Volume 94, Issue 13

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VOL 94 : 13 December 7th, 2016 torchonline.com

The independent student newspaper of St. John’s University



Student Sparks


Students talk about some of their favorite movies to

Several students and one faculty member reflect on Natalie Munoz and her role in the R.I.S.E. Network 4 Page 3

watch during the holidays


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Alumni come back for “Lessons and Carols” ISABELLA BRUNI

Chief Copy Editor

Students and alumni gathered in St. Thomas Moore Church on Saturday, Dec. 3 to listen to music and psalm readings to welcome the season of Advent and be in each other’s company. Hosted by the Division of Student Affairs and St. John’s University Performing Arts, as well as Alumni Relations and the staff of St. Thomas Moore Church, the event welcomed 219 of the St. John’s community including alumni, for whom the event is mainly directed towards. The night began with words of welcome from Dr. Julia Upton R.S.M., Professor of Theology and Provost Emerita, who explained the history of Lessons and Carols beginning at Cambridge’s King’s College in 1918. Edward Benson, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1883-1896, came up with the idea of the the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in 1880, implemented 38 years later at King’s College on Christmas Eve. Eric Milner-White, the Dean, decided to bring this festival to the College because he believed the Church of England needed a more imaginative way of worship to heal the wounds of the first World War. This has been a tradition there, as well as at other universities, ever since. Rev. John A. Kettelberger, C.M., University Chaplain, lead prayers throughout the service and discussed the meaning behind the most wonderful time of the year.

Joking that his great nieces and nephews finish their advent calendar chocolate quite quickly and that the Santa in the Thanksgiving parade is a St. John’s alum, he reminded the audience that, “Advent is the season of preparing…[to] welcome the Savior into our heart.” Lessons were read from the books of Isaiah, Matthew, Luke and St. John by University staff including Joseph Sciame ‘71Ed, Vice President of Community Relations; Dennis Gallagher, Director of Liturgy and Faith Formation; Susan Damiani ‘87CBA, Director of the Office of Gift Planning and The McCallen Society; Kathryn Hutchinson, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Affairs and Rev. Patrick Griffin, C.M. The real treat of the event however was the St. John’s Mixed Chorus with alumni and the St. John’s Prep Glee Club. Together the groups sang “Love Came Down at Christmas,” “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones,” “Come to Us, O God of Hope,” “We Are Waiting for the Light of the World (Siyahamba)” partially sang in traditional Swahili, “The Call,” “Christ is Born, Sing Glory to God,” “Gesu Bambino,” “Turn” and closed with a dramatic version of the “Hallelujah Chorus.” “The Hallelujah chorus, that’s my favorite thing, that’s always my favorite,” alumna Petrina DiGangi ‘91C said. The sixth annual Joseph R. Gagliano award was presented by Clark “Kim” Oler, Jr., director of the Mixed Chorus. “This choir has never sung like this and I am very proud,” Oler said.


The University’s Mixed Chorus performed during Lessons and Carols in the St. Thomas More Church.

Oler also touched upon the state of the country and that it is in a “funk” leading to the point that music helps us connect. “Coming to church, stories of the Bible give clarity of the mind and singing is a way to do it without too much hard work,” he said. Oler also commended St. John’s Prep for their talent and for keeping the arts strong. After his speech, Oler gave the Gagliano award to George H. Frank, Jr. ‘71Ed accompanied by a loud applause from the audience. “The music was so diverse, it was from many different eras and it was great to see all of the ensembles performing together,” Olivia DiAgostino ‘15CPS and the Torch

Managing Editor Emeritus said. “I came to see one of my good friends who’s in the Sunday choir who’s also an alum of St. John’s, but it was also good to see the St. John’s Prep club, the Mixed Chorus and all of the groups performing as one tonight.” Christian Hernandez ‘16Ed, an alumni singer in the Mixed Chorus said, “I think tonight went really well. It’s been a wonderful experience to get to sing with friends who graduated and this is the first year we have high school students singing with us it’s been really great experience.” Following the service, a hot chocolate reception in the D’Angelo Center Living Room was offered where alumni mingled and reflected on the spiritual night.

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Students in R.I.S.E. Network feel a loss Several students and one faculty express concerns due to departure of administrator ANGELICA ACEVEDO

News Editor

Students and a faculty member connected to the The R.I.S.E. Network say they are disappointed and confused by the recent departure of a popular administrator who they say was instrumental in the rise of the African American and Latino student mentoring program. Since October, seven students and one faculty member have reached out to the Torch to express frustration about why the popular former administrator – Natalie Munoz – says she wasn’t considered to become director of R.I.S.E. They say they haven’t been given an answer. Munoz, former Assistant Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, left the University at the start of this semester and now works at the University of San Francisco, according to her LinkedIn page. The University declined to discuss Munoz’s departure, citing its policy of not publicly speaking about any employee’s reason for leaving, according to Elizabeth Reilly, director of Media Relations. Created in 2013, the R.I.S.E. Network program – which stands for “Reach, Inspire, Succeed, Empower” – aims to “maximize the potential of African American and Latino students” and increase their retention rates. The mentoring program seeks to achieve this through “comprehensive support, guidance and positive peer influence,” according to the University. Since the program began, it has grown to more than 50 mentors and 134 mentees, according to Dr. James Salnave, associate dean of Student Development. The students who reached out to the Torch credited Munoz for their positive experience with the program. In an email exchange with the Torch, Munoz said she left the University because she wasn’t promoted and was denied twice from the doctoral program. She said the message she received was that “hard work doesn’t equate to a promotion.” “I realized the harsh reality that as a Latina woman there was no room for growth for me academically or professionally,” said Munoz, who is of Cuban and Dominican descent. “And while I couldn’t fathom leaving the students in R.I.S.E., I also couldn’t fathom teach-

ing them to settle.” That explanation hasn’t sat well with the R.I.S.E. students she’s gotten close to in recent years. Khila James, a sophomore mentor and the Social Media Coordinator of R.I.S.E., said the program hasn’t felt the same this semester without Munoz involved. “At our meetings, our events and even just conversations among the leaders, you can just feel that things aren’t the same,” James said. “Something is missing, and it’s [Munoz] and all that she brought to R.I.S.E. with her devotion, and enthusiasm, and just how much loved she poured into R.I.S.E.” How R.I.S.E. rose Salnave said the idea for the R.I.S.E. program was born out of concerns five or six years ago about low retention rates for African American and Latino students. He said Kathryn Hutchinson, Ph.D., vice president for Student Affairs, created a committee in search of a solution. Focus groups held through Student Government Incorporated and Institutional Research helped them develop the pilot program. Salnave said they wanted a mentoring-type program, “but didn’t want to make it a typical mentoring program that you see around the nation.” Salnave said they added the word “network” after R.I.S.E. “because we want students to understand it’s not just the relationship they have with their mentor, they have relationships also with administrators and faculty members. We are here to assist them.” The pilot program was launched four years ago under the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Salnave, who is a R.I.S.E. advisor, said the program was moved to the department of Student Development because it can reach more students and provide more funding. When asked about Munoz’s role in the program, Salnave said she, “facilitated the program, as was her job.” Munoz, however, said she developed much of the strategies for the program. “My mindset was that no one can R.I.S.E. without the help of a community and so I developed a plan to strategically build relationships with faculty and administrators that

I knew either because of their titles and positions of power or their compassion could positively influence the lives of the students in the R.I.S.E. Network,” Munoz said. “More than anything else I changed the students cant’s into cans and their dreams into plans.”

