Volume 97 Issue 9

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VOL 97 : 09 NOV. 13, 2019 torchonline.com

The award-winning independent student newspaper of St. John’s University


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2 News


IRC hosts event to educate students about Thanksgiving The Inclusivity Resource Center (IRC) held its Native and Indigenous Heritage Month (NIHM) kickoff event on Nov.11 inside Sun Yat Sen. Speaker, Cliff Mattis was accompanied by performers and members of the Native Arts Council. PHOTOS COURTESY/INCLUSIVITY RESOURCE CENTER




One-on-One With “Bobby” Morgan C. Mullings We sat down with President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw on Nov. 6 to catch up on what he’s been doing. Though we don’t see him often, he’s behind the scenes watching what happens in student and faculty life — and he made us aware of that during an interview with the Torch in Newman Hall. Just before he headed out to the Men’s Basketball game, Gempesaw let us in on his plans for student retention, housing and food insecurity, and what it means to be a happy SJU student (as well as the NCAA as it relates to our sports teams, in our sports section on page 11). The conversation started with some claims that were made at the State of the University address. Keep reading to find out what he thinks.

RETENTION: How to keep students from leaving SJU Help those who are most in need. President Gempesaw said the University has already spent over $269 million in “institutional aid” for students. Student success means that students have to stay for the four to six years it may take to ensure a degree. In order to ensure a high graduation rate, the school has to focus on a high freshman retention rate. “I’m pleased to report that during the last five years, our average freshman retention rate has increased to 82.7 percent, almost 83 percent. Now, a lot of people look at those numbers in terms of percentages. I look at them in terms of people, human beings, a five percentage point increase in retention rate, that’s 140, 150 students, individuals who you could help get the college degree,” Gempesaw told the Torch. “But the key there is if you don’t start in the freshman retention, you’ll never move up.” This year’s graduation rate will be 62.8 percent, while our usual average is 58 percent. Some of that institutional aid is seen in projects like “Discover Research,” which launched this summer, partnering students with faculty to do undergraduate research. Students were provided a stipend of $1,500. Another is Summer Institute, a three-day intensive for undecided students in St. John’s College and Collins College of Professional Studies, the two largest colleges. The last he mentioned is EPIC (Establish relationships, Promote possibilities, Impact directions, Confirm next steps), where “close to 500 students” participated in upperclassman-freshman partnerships. His plans for retention are student-centered all the way — so it’ll be important to watch how those relationships pan out over the next few years.

HOUSING & FOOD INSECURITY: How to meet student needs President Gempesaw is currently relying on Student Affairs, Campus Ministry, and University Admissions to anticipate and assist with the basic needs of students. It isn’t just about housing insecurity, it’s also food insecurity, financial issues and unexpected problems that

happen to students all over this campus. “When we have a case where students have emergency housing needs, they’re offered on campus housing. And then we provide support in developing longer term plans,” Gempesaw said. “So the longer term is the second question, which we call long-term housing for housing and senior security, homeless students.” That’s where the DAX program comes in, which was announced by Father Tracy at the State of the University Address. The Chicago program has officially come to St. John’s, as well as a fulltime director in charge of the SJU branch. But as of this month, many students have no idea this exists. “It’s not easy if you’re suffering through this to just say ‘Hey’, you know, [the University has] to seek them out and say, if you have challenges, please let us know.” The current stage of the process is raising awareness through the website and other marketing strategies. Gempesaw’s plans for food insecurity have recently seen drastic change. There was a small loan that students could take from when they couldn’t pay for their meal plan. “They would volunteer and approach these offices and say, I’m suffering to these challenges. Or sometimes our faculty would notice. And so we, or the faculty, would refer to students. When they’re referred, there is an evaluation form that will be conducted and then funds will be transferred to the student’s Storm card.” That was about three years ago. Two years later, about $100,000 of the University’s budget was allocated to that need. This year, Gempesaw says he is happy to announce that they will have a permanent donor for this need through an endowment (a donation with long-term guidelines), and the name of the donor will be announced very soon.

HAPPINESS: How to ensure students actually like it here President Gempesaw read our article on student happiness, where our Culture Editor, Priyanka Gera, surveyed 117 students on the Queens campus. 82 percent of students said they were happy, and those who weren’t gave a list of reasons why. Gempesaw told us, “So when I read that, I did my own quote … unscientific survey … I’ll share with you my personal approach to this. So I invited three students, to have lunch with me at the Faculty club [in Sun Yat Sen] .... So I asked them the question. I said, you know, this article ... and they said dining options. Can you help me with this survey? And they said … the new bagel [restaurant]. They said, that’s really an improvement. And then I asked them, can you rate on a scale of one to 10? Then I started saying, various places, Marillac, the law school. I won’t tell you the ratings over this. But the highest rating they gave us: the law school.” Later on, he decided to take a trip to Montgoris Dining Hall (he did call it Monty’s), to interact with more students and see what they were eating. He also addressed claims about the science department, the “overwhelming course load” and dorm maintenance as well. The journey to on-campus happiness, it seems, is in the time he takes to read what students say in the Torch and hear their feedback directly in person. He did add that 92 percent of students responded in a survey, after graduating, that they were satisfied with their overall experience. Of course, he acknowledged that you’ll find students at their happiest on graduation day.


4 News


Students Debate Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice SJU Views partners with Feminists Unite for second panel Grace Greer Students of different viewpoints shuffled into the conference room to talk about their opinions on reproductive rights on Nov. 4 during Common Hour on the fourth floor of the D’Angelo Center. SJU Views, in conjunction with Feminists Unite and the New York College Republicans, hosted an event to find common ground between students who hold pro-life or pro-choice views. Rachel Yakubov, the president of SJU Views, when asked about its purpose, said, “SJU Views was created in an effort to bring a conversational platform to St. John’s University. Unfortunately, in today’s political climate, it is extremely tough to share views and opinions regarding controversial topics. We are here to provide liberals, conservatives and everyone in between an environment to share their perspectives.” Yakubov and her vice president, Daniella Shimunov, started the debate by defining clear terms. They started by using the CDC’s definition of abortion as, “In legal terms, an intervention performed by a licensed clinician that is intended to terminate an ongoing pregnancy.” They also displayed data from the Guttmacher Institute showing that the abortion rates in 2017 were at their lowest point since Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court Decision in 1973 that now protects women’s reproductive rights. After defining clear terms, Yakubov and Shimunov displayed the first discussion question, which was, “Should abortion be legal or illegal? Are there any exceptions?”

