Latino heritage,” she said. “We are a Latina based but not their sisters. Latina exclusive sorority so our sorority was created on the back bone Smaller than most sororities on campus, senior student Zoe Young of thirteen strong, independent, Latina woman with similar morals says they find a way to “make it work.” and goals for developing an organization.” “We each pull our one weight because not only do we care about SIA will be participating in a number of events on campus during our sorority but we truly care about each other and want to be there this Latin Heritage Month celebration and invites students to join for one another and become successful as an organization together,” them in learning about the Latin culture. she said. “We have truly found people who we trust and love because regardless of our differences we share the same morals and ideals which keep us together.” This Latin Heritage Month, the sorority is taking time to observe the importance of celebrating one another and those who came before them. “Latin heritage is our sorority’s background, so it is important for us to understand the different ins and outs and be well informed on Latin Heritage,” Espinal said. “It is important for every member of our organization to learn about the differencPHOTO COURTESY/AMANDA ESPINAL es in such and know that even Sorority sisters of the Alpha Theta Chapter of Sigma Iota Alpha pose on the basketball though we are all Latina women court near Montgoris’ Patio. we each tend to share different

12 Features




Staff Writer

Calling “baddies” of all shapes and sizes! This St. John’s alumni created subscription box is one that you don’t want to miss out on. Tembe Asiri, a recent St. John’s University graduate, created this company with the everyday baddie in mind. “It came to me at like 4AM one morning...I’ve always been interested in editorial, fashion, and beauty. I had a 9 to 5 job and I didn’t have a space where I could be creative and do the things that I was interested in” Asiri said. The term “baddie” has been heard a lot in today’s media. But what exactly does it mean? The founder has her own personal idea. “A woman who is full of confidence and isn’t afraid to express who she is,” Asiri said. “They don’t have to have an on-point body or perfect hair to be a baddie.” Asiri believes “baddies” can be whoever they want, without societal influences. baddiebox. released their first subscription this past June, featuring products from five different companies that range from a nude matte lipstick to a pair of stylish pink frameless sunglasses. Each box is curated monthly to the styles and fashions that any baddie might need to complete their look. The baddiebox. team features St. John’s alumni and current students. CEO/ Founder Tembe Asiri and Public Relations Coordinator Rachel Gordon both graduated from St. John’s this past May. “I’m in charge of any partnerships that are created, whether it be an influencer or any brand,” Gordan said. “We only partner with brands and other people that talk about inclusivity and what we stand for.” On the discussion of how they met, Gordon spoke about how she was approached by Asiri to be brought on board to the baddiebox team. “She (Asiri) knew about my own company, PRG, and asked me to be a part of the team.This is her vision and I liked her ideas so we partnered together for baddiebox.” Asiri also discussed how her and Gordon met through a mutual friend while they were studying abroad.

“We were connected by a friend. We didn’t know each other well. I had heard about her company and wanted her on board. I knew I would like another woman beside me to help create my brand,” Asiri said. On their business relationship, Asiri talked about how working with Rachel opened many doors to connections with people that she didn’t know. “Rachel treats me like her client, she’s very professional. She uses her resources to deliver as much as possible. When I first started my company, I had no networking opportunity or contacts, She had a lot of connections.” Gordon and Asiri’s dynamics are that of mutual respect and Johnnies-helpingJohnnies. Working with fellow Johnnies can bring a whole other side of ideas and networking, Asiri discovered in her relationship with Gordon and other St. John’s students like Claudia Fajardo, sophomore) and Sarayah (Rae) Moxley( junior) “Rachel is out in California now, but we still work together and set up meetings to discuss things.” Asiri said. “My woman on the ground is Rae! She is our social media director and Manager and she helps uphold our aesthetics. She does research on what different brands are doing. Brands that we admire to adapt some of their qualities into our own. She also helps us with things like packing boxes and other logistical stuff.” baddiebox has expanded from a social media presence that embraces individuality and inclusivity to the first official subscription box that was mailed out in June. baddiebox.’s largest social media standing is in their Instagram and Twitter, which can be found with the handle @baddiebox. Their account is run by Moxley and in it they stay true to their name by showcasing “Baddies of all shapes and sizes and products that are in trend and often seen/worn by baddies. Fajardo works with Gordon for her Public Relations Company, PRG, but she works exclusively with baddiebox. “I ran the baddiebox. account for a little while until Sarayah (Rae) Moxley (baddiebox. Social Media Coordinator) took over. I can easily say there’s been progress in our following in primarily Instagram,” Claudia said.


How past and present Johnnies turned a passion for beauty into a business

A sample BADDIEBOX. containing vegan nail polish, a bath bomb and jewelry.

