VOL 97 : 10 nov. 20, 2019 The award-winning independent student newspaper of St. John’s University
'Few faculty of color' Three Professors’ resignations ignite conversation on diversity see the story on page 3 TORCH PHOTOS / SPENCER CLINTON
Women's Basketball Season Begins Page 13 TORCH PHOTOS / SPENCER CLINTON
Campus Lecture Sheds Light on African Democracy
Democracy grows in Africa, but obstacles remain, priest says Michael Yacik
Dr. Elias Omondi Opongo gave the first of a two-part lecture series on global justice on Friday, Nov. 15 at DAC. His presentation, “Democratic Transitions in Africa: Challenge & Promise,” outlined the current challenges to burgeoning constitutionalism that has resonated across the continent since the 1990s. A Jesuit priest and director of the Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations in Kenya, Opongo has worked with refugees from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and published numerous books on religion and peacebuilding. Theology professor Meghan Clark, who taught with Opongo in Kenya, introduced the lecture. Opongo said after serious economic decline in the 1980s and civil wars in the 90s, that Africa is seeing democracy increase in prominence, with nations including Uganda, Cameroon and Rwanda holding elections today. However, people still suffer throughout the continent. Economic growth is not the issue in Africa, according to Opongo. GDP-wise, it is the fastest growing continent in the world, as several nations boast impressive yearly growth. “That’s a positive, because you were not seeing this ten years ago. Gradually these economic structures are beginning to work,” Opongo said. “But...they need to work for the majority.” Opongo described the inaccurate picture that economic growth has painted of the continent as unemployment persists—nearly 30 percent in some countries. Opongo asked the audience to identify an image of a city skyline, one seemingly befitting any developed and prosperous city worldwide. One student guessed Seattle. Opongo re-
PHOTO COURTESY/CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES vealed it was Johannesburg, South Africa. The skyscrapers then cut to a group of exhausted men huddled along a roadside, soliciting jobs. One held a cardboard sign saying “plumber,” another, “painter.” He asked which city this photo was taken in. “It’s still Johannesburg,” Opongo said. Perhaps the greatest threat to the people, according to Opongo, is the concentration of power in singular corrupt leaders, many elected ones holding lifetime terms, who have used their positions to control wealth and natural resources. “These leaders have been there for 20, 25 years and tend to weaken the institution. And when people are so hopeful that change has now come, we don’t seem to experience it.” Opongo remains hopeful, however. He sees a future where corrupt governments are held accountable and the African population can reap the benefits of the continent’s economic potential. He pointed to countries like Rwanda, where term limits for presidents are being introduced, and recognized nonviolent protests in countries like Sudan, where a three-month sitin eventually compelled the government to step down. “There were some shootings, some people died, but they kept going,” Opongo said. “This is one great example of nonviolent success.” In attendance were students from Clark’s Theology and Peace class. Though he didn’t know the background, sophomore Steven Osajnak was “intrigued.” Junior Chania Chambers admittedly wasn’t sure what to expect, but was impressed by the lecture. “I didn’t really know what was going on politically in Africa. I feel like I got really Dr. Elias Omondi Opongo begins a two-part lecture series on global justice good insight on it,” Chambers said.
WSJU Hosts Live Q&A With Dave East TORCH PHOTO/JANAE KEA
WSJU hosted a Live Q&A with Dave East about his new album, “Survival” at the Little Theater on Nov. 14.
TORCH PHOTO/JANAE KEA
‘Few Faculty Members of Color’
SJU Diversity Questioned in Wake of Profs. Quitting Andreina Rodriguez St. John’s has made diversity on campus a priority in recent years. Through accepting diverse students, hiring faculty of diverse backgrounds and pushing through initiatives such as the Inclusivity Resource Center department, the University has shown a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. But the school has more work ahead. Diversity in the faculty ranks has taken a hit in the past year following the departure of professors Dr. Raj Chetty, Dr. Rob Bland and Dr. Collin Craig. Chetty, an Indian-American born in Minneapolis and raised in San Diego, and Bland, an African-American from Virginia, spoke to the Torch about their reasons for leaving. Craig did not respond to an interview request prior to publication. “The longstanding struggle to recruit and retain black faculty and staff meant that black faculty at St. John’s were often doing double and triple duty for students and the larger campus community,” Bland said. “This emphasis on service would detract from research and personal life in a way that did not feel sustainable in the long run.” Chetty added, “As a reform-minded professor interested in institutional change, what does it mean that students come to me and my friends and colleagues? I think I’m doing them a disservice because the University isn’t doing good by them and gets away because I am.” In response, Brian Browne, a University spokesperson said diversity will continue to be a key factor in hiring, recruiting and retaining professors. “St. John’s values faculty diversity as an important and contributing factor to academic excellence and we know that a diverse faculty and inclusive teaching and learning experiences have a positive impact on all students,” said Browne. St. John’s is the eight most diverse college in the city, and number one in Queens — but that’s based mostly on student population, not faculty. The most recent data available from the St. John’s University Office of Institutional Re-
search shows that 29 percent of full-time faculty on campus were people of color. That’s as of Fall 2018. These three departures therefore represent a small -- but still significant -- portion of the University’s diverse faculty population. “During the last three fiscal years, on average, 14 full-time faculty members voluntarily left the University for a variety of reasons,” Browne said. “There are varied and concomitant factors that influence faculty recruitment and retention including but not limited to the cost of living in NYC, the faculty tenure process and job offers from other colleges and universities.” Chetty began at St. John’s in 2013 as an assistant professor in English for the St. John’s
The longstanding struggle to recruit and retain black faculty and staff meant that black faculty at St. John’s were often doing double Dr. Robert Bland
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and specialized in literature and culture, postcolonial literary studies, black/african diaspora performance and performance studies. Bland taught United States History at St. John’s, with his research focused on the African American experience during and immediately after the Reconstruction era. Craig started at St. John’s in 2012 as an assistant professor and became an associate professor in 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile. His research focused on active investigation of black and Latino male literacies, identity politics, cultural rhetoric, gender and writing program administration. Chetty and Bland told the Torch in separate interviews that they were both on tenure-track positions. Through tenure, professors are required to meet certain criteria by researching or publishing. Chetty said that unlike schools such as Harvard or Yale, St. John’s doesn’t provide sabbatical for profes-
sors at this stage. Bland said that puts pressure on tenure track professors to juggle their research efforts with their course teachings. They also both said students sought them out for support. “Helping students is one of the main reasons I became a professor,” Bland said, “but because there were so few faculty members of color at St. John’s, you end up doing a lot of work that potentially takes away from your research and teaching in a way that could hurt your chances for tenure.” According to the United States Department of Education, the undergraduate student body at St. John’s is made up of 40 percent white students and almost 48 percent of diverse backgrounds -- 17 percent black, 16 percent Asian, 8 percent Hispanic, 5 percent biracial, 1 percent American Indian / Alaska Native and less than 1 percent Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander. By contrast, the diversity rate within faculty is 29 percent, per the University spokesman. The Department of Education categorizes racial identity as black/African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Hispanic, two or more races or native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander. A concise way of describing this, is non-white. “All Universities, including St. John’s, fail at really transformative hiring practices,” Chetty said. “Correspondingly, when people do get hired in the small numbers that they do, there isn’t a really good support system to keep them.” St. John’s makes a priority of retaining diverse professors, Browne said. “Recruiting and retaining diverse faculty is an important priority at St. John’s University and is an issue facing all institutions of higher education,” Browne said. “To that end 42% of all new faculty hired at St. John’s since Fall 2014 have come from historically underrepresented groups.” In an interview with St. John’s President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw on Nov. 6, the Torch asked about how the University aims to retain diverse faculty in the importance that also contributes to the retention of students. “I think we’ve done a good job in terms of
gender and ethnic diversity hiring,” Gempesaw said. “Fifty-nine percent of our student body are female and so that’s a few years more than 50 percent of the faculty we hired who are also female and we’ve also increased the number in proportion of faculty of color that we hire.” Gempesaw gave credit to the faculty, department chairs and deans as he broke down the hiring process that consists of specific steps. “It starts with the department chair committee comprised of their faculty who recommends their chair and then the chair recommends to the dean and then the dean goes to the provost,” he said. Gempesaw explained that although administration has a high role in recruiting new faculty, the hiring process also depends on the support from faculty and the student body to encourage diversifying the campus in terms of both gender and race. Chetty and Bland both expressed their appreciation for the support they’ve received from students and how it has served as the main reason for their arrival at St. John’s and staying for as long as they did. “The people who left and the people who stayed, and the people who stayed, we know why we stay,” Chetty said. “It’s because of [the students], we get to teach students.” While the ongoing process of building a diverse community on campus is still in the works, Bland expressed his gratitude for the efforts made by students and current faculty. “The faculty of color at St. John’s have been doing incredible work offering exciting courses on subjects students care about, building community for students who feel marginalized, and trying to make St. John’s a better place,” he said. “Many white allies on the faculty have also been invaluable in amplifying some of the concerns to administration.” He continued,“I believe that the ongoing work on the part of students and faculty of color to hold the university accountable to its commitment to diversity is beginning to bear some fruit. It appears that important and neglected structural changes have begun to occur on campus.”