Reaction to Munoz's departure Miguel Vasquez, a senior mentor and Student Coordinator of R.I.S.E., was the first to come to the Torch to express confusion about Munoz’s departure. He then gathered fellow R.I.S.E. members who spoke on-the-record about their disappointment. “She was like a role model for me in the sense that in the future I want to be a professor or possibly an administrator within higher education,” Vasquez said. “Understanding what happened to her kind of turned me off to want to be an administrator here.” The students believe Munoz was qualified for the new position of Director of the R.I.S.E. Network, which Salnave said was created this year when the program moved to Student Development. But Munoz said she wasn’t considered. “I honestly have no idea why they wouldn’t make her director, she’s been the main person since the beginning,” said Taylor Warner, a junior R.I.S.E mentee. “She’s worked harder than anyone else and she really deserved it.” Kimberly Balderas, a sophomore and mentor in R.I.S.E., described Munoz as a “role model” and said her leaving “was really devastating.” Others feel R.I.S.E. has lost a parent figure. “We all connected with her, and through her we all grew,” said MyKayla Wilson, another sophomore mentor. “We’re all a big family.” Raj Chetty, an English assistant professor who focuses classes on race and the Caribbean, credited Munoz for reaching out to professors via email when the program began three years ago to have them interact with the first-year students. Chetty said R.I.S.E. has had a positive impact on the University. “R.I.S.E.’s very existence, and this is what’s beautiful about it, is to address a particularly disproportionate piece of information – that retention figures can go up everywhere, and should go up everywhere, and we should be trying to retain all students,” Chetty said. “But we need targeted kinds of programing in par-

ticular for Black and Latino students because retention is worse amongst those students. R.I.S.E. is evidence that it’s an issue. And so, if we’re not talking about it as an issue, it’s a contradiction, because we know it is.”

University's response Munoz’s departure also comes on the heels of student criticism that the diversity of the student body isn’t reflected in the administration and faculty. The students who spoke to the Torch about Munoz leaving all cited this. According to the University’s Fall of 2015 Fact Book, an estimated 70 percent of administration and 62 percent of faculty members are white. The University has addressed similar issues regarding student concerns regarding diversity within faculty and administration. Last year a grassroots student group called Students of Consciousness distributed a list of demands sought on campus, including more faculty and administration of color. Dr. Andre McKenzie, one of the chairs of the President’s Multicultural Advisory Committee, responded in an interview with the Torch that he believed PMAC could work together to address the concerns. And in President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw’s State of the University address in September, he asked Nada Llewellyn, in her role as the University’s newly created chief diversity officer, “to embark on a comprehensive listening tour and meet with various constituencies and harness the resources of our university to promote a more inclusive and equitable St. John’s community.” As far as R.I.S.E. is concerned, Salnave said the University has a vision to keep the program evolving and have recently hired a new director. “I would love to expand and create a sophomore year experience,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to continue that relationship with the students, and then of course once the sophomore year experience is up and running, looking at a junior year experience.” Salnave also wants to “increase the number of students we connect with; looking to also have more of an academic presence, more faculty involvement, more administrative involvement, through what we call the ‘net.’”




(Top Left) Natalie Munoz enjoying Thanksgiving last year with fellow R.I.S.E. members. (From left to right) Clement Anozie, Natalie Munoz, Ijeoma Anozie and Nneka Anozie. (Top Middle) Munoz celebrating Latin Heritage Month with students of the Multicultural Affairs Office. (From left to right) Munoz, Sanaa’a Daniels, Neelesh Rastogi and Jessica Ortiz. (Top Right) Munoz and Dylan Anglade, a former R.I.S.E. mentor, in the Student Affairs Awards Dinner in the Spring of 2016. (Bottom Right) Munoz with the members of R.I.S.E. in the pilot program started in the Fall of 2013. PHOTOS COURTESYNATALIE MUNOZ




SGI president talks annual Winter Carnival

The theme for this year’s winter festivities are tradition and community ANGELICA ACEVEDO

News Editor

This year’s Winter Carnival is underway, with the festivities running from Monday, Nov. 28 through Wednesday, Dec. 7. Chiara Miuccio, president of Student Government Inc. (SGI), as well as some representatives of the Student Affairs Committee, spoke about the themes for this year’s celebrations. “Winter Carnival is always about tradition and the holidays, so what we wanted to do was just cultivate that spirit,” Miuccio said. “We added a brunch this year to kind of get people in the holiday season, we’re doing our classic events like Java Johnnies, Santa’s Workshop and Fireworks - so the theme has been very traditional holiday spirit and St. John’s spirit, of course.” According to Miuccio, this year’s Winter Carnival is not as extravagant as last year’s. Last year, the Winter Carnival had its 25th anniversary, which meant that the events were planned to celebrate the jubilee. The budget for last year’s Winter Carnival was more than $60,000, according to Dominick Salvatori, SGI’s former Treasurer. Miuccio explained why. “Being that it was the 25th anniversary last year, we went a little bit over the top,” Miuccio said. “We brought the ice skating rink on campus, that’s why there was additional costs, we extended our firework show because it was a big anniversary event … However, we kept the integrity of the event even though it wasn’t the 25th anniversary this year.” Miuccio insisted that the expenses were less for the this year’s Winter Carnival, explaining that last year’s anniversary influenced the budget. However, they have not yet made their expenses public for this year’s Winter Carnival, as Miuccio said that they “couldn’t get an accurate number because bills kept coming in.” “We had to scale down some things, obviously,” Miuccio said. “We have a Student Affairs committee, who puts together the event, and what they really wanted to do was to bring students together and change things up

from last year ... We kept some of the classic elements that we had, we just changed up some details.” The classic events that come with the Winter Carnival were still in full swing for this year’s celebrations, including last week’s Ice Skating at Bryant Park and the Horse and Carriage Rides, as well as the Fireworks show scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 7. Miuccio credits the Student Affairs committee, who is in charge of organizing the Winter Carnival, for making it all happen. During Java Johnnies on the night of Friday, Dec. 2, Catherine Sheehan, a senior and the chair of the Student Affairs committee, talked about her experience with organizing the event this year. “Last year was the 25th Winter Carnival so it was really big, and we wanted to kind of continue the momentum of having that real Christmas, community feel,” Sheehan said. “Everything changes from year to year with Winter Carnival, so I aimed for more of a community, home-y feel this year.” Sheehan also said that the budget was less than last year’s Winter Carnival, “Everything’s bigger for anniversary years, so that’s why you see things change year to year, because how much funding we get always varies.” “Certain things were scaled back,” she continued. “We get amazing help and support from so many different departments here … Campus Activities, they’re really the ones who kind of hold us down; Alumni Relations has been great this year helping us out, they wanted to work with us to kind of bring more alumni back, especially for the finale.” Sheehan also thanked her co-chairs for helping her bring the events to the students. Sophomore and Co-Chair of the Student Affairs committee, Danielle Woodman, said that planning this year’s carnival was easier to plan. “We kind of have an idea of what we want to do already so then we just think about making it bigger and better,” Woodman said. “So each year is just a build up on the year before, what we learn from students that could be better and what we personally think


students would want.” Nicole Cocca, also a sophomore and co-chair in the Student Affairs committee, said that planning it was organized thanks to Sheehan. “[Sheehan] is phenomenal, she did most of the work, but we helped or

ganize and plan the timing, decorations [and] volunteer work,” Cocca said. “Each year it just keeps getting better and better, like our fireworks are getting better, we’re getting more volunteers ... Everything is just great this year.”

6 Entertainment


It’s Christmas time at St. John’s

Voices of Victory vibrantly brings the Gospel to the holiday season ARIANA ORTIZ Assistant News Editor Voices of Victory staged their 28th annual Christmas concert this past Saturday evening in the Little Theatre, accompanied by a live band and performing for an audience of about 100 St. John’s community members. Voices of Victory is a gospel choir which was established at the University in 1988, and has been under the musi-

cal direction of Nigel W. Gretton since its inception. The program consisted of energetic gospel arrangements of classical Christmas songs, including “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “Hallelujah.” Sinai’s Radiant Liturgical Dance Ministry, a Christian dance organization at the University, opened the event with a robust performance which set the celebratory mood of the night. The choir then made its dramatic entrance, members filtering onstage in sync through the aisles to begin their rhythmic rendition of “Joy to The World.”