Through the combination of millennial pink, cosmetics, and celebrities, such as Rihanna and Alissa Ashley, their account reflect the company and what they stand for. From one of their earlier posts the motto of the company can be found; “BADDIEBOX. Is inclusive, not exclusive. We believe baddies come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ethnicities, religions, genders and sexualities. We believe in embracing ourselves for who we are and looking damn good while doing it. We are more than just a subscription box. We’re a lifestyle.“ Starting a business can be hard, but a few of the baddiebox. team members give some advice for any fellow Johnny who is thinking about starting their own company. “Do your research! It’s not easy. Many startup companies fail because people aren’t prepared. It’s really about the big picture. It’s not going to be perfect from the start and you can’t compare your company or things to those that are already done and successful,” Asiri said. Even when working with a startup that isn’t your own, a lot of hard work goes into it. “Make sure it’s something you definitely want to do,” Fajardo said. “Starting your business and/or even supporting a close friend who is starting their own business calls for a lot of your time.” One of the largest aspects of the company is finding brands and influencers to collaborate with and showcase in their subscription boxes. “We want to work with brands and com-

panies owned by women and minority women, those who may not be getting exposure, people whose morals we align with morally and are on the same page,” Asiri said. “We want to continue with what we built, want to make sure that the brands that we partner with are consistent with who we are,” Gordon said. Every business goes through different obstacles and adversities, and baddiebox. is no stranger. “When we first started, someone actually tried to copy us!” Asiri laughed. “Keeping up with the monthly schedule process and finding suppliers was a challenge.” The company has had a very long year, from its production to its first box release. They are currently taking a small pause to create new content for their followers and subscribers and to give them better products and expand who they collaborate with. “We have a lot of exciting things coming! So be sure to look out for it! 2018 is going to be a big year for us,” Asiri said. baddiebox. is new in the world of fashion and beauty, but they are leaving a lasting impression on what it means to be a “baddie.” Also, there is good news to anyone who may want to join the baddiebox. team! Asiri said, “We are trying to expand the team if anyone wants to join, we are looking for people who are passionate, willing to work hard and are positive.” She emphasized that anyone is welcome to join. You can contact a team member through their website baddiebox.co or their email, hello@baddiebox.com.

Features 13


SJU Alum Participates in Hollywood’s HollyShorts Film Festival Jared Adkins’ experiences at SJU fueled his passion for film production Features Editor

When Jared Adkins graduated from St John’s 2 years ago, he never imagined that having a college roommate who was film-savvy, and taking advice from his then public relations professor would influence his passion for film production. A Far Rockaway native, Adkins’ latest film, Note To Self, was a participant in the Academy Award qualifying film festival, The Hollywood’s Holly Shorts Film Festival on Aug. 12. He and his crew competed against other filmmakers from across the nation. Based in Hollywood, CA, the HollyShorts Film Festival’s mission is to showcase the best and brightest short films from around the globe, something Adkins and his crew were honored to be a part of. “This was our first time entering a film festival,” Adkins said. “So being that we entered so many and we got selected for a few is great and it helps us know what direction we want to go in with our next project.” “Note To Self” is a short film about a young man named Darren, who must choose between furthering his career, and pursuing a relationship with Marlee, his longtime and

long-distance girlfriend. The film took about a year to write, and was shot in one day. The film has been noticed by 4 other film festivals in addition, winning Best Film at the New York City Indie Film Festival. “We shot the film in New York and being that we were recognized for that award was a great opportunity” Adkins said. “This was our first time entering a film festival, so entering so many getting selected for a few is great and it helps us know what direction we want (left) Writer and director Dennis Williams II (left) and Producer Jared Adkins (right) to go in with our next project.” (right) Jared Adkins poses on the HollyHood Film Festival Red Carpet Adkins says the piece if work His interest in music and movies also led During his time at SJU, Adkins studied he’s most proud of is a project called Black to his decision to try to pursue a side-hustle abroad in Rome, France and Spain. Theory 2. “This was my favorite project be- in film. Adkins says he would advise aspiring filmcause I was able to work with a bunch of “To have the film recognized is definitely makers to advice surround themselves with friends and other students from SJU”, he a blessing,” Adkins said. “We shot the film people who are “passionate about making said. “It was a great experience and prepared all in one day being that we all have our regfilm as much as you.” us for our most recent project.” ular day jobs and careers” “If you don’t have a supporting team, it The public relations and international Adkins works in advertising, so he allo- will make it almost impossible to have a sucstudies degree holder said that he had been cates the little time he has to his film interest. cessful film”, he added. influenced by rapper and actor Tupac Shak- He credits his time management expertise to He also says he’d advise students to netur during his youth. SJU. work as much as possible. PHOTO COURTESY/JARED ADKINS




Photos by Nick Bello, Gabriella Campos and Spencer Clinton

UPCOMING EVENTS: SJUOK? Suicide Prevention Walk

What Do You Know About Dyslexia?

Blood drive

When: Oct. 5, Common Hour

When: Oct. 5, Common Hour

When: Oct. 12, 10 am - 4 pm

Where: Great Lawn

Where: dac living room

Where: taffner 202

Millennials in the Workplace

The Addams Family Opening Night

peace corps info session

When: Oct. 5, Common Hour

When: Oct. 6, 8 PM

When: Oct. 12, Common Hour

Where: Bent Hall 219


Where: dac 207

Cultural Mash


DACA for Dummies

When: Oct. 5, 5-7 PM

When: Oct. 10, 7 pm

When: Oct. 16, COMMON HOUR

Where: DAC 128


Where: dac 31

Entertainment 15


PHOTO COURTESY/jared adkins

REVIEW: “Note To Self” displays exciting new talent

Entertainment Editor

SJU alumni Jared Adkins serves as producer on “Note To Self,” an incredible short film that explores a man’s relationship with both his girlfriend and his career as he faces a difficult decision that binds both priorities. Written and directed by Dennis Williams II, a good friend of Adkins and long-time collaborator, “Note To Self ” is a strong piece of storytelling that showcases some fresh new talent both behind the camera and in front. I loved every second of this film. “Note to Self ” is about a man who hits a serious speed bump. He must make a decision: a future with his long-time girlfriend, or a chance to advance

his career. The film sees him having a conversation with his subconscious as he struggles to choose the better road. In just a little over eleven minutes, “Note

michael ambrosino

“It’s the authenticity of ‘Note To Self’ that makes it resonate with such power, and the realism of the performances that makes it so engrossing.”