EVENTS THIS WEEK Thursday, Nov. 21
24 Hours Of Climate Reality 1:50-3:15pm | Ozanam Room, St. Vincent Hall Native & Indigenous Heritage Month Keynote Speaker & Indigikitchen: Mariah Gladstone Indigikitchen : 5:00 -6:00 | Sun Yat -Sen Memorial Hall Keynote : 6:00-7:00pm | Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall
Austen Ivereigh - Biographer Of Pope Francis
7:00 - 8:30 | St. Thomas More Church Emma D’Aquino Presents Her Book, "Ancora Un Giro Di Chiave: Nino Marano, Una Vita Fra Le Sbarre" (Another Turn of The Key: Nino Marano A Life Behind Bars) | 12:15 | 2nd floor St. Augustine Hall (Library)
Gospel Cafe : A Night Of Creative Workshop
7pm | DAC Coffehouse | Guests : Kingdom Music, Sinai's Radiant Liturgical Dance Ministry, and more Office Of Multicultural Affairs : Men Of Color
Common Hour | IRC | Moderator: Dr. Andre Mckenzie
How to Get Out & Give Back this Season Sara Rodia
PHOTO COURTESY/OLIVIA GRONDY
“An organization that APO uses a lot is New York Cares, which offers countless volunteer As we settle into November, the holiday season opportunities that you can search by borough, is now upon us. We’ll soon be eating turkey and times you’re available, types of volunteer work stuffing with our families, saying what we’re you like to do ... Students can find seasonal thankful for, and not long after we’ll be cuddled opportunities there,” Olivia Grondy, a junior up by a warm fire with holiday tunes playing Global Development and Sustainability major in the background. But what about the people and Vice President of APO, said. who might not have the same luxuries that we As the VP of APO, Grondy is in charge of do? The holidays are the season of giving, so this running the service portion of the fraternity, holiday season get out and give back with some which includes planning and running service great volunteer opportunities around campus, events on and off campus, documenting service Queens and the New York City area. hours that the brothers complete and forming Being a student in the city, there are many volpartnerships with organizations that they do unteer opportunities available, especially during service with. the holiday season. St. John’s Campus Ministry APO does many different things, from hostoffers several great volunteer options including ing their own events on campus to volunteering midnight runs, Ronald McDonald House, St. with organizations all around Queens and the John’s Bread & Life and many more. They even St. John’s service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, completes service year round. city. offer a volunteer option specifically for the holi“Also, I know the holiday season is a time where Bouchard said. “It is beautiful to have the St. John’s commuday season – Sponsor A Family. we all like to eat,” Grondy said. “It’s important to Sponsor A Family is run by Jordan Bouchard, the Resi- nity come together, students, faculty, staff and administra- remember that there are a lot of less fortunate people who dence Campus Minister for Vincentian Service. “In partner- tion all serve alongside one another, living out our Catholic don’t get to enjoy a hot meal or healthy food, so I always ship with the St. John’s Bread and Life Soup Kitchen in Bed- and Vincentian mission.” enjoy volunteering at soup kitchens or food pantries during Campus Ministry also offers multiple weekly volunteer op- the holidays.” ford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Sponsor A Family delivers food, clothing and toys to families facing difficult circumstances portunities such as the Ronald McDonald House, St. Nick’s Two soup kitchens that APO volunteers with are Healthy during the Christmas season for over 20 years,” Bouchard Men Shelter, after school programs and many more that can Harlem Food Service — from 3:30PM to 8:00PM every said when describing the program. “The St. John’s Bread be found on the St. John’s Website. These are great oppor- Wednesday at All Souls Church, 88 St. Nicholas Ave. — and Life Program hopes to serve food to more than 2,000 tunities that you can volunteer at during the holiday season and Bowery Food Service - from 10:30AM to 12:00PM evfamilies and provide warm winter gear to approximately or even after it ends. ery Saturday (except the last Saturday of the month) at 204 For any questions regarding Sponsor A Family or other Forsythe St. — and there’s no need to sign up; you can just 1,000 individuals this season.” To participate in Sponsor A Family, you can sign up on volunteer opportunities, Bouchard invites students to come go and help out! the St. John’s website to either volunteer or to donate. The visit her at her office in Marillac 239. Through organizations on campus, such as Campus MinAnother great way to find out about volunteer options is istry or APO, or through outside sources such as New York dates to volunteer are Saturday, Dec. 7, Saturday, Dec. 14 and Sunday Dec. 15, according to the listings on the web- through Alpha Phi Omega (APO), a co-ed national service Cares, there are so many opportunities to volunteer in the fraternity. APO is aware of tons of volunteer opportunities New York Area. The holiday season is a time for giving, so site. “Even though it is around finals week, it is always won- in and around Queens, both during the holiday season and this holiday season get out there and give back to the comderful to have students participate in Sponsor A Family,” year round. munity.
Empowering International Students J.P. Devetori Being an international student isn’t an easy task. Being away from family, learning a new language and adapting to a different lifestyle are all challenges these students face. Kam Niri, St. John’s alum and grad student knows these challenges firsthand as an international student from Italy. These are the topics Niri hopes to tackle in her newest podcast, “Diary of an International Student” (D.I.S.). Niri launched D.I.S. on Sunday, Nov. 17, the same day as International Students Day. Niri’s show will include guest appearances from other international students, as well as her own anecdotes and experiences. “I have never regret[ed] ever in my life coming here as an international student, it’s actually the best experience I could ask for and a big part of my life,” she said. Niri was born near Perugia, Italy and lived in Rome before moving to New York. “I think studying abroad or coming here as an international student is something students should try because it’s something that expands your mind, your views, your culture,” Niri said. “You’re coming to study in a place you’re
not familiar with and it helps you to get out of your comfort zone which is very important.” Most students from the U.S. don’t have to learn an entirely new language, culture or even a new system of currency that is foreign from their own just to go to school -, that’s where the term “homesickness” comes into play. “Is it hard? Yes. Is it a choice? Yes, however, just because it is a choice, it doesn’t mean that these problems should be a taboo,” Niri said regarding the conflicting feelings that international students often feel. “When I was in high school I found that I wanted to study outside of Rome, if not outside of Italy, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And it came towards the end of high school that I thought I didn’t want to go to college. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do in life,” Niri said. Niri’s father found an abroad program which had several options around the globe,and she ended up choosing New York. She loves the college environment in New York, which is something she would not get at home in Italy. She is now working for her second master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at St. John’s. She
finished her undergraduate degree in 2016 as a Public Relations major and she completed her first master of science degree in 2018 in International Communications. This isn’t Niri’s first venture into podcasting – she hosted her first podcast, MISS-Communications of a Broken Cupid, while pursuing her masters. In this podcast, Niri and another SJU student applied communications theories that they were learning in their masters program to dating and romance. D.I.S. also has a co-host, AJ X Soul, who is a St. John’s alumnus, but not an international student. “We established this team so he can ask me questions as a non-international student and keep a spontaneous conversation. Every episode, I am not aware of the topic we will be talking about. AJ chooses the topic, and he’s the only one in the entire crew that knows what it’s going to be. I want to have a genuine talk because it’s a diary, and it’s not [just] my diary, it’s every international student’s diary.” “The hashtag of our podcast is ‘Alone I am not.’ I want to make sure that international students feel empowered and never doubt their experience.” D.I.S.’s goal is to create and reinforce a
PHOTO COURTESY/KAM NIRI
Alumna Kam Niri creates podcast, “Diary of an International Student”
Kam Niri’s podcast aired on International Students day, Nov. 17.
community for all international students. Niri’s main vision is to be able to create a sense of a ‘home away from home’ for international students so they can feel safe and never alone. If you are an international student who would like to share your story, you can email the crew at: email@example.com.
