Volume 95, Issue 10

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VOL 95 : 10 november 15, 2017 torchonline.com

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


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Excelsior Scholarship: Effect on St. John’s and New Yorkers


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Features: Mary Palazzola, a 75-yearold student, shares her story page 15




“To Write Love On Her Arms” Women’s

Nonprofit founder speaks on mental health Day Event

Aims to Empower


Staff Writer

More than 600 students filled the Marillac Auditorium to hear Jamie Tworkowski talk about his foundation “To Write Love On Her Arms” last week. The event, sponsored by The Division of Student Affairs, Student Government, Inc. and Student Veterans Association as part of Veterans Week events at the University, also covered topics such as depression and suicide. According to Tworkowski “To Write Love On Her Arms” is one of the largest nonprofit organizations online. Its mission is to inspire messages of hope, support, love and trust. There are 15 full-time staff members, a host of interns and thousands of supporters dedicated to helping people who suffer from depression, addiction, self-injury and suicidal tendencies. “I heard that I might be the first mental health speaker to give a talk here in awhile, and that is so special to me,” Tworkowski said. Tworkowski said he didn’t set out to start a nonprofit organization; all he wanted to do was help a friend and tell her story. When he met Renee Yohe, she was struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and suicidal thoughts. He wrote about the five days he spent with her before she entered a treatment center and he sold t-shirts to help cover the cost. When she entered treatment, he posted the story on MySpace to give it a platform. Soon Tworkowski and his friends were answering messages from people around the world. “Today I met Jamie Tworkowski, my personal hero,” sophomore Gabrielle Ciminera said. I’ve loved this organization since I was 13-years-old.” Two students shared their thoughts on why they think young adults suffer most from de-


Staff Writer


Tworkowski spoke on the founding of his nonprofit.

pression and how suicide could be the third leading cause of death among 18-24-year-olds. “There’s so many expectations of us to succeed, when people don’t need to have everything together,” senior Mariah Montero said. “There’s too much stress on our plates,” sophomore Chris Jillsol added. According to the World Health Organization, 800,000 people commit suicide each year. Each day, 22 veterans commit suicide and over 20 million people suffer from depression.

“Suicide happens in over 100 countries,” Tworkowski said. “It’s not just an American, white or young [person’s] issue.” After the talk, SJU Serves presented Tworkowski with some St. John’s gear and students had the opportunity to ask questions, take pictures and buy merchandise. Laughs, tears and positivity filled the hallway as students shared their stories. “The best part of my job is meeting people who are still alive because of this organization,” Tworkowski said at the end of the event.

Our Own ‘Pitch’ Winner ISABELLA BRUNI

Co-News Editor

The University’s first Pitch Johnny competition held its third and final round of pitches Saturday, Nov. 11 with first prize awarded to the Torch’s design editor, Steven Verdile. The senior won $600 for “Stuff Your Dorm,” a concept he created for his senior graphic design project. Verdile described it as a service that would allow incoming students to shop for all of their dorm needs online. They would then be able to have it all shipped directly to their dorm room. The project included a functioning web prototype, video commercials, and social media profiles. “Moving into college is a really stressful experience,” he said. “In my four years here at St. John’s I’ve moved 10 times. My goal with this project was to make that process easier for future students.” More than 35 teams competed for a chance at cash prizes and access to the College of Professional Studies Innovation Lab. Timothy Turane won runner-up with his service for people to find nearby paralegals and Aries Bellemiel won third place with her hair product to make hair grow faster and provide protection from the sun.


Verdile’s senior graphic design project took first prize.

The DAC coffee house transformed from a mere assortment of chairs into a forum for female empowerment during the TEDx chapter of St. John’s Women’s Day event last Thursday, Nov. 2. The event covered a variety of topics from feminism to self-identity in just a few hours. With the chatter of Starbucks ever so faint in the background, a powerful social conversation took place. The event intended to replicate the TEDWomen’s “Bridges” event that occurred earlier this month in New Orleans. The chapter aimed to recreate the itinerary and aura of this event. “Bridges” spanned over the course of three days, leaving St. John’s Women’s Day event with big shoes to fill, some said. Lauren Ruiz, secretary of TEDx, kicked off the night by emphasizing how Women’s Day aimed to promote the TEDTalk ideology of “bring[ing] together a global community of people exploring how change begins.” This exploration was brought about before the first speaker even stood in front of the all-female audience. Campus organizations such as Raised Pinay, Feminists Unite and Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority opened booths to allow audience members to explore the ways in which they promote female empowerment. “It’s important to lift each other up… I feel like a lot of women forget that we all undergo the same struggles in life,” Philanthropy Chair of Delta Phi Epsilon Nisha Busre said. Busre, who was a speaker at the event, added that she wanted to bring attention to the issues women face and bring light to the things that her sorority does to help women overcome these said obstacles. “I really liked the guest speakers and hope they can make effective changes for future events,” freshman Sydney Bembry said. TEDx President Neelesh Rastogi centered his conversation around what it means to be a feminist. “We believe that we can actually kind of spark that whole discussion into one voice and come up with the concept of ‘Bridges,’” Rastogi said. This concept was brought to life by the audience members. As they began to share their opinions and stories, they were unconsciously building “bridges” with their ideas. From cultural aspects to family history, participants in the discussion were welcome to share as they pleased. These “bridges” were not intended to burn at the conclusion of the event, Rastogi said, but rather continue on. Ruiz and Rastogi added that the “bridges” are meant to extend and build up to the greater TEDx Talk that is set to take place in February. Women’s Day is a part of the puzzle piece, intended to generate a larger conversation for TEDx’s upcoming events on campus.





Co-News Editor Staff Writer

The Pan-African Student Coalition group Haraya apologized this week for its initial response to a wave of criticism that it neglected its relationship with black students during its annual Black Solidarity Day (BSD) on Monday, Nov. 6. Saying “it was not our intention to offend anyone,” Haraya walked back its initial statement posted on Twitter that some students say was not at all responsive to the students’ concerns about how panels were arranged that day. Haraya’s apology, posted on social media Monday, came one week after the group’s choices of two non-black speakers for the BSD event drew the ire of students and raised questions over how Haraya identifies itself — is it a multicultural Pan-African Coalition or a Black Student Union? “The events that occurred over the past couple days have been intense, yet helpful,” Alyssa Evans, the vice president of Haraya, told the Torch in a statement Tuesday. “Our purpose on campus is to advocate for students and be a voice for them; it is clear that we were not living up to their expectations. “We have heard the concerns and thoughts from students and are working to make some progressive changes within Haraya.” According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Pan-Africanism is the idea that people of African descent have common interests and should be united. However, Haraya insisted in its initial statement that as a Pan-African Coalition, its interests are multicultural. Haraya’s BSD event included discussions on the importance of black solidarity with guest speakers and held a solidarity march to end the day; the panels in general received the most attention from students on campus. REACTIONS Among the panelists at BSD were Shaun King, writer and civil rights activist, along with Sam White, a white student in a black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi at Villanova University. That led to some St. John’s students to voice concerns, most notably on Twitter. Imani Fox, a junior and co-leader of St. John’s Students of Consciousness (SOC) who was also a panelist for BSD, has an active presence on Twitter, which she uses as a platform to talk about activism outside of school. Following the panels, her tweets addressed what she viewed as the intent versus the impact of Haraya’s actions in choosing those panelists. “Honestly, overall, I was disappointed in how everything went down and essentially was planned on a day that was supposed to be about Black people for Black people.” “I say all of this not to drag anyone but to hold Haraya accountable to their purpose for the Black people at SJU. Many people are not doing that. I am not the only one who feels this way, but I am not afraid to call people out. Haraya honestly needs to do better as a Black org.” Students confirmed Fox’s tweets expressed what they were thinking. Fox told The Torch she felt the need to speak out because, “I personally felt there

were a lot of things done wrong and other people’s feelings weren’t put in consideration.” Wyett Woodbury, a junior, felt that White was an inappropriate speaker for an event focused on black solidarity. Woodbury also was a panelist and spoke about his black experience and black diaspora because of said prominent social media profile. But he felt he was being spoken over by White, the Villanova white student on the panel. “When I stated my piece and I said what I said, Sam White basically invalidated my entire experience,” Woodbury told The Torch. “He said that I was playing oppression Olympics and was making wide generalizations. “Y’all invited me to a black panel to have a white person speak over me and say my experience as a black person is invalid. That was my major issue.” Haraya said the panels “were meant for those with open minds,” but students felt it was insensitive to take place on BSD. Kayla Tarver, a junior, said no matter how “woke” a white person is, they can’t relate to the black experience. “They can sympathize and imagine but there’s no way you could literally change your skin color or the white privilege you walk around with every day,” Tarver said. Fox, who said she met privately with

Y’all invited me to a black panel to have a white person speak over me and say my experience as a black person is invalid. Wyett Woodbury

members of Haraya after her tweets sparked the wave of student criticism, believes that Haraya needs to decide what type of organization they want to be. Her issue is Haraya’s stated intention to be the Pan-African Student Coalition while many students look at them as the University’s Black Student Union. “I wanted to express that because I knew no one was really going to confront Haraya in the same way,” Fox said. If Haraya chooses not to serve as the Black Student Union, Fox said she would consider putting one together. FIRST STATEMENT Following Fox’s tweets, Haraya released its initial statement Nov. 7, a day after its BSD event. Haraya termed the criticism as an “attack” on its organization. “Please stop attacking Haraya for any and everything that happens on this campus regarding Black people,” the statement read on its social media platforms. “It is ignorant…” “These panels as well as other aspects of the day were meant for those with open minds. It was not only a space for Black people to share their anger but also a platform to spark conversation that is often hidden under the rug (besides 140/280) characters).” Haraya also stated that BSD is a place for education, not just a space for the Black community. Wilbert Turner, a junior, said the Haraya statement “addressed a lot of the critiques brought against Haraya after Black Solidarity