One pro-choice student started off the discussion by saying, “Just putting a legal aspect on it... it takes away someone’s autonomy” if someone is not allowed to choose whether or not they can have an abortion. Another student responded by saying, “It’s just inside your body, but that’s about as far as that goes,” and “If you consented to it... you need to face the consequences.” While this upset many of the students of Feminists Unite, it sparked an intense discussion about at what point someone is a human. Many students agreed that a human is a human from conception, while others agreed that a human is a human once it is out of the womb and can live on its own. However, many students part of the New York College Republicans said that many people cannot live on their own, not just fetuses, like people with pacemakers or on life support. In addition, one student pointed out that to him, “A woman deserves a voice 110 percent, but a lot of people believe a fetus is a person, so who’s going to speak up for that?” Shaeleigh Severino, a junior double major in Government and Politics and Legal Studies, took a more legal perspective saying, “the whole point of the pro-choice movement is so the government is not telling couples what they have to do.” When someone suggested that mothers could put their babies


SJU Views, Feminists Unite and New York College Republicans gather to debate over pro-life vs. pro-choice

up for adoption, Severino said about their argument, “That’s just not feasible today in 2019… We have an enormous amount of people in the system, an enormous amount of people not being adopted.” The second discussion question asked, “When do you think life begins?” Although some answers had already been proposed, it provoked every student to decide at what point a life is a life. Many people said that life begins at conception, some said after 24 weeks, when an abortion would be considered “late-term” and many said once the baby is born in no longer in the womb. One student recommended that since they had

not yet agreed on what point someone is a human, that they should err on the side of caution. Although the topic was so divisive, all of the students remained civilized and respectful. After Yakubov and Shimunov ended the debate, many of the students shook hands with each other and continued talking to the students on the other side. While many students minds were not changed, others reported better understsanding of the opposition’s perspectives.

Common Ground Hosts Dialogue on Cultural Appropriation Alicia Venter Common Ground held an event on Monday, Nov. 4 in the D’Angelo Center meant to create a dialogue on what they titled “Cultural Appropriation.” Taking place during Native and Indigenous Heritage Month, this was the first Common Ground dialogue of the year, and the online flyer said the event “will share perspectives, explore concepts, and deepen dialogue around the very timely topic of cultural appreciation versus appropriation. The event was held by the Common Ground Dialogue Facilitators sophomore Grace Musser and seniors J’mi D. Worthen and LeChae K. Moore. The first thing they did was introduce themselves and discuss the “ground rules and expectations,” which involved the respecting of others’ opinions and beliefs, and to speak from one’s own experiences, not a group’s, then everyone introduced themselves. At the beginning of the event, Musser reminded everyone that the event was a dialogue, not a debate or discussion, because at those two, “we’re just trying to get our point across.” Instead, she explained how “we’re coming into this trying to learn from each other, to let down our own judge-

ments, in an attempt to come to a common periences and emotions and feelings help understanding.” deepen understanding of these types of isAfter introductions, terms were defined to sues.” increase understanding, then everyone was Following this advice, personal experiencasked to participate in a “Kahoot” game, es were openly discussed in efforts to give where multiple images and videos were put clarification on topics in a more realistic on the board, such as Katy Perry’s music light. Everyone seemed eager to learn at the video to “Dark Horse,” and everyone was event, even raising questions over actions asked to vote wheththey had done and er they thought the asking if they were image was cultural appropriate. Quesappreciation or aptions over Halloween propriation. costumes, henna and We’re coming into this After the game, cultural events were trying to learn from each discussed in this way, the conversation truother ... in an attempt to such as el Día de los ly began and many come to a common shared their personal Muertos, a Mexican understanding. experiences and their holiday held on Nov. questions, with an2, translated to “Day swers coming often of the Dead.” Grace Musser from the guests, not Students began to the leaders of the event. They discussed spe- question their choices more, such as a Secific examples such as Selena Gomez’s mu- nior named Laura, who is from an area in sic video for her single “Come and Get It,” Texas that has what she called a “rich Mexand other situations where cultural appro- ican culture.” There, she participated in the priation may have been taking place. celebration of Cinco De Mayo in school, Respect was necessary for the event, and and she feared that she had been participatMusser, to encourage progressive conver- ing in cultural appropriation, despite how sation, wanted to “emphasize using your she was still learning about the history of personal experience, because personal ex- the holiday. To this, Worthern, who having

gone through something similar, offered the advice that there are “blurred lines, and we don’t really know who gets to say what is appropriation and what isn’t.” Even though it wasn’t a choice completely made by her, or something she could change, she had a desire to question her life decisions and work towards preventing cultural appropriation. Towards the end of the event, Worthern asked the group about possible solutions to the current issue, saying “How do we become more aware of cultural appropriation?” Multiple answers were brought up and much of the conversation led to the general consensus that if one isn’t sure if what they are doing is cultural appropriation or appreciation, it shouldn’t be done. The Common Ground program is through the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and, according to the St. John’s website, “provides opportunities for diverse groups of students to come together to engage in peer-led dialogues about issues that have important implications in our society.” This was just their first dialogue of the year. Their next event will be held on Dec. 5 so keep an eye out for their flyers on the MySJU homepage or on St. John’s affiliated media.