To Self ” manages to pull some real humanity out of its lead performers, David A. Wallace as Darren and Nicolette Ellis as Marlee. This is a testament to Dennis Williams II’s skill as a storyteller and as a director. There isn’t a moment in this film that doesn’t feel like real life. It’s the authenticity of “Note To Self ” that makes it resonate with such power, and the realism of the performances that makes it so engrossing. There is a scene, my personal favorite, in which the two main characters have a conversation in bed. That’s all it is: a conversation. In one long take, the two talk and talk until they both find themselves mentally tangled up. It blew me away. It’s so well-written and acted. The tension between the two characters becomes very strong; it oozes off the screen. The film, visually, looks remarkable. It’s shot beautifully on the Red Eye camera and encompasses the confusion, frustration and emotion the characters release so well. The movie is so well shot, it looks as if it were pulled from a feature film. I had the opportunity to speak with producer Jared Adkins and discuss the process of making “Note To Self.” “It came together because of a great team I worked with,” Adkins had said, referring of course to his exceptional collaborators, such writer/director Dennis Williams II, the wonderful performers, co-producer Jesse Martin and Director of Photography Kristopher Colavecchio.

The film screened at several festivals, including the Hollyshorts Film Festival, the Charlotte Film Festival and the Miami Independent Film Festival. It was the winner of the NYC Indie Film Awards, and the semi-finalist at the Los Angeles Cinefest. “Note To Self ” is truly deserving of all honors it was acclaimed with. It’s a terrific film that presents exciting new talent both in front and behind the camera.


Visit “The Good Doctor” “The Gifted” starts strong Staff Writer

The Good Doctor looks like it could be on its way to being America’s new hit TV show. This new series tells the story of a young surgeon who has Autism and Savant Syndrome. He has been recruited to work as a doctor in the prestigious hospital, San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. The overarching question, however, is someone who can’t relate to others able to save their lives? Monday’s episode was nothing short of extraordinary; it’s amazing how the show is introducing this fantastic idea of an Autistic surgeon. Not only is this show a breakthrough for television but for the medical field as well, because it opens up the idea for this fictional character to become a reality. In Monday’s episode, we meet the incredibly talented Autistic surgeon, Dr. Shaun Murphy, who has to learn to navigate his challenging workspace as well as overcome his social issues in a very high-pressure environment. We also meet the board members of the hospital, some of the other surgeons and the

president of the hospital Dr. Aron Glassman, who is an advocate for Dr. Murphy. While the other doctors and board members are reluctant in hiring Dr. Murphy, Dr. Glassman believes in him. He even puts his job on the line, at the expense of Dr. Murphy failing to be nothing more than extraordinary. Monday’s episode did not disappoint, and I believe that the show has gained a significant new group of watchers, maybe some even old House fans. Overall the look of this episode was similar to Grey’s Anatomy just with a new touch of how we see Dr. Shaun Murphy’s thinking process. The way they used graphic design to show how he can see an actual map of the patient’s body was different, yet fascinating to watch. In conclusion, I see a bright future ahead for the show and its cast members, who all did an outstanding job, especially Freddie Highmore, who plays Dr. Shaun Murphy. I am excited about this new series and its potential to be America’s next big hit, stay tuned for more because I have a feeling we’re in for a treat.


Photo Editor

It’s that time of year when new shows premiere and they are put to the test of if they will make it or break it. The Gifted, showing Mondays at nine on Fox, follows the concept of the ever-popular Marvel Comics X-Men. It revolves around the idea that individuals with special powers, otherwise known as mutants, are dangerous and should be captured. For just another average fa mily, everything was turned upside down when the parents discover that both of their children are mutants after an incident at the school dance. In order to keep their family safe and hide from a federal agency designed to specifically hunt mutants, this family must go on the run and ask for aid from a group of mutants whose goal is to find others like them and keep them safe. Now, nothing can beat or replace the X-Men. It’s not like Batman, where you can have a new Batman every few movies, then get it perfect in the Dark Knight trilogy only to

nina stefanelli

“This new show will test the bonds of family, friends and just how much a family can take while adjusting to a world they never knew before.”

ruin it by remaking the trilogy with a new Batman. But that is not what The Gifted is doing. It is following a very similar path as X-Men except from the start, the world knows about mutants. From the moment the show starts, it grabs your attention. This new show will test the bonds of family, friends and just how much a family can take while adjusting to a world they never knew before. The Gifted will be a show you plan on sitting down to every week prepared for cliff hangers that drive you insane for a week rather than the show done before it even started.