Black Solidarity Day controversy is addressed at Monday Town Hall Meeting

Day, which is good. If critics don’t like the response they should work with the leadership of Haraya more closely, or they should work to put themselves in those leadership positions in the future.” But Fox called the response “inappropriate and unprofessional” and added, “It was as if they didn’t read my thread and took it as a personal attack.” Other students who spoke to the Torch said that after reading Haraya’s statement, they would like the group to clarify what they represent as an organization. SECOND STATEMENT Haraya released a second statement on Nov. 13, apologizing to those who were offended by BSD on the Queens Campus. In the new statement, Haraya said: “We are sincerely sorry to those who were affected. Our initial responses does not reflect the core values of our organization; we acknowledge and understand the concerns and opinions that are being voiced.” Haraya said in the new statement that they are the umbrella organization for the Pan-African Student’s Council that strives to strengthen the Pan-African Community and promote “unity,” “uplift” and “enlighten” on the Queens campus. Haraya also said it encouraged students to “continue voicing your opinions” and vowed to listen at a Cultural Town Hall scheduled for that night. CULTURAL TOWN HALL Although Haraya met with multiple organizations that fall under the Haraya umbrella — like the Caribbean Students Association (CSA), last Thursday in a private setting, according to Fox — a follow up town hall event was held Monday night for all students to voice their concerns involving all of the said controversy. The main question at hand was, “How should cultural organizations engage students and move forward to uniting on campus?” according to the event flyer. The discussion included what occurred on BSD, as well as teaming up with all cultural organizations and addressing the conversation about the non-black member of Haraya. Kimberly Dorismond, a junior who at-

tended, said, “Haraya was willing to take the criticisms and now we’re all trying to move forward. I think this is something that has to happen more often.” Brianna Haynes, who also attended the town hall, described the tone as “hostile,” with a lot of students venting their frustration. “We shouldn’t be so divided with so many cliques and to celebrate all of us together and how far we’ve come,” she added. Several students told the Torch they took issue with a non-black student in a leadership position within Haraya — namely Sophia White, who is the co-chair of the Pan-African Women’s Committee. White declined to comment for this story, but her co-chair, Obono Mba-Madja, said there are a lot of things that people don’t recognize going behind the scenes. “We’re not here for ourselves, we’re working for everyone,” she said. Mba-Madja added, “I learned how I can deal with certain situations in regards to being more personable with other black women who feel they’re not being represented with my co chair and what I can bring to the organization as a member on e-board in regards to how people feel about the organization in general and why they don’t feel like they’re being represented.” Amenkha N. Sembenu, president of CSA, hopes Haraya will work more closely with other cultural organizations in the future. “I was a little disappointed with Haraya because three organizations that are Pan-African organizations, that are minority organizations including Caribbean Students Association, which I am president of, were actually not included in any events of Black Solidarity Day,” Sembenu said, “and I found that not inclusive because we are minority orgs.” Amel Viqud, a member of Haraya, said she is ready to put everything in the past. “Personally I didn’t feel attacked, I listened to what everybody had to say…,” Viqud said after the event. “All of these organizations need to work as one and that’s what we’re doing. I just hope it can go further than this Marillac Terrace, you know go to the GBMS and the SJU feeds and the SGI meetings and get a hold of each other.” Jillian Ortiz contributed to this story




Free College Tuition Comes With a Catch

St. John’s takes hit from Excelsior Scholarship but it’s “not doomsday” BRYANT RODRIGUEZ

Managing Editor

In April, New York became the first state in the nation to provide a pathway to a tuition-free four-year college education to qualified state residents at public schools. To receive what’s known as the Excelsior Scholarship, the main requirement is a household income below $100,000. What does that mean for private universities such as St. John’s trying to attract students who now may qualify for free tuition at a public school? The effect that the much-touted scholarship program has had on the state “was a shock really to everyone in New York State, not just the private industry,” the Vice Provost and Chief Enrollment Officer Jorge Rodriguez said. “We can take a hit, not that we want it, but we can bounce back. Because of our size, we’re lucky enough having over 20,000 students,” he said. “It gives us a little breathing room where it’s not doomsday.” However, “because of Excelsior we’re going to have to go out of state and upstate a little bit more,” he said. “We estimate about 100130 students were impacted by Excelsior and elected to go to a state or city university.” “What people don’t realize is that even the public schools are impacted by this and some of them, not very directly but indirectly— negatively,” he added. As a private university, St. John’s students aren’t eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship. Instead, students at private schools who fit the same profile—mainly households with less than $100,000 in income—can receive an Enhanced Tuition Award (ETA) from the state up to a maximum of $3,000. However, the program requires that school must match the award, with a total possible award equaling $6,000, and freeze tuition for that student. While it’s clearly not representative of full tuition, this program was seen as an attempt to help private schools that might be hurt by the Excelsior Scholarship. Private schools must choose to take part; the University is a participant of the ETA. “Any time we see a student who is economically deserving, how can we say no? Even if it will cost us money,” Rodriguez said.

Financially it would make a lot of sense if I transferred to a CUNY but St. John’s is where my heart is at. Sophomore Maggie Chen

The University decided to limit the program to 600 students with an estimated cost of $1 million, he added. Not everyone at St. John’s who was eligible for the ETA program took part. Rodriguez speculated that it was probably due to the program’s requirements, which mirror those of the Excelsior Scholarship. These include taking 30 credits per year, graduating in a timely fashion and living and working in the state after graduating for the same number of years that the student received the award. If a student fails to abide by any of these requirements, the scholarship reverts to an interest-free loan. These conditions are not a deterrent to everyone, however. If the scholarship was available when he was freshman, senior Matt Garzon said he likely would have attended a CUNY or SUNY instead of St. John’s. “Of course, St. John’s offers a better education in many fields, but CUNY/SUNY also provides good education as well. That, alongside with free tuition would have definitely changed my mind,” Garzon said. “For someone who plans on working/moving elsewhere this wouldn’t be a good idea obviously.” Sophomore Maggie Chen said she considered transferring to a CUNY when she heard about Excelsior. “My parents even suggested it many times,” she said. “Financially it would make a lot of sense if I transferred to a CUNY but St. John’s is where my heart is at.” Chen said she values the opportunities at St. John’s and how it “actually feels like college. I have a handful of CUNY friends and they complain about how miserable they are at Hunter. How everyone just goes to class and then home, that there’s not really much going on.” However, she said she’s still considering her options. The maximum award average amount not including fees, room and board through Excelsior is $5,500 per academic year in contrast • SUNY - $6,670 to the average tuition of $6,670 for SUNY and $6,530 • CUNY - $6,530 for CUNY schools. • ST. JOHN’S - $39, 690 Excelsior is a last-dollar scholarship, meaning the award is given after all other sources of aid have been Nobody pays the sticker exhausted, such as the state’s Tuition Assistance Program, price at some [private] federal grants and loans. The scholarship does not colleges cover room and board, books and supplies or other Brian Browne


university fees. Criticism surrounding Excelsior cite the conditions students must abide by to remain eligible. “Most of the people who go to city university are working because they • come from a lower economic status,” Rodriguez said. “That’s why they start • there to begin with and they can’t take 15 credits a semester. They have to work.” • “So, many of them take 12 credits and immediately they’re out of the system, they don’t get free tuition any longer,” he sais. “You want to say you’re doing • something but it’s not really helping every student.” In comparison, Rodriguez said it’s vital for St. John’s to have “families • realize what is the value of a private education.” • The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York (CICU), of which St. John’s is a member, “has shown that students who go to a private school graduate faster than students who go to public and city colleges,” Rodriguez said. The CICU published a report in March regarding the impact of the Excelsior Scholarship in which it concluded “that there would be significant enrollment reductions at private, not-for-profit colleges and universities with accompanying negative economic effects.” It found that the New York City region would lose 23,562 students and 23,967 jobs due to the Excelsior Scholarship, as it expects an exodus of students moving to CUNY and SUNY schools. Although tuition is less expensive at public schools compared to private universities such as St. John’s, “nobody pays the sticker price at some colleges,” Executive Director of Media Relations Brian Browne said. “There’s really some myths and I think CICU has done a very good job as dispelling some of those myths. “But when free is across the street, people are drawn to free.” An Inside Higher Ed article from April described the implications of the scholarship on private schools around the state in these terms: “the pressure will be highest on tuitiondependent colleges and universities that already compete for students in part by heavily discounting their tuition and that draw most of their students from inside the state.” Rodriguez said on average three out of every five undergraduate students at St. John’s come from New York, where it is one of the largest private universities. Enrollment here has declined, Rodriguez said, but he emphasized that the Excelsior Scholarship is just one of several reasons. He also cited political issues out of the University’s control. Rodriguez said some smaller private schools are unable to take the hit in first-year enrollment and have had to offer significant tuition discounts to compete with Excelsior, which he called “unsustainable.”


at a glance

Attend full time and complete at least 30 credits per academic year. Must complete degree work within a 4 year period for a Bachelor’s. Must live and work in NYS after graduating, otherwise scholarship reverts to interest-free 10 year loan. Household income cannot exceed $110,000 to be eligible in Fall 2018. Maximum award is $5,500 per year. Last-dollar scholarship, applicable after other aid is exhausted.

But when free is across the street, people are drawn to free. Brian Browne

He said the tuition discount rate at St. John’s varies with each incoming class and is flexible. “If we get more of a certain type [of student], we will help them,” Rodriguez said. “We offer one of the highest discounts for a private, Catholic school compared to other institutions. We want to make sure that the high achieving students get rewarded.” Additionally, St. John’s is the largest private recipient of funds through the state’s Tuition Assistance Program, Browne said. TAP is available to students with a household income of less than $80,000 to use at both public and private colleges. “[Excelsior] is a challenge that the University understands but it’s a challenge that we’re working with right now, both on the budget end and trying to come up with other avenues where we can express the value of our education,” Rodriguez added. “Why St. John’s? We’re one of the top universities that sends students abroad. What makes us different? Why would a student want to come here? It really is the quality of education and everything intrinsic that comes with it.” He also referenced how St. John’s is a “culturally diverse campus.” According to Rodriguez, first-year retention rates have increased to 84 percent under President Gempesaw. And as the retention rate increases, he said, so does the graduation rate. “We try to find those students,” he said, “that we think will be successful at St. John’s.” DESIGN/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS UNITA FORTIOR




SOCIETY OF PHYSICS STUDENTS AWARDED BLAKE LILLY PRIZE SJU’s chapter wins award for outreach, dedication to diversity ARIANA ORTIZ

Co-News Editor

The Society of Physics Students, a national association for students interested in physics, recently awarded its 2016-17 Blake Lilly Prize to St. John’s own chapter. According to the society’s official website, the prize “recognizes SPS chapters and individuals who make a genuine effort to positively influence the attitudes of school children and the general public about physics,” and was specifically awarded to St. John’s chapter “for exceptional efforts in engaging the campus community through physics outreach and collaborative events, and dedication to diversity in STEM through the Ray Lab Tracing Experiment.” Rachel Tyo, a senior and president of SPS at St. John’s, says that the ray lab tracing experiment—which SPS hosted last spring—came to be through a partnership with Women in Science, which encourages women to pursue careers in STEM fields. The experiment consisted of measuring the focal point of lenses and light by using a ray tracing apparatus. “It was really great; we had our moderator Dr. Fortmann, he hosted the experiment, and on the side we had our members as volunteers and they kind of worked alongside the girls.” Tyo said, adding that Charles Fortmann, an associate physics professor at the University, is the faculty adviser for SPS. “The girls did their own measurements, they got to play with the apparatus, and we just kind of were by their side guiding them. Really, they did all their work.”