Features 5



Power 2 Organize, run by Student Government, Inc.’s organizations committee, held final presentations last week for prospective organizations to demonstrate why they should join SGI as an approved organization Several rounds were held including an application and presentation before the final groups went forward to present for the final voting. The final orgs were presented to the E-board and representatives, who proceeded to vote after all the presentations. Each org had four minutes to present and representatives had the opportunity to ask questions after each presentation. A total of 14 orgs presented. The approved non-advisory orgs are: Her Campus, DLCS (Deaf Language and Culture Society), Avaaz, Future Healthcare Leaders, L.I.V.E. Dance Crew, Ignite, Pre-Veterinary Club and Nari. The approved non-budgetary orgs are: Arab Students Organization, SPSSNY (Student Pharmacist Society of the State of New York), S.T.A.R.S. (Students That Achieve Rise and Succeed) and ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals For America). Want to learn more about the new orgs? Read below:

Non-Advisory organizations Nov-Advisory organizations can advertise their organization through flyers, have access to an Engage page, may deposit money into a revenue fund managed by SGI and can request a table at any St. John’s Activities Fair.

HER Campus Her Campus is an online media lifestyle magazine. Run by 33 women, Her Campus writes about mental health, fashion and culture. The articles are curated for what college women care about, while also providing social media that will spark interest. The magazine also has sponsorships, like last semester PHOTO COURTESY/HER CAMPUS when they were sponsored by Uber. Hers Campus serves to benefit people in the communications and entertainment field and has been approved for internship credit by SJU.

Deaf Language and Culture Society (DLCS)

The Deaf Language and Culture Society is an org centered around the deaf PHOTO COURTESY/DLCS community and interactions within our campus. DLCS is creating connections between the deaf community and other orgs on campus, while also teaching the campus community about deaf culture. According to DLCS, people in the deaf community experience issues from police brutality to dating, so they are collaborating with SOAR to work on conquering ableism. DLCS holds workshops to teach sign language and is also working within the language department to add ASL courses to the department, add a full time ASL staff member and a major/ minor in ASL.

Avaaz Avaaz is a group centered around Sikh faith and values. The groups founders created this group based on the lack of availability on campus. SJU had no religious group on campus that gave Sikhism a voice, thus Avaaz was created. Avaaz’ focus is to break the stigma with Sikhism, while promoting multiculturalism through campus values and volunteer opportunities.

L.I.V.E. Dance Crew

L.I.V.E. Dance Crew has been present at SJU since 2008, emphasizing the dance community on campus through different styles of dance and opportunities within the org. L.I.V.E. has over 500 followers on Instagram and is involved throughout our school’s community, as well as our surrounding community through charity dances. While they have a presence at SJU, they also perform at other universities. Even if PHOTO COURTESY/L.I.V.E. you don’t dance, this org encourages students to come out and be involved through things like production and videography. Their mission is to keep building the crew while encouraging confidence.


Ignite is an international organization which strives to keep campuses politically engaged. SJU students saw a lack in politically engaged students and locations to engage in politics on our campus, thus IgPHOTO COURTESY/YOUTUBE IGNITE NATIONAL nite’s SJU chapter was created to give students this space and provide leadership resources. One of Ignite’s main goals at St. John’s is to get women more involved with politics and creating a more politically involved campus.

Pre-Veterinary Club

The Pre-Veterinary Club is an org for students interested in veterinary medicine to have representation on campus because, while SJU has places for future medical students to seek advice, pre-veterinary students have different requirements. It is the perfect place for pre-vet students to seek help, from course suggestions to vet school applications. Pre-Veterinary Club is creating a network of people with similar career goals and providing volunteer opportunities for vet applications.



Future Healthcare Leaders


Future Healthcare Leaders is an org focused on students within health concentrations. They provide networking in healthcare within New York and other states, while also providing education on mission opportunities. Future Healthcare Leaders main goal is to serve as a bridge between administration and students within the healthcare concentrations.

Nari Nari is an org for South Asian women on campus, created specifically for these students to have a safe place to connect and come together. According to Nari, many women in the South Asian community do not have a place to talk about certain topics that are considered taboo in their culture. Nari provides an open space to meet and connect with other women of their culture and discuss such topics that they typically would not have an opportunity to talk about.


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6 Features



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Non-Budgetary organizations have access to everything non-advisory orgs have, as well as access to a campus activities advisor, the ability to request a budget through SGI and can reserve spaces on campus.

Arab Students Organization The Arab Students Organization is working to minimize the cultural gap within the SJU community for Arab students. This org provides representation of Arab culture on campus which was not previously present, aiming to give Arab students a sense of security and acceptance on campus. Arab Students Organization is a cultural addition to the campus and fosters a presence of inclusion for all cultures, ethnicities and religions on campus.

Student Pharmacist Society of the State of New York (SPSSNY) SPSSNY is a pharmacy based society in New York with a focus on entrepreneurship. SPSSNY wants to give the opportunity to allow students to become business people and entrepreneurs within the pharmacy program at SJU. St. John’s has a large presence of pharmacy programs for students on campus, but few resources on the business side of pharmacy. SPSSNY seeks to find where help is needed while implementing a networking system. They are also involved with legislative matters and work on bills within pharmacy and pharmacy students. While pharmacy students have lots of orgs to choose from for their program, SPSSNY’s speciality gives a new opportunity for students to explore.

S.T.A.R.S. (Students That Achieve Rise and Succeed)

S.T.A.R.S. is a mentorship based professional org to help SJU students in the health science fields. S.T.A.R.S wants to help increase graduation rates and help students succeed. Many students in STEM related fields have a feeling they cannot succeed, but S.T.A.R.S. is breaking this cycle starting with freshmen. They are providing support through mentoring, professional development events and general body meetings. STEM related majors can have a heavy course load and pressure to get into a graduate or medical program. S.T.A.R.S mentor based system will help elevated this pressure with the help of current and past students in the health science fields.

Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA ) ALPFA focuses on professional development within the Latinx community. Overall, they cater to different majors and backgrounds of the Latinx community. ALPFA is one of the largest professional development orgs on campus and provide resources and guidelines for students who want to develop. They are working to close the gap for Latinx SJU students who want professional develop regardless of their major.

Hopping the Turnstile MTA fare evasion crackdown

Sara Rodia Have you ever hopped the turnstile heading into the subway system? Or gotten on the bus through the back doors to avoid paying the $2.75 fare? Thousands of New Yorkers do this every day to avoid paying the fare, but the MTA is beginning to crack down on fare evasion. The MTA has added a higher amount of police presence in stations that are known to be a “hot spot” for fare evasion. Anyone who gets caught hopping the turnstiles will find themselves facing a $100 ticket — avoidable by paying the $2.75. Just by taking the subway, you’ll see signs prompting people to pay the $2.75 fare to avoid this ticket. These signs have sayings such as: “We’d rather your $2.75 fare than your $100 fine” and “Together we can make a better system.” But how do New Yorkers and St. John’s students feel about the crackdown on fare evasion? Jenna Hope, a junior Public Relations major with an English minor, doesn’t mind the increased police presence in subway stations. “Genuinely, it makes me feel safe although I hate being over watched when I’m not doing anything wrong,” Hope said regarding the increased police presence in subway stations.

Adela Pineda, a sophomore Marketing major, feels differently about the crackdown on fare evasion. “I don’t feel like they should increase the security at subway stations because it will cause discomfort for the people of NY,” said Pineda. “It may cause people to stop taking the subway to avoid being nervous or to prevent seeing a potential act of police brutality. I think they can go about this in other ways besides enforcing security.” Pineda is among a large number of New Yorkers who do not believe that there should be a crackdown on fare evasion. On Friday, Nov. 1, hundreds of protesters flooded the streets and subTORCH PHOTO/SOPHIE WILLIAMS ways in Downtown Brooklyn to fight this new initiative. On Friday, Nov. 1, protesters jumped turnstiles in response to the fare evasion crackdown. During the protest, many people marched, jumped turnstiles and vandalvolume too.” “The subway fares could go up to $5 and ized buildings, street signs and buses, acIn addition to the crackdown on fare eva- commuters would still pay it, because it’s cording to Business Insider. sion, the MTA has also discussed raising a necessity and still cheaper than owning This outrage came in lieu of multiple the price to take the subway. and insuring a vehicle,” Hope added. “So incidents that occurred over the last few “There’s been talk of the fees rising to though it generates frustration amongst weeks pertaining to police brutality over $3.00 in the next couple of months and New Yorkers, there’s not much we can do the crackdown. personally, this is way too much,” Hope about it and we will still pay.” “I’m glad that there were people to pro- said. Regardless of this crackdown on fare evatest because if we stay quiet, nothing will As of right now, the only concrete price sion, New Yorkers will continue to try and change,” Pineda said. “Perhaps, the pro- raises will be to the weekly and monthly avoid paying these fares, especially if the test could have been handled differently. It metrocards — which will occur in April — price to ride the bus or subway does indeed could have maybe been a silent protest out- but the price of a single ride could still go go up. side the station and that would’ve shown up, according to the New York Times.

Opinion 7


Flames of the Torch 97TH MANAGING BOARD Morgan C. Mullings/ EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Amanda Negretti/ MANAGING EDITOR Andreina Rodriguez

Destinee Tyler Scott

Alicia Venter

Yueran Yu



Spencer Clinton



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Patrick Loftus



Nick Bello

Jenna Woo



Dayra Santana

Amber Borden


Sophie Williams


Priyanka Gera


Maria Keddis


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STAFF Grace Greer Sydney Denham Olivia Mathon Anna McFillin Rachel Johnson Alana Loren Bethea Jewel Antoine Brendan Murray Nick McCreven J.P. Devetori Sara Rodia Samantha DeNinno






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Copyeditors: Sara Rodia Theresa Vogel

Photographers: Daniel A. Pérez Michaela Keegan

CONTRIBUTORS Brian Monahan Jennalynn Fung Arturo H. Enamorado III


The Torch is the official, independent student newspaper of St. John’s University. The Torch is written, edited, designed and produced by students of the University. The Torch is published on most Wednesdays, with approximately 20 issues throughout the academic year. Copies are distributed for free on campus and through mail subscriptions.


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All letters submitted for publication must include the author’s name, email and affliliation to St. John’s. We accept letters that address happenings within the St. John’s community. Letters must consist of original work and opinions of the sender. Limit letters to 350 words. Submissions may be edited for clarity. Please submit letters to torchopinion@gmail. com or https://www.torchonline.com/story-submission/.


Editorials are the opinions of the Editorial Board of the Torch. Columns and other content are the opinions of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of the Torch. Opinions expressed in editorials, columns, letters or cartoons are not necessarily those of the student body, faculty or administration of St. John’s University. All contents are the sole responsibility of the editors and the editorial board and do not necessarily represent the views of the administration, faculty or students of St. John’s University unless specifically stated.