16 Entertainment


Latin American culture celebrated in DAC Java Johnnies showcases live music & great dancing ANDREINA RODRIGUEZ

Staff Writer

On Friday, Sept. 29 the Latin Heritage Month Committee organized a Java Johnnies Latin style event at DAC from 5-7 p.m. accompanied by live music by the bachata band, Valerio. To present the Latin culture to fellow St. John’s students, the event offered complimentary empanadas and maduros as well as free fruit juices. To add even more fun, the event included a dance floor created to encourage students to get up and dance. Valerio played a mixture set of bachata and merengue throughout the night. Songs included those such as the classic “Yo Me Muero Por Ti” by Antony Santos and the more recent songs like “Stand by Me” by Prince Royce. Their performance envoked a sense of nostalgia for those who have grown up in a Latin family and experienced similar family parties. Sieta Long, a junior member of LASO, has been familiar with the band for a while ever since they performed for LASO’s “Noche De Recuerdos” closing dinner on Apr. 6.

torch photo/andreina rodriguez

Students on the dance floor and valerio on stage at SJU’s Java Johnnies: Latin Style.

For her, the event was one to represent her culture. “What’s good about the event is that, of course, I’m Dominican so merengue and bachata are my native country’s music so it’s always nice to come out and dance and support,” she said. For those who were drawn to the event, they recognized this as an opportunity to express themselves within their culture around

others in the community that St. John’s offers. “I am very proud to be a Latina. To have a month dedicated to celebrating Hispanic culture is something I see to be truly wonderful, especially here at St. John’s. This school being one of the most diverse in the country allows for students to experience each culture. I, as a student, am taking advantage of just

that,” sophomore Nataly Lado, sophomore, said. Similarly, sophomore Diana Paredes believed it brought enough awareness to her own Latin background to encourage her to become involved. “I never felt that Spanish community, so to know that St. John’s has a Java Johnnies Latin event is really interesting to me and made me want to participate,” she said. Before entering the DAC living room, a hallway of pictures of celebrities, such as Carmelo Anthony and Cardi B, were captioned with descriptions of their background and how they’d been shaped by their Latin upbringing. For many, it came as a surprise to see those such as Kid Cudi to be half Mexican. “It shows people how diverse Latinos are in their own communities. Even I earned a few new things,” Rachel Fondeur, junior member of LASO, said. As Hispanic Heritage Month continues, the committee continues to organize different events for all of St. John’s students to enjoy and experience. As a goal, they hope to continue “spreading more knowledge and acceptance of Latinos and Hispanics,” Fondeur said.

SJU screens “Living is Easy with Eyes Closed” Friday, Sept. 29 kicked off the beginning of St. John’s Global Film Series at the Sodano Coffee House in the D’Angelo Center. Students had the opportunity to snack on churros and plantains while sitting back for the premiere of “Living is Easy with Eyes Closed” (“Vivir es Fácil con los Ojos Cerrados”) by David Trueba. Professor Douglas Cantelmo, along with Campus Activities, made this event possible for students. “There’s a lot of Spanish movies, but there’s not that many that touch upon southern Spain and the topography, the culture,” Cantelmo said. “I thought it was interesting to have a film that was talking about love of music, love of cinema, and also just the 1960s culture.” “Living is Easy with Eyes Closed” was filmed in Andalusia, a region in Southern Spain. If it wasn’t the scenery in this vivid film that caught the audience’s attention, it was the

comedic English teacher, Antonio San Roman, and his obsession with John Lennon. Lennon and the Beatles were the motivation behind this film. It was based off of The Beatles’ song, “Strawberry Fields Forever,” in addition to Lennon’s movie role in “How I Won the War in 1966.” After an introduction highlighting the former Beatles singer, the film delved into Antonio’s storyline. When he hears that Lennon traveled to Almeria to film the movie, he plans a trip in hopes of meeting him. On the way he encounters two people. The first, Belen, is a girl who escapes from a home dedicated to aiding pregnant women and finding homes for their babies. His second encounter is Juanjo, a 16-year-old high school student running away from home. The journey to Almeria created a long-lasting bond between them. Antonio, referred to as “The Fifth Beatle” by his students, successfully met John Lennon. Juanjo ends up returning to his traditionally strict family, whereas Belen will continue to

search for a place to stay. Students across all majors and backgrounds came to watch the film. Amanda Garcia, junior and Biology Major, is taking Spanish II this semester. This served as part of her Global Language and Culture Center (GLCC) requirement. “I actually don’t know what it is, but I’m interested in seeing what it’s about,” Garcia said. “I’ve never seen a movie in another language. I thought that’d be cool.” Reading subtitles throughout the movie only enhanced the culture, distinguishing dialects within different regions of Spain. Hannah Pruzinsky, senior, reminisced about her time outside of the U.S. while eating plantains, her favorite food. She studied abroad in various locations including Madrid, Barcelona and Spain. “Really nostalgic about my time abroad,” Pruzinsky said. The film provoked her interest to see a little bit more of the lifestyle in Southern Spain. Pruzinsky continued to say, “You don’t really get this experi-

ence in New York.” She encourages other students to visit the country. The movie incorporated little Western influence, but it was no match for the traditional and rich culture. “You’ll see how strong American culture is and British culture,” Cantelmo said. “It’s a movie that reflects on that.” Professor Cantelmo wanted to incorporate approachable films to begin the film series this semester. “A lot of times when you talk about international films, a lot of them get pretty series,” Cantelmo said. “Maybe in future semesters we can have films that touch upon violence abroad…but to begin with three films that are on the lighter side and kind of introduce people to some-I think that’s important.” After screening, the global films will be donated to The Foreign Language Center for students to access. They are not accessible on Hulu, Netflix or other movie streaming sites. PHOTO COURTESY/youtube palacefilms