Rachel Tyo (left), Society of Physics Students president, heads the chapter’s outreach efforts. Another student (above) works on a project during a recent workshop.

“The experiment was fun and simple, but it is one that’s at the foundation for certain topics in physics,” SPS Secretary Seychelle Khan said. “We wanted to encourage more girls to follow carrer paths in physics—or at least develop an interest in physics.” According to Tyo, the group of about 29 girls who participated in the experiment were from nearby schools including: St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Academy; Incarnation Catholic Academy; Bell Academy and PS/IS 499 school. Tyo says that she initiated the Women in Science collaboration because she saw that the majority of the society’s other members are

biology, chemistry and toxicology majors; she wanted to introduce a program introducing young girls to physics, which she says women are especially underrepresented in. “There’s a really low number of female physicists and engineers, so I really thought I want to introduce them to this, maybe we can influence some of them,” Tyo said. “All it took for me was one little experience and I was in love with physics, so I was thinking maybe we give that opportunity to some other girls.” According to Tyo, SPS chapters are required to submit their annual chapter report, which includes an optional application for the Blake Lilly Prize.

“I wrote about how we did that outreach, and we ended up getting the prize for it when we submitted our report,” Tyo said. Tyo says that her main goal in heading SPS and organizing its outreach efforts is to give everyone the opportunity to know and love physics. According to Tyo, SPS holds Arduino sessions every Monday, where students can become familiar with electronics, basic circuitry and computer programming. “I want to spread physics to everyone, including those who are already in physics to appreciate it more,” Tho said. “I want to show people who think they hate it that it’s fun, and to kids who don’t know anything about it.”

SGI Meeting: Alumni Relations, Sustainability Changes ERIN BOLA

Co-Social Media Manager Student Government, Inc., held their most recent general assembly meeting this past Monday, Nov. 13 in the D’Angelo Center. Topics discussed included alumni relations, new sustainability goals and stipends for committee chairs. The meeting began with a presentation by Carolina Brandão Hojaij, assistant director for young alumni and student engagement from the Office of Alumni Relations. She introduced the new G.O.L.D. (Graduates of the Last Decade) program for recent St. John’s alumni. The aim of the G.O.L.D. program is to introduce new graduates to other alumni who have just begun their own careers through professional networking and fundraising events. Hojaij also announced plans for G.O.L.D. to collaborate with SGI on a new senior scholarship, to begin in 2018. Money

for this new scholarship will be raised through G.O.L.D fundraising events and through sales of a new discount card to be used at participating businesses near the Queens campus. The Budget Committee announced plans for this new discount card at the meeting, which will allow students to receive discounts at shops and restaurants near St. John’s. A full list of participating businesses will soon be available on the SGI website. The committee is also working towards partnering with businesses near the Manhattan campus to set up a discount program there. SGI Treasurer Teresa Ehiogu provided a breakdown of all SGI spending over the past two weeks. The most recent funds have been allocated to the Student Affairs and School Spirit Committees to host events. Ehiogu also introduced a question of how the $250 stipends will be awarded to committee chairs at the end of the school year. There was a following debate on whether to contribute the

money to the chair’s tuition bill or to give it to them as a check. A final decision on this matter has not yet been made. Junior Senator Atem Tazi introduced an idea for a “Battle of the Classes” spirit week to take place during the spring semester to increase school spirit on campus. The week would consist of competitions between each grade level and culminate in a pep rally on the last day. The meeting ended with an update from the new Sustainability Committee. They announced plans to replace single-use plastic silverware at SGI-sponsored events with biodegradable products in an effort to reduce waste on campus. Although biodegradable products would be more expensive than their plastic counterparts, the committee provided a breakdown of the costs involved, which amounted to a price increase of approximately $211. SGI’s next general assembly meeting will take place on Monday, Nov. 27, in DAC room 128 at 5 p.m.

6 Opinion


Flames of the Torch On Student-Organization Relationships Managing Board XCV



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



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If there’s one thing all groups on campus should be able to agree on, it’s that communication with the student body is key. From time to time, issues pop up that require a clear response; we saw that last week when many students became frustrated with aspects of Haraya’s Black Solidarity Day. Haraya initially responded to students’ anger with a lengthy statement online that decried not only the criticisms, but the students who made them. The statement said, in part: “Haraya is in the best interest of all students — granted, especially black students, but we will never use our platform to make others feel uncomfortable or unwanted. It isn’t about coddling people, but if you do not understand why booking a room every week under an actual organization’s name to just ‘be angry’ is resulting in you not affecting change on our campus, feel free to attend our next general body meeting.” It also emphasized that Haraya is a Pan-African student coalition — “NOT a Black Student Union.” Students voiced confusion and frustration in response to the statement, which goes to show that it is not only communication that is necessary, but respectful communication. Respect must go both ways; the student leaders that comprise these organizations should always approach the student body with this in mind. Interactions between organizations and the student body they serve should never be disrespectful or hostile.

When students critique an organization for any reason, they should be met with openness, and organizations should also be able to respond fairly. This is the sort of interaction that is normal and even necessary for organizations to grow and fully understand the students they serve. The statement made by Haraya came off as hostile, which is what led to additional student concerns. Upon reading the statement, students got mixed perceptions of what Haraya was trying to say — which is definitely a bad thing when an organization is trying to address already-existing concerns. There needs to be more open communication between student organizations and the student body in all cases. Recently, Student Government Inc. (SGI) instituted an open dialogue at the start of its floor meetings every other week for students to discuss issues on campus. Given that SGI oversees most of the student groups on campus, students could use this as an opportunity to ask questions about groups on campus, and receive answers. Additionally, student groups can try hosting an open discussion at various times during the semester for students to ask questions about their mission. Students need to know the mission of the organizations that represent them and they deserve an open dialogue with those groups. To start understanding and even to promote change, respectful communication needs to happen first.

The Power of Black-Only Spaces A student on why we should know Back Solidarity Day’s intention Staff Writer

At Haraya’s Black Solidarity Day (BSD) event on Nov. 6, many participants were angry with the Pan-African student organization for including two people on panels addressing black issues. In response, Haraya stated, “Having only black people, with the same views and the same views would have been ineffective.” While I agree with Haraya on the importance of open discussion with white/nonblack people, BSD, in my opinion, was neither the time nor place. BSD, by definition, is a day to celebrate black culture and speak on everyday struggles that we experience, simply due to our blackness in the United States. As a black woman, I feed off of other black people for my strength. There is something powerful when we all come together for discussion, to eat and to

celebrate with each other. I crave this kind of attention because it is easy to feel undervalued in a too-often white-dominated world. It is so easy for white and non-black people (which includes Hispanics, Asians and all other non-black ethnic people) to use our culture but dispose our bodies and experiences for privilege. According to The Wells’ College website, BSD was founded in 1969 by Dr. Carlos E Russell and derives from the play, “Day of Absence,” by Douglas Turner Ward. The play is based on the extreme social, political and economic consequences that would ensue if all black people were to disappear for a day. BSD is a day designed for black men and women to take a “Day of Absence” to show everyone the impact that we have made in today’s society and to discuss our own struggles as being black. Therefore, what can a white person tell me about being black in America?

We invite too many people to the “cookout” just because they show evidence of non-racist behavior. This is problematic.


As a black woman, I feed off of other black people for my strength.

It is even problematic to me for white people to feel as if they should have an opinion on the matter in the first place. If non-black and white people want to be allies with the black community, they should learn and listen to their black counterparts outside of black-only spaces.

If non-black and white people are truly allies, they would understand why it’s okay for black-only spaces to exist. However, it is also important to note that it is not our job as black people to educate non-black or white people. It is not my job to teach people how to not be racist or prejudiced. Open dialogue, when appropriate, can be a beautiful thing — but it is not my burden to ensure others understand me. My experiences and encounters with racism still exist regardless of whether white allies understand my struggle or not. White people and non-black people hearing my struggle and understanding it should not be the only premises for validation. In my opinion, they already have the privilege of feeling as if they can take everything we have, use any cultural reference or act like they belong anywhere. Therefore, we should not let them take away the power of a black space simply because they feel as if they belong or have a say.

Opinion 7


Students Reflect on Texas Shooting People Kill People But Guns Are Killing Our Nation MORGAN MULLINGS

Staff Writer

It’s hard to find someone who isn’t devastated when they hear about the latest mass shooting in Texas, where 26 people died at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. First of all, we shouldn’t have to say the “latest mass shooting” as if it’s just another episode in an extremely popular TV series. But like some of our favorite shows, we can’t just look away when it gets tough. We want to get involved. Check Twitter. Your friends, the celebrities you follow, your favorite magazines: They’re either calling for actions or sending their condolences. But the debate stays the same. “This isn’t a gun situation,” President Donald Trump said, “This is a mental health problem at the highest level.” He encourages the people who say that people kill people, not guns. Air Force veteran Devin Kelly was a person who killed people at that church. However, automatic weapons like the one he (and the Las Vegas shooter, Steven Paddock) used extend him from being just a person who killed people. An automatic weapon gives a person holding a knife hundreds of extra arms to commit mass murder. It gives one cowardly person the

strength of an army at the pull of one tiny trigger. It’s obviously impossible to cure the world of murder and mental health issues. Why are we making it easier by ignoring the fact that an automatic weapon makes people with the intent to murder much more dangerous? Why don’t we look at automatic weapons and say, “what if a murderer got a hold of this?” Now that we know how possible it is that they are capable of doing so, we need to change our phrasing, and then change some legislation. People kill people. But automatic weapons kill a lot of people at once. There’s 26 in Texas, 58 in Vegas and 49 in Orlando. The president is right — Kelly was suffering from a mental health problem at the highest level. But if all he had access to was a knife or even a handgun, less people would have lost their family members. Churchgoers wouldn’t potentially lose as much hope in their faith. Americans everywhere wouldn’t have to fear that the next mass shooting could happen in their own town. If this country really wanted to stop mass shootings, it would immediately condemn the sale of these weapons to everyday people.