Staff Editorial: On Our Relationship with Spectrum On Oct. 24, an eboard member from ty, we also want to be sensitive to members Spectrum came to our office in O’Connor who could be hurt by it. Hall to speak to our editorial board and The Torch grappled with how to handle staff about covering the LGBT community. the letter because of its contents. For us, this is a long time coming. Last seIt was published as an ad based on protomester, only two eboard members attended col from eboards in the past, who accepted a Safe Zone training. ads when any St. John’s entity would like This year, our Editor-in-Chief, Morgan to send a message as-is, without any editC. Mullings, decided that Safe Zone train- ing, to take a stance on an issue unrelated to ings be mandatory for each eboard member what has been covered in the paper. before their time on the Many of the board is up. eboard members In an effort to include disagree with the the rest of the staff, she While we will defend ad’s content enasked if someone from tirely — this is not freedom of speech for all grounds for reSpectrum could hold a mini workshop to teach members of the St. John’s moval of content. staffers how to cover the community, we also want As journalists, LGBT community reit is our job to acto be sensitive to members knowledge our bispectfully, because they are valued members who could be hurt by it. ases every day and of the St. John’s comoften act against munity. The workshop them. And while went very well and everyone learned a lot hate speech is protected under the first about the different identities of the Gender amendment, we have not and never will and Sexuality Minority (GSM) communi- publish hateful speech that is intended to ty. It has since enhanced our coverage. hurt others. We’re so grateful to Spectrum for taking We will continue to notify Spectrum time out of their schedules to meet with us, (and other minority groups on campus) and learn a bit about our work as well. before something we believe may be trigThe day of the workshop, Spectrum was gering to certain groups is published. It’s also notified about a possibly triggering let- an initiative we deeply care about, because ter to the editor we received in our inbox words can still be hurtful or offensive re(published as an ad in our last issue Nov. gardless of their intention. 6). At the time, we didn’t have a set deciWe intend to keep building and rebuildsion, but each time a decision was made, ing relationships with every part of this ina member of Spectrum’s eboard was con- stitution, regardless of how difficult it may tacted. be, because that’s our purpose. And we’d This was in an effort to let them know like to thank Spectrum for always inviting that while we will defend freedom of speech us into their space. We will be seeing them for all members of the St. John’s communi- at Safe Zone training this Saturday.

An Open Conversation on St. John’s and Respect Arturo H Enamorado III, Adjunct Professor

The question of freedom of speech vs. hate speech is something of considerable debate, and St. John’s University is not by any means immune to this conversation. As a university, we are obligated to educate, enrich and empower our students to be the next leaders of tomorrow, whether that be in an office space or in politics. Even at a Catholic university, it goes without question that all are welcome; diversity of faith, race, gender and ethnicity makes us better and gives us perspective. As professors, we sign an unofficial pact with our students to ensure that all are welcome. We take their views into con-

sideration, and at times, open the dialogue for correction and learning. We are not perfect, nor is any university. As such, it should be no surprise that incidents occur on university grounds, though we always wish that not to be the case, it is a fact of life. However, there must be a line drawn between what is hate speech and what is freedom of expression. Freedom of speech exists only if another person’s right to a happy and healthy life is not infringed upon. Regardless of your convictions, understandings or ideology, people have the right to exist, believe and identify as they choose. It is not a matter of theological or

biological debates. Respect comes first, and the inalienable rights of ALL humans must be put into consideration before anything else. For this reason, St. John’s University does not require students to be of the Catholic faith to attend. It is open to all. As a university, we have implemented a bias reporting system that holds all of us accountable: students, administrators and even us professors. Change, like history, can only come once we acknowledge that the views and opinions we have will change over time and space. So let the conversation begin.




Behind the Camo: Supporting Our Veterans’ Nov. 5 Election: Democrats Did Fight with Others and Within Themselves Sophie Williams “I start hearing the sound of 50-caliber machine guns all around me, and it’s getting louder and louder, and I know that nobody else is hearing it, but I swear to f—ing God it’s real. And the voices around me grew louder and suddenly I can’t remember where I am. ” — Frank Lesnesfsky, “Humans of New York.” Nov. 11 was Veterans Day, and while some may just put an American flag on Instagram, here is really what Veterans Day is about. This is the reality that some veterans face, like Iraq War veteran Frank Lesnefsky. Veterans Day is important because it celebrates and remembers veterans who chose to fight for our country knowing they may not live. Men and women everyday make the choice to fight for the safety of our country regardless of their situation. Not only is Veterans Day important to celebrate our veterans, but it is also important to be in support of their families. Veterans who are deployed year -round or suffer from PTSD can greatly impact their family. For a parent who is deployed, a child and spouse have to deal with having a non-traditional, long-distance relationship. For a spouse or parents, fostering a new relationship between themselves and a veteran with

PTSD can be a long process. A veteran can return home and feel completely different, out of their element and followed by graphic memories. This was the case for Pennsylvanianturned-New Yorker, Frank Lesnefsky, who dealt with PTSD after serving in Iraq. Through CBS News and his blog

I used to be goofy. I was Frank from North Scranton. And now I won’t ever be that again. Frank Lesnefsky

post on “Humans of New York,” Lesnefsky shares his struggles and stories to help others and bring awareness. “And now I’ve come to a place where the human body is shredded and stomped and blown to bits. And that just wasn’t me. I used to be jokey. I used to be goofy. I was Frank from North Scranton. And now I won’t ever be that again.” Lesnefsky and many other veterans wait to seek help. That is why supporting non-profits who work with veterans

is so important. One of the main ways to get involved would be to donate to these programs or go to events in support of veterans. The non-profit organization Headstrong, where Lesenefsky found his help, hosts events and has an active donation page. You can also create a care package through Support Our Troops. Or, like some Johnnies have done, write a letter to a veteran. Doing something as simple as writing a letter could help a veteran feel remembered and remind them why they chose to serve. I choose to celebrate Veterans Day to remember my grandpa and great grandpa’s sacrifices and dedication to our country. Since my grandpa and great grandpa passed on, I celebrate Veterans Day by participating in races that raise money for active and inactive veterans. On Sunday, Nov. 17, I will be running in the Jimmy’s Run Down Hero Highway organized by the Army Ranger Lead the Way Fund. This non-profit offers financial assistance for active duty, casualty assistance, recovery and transition to Ranger Regiment veterans. But remember, even though Veterans Day is only one day a year, you can choose to support our Veterans every day.