Staff Writer

PHOTO COURTESY/youtube palacefilms


Sports 17


University Ensures Safety The Changes to 2017 Tip-Off Doubleheader DYLAN HORNIK Co-Sports Editor

After a wild performance that ended St. John’s annual basketball Tip-Off event last year earlier than expected, the University has promised changes to the way Public Safety officials will handle the typically raucous crowd at this year’s event. Tip-Off is designed as a sort of pep rally for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The two teams are introduced one by one and play an intrasquad scrimmage. There are also games and prizes for fans in attendance. Normally, the spectacle concludes with a short performance from a famous musical artist. Past performers include French Montana and Mac Miller. Last year, hip hop artist Desiigner,

real name Sidney Royal Selby III -- whose hit song “Panda” reached the top spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and finished 2016 at No. 6 -- took the floor at Carnesecca Arena as Tip-Off’s main attraction. He worked his way through two songs, “Panda” and his other hit “Timmy Turner,” bringing the crowd to the verge of delirium before surprisingly inviting the largely-student audience onto the court, past the Public Safety brigade that protected the stands. Several students made it to the court before the arena lights came on and an announcement was made over the public address system that the night was over. The University also cut Desiigner’s mic. The result was a major safety hazard that could have threatened the health of students, alumni, athletes, administrators and others.

Photo Courtesy/Athletic Communications

“The University believed that the artist who performed at St. John’s Red Storm Tip Off created a potential crowd-control issue by inviting a sell-out crowd onto the court during his performance,” St. John’s said in a statement following the event. “For that reason, the University made the decision to stop the performance to ensure that no one was injured. Our primary concern is always for the safety of our students and all who attend St. John’s sponsored events.” In response, the University will be taking extra precautions to ensure that those in attendance at Tip-Off are safe, Executive Director of Public Safety Denise Vencak said in a statement obtained by the Torch this week. “As with any event held on campus, the safety of our students and University community is of utmost importance to the Department of Public Safety,” the statement reads. “We continuously reevaluate and enhance our safety measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all attendees. In response to last year’s Tip Off event, we are looking at several changes to ensure the safety of the University Community.” The University did not disclose particulars about safety strategies for public, widely-attended events. However, the chaos of last year’s event should weigh heavily enough for the University to make some significant changes in how Tip-Off is conducted. This year’s musical act has not yet been announced. Tip-Off will take place at Carnesecca Arena on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but space is limited.

Desiigner performs while Shamorie Ponds dances at Tip-Off last October.

Volleyball Battles During Tough Stretch BRENDAN MYERS Staff Writer After starting the season 4-1, the St. John’s Volleyball team is at a crucial part of their season. With a record of 8-9 and conference play now in full swing, the theme in those nine losses has been consistency. “We just haven’t done enough to separate from teams,” Head Coach Joanne Persico said after the team’s exhibition loss to Chinese professional team Zhejiang. She said that the team has played some really good sets, but the team has also struggled in some, resulting in that lack of separation. With the team currently in the midst of a pivotal conference homestand, Persico said that the team needs to play with a much more balanced offense. Now in her 24th season as head coach, the Queens native knows how unforgiving Big East play can be. “We need to string good sets together and come out with a win,” Persico said. Stringing those good sets together prevents games from going decisive fifth sets, something Coach Persico knows the team needs to avoid. In the team’s three matches that have went the full distance, the Red Storm are currently 0-3. Their three-game home stretch included a three-set sweep against Providence last Friday and a disheartening loss to No. 14 Creighton, 3-0, the next day. It concludes with a matchup

against Villanova on Wednesday night. Providence and Creighton both left Queens above .500 in conference play, while St. John’s fell to 1-3. The Friars took the nation by storm after starting the season 11-0, but they are only 2-4 in their last six matches and won their first two Big East tilts before losing to the Johnnies. Creighton is undefeated in conference play. The Red Storm haven’t faced a ranked opponent in Queens since 2005. “Big East play is all about the serve receive game,” Persico said. The serve receive game refers to the Red Storm’s ability to control their opponents serves, thus turning defense into offense. The team must rely on their ability to turn defense into offense to with players like Delaney D’Amore and Amanda Sanabia, who ranked 9th and 11th in the conference in digs, respectively. Persico also wants the team to play with a more balanced offensive approach. Graduate student Danisha Ross and sophomore Hanna Wagner are key figures in the Red Storm offense. Ross had a team-high eight kills in the second conference game against Marquette, while Wagner’s hitting percentages is .392, good for second in the conference. In the middle of the conference schedule, St. John’s played that match against Zhejiang. Despite losing in straight sets, the team looked relaxed and gave the professionals a good fight despite a misleading scoreboard.