Keep the Faith Even When It’s Tested CAROLINA RODRIGUEZ

Staff Writer

On Nov. 5, a masked man dressed in black walked into the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. He opened fire and took the lives of 10 women, eight children, and seven men. The carnage was caught on camera. Mass shootings, regardless of where or when they take place, are disturbing, senseless acts of violence. When these tragedies occur, we cling onto beliefs that are supposed to shed light on hope in situations that, otherwise, seem hopeless. But what does one do when something like this happens in the very place that so many go to to seek refuge, comfort and salvation? When 26 people walk into a church on a Sunday with their husbands, wives and children and end up losing their lives in the middle of a sermon that preaches about eternal life – and about how God is always with us – it provides what might be the ultimate test of faith. Those who aren’t directly affected by tragedies such as this one experience similar tests as well. Our faith is gravely tested when we wholeheartedly believe in someone or

something and they disappoint us. It is tested when we, or someone close to us, get sick. It is tested when we experience failure, heartbreak or helplessness. There are often no explanations for why bad things happen. In these situations, it seems almost blindly optimistic to say that everything happens for a reason and that there is a specific purpose for every single experience, even the ones that are awful. But by the same token, there is no explanation for the way that God or the universe — or whatever being it is that an individual lends their faith to — acts in our lives. As human beings, we cannot make sense of things that are inherently senseless to us. We can’t justify a mass murder. We can’t justify a loss. We can’t justify a heartbreak. The only thing we can do is have faith in the fact that, even though there are things we can’t understand or even accept, there is someone or something out there that does. And there is a purpose in every action — one that is often much bigger than all of us put together as a whole. In the same way that tragic things lack a logical explanation, incredible ones do as well: Like those enveloped in strength, grace, and love.

The Muslim Perspective

Staff Writer

Two weeks ago, New York experienced a terrible tragedy when a man drove a truck into traffic, injuring several people. It has been awhile since New York has experienced such a horrible monstrosity. For many, it has reopened wounds that had just begun to heal from the Sept. 11 attack 16 years ago. We’ve had many recent instances where these attacks are carried out in the name of ISIS, shifting many Americans’ views on Muslims to the darker side of the spectrum. As a Muslim-American, I personally cannot help but feel guilty for the terror that has been caused. However, many Muslim-Americans, including myself, do not share the same views as these Islamic extremists. We share a religion. A religion that many of us have grown up loving and believing is peaceful and welcoming of others. Therefore, when we hear individuals of other faiths question our intentions, it leaves us feeling helpless.

We know our peaceful practice but many do not and it becomes difficult to express that to others. At St. John’s, there is a such a diverse group of students. There is a large population of Muslim-Americans that I believe is well respected.


I can be proud to be what I am at the school that I love to attend.

In light of the recent event, it’s been easy to be comfortable in an educational and social setting where everyone is understanding of one another. I know that if I were to walk down the street wearing a burka or hijab and hear someone speak ill of Islam, I would feel terrible.

However, at St. John’s there is such a warm and safe ambiance that I do not have to dance around the idea of expressing myself and offending others or calling unwanted attention upon myself. I can be proud to be what I am at the school that I love to attend. Overall, I believe that I am so incredibly lucky to live in a state that is so diverse and such a melting pot. Everyone is just accepting of one another and even when there is instances of prejudice, most people keep it to themselves because of New York’s open minded reputation. In that sense, I count my lucky stars to be living in one of the greatest cities in the world and more importantly, attending a school that is incredibly diverse. I genuinely believe that other cities, states and institutions can take a page out of our book to learn to deal with issues concerning particular groups of people. It would really be a strong foundation to the path of recovery for our country as a whole.


8 Opinion


Vincentian View: Black Catholic History Month Pope John Paul II canonized Josephine Bakhita in 2000. That means that he declared her a saint, not that he “made her” one. Therefore, he expressed the recognition that the People of God know that she is a saint. She dwells in the presence of God at this very moment. Bakhita was a Canossian Daughter of Charity, which reminds us that she is a part of the larger Vincentian Family. Born around 1869 in Darfur, Sudan, she was subject to an abusive slavery for much of her life. She had three brothers and three sisters and they were all members of the Daju people. She said she had a happy childhood. Sometime before she was nine, she was

kidnapped by Arab slave traders and sold numerous times over a 12 year period. They forcibly converted her to Islam, she forgot her own name and was consequently given the name Bakhita which is Arabic for “lucky.” Beaten and scarred (“tattooed”) by various masters, she was finally sold to the Italian Vice Consul in Khartoum. She was called to be the nanny to the daughter of an Italian Official who took her to Venice with the family on one of his returns home. Bakhita and the daughter were placed in the care of the Canossian Daughters of Charity. When the Italian official decided to return to Sudan, Bakhita refused to leave. She was supported by the Italian government, which did not recognize slavery. Thus, Bakhita remained with the Canossian Sisters, converted to Catholicism and received the sacraments. Then, at 27-yearsold, she became a part of the community in 1896.

The Burden of the Comedian MADUSHA PIERIS

Contributing Writer

It goes without saying that watching the news can be quite depressing, especially in the current political climate. While the recent developments since last year’s presidential election have been significantly more interesting — if not entertaining to follow — the same cannot be said for other times. More people would be less inclined to follow the everyday happenings of the world and choose to blissfully remain ignorant. This is where political satire plays a significant role in increasing news accessibility. But in the current political climate, has political satire changed the public’s perspective at all or has it drawn them to watch these shows without necessarily taking steps to make a change in their communities? I do not want to focus on the advantages and disadvantages of political satire rather on how this shifts the focus of accountability from politicians to comedians for a verified account of the truth. Comedians such as Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah critique the regular happenings of the world with a comedic and satirical twist. One can certainly come to appreciate the witty repertoire that these comedians have in their arsenal in terms of critically analyzing the news. It makes the news more entertaining and accessible, while communicating the most important information that the public needs to know. This is certainly no easy task; having to find the perfect balance of finding humor in an issue while paying homage to the true depth and dimension of the issue, without hindering the understanding of its gravity. The writers and hosts of such shows

take on an incredibly large burden to make the news more accessible to the public, while focusing on comedic value as opposed to news outlets such as CNN and MSNBC, which rely heavily on profit and providing a narrative catering to their audiences and sponsors. It is noteworthy that comedy shows such as Saturday Night Live immensely profited from developments since the last presidential election, with guest regulars such as Alec Baldwin and Melissa McCarthy, portraying Donald Trump and Sean Spicer, respectively. Aside from their hilarity and the numerous Primetime Emmy awards that many of these shows have won, they have not made a significant impact on the voter demographics. Which brings me to the most important point: Have we reached a point where we have so much mistrust in our politicians that we have shifted the burden of accountability of the news to political satirists from the policy-making politicians? It seems we have, or at least are getting dangerously close to it. Political satirists aren’t supposed to be the most reliable news source available. We need to actively making an effort to follow up on several news sources to be able to come to the truth of the matter. However, this shift of accountability for a verified account of the news has led to a large mistrust between the government and the public. Although it seems that political satirists have become unwilling catalysts in this process, it is important to realize that the accountability that the public holds for the government and comedians for the truth ought to have a large discrepancy — given that the former caters to public policy-making while the latter to merely critiquing such policies without an obligation to effect change.

She lived and worked with the Sisters for the next 50 years of her life (until 1947). She joyfully did the common labor expected of the Sisters and spoke to the young Sisters who were preparing for missionary work in Africa. It was said that her mind was always on God, but her heart in Africa. The simplicity of the life of Bakhita, her acceptance of suffering and her joyfulness to be of service to others caused her to be considered a saint by the local townspeople of Italy. They had reason to hold her up for admiration and intercession during the dark days of World War II. In his Encyclical “Spe Salvi” (2007), Pope Benedict briefly tells the story of Bakhita whom he considers a model of hope. He quotes one of the lines, which I always identify with this holy woman. She said, “I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me — I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.”

To know oneself as being “awaited” by God proclaims a beautiful truth about the nature of divine love. The simple words of our Sister summon us to be humble and profound introspection. The idea of being “awaited” stands out powerfully. One could point to many members of the Vincentian Family of laypersons, sisters, brothers and priests who could be numbered among the blessed. In this Black Catholic History Month, the example of St. Josephine Bakhita can hold a special place.

How to Cut the Cost of Studying Abroad CAMMI ROBERTS

Contributing Writer

Study abroad programs are often advertised as transformative life experiences that yield many long term benefits. While research and anecdotal evidence supports the idea that a semester abroad helps to shape students into more independent and open-minded global citizens, many students struggle to go abroad. As you encounter and overcome challenges that you would never face in your home country, you develop confidence interacting with and exploring a new region and its culture. Although the source of these obstacles stem from many different situations, including major, financial status or other personal situations, St. John’s and other institutions are working to bridge this gap. St. John’s takes action by offering a wide variety of programs, from those that are tailored to specific majors to programs that run off-season (in the winter or summer) to accommodate those who cannot commit to a semester abroad. The University works to cut down the cost of the international experience, offering scholarship and grant opportunities and highlighting external opportunities. I am a recipient of the Gilman Scholarship, a grant program operated through the U.S. Department of State to help diversify the population of students able to go abroad. This scholarship gave me the opportunity to focus on my experience abroad, to reflect on my growth while abroad and gave me a variety of new experiences that would not have been possible without it. Applicants of the Gilman Scholarship must be eligible for the Pell Grant and complete the application process, which includes

two essays. Applicants may receive up to $5,000 — with an average of around $4,000 awarded to students. Gilman students complete a follow-up project while abroad or afterwards to share their experience and encourage greater participation in study abroad programs and the Gilman Scholarship. Another available scholarship is offered by Tortuga, a travel equipment company. Students must submit an essay and if granted, may be eligible to win a $1,000 scholarship and an Outbreaker backpack. The Italian Cultural Center offers a schol-

FR. PATRICK GRIFFIN, C.M. Special to the Torch

Study abroad is an investment, but there are resources available to help.

arship to St. John’s students who are studying abroad in Rome. Students are to receive up to $2,500 and must submit a letter of recommendation from a faculty member as well as 250 word essay. An alternative method to help fund the study abroad experience is to work for the school while abroad. Positions are available as a Social Media Ambassador through the Global Studies department or working with Academic-Service Learning (ASL) staff to coordinate and facilitate ASL experiences in the community. Study abroad is an investment, but there are resources available to help. The St. John’s Global Studies Department has a variety of sources available for further research.

9 Entertainment


“I would say ‘King of Queens’ should be adapted because you can’t watch it without smiling.”

“I think they should try to do ‘Game of Thrones,’ but I don’t know if that would be appropriate.”

“They should do ‘Seinfeld’ because it takes place in New York City.”

Richard Kremler

Nick Brino

Graduate Student, Accounting

Graduate Student, Accounting


Elliott Giammarino

Graduate Student, Accounting


What TV Show or Movie Should Be Adapted by Chappell Players?

Compiled by Angelica Acevedo, Designed by Naomi Arnot “‘The Lion King’ has always been my favorite movie! I thought the Broadway adaption was amazing, and I’d really love to see our school’s Theater Club perform it too.”