Are You Ready For Winter? What You Missed in Autumn Yueran Yu Falling leaves bid farewell to sweet summer and beckon autumn in. Like the moving hand of a clock, they mark time in their own chaotic way, the only way nature comprehends. Every step on campus is colored with red, orange and yellow — how great is this amazing beauty surrounding us! However, aside from these pleasant visual experiences, problems arise in our physical bodies too. Our unpreparedness in unpredictable weather change, render us unwelcoming sickness. In this article, I would like to share with you how to maintain a healthy life-style during autumn while still enjoying the awesome nature God created for us. Rest Well and Keep Warm A regular sleep schedule is the key to maintaining a healthy life-style in all seasons, especially in cold weather. A Harvard Sleep and Health study shows that seven to eight hours of sleep can strengthen your immune system and lower your risk of many health problems like high blood pressure. If you have a tight schedule like me, 10 to 20

minute power naps during the day also help. I have the habit of taking noon naps since I was in kindergarten and this small break really empowers me to function much more efficiently. Moreover, it’s essential to keep warm and be aware of weather change. It is a good habit to check the weather forecast the night before and prepare yourself for the next day. Taking a hot bath or shower before sleep has major physical and mental benefits too, de-stressing your body from a long busy day. Have Your Flu Shot + Be “Armed” The flu is carried in air droplets and is very infectious. Having a face-mask and hand sanitizer on you is a good mutual protection in a community. Each semester St. John’s University provides students with a free opportunity to get their flu shots. If you have a chance, definitely go by and get that shot! I am sure you all have experiences with a bad cold where you lay in bed for days, missed school work and develop flu-related symptoms. Getting a flu shot can greatly reduce this risk.

Do Autumn-Cleaning We are all familiar with “spring-cleaning,” but what about some “autumn-cleaning?” It is good to clean your house often, reducing the risk of getting any virus, bacteria or fungus growth around your daily dwelling place. In addition to furniture cleaning, closet cleaning is just as important. Allot a weekend to organize your clothes, take out thick and warm ones and declutter any summer wear that you are not likely to use in the next few months. Eat Healthy and Seasonal Foods It is always beneficial to eat seasonal foods and gain healthy ingredients directly from food instead of artificial pills. You can visit a nearby farmer’s market to know what fruits and vegetables are in season and swiftly adjust your recipe during different seasons. For instance, toasted pumpkin seeds with high protein or cinnamon and walnuts with high fiber are good choices in autumn. Vitamin rich fruits like oranges and kiwi are also good choices to stock up in your house or dorm because vitamin C can help ward off seasonal colds and boost your immune system.

Good Not Great Brian Monahan

Democrats had a solid election night on Tuesday, Nov. 5. They were able to capture the governor’s mansion of Kentucky and the trifecta in Virginia. Many pundits are using this as their crystal ball for 2020. Surely, by capturing the governor’s mansion in crimson-red Kentucky, the Democratic party must be in good shape for the presidential election in 2020. Since Governor Bevin pitched himself as the Trump of Kentucky, this must be a reflection of how the voters are feeling towards President Donald Trump. Then, in Virginia, we saw Democrats capture both chambers of the state legislature for the first time in over 20 years. Now, they will be able to pass much of the policy measures blocked by the Republicans. Why wouldn’t this be a good sign for Democrats in 2020? Well, for starters, the political circumstances of the Kentucky and Virginia elections represent two different trends. Take Kentucky, for instance: Kentucky has voted Republican in every presidential election since 2000. Despite this, Kentucky had a Democratic governor from 2007-2015. It’s not out of the ordinary for a Democrat to occupy the office. Plus, the Morning Consult ranked Gov. Bevin as the most unpopular governor in the country in the months prior to the election. It was not as though this was a popular incumbent going up against some generic Democrat. Moderate Governor-elect Andy Beshear is the son of Former-Governor Steve Beshear. It is not unthinkable to assume that Beshear was able to benefit from his surname. Republicans won all other statewide offices by comfortable margins. Virginia is more representative of a change in attitude toward Trump. However, the Virginia GOP has not won a statewide office in a decade. The demographics in Virginia are no longer favorable to Republican candidates. The north of the state has become increasingly diverse, populated and college-educated. This has been particularly disastrous for Republicans, especially after the election of Trump. As reported by CNN, the Virginia GOP hasn’t been helping their cause by refusing to elect moderates that would fare well in the suburbs of Alexandria and Richmond. In 2017, the Democrats won statewide offices by a fair margin but lost the legislature due to maps that benefited the Republican party. This year’s Democratic victory was somewhat expected after the redistricting. If I were a campaign strategist, the most significant takeaway from this election is the continued hemorrhaging of voters from traditionally Republican suburbs to the Democrats. This trend has been expedited under Trump and is bound to have wide-ranging implications on party politics. Suburbanites may change their party, but that does not mean they will change their politics. Other occurrences don’t bode well for Democrats or this narrative, such as a Sanctuary City vote that failed in Tucson, AZ., and Republicans taking back a large suburb in Nassau County, NY. Democrats are entitled to a victory lap over America’s suburbs, but they should remember that there are a lot of politics yet to unfold on the road to 2020.


10 Sports


Women’s Tennis Wraps Up Fall Season TORCHPHOTO/NICK BELLO

Sean Okula Racquets lay unused and balls remain sealed until the winter weather subsides. So begins the hibernation. Women’s tennis wrapped up the early portion of its schedule earlier this month. Now comes a three-month hiatus until dual match play starts in the spring season. “The main focus of the fall season is to test the players in competitive settings,” Coach Lauren Leo said. “This is an effective way to see what we need to work on in practice and continue the players’ development in preparation for the upcoming spring season.” Fall is split into two fronts. While the ITA hosts events for the best individual players from a year ago, teams compete in the invitational circuit. St. John’s started close to home. First up was a trip to the Dick Savitt Tennis Center for the Columbia Invitational in September. Four-star recruit Camila Ordonez highlighted the weekend. The freshman lost her first match, but bounced back with a pair of wins in the consolation bracket. She finished 4-6 in her first crack at the collegiate level. Graduation left open doubles pairings. Olaya Inclan Solis and Delia Arranz departed after playing the second and third slots for most of last season. Ordonez vied for a chance in the spring with partner Milka Genkova. The duo went 4-4 in the fall, including an undefeated weekend at the Penn Invitational in October. “The pairing of Milka and Camila as a doubles team has had a good showing this fall,” Leo said. “It is definitely a possibility for the spring.” Genkova battled through a lost 2018-19 season. Injury limited her to just one fall match and no action in the spring. In her first extended look at St. John’s, the senior