Senior Melissa Arpino Crafts Organic Skincare Line Amanda Negretti As seniors begin to consider what career paths, graduate programs and other paths to pursue after graduation, senior Melissa Arpino has already begun to develop the business she plans to take on as a full time job after she leaves St. John’s. The senior advertising major and entrepreneur created her vegan and cruelty-free skincare brand, Stripped Beauty, about a year ago. Arpino handmakes all Stripped Beauty products, keeping in mind eco-friendly initiatives and ingredients that are healthy for the skin. “I just kind of went for it,” she said. Arpino began Stripped Beauty about a year ago with the help of her mother, who has been her mentor throughout the whole process. “We use ingredients that are good for the planet and good for your skin,” Arpino said. “It [all] work[s] in harmony.” “My mom … used to formulate for bigger brands like Estée Lauder,” she said. Currently, her mom runs her own beauty business and lab upstate. This lab is where Arpino is able to make her products and source her ingredients. “It’s definitely a mother daughter duo,” she said. Arpino runs every aspect of Stripped Beauty. This includes, but is not limited to; managing their Instagram page, package design/delivery presence, website copy and making the products. “It’s hard,” Arpino admits. Balancing schoolwork is hard for any student, but running her own business on top of it is a delicate balance. Arpino drives from Queens to Upstate New York about one to two times a week to make her products. “All [the] products are good for all skin types because of the [organic] ingredients.” Stripped Beauty skincare products range from face masks, toners, soaps, oil and lip scrubs. There aren’t any specific items for dry, oily or combination skin. However, when it comes to the clay mask – they are more skin concern focused. When handcrafting Stripped Beauty products, Arpino starts with a base formula and adds other ingredients from there. She substitutes palm oil, typically found in skincare products but is considered bad for the skin, with other raw ingredients like organic shea butter in her bar soaps. Her toners are alcohol-free to avoid drying out the skin. When it came to naming her brand she said “I just thought of “strip” and was like thats it…it fits with our ingredients.” Stripped Beauty is an eco friendly brand. Products are packaged in biodegradable packing peanuts and her cards are made out of reusable t-shirts. Even the bubblewrap is
eco friendly. Stripped Beauty doesn’t test on animals and has teamed up with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). You can search for ‘Stripped Beauty’ in the PETA Database under Beauty without Bunnies. As a senior, Arpino hopes to take on Stripped Beauty as a full time job upon graduation. Her goal is to take the company to the next level by having full lines and adding more products. Some products she wants to expand on are her toners, serums and face washes. When asked if she’d want to expand to makeup she said, “makeup is hard because a lot of it is pressed and I don’t have a press because it is expensive – but anything loose like lip gloss for sure.” She also mentioned expanding to hair products, but because hair textures are so versatile, it is going to take a lot of time and effort. Like Glossier, she hopes to have one flagship store that can sell her products, but stay primarily an online boutique. She has even considered extending the store to a possible spa.
PHOTO COURTESY/MELISSA ARPINO
Melissa Arpino created Stripped Beauty, an eco-friendly, vegan and animal crulty-free skincare brand.
try to find which products work best for your skin and embrace the trial and errors. Four, it is important to cleanse because washing the dirt off your face is essential. Lastly, use a toner. This helps with hydration and TORCH PHOTO/ AMANDA NEGRETTI reduce the appearance of pores. Arpino’s brand message with Arpino shared her top five beauty tips for everyone of all Stripped Beauty is to make natural products inclusive while skin types with the Torch: also promoting skin and acne positive for all people. One, wash your pillowcase frequently because it collects “I’d say [my goal] is to provide products that are effeca lot of dirt that can cause breakouts. Two, have a skincare tive, but still affordable for people who don’t have access to routine and stick to it: don’t over do it, less is more. Three, natural products.”
Bundle Up: Adapting to NYC Weather Out of state students talk preparing for the cold
Alicia Venter Winter is approaching in New York City, and, according to ABC7NY Weather, this year the season could bring above-normal snowfall, so everyone has to be ready for the frigid weather. While this may seem normal to SJU students native to New York or the nearby area, this task is new to many students from other parts of the country. Many outof-state students are being forced to rapidly prepare for this upcoming winter season, each contrasting the weather here from back home and employing different strategies to fight the cold and wind. Those students who are coming from the west coast are each having different experiences adapting. Freshman student Desivie Knee is from Seattle, Washington, and there, she says, “Winter is grey, rainy and around 30-40 degrees typically.” Freshman California native Karla Rangel had never experienced temperatures below 50 degrees and freshman Jenna Fliesan, who is from Las Vegas, said that if she were home
right now, she would be wearing her Birkenstock sandals. Compare this with the weather of the past two weeks in Queens, where it has been below freezing, without even considering the windchill temperature! Knee is being forced to quickly adapt to the extreme wind, admitting that “adapting to New York City winter is tough. I’m freezing.” Rangel is dealing with the same issue, saying that, “It’s the wind that gets you.” Knee and Fliesan have already made moves to prepare themselves, Knee sharing that “I have so many different layers, socks, a really puffy coat, snow boots, hats and gloves so I’m hopefully prepared.” Fliesan has struggled, only getting a coat from a thrift store that her roommates tell her won’t be enough, but said that she plans to get a parka soon and, due to the price of boots, will get “off-brand duck boots.” Students from the South are coming from states where the weather during the winter is entirely different. Freshman Holly Larson comes from Florida and said that at this time of year, the weather “would be in the 90s or 80s.” “I’m really scared for deep winter,” she shared. “The
weather now would be our winter, so I’m not used to getting cold.” Her solution, as well, is “layering up a lot! Socks, winter coat, everything.” Sharing in Larson’s struggles is freshman Angelina Vincent from southern Texas. On the topic of getting winter coats and boots, she said, “I haven’t yet, and I don’t plan on getting anything before I go back home [over Thanksgiving]. So I plan to just not go back outside when the sun is down, and then get some coats and winter stuff back home.” Freshman Irish Smith from Ohio is surprisingly not scared at all for the upcoming season. Despite the strong winds of the past few weeks, Smith shared that “Honestly, it’s the same weather I get in Ohio so there’s no adaptation.” As a whole, to prepare for this upcoming season, remember that coverage and layering are the best solutions to wind and snowfall. Scarves, gloves and earmuffs of any kind will protect your body from strong gusts of wind. New York City comes with the promise of below-freezing temperatures, so make sure you equip yourself for this upcoming season!
Phi Iota Alpha Gives International Aid Alexandra Crespo The oldest Latino fraternity in existence, Alpha Gamma Chapter of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc., has an established chapter at St. John’s and is empowering the Latinx community by achieving its highest fundraising goal after a decade long campaign to improve education for students in Santa Eulalia, Peru. They also have had a large reputation of contributing to other programs to support underrepresented students. In the summer of 2017, the St. John’s Chapter of Alpha Gamma of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc. enacted a project to help improve the lives of many students in the Jorge Guevara Mellado School, which consists of a preschool and elementary school in Santa Eulalia, Peru. “The conditions they studied in were way below the standard that any child should have to deal with. They were packed in a torn-down building that lacked fencing, exposing a cliff that endangered children,” said Ricardo Canelo, a graduate member of the Omicron Chapter of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc. at NYU. In 2008, the Chapter took on this opportunity and raised $1,700, allowing them to acquire architectural repairments to improve students’ learning environment and repair the various safety hazards that posed daily threats to the students. The initial act created a long-lasting relationship between the Jorge Guevara Mellado School and the St. John’s Chapter of Phi Iota Alpha in which the Chapter raises money for the school on a regular basis. The founder of the project, Waldo Guevara, is a St. John’s alum who graduated in
PHOTO COURTESY/RICARDO CANELO 2010. He was motivated to start this project to help kids have a better future. This initiative is especially important to Guevara. “I lived in the town where the school is located and would have gone to the school if I wasn’t brought to the USA,” Guevara said. “I feel it’s my duty to help the students of this school have a better future like I did.” Guevara strives to help students in need as he understands their position and acknowledges that monetary funds are extremely difficult to obtain. The Chapter focused its efforts on an international school in Peru due to Guevara’s personal ties and investment to the school as his grandfather helped lead the construction of the first school. He had donated part of SJU Alum Waldo Guevara makes annual trips to Peru to bring the children of Jorge Guevara his house to be a part of the school so Mellado School the scholarship and supplies that result from fundraising efforts. the students could have a place to learn. Guevara also wanted to highlight the the drive was to construct an indoor playextremely high poverty rate in Peru, espe- ground for the younger students to train and The goal of this scholarship is to promote cially “where the rural poverty rate is 54 per- exercise their motor skills in a safe and fun academic achievement and emphasize the cent,” as reported by the New York Times. environment. This particular fundraiser had importance of giving back to the commuThe Chapter continued their efforts and in raised the most funds since they began their nity. Money raised this fall will go towards 2013, raised $800 to purchase backpacks for mission in 2007. expanding the scholarship to more students students. In the following year they provid“We in St. John’s have the tools we need and will also be designated to improve the ed more than 320 sandwiches and juices for to help many people,” Guevara said, “We school’s infrastructure. students’ school lunch. just need to find our calling. Something that Guevara envisions this project on a larger The current President of the Chapter, Car- hits our heart and tells us we have to make it scale. “To me, this project has the potential los Collado, is also the Northeast Province happen; we have to help these kids.” to help kids around the world. We discuss Civic Engagement Coordinator and a curIn addition to the fundraising accom- how best to help these students and apply rent student at St. John’s. Along with Gue- plished for the Jorge Guevara Mellado best practices learned in our Alma Mater like varra, Collado appeared on Tiempo with School, the Chapter created the inaugural project management and Agile MethodoloJoe Torres on ABC 7 on September 29 to Tupac Amaru II scholarship for two stu- gy,” Guevara said. discuss their philanthropic efforts. dents that have the top highest academic “Our hope is that others will see what we The Chapter’s most recent drive in 2019 performance to send them to a summer have done and do the same in other parts of raised $2,138 for the school. The goal of camp at a local college. the world.”