The first set ended with a score of 25-22, and the second set ended 25-19. It was not until the third set that Zhejiang was able to pull away. Persico thinks that the fifth sets always favor the underdog. One thing she hopes to improve upon is finishing teams in the third and fourth sets, preventing the match from being decided by chance in the fifth set. Despite the tough stretch for the team, Coach Persico is remaining optimistic. “The senior leadership has been great in the past few weeks like it has the entire season,” she said. Senior leadership is always a vital part of a team’s success heading into conference and postseason play.

Photo Courtesy/Athletic Communications

DYLAN HORNIK Co-Sports Editor

In the last two weeks, college basketball has been turned on its head. The FBI investigation and subsequent revelations involving bribery and corruption has rocked the foundation of intercollegiate athletics to the core, and only now are Division I programs beginning to clean up the mess left behind by years of unscrupulous activity. This is not your run-of-the-mill academic scandal. In short, a slew of college basketball coaches have been accused of accepting bribes from financial advisers, agents and event apparent companies in exchange for the coach’s effort to steer a star player toward their services. There is no way of telling how far up each university’s hierarchy this reaches, nor is it possible to unearth the total breadth of this controversy, at least not yet. Only patience and a thorough dig by the FBI will answer all of the questions that millions of people must have, but there is no doubt that this is a dark time for a discipline loved by some, admired by most, and known by all. Now, any number of factors can bear the blame of this shameful discovery, from the delocalization of collegiate recruiting in the mid-20th century to the warped minds of (hopefully) just a few so-called leaders. In fact, just about everything that’s wrong with college athletics might go into the broth that created this embarrassment-laden soup. For now, though, none of that matters. The top priority of the NCAA should be weeding out whoever was involved and making sure that they are never involved in molding young men, or women, ever again. Then, it’s imperative to ensure that the rest of the collegiate landscape is as pure as possible. It’s unlikely that basketball is the only victim of the avarice of its coaches and influencers, especially when it generates only the second-most revenue out of all collegiate athletic programs. As for St. John’s, no one wants to see a program crumble due to grave, off-thecourt mistakes. However, we sincerely hope that if the University is involved, of which there is no indication, it is taken care of swiftly and justly, so that the oncourt product may return to the forefront. Above all else, though, we feel for the student-athletes. Some of them were used as pawns, having their futures sacrificed to deepen the pockets of grown men who did not care what happened to them. Others had their educations decimated as indirect casualties of these transgressions. These athletes may not have been the foci around which the money moved, but they may have suffered the greatest injustices. As college programs start up in preparation for the 2017–18 season, we are reminded that our job as journalists is not simply to tally up dunks and rebounds, but also to shine a light on the larger issues at hand, some of which after the landscape of our subjects forever.

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Volleyball Hosts Chinese Pro Team DARREN MARAJ Contributing Writer

Quick, disciplined and systematic. Those are the three words that St. John’s University volleyball coach Joanne Persico used to describe Zhejiang’s play style following their exhibition match on Sept. 27 at Carneseca Arena. It was their first exhibition match against a Chinese professional team thus far this season. “It was terrific for our players to understand that they [Zhejiang] play a very quick game, they play a very disciplined game, and they play a very systematic game,” said Persico, who expressed her appreciation towards the Chinese professional team following the match. In the 2013-2014 season, Zhejiang won the Chinese Volleyball League championship title. In addition, Zhejiang finished as one of the top teams in the CVL with a perfect regular season record of 10-0, proving that they’re a team to beat in their league. The exhibition match was an incredible opportunity for the St. John’s volleyball team to display their skills and leadership against some of the top volleyball players in the world. They were being tested for their hard work, especially for a team as noble as Zhejiang. Although they lost 3-0 in their match against the Chinese professionals on Wednesday night, Coach Persico shined some optimism

for her players. “I thought we played a good match,” Persico said of her team’s performance. “I thought we were together, offensively we balanced the ball better…we had moments that we played really strong which would’ve catapulted us to a victory.” Coach Persico also mentioned some factors her team needed to improve on and what she deemed essential for their path to more victories. These factors include consistency and the ability to close out sets and close out matches. She believes that the team needs to learn and understand what it means to enforce their will on an opponent throughout a match. Two rookies, Jordan McCalla and Kayley Wood, were incorporated into the team’s offense, especially toward the last set of the match. They have potential to be the key pieces that the team needs for more victories, according to Persico. “They’re really learning out there…they’re really learning the game at this level,” Persico said, as she expressed enthusiasm and confidence in Jordan McCalla and Kayley Wood. “The speed of the game is an important factor at this level. “Obviously the score didn’t reflect the hard work they’ve been doing in the gym. But it was good for them to get some experience, because in the Big East, it’s difficult to make substitutions, so it was good that we put some players out there to see how they

perform under pressure, especially the third set.” The match does not count against the Red Storm’s record, so heading into the final two months of the season, the team still sits at 9-10 after a straight-set loss to No. 14 Creighton on Sept. 30. After facing Villanova on Wednesday, the Johnnies will take a two-game road trip to take on Butler and Xavier this weekend. At 1-3 in the conference, the Johnnies have some work to do before worrying about the Big East Tournament. This matchup helped highlight the work that needs to be done.

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Photo Courtesy/Athletic Communications

The St. John’s women’s volleyball team poses for a picture with Chinese professional team Zhiehang after their match on Sept. 27.