“‘Reign’. I like that it’s in medieval times, it has all the murdering of monarchs and all that good stuff.”

Mary Servidad

Senior, Clinical Laboratory

Joshua Ossai Senior, Finance

Camilla Biscarini

Graduate Student, International

“I would love to see a mix between ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Grease’. The outcome would be wonderful... It would work well because it has realistic themes that everybody can relate to, like summer vacation, motherhood, adolescence and first love in high school.”

Diamonds, Rings & Courts at SJU On-campus art gallery shows that sport is more than a game ARIANA ORTIZ

Co-News Editor

“Diamonds, Rings & Courts: Sport is More Than a Game,” currently being shown in Dr. M. T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery in Sun YatSen Hall, is an exhibition that focuses on the unexpected ways that sports are embedded within our culture, and present in our everyday lives. The pieces within the exhibition show are visual manifestations of how sports have historically existed far beyond the confines of basketball courts and stadiums, and continue to do so. Ronny Quevedo’s “(lyra)” is one of the first pieces visitors see when walking into the gallery. Its design is reminiscent of a basketball court, with a circle in the center flanked by two starbursts. While the artist does not include a statement for this work, its title suggests a reference to the Lyra Constellation. “(Lyra)” seems to parallel the constellation with a basketball court, perhaps implying that basketball itself is as ubiquitous as the constellations in the night sky. Lee Walton’s “Red Storm Basketball Drawings (2016-17 Season)” is a series of twenty-one black and white angular drawings, overlaid with blocks of washed gray. The lines in each drawing are both angular and rounded, while the patches of gray underlying it are softer and more blended. The drawings, which are visually representative of “the actions of Red Storm athletes,” ac-

cording to the artist’s statement, seem reminiscent of the lines on a basketball court. The process behind “Red Storm Basketball Drawings” loans a new meaning to it: Walton’s appropriations of certain pieces by Robert Rauschenberg, Henri Matisse and Agnes Martin, as well as his imitation of traditional printmaking, seem to imbue a question into the work. It asks us not only about what the intersections between art and basketball are, but about what even constitutes authenticity in art. Dave Johnson’s “Untitled” is a collage with three identical images of a St. John’s basketball player in varying sizes and opacities, with names typed in all-caps overlaid and a home/visitor scoreboard at the top that reads “0 - 24.” The tone of this work is less revelatory in nature and more solemn and reverent, meant to honor the lives of basketball players who lost


their lives while still playing. Simply put, it is a straightforward humanization of athletes that many of us may forget when watching them perform what can seem to be superhuman feats of strength and agility. The most imposing piece in the gallery, which is on display until Nov. 17, is Andrea Katz’s “Swoosh,” a gown constructed from multicolored sports apparel such as jerseys and sports t-shirts. The artist’s statement on the matter explains that in this work, Katz meant not to draw connections to the global exploitation and devaluation of women’s labor, but rather to expose these existing connections. The low appreciation and viewership for women’s sports is tied to the creation of these garments, in that women were underpaid and therefore exploited for their labor in both situations. Without the context of the artist’s statement, it is clear that the large size of the garment means it is most likely never to be worn—this

points to a sense of wastefulness and extravagance. Katz poses a commentary, not only on women within sports, but crafts a criticism of these normalized attitudes within popular culture. A piece which brought an added historical context to the exhibition was Gina Adams’ “O$ Osage 6,” a decorated black and white photograph of a group of Native American girls in old-fashioned basketball uniforms and their coach. The photograph itself is cut to the contours of their bodies and mounted on a sienna-colored cloth; swirling designs encircle them. Adams brings to the forefront a chapter of American history that is rarely talked about: the “re-education” of Native Americans meant to strip them of their culture to effectively assimilate them. She combines this with the concept of these girls having been a team, facing racism while traveling to play basketball. With this piece, Adams conveys that sports have never existed in a vacuum. It, like any other aspect of American culture, is a reflection of its sociopolitical landscape. This in itself is a central idea that “Diamonds, Rings & Courts: Sport is More Than a Game” communicates. While the individual pieces in the collection vary in tone and intent, they are cohesive in that they visually remind audiences that sports are not an isolated institution within society.

Students, Make Your Voices

HEARD through the Student Evaluation of Teaching Assessment!

November 17–December 10 Check your St. John’s e-mail account for a special message urging you to share feedback about your classes. Our student evaluation of teaching instrument makes it quick and easy to provide feedback about your instructors.

Student Evaluation of Teaching Features • The e-mails you receive will contain links to the evaluations. • Subsequent reminders will include links only to evaluations you have not yet completed.

• Your feedback and insights really count. • As always, your responses are totally anonymous.

The University and your professors use your responses to improve courses and curricula. Please check your St. John’s e-mail account for messages from the Office of Institutional Research.

Questions? Please contact Office of Institutional Research ir@stjohns.edu | 718-990-1869 M1-11567VC

13 Entertainment


The Inspirational “Persepolis” Screens For Students Asst. Entertainment Editor The scratching of chairs against the tile floor greeted students, arriving at 5 P.M. Nov. 17, into the small Marillac classroom 234. Around forty students attended the viewing of “Persepolis” sponsored by the Department of Art and Design and Women’s and Gender Studies here at St. John’s University. The event was such a success that chairs had to be dragged in from other classrooms to squeeze into the tight space where the movie was being screened and pizza being served. “Persepolis” functions in a flashback narrative; the main character Marjane Satrapi reflects on her childhood after being denied from her flight. The audience follows her through her early life in Iran, living with and around revolutionary relatives, to her life in Vienna, Austria where she was sent by her parents to escape harsh realities in Iran after the Islamic Fundamentalists assumed control. She eventually makes her way back to Iran until the film finds her where it began, leaving the country and arriving in Paris, France. This film was the passion project of its screenwriter and director, Marjane Satrapi. Originally published as an autobiographical graphic novel, the film chronicles her life and the life of Iran in a way that was very enlightening to its viewers. She illustrates the injustices of the Shah of Iran, the Islamic Fundamentalists, the double standard system of modesty and the Iran-Iraq War in ways that verberate with audiences more than history books would ever capable of doing. Not only did the film reveal things from a

historical perspective but a personal one as well; Majane is an extremely likeable main character, rife with attitude and rebellion. The audience follows her as she deals with the common immigrant identity issues of displacement and shame and broader issues such as depression and divorce. “I loved the movie a lot; you don’t get a lot of media about Middle Eastern women, especially in animation. It was relatable and eye opening and I’m interested in reading the graphic novel because of it,” freshman photography major, Madeline Mancini said. Although it was originally purposed to be a seen from an artistic perspective, the film took on a broader meaning as the night went on.


“It could kind of be an inspiration for allowing people to relay their own emotions and stories through the graphic process of storytelling,” Gansell explained. She organized the event partly to “remind people that contemporary art can include many things, including film, including graphic novels and that the stories that we learn about from history are also stories we tell today.” In a time where differences can tear people apart and create divides in communities, a film that humanizes others’ experiences is very much required viewing. “It’s a really timely film to show, although it’s from several years ago, but the issues of discrimination that she faced and the insecurities that she had about her own identi-



MIGUEL RICHARD D’ORAZI Contributing Writer

TAYLOR SWIFT I was preparing myself for the worst from “Reputation” after “Look What You Made Me Do” and, honestly, this is a tough record to discuss. Taylor Swift does put together some decent songs but a lot of what made her stand out in the first place has disappeared is vague songwriting about her feuds and relationships. She adopts the trap-heavy percussion and bass of mainstream pop, does too little with it to actually stand out. The themes and framing on this album are also problematic; Swift sounds petty in some songs but melancholy and intimate on others. While “Reputation” did pleasantly surprise me as a pretty decent album, this won’t be the album I’ll be telling my kids about when I talk about Taylor Swift. This will probably end up as her most polarizing album among fans and music historians. “Reputation” gets a light 6/10. The full-length version of this review is available at torchonline.com.

ty - saying she’s from Paris, when she’s from Iran - and showing the value of embracing who you are and finding acceptance and for others learning to accept other people and appreciate their stories and backgrounds and not to stereotype or trivialize,” Gansell reflected on what attendees could take away from the event. The event allowed its attendees to learn about another’s culture and life story, another who could not be present at the time. Events like these grant students the ability to listen to the numerous platforms out today that allow us a glimpse into these life stories. All attendees, including myself, walked away with a newfound perspective on family, culture and country. PHOTO COURTESY/YOUTUBE STUDIOCANALUK


Finally, after three months of fans jamming to Miguel’s single, “Sky Walker,” featuring Travis Scott, he’s released his second single, “Told You So” from his forthcoming studio album “War and Leisure,” which drops Dec. 1, 2017. This will be his first album since his last release, “Wildheart,” in 2015. As always, Miguel’s music brings about a sense of nostalgia for many as he expresses himself in an artistic style different to that of mainstream R&B. In the music video, we see Miguel dancing in the middle of a desert, with added visuals of unfortunate political events and protests. Based on the title, “War and Leisure,” we see this video as a snippet of what he aims to express throughout the album. In an interview with Power 106 Los Angeles, he reflects on recent current events and ties them to his own personal concerns that shaped the ideas behind the album. He questions, “How can I do something that people are going to pay attention to but still stay true to myself?” He hopes that the album will be one to look back on, in the future, as something he was able to create in the midst of all the madness.

ALY & AJ Aly and AJ are back! After 10 long years, the singing sister duo has released new music. These former Disney Stars have released a second song since their shocking September release of “Take Me.” Their most recent track, “I Know,” keeps the head-bopping sound that their old music always had but with a softer feel. With mixes of techno, funk and beautiful harmonies, the duo provides a track ready for the club or a solo dance party in your dorm room. This new track is reminiscent of the disco age with a techno vibe and lyrics that will brighten your day. Aly and AJ, in an interview with MTV, described the song as, “empathizing with friends who are going through tough times, and trying to look through their eyes and feel their pain.” The sister duo may have changed in style and sound, but stay true to their roots of funky sounds with killer lyrics. The chorus that includes the song’s namesake tells the listeners “I know that life is hard sometimes and that things can be rough, but I always have your back.” With simple lyrics and a fun sound, Aly and AJ leave their fans anticipating more music and their upcoming EP. For all who haven’t listened to this new single or their last release “Take Me,” you can find it on Spotify, YouTube and iTunes. This is a must-listen for all Aly and AJ fans.

A Glance at NYC’s Local Elections Last Tuesday only 22 percent of registered voters in New York City turned out to vote in local elections that yielded pretty unsurprising results — for the most part. “These local, municipal elections, they’re very important — critically important,” Brian Browne, Assistant Vice President for Government Relations at St. John’s, said, speaking about the low voter turnout. “This is the level of government that’s closest to the people and you would think people would most identify with it.”