Students Share Thanksgiving Traditions Sophie Williams It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is only eight days away – SJU students are all anxiously awaiting Thanksgiving break, but every student has their own special way of celebrating, from food to unique traditions. Whether you are staying on campus or going home, here are some ways students plan to celebrate Thanksgiving and some of their holiday favorites. Food is at the center of Thanksgiving traditions, but everyone’s favorite dish is different. Jarlyn Rodriguez, a psychology major, told the Torch about her favorites. “[My] favorite food would definitely have to be the mac and cheese or mashed potatoes,” while Lucyna Davis, a fashion studies major, also said her favorite was mac and cheese, but also collard greens. Thanksgiving foods can be seen as traditional or nontraditional based on the student. While students come from a variety of backgrounds, common ground can be found in something as simple as the food eaten on Thanksgiving. But where are students traveling to? Davis is heading home to Laurel, Maryland. “I usually spend Thanksgiving with my dad’s side of the family and the night with my mum. I have a pretty big family from my dad’s side so people are always filtering in and out of the house,” she said. Hailey Pomara, a public relations major, will be heading home to Center Moriches, Long Island where she will “bake cheesecake, brownies and pecan pie” with her family. As far as how students plan to celebrate, Rodriguez
PHOTO COURTESY/FLICKR SLGCKGS is excited to host Thanksgiving at her home this year. “I usually celebrate it by going to my aunt’s house and going to my other aunts house as well from both sides of the family...This year for the first time we are actually spending it at my house and cooking a big meal for the family.” While Pomara begins her celebration “the night before Thanksgiving” where her and her family will “all prepare food together,” she will continue her celebration the night of Thanksgiving where her “mom and [herself will] go midnight shopping for Black Friday.” No matter how big or small the occasion is, most students celebrate with a dinner full of food and family. However, football has also become a popular sport to watch during Thanksgiving, or even play. Pomera says, “On the morning of Thanksgiving, my dad always plays football with his friends.” But every year, you can count on the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions playing their traditional Thanksgiving day game. Due to the popularity of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, it is not surprising to hear that many students watch the special as a part of their The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place every year Thanksgiving tradition. Pomera says, “We watch on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. the Macy’s Parade together and eat together as a watch from home, you can tune in on NBC. family.” However, if you’re a student who is planNo matter how you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving, ning to spend the holiday on campus, consider going to watch the parade. It will begin at 9 AM at the corner remember to think of everything you are thankful for over this past year as 2019 comes to a close. of 77th Street and Central Park West. If you want to
Flames of the Torch 97TH MANAGING BOARD Morgan C. Mullings/ EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Amanda Negretti/ MANAGING EDITOR Andreina Rodriguez NEWS EDITOR
ASSISTANT CULTURE EDITOR
Destinee Tyler Scott
ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
Spencer Clinton CREATIVE DIRECTOR
ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
ASSISTANT FEATURES EDITOR
OPINION EDITOR ASSISTANT OPINION EDITOR
Patrick Loftus CHIEF COPY EDITOR
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ABOUT THE TORCH
The Torch is the official, independent student newspaper of St. John’s University. The Torch is written, edited, designed and produced by students of the University. 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.
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 Madelyn Starks
Kenneth Carter Justin Boniello Jillian Ortiz Erin Sakalis Alexandra Crespo
Sara Rodia Theresa Vogel Dana Livingston
Photographers: Daniel A. Pérez Michaela Keegan
CONTRIBUTORS Sophie Finn-McMahon Francesca Fazco Priscilla K. Delgado Michael Yacik Andres Gonzalez Brendan Murray Janae Kea
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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: Meet our New Assistant Editors Last week, the Torch welcomed Assistant Editors to the team, who have put in an incredible amount of work this past semester and are now a part of our staff. We’re excted to see what ideas and content they bring as they take on a more involved role.
covering two different events in one weekend for an October edition. Alicia has written for every print edition since she became part of the Torch. She is often found in the Torch office on production nights or at the Men’s Basketball games.
Our Assistant Features Editor, Sophie Williams Sophie started with the Torch this semester but has already become an involved member of staff, writing for Opinion, Culture and News. Even as Assistant Features Editor, she continues to write for other sections of the paper, being in charge of covering SGI events. She has shown her creativity and her dedication, contributing ideas for stories and helping in every way that she can.
Our Assistant Opinion Editor, Yueran Yu Yueran is a freshman this year and has contributed to Opinion multiple times, providing helpful information for fellow freshmen, such as her article ‘Are You Ready For Winter?’, reminding students of the basic to-do’s to prepare for winter. Her well-researched pieces landed her the assistant position alongside Opinion Editor Destinee Scott.
Our Assistant Culture Editor, Maria Keddis Freshman Maria Keddis brings a second opinion to the culture section. Despite only being part of the Torch for only semester, she connected with Culture Editor Priyanka Gera immediately. In the future she will be writing more and assisting other writers in their stories.
Our Assistant Sports Editors, Sydney Denham and Sean Okula Sydney and Sean have been an instrumental part of the Sports staff since they became part of the Torch. Sydney, a sophomore, has dedicated all her time with the Torch to sports, constantly contributing by writing about a variety of sports such as soccer and basketball. Sean, a junior, has had a similar experience for the Torch, writing several pieces for our annual Courtside magazine as well. Both have impressive writing skill and great approaches to more than just basketball.
We’re excited to see what ideas they bring!
Our Assistant News Editor, Alicia Venter Starting by writing for Sports, Alicia quickly got involved in writing for News,
Dismantling the Stigma Around AIDS and Other STIs Jillian Ortiz On Sunday, Dec. 1, the international community will recognize the 31st anniversary of World AIDS Day. According to the World AIDS Day website, it was the “first ever global health day.” The day is dedicated not only to expressing solidarity with those living with the disease, but to raise awareness and commemorate those that have passed away from complications with the disease. As the day draws closer, we should take it upon ourselves to not only educate ourselves and others, but we should work toward a greater goal — working toward reducing the stigma that is associated with sexual health and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as AIDS. In the 1980s, “the attitude was, these (diseases) are only in [gay people] and IV drug users, underdogs, people who didn’t deserve any special attention,” Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien, a dermatologist and virologist at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, told
CNN in 2011. It took years of work for the international community to begin to dismantle the stigmas that were associated with HIV and AIDS. Why have we not began to do the same with other STIs? Why do we insist on making STIs the punchline of a joke, a threat or think that people with STIs are “dirty,” “less-than” or “easy?” In April of this year, it took the “woke” Twitter community less than an hour to begin to rip apart the apparent “herpes outbreak” at Coachella. You cannot just magically acquire the symptoms of herpes overnight — at a minimum it takes two days for the symptoms to appear, according to Planned Parenthood — but in many cases individuals will never experience symptoms in their lifetime. This generalization leads directly to the perpetuation of stigmas that bring about grave consequences for the affected community. There was no “herpes outbreak” at Coachella. There was merely an uptick in herpes related inquiries to the app, “HerpAlert,” which sensationalist outlets such as TMZ distorted and ran with to make a headline that would grab people’s attention.
One in every two sexually active people will contract an STI before the age of 25, according to the American Sexual Health Association. Many people falsely believe that they will contract an STI by using public restrooms, breathing near infected persons or even by swimming in a public pool. Many others are under the foolish notion that “it could never happen to them.” Due to the asymptomatic nature of many STIs, many people will go about the rest of their lives without knowing that they are a carrier. STI rates are seemingly at an all time low because more individuals are getting tested, educating themselves and not keeping themselves in the dark. American artist Keith Haring painted it best: “IGNORANCE = FEAR.” Most people fear what they don’t know. Misinformation is a culprit, and it is extremely damaging in ways beyond measure. This World AIDS Day is a time to reflect, inform and educate as a means to dismantle the stigmas and inherent sense of shame that surrounds those affected by STIs. Advocating for sexual health resources at Catholic universities is also a good place to start.