Women’s Soccer Stumbles to Start Conference Play DYLAN HORNIK Co-Sports Editor

The St. John’s women’s soccer team has had a lot to live up to this season after a ridiculously productive two-year stretch from 2015–16. But after an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015, the conclusion of record-setting alumnus Rachel Daly’s college career and an electric run to the conference semifinals last year, things haven’t looked so rosy for the red and white this fall. After winning four of their first six matches, the Johnnies dropped four consecutive tilts by a goal each, keeping their defensive intensity at an elite level but failing to find

the back of the net in three straight matches. They scored 10 goals through their first six contests before the dry spell, showing not only offensive ability, but a prolific propensity to find create chances. St. John’s opened their season with a 3-3 draw in double overtime against La Salle. The match was broken up over the span of six hours due to inclement weather in the area, but the Johnnies still managed to score more goals in that game than they had through their first three Big East games. Even after their slugfest against the Explorers, St. John’s still grabbed three of their first four wins with multiple goals. The last time the team scored more than one goal was Sept. 8 against Loyola (Mary-

Photo Courtesy/Athletic Communications

Christina Bellero celebrates a goal in the Red Storm’s 1-0 victory over Creighton.

land), when Mikhalia Martinov pushed home the go-ahead tally in the 87th minute to complete a comeback effort. The week-long break before the team’s conference opener gave the Red Storm a chance to hit the reset button, but their upset bid against nationally-ranked Georgetown ended in exhausting heartbreak, as the Hoyas found the net with less than 10 minutes to go and stole a 1-0 win at home. “We knew Georgetown was a very good team so we had to really bring our ‘A’ game,” Stone said after the Red Storm’s thrilling 1-0 win over Creighton last Thursday night. “Every single game [in the Big East] is hard.” That Creighton game finally shattered the lid that had apparently gone up across St. John’s net offensively, as Christina Bellero struck gold off of a beautiful feed in the sudden-death second overtime period. The 1-0 victory lifted the Johnnies to .500 overall and 1-1 in the conference. “Every game is a challenge,” Bellero said. “You’re always going to have to fight, you can’t take any games off … We all push each other and we all work hard together.” St. John’s couldn’t get a winning streak up and running, though, losing to Marquette again by the score that has haunted them all season — 1-0. The Golden Eagles’ leading scorer, Darian Powell, slid home a feed from Caroline Zink to take the lead. Marquette played 67 minutes of defense and held off a decent Red Storm attack that sent seven shots on goal. Maia Cabrera had the best chance at giving the Johnnies a boost when she was awarded a penalty kick in the 34th minute, but she sent her attempt high.

That was as close as the Red Storm would come to drawing even. Now three games into conference play and sitting at 1-2, the Red Storm have a lot of work to do if they want to rise up to the dominant level that they have played at over the last several years. According to Stone, that will be no small task. “I think we can maybe show a little more intensity,” Stone said. “We’re a technical team that passes the ball really well, but we need to be able to combine that with a little bit more aggression and physicality.” Not all hope is lost for the Johnnies, though. Their defense is still top-notch, even as the slump in the offensive third has forced them to play without the ball more. And even though it’s already in the rearview mirror, that first conference win proved that the Red Storm may still have a lot to say in the Big East pecking order. Last year, St. John’s started 1-1 with one tie in Big East play, so the squad is no stranger to recovering from sluggish starts to make headlines in the postseason. “Our goal is to try to make the Big East tournament,” Stone said. “It’s a fantastic conference, and so [opponents] are going to bring everything they can, especially when they play us here, at our gorgeous stadium. Make sure you’re prepared to battle, bring your hard hats and just fight.” The Red Storm will begin a two-game road trip with a trip to Rhode Island to take on Providence on Oct. 5. After a bout with Butler, they return home to face Seton Hall on Oct. 14 as the second game of a doubleheader at Belson Stadium.

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SEAN OKULA Contributing Writer Men’s soccer drops nailbiters

The Red Storm watched their five-match unbeaten streak come to a crashing halt last week, dropping a pair of low-scoring heartbreakers. First, it was Lehigh who came storming back, stunning the Johnnies in the final minutes with a pair of late scores. Filippo Ricupati got St. John’s going early with a 42nd minute penalty-kick score, his second goal in as many contests. Yet, it was Mountain Hawks Alex Greene and Zarin Tuten who got the last laugh, both sending balls past goalie Andrew Withers in the final thirteen minutes, en route to a 2-1 Lehigh victory. Up next was Big East foe and 22nd-ranked Butler in a 105-minute defensive duel. Double overtime was needed to break a scoreless tie, with Andrew Withers shutting down the Bulldog attack all match to with of six saves. Both teams had their chances, with Butler

controlling the shot count 18-12, but neither defense would crack. Finally deep in the 105th minute, Lewis Suddick cashed in on a penalty-kick opportunity for Butler, giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 win. St John’s falls to 5-4-1 on the year (2-1 in Big East play). WOMEN’S SOCCER SPLITS MATCHES