This week, the Torch is taking a look at the results of some local races that could be of interest to SJU students. MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO / INCUMBENT; DEMOCRAT Mayor Bill de Blasio easily won reelection last week in New York City’s mayoral race, defeating his main opponent, Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis. “It wasn’t a competitive election so I think that kept people home,” Browne said. “The Republican was underfunded; she was not a household name, and de Blasio cruised.” Browne added that much of de Blasio’s reelection campaign was run on advocacy against Trump, and that he “effectively nationalized the local election.” Some issues de Blasio will have to work on as he enters his second term include public transit, homelessness and affordable housing.




BOB HOLDEN / GOP Community activist Robert (Bob) Holden continues to cling to a small lead over incumbent Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley. Crowley has yet to concede the race, as absentee ballots are still being tallied. Holden, a registered Democrat, ran on the GOP line. The race was for the 30th District City Council seat which covers the areas of Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood, Woodhaven and Woodside. Calling it the biggest shock of Tuesday’s election night in the area, Browne said, “I didn’t see that coming because he had lost...He had done poorly in the Democratic primary, and then two months later he wins as a Republican.” He said the race is an example of how important people’s’ votes truly are. Crowley is the cousin of Queens Congressman Joe Crowley. ERIC ULRICH / INCUMBENT; GOP Ozone Park Councilman Eric Ulrich beat out his opponent, Mike Scala, a Democrat, last week with 65.7 percent of the vote in the District 32 council race, according to the Queens Chronicle. “Tonight was a tremendous win,” Ulrich said, according to the Chronicle. “Not just for myself but for this community and for this district that came out in overwhelming numbers.” The win, though not surprising, was interesting nonetheless as Democrats across the country claimed victory in several local races. He’s part of the Committee on Housing and Buildings, as well as the Committee on Environmental Protection, according to the City Council website. RORY LANCMAN / INCUMBENT; DEMOCRAT Councilman Rory Lancman, whose office is located just a few blocks from the St. John’s Queens campus, won 88.3 percent of the vote for the 24th District, the Queens Chronicle reported. Lancman represents the Fresh Meadows, Jamaica, Hillcrest and Kew Gardens Hills areas, according to the City Council website. Some of the committees he serves on include the Committee on Juvenile Justice, the Committee on Public Safety and the Committee on Oversight and Investigation. CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION The statewide constitutional convention, branded “con-con” throughout election season, was largely defeated by voters in New York State. The convention would have given New York the opportunity to revisit the state constitution, and could have addressed a number of issues, including early voting and redistricting, Politico NY reported. “The referendum is a remnant of Thomas Jefferson’s notion that living generations shouldn’t be beholden to their predecessors’ ideas of good government,” Politico wrote. The debate over the constitutional convention was largely characterized by concerns over money, and issues like gun laws and pensions; still, it was heavily defeated. “I really think that this was a major missed opportunity,” Gerald Benjamin, an advocate for the convention, told the Gotham Gazette.

Features 15


Meet SJU Student Mary Palazzola

The 75-year-old student plans to receive her degree by the winter of 2018 Co-News Editor

Mary Palazzola, liberal arts major, reviews her notes in the library

my husband and children about all the lovely people I met from different countries and how nice they’ve been to me.” Palazzola worked for the University for 23 years as an office worker and retired in

still reluctant to continue with classes. Many students in Palazzola’s “He asked one of question in class what everyone’s favorite movie was and classes are 20-21 years of age. I said ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and he said, ‘oh that’s my mother’s favorite movie,’” Here’s what was going on in Palazzola said. “That’s when I said this is 1963 when she was 21... it, I’m going to go to school.” Palazzola has been taking classes since 2010 at a three and six-credit pace and plans to graduate in the fall of 2018 and • JFK was assassinated walk with the class of 2019 next spring. She could have graduated sooner, but • Gas was 29 cents per gallon said she doesn’t want to take the spot- • Zip codes were light away from one of her grandsons implemented in the U.S. graduating this year. However Palazzola made clear has her sights set on graduating. One summer • MLK delivered his “I Have a at a party in Westhampton, Palazzola Dream” speech said she had a bit of a health scare after a small wave knocked her over and caused • Betty Friedan’s “The a minor concussion. Feminine Mystique” was “You know the only thing that bothered me? I have to graduate,” she expublished claimed with laughter. Palazzola did admit that with her age can do as as a senior citizen and when I do comes some setbacks technology-wise, Blackboard and PowerPoint specifically. get my degree I’m going to volunteer. I’ll Many people have helped her out where work at Friday kitchens for the homeless she lacked a bit of that knowledge, she’s and hold babies at the hospitals for nurturhad a professor stay with her after class to ing if my health keeps up.” Palazzola wanted to give some advice teach her PowerPoint and classmates constantly give her Blackboard tips. “As senior citizen’s we have to know a few more things than just working a microwave,” she joked. Palazzola raved about how much of a I go to the library, I privilege it is for her to be here and said she owes a lot to St. John’s, not just belook up things, I love it. cause it has given her the chance to receive an education, but also because five of her Mary Palazzola seven kids have come to St. John’s as well. A professor once asked her what her academic goal was and her answer is a little different than what most 20-year-olds would say. “To get an undergrad degree, that’s what I want. And why am I doing it? To keep to people who are a little older and want this going,” she said while pointing to her to go back to school but are reluctant, “If head. “It’s good for you to learn new things you have the opportunity and you’re able and have something to do everyday. I go to to to and you can get here everyday you should.” the library, I look up things, I love it.” She also joked that she would never settle My girlfriend has Alzheimer’s and it’s a fearful thing. There’s so many things you for a B+.


Picture this — two St. John’s University are sitting at a picnic table in front of St. Augustine Hall complaining about how they forgetfully left their StormCards at home and now can’t print their homework from a wepa kiosk. It’s a quintessential St. John’s student conversation and nothing out of the ordinary — but it might be surprising to learn that one of those two students is 75-years-old. That was the scene when the same soonto-be 76-year-old, Mary Palazzola, shared her unique undergraduate story with the Torch. “It’s been such a wonderful experience,” Palazzola said of her experience being a student at St. John’s. “I can’t tell you of one ill experience. I come home and tell

2010 — part of her retirement gift was the opportunity to receive an undergraduate degree. Palazzola planned on going back to school with coworkers but she was the only one who actually grabbed ahold of the chance to get that degree. She is majoring in liberal arts and after taking 21 credits in theology, just because she was enjoying learning about new religions, declared it as a minor. “Have you heard of a religion called ‘zoroastrianism?’ Because I hadn’t, it’s so interesting to learn other religions besides Christianity,” she said. The Bayside resident has not let her age hold her back from doing much and getting an undergraduate education is one of them. She said, “I have a competitive nature about doing things, I want to do them right.” She said people are usually surprised to discover she is a student rather than an employee of the university. She shares the

same age with many professors at St. John’s and talked about a funny experience related to her age in one of her English professor her very first semester when she was


INSIDR APP: SJU Alum Creates App to Keep Students Connected RAVEN HAYNES

Staff Writer

When most people graduate, they think back on the fun times they had, but Emmanuel Geffrard thought more about what he wishes he had. The 27-year-old 2016 alumnus, wishes he had a better way of connecting himself with his classmates when he was majoring in economics at St. John’s. So, he came up Insidr Student, an idea that would ensure students had a better way of connecting with their classmates. Insidr Student is a free app available for iPhone and Android that allows students at any university to connect with each other and connect to their class-

mates using their course reference number. Using your St. John’s email connects you to all the St. John’s students using the app, but once you register for the class and you type the number into the app and you’ll be connected with other students in that class. You can message people in your class, create groupchats and rate your professor. The app also works overseas in the case that you are studying abroad or an international student. Once you use the course reference number to link a class or use your St. John’s email you will be connected to your classmates without jumping through hoops. Insidr Student is also interactive for outside the classroom, you can post

pictures that delete after a week but it differs from other apps with liking abilities. The only people that will see the likes are the person that posts the picture and the person that liked the picture. This takes away the counting of likes and focuses on the social interaction. “I wanted something for students, specifically classmates, to have a way to interact with each other faster,” Geffrard said. “It gives you that access to classmates and even a boost to make friends or more. We are not a dating app but having that access and using it beyond academic purposes makes it easier for people to connect.” Story continued on page 16 PHOTO COURTESY/INSIDR STUDENT

16 Features


Face Masks to Try This Season Staff Writer

Here at St. John’s, students are juggling term papers, tests, extracurricular activities and internships, while still trying to maintain some semblance of a social life. This results in more stress and lack of sleep, which both take a considerable toll on our largest organ- our skin. Considering many of us are still battling hormonal acne, along with the dullness and dark circles that our workloads inflict on us, it is important to take care of our skin. In order to have healthy skin, cleansing properly and moisturizing is important. However, I’ve found that face masks are the skin game changer, when used in accordance to one’s skin type and needs. Without further ado, here are 4 budget-friendly face masks to try this fall: 1. Queen Helene Mint Julep mask This green clay-like mask is best suited for oily, blemish-prone skin. It minimizes appearance of pores, balances oil production, soothes the skin, and sometimes even shrinks breakouts. The mask has a slight tingly feeling when applied and smells strongly of mint. It is certified cruelty-free and can be found at most drugstores for $4.99 per 8 oz. tube. 2. Shea Moisture African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask This cruelty-free mask is full of natural and certified organic ingredients, all of which act together to treat blemish-prone complexions. The main ingredients are African black soap, tea tree oil, and tamarind extract, which work together to soothe and balance troubled skin. It has a pleasant scent and has a very soft, creamy consistency. The mask is balancing enough for oily skin, but moisturizing enough that

it won’t irritate dryer complexions. A 6 oz. jar is available for $14.99 at Target and Walgreens/Duane Reade, as well as on Amazon. 3. Beauty Secret Lab Tea Tree Premium Mask Pack This Korean sheet mask is a true multitasker. I find that while it does brighten and soften skin, it also shrinks the appearance of pores and soothes irritation. It doesn’t shrink blemishes like some clay masks might, but it is perfect for pampering your skin after a long day. It is also cruelty-free and contains natural ingredients such as licorice root extract, Chamomilla flower extract, castor oil, and of course, tea tree oil. This mask isn’t exclusively for people with oily or blemish- prone skin. It is hydrating enough not to irritate dry skin and light enough not to irritate oily skin. The mask can be beneficial to most skin types. The one downside is that this mask is more difficult to find than the other three. I buy mine in bulk from stores such as Marshalls and our local TJ Maxx at $5.99 for a 10-pack. They’re also listed on Amazon for $14.99 if unavailable elsewhere. Considering that most single-use sheet masks are $2 or more per piece, the price point is not too steep either way. 4. Tony Moly "I'm Real" sheet Masks I’ve tested several masks from this line and they have all performed well. The great thing about Korean brand Tony Moly is that each mask in the line caters to specific skin needs for specific skin types. The line carries moisturizing masks for dry skin, soothing masks for troubled skin, and anti-aging masks, among several other varieties.