Freshman Camila Ordonez was a four-star recruit out of high school and made an immediate impact for the Red Storm this fall.

finished with a flourish. She won the last three matches of her fall season at the Big Green Invitational. Missing from most of the fall team schedule was senior superstar Jessica Livianu. The three-time defending Big East Player of the Year was busy representing the conference at singles tournaments across the country. “The high competition is a great opportunity for Jessica to sharpen her skills and prepare for the competition that she [faces] at the number-one position,” Leo said. She earned her place in the Oracle ITA Masters by means of her conference recognition. No Big East player has advanced as far in the tournament as she did in 2017, reaching the quarterfinals before losing in straight sets.

Returning conference players of the year filled spots in the Malibu tournament. Remaining slots went in order of UTR rating. It’s a showcase of the nation’s best, and Livianu has won at least one match in each of her three appearances. Ava Thielman from Oakland was her draw in the first round. Livianu made quick work of the junior, but would go no farther. She fell 6-1, 6-3 to North Carolina junior and NCAA Singles Championship quarterfinalist Sara Daavettila in the Round of 16. Back in action a week later, she faced an uphill climb just to get into the main draw. Livianu participated in the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa for the first time in her career, but needed five wins in the pre-qualifying and then the qualifying

draws to sneak her way into the main event. After an advantageous first round forfeiture, Livianu caught fire. She won once more on Saturday and once each on Sunday and Monday, sweeping in straight sets along the way. Brianna Shvets finally proved her match in the final round of the qualifying draw. The Princeton product ended Livianu’s fall season on a 6-3, 6-3 mark, but the senior knows the chance for championships will come again in the spring. “I’m very proud of what I have accomplished up to now in my college career, but I’m even more excited to accomplish more in the upcoming season,” Livianu said. “I am blessed to have this opportunity.”

Cross Country Shows Grit in Their Fall Season Brendan Murray The Red Storm Cross Country team’s season is coming to an end, but not without strides made by this years dedicated group of runners. The Red Storm has run three races so far this fall season and have three more coming up to end their season. In their first three matches the results were mixed. In the Brother John “Paddy” Doyle Meet of Champions the Red Storm finished 11th out of 16 total teams competing. For the Metropolitan Championships the team finished in fourth place out of nine teams. Their most recent race for the Big East Championships saw the Red Storm finish in ninth out of 10 total teams. Stephanie Gerland is a senior from Garden City, New York finishing up her final year of collegiate cross country. Gerland is proud of the way she improved from her first season on the team and she is proud of the team that was assembled this year. “I feel like it’s one of the best teams I’ve ever been on in my four years,” Gerland said. “A lot of people were injured last year Nicole [McCarthy] came back this year because she was injured. We have some new freshman and a transfer student; I’d say we were strong.”

Gerland’s most successful performance this season was at the Metropolitan Championships, held at Van Cortlant park where she

I feel like it’s one of the best teams I’ve been on in my four years. Stephanie Gerland

finished in fifth place. “That’s my favorite course because of the hills, I felt really strong during the race and I was able to finish strong.” Gerland attributes this year’s team with keeping their minds at the task at hand and not thinking too far ahead. Gerland says this is largely in part because of Coach Hurt and his style of coaching. “He is very motivational making sure we don’t get too caught up in it. Making sure we are relaxed and strong.”

Coach Jim Hurt has been the head coach of the cross country and track and field teams of St. John’s for the past 29 years with many successful seasons under his belt. This season was a step in the right direction after last season. “We moved a spot in each of our conference championships and we got some new kids that have gotten used to running at the collegiate level,” Hurt said. “We haven’t put it all together yet from what practice indicates our practices have been sensational and our ladies have been working hard.” Coach Hurt was happy with the improvement in placement of the Big East Championships event where the Red Storm was able to move into ninth place. In the same competition that last year saw the Red Storm finish in last place (tenth). “We’ve made some good progress and hoping to put anything together the last two races of the season coming up.” Hard work and a healthy group of runners were the main focus of the season. After a season of injuries last year and some more this year the team decided not to run in as many competitions as they did last year. Coach Hurt credits the team this year of being hardworking and continuing to get better every week. With not as many com-

petitions being run as last year it was important for the team to continue to stay fresh and be on top of their game and improvement was visible. Finishing a spot higher in the Big East Championships isn’t a vast improvement but an improvement nonetheless. For a group of athletes that have struggled with health in this season as well, they will be looking to finish out the rest of this 2019 season strong. The Red Storm’s next competition will be the NCAA Regional Championships in Buffalo, New York on Nov. 15.