A thrilling back-and-forth affair with Creighton ended in St. John’s triumph on Thursday, with junior Christina Bellero sending one to the back of the net in double-OT for the 1-0 win. Neither offense could cash in throughout the match, with the Red Storm holding the slight 20-16 shot advantage. Jordan Kamp continued her strong play in goal, and finally got some support from her offensive attack when Bellero ended things in the 105th minute. Sunday was not so kind to the Johnnies, as Marquette came to Belson and handed the Red Storm their fourth 1-0 loss in five games. Darian Powell knocked in the only score of the game for the Golden Eagles in the 23rd minute as the Red Storm offense couldn’t score against Marquette keeper Maddy Henry. The team drops to 5-6-1 on the year and owns just one Big East win. Their next game is an away tilt against Providence on Oct. 5 in Rhode Island. WOMEN’S GOLF CONTENDS IN BOSTON

Torch Photo/Gabriella Campos

Sophomores Linda Wang and Kaitlin Shee were the catalysts for the Red Storm last weekend at the Boston Col-

Three Questions for Coach Chris Mullin’s Third Year at St. John’s DYLAN HORNIK Co-Sports Editor Here are three of the biggest questions that will plague the Red Storm as they begin the hunt for their first postseason appearance since 2015: 3. How will Mullin handle the frontcourt? Yankuba Sima’s transfer to Oklahoma State midway through last season left St. John’s vertically challenged up front, with Tariq Owens as the only player taller than 6 foot 9, and thin, with just Kassoum Yakwe, Amar Alibegovic and Richard Freudenberg left to complement Owens. With Freudenberg moving back to Germany to play professionally, the Red Storm big men have an equally demanding season ahead of them. Marvin Clark Jr. should help some, but he’s not exactly the imposing presence that Mullin’s squad has craved for the last two seasons. Transfer Sedee Keita and redshirt freshman Boubacar Diakite won’t be eligible until next season, so Mullin will have to get creative by going with a small lineup early and often. 2. Can Shamorie Ponds improve upon his freshman season? The speedy guard led the team with 17.4 points per game and broke D’Angelo Harrison’s freshman points record en route to earning a unanimous selection to the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team.

His play ranged from streaky to downright electric in his first season, so it will be interesting to see if he can be more consistent and avoid the dreaded Sophomore Slump. Ponds earned an invite to USA Basketball’s U-19 Training Camp over the summer, so perhaps the opportunity to ball with the best elevated Ponds’ game heading into this season. He’ll have to battle overconfidence, especialy when he hits a shooting slump, but when he plays, Ponds is still the best player on the floor for St. John’s 1. Where’s the defense? Although they led the Big East in blocks by a wide margin (50 more swats than second-place Georgetown), St. John’s still allowed a conference-worst 78.7 points per game. Their inability to stop outside shooters hurt them (Big East-worst 37.5 percent 3-point defense), as opponents lit them up from beyond the arc and didn’t stop until the Johnnies moved out of the middle, which created mid-range space that big men like Owens couldn’t close down on. Mullin and top defensive assistant Greg St Jean have to figure out a way to utilize his team’s impressive athletic ability without exposing their lack of an inside presence. If they can get Ponds, Marcus LoVett and Justin Simon to pick off passes and run the floor, then the Red Storm have a shot at being contenders this winter.

lege Intercollegiate, charging the squad to an eighth-place finish (out of 16 teams). Shee got things started strong, posting scores of 74 and 75 in rounds one and two, respectively. Wang wrapped things up in the final round, recording a pair of back-nine birdies en route to a four-over 76. The women head back up to Massachusetts on Oct. 15th for the Brown Bear Intercollegiate. Men’s GOLF MAKES STRIDES


Before the Big East scheduled kicked into gear, the Red Storm had one last opportunity to tune-up with a not-so-local rival: Zhejiang New Century, hailing from China. The Chinese professional team payed a visit to Carnesecca Arena last Wednesday, and the Johnnies were ready for the challenge. St. John’s held a lead late in the first set and were tied 14-14 in the second set, but ultimately fell to the pro team 3-0 in the exhibition match. The high-level competition had the women properly prepared for their Big East home opener, a three-set sweep over Providence (25-21-25-19-25-16). Erica Di Maulo continued her distributive dominance, adding 34 assists to her season total, while also contributing on defense with eight digs. Danisha Moss led the Red Storm offensive surge, piling up seven kills on 11 attempts, good for a match-high .545 hitting percentage. Yet another challenge came the Johnnies’ way on Friday, when three-time defending Big East champion Creighton, ranked 14th in the nation, came to Queens. It took just three sets for a Bluejay victory (25-21-25-19-25-16), making quick order of the St. John’s ladies. Julia Cast picked up nine kills for the Red Storm in the losing cause. St John’s stands at 9-10 on the year, winning just one of four in Big East play.

The Johnnies shot a total 942 (+33) last weekend in Virginia, good for 15th place in the 16-team Patriot Intercollegiate Tournament. The struggles shouldn’t overshadow strides in individual performance, however. Sophomore Gerald Mackedon finished the weekend tournament with a round three evenpar 72, following a season-best one-under 71 finish from junior Matthew Sweeney in round two. This past weekend took the Red Storm to The Course at Yale, where the five-man squad continued to take steps in the right direction. Junior Andrew Baek set the pace in round one with an even par 70, finishing before the rains rolled in, pushing rounds two and three to Sunday. Mackedon was the standout on the tournament’s rain-delayed final day, checking in with an even-par 70 in the third round. St. John’s finished 13th (out of 14), and heads to Connecticut for their next tournament on Oct. 9. ADVERTISEMENT



University to look at safety regulations for tip-off, won't commit to specifics page 17

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