“All the songs were so amazing, I don’t think I even have a favorite... An enormous time of preparation has to go into all of this,” Megan Monahan, junior and audience member, said. Gretton acted as musical director and MC of the event, sharing bits of background information behind each piece and introducing its respective soloists. The choir’s performance of “For Unto Us A Child Is Born” surprised the audience with a memorable twist on the arrangement, as soloist Zamarin Cole hopped to the front of the stage to rap over the song’s harmonies. Darria Credle, a St. John’s alumna and former member of the choir, received a standing ovation from the audience immediately following her powerful vocal performance in “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” the most contemplative song of the night. Remy Martin’s dynamic solo performance in “Infant Lowly, Infant Holy” prompted some audience members to stand and clap to the beat of the music. The songs the choir performed were of varying tempos so as not to allow a lull in the program, successfully keeping the energy level of the audience at a high level. Gretton’s seasoned musical direction and the collective talents of the choir were expertly showcased, and the distinct voices of each choir member melded harmoniously. “We spent months on end perfecting it, and this week we spent at least eight

hours every day just rehearsing..It was great to sing with Voices tonight and be a part of such a great thing,” Icsis McNeill said, a choir member of Voices of Victory. McNeill performed both in the choir and as a soloist on “We Three Kings”, along with Robert Pope. Voices of Victory, in collaboration with Sinai’s Radiant Liturgical Dance Ministry, brought some much-needed Christmas spirit to a student body currently stressing over finals.

Holidays with Bad Astronauts


On Thursday Dec. 1, the St. John’s improv group “Bad Astronauts” had a room full of students bursting with laughter for 90 minutes straight. In DAC 407 the crew held their annual holiday show, and began the festive month with a fun and memorable event. The show began with a series of quick improvised jokes based on the crowd’s suggested opposition, fire and ice. The skit ended with a hit as a member declared that although he’s known as Ice-T, his mixtape is straight fire. They followed with a long-form game based on a single word that the crowd suggested, “beaver.” The witty lineup of students jumped from beaver cribs on MTV, beavers at the dentist, beavers becoming humans and angry beaver revolts against society. Another crowd-favorite was a game in which the members had to spontaneously incorporate lines of dialogue that the audience wrote on small slips of paper into a skit. Nothing evokes laughter like a daughter and her father on a fishing trip speaking nonsensical sentences. Next up was four-square, a game where four members rotated through four unique scenarios based on more audience input. One of these scenarios was a mystery regarding who took the cookie from the cookie jar, a bit that Bad Astronaut Adam Rudy thought was hilarious. After

the show he wrote, “My favorite moment in any show is usually whatever the strangest moment of the night is - the moment when all of the rules of improvisation go out the window and some sustained sense of beautiful weirdness takes over. In this show, that moment was Ben [Davis] and Valerie [Blain] doing a scene based on the suggestion ‘mystery.’” Spontaneity and unpredictability is often the key to success in improv. Rudy

acknowledged this in his comment regarding the crazy cookie mystery scene, “I love moments like those. They’re just about the best proof that we’re definitely making this stuff up as we go along, because nobody could plan something like that.”This type of unpredictable randomness was also seen during the dating game, in which a member successfully guessed two of her three dating candidates, Harry Potter and Alexander Hamilton. The third? A straw with


one hole. These types of moments are perfect for a holiday show leading up to the stress of finals. When asked what makes the holiday show so special, Rudy sums it up perfectly, “I think the holiday show is different from the others because of the amount of pressure we’re under. We know Santa is checking his list (twice, in fact), and he’s informed us in the past that a bad performance is a great way to wind up with a lump of coal.” With the hilarity that could surely be heard out in the hall, it seems like the improv group will be pretty happy with what they find in their stockings on Christmas morning. More information for the team of comedians can be found on their Facebook page SJU Improv Club and Instagram and Twitter @sjuimprovclub.

“My favorite Christmas Movie is Bad Santa because dark comedies during the holidays are fun!”

Santa’s Sparks What is your favorite Christmas movie?

Kamila Pawelec Staff Writer

Rumman Rafsan Senior Government and Politics

“My favorite Christmas Movie is Frosty the Snowman because I love to see objects come to life!”

Dean Colbert Sophomore Government and Politics

Vincent Manta Sophomore English

“My favorite Christmas movie is Home Alone because its hilarious and since it plays on TV every Christmas, its become a classic for my family and I.”

Emmanuel Rotondi Senior Sports Management “My favorite Christmas movie is Love Actually because it combines two of my favorite things, love and Christmas!”

Sarah Salameh Sophomore Psychology

“My favorite Christmas movie is the Nightmare Before Christmas because I really like Tim Burton as well as all of the characters in the movie.”

“My favorite Christmas movie is Elf because Will Ferrell is one of my favorite actors and he always puts on a hilarious show.”

Savita Sukul Freshman Communications “My favorite Christmas movie is the Christmas Carol because I used to watch it every Christmas when I was little with my family.”

Shannon Sefcik Sophomore Hospitality Management

“My favorite Christmas movie is the Grinch with Jim Carey because its hilarious and I watch it with my family every year on Christmas Eve.”

Sienna Chavis Freshman Advertising “My favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story because my little brother, my dad and I all watch it together every year.”

Casey Barrett Freshman Finance

“My favorite Christmas movie is the Christmas Carol because it was always my favorite book growing up.”

Francesca Schiano Sophomore Communications

8 Entertainment


“Nocturnal Animals” is truly unforgettable

“Manchester by the Sea” DAVID ROSARIO Staff Writer When someone says that they never want to see a movie again, this is usually indicative of the film’s quality and suggests that there aren’t enough redeeming qualities to justify investing time into it for a second viewing. “Manchester by the Sea” is an exception to this rule. Casey Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a lonely handyman who’s cop-


ing with the death of his brother and tasked with looking after his 16-year-old nephew. This tragedy forces Lee to head back to his hometown and face not only those he left behind and certain inner demons that he’s been trying to rid himself of for years. Writer and director, Kenneth Lonergan will likely get Oscar consideration in the spring for his work here. There’s a rawness of human emotion on display that films seldom tap into and it allows “Manchester by the Sea” to feel more like real life than a work of fiction. Every character reacts to situations in a manner that’s believable and even during moments when they don’t necessarily seem likeable, the “why” behind what they’re doing is always crystal clear. Casey Affleck’s performance is career defining. The heartbreak in his eyes is palpable, and you genuinely feel the pain that he’s experiencing throughout the entirety of this movie. Michelle Williams also deserved recognition because despite not being in the movie all that much, her scenes with Affleck are electric and are some of the most devastating in the film. “Manchester by the Sea” is worth seeing for the power of its performances and the realness of its storytelling.

Bklyn’s Own Pays Tribute to Jazz with “Late Blooma” GINA PALERMO Managing Editor & Photo Editor You could argue that jazz is a thing of the past, but Sha Briggs-Hall is changing that. The Brooklyn-based artist recently dropped a new album entitled, “Late Blooma,” featuring five tracks of pure hip hop, jazz, urban and nostalgic feels. Briggs-Hall, better known as “Surrael,” has an incredible passion for jazz and wanted to incorporate that bluesy and old-timey feel into his mixtape. Every track has little hints of jazz, whether it’s through the drums or trumpet. The subtle use of the xylophone on his track, “Chineze HOUZ3,” has that classic jazz taste, without being too overwhelming. All the tracks on “Late Blooma” are solely instrumental beats. The only vocals come from “CoMMon Cama,” where Briggs-Hall used something like the narration of a TV show and warped it perfectly to fit the dynamic of the song. “Late Blooma,” is the kind of music you listen to when you’re trying to unwind after a long day of work, or when you’re looking at old family pictures. They are beats that make you think, make you feel introspective and completely relax you at the same time. This is music for the person that wants to get a music high and really feel the sounds. With “Late Blooma,” Surrael has successfully made something that accomplishes utter emotion without even using lyrics. If you ask me, that’s impressive enough for anyone to give his music a try. You can listen to all of his music, including “Late Blooma,” on www.soundcloud.com/surrael.

MICHAEL AMBROSINO General Manager & Entertainment Editor

Of all the great films 2016 had offered us moviegoers, “Nocturnal Animals” is perhaps one of the more unforgettable ones. It’s a thing of beauty; a spellbinding psychological thriller that claws its way into your head and lingers there, haunting you for days and weeks later. Believe me, you’ll want to see this film more than once. Written and directed by famous fashion designer-turned-filmmaker Tom Ford, “Nocturnal Animals” elegantly and ingeniously explores themes of revenge, regret, fear and desire. It’s a taut, endlessly moving and suspenseful story that’s presented in three plot threads, each of which resonate with a powerful, horrific sense of dread. The film follows Susan (played wonderfully by Amy Adams – who’s two-for-two this year with this film and “Arrival”), an art dealer who is sent a manuscript of her ex-husband, Edward’s (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), new novel, titled “Nocturnal Animals.” The novel’s extreme violence both bothers Susan and resonates with her, as it relates to an experience she’s shared with Edward while they were married. Ford expertly jumps back and forth between the film’s three plot threads – present-day Susan, the events happening in the novel and Susan’s flashbacks – without ever losing balance and manages to pull raw drama out from each of them. One is guaranteed to exit “Nocturnal Animals” thinking and, if you’re not alone, communicating. It’s a captivating film that carries viewers to very dark places.

Features 9


Meet SJU’s tech students Senior Prince Channer takes on Yale’s hackathon REZA MORENO Features Editor

It’s modern romance at its finest: first you swipe right, and the next thing you know, you’re entering a competition with your girlfriend at Yale’s Hackathon, tasked with creating a health coverage app in around 36 hours. This is what happened to a senior at St. John’s, Prince Channer. It is funny how meeting on a love app can then lead you to making your very own apps. It’s almost indicative of what modern romance is. “Funny story, swipe right,” Channer said regarding his girlfriend. “Apps started off our relationship and now we build apps together.” Channer is from Atlanta, GA where he transferred in 2014 to St. John’s from Howard University. He is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Marketing, but loves tech on the side. He was enrolled in the military and then went to Howard in Washington, D.C. But the administration was lacking and he had a few issues with his GI Bill. St. John’s however, was there for him, letting him go to school as he was getting that worked out. Living in Brooklyn, he loves the opportunities here. “I love Georgia, I’m a Georgia boy. I love the cleanliness,” said Channer. Channer got into technology when he was about nine -- that was when he broke

and built his very first computer. After entering the fourth annual Yale Hackathon in the middle of November with his girlfriend, Jessica Josephs, a junior at NYU, they created the app “YHealth?” There were 1,500 contestants, according to the Yale Daily News, where

they both received honorable mention for social good. “I got into hackathons because of my girlfriend,” said Channer. “This is her 24th hackathon.” For those that are not familiar withhackathons, YHack consisted of 36 hours


of hacking from Friday night to Sunday morning. From there they present their ideas and what they came up with to the judges. There were prizes up to $3,000 as well as prizes from sponsors. The sponsors were Nasdaq, T. Rowe Price, a global investment management firm, and the pharmaceutical company Merck. Channer and Josephs’ idea was motivated by post election and health coverage, now that the question of what will happen to Obamacare has been raised. They hope their app educates users on health insurance options and motivates them to purchase coverage. Channers said, “YHealth? was a push of innovation because we realized ‘hey this is going to be the last year people are able to use health care from the Affordable Care Act.’ Their app is now done and they want to push for it to be ready by this weekend. If it is live though, there is still no time for people to enroll or change health coverage by Dec. 15. So they are pushing for education on it as of right now. This past weekend he and his girlfriend wanted to go to the Microsoft hackathon in Atlanta. Channer said he would love if St. John’s would sponsor and help him go to these hackathons. “I would love to see St. John’s host their own hackathons, if they would need any help for that, I would love to have part in that,” said Channer. “I would love to see St. John’s in this new wave of tech media.”

Fulbright Scholar steps into IICM at CPS

MICHAEL PEREA Contributing Writer

She’s a transfer student from Stuttgart, Germany and new to St. John’s University. She’s also the only Fulbright scholar at the College of Professional Studies (CPS) and one of only two Fulbright scholars at the entire University. But being in the big city hasn’t put a damper to Julia Theilen’s pursuit of success. As a first year student completing her master’s degree in International Communications, Theilen, 23, has become a major contributor to the development of the website for the Institute for International Communication (IICM) in CPS. “We are very fortunate to have her. She’s a full time scholar and she’s also the right

person at this time…to lay the foundation for this institute,” said Dr. Basilio Monteiro, the director of the Institute. “She has been primarily responsible to develop the web presence,” he added. “She developed the website, she developed the content. All that you see there is her work.” Theilen moved to New York in August and ever since has been busy with helping the Institute gain ground. August was also when the Institute was developed. Between 45 and 50 students are part of the International Communication master’s program currently, and Theilen is the only student worker the program has. She has degrees in public relations and advertising as well as marketing, which gives her an advantage as to what content to put on the website and how to get the attention of students who are interested in the program. “You have to approach it with an integrated perspective. I always wanted to broaden my perspective on the communication field and always wanted to have an international perspective on it,” Theilen said. International Communication combines studies in international relations and political economy of media and is applied to communication across the fields. According to Monteiro, whether it is in economics, politics, advertising or public relations, the International Communication program looks at them from a global perspective. “For example, companies have to think

of how they can adapt their communication strategies to different cultures and different nations,” Theilen said. “I would be the one to advise the company and help build their communication strategies and applying it to different markets.” “We don’t have other universities offering this degree,” Monteiro said. “Because it’s a combination of international relations and political economy of media, it has a great appeal.” For this reason, Theilen chose to study at St. John’s University. She said that in Germany she always wanted to study abroad and coming to the United States was always exciting. “I picked St. John’s because of the program because in Germany many masters programs focused on corporate communications and I didn’t want to do that. This program focuses on non-governmental organizations and communicating for a good cause,” she said. She joked that she didn’t think she would receive a Fulbright Scholarship, the highest an international student can obtain to come to the U.S. However, her resume, internship participation, language proficiency and grades at her German school proved her wrong. “I went to the international office that advises students that want to go abroad. The guy told me that I should definitely go to the U.S. and get the Fulbright scholarship. He looked at my grades, my resume, everything and said I have a chance and I applied and got in,” said Theilen. Although she grew up and lived in Ger-

many her whole life, she speaks English fluently with no accent indicating that she is from a foreign country. “I love languages and learning different languages. For example, I think that in order to graduate (in Europe) you have to prove proficiency in another language. I speak English, I speak German, I speak French and a little Spanish. I learned Latin too. I definitely want to improve on my languages,” Theilen said. Now halfway into her first semester at school, she’s looking to the future to expand IICM’s reach to students in and outside St. John’s with the development of Facebook and Twitter pages. Both she and Monteiro want people to know about the events the institute will hold because not many look at the school website. “The purpose of the institute is to provide a home for ongoing conversations and discussions about international communication issues with academia and the industry. That is our primary objective,” Monteiro said. Theilen plans to be a student worker until she finishes her master’s degree but she also looks forward in moving back to Europe and working for companies that primarily focus on animal and human rights. “I want to work for a company focused on a good cause but other than that I am very open. If I say I just want to work for company ‘x’ then that limits my perspective. I do want to however use my communication degree for a noble cause,” Theilen said.

10 Features


Former SJU student releases mixtape

Cambank$ on his way up in the music industry

REZA MORENO Features Editor

Former St. John’s student, Cameron Banks, also known as Cambank$ is pursuing his dream of becoming a rapper and bringing his musical talents to the floor for all to see. His new mixtape “C&C Tha Mixtape” produced by Davy “Carvo” Crockett Music will be coming out on Dec. 20 just in time of the holidays. From New Jersey, Cambank$ came to St. John’s his freshman year to major in Journalism since he wanted to pursue sports journalism. He got inspiration for his name from his friends in high school, being that Cam is his nickname. He felt it was easier to just stick with something similar to his name. He has been working on his mixtape for about a year now. He wrote the song, Flow Water, here at St. John’s. “This time last year a little earlier actually, October 2015, I was in a rough place,” said Banks. “I was going through some things, a hard time, and Carvo sent me some beats... I was ready to get back to recording and making some music.” He calls it a feel good mixtape, some-

thing that helped him get back on his feet. Carvo Music is the co-founder of Forever Original the music label. The two of them linked up by Banks going to the studio Carvo Music works out of.

While Banks was at St. John’s before, her transferred to Seton Hall University his junior year to be closer to home and concentrate on his music. He and his friend at St. John’s were researching studios when they


Regarding the mixtape, Carvo said, “It’s safe to say it started at St. John’s, it was conceived and thought about at St. John’s.” “I am an in house engineer for a small studio in Manhattan.” said Crockett. “When [Cam] started to take music seriously, I was one of the first studios he went to record.”

stumbled upon Stush Studios in the city. From there the two met up, and even though the studio is no longer, the two of them stood together recording music. “He came to me with the idea. Like it was always something I was interested in,” said Banks. “Carvo had a reputation bigger than mine, when I first met him. Doing a

collaborative mixtape with him is dope.” Banks first started off making music in 2014 when he was 18 years old and still in high school. Growing up he listened to 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Tupac. As for Carvo Music he has been playing trumpets since he was six years old. From there he was in a lot of bands when he was in high school. His musical efforts and talents definitely match well with Banks and what he brings to the music industry as a rapper. With J.Cole being a rapper alumni from St. John’s, he is a definite influence on Banks. He talked about the chance he got to see him at the spring concert his freshman year back in 2015. “One of my good friends from my freshman year, he lived in J. Cole’s same dorm, he had a whole studio set-up and we worked out of there,” said Banks. Now that the mixtape is on its way out, they hope to go on tour whether that be different venues or even colleges to get his music out there. “He’s hungry so I’m hoping to get him on tour,” said Carvo Music. As for Cambank$ future in the music industry, he hopes to keep making mixtapes and working with Carvo. “We’re a great combo.”

Best hot cocoa spots in Queens

JULIA KOTAEV Contributing Writer

As the weather continues to get chillier, nothing is more satisfying than a steaming cup of tasty hot chocolate. However, getting hot chocolate can be hard as some students don’t want to travel far to satisfy their craving as it gets colder. Luckily, there are plenty of places near campus to grab some hot cocoa. Dunkin Donuts Dunkin Donuts has amazing hot chocolate and you can get it in the basement of Marillac. Let’s face it, a lot of us will be reluctant to leave our dorms when it’s snowing, but the walk from your dorm to Marillac for some hot chocolate is definitely worth it. There are also different flavors, such as mint, s’mores and salted caramel. Starbucks Starbucks is conveniently located in the D’Angelo Center and offers a wide range of hot chocolate beverages. There’s peppermint hot chocolate, peppermint white hot chocolate, salted caramel hot chocolate and hot chocolate chile mocha. Who wouldn’t love their hot chocolate in those red cups back for the season? Caffe Bene Located at 176-37 Union Turnpike outside of Gate 4, Caffe Bene is a cozy cafe offering a wide range of beverages. It’s a relaxing place to grab hot chocolate with your friends. Students receive a student stamp card with their

purchases and they also have a Facebook page for St. John’s students. Martha's Country Bakery Located at 7030 Austin Street in Forest Hills, this bakery offers a wide range of hot chocolate. They are best known for their red velvet hot chocolate. They also offer Mexican hot chocolate and peanut butter hot chocolate. They’re open until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, which is great for anyone craving hot chocolate late at night. It’s a 10 minute drive from campus. OK Cafe This trendy cafe is located on 22-4 33rd Street in Astoria, and is a 20 minute drive from campus. All the beverages here are organic, paired with vegan and gluten free treats. Customers describe the atmosphere as “homey.” Customers also receive a punch card for their visits. Presso Coffee Presso Coffee is a trendy coffee shop located on One Fulton Square, 133-42 39th Ave #101 in Flushing. This four star cafe is a 16 minute drive from campus. They also do beautiful latte art, so this is a great place to come to and drink your beverage in style. This place is cash only. Whether it’s Starbucks or Caffe Bene, there are several places to grab hot chocolate by campus. These places offer a wide range of flavors, which will satisfy anyone’s palate. The hot chocolate is worth the trip, and you’ll be happy once you feel the warmth from hot cocoa. There is no better way to welcome winter than with a steaming cup of hot cocoa.


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Features 11


Bundle up this winter with these

Add these trendy coats to your wardrobe now VICTORIA LOHWASSER Staff Writer

As the weather gets colder, everyone starts shopping for that perfect winter coat. There are so many styles that you can choose from to stay trendy this season. Puffer coats- They’re big and bulky, but don’t let that deter you from giving them a chance. They’re finally back in style, have been featured on the runway and now you can stay warm and look cute with the new metallic colors they come in. Don’t worry— the standard gray or black are always in style. Trench coats- These babies never go out of style, so ladies channel your inner Audrey Hepburn and add one to your wardrobe. This style is also perfect for all you men out there. Trench coats are sleek and appropriate for a nightout or an interview—it’s truly a must-have. PeacoatsAnother all-time classic is the peacoat. This unisex coat comes in a variety of colors and lengths, so

you’ll be able to stay warm and in style. Leather jackets- Leather jackets are always in and they’re great for any season and go with every outfit—especially if it’s your classic black. You might not be the warmest, but that’s what layering is for. For the colder days, layer long shirts, hoodies or flannels underneath. The look is chic and cozy. For going out purposes, ladies add a sweater dress and guys add a nice zip-up sweater. Bomber jackets- Bombers are on the rise as the latest fashion trend, so everyone take part in it. They have so many different designs, logos and colors. Forever 21, PacSun, Francesca’s Collections and H&M are the best places to get affordable and quality jackets. Don’t forget your add-ons: crop tops, chokers, high-waisted jeans, flannels and sweaters. Ladies and gents, if you don’t already have one of these styles in your closet definitely go out and add one to your wardrobe.Trench coats, leather jackets and bombers are perfect for all-year use and can be layered effectively. Stay warm this season and pick up your stylish, winter wear now.

The old new: Thrifting in NYC


Save big bucks on presents for friends & yourself LORAINA CALDERON Contributing Writer


Clothing is a way of self-expression and thrift shops have commonly been seen as the cheaper alternative to the mall, or a good way to get some nice designer pieces at an extremely reduced price. Shopping has contracted a type of taboo, that you either support the capitalistic nation we live in or you don’t and rather create from what you can get your hands on. The thrift shopping craze began in early 2011 when people 25 and younger realized that others donate their clothes that they don’t wear. In 2012, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came out with a song about having little money, but getting great pieces from thrift shops. From here, the culture around thrift shops began to grow and so did their prices. After exploring Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Manhattan’s East Village, there was a common thing about all of these places. The price of a normal band t-shirt that would have probably be sold for one dollar in 2006 was about $20-$35 only 10 years later. However, there were definitely some opportunities for steals with being able to leave certain shops with all leather boots for $28 dollars and barely worn Adidas for $42. Manhattan has much to offer when it comes to designer brands, especially on the Upper East Side with being able to find a pair of Miu Miu stilettos for $100. Man-

hattan, however, was a better place for individual pieces. If you are in search for shoes, a nice bag, jewelry or a tie, then Manhattan is the way to go, but not for an entire outfit. The thrift stores in Manhattan had little to no selection when it came to clothing that is remotely in style, but mainly catered to the older crowd. If you searched hard enough you would like a cute dress or a nice pair of slacks in the rough. Housing Works on the Upper East Side 202 E 77th Street was a stellar store front with a decent variety and, oddly enough, a bigger male clothing section than female. The shoe section was superb being able to find a pair of Constanca Basto for $25 and also a vintage pair of Steve Madden’s for the same price. Brooklyn’s best came from the Buffalo Exchange right next door to Monk Vintage Thrift Shop, both of which had an amazing selection. Monk, being priced higher than the Buffalo Exchange, made it a little too pricey to compete with. At the Buffalo Exchange you could pick up a nicely lined bomber jacket, which is all the rage right now for a solid $30, or even a stylish trench coat for $20. There were fewer designer options at this thrift shop, but more focus on street fashion versus the stores on the Upper East Side focused on high fashion. New York is full of the old and the new when it comes to thrift shopping. So, if you ever feel the need to thrift, these were some places that proved to be the most fruitful.

12 Opinion


Flames of the Torch

There’s no question that this past semester was arguably one of the most eventful times for not only the St. John’s community, but for the nation as a whole. With everything happening, the Torch feels it is important to recap on some of the things that made this semester one to remember. Managing Board XCIV Suzanne Ciechalski, Editor-in-Chief Gina Palermo, Managing Editor Michael Ambrosino, General Manager Angelica Acevedo News Editor Bryant Rodriguez Opinion Editor Steven Verdile Design Editor Gina Palermo Photo Editor Isabella Bruni Chief Copy Editor Jim Baumbach Adviser Troy Mauriello Co-Sports Editor Carmine Carcieri Co-Sports Editor





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Editorial policy

David Rosario Lauren Finegan

About the Torch

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

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

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

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

To contact the Torch by mail:

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

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

Remembering our Loved Ones September The whole St. John’s community was shaken by the sudden deaths of Karina Vetrano, Arshell Dennis III and Tiarah Poyau. All were victims of senseless acts of violence. Haraya hosted a peace vigil in mid September to discuss racial discrimination, gun violence, and police brutality, and to honor the lives of SJU’s late students. In the wake of their passing, we learned to appreciate our own lives, as well as our community here at St. John’s, and to never take for granted each living moment. Clown Craze - October For the month of October, many students felt like they lived in a true horror movie, with the threat of a clown attack in the back of their minds. There was even a rumor of a clown sighting at gates one and six on campus. While the University found the report of a clown sighting to be inaccurate, students were still uneasy as the clown craze continued. An alleged photo of a clown near campus also surfaced on social media, but most believed it to be a hoax. Sexual Health - October Trojan’s Annual Sexual Health Report Card ranked St. John’s second to last in sexual safety. The only college behind us is Brigham Young University ranking 140, while SJU is at 139. Last year the University ranked 135. This semester, SGI’s Secretary Frank Obermeyer discussed with us some of the initiatives being discussed to make some changes so that the school is more sexually aware and conscious. President Trump - November Donald Trump winning the presidency

came as a surprise in November. Many people credited his win to the ‘silent majority.’ Although there were many people proud and happy with the results, there was also some backlash on campus from the result. Students and administration responded by hosting various events to address the election results, and student concerns that came from it. Campus Comes Together November In light of Trump winning the presidency, many organizations on campus came together to protest hate and emphasize love. Students of Consciousness (SOC), Latin American Student Organization (LASO), Spectrum and Feminists Unite (FU) all collaborated on a “Love March.” They started at the D’Angelo Center, walked through the Residence Village and finished all the way by the Great Lawn. Trump Window - November St. John’s made national news in November when five students living in Century Hall demonstrated support with three flags for Donald Trump. Fox News and the National Review picked up the story, as did the Torch. Their fellow residents sent them a letter asking them to take it down because it creates a “hostile environment,” however, the students did not take it down, which they received both praise and hate for. Other students of Century Hall on the top floor responded by putting up their own “Love Trumps Hate” poster. Now, similar windows reflecting the “Trump Window” have surfaced in Century Hall. Jane Elliot Motivates Students to Keep Up the Good Work - November Anti-racism activist and educator Jane Elliot visited campus and spoke to students about the “myth of racism.” She encouraged students to be active, vote in the election and appreciate the people who are working towards a change. Haraya invited her to campus in the wake of recent events over the summer such as the resurgence of police brutality and killing of African Americans.

Tips on staying calm and productive for finals ANGELA KELLETT Staff Writer

Finals week is intense, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed because of it. Yet, you should not write that 15 page paper two hours before it is due, nor should you not sleep for three days. It seems like those are some of the only options, but if you stay organized, you can thrive during finals week. Write every single due date and exam date down, and then make a checklist. Organize what you have to do depending on its due date. While it is commendable to want to write that linguistic paper early, it is not wise if you have an economics exam the next day. The best thing to do is write down all your due dates on whatever you will look at. It is not a good idea to write your final paper due date on a sticky note that will sit at the bottom of your backpack. If it worked in high school, it will most likely work in

college. Thus, you should make review to remind you when you need to start something or have to go somewhere. It a simple sheets for any big exams coming up or thing that will help organize your life during even a guideline sheet for a big paper. a hectic time. Flipping through your notes or reading Pack a ton of snacks and bring a reusable wathe book over is good, but you are likely to forget the information. By makter bottle in your bag. It is so easy to forget to ing a review sheet you will have to not eat/drink, or maybe you simply do not have only look back on your notes but also the time. You will feel more tired than you already are if you do not eat. make sense of the material. Furthermore, install a website blocker on Be a pal and make a Google doc with your laptop, it is easy to get distracted withyour friends from class. You can all Netflix. But, it will make you more produccontribute to the review sheet and you tive, and it will limit the time that you can can get clarification on any material you may be confused with. TORCH PHOTO/GINA PALERMO spend on a certain website. We have almost a month off to binge watch all the television Schedule out when you are going to study, write a paper, go to office hours or anything that may shows on our list. Take a deep breath and drink some coffee. We have surcome up during finals week. It may seem mundane, but we vived the semester, and the last stretch is to get through have a short period of time to complete a lot of work. It is easy to schedule multiple things at the same time finals week! Good luck to everyone on finals week and try to stay orand simply underestimate how much time you have for to complete an assignment. Set some alarms on your phone ganized.



St. John the Baptist and our school FR. PATRICK GRIFFIN, C.M. Special to the Torch Our University is named in honor of St. John the Baptist. His statue appropriately stands in front of St. John Hall which was the first building on campus. Dressed in the traditional garb of camel’s hair and with a staff in one hand, he makes a gesture with the other hand which suggests that he is preaching. John the Baptist plays a key role in this season of Advent which we celebrate in the weeks before Christmas. If I were to put words in the mouth of our figure of John, I would put the affirmation: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” This short phrase captures the essence of his message. Most of us who have lived in big cities, and all New Yorkers, can claim familiarity with the sign “ROAD WORK AHEAD.” It signals the fact that the highway is undergoing some repair. Potholes and ruts receive a filling while bumps and humps undergo a shave. This leveling of the surface makes it easier for people to travel these roads and get to their destination more swiftly. This “prepares the way.” When John the Baptist speaks of “preparing the way of the Lord,” he does not refer to the physical roads on which the Lord will travel, but to the pathways of our hearts. The summons emphasizes the need to be attentive to the bumps in our lives: what we do wrong; it draws our attention to the ruts in our lives and what we should do for ourselves and others. Leveling these obstructions makes it possible to walk more faithfully and surely. We become men and women who know how to proceed along the path to discipleship. As students and staff at this University named after the Baptist, we also take on these responsibilities in our community and culture. One of the hopes of a St. John’s education is that all of us will make a difference in the way in which our world responds to injustice and prejudice (the bumps) and to hunger and need (the ruts). A brief look at our newspapers or programs reveals the opportunities and demands of our society. “Preparing the way” calls for an attentiveness and generosity which goes beyond simple awareness. The summons involves action and change of heart. Our association with St. John the Baptist provides the direction.


Flag burning is legal but disrespectful SAHN CHOI Assistant Editor When a United States soldier, marine, sailor or airman dies in combat, the Armed Forces provide a military funeral if requested by the deceased’s family. These funerals include military elements such as the attendance of honor guards or the ceremonial act of a rifle party firing blank cartridges into the air three times. Some may be unfamiliar with these customs, but most are familiar with the image of a spouse, child or parent weeping over a casket — a casket delicately draped with the American flag. In light of the results of the election, there has been an increase of flag burnings across the nation. Most of these flag burnings are done by college students, college students who happily accept student loans from the nation whose flag they burn. Burning the flag is well within one’s first amendment rights. It’s also well within one’s first amendment rights to take exception to flag burning and condemn anybody who participates in this ineffectual and detestable act.

On Nov. 29, president-elect Donald Trump tweeted that “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag — if they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” The last time an act criminalizing flag burning was introduced was in 2005, when none other than Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton sponsored legislation punishing flag burning with one year in jail and a $100,000 fine. “Burning a flag, to me, [is] despicable, and I believe that there is no denying — when we talk about our flag — Americans’ emotions run deep. And we know that when we look at the flag and it’s deliberately and maliciously destroyed, that is an intimidating experience in many instances,” Clinton said. The act did not pass, nor should it have. The flag is a universally-recognizable symbol of freedom. Banning the act of flag-burning would infringe on the very liberties it represents. Being able to express discontent — even through wildly disrespectful acts such as flag-burning — is a distinctly Amer-


ican right that few people around the world have. While flag burning is perfectly legal, it is objectionable, at least to this writer. There’s a difference between a right to protest and a blatant insult to those who happily inhabit this great nation. More importantly, burning the flag is a reprehensible affront to those who have died on behalf of the country and its flag. According to a 2015 count from the Department of State, more than 4.4 million people are on the legal immigrant visa waiting list for the United States. If flag-burners are unhappy with the privilege of living in this country, they are more than welcome to leave and find a country whose flag they don’t feel compelled to set fire to.

We are more than our shortcomings DOUGLAS CANTELMO Special to the Torch To some students, final exam week feels like a time in which any failings they have been experiencing over the course of the semester will be laid bare. The stress during this time of the year is palpable and felt in every residence hall and study lounge. One of the tragedies of the human condition is that we frequently view our shortcomings as if we were looking at our reflection in a makeup mirror. Every blemish is amplified and every beauty mark is seen as a fault line. Maybe this is because we know our own failings better than anyone else could — by living with them day in and day out. This is a warped perspective and it will not vanish automatically when you graduate. It will not disappear at commencement when you leave behind your GPA as a measure of personal achievement. It takes a conscious effort to avoid defaulting to this intensely focused view and construct meaningful change out of personal setbacks.

I’ve learned this lesson in the courses I teach. Every semester I tell my students that the product I put forth won’t be the best I will ever produce. It’s a realistic yet hopeful tone. I will always try new things. Some will succeed and others will spectacularly blow up in my face. I used to nervously retreat from those setbacks and see them as personal failings to be avoided. Yet I’ve recently welcomed them as the opportunity to learn, grow and evolve the course material. I’m imperfect — the classroom experience will be, too. Nevertheless, I will be a better professor once I acknowledge the imperfection and place it in proper context. That context being: students value professors that care about their success, are engaging and are willing to adapt as the weeks pass. In that same spirit, your semesters at this university will be filled with immeasurable joy and some pain. It is what your reaction will be to that pain that will define what type of person you set out to be and not the pain itself. Never forget that. — Douglas Cantelmo is a Discover New York and Global Passport Professor


By Alexander Brewington

14 Sports




Anthony Varvaro

Former Johnnie trades in his cleats for a badge Choosing to become a New York City police officer is a decision that entails a great deal of sacrifice. Officers put their lives on the line each time they go into work, spend hours away from their families and work deep into the night. Very few officers, however, can say that they’ve made a sacrifice as large as the one that Anthony Varvaro did to serve his community. If you’re a baseball fan that name should sound familiar. Varvaro spent parts of six seasons in the MLB pitching for the Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox. Mainly as a reliever, he was solid throughout his career, pitching to an impressive 3.23 ERA including two stellar seasons in Atlanta from 2013-2014. This past June, Varvaro, 32, decided to voluntarily retire from professional baseball to pursue a career as a Port Authority Police Officer. He and the rest of his academy class will graduate and become officers on Dec. 8. “I figured that I had a pretty successful career in baseball, I had played a number of seasons and I was fine moving on to the next step of my life knowing that I could chose what I wanted to do,” Varvaro said in an interview with the Torch. “The Port Authority, it’s something that I sought out, I actually sought it out while I was in the major leagues.” Varvaro, a Staten Island, NY native and former St. John’s baseball standout who graduated in 2005, said that the decision to retire and pursue a different career path was not made in a day. After sitting out the most of the 2015 season due to injury, Varvaro was given a non-guaranteed contract with Boston and a spring training invite prior to the 2016 season. He was then assigned to the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox, to begin the regular season. Then, three months into the season, a call from the Port Authority came. “I kind of felt like my body was break-

ing down a bit, I felt like my career may have been coming to an end,” he said. “I probably could have played a little longer, but that’s when an opportunity with the Port Authority Police Department arrived.” So now at 32 years old, the “retired” Varvaro begins a new career with the Port Authority, a career that he says has been incomparable to the past 11 years of his life playing professional baseball. “The [Major League Baseball] season is 162 games plus a 30-game spring training schedule, you’re traveling, that lifestyle is tough,” Varvaro said. “Trying to compare that to this lifestyle these past six months at the academy, I don’t want to say it was hard, but it was challenging because it


“I’m really just a normal guy, I’ve always considered myself a blue collar worker. I’m just like the rest of the guys.” - Anthony Var varo -

was different. It was something that I had never experienced.” A major challenge that Varvaro said he faced in the academy was going back to school. The St. John’s alum noted that he obviously hadn’t been in a classroom environment in over a decade. A major part of Varvaro’s training with the Port Authority was educational. Port Authority officers are required to know both New York and New Jersey laws since they will be working in bridges and tunnels that cross between the states. “At the academy, they go over everything, and at first it was a little difficult because I hadn’t been to school in, what, 10 years? I wasn’t in school mode,” he said. “But once I became acclimated it became, I don’t want to say easy, but it just became more comfortable.”

When Varvaro begins his career with the Port Authority this week, he’ll almost certainly be the member of his graduating class with the most unique path to that point. Born and raised on Staten Island, Varvaro attended Curtis High School. It wasn’t until towards the end of his baseball career at Curtis that he realized he might have a chance at playing professionally. “Growing up in New York City, you don’t really have many too many athletes out of New York City that go pro [in baseball],” Varvaro said. “It wasn’t something that I considered realistic.” But as his high school career continued, more and more professional scouts and college coaches began to attend games. Eventually Varvaro chose to attend St. John’s to play for Coach Ed Blankmeyer. His rise to the professional ranks continued as a member of the Red Storm, where Varvaro earned Second Team AllBig East honors in 2004 and was named an All-American during his final season in Queens in 2005. Varvaro dropped to Seattle in the 12th Round of the 2005 MLB Draft due to an injury that required Tommy John surgery, an operation in which a ligament from a patient’s elbow is substituted with a tendon from another part of the body. “You don’t really realize that getting drafted is really just putting your foot in the door, then you have to climb up the minor league ranks up to the major leagues and then you’ve got to stay there,” he said. Varvaro eventually did just that. By 2010 he had made his major league debut with the Mariners as a September call up. He pitched just four innings in what he called a “cup of coffee” with Seattle, but was then claimed off waivers by the Braves, where he made a name for himself. In four years with Atlanta, Varvaro pitched to a 2.99 ERA and allowed just 56 earned runs in 168.2 innings. His time with the Braves culminated with an impressive 2014 season where he allowed 16 runs and struck out 50 batters

in 54.2 innings pitched. “It really is a good accomplishment, not many people get to play in the major leagues, let alone to say that I played and that I had a lot of success in the major leagues,” he said. At the Port Authority Academy in Jersey City, NJ, Varvaro noted that it is not lost on his classmates that they may have seen one of their fellow graduates on TV just a few years ago. “Everyone here at the Port Authority, they all know, they’re all aware of who I am, where I came from, they ask me a million questions every day,” Varvaro said jokingly. There was no way that Varvaro could have prepared for those questions, but he did note the help that St. John’s gave him in preparing for his future career. After bouncing around majors at St. John’s from Education to Sports Management, Varvaro eventually settled on Criminal Justice. In the Criminal Justice program, he noted that many of his professors were either lawyers or retired police officers. “They would give you on the job, real-life experience, they would incorporate that into a learning environment,” he said. “So just hearing that stuff, it mirrors what we do here in the academy.” Varvaro does not know exactly what the future holds for him upon graduation. He does, however, have two main goals for his future self. “In today’s day and age, everyone knows that law enforcement isn’t exactly the safest job, so you’ve just got to make sure that you make it home safe every night, that’s the first thing,” he said. “And then the second thing is just to do my job, and to try to go to work every day to do what I took this job for, which is to help people.” Aside from those objectives, it is clear that Varvaro simply wants to remain “one of the guys” when he joins the force, despite his high-profile background. “I’m really just a normal guy, I’ve always considered myself a blue collar worker,” he said. “I’m just like the rest of the guys. I’m just a guy with a talent, that’s all.”

Sports 15


St. John’s rides defense to consecutive victories DYLAN HORNIK Staff Writer

The St. John’s women’s basketball team has established their identity. A 5436 victory over Albany on Nov. 30 and a 64-46 triumph against Lafayette on Saturday asserted their stance as a defensive-minded team. The pair of home wins push the Red Storm’s record on the season to 4-3, as they have now won three of their last four games after a 1-2 start. Against Albany, the Red Storm found themselves tied at the end of the first quarter, seemingly unable to contain the Great Dane’s Imani Tate. The senior guard from the Bronx put up six of her side’s 13 points in the quarter and shot 60 percent from the field. After that, though, the St. John’s defense put in the effort that we are accustomed to seeing from a Joe Tartamella-coached team. They surrendered just 23 points through the final three quarters, and began to shoot better as well. In that crucial second frame, Jade Walker had four points in an 8-0 run that put the Red Storm ahead for good. She finished with 13 points and three rebounds. Overall, St. John’s cruised to

a 25-12 run over the second and third quarters to put the game out of reach. Tartamella is starting to get used to the idea of a deep bench, creatively using 12 players in the win by mixing up defensive assignments. “I’m not used to having that many players and have to work as many lineups as you can in practice,” he said. “We’re getting better because of that though. We’re seeing a lot of improvement in our chemistry, in our execution.” This is the kind of performance that is expected from Tartamella’s group. The Great Danes shot just 28 percent and turned the ball over nearly 30 times total, a figure reminiscent of the stifling defense that the Red Storm used last year to earn an NCAA Tournament bid. The first half of Sunday’s win over Lafayette highlighted some of the best defensive pressure found anywhere from St. John’s. The Red Storm held the lowly Leopards to 15 points through the first two quarters. They blocked seven shots and locked down the paint by closing out on shots quickly. By the time Lafayette finally broke through in the second half, the game was already decided. St. John’s did not shoot particularly well but did enough to earn a 13-point lead by halftime. The second half was a little more up-tempo for both sides. St. John’s put

up 25 in the third quarter to salt away the victory. They heated up in that quarter, ripping 57 percent of their shots and using superb passing to find the open shooters. They held their largest lead of the afternoon in the third quarter, and it never got closer than 16 for the rest of the game. Four Red Storm players had at least eight points. Even in the win, the lack of offensive spark was a cause of concern for head


Jade Walker scored a combined 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds in two SJU wins last week.

Hot shooting carries SJU in Big Easy DERRELL BOUKNIGHT Staff Writer

Following a stunning loss to Delaware State last Tuesday, the St. John’s men’s basketball team snapped a five-game losing streak, defeating Tulane 95-75 on the road Friday behind a program-tying record 16 3-pointers. Four players scored more than 15 points for the Red Storm (3-5), led by a game-high 18 from point guard Marcus LoVett. As a team, St. John’s dished out 22 assists on 33 made field goals, their highest output since upsetting Syracuse last season at Madison Square Garden. “We had a tough week and we really just addressed things with each other, tried to get better each day and learn from our mistakes,” Head coach Chris Mullin said, per RedStormSports.com. “I thought tonight defensively we were very active, but more importantly, the ball movement was great. We played unselfishly on both sides of the ball and got rewarded for it,” he said. Bashir Ahmed and Federico Mussini each scored 17 points, followed by 15 from freshman guard Shamorie Ponds. Ahmed also grabbed a team-best seven rebounds. In the first half, the Johnnies connected on nine straight 3-pointers and 10-of11 overall, en route to jumping out to a 30-15 lead with just under 10 minutes to play in the first half. The team recorded assists on each of the 10 made triples. Their first two-point basket did not come until the 8:23 mark, when Mussini hit a long jumper. Tulane (1-7) fell behind by as many as 22 in the first half, trailing St. John’s 51-

32 at halftime. The Red Storm shot 61 percent in the first half, making 11-of-14 shots from downtown, good enough for 79 percent. In the second half, the Green Wave cut the deficit to 13 on two occasions early on, but Mullin’s team regrouped and continued one of their best offensive outings in recent memory. Up 62-49 with 15:09 left in the game, St. John’s ignited a 22-6 run over the next seven minutes, going up 84-55 with just over eight minutes to play. The 29-point margin was the Red Storm’s biggest lead of the game, and the defensive intensity Mullin pointed out contributed to Tulane failing to get within 20 points the rest of the way. After their loss to Delaware State, Mussini pointed to the team’s effort and energy, which was nearly nonexistent un-

coach Joe Tartamella. “We have some things we need to clean up but we’re happy we got the win,” Tartamella said. “I thought we did a good job in some areas, made some big shots in key times and we still need to continue to work on rebounding the ball and getting to the free throw line.” Now over .500 for the first time since their season opener, St. John’s will face off with their tri-state rival Rutgers at home on Wednesday.

til the Johnnies’ attempt at a comeback late stalled short. After Friday’s 20-point blowout, Mullin said that his team’s energy was “really good.” “We are a young team still trying to find ourselves. We have several one and two year players. This is their eighth game together. It takes time. Although, it was hard to go through [a loss like we did], that’s really when you can show true character and grow as a team.” On Monday, St. John’s began a string of six consecutive games in New York, beginning with a home matchup with Cal State Northridge. Another contest against Fordham will be followed by the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival, where St. John’s will play LIU Brooklyn on Dec. 11. Following their trip to the Barclays Center, the Johnnies will play Penn State at the Garden.


fordham 12/8

LIU Brooklyn 12/11 Barclays Center


St. John’s hit a program record 16 three pointers in a win over Tulane in New Orleans on Friday.

penn state 12/18 @ MSG Madison square garden

SPORTS December 7, 2016 | VOLUME 94, ISSUE 13 |


almost out of the red Record-Tying st. john's inches closer to .500 Story on page 15 TORCH PHOTO/BRITTANY GARCIA

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