DACA Lands Before Supreme Court: The Program Makes The “American Dream” Possible Andres Gonzalez What exactly is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA)? It stands for protection against deportation of young immigrants, but there is more to what DACA is than just the name. This program was introduced by former President Barack Obama back in 2012 to assist immigrants. The aim of this project was to provide a shield from deportation that would protect immigrant children brought into the United States. The many benefits provided by DACA aside from immigrant protection include the reception of work permits. However, after President Donald Trump’s election in 2016, DACA was put into jeopardy. A year after his election, Trump pushed to end DACA. Trump stated, “the program is unlawful and unconstitutional and cannot be successfully defended in court,” as he campaigned towards the discarding of DACA. And as of Tuesday, Nov. 12, it appeared that the Supreme Court was leaning towards Trump’s push to end DACA. According to a report by the Democrats of the Committee on Small Businesses, there are approximately eight million active members in DACA, 91 percent of which happen to be fully employed and under the age of 25. Therefore, deporting these immigrants as a means of disregarding potential help
from DACA would cost $60 billion and reduce economic growth by $280 billion. The elimination of DACA as proposed by Trump would affect the overall economy and decrease the highly sought after benefits of Social Security and Medicaid. Besides the positive impact DACA has on the economy, it benefits the lives of many immigrants who look to improve and make a change upon their lives in a more beneficial way compared to those offered in countries they come from.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has offered many immigrants a better chance at life, a new opportunity to achieve what they someday dreamed about.
The initiative started by Obama in 2012 began with the goal of improving the quality of life for those who could not achieve it elsewhere; in other words, those in search of the “American Dream.” As they built upon this idea and acted on it, many lives
changed for the better for those who were part of DACA. According to Zene Jamies Perez, writer for Center for American Progress, as of July of 2014, two years after the program passed legislation, more than 587,000 undocumented young immigrants had received both relief from deportation and a work permit. The benefits and advantages evident through the opportunities generated and economic growth could not have been achieved without the helpful hand of DACA. In fact, the termination of DACA would commence a gradual deterioration of many characteristics surrounding the workplace and the economy. DACA has offered many immigrants a better chance at life and a new opportunity to achieve what they someday dreamed about. Having lived in Mexico, I got to witness many instances in which these immigrants jumped over the fence and risked their lives, all in search of what could be a new beginning and a brighter and better future. Terminating DACA would restrain these opportunities from the people who look to improve upon themselves in a country which promotes life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The Monty’s Malady: An Array of Allergens Dana Livingston During those first few weeks of college, bright-eyed freshmen quickly realize that they’re not in high school anymore; no one is there to monitor your every move, especially when it comes to what you eat. The “freshman 15” is the notion that, during that first year, you’ll go food crazy without your parents breathing down your neck about “healthy food choices.” With unhealthy food options readily accessible and already paid for, freshmen have the ability to gorge on mass amounts of food unsupervised, leading to a weight gain that becomes apparent when Thanksgiving rolls around and your “roomy jeans” saved for these kinds of occasions aren’t so roomy anymore. My freshman year at St. John’s, I didn’t have this issue. If anything, I probably lost fifteen pounds. It wasn’t because I consciously sought out to make healthier choices or spent all of my time working out, but for a reason that I still struggle with today: my severe food allergies. For the past few years, I have been living with severe allergies to dairy and shellfish. When it comes to college and freedom concerning food, I never had the option to even consider going all out on food because of the looming fear of an allergic reaction. For myself and many others with severe allergies, our main issue when it comes to avoiding allergic reactions
is not only watching out for our allergens on menus, but also avoiding cross-contamination. When it comes to dining at St. John’s as a food allergy sufferer and vegan, options have consistently been low. Places like Freshens and Subway are more than accommodating and relatively cross-contamination-free, but a major area of disappointment for people with any type of dietary restriction has been Montgoris Dining Hall. The way that
Montgoris is given the spotlight on University tours, you would think that, upon arriving at St. John’s, the variety you were told about would be what you got, but that wasn’t and still really isn’t the case.
Montgoris is given the spotlight on University tours, you would think that, upon arriving at St. John’s, the variety you were told about would be what you got, but that wasn’t and still isn’t the case. With this dining hall serving as one
of the main places to eat on campus for many resident students because of its closeness to residence halls and long hours, one would think that there would be more of an effort put into creating more vegan and generally allergy-friendly options for students. I consider Montgoris to be a cesspool of cross-contamination where I have witnessed daily occurrences like serving spoons ending up in incorrect dishes in the center section, the peanut butter spatula ending up in the jelly area and so much more. But there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. This fall, Montgoris introduced a section dedicated to those avoiding certain allergens and ingredients. Although this section is small in comparison to the others within the dining hall, I believe that this is a step in the right direction for creating a cross contamination-free area for students like me to feel secure in their food choices. But will one counter fix the overarching cross-contamination problem not only at Montgoris, but at other dining halls across campus? Although this development is a start, I believe that Dining Services should place less of its efforts on making a “special counter” and put more into ensuring the division of widely known allergen-containing foods.
B L A C K
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Do you hit the mall at midnight, or do you stay home and eat thanksgiving leftovers with your family? See what your fellow Johnnies had to say about it.
Sophie Williams Black Friday is the perfect “pre-Christmas” holiday. I recently became a Black Friday participant and I have no regrets. While this holiday can be quite a crazy day (and night), it is worth it for the money you can save on holiday presents. For some, this is the most important thing. The holidays can be a hard time, especially for students. While I would love to get my family and friends gifts, being in college can make that quite difficult because as a full time student with no job, who’s also paying for college expenses and transportation, extra money for things like Christmas presents can come up short. So, I do participate in Black Friday, but I also do a little “pre-research” beforehand. It is good to know what kind of deals are being offered on Black Friday. If no big ticket items on your list have a substantial mark down, then maybe this day is not for you. But I think Black Friday being both an online and in-store holiday is beneficial. In some cases, people don’t have means of transportation or a parent can’t find a babysitter. With online shopping also providing deals, the whole holiday becomes more accessible. Some items may even be an online only item. Regardless, I think both options should remain available. The main concern I have with Black Friday is the time shifts some workers have. Some stores have people who may work all day Thanksgiving and through the night to prepare for Black Friday shoppers. This can result in long hours and time taken away that could be spent with your family. But some workers need something like the “Black Friday” shift because many receive extra pay for the daunting task. However, I think more can be done in compensating workers who decide to work this shift, whether this is in regards to pay or time to spend with their family. All in all, Black Friday can be a fun experience if you plan correctly. Going in blind may leave a person overwhelmed, but if you look into what the store’s will be offering and have a couple gifts in mind, the day will go a lot smoother.
Rachel Johnson Black Friday can be a lot of fun, but it can also be shallow and dangerous. Growing up, my family never went out shopping on Black Friday. My mom went out for specific things sometimes, but for the most part we tried to avoid stores and malls at all costs on that day. Thanksgiving was a very meaningful holiday to us because we got to have quality family time together, so we didn’t want going out on Black Friday to ruin that. The stores are so hectic and packed with greedy people trying to buy things that it just isn’t fun to my family. It can also be dangerous if stores become overcrowded, people fight over items or stampedes form when doors are opened. That is where I draw the line. If Black Friday is bringing people to violence, then that means there is something wrong with it. It’s very ironic to me that the day after the day we are meant to take time to be thankful for what we have, we go out and buy a ton more stuff. The advertising and marketing that goes into Black Friday nowadays is so flashy and excessive that it can sometimes feel like it’s considered to be the more important holiday of that week, which is completely backwards and frankly kind of sad. I recognize that it can actually be very helpful to people, especially to families buying Christmas presents who maybe don’t have much money to spend, and I love that they are given that opportunity. And I understand the appeal (who doesn’t love a good sale?), but it encourages materialism and could easily undermine Thanksgiving for someone if they aren’t careful. They could become so focused on buying things that they forget to appreciate what they have, especially the people they have in their life. I think it would be great if Black Friday could be an online-only shopping holiday, that way people could still get their deals, and no one has to get injured or leave their family at home.
Erin Sakalis Black Friday can be a wonderful opportunity if approached with caution. Flash sales surrounding the winter holidays are meant to tempt consumers who want to mitigate the costs of their holiday expenditures. While gift shopping is the bait, the retailer’s goal is to lure you to buy additional items you wouldn’t have otherwise. At first glance, it may not seem worth it to participate, but fortunately there’s a way to harness the deals to your advantage. The most important step is to have a game plan. Whether you’re shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store, know exactly what items you intend to purchase. Use Black Friday as an occasion to buy holiday gifts, wardrobe staples and perhaps longer-term investments like electronics or appliances. If you need a new winter coat, try to get it on sale. If you’ve been tempted to purchase a more indulgent item like a cosmetic or video game for a long time, snag it while it’s discounted. If you were going to buy something anyway, it’s fair game. Black Friday gets dangerous when you buy things because they’re on sale. A good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t be willing to pay full price for the item, don’t buy it on sale. I would also recommend shopping online in order to prevent impulse buys. While this may seem counterintuitive, the havoc of swimming through crowds at the mall may cloud your judgment and compel you to run to the checkout so you can move on. Plus, online shopping allows you to compare prices across sites, reference reviews, and verify the legitimacy of markdowns. In addition to a more serene experience, online shopping provides the opportunity to better consider your purchases before you check out. By taking a strategic approach this Black Friday, you can stay on budget, reduce waste and make informed shopping decisions. And of course, you won’t have to miss out on the fun!
TORCH DESIGN/ TAUHID DEWAN
Magdèlene Barjolo: Colorism, Self-Identity and Her Future Endeavors Jewel Antoine
Right now, I’m working on a documentary on African immigrants in Italy and their experiences here. I was inspired by that, just due to my experience of being a black woman in Italy and how I felt when I first got here because I heard a lot of misconceptions and different ideas about the treatment of black people in Italy. I didn’t know much about xenophobia. I had a friend who was in Italy a few years ago when things were worse and when I told her about my experiences with microaggressions, she shared her experiences with me. That really inspired me because I was like, wow, if I’m dealing with this and I just got here, what are the lives of the people who have been living here for years? They’re here because they have conflict back home in their own country, so I originally wanted to conduct an interview, just by talking to them, but I felt like I wanted to make a short film so you could see the people that are being impacted by xenophobia. So right now I’m working on that documentary alongside videographer Alec Fox and photographer Daniel Perez. On top of that, personally, I curated a platform called Hearing Aid and basically the Hearing Aid is a documentary platform which I curated with my friend Brenna Lipset and we’re going to be giving a voice to marginalized people. And we’re going to be using Instagram to do so. So the short films that we’re creating the documentaries, the stories of people that are being silenced will be published on the Hearing Aid.
Liberian-American psychology major and fashion model Magdèlene Barjolo is taking on more than the fashion industry –– she’s also tackling subjects that she believes need to be highlighted within her community. This past summer, Magdèlene worked on a documentary called “Don’t Play in The Sun” which highlighted the issue of colorism within the African diaspora. She filmed the documentary alongside Omari Graham, Jermaine Dyson, Wayne O’Hara-Reid and Brenna Lipset. Magdèlene who is a senior and will be graduating soon has plans for several creative pursuits in the future and plans to continue to shed light on issues that are relevant to her community and expanding her non-profit organization. I sat down with Magdèlene in Rome where she is currently studying abroad to talk about her creative process, her upcoming projects and her plans for her career in the future. Where did you first get this idea for your documentary “Don’t Play in The Sun”? I got the inspiration for “Don’t Play in the Sun” from my personal life and my battles with colorism. I also was inspired by social media and the influence your voice has on platforms like Instagram and Twitter, and how people can really express themselves, state their own opinions and talk about their trauma. After Beyoncé did the “Brown Skinned Girl” video and also leading up to that point, there has been a lot of discussions about colorism and anti-blackness within different communities. I noticed that a lot of people who were talking about colorism weren’t dark-skinned people or whenever dark-skinned people would talk about colorism there was always some type of “but, and or what if.” It wasn’t fair to dark-skinned people and our voices weren’t being heard. My friend’s grandfather also gave me the Willie Lynch book which was a black horror story to me that showed me that colorism is a by-product of racism and a tactic that was created to oppress black people. Therefore, I wanted to create a short film where you could just see the faces of the people who are being impacted by this idea that when you’re darker, you’re not beautiful. You mentioned Beyonce and Willie Lynch. Who are your other influences and where do you draw inspiration from? I would say my daily life, my interactions with people, different events that I’ve gone through in my past. New York in itself influences my creative process because I’m constantly around creative people. I’m constantly being fed different things. New York is a melting pot of different people, different personalities and cultures. So once you move to New York, once you step outside, you’re constantly being exposed to things that are different from yourself. It taught me to embrace and take inspiration from other cultures and to embrace my own culture be-
PHOTO COURTESY/ FLAVIA DANIELE
Magdèlene Barjolo, an entrepreneur, documentarian and model, discusses the battles she’s faced and how she is empowering her community through her work.
cause before I came to New York, I’ve always been taught to be unapologetically black, but I wasn’t always unapologetically African. Do you believe that your cultural background influences your art? How so? Yeah, I think my culture does influence a lot. I’m Liberian and also Ivorian and I think that Liberian culture and also black culture for me coexist together, simply because of our history. I get a lot of inspiration just from the history of Liberia and just by having the family that I have and seeing the powerful women that come out of Liberia. It constantly inspires me to step in my purpose and step within myself confidently. We were the first country to have a black female president in the continent of Africa so I feel like just having that type of role model to look up to was another form of inspiration to continue to do what I do unapologetically. Do you believe that your time at St. John’s has influenced your creative pursuits? I think my time at St. John’s did help me because while I didn’t take any courses or any classes when I started tapping into my creative process that aided me, I feel as though St. John’s helped me realize this is who you are. When I came to St. John’s I was trying to force myself to be something I wasn’t. I
was trying to force myself to be in the medical field because as African as an ethnic person, healthcare, law, any type of profession that’s guaranteed money is seen as the best thing but it’s not always the best thing, for you. So when I came in as a bio major, I switched to chemistry. But when I started taking psychology courses and switched my majors, I was able to put myself in a setting where I was more flexible and able to be free. I think that helped me figure out not only what I didn’t like, but also who I was. At St. John’s I was able to start Sending Her Essentials, which is a nonprofit that I started with my best friend, Alexandria Ligon. Tell me more about your nonprofit. Sending Her Essentials (SHE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that all women nationally and globally have the essentials they need to accelerate in their academic, professional and social lives. We’re advocates for menstrual health and menstrual hygiene, so we educate young girls and women on their menstrual cycle, different myths and different misconceptions. We also work towards condemning the stigma of having your monthly period. So we’re big advocates on that, and we intend to do that within the state of New York, within DC, Massachusetts and in the content of Africa and throughout the world. What are you working on right now?
What specific message do you want to send with this documentary? I want to show people, especially Italians, that these people aren’t just “immigrants” or “Africans.” They’re kind of ignored because they don’t really have like an identity here. I want to show them that they’re people. I want to show them that these people have stories, these people have lives. These people have people that love them, and they’re also capable of being loved and giving love and they should receive that same love. I feel like my overall message is to see the human being in someone and not their situation. What have you taken away from this process? What insights have you gained? I think this documentary made my heart softer. It made my heart more open to people –– open to loving people. I see now that when I first got here, I was kind of guarded, but now when I see people, and I look in their eyes it’s just, wow, I see you, and I want people to know that I see them. A lot of the immigrants here are just kind of ghosted. They walk in the street and people kind of just, step over them and they just have no identity here. And I want them to know that I see you, and I see that you’re worthy of being seen. This article has been edited for length. Full version is available at torchonline.com
TORCH DESIGN/JENNA WOO
“Nothing to See Here” by Kevin Wilson Priscilla K. Delgado
(Top) Kevin Wilson, author, in an interview promoting his previous novel, “Perfect Little World.” (Bottom) The audiobook cover for the November publication of “Nothing to See Here,” by Kevin Wilson.
PHOTO COURTESY/ AUDIOBOOKS.COM
We all have moments when we feel red hot with anger. Sometimes we throw temper tantrums and meltdowns. For the most part, we are able to deal with those emotions, but imagine spontaneously combusting –– your body catching fire –– because of your anger. The children in the novel “Nothing to See Here,” by Kevin Wilson, experience this wild side-effect of anger. Don’t be deterred by the children in the story –– this is a novel for adults. Ten-year-old twins Bessie and Roland Roberts have plenty to be upset about; their mother just passed away and they are moving in with their politician father. Their stepmother, Madison, recruits an old friend, Lillian, to come live with them as the children’s nanny (or, as Madison calls it, their “governess”). The two women haven’t seen each other since Lillian was kicked out of boarding school as a result of taking the blame for something Madison did. When Lillian receives the invitation, she feels she has nothing to lose and her awkwardness, paired with the twins’ uniqueness, makes for a surprisingly sweet oddball family. Initially, I was dumbfounded at the thought of children just catching fire when they get upset. It’s normal to them and has been a frequent occurrence in their young lives. The fire
doesn’t actually seem to hurt or damage their bodies, which is odd and unrealistic. I looked up spontaneous combustion, and most people that this happens to end up dying, but not in this novel. Lillian and Madison had an estranged friendship and I think it was really nice of Lillian to pick up her life and help Madison despite what happened in boarding school. Madison seems eager to keep up appearances and is only looking out for herself; I grew to dislike her character as the story went on. The relationship between Lillian, Bessie and Roland is heartwarming and ultimately won me over in this book. Their determination to live life unapologetically on their terms is something to be admired. The themes of family and being yourself make this an ideal book to discuss at the Thanksgiving table. “Nothing to See Here” is a short, beautifully written book with meaning to each word. This is Wilson’s fifth book, which has been named one of Amazon’s Best Books of November 2019 and is the November book for NBC’s Today Show Read with Jenna Book Club, led by Jenna Bush Hager. Readers can follow along on the book conversation using the hashtag #ReadwithJenna. Happy reading!
PHOTO COURTESY/ YOUTUBE NPT ARTS CONNECTION
Jenna Bush Hager’s Book Club November Pick
The Newest Streaming Platform: Disney+ “The best stories in the world, all in one place.” Francesca Fazio
Disney+ is the newest streaming service to hit the Internet. The platform has “sign[ed] up more than 10 million subscribers” since its launch on Tuesday, Nov. 12, according to CNET. Disney+ offers “the best stories in the world, all in one place” as advertised on their website. Starting at $6.99 a month, the streaming service gives you access to the Disney Vault which houses childhood classics, along with the Pixar library, Marvel Universe, Star Wars Franchise and National Geographic. This includes new original shows and movies developing under these umbrellas such as the live-action Star Wars series “The Mandalorian,” “Marvel’s Hero Project” –– a documentary series that highlights real-life heroes effecting change in their own communities –– and Disney Original “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” a meta tv show reimagination of High School Musical. According to CBS News, Disney+ is “expected to release more than 45 original programs within a year of its launch.” There is also a second subscription option with access to Hulu and ESPN starting at $12.99 a month. A large part of the platform’s success has been Disney’s marketing strategy.
The streaming wars have only just begun, and Disney started out strong by pulling their licensed media from competitor platforms and blitzing consumers with advertising on all fronts. “I think subscribing to Disney+ is worth it if you are going to use it consistently. It is also really affordable so that’s a bonus,” said Zoe Karabenick, a sophomore Government and Politics major. As the New York Times acknowledges, Disney has “unrivaled marketing power.” The company used this power to advertise in their parks, on affiliated networks (such as ABC) and through partnerships with other companies such as Verizon that offer free or discounted rates of Disney+ if you purchase their services. This awareness campaign seems to have paid off as their subscriber count continues to grow. “I like it a lot and think it’s really cool because it brings back all my childhood memories and reminds me of simpler times,” said Karabenick. I haven’t been able to try Disney+ yet, so I don’t have a fully formed judgment of the platform, but from what I’ve read it seems to be worth it for access to the Disney Originals alone. Also, as a big Marvel fan, I’m psyched to have all films in one convenient location to binge-watch! This weekend, I’ll
try to find a friend who has Disney+ and likes to share; if that fails, there is always the 7-day free trial!
PHOTO COURTESY/ YOUTUBE DISNEY
Joshua Bassett and Olivia Rodrigo star in the Disney+ original, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.”
Top 10 Songs Of The Decade Personal favorite from each year
Sophie Finn-McMahon Another decade is coming to an end and I think we can all agree that a great deal has happened. We’ve challenged ourselves and overcome hardship, cried and rejoiced countless times. Most importantly, we have made friends –– and playlists –– who supported and inspired us through some of our hardest times in these past 10 years. Below is a list of my favorite songs from the past decade that are near and dear to my heart.
Impossible - Shontelle (2010)
I used to watch VH1 and MTV music videos in the morning before school and on the weekends, and “Impossible” would always play. Although I was only 10-years-old when this song came out, I could somehow feel the pain Shontelle felt while singing this heartbreaking song. I would pretend I was also going through a rough breakup when I sang along to this song. But didn’t we all do that as kids?
Best Thing I Never Had - Beyoncé (2011)
“Best Thing I Never Had” made me feel like a baddie at the age of 11. When I sang this song, I would pretend that I had finally found someone who treats me right. In the music video, there is a scene of Beyoncé at prom and one of Beyoncé on her wedding day. Seeing those made me so excited for prom and my wedding day –– I just wanted to be an adult!
Video Games - Lana Del Rey (2012)
“Video Games” made me fall in love with Lana. Again, I found myself wanting to be an adult, living and being in love with someone. This song reminds me of past lovers and still has massive significance in my life.
shirt and Kendrick Lamar. This song came out when I was a junior in high school, which was a very fun time in my life. I am reminded of those times when I listen to it.
Amphetamine - Smino (2017)
“Amphetamine” is an eight-minute, two-part song. The first part consists of a slower, softer beat. The lyrics in the first part make me feel less lonely due to how relatable they are. The second part contains a fast-paced, funk beat which makes me forget how lonely I am feeling in the moment. I also once shared a love for this song with someone who was near to my heart.
Headstone - Flatbush (2018)
“Headstone” came out when my senior year of high school was about to conclude. I was very carefree, and the beat of this song embodies how I felt. I still become reminiscent when I listen to it.
Dark & Handsome - Blood Orange, Toro y Moi (2019)
“Dark & Handsome” is an 80’s pop-inspired ballad and features one of my favorite artists: Toro y Moi. This song is the theme for my life this past year. It is also another song that makes me feel less lonely. It’s comforting to a listener knowing an artist goes through similar –– if not, the same –– struggles as the listener. I encourage everyone to make a list of their favorite songs from the past decade and analyze why each song is on that list. I’m looking forward to the music of the next decade. I’m eager to see what I’ll be listening to and if any of it will be the music I am listening to today.
Tennis Court - Lorde (2013)
I don’t really listen to “Tennis Court” anymore, but it’ll always have a special place in my heart. At this time in my life, I was very insecure, as many 13-year-olds are. Having someone a little older than me –– but still close in age –– going through the same hardships of feeling like they don’t fit in made me feel less alone.
Your Graduation - Modern Baseball (2014)
“Your Graduation” is an angsty, pop punk song about a guy who isn’t fully over a girl. This song has heavily been there for me when I’ve also found it difficult to let go of someone.
King Kunta - Kendrick Lamar (2015)
I love the funk/soul beat behind “King Kunta.” Moreover, I love the message behind the song — Kendrick is “unapologetically black,” as Pharrell Williams once described. Coincidentally, I also found out that this song is my old roommate’s favorite Kendrick song, which makes me love the song even more.
Really Doe - Danny Brown (2016)
“Really Doe” is a fun track and features three of my favorite rappers: Ab-soul, Earl Sweat-
PHOTO COURTESY/ YOUTUBE BEYONCÉ
Beyoncé featured in her 2011 music video, “Best Thing I Never Had.”
Harry Styles Debuts “Watermelon Sugar” on SNL Jillian Ortiz You know how they tell you not to listen to a song on repeat too many times once it drops because you might get sick of it? Yeah, throw that notion out the window. On Saturday Nov. 16, Harry Styles debuted the next single from his forthcoming sophomore album, “Fine Line,” during his “double duty” as both a host and musical guest on “Saturday Night Live.” The single, “Watermelon Sugar,” is a lively number, featuring a horn section and familiar synth-like echoes in the chorus, reminiscent of its predecessor, “Lights Up,” which Styles released early October. This time, instead of a bassline, we are invited into the track by steady guitar strums and the familiar, angelic voice of the man behind the magic. It’s two minutes and 54 seconds of “won-
derful and warm,” and –– back to my initial point –– worthy of being the only track you listen to for the rest of the week. (I said the same thing about “Lights Up,” but it’s not my fault that the man makes absolute gems.) Through the verses and choruses, Styles tells of a euphoric love –– one that was sweet as “strawberries on a summer evenin’” and rapturous –– reminiscent of a “watermelon sugar high.” The track undoubtedly reveals that Styles is leaving behind the rock ‘n’ roll framework that guided his first album and is beginning to tackle a new sound that will be fully available to fans on Friday, Dec. 13, the expected release date of “Fine Line.” One thing is for sure –– we’ll be looking forward to that “summer feeling” when Styles plays two nights at Madison Square Garden next July, during his 2020 Love On Tour.
PHOTO COURTESY/ YOUTUBE SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Harry Styles performs his latest single, “Watermelon Sugar,” live on SNL.
Women’s Basketball Off And Running Sean Okula The duality of unmitigated success can be defeating. There is, of course, the satisfaction. But there might be a hint of that untenable self-doubt that wonders where things might go wrong. Damning as it may be, usually it wins out. St. John’s women’s basketball started 2-0. They cruised to a blowout victory in their home opener on Wednesday. Then, damnably, they fell in the final minutes to James Madison on Sunday. The schedule was forgiving to start. Their first two opponents, St. Bonaventure and Lafayette, won eight games apiece in the 201819 season. Those games were scheduled eight days apart, meaning the Red Storm had over a week to prepare for their first game in Carnesecca. There was no sign of rust. They surged to a 10-2 lead and barely budged a basket. Lafayette pulled it within six with 9:06 to play in the second quarter but never came closer. The spark came from Qadashah Hoppie. Off a lackluster performance in a season-opening win, she scored the first six Red Storm points on Wednesday. The junior guard tallied 11 on 4-for-5 shooting in the first quarter alone and finished with 22. Lafayette did its best to neutralize a thus far potent St. John’s offense. They ran some variation of a 2-3 zone for most of the evening. Playing a smaller lineup, St. John’s turned down opportunities in the paint for a more methodical approach. Leopards shifting to cover the ball meant open Johnnies. Sometimes it took an extra pass or two, but there was often an open
teammate lingering beyond the arc. They converted 8 of their 22 shots from long range. “I think we made enough shots to be able to hurt them in [the zone],” coach Joe Tartamella said after the 76-44 win. “At some points in the game it slowed us down, but I thought we did a great job...of moving the ball.” Hoppie finished 5-for-7 from downtown, a figure she’d duplicate on Sunday. Tiana England made more of an impact without the ball in her hands. She snagged five rebounds in her 5-foot-7-inch frame, to go along with four of her patented assists and six steals in the home opener. “I feel like we started off with a bunch of energy,” she said after the win. “The whole forty minutes we played with energy and that fueled our offense.” Electrifying as it may be, athleticism can breed bouts of eccentricity. England struggled to the tune of seven turnovers in Sunday’s loss to James Madison. She shot 4-for14 from the field, effectively neutralized when she held the ball. The problems reached far further than one inconsistent outing from a star point guard. St. John’s couldn’t keep the Dukes down in the middle of the fourth quarter. A mini 9-2 run swung the difference from one point in the Johnnies favor to five for the home team at the 4:37 mark. The teams traded baskets down the stretch, but by the time Hoppie drilled a three to pull the Red Storm within one with nine seconds left, it was too late. Jackie Benitez made her free throws to finalize a 76-73 James Madison victory.
The Johnnies weren’t overmatched in their first true test of the season. They scored more off turnovers and only shot marginally worse from the field than the Dukes. Where they struggled was on the boards. James Madison out-rebounded the Red Storm by 17. For a team with no true starting forwards, size is going to be a disadvantage. Teams like the one they saw Sunday, an
NIT semifinalist in 2018-19, will control the battle in the paint. With their recently prolific stroke from deep range (they shot 8-for-18 from beyond the arc on Sunday), the Johnnies will have to stay outside to hang with the best.
Joe Tartamella and his team have gotten off to a 2-0 start to the 2019-20 season.
Dunn Shines in His St. John’s Debut Saturday Brendan Murray
As the Red Storm fans filed into Carnasecca Arena Saturday afternoon, Rasheem Dunn suited up for the team for the first time. After a long battle to secure a waiver from the NCAA, the good news finally came Wednesday--Dunn would be eligible to suit up for the Red Storm. Dunn had a long road to get to this point in his athletic career. The six-foot two-inch Redshirt Junior from Brooklyn, New York hadn’t played in a basketball game since the 2017-2018 when he was a member of St. Francis Brooklyn College basketball team. The crowd rose for cheers and a loud applause with 14 minutes left in the first half. Dunn was checking into the game for the Red Storm. The anticipation had been building up since it was official that he would become eligible for the season. Fans couldn’t contain their excitement for the announce-
ment. When Dunn checked in, he could have predicted the type of performance that he put together. Dunn showed expected signs of rust early on, not making his first basket until there were three minutes left in the first half. Dunn’s most memorable moment of the first half was a midrange shot as time expired to extend the Red Storm lead to five. The 4,000 in attendance nearly screamed the roof off of Carnasecca as the ball fell through the net, and Dunn himself let out a roar that called out to the fans. He had finally arrived. The Red Storm were unable to keep pace with the Vermont Catamounts early on in the half, falling behind by as much as ten. With 28 seconds left, Dunn was subbed in and nine seconds later connected on his only three-pointer of the game to tie the score at 68. A ten-point comeback was complete, but the Red Storm needed to hold the Cata-
mounts off the board to force overtime. The Catamounts’ best player, Anthony Lamb, was able to sink a two from midrange to pull ahead 70-68. When the inbound pass came to L.J. Figueroa, he was unable to keep his feet inbounds and that turnover was the dagger for the Red Storm in a hard-fought loss. Dunn and Figueroa were the two Red Storm members to speak to the media after the loss. Dunn, while obviously upset the Red Storm were unable to pull off a comeback was happy to finally be back out on the court. “It was a wonderful day for me,” Dunn said. “First time playing this year just having that feel, getting my groove back. Last but not least, being on the court with the team I worked hard with all year.” Coach Anderson highlighted Dunn’s creativity and grit as being what showed the most for his first game as a Johnnie. After a
year of sitting out, Anderson was impressed with his first game. “He sat out all of last year. To play for a new coach and a new style his first game I thought he gave us everything he had.” The Red Storm’s next contest will be Wednesday against Colombia University at 7 P.M. at Carnasecca Arena.
First time playing this year just having that feel, getting my groove back. Last but not least, being on the court with the team I worked hard with all year. Rasheem Dunn TORCHPHOTO/NICK BELLO
SPORTS November 20, 2019 | VOLUME 97, ISSUE 10
Time To Dance!
From St. John's to CBS Sports
Red sTORM eARN No.16 spot in NCAA Tournament Nick Bello All eyes were fixated on the two television screens that hung parallel to each other in the team room of Carnesecca Arena as the St. John’s Men’s Soccer team awaited their seeding for the NCAA Tournament. Not even five minutes into the selection show, the room erupted into cheers and hugs as it was announced that they had received the No.16 seed in the tournament and would play the winner of the Thursday night matchup between the University of Rhode Island and Syracuse University, at home Sunday at 5 P.M. “We thought we had played really hard and determined. All year round our RPI has been very high, we played a very tough schedule and it’s nice to see that we got rewarded with a seed,” a grinning St. John’s head coach Dr. Dave Masur said moments after the announcement. “But again, it’s about winning games,
and it’s about playing well and we’ve got to compete on Sunday no matter who we play and make sure we’re ready to win.” The Red Storm have won their fair share of games this season, boasting a 13-4-1 record, their highest overall win total since 2011 and the best regular season win total since 2008 when they marched their way to the national semifinals. The 2019 campaign started with a bang as the Red Storm recorded the best start in program history going 8-0 to start the season. The eight wins came against tough competition as they defeated teams like Appalachian State University and Xavier University, who was ranked No.19 in the nation at the time. As the hot streak continued, the rest of the nation took notice as the Red Storm climbed their way up the United Soccer Coach’s Poll and RPI rankings. Heading into their home matchup against Georgetown in late October, the team was ranked No.4 in the coach’s poll and
No.1 in RPI, a feat that was unexpected when the season started. “It’s the most unexpectedly successful team we’ve ever had, which is a unique thing,” Masur said. “We’ve kind of jumped up and have done really well to go 11-1 [against non-conference teams in both regular season and preseason play] and be really good in the Big East, and so guys have stepped up, and we’ve had a lot of different contributors in the program. So it’s been really exciting for everybody to be apart of.” “It’s been so much fun,” senior captain Matt Forester said. “Being ranked in the top 10 for the majority of the season has been crazy. It’s been so much fun to play with this group of guys, [we have] great talent and everyone works so hard for each other.” The Red Storm have benefitted from stellar home crowds this season, which has been reflected in their 7-2 home record this season. The student section, lo-
cated behind both goals, were filled for both the Xavier and Georgetown games this season, something that has not been accomplished in recent memory. “Hopefully we have a big crowd on Sunday,” senior Nikko Petridis said. “We’ve had a couple big crowds this year and with the students coming up to support us, it’s been amazing.” Although the Red Storm skidded to the finish line at the end of the regular season, going 1-3-1 in their last five games including a nail biting 2-1 loss to Providence University at home in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament to last Wednesday, the team showed some promise against tough competition. As they gear up to face the winner of Rhode Island and Syracuse, Masur and his team know what to expect as they have faced tough competition all season. “We’ve played against a lot of tough teams,” Masur said. “We’re gonna be excited and ready to go.”
November 20, 2019 -- Torch Fall Semester