The one that is most universally applicable to tired college students is the Brightening Lemon Sheet Mask. It contains natural ingredients such as lemon, pumpkin, seaweed, and aloe. Although it’s quite hydrating, it works well on oily skin types as well as dry. This is a good mask for rejuvenating dull, tired skin after midterms or finals. Tony Moly masks are available at a variety of retailers including Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, Ulta, and Amazon. The average price for a single mask is $3, but there are bulk variety packs sold on Amazon for more reasonable prices. If you want to try a few before ordering in bulk, Urban Outfitters is currently having a 2 for $5 sale on the TonyMoly “I’m Real” sheet mask line. These are just four of many effective face masks currently available, but they are among the healthiest for both our skin and for our college budgets.



app but having that access and using it beyond academic purposes makes it easier for people to connect.” The Insidr Student app team is comprised of Emmanuel Geffrard as the full-time founder and CEO, his brother Edner Geffrard as the Co-founder and COO, Saralla Choute as the Strategic Analyst, and Alexandr Griss as the Special Advisor. Emmanuel Geffrard says he’s always been entrepreneurial, interested in business since he was 15. “After I questioned what could’ve made my college experience better, I decided to look into creating an app.” At three-weeks old, Emmanuel Geffrard says that the app has garnered a little under 1,000 downloads. “Most of our downloads are coming from Florida,” he said. “Broward College and Florida International University students have been downloading the app the most.”

Emmanuel Geffrard, a former president of Haitian Society, understands the difficulty of having to communicate with members through email. “Not even 50 percent respond to the email,” he said. “Having the organization on the app, leaders can post something and anyone that has joined that group will get an immediate notification.”

continued from pg 15

When you graduate, you don’t want to only have 3 friends you want to have more people that you’ve interacted with

Emmanuel Geffrard

“When we first started marketing, we emphasized the [app’s] features, but

now we’re trying to focus more on the mission rather than what the app does,” Emmanuel Geffrard said. “We want to highlight the reason why we created the app in the first place.” Emmanuel Geffrard says that knowing how difficult college can be, he aims to make it a little easier. “I want it to be a platform for people to improve their lives. When you graduate, you don’t want to only have 3 friends you want to have more people that you’ve interacted with,” he said. “It’ll make your professional life better, academic life better and will improve your social life.” The Insidr Student app is still in constant development with different features to be added in the future. Emmanuel Geffrard emphasized that the app is a “product in progress” and is taking feedback on what users like about the app and what they wish to see in the future. One of the future features that will be added to the app is the ability to register student organizations.


SJU Alum Aims to Improve College Experience with New App

Sports 17


Men’s Soccer Falls to Georgetown in Big East Semifinals, Surprising Season Ends SEAN OKULA

Staff Writer

The Red Storm renaissance wasn’t going to be an overnight process. Still, the sting of defeat throbs like an open wound as the St. John’s men’s soccer team lost in the Big East semifinals to Georgetown, 2-1 last Wednesday. “I thought we played better in this game than we did the day that we beat Georgetown,” said Head Coach Dr. Dave Masur. “We had more quality chances. We broke them down in transition. They’re a real dangerous team.” All season long, the Johnnies were not

offensive juggernauts. The squad ranked seventh in the Big East in goals scored over the course of the campaign, so falling behind Georgetown 2-0 early on in that postseason showdown might have seemed daunting. But this Red Storm squad was no stranger to adversity. Three straight losing seasons had them in the basement of the preseason rankings, predicted to finish eighth in the conference by Big East coaches far and wide. “The guys have really worked so hard and have learned how to really push together and battle for each other, run for each other and sacrifice for each other,” Masur said. “When you put a lot into something, it hurts when it


Alistair Johnston (center), who finished tied for the team lead in points, will return to a promising Red Storm team that exceeded expectations in 2017.

doesn’t go your way and we saw that today.” A 1-2-1 start, featuring just three Red Storm goals in four contests, spelled a pessimistic potential for a long fall at Belson Stadium. There was early-season hope in a defense that surrendered just two goals in those first four matchups. This stingy back-line play, naturally assisted by the peak performance of star goalkeeper Andrew Withers, set the tone for a defensive-driven transition toward success. Leaning on the defense, the Red Storm were led by scorer’s like midfielder Alistair Johnson, whose six goals led the club. The offense did its best to reap the benefits of a stalwart defense. Aided by a flurry of Johnson goals, the Red Storm pulled off four wins in a row following the slow start, gliding to the top of the Big East with an upset 3-0 victory over Xavier toward the end of September. The Johnnies were flying high, reminiscent of the dominant Queens clans of the 1990s and early ’00s. Just as the boys were hitting their stride, the slog of a full soccer schedule began to hit. A 5-2-1 record quickly turned into a 5-6-2 mark and the nightmares of recent seasons past began to resurface. Bad luck began to strike, shots were not finding the back of the net, and it seemed like every defeat was as gut-wrenching as the last. Those four losses all came with a onegoal margin. Once more, it appeared the Red Storm

would be on the outside-looking-in at the battle for Big East supremacy. True to the roller-coaster ride that was this season, once more the pessimistic outlook flipped. Withers solidified into a brick wall in goal, capping the season with a 0.71 goals against average mark and the law of averages began to shift toward the boys of Belson Stadium. After dropping those four one-goal matches, the Johnnies pulled out three straight one-goal wins of their own, headlined by a thrilling 2-1 double-overtime win over Villanova at the end of October. Following a 1-0 upset victory over 10thranked Georgetown, Coach Masur’s 400th win in the collegiate ranks, momentum was carrying the Red Storm over the final hill into the postseason and their first Big East Tournament appearance since 2012. The roller coaster rose and rose through a first round victory over sixth-seed Creighton. But what comes up, must come down. Harry Cooksley brought the Johnnies within one after a 77th minute score. But the eventual Big East Champions proved stout. The roller coaster ride settled. The Red Storm season was over. The defense cracked, ever so slightly, and the offense was unable to pick up the slack. And yet, rays of hope shine through Belson once more. “I think we’re just getting started,” the graduating Cooksley said after the victory over Creighton. “We’ve putting a good run together here and we’re just getting started.”

Women’s Club Soccer Team Kickstarted This Fall


Contributing Writer When Maria Sedky Saad arrived at St. John’s as a freshman in 2015, she noticed that there was no club soccer team. Her efforts to create one became frustrating. Saad tried everything. She even walked around campus and approached strangers to see if they would be interested. “I always played soccer throughout high school and I saw that St. John’s didn’t have one so that was a bummer,” Saad said. Students are not allowed to start their own club teams without the approval of Campus Recreation. In order to be approved, Saad needed to prove to them that the team would be successful, not so much in terms of wins and losses, but having girls show up on a consistent basis. Another obstacle for Saad was field space, since the first priority at Belson Stadium goes to the men’s and women’s soccer teams. “We put in a proposal for a new club,” she said. “Initially, Denise [Inzirillo] from Campus Rec rejected us because there was no field space. We basically fought her and said ‘no, we’re going to find field space since no one is on Belson and DaSilva all the time’.” They were able to secure two field times; common hour (1:50-3:15) at Belson on Thursday’s and from 7 to 9 P.M. at DaSilva Field on Sunday nights. Saad realized the team needed coaches, so she reached out to Mark Hanna, a fifth-year pharmacy major, who Saad knew through her major and from participating in other organizations. Hanna

played football in high school but had always loved soccer, playing from first grade up until his freshman year of high school. “I was really excited when Maria reached out to me about coaching,” Hanna said. “It was something I’ve never done before, and I thought it would be a lot of fun, and a great experience.” While Hanna was excited to be a part of a project that Maria worked so hard to create, he knew that he needed someone with soccer experience to assist him. “I decided to bring along my friend Kelvin Pensuwan to coach with me since I was confident in his soccer skill and overall knowledge of the game,” he said. Like Hanna, Pensuwan is a fifth-year pharmacy major and has quite the resume in soccer. “I had the opportunity to play in a few [Division III] programs, but instead decided to focus more on school,” Pensuwan explained. “During the summer, I played for the Parsippany Soccer Club U-23 men’s team, where we won a national championship at IMG Academy.” Another player on the team, Krisite Thilman, had played collegiate soccer at Johnson and Wales for two years. Although she stopped playing collegiate soccer, she didn’t want to give up playing completely. “I contacted [Inzirillo] from Campus Rec and she put me in touch with Maria over the summer,” Thilman said. “I still want to compete and play soccer, so I decided to join the club team.” Thilman is one of the leaders of the team


The Club Soccer Team takes part in a scrimmage at Belson Stadium this fall.

along with Saad. She also got other girls to join, including Jenna Martini, a sophomore Pharmacy major. “I heard about the club team from Krisitie,” said Martini. “I played soccer throughout high school and really miss playing.” This past September, with the help of flyers, a shared document on Google and a Facebook group, 55 girls tried out. A yearand-a-half after she started, Saad finally accomplished her goal. Since they were approved by Campus Rec on Oct. 16 as an official team, they’ve reached out to other

club teams in an opportunity for the girls to play in a game setting and develop. This is something they work on every week at practice. Since starting, the team has been approved for the Region 1 Metro NY/NJ Club Soccer League with schools that include Fordham, Stony Brook, Seton Hall and Rutgers. “We are currently focusing on increasing our skill level and chemistry as a team,” Hanna said. “We will be looking for tournaments to join this coming winter, spring and summer.”

18 Sports


The Doubleheader: Are They Ready?