Sports 11


President Gempesaw Addresses Student Athlete Legislation Nick Bello St. John’s President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw did not directly answer whether or not he was in favor of student-athletes being compensated for their name, image or likeness. However, he did aknowledge that he understands the attraction to the idea of student-athletes capitalizing on being included in a video game. “A rising college athlete could have his or her name, image or likeness in [a video game],” Gempesaw said in a recent interview with the Torch. “That’s an opportunity.” “Right now the three board of directors of the three [NCAA] divisions are working to develop policies,” Gempesaw said when discussing the NCAA’s plan of action in addressing the new student-athlete compensation legislation. “The goal is that everyone will be ready by January of 2021.” When it comes to the NCAA’s years-long battle with how to compensate student-athletes, President Gempesaw is in a unique position. Over this past summer, Gempesaw was named as the Big East’s representative on the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum and the Presidential Forum Steering Committee, which both act as counsel for the NCAA on important issues. In late October, Gempesaw and his fellow committee members met in Atlanta, the host city for the 2020 NCAA Basketball Tournament Final Four, for a series of meetings. In a meeting on Oct. 29, the NCAA’s Board of

Governors met to discuss the NCAA Board of Governors and State Legislation Working Group’s recommendations on the topic of student-athlete compensation. President Gempesaw’s name was not mentioned on the attendee list, however, Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman, who serves as the working group’s co-chair, was in attendance. Ackerman and her constitunts presented their report on student-athletes benefiting from the use of their name, image or likeness. The report that was presented at the meeting, which can also be found on the NCAA’s website, addresses the legislation that had been presented in various state’s while also providing a set of principles that the NCAA should take into consideration when drafting rules and regulations. The report also provides a list of steps that the working group and divisional governance structures should take moving forward on this issue. Last month, the Torch interviewed St. John’s Athletic Director Mike Cragg on the topic of student-athlete compensation. In the interview, Cragg was for trying to work on finding a resolution to this matter, however, Cragg stated that he had, “yet to see anybody actually come up with a practical plan.” Cragg was also asked specifically about California SB-203, the only legislation to effectively be passed concerning student-athlete compensation. Cragg said that he was confident that the law would not have an impact on St. John’s since it is set to go into

action in 2023. “We’re not going to end up with any one state deciding the rules,” Cragg said. “It was a law that was set for 2023, a lot’s going to happen between now and then.” While discussing student-athlete compensation, President Gempesaw had a similar take regarding not only California SB-203, but also other various state’s passing legislation. According to Gempesaw the situation can get more confusing with multiple state’s passing legislation. “The challenge that we have is that the state legislators are all passing these laws, and there are states I’ve heard like [Florida] and like California, which is not effective until 2023,” Gempesaw said. “It could be confusing if schools are being preempted by state legislation.” Gempesaw and Cragg’s concerns are also concerns that the NCAA and the working group has regarding the high influx of state’s passing legislation. These concerns are addressed on page three of the working groups report. “NCAA legislation that allows for variability based on identified circumstances must first be vetted and adopted by the membership representing college athletics in all 50 states-not by a single state or even multiple states,” the report says. “The framework proposed by the working group will facilitate national consistency while allowing for divisional differences and greater student-athlete choice within our structure.” Another challenge that the NCAA faces

is the even displacement of opportunities across the board for all divisions and sports. President Gempesaw sees this issue as just a division one issue, however, he does see an issue when it comes to equal opportunities for sports that may not have as many opportunities compared to basketball or football. “The guideline that they wrote in [their report] is how do you differentiate the treatment of student athletes in those popular sports, versus the sports that won’t have the [same] opportunities,” Gempesaw said. “It’s not an easy task but the good news is that the NCAA has agreed to embrace the change.” Gempesaw also mentioned that the NCAA, “generates a significant amount of its revenue from the basketball tournament. It does not share [that revenue] with the football championships, the bowl games.” This is a major issue for the NCAA as it could potentially cause a discrepancy within the opportunities for basketball and football student-athletes as well as student-athletes in other sports. While the NCAA has agreed to embrace the change, a lot of work still has to be done in order to modify their model of amateurism to fit the need for student-athlete compensation. According to a release on the NCAA’s website, the working group will continue to look for ways to respond to legislation and each division has been tasked with creating new rules that will go into effect immediately but no later than the begining of 2021.


SPORTS November 13, 2019 | VOLUME 97, ISSUE 09 | TORCHONLINE.COM

Red Storm Rumble to 3-0

From St. John's to CBS Sports


Sydney Denham For St. John’s, this game could have been the first time since the 1909-10 season that they have three consecutive wins by 30 points or more, according to Red Storm Sports. For the University of New Hampshire, this game could have been the first time since the 2010-11 season since they began the season with three consecutive wins, according to UNH Wildcats. St. John’s held a tight lead throughout the second half. The final score was St. John’s 74, New Hampshire 61. “We’re not the type of team to just show up and win,” Head Coach Mike Anderson said post-game. “We have to be blue collar, we have to do the right thing defensively and offensively.”

Figueroa led St. John’s with 25 points, tying his career-high in points. Champagnie led with nine rebounds, three offensive and six defensive. Heron and Rutherford tied and led the team with five assists. Roberts reached his new career high with more than ten points. He ended the game with twelve points. “This is where you learn,” Coach Anderson said. “We are only three games into the season. Every game is going to be a different game.” The starting five for St. John’s were Mustapha Heron, LJ FIgueroa, Nick Rutherford, Josh Roberts, and Julian Champagnie. Champagnie put up the first two points for the Johnnies. The St. John’s offense struggled to find the net, going nearly five minutes without scoring. This

led the Red Storm to trail the Wildcats, 18-8, with 12:12 left in the first half. David Caraher put up three for the Johnnies to break their cold front on offense. Roberts had a strong first half with four rebounds and eight points. “Whether you are up or down, you just have to stay in the moment,” Coach Anderson said. At halftime, St. John’s led the game with a score of 36-34. Marcellus Earlington tipped two points in to break the tie just before the buzzer. Figueroa led the Johnnies with twelve points. He went three for five from behind the threepoint line. After good performances against Mercer and Central Connecticut State, Heron struggled to find the basket until the second half. He put up his first

two points two minutes into the second half, shortly followed by one point from the free-throw line to complete the ‘and one’. Earlington came out strong early in the second half. Caraher’s three-pointer with 11:54 left in the second half, leading the Red Storm up by ten for the first time all game. Champagnie came in hot at the end of the second half, adding up 11 points on the board. “We kept playing the way we play,” Figueroa said, “we knew they were going to get fatigued after a while, and that’s what happened.” St. John’s returns to Carnesecca Arena Saturday, Nov. 16, when they take on the University of Vermont at 4 p.m..

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