Co-Sports Editor

In a rare sight for basketball fans, Jay Wright had no answers. Sitting among his Big East coaching peers at the conference’s media day, the leader of one of the country’s top programs tried his best to answer truthfully. He glanced over at his colleagues and contemplated for a few moments, shrugging his shoulders as if Kris Jenkins had just nailed another game-winner in the 2016 National Championship game. He shook his head, a laugh making up for the speechlessness that polluted the air. Yet he still struggled to answer the question of which team’s arena was the hardest to play in. Hinkle Fieldhouse, Butler’s home since the 1920s, is just as tough as Carnasecca Arena, which holds 5,200 fans. But the Big East has an advantage, one that many other conferences pride themselves on. It’s football. Wright, whose Villanova Wildcats were chosen in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll to win


Staff Writer

Volleyball Drops Match to Seton Hall The women’s volleyball team fell short to Seton Hall, three sets to one, on Saturday. They topped the Pirates in block and digs, but could not rack up enough kills. The opening set of the match began with the Pirates taking a 15-12 lead. The Red Storm persisted, but in the final set, with the score knotted up at 10, the Pirates went on a 10-5 run to take a 20-15 lead. Senior Delaney D’Amore had 17 digs, giving her 1,005 in her Red Storm career. Erica Di Maulo dished out 55 assists, her third-highest total of the season.

the conference, added that Big East schools do not have football programs, which allows the student body to expend much of their energy on basketball. Several coaches spoke on the toughness of the Big East, including St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin, who knows his third season could be his most successful and toughest. Returning guards Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds will face more pressure, a task that Mullin acknowledges and believes they will embrace. For a team that finished last in the conference in rebounding last year, the addition of Michigan State transfer Marvin Clark II gives the team physicality and grit they have lacked over the past few seasons. That what Queens has yearned for. Now, they finally get it. But toughness is more than bigger players and a rotation of players who aren’t afraid to score in the paint. It’s also mental and develops through repetition and an incremental buildup of maturity. Throughout the offseason and since his roster came together, Mullin has preached the value of growth, adding that experience is the biggest and most irreplaceable teacher in life, not just basketball. Senior forward Maya Singleton, an anchor on Coach Joe Tartamella’s team, added that competition in the Big East is unpredictable. You can prepare, practice, and watch as much film on a team as possible, she said. But when the players step on the court and the game begins, opponents are good enough to make adjustments. It’s deceiving. It’s complicated. It’s the beauty of Big East hoops. Not long after Wright’s statements, Mullin spoke in detail about his team. With what

Fencers Take on The North American Cup This past weekend, three St. John’s fencers participated in the North American Cup in Kansas City. Sophomore Shomari Moore finished 50th out of 256 fencers in men’s epee. He tallied up four victories but came up short in the end. His fellow classmate Omari Smoak followed behind him, finishing 52nd. In men’s saber, freshman Sal Centanni finished 91st. The Red Storm will take a lengthy break, returning to the mat on the morning of Dec. 3 for the famed Brandeis Invitational in Waltham, Mass. The six-team field includes Yale, University of North Carolina, Cornell and Incarnate Word.


Chris Mullin thinks his team is ready to overcome the rigors of Big East basketball.

will be his best roster since taking over the program in 2015, the Hall of Fame coach is ready to embrace the new challenges that he will face. Losing, he said, helps when dealing with adversity. Teams learn from it, make changes, and go into the next game knowing the ways in which they can improve. A little over halfway into his open media

session where he fielded questions about his team, he was faced with the ultimate question of whether or not his team was prepared for the obstacles they’ll encounter during the year. And without hesitation, in what could be a season to remember for Red Storm fans, he found his answer. “We feel we are.”

Women’s Cross Country Battle the Storms On Friday, the St. John’s cross country team ran in the 2017 NCAA Northeast Regional. The team finished with four runners placing in the top 200. Sophomore Therese Gallagher finished at 24:16.8, good for 170th. Sophomore, Stephanie Gerland finished in 195th with a time of 24:45.1. Senior, Melissa Hidalgo did not finish the race due to a back injury. The Red Storm have a quick turnaround, running in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship on Nov. 18 at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Last fall, St. John’s finished in ninth at the ECAC Championship, totaling 229 points. Junior Elizabeth Constantino ran well at the 2016 version of the event, finishing 24th overall.

Looking Ahead

Interested in writing for the sports section of the torch? Contact our editors ! Our email is torchsports@gmail.com PHOTO COURTESY/ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

Erica Di Maulo had 55 assists in the Red Storm’s loss to Seton Hall on Nov. 11.

November 16: Men’s Basketball vs. Nebraska

November 17: Women’s Vollyball vs. Xavier

November 17: Women’s Basketball vs. William & Mary

November 18: ECAC Championships, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, N.Y.

November 19: Women’s Soccer at Villanova

November 20: Men’s Basketball vs. Molloy

November 23: Men’s Basketball vs. Oregon State, Orlando, Fla.

November 24: Women’s Baketball vs. Western Michigan, Estero, Fla.

November 24: Men’s Basketball vs. Missouri/Long Beach State, Orlando, Fla.

November 25: Women’s Basketball vs. South Carolina/Rutgers, Estero, Fla.

Sports 19


Men’s Basketball Cruises in Season Opener LoVett, Clark spur St. John’s to 77-61 victory over UNO


Co-Sports Editor

Marvin Clark II just wanted to play — the wait was worth it. “It felt great to finally get out there and play against some competition,” he said. “Happy we got the first one out of the way. It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done.” In his regular season debut for the Red Storm — he sat out last year per NCAA rules after transferring from Michigan State — the St. John’s forward was an electrifying ingredient in Head Coach Chris Mullin’s mix-and-match formula, propelling his side to a 77-61 victory over the University of New Orleans. Clark II stuffed the stat sheet, finishing the night with 15 points, three rebounds, a pair of assists and a pair of steals in 29 minutes. It was everything that he could have hoped for in his first meaningful action since March 18, 2016, when his Michigan State team lost in an upset against Middle Tennessee State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. “It felt good to make some shots from the outside for a change,” Clark II said with a chuckle. “We have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things, so it just really makes the game a lot easier. I feel very comfortable on the floor.” Four Red Storm players finished in double figures, including Marcus LoVett, who notched a game-high 23 on an even 50 percent shooting. St. John’s nearly succumbed to the opening-night jitters early on, struggling to distance themselves from the Privateers, a team


Marvin Clark II finished the Red Storm’s opener with 15 points and three rebounds.

that won the Southland Conference a year ago and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Red Storm picked up five fouls in the game’s first 11 minutes and were out-rebounded, 16-9, in the first half. Their saving grace to that point had been Clark II, who had 11 points in the first half, and Justin Simon, the Arizona transfer who kept the crowd buzzing with a pair of sensational dunks. “These guys bring so much energy to our team that we can only build from it,” LoVett said of Clark II and Simon, two high-major

transfers. “We just have to keep building, staying focused in practice and listen to what coaches have for us.” After the first 15 minutes, the Red Storm looked like the dangerously raw team that many expect them to be this season. Clark II converted an and-one with just about four minutes to go in the first, part of a small 12-5 spurt that built St. John’s lead to nine at the break. Once Mullin got his team up by 10, it never really felt like they would relinquish their

advantage. The decisive blow came relatively early in the second, when LoVett drained a three off of a Privateers turnover. The jumper put the Red Storm up by 14 with 14 to go, but the offense was already on cruise control. Rebounding is still the Red Storm’s biggest weakness, losing the battle on the boards 42-27, but they fought for every possession, often coming up with loose balls and tipped rebounds. Clark II only had three boards, but he was instrumental in throwing off some of UNO’s big men near the glass. Michael Zeno and Makur Puou, the Privateers’ two starting forwards, combined for just nine rebounds. They were also plagued by foul trouble. Yakwe had one of the worst games of his collegiate career, recording four fouls and zero points in eight minutes. All of the Red Storm’s starting five had at least two fouls, something Mullin said cannot continue with a short rotation. “Everybody’s going to get their shot,” Mullin said. “I like our rotations. It gives everyone a chance to contribute.” Still, the second-half margin was never in doubt, and by the time LoVett sent home a crowd-pleasing three with less than a minute to go, the fans were sure that their team would be 1-0, thanks in large part to Clark II’s tenacity. “He’s going to continue to get better,” Mullin said of Clark II. “He’s definitely a threat in a lot of different areas. I think as the season starts to unwind, he’ll settle in and produce more.” The Red Storm return to the court on Nov. 16 against Nebraska at Carnesecca.

Women’s Basketball Dominates St. Francis Brooklyn


Co-Sports Editor

Tiana England attacked the middle of the floor, a defender in the paint, two teammates on either side. Just as she crossed the free throw line, the redshirt freshman guard looked left but passed right, hitting Qadashah Hoppie on a no-look pass that she caught in stride before finishing with an and-one layup. It was England’s fifth assist on the night, the play coming late in St. John’s 73-49 season-opening win over St. Francis Brooklyn. It was England’s first regular season game after sitting out her freshman year with a torn ACL. She finished with 12 points in 30 minutes and found opportunities around the basket later in the game after turnovers plagued her early on. Hoppie and guard Andrayah Adams each scored 16 points off the bench. Senior Maya Singleton recorder her first double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds to go along with five blocks. As a team, the Red Storm blocked a program record 14 shots, according to redstormsports.com. Despite a 25-20 halftime lead, St. John’s shot 28 percent from the field in the first half of play and only recorded five points off of 15 forced turnovers. Head Coach Joe Tartamella said postgame that his team cleared some mistakes after the break and executed better in the second half. “I thought we played a much better second half,” Tartamella said. “I wish we had played the game like we had played the fourth quar-

ter…Certainly happy with how we finished, and we’re going to try and carry that over as we get ready for William & Mary.” The Terriers out-rebounded the Red Storm 23-17 before halftime and forced seven turnovers. Mia Ehling hit two three-pointers and Abby Anderson contributed four points to keep the score close despite the turnovers, many of which came from St. John’s playing passing lanes and getting steals off of the full-court press. After an Alex Delaney three tied the game at 25, the Red Storm went on a quick 8-2 run to go up 33-27 following an England layup. A transition bucket by Hoppie put the team up 46-34 late in the third quarter. Going into the fourth, the Johnnies led 49-37. In the middle of the fourth, the Red Storm started to pull away. Two consecutive shots from England put them up 56-45 and ignited a 17-4 run down the stretch. Preseason All-Big East Team selection Akina Wellere converted a three-point play before drilling a three, putting St. John’s up 66-49 with just over two minutes to go. Moments later, England found Hoppie on a nifty pass to put the team up 19, sealing a victory for St. John’s in their season opener. After a first game with many areas in which they can improve, Tartamella believes his team will learn from their first game and correct mistakes as the season progresses. “That bounce back is important,” he said. “We talk about forgetting mistakes, making sure that we’re doing the things we need to do mentally to stay positive in our minds because the mental toughness piece is important.”


Qadashah Hoppie registered the most points in a Red Storm debut (15) since Shennika Smith had 16 in 2009. Hoppie led St. John’s to a 73-49 drubbing of St. Francis Brooklyn.

SPORTS November 15, 2017 | VOLUME 95, ISSUE 10



Sure shots basketball teams ride dominant offense to hot start Stories on Page